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February 27 2014

How the Portuguese Influenced Indian Cuisine

Sorpotel. Photo by Flickr user gcmenezes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Sorpotel. Photo by Flickr user gcmenezes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The Portuguese established a colony in India at the beginning of the 16th century. Portuguese India was ruled first from Cochin, and then Goa. Over the next four centuries, Portuguese control spread to various parts of India, mostly along the west coast of the country, but also in the northeast in Bengal.

During this time, the Portuguese left their mark on certain Indian cuisines in two ways: by introducing new ingredients to India – including spices that are seen as an essential part of Indian food today – and by introducing Portuguese dishes that then were adapted to Indian culinary techniques and tastes.

The strongest Portuguese influence was of course in Goa, which Portugal ruled until 1961. In particular, Goan Catholic cuisine has a distinct Portuguese flavour. Blogger Hilda Mascarenhas describes the famous Goan dish pork vindaloo:

The name “Vindaloo” is derived from the Portuguese dish “Carne de Vinha d’Alhos” which is a dish of meat, usually pork, with wine and garlic. The Portuguese dish was modified by the substitution of vinegar (usually palm vinegar) for the red wine and the addition of red Kashmiri chillies with spices, to evolve into Vindaloo. The alternative terms are Vindalho or Vindallo. Traditional Goan Pork Vindaloo is intensely flavored with fragrant spices and does not include potatoes. No celebration and festive occasion is complete without the Goan Pork Vindaloo. It is enjoyed with the most popular and loved accompaniment, Goan sannas, which are prepared with toddy! This speciality is served with pride in every Goan home at Christmas, New Year and Easter.

Gavin Harvey adds:

Vindaloo started as a vinegar and garlic based stew made with pork or other meat but when introduced to India it got revamped with various spices and chillies. Potatoes were also added to the dish and “alhos” became “aloo” (Hindi word for “potatoes”) – so soon people assumed potatoes were a necessary ingredient of this dish.

Further down the coast from Goa is the city of Mangalore, and Mangalorean Catholic cuisine has many similarities with Goan Catholic cuisine. A pork dish common to both is sorpotel (or sarapatel), originally from the Alentejo region of Portugal. At the Goan Recipes blog, Glenn writes:

The word ‘sarapatel’ literally means confusion, probably referring to the mish-mash of ingredients of pork heart, liver and even pork blood!

Bandel cheese. Photo by Flickr user Manidipa Mandal (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Bandel cheese. Photo by Flickr user Manidipa Mandal (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Moving to the other side of India, some Portuguese influence can be seen in Bengali cuisine as well. Rangan Datta gives us the history of a special kind of cheese:

Originating from the erstwhile Portuguese settlement of Bandel (about 50 km north of Calcutta), Bandel Cheese is perhaps one of the last traces of Portuguese cuisine in Bengal. The Portuguese influence in Bengal dates back to the late 16th century. Almost a century after Vasco da Gama reached the West Coast of India the Portuguese started making their inroads into Bengal. [...] It was the probably the Portuguese who introduced the art of cheese making in Bengal and in spite of all odds the technique has survived over centuries. The Bandel Cheese introduced by the Portuguese was probably made by the Mogh (Burmese) cooks under Portuguese supervision. [...] This variety of unripened cheese is made from cows milk and comes in two versions plain and smoked. First the the curd is extracted from the cows milk by using lemon juice. The cheese is then shaped and drained in perforated pots. The plain variety is of milk-white colour and comes in disc shapes of about an inch diameter and quarter of inch thickness. The smoked variety comes in the same shape and size but has a crispy brownish crust covering the soft milk-white interior.

Zoe Perrett notes:

The Portuguese influence on Bengal was not pure. Having gone to Goa first, many of the new introductions were delivered with a distinct Western Indian accent, or, indeed, were dishes the Portuguese purloined directly from that small state. The Portuguese also proffered Bengal bounty from travels further afield; fruity beauties like pineapple, papaya, guava, and the lychees from the Orient. Where Goa absorbed the influences, blending Portuguese techniques and dishes with local spices, in Bengal, many of the Portuguese-provided ingredients have retained their own clear identity. Mogh cooks soon mastered Western baking methods; displayed today in Calcutta’s prolific puffs and pastries, and perhaps also in the use of white flour for ‘luchis’ (a Bengali bread).

Kulkuls. Photo by Flickr user Amanda Fernandes (CC BY 2.0).

Kulkuls. Photo by Flickr user Amanda Fernandes (CC BY 2.0).

The Portuguese left a legacy of sweet as well as savoury dishes in India. Kulkuls, or kidyo, are a type of sweet eaten by Goan and Mangalorean Catholics at Christmas. Aparna Balasubramaniam describes them:

Kulkuls are made by deep-frying inch long bits of sweet dough moulded/shaped into small curls (like butter curls) which are often also coated with a sugar glaze which dries out. The kulkuls tend to resemble small worms, hence the name “Kidyo” in Konkani, the language spoken in Goa. If you do not to think of them as “worms” you can think of them as shell-shaped. I like to think that the name Kulkul/Kalkal comes from the rattling sound of these little treats jostling one another when they’re shaken in sugar syrup or maybe in the tin in which they would be stored. Kulkuls are made during Christmas in Goa and are an important item in the Kuswar (a collection of Goan Christmas-time treats), and are distributed to neighbours. They’re also taken along to give away during “obligatory” visits to friends and family. [...] Someone pointed out the Kulkuls are actually a variation of the Portuguese Filhoses Enroladas, which is a roll or curvy noodle-shaped Christmas-time sweet that is deep-fried and sugar-glazed. So it is possible that Kulkuls were brought to India by the Portuguese.

Brazilian Activist's Video Satire Censored After Globo TV Claims Copyright

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“No censorship”: William Bonner and Patrícia “Correta” in “the video that Globo doesn't wan't you to see”.

[All links lead to Portuguese-language pages unless otherwise noted.]

A video posted on Facebook skewering TV giant Globo Television Network's nightly news program for inaccuracies has been removed from the social network after Globo claimed copyright infringement, according to the video's author, Brazilian activist and filmmaker Rafucko

The video montage, published online on February 18, 2014, took on an editorial from Globo's main TV newscast “Jornal Nacional” (National News) to expose their manipulation of information about protests that have rocked the country since June 2013. In the video, the activist posed as journalist Patricia Poeta (in his humorous version, Patricia “Correta”, meaning “correct”) and corrected the comments of her fellow journalist William Bonner. Both are news anchors for “Jornal Nacional”.

Among the corrections are the role of Globo's journalism in the coverage of the death of cameraman Santiago Andrade during a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro [en]; the false accusations made by newspaper O Globo against State Representative Marcelo Freixo alleging that he was involved with protesters who were accused of killing the cameraman; the network ‘s insistence on calling protesters ”thugs” or “vandals”; and its attempts to equate the defensive violence of the protesters with the violence of the military police, which is responsible for 75 percent of attacks against journalists, according to the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism.

In just eight hours, the satire had attracted more than 40,000 views, and many viewers republished it on other platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo. However, many of these versions were also censored at the request of the Globo Network, the activist said:

Quem baixou, pode repostar! Em breve reposto, com o slogan: “o vídeo que a Globo não quer que você veja”. Vai ser sucesso. Já é.

Whoever downloaded it can repost it! Soon, I'll repost it with the slogan: “the video that Globo doesn't want you to see.” It will be a success. It is already.

On the same day, Rafucko protested on his blog against what he considered to be censorship:

Não é à toa que um dos gritos mais ouvidos nas manifestações diz “a verdade é dura, a Rede Globo apoiou a ditadura (e ainda apóia)!”

Na última semana vimos a emissora dedicar extensas reportagens e editorias para versar sobre a liberdade de expressão. Desde o início das manifestações, a Rede Globo utiliza sistematicamente imagens de coletivos de mídia independente sem dar créditos ou pedir prévia autorização.

Entretanto, meu vídeo satirizando o Jornal Nacional foi retirado do ar menos de 12h após sua publicação. O papo dos “direitos autorais” eu dispenso.

No wonder that one of the most heard chants in the demonstrations says “the truth is hard, Globo supported the dictatorship (and still supports it)!”

Last week, we saw the broadcaster devote extensive reports and editorials to the subject of freedom of expression. Since the protests began, Globo systematically uses pictures of independent media collectives without giving credit or asking permission.

However, my video satirizing “Jornal Nacional” was taken down less than 12 hours after its publication. All this chit chat about copyright, I dismiss it.

Activist Pedro Ekman criticized Globo Network and commented on the copyright issue: 

A Globo é a maior censora da internet brasileira. A retira conteúdos alegando ter direito autoral sobre eles. A Lei de Direito Autoral determina que é LIVRE o uso de pequenos trechos de obras protegidas por direito autoral para fins de crítica e sátira. Mas respeitar leis nunca foi muito a prática da Globo, vide 1964.

Globo is the largest Brazilian Internet censor. It removes content claiming to have copyright on them. The Copyright Act states that it is FREE to use a small snippets protected by copyright for the purposes of criticism and satire works. But respecting laws was never Globo's practice, see 1964 [the year the dictatorship began in Brazil, with the support of Globo].

Journalist Bruno Natal added on his blog:

Nos EUA, por exemplo, essa alegação mambembe de violação de direitos autorais não colaria, porque lá existe uma lei chamada Fair Use (Uso Justo), que permite a reprodução de qualquer material protegido desde que dentro de um contexto pertinente, o que claramente é o caso aqui. Afinal, como o Rafucko pode criticar o editorial sem mostrá-lo?

Isso pra não entrar no âmbito da liberdade artística, antes que alguém venha dizer que ele não precisava mostrar o vídeo, mas bastaria citá-lo (quem escolhe a forma é o artista).

Só tem um nome pra isso e vc sabe qual é.

In the US, for example, this shoddy claim of copyright infringement wouldn't stick because there exists a law called Fair Use, which allows for the reproduction of any copyrighted material within a relevant context, which is clearly the case here. After all, how can Rafucko criticize the editorial without showing it?

That, to not go into artistic freedom, before someone comes to say that he need not show the video, but suffice to quote him (who chooses the way is the artist).

There is only a name for this and you know what it is.

The next day on February 19, Rafucko thanked his followers for republishing the video. In the same post, he stated that before being censored the video had reached 500,000 views online, becoming the most watched of his filmography, and added:

Quando se fala pela liberdade, toda tentativa de repressão e censura amplifica nossa voz.

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Original video censored.

When speaking for freedom, every attempt of repression and censorship amplifies our voice.

Tatiane Rosset commented on Youpix blog:

Como a internet não é boba nem nada, existem outros meios para assistir o viral, onde Rafucko interpreta Patrícia Correta (piadinha) corrigindo o colega de bancada durante o editorial. Um deles são as várias repostagens feitas no próprio YouTube (uma já tinha mais de 400 mil views quando foi retirada, e outra está em 190 mil).

A outra, é claro, é através do Vimeo. Porque, por algum motivo, todos as pessoas com o ~~rabo preso~~ no país esquecem que o YouTube é o principal, mas não o único meio de veicular vídeos online

A censura, pedida pela Rede Globo por “infringir direitos autorais”, levanta o questionamento: Até onde a liberdade de expressão rola online? O universo digital é realmente livre?

As the Internet is not stupid or anything, there are other ways to watch the viral video in which Rafucko plays Patricia Correct (little joke) correcting her fello anchor during the editorial. One of them are several reposts on YouTube itself (one already had more than 400,000 views when it was withdrawn, and another is at 190,000).

The other, of course, is through Vimeo. Because for some reason, all the people who are ~~compromised~~ in the country forget that YouTube is the leading platform, but not the only means of publishing online videos.

The censorship requested by Globo for “copyright infringement” raises a question: How far does freedom of expression go online? Is the digital universe really free?

The video can still be watched at YouTube and Vimeo.

Uruguayan President José Mujica Rejects “Foreign Interference” in Venezuela

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The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and his Uruguayan counterpart, José Mujica, in 2013. Photo published by Secretaría de Comunicación on Flickr under Creative Commons License (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Uruguayan president José Mujica declared his opposition to any “foreign interference” in the current volatile situation in Venezuela, where the government and the opposition are involved in a bitter conflict. In an interview with TV channel Telesur, the head of state expressed his solidarity with the government and people of Venezuela and urged respect for the Venezuelan Constitution.

“Today I want to express the wish that within the framework of the Venezuelan Constitution, which, if respected, is ample – possibly the most ample in Latin America – a peaceful solution to the conflict can be found,” said Mujica, adding that “the weakest end up paying the price” in violent conflicts.

He ended his statement with a call to avoid external intervention in the conflict, appealing to reason as a way to mediate tensions: “Staying prudent in tense moments is a recommendation that should be kept in mind. Again, I emphasize my hope that no one will interfere with events in Venezuela.”

The official Twitter account of the Presidential Secretary of Communication [es] posted a summary of President Mujica's interview on the channel Telesur:

Mujica reaffirms his solidarity with the government, institutions, and people of Venezuela.

On February 14, the National Political Bureau of the Broad Front, Uruguay's governing party, released a statement [es] against the violent situation in Venezuela, calling it “an attempt [by radical sectors of the political opposition] to destabilize the constitutional government.” The Broad Front urged the nations of Latin America to remain strong and alert.

On February 17, the National Executive Committee of the Movement of Popular Participation (MPP) also voiced their opinion [es] on the situation in Venezuela, showing their concern about the conflicts taking place in its sister nation. The members of the MPP expressed their solidarity with the people and government of Venezuela, reaffirming their confidence in a peaceful and democratic solution to the unstable situation, placing the responsibility on the most conservative sectors of the Venezuelan right. They also emphasized their solidarity with the victims of the conflicts and their families.

The protests began in the state of Táchira on February 4, initiating a surge of violence that spread to other cities, including the capital. The conflicts have left at least 13 dead [es] and hundreds injured and detained.

For his part, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro blamed right-wing groups for the incidents and called on his backers to show their support of the government.

Colombian journalist Javier Arana [es] voiced his appreciation for the Uruguayan president's diplomatic speech:

‘Pepe’ Mujica, the renowned president of Uruguay, admired for his tact and peaceful overtures, very diplomatic in face of the violence in Venezuela.

Communications strategist Jorge Ruiz Crespo [es] also shared his opinion on Mujica's speech:

Careful, people: the violence in Venezuela is objectionable, but they need to solve it themselves. Be careful, Latin America…

Elisa Escovar (@elisaescovar [es]) commented:

Pepe Mujica is the most honest guy on this continent: the only one who has spoken out in support of Venezuela.

Mujica's statement against foreign interference in Venezuela gave rise to questions and criticism of the presence of Cuba in that country. User @Rerr1 [es] commented with irony:

Mujica says that foreign interference in Venezuela would be a coup, maybe he's referring to the Cuban helicopters and elite squads?

Simon José Antonio (@BolivarOfficial) [es] stated categorically:

President Pepe Mujica rejects “any foreign interference” in Venezuela. He only accepts interference from Cuba.

Mayoral Elections in Ecuador: Setback for the Government?

As the first unofficial results for the local elections in Ecuador came in, it appeared that the ruling party, PAIS Alliance, had suffered a defeat, losing the races for mayor in at least the country's two major cities [es]. In Quito, the capital, Mauricio Rodas [es] of the SUMA-Vive party beat the PAIS Alliance incumbent, Augusto Barrera, by almost twenty percent of the vote. In Guayaquil, the largest city, current mayor Jaime Nebot will be entering his fourth term in office, having beaten PAIS Alliance candidate Viviana Bonila [es] by twenty-three percent.

Graph of a Market exit poll for the Quito and Guayaquil mayoral elections

Further results confirmed and compounded the government's loss. PAIS Alliance's mayoral candidates were rejected by voters in all of Ecuador's five largest cities [es] — Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca, Manta, and Santo Domingo — not to speak of their defeats in smaller municipalities.

Twitter was alight with reflections on the reasons for PAIS Alliance's loss:

AP [abbreviation for Alianza PAIS or PAIS Alliance] lost because they made its ministers, Assembly members and acolytes criticize and confront citizens for thinking differently.

Quito hasn't lost anything… It's gaining a space free from the sort of dirty politics that AP practices… Remember that.

Update: AP has lost Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca, Machala, Manta, Portoviejo, Loja, Duran, Milagro and Ambato. A slap to their pride.

Big lessons for Rafael Correa [president of Ecuador]: (1) You aren't invincible, (2) Publicity isn't everything, (3) Arrogance is a bad thing, (4) Don't forget about the patria chica [home regions or hometowns]

Although shortly before the elections President Correa could boast a high approval rating [es], it seems that his personal involvement in the campaign, especially in Quito, had a counterproductive effect.

Correa accepted [es] the results and declared [es] to the newspaper El Comercio that three errors had been committed in the campaign: “First, being associated with poorly performing municipal administrations; second, the form that campaigning took on as the race progressed; and third, the sectarianism of government attitudes.”

But not everyone agreed on Twitter:

President Rafael Correa identified three mistakes in Quito: with the mayoralty, with the campaign, and with the sectarian attitude. And what about his intervention?

Lessons for Correa: 1. Likeability and votes can't always be bestowed by endorsement. 2. Errors are expensive. 3. The people deal out punishment with the ballot box.

However, PAIS Alliance didn't lose everywhere. In the elections for provincial prefects, for example, PAIS Alliance won eleven prefectures [es] out of twenty-three, two more than at the last elections in 2009. There is still not complete data on the winners of all mayoral races in Ecuador, but it is expected [es] that PAIS Alliance will end up with the highest share of mayors in the country.

Here's how the tally is progressing for the prefectures

The elections generally unfolded quite tranquilly, excepting a few scattered incidents [es]. The National Electoral Council's problems with its rapid counting system [es] and with the updating of election data caused frustration, as these issues impeded the calculation and publication of accurate results for cities across the country.

No data from the rapid counting system

Twitter user Elector Ecuador noted that on election day a hashtag related to PAIS Alliance had been “promoted” on Twitter, in other words that the party paid for more visibility on the site. However, this apparently does not constitute a violation of the electoral code.

On election day, @35Pais promoted the Twitter hashtag #TodoTodito35 

Mauricio Rodas, mayor-elect of Quito, will take office May 14.

Mauricio Rodas: “Today the big winner is democracy”

Savory Momos, Sweet Sel Roti and 5 Other Delicious Nepali Delicacies

Nepal, a land of diverse culture and tradition, has its own unique dishes that leave the taste buds craving for more. The delicacies presented here have been selected from hundreds of mouth-watering recipes originating from the high mountains to the Nepalese plains.

1. Sel roti

The famous Nepali crispy doughnut (sel roti), a must during the Tihar or Deepawali festival, is prepared from rice flour.

See NepaliMom’s instructions to cook the doughnuts:

2. Gundruk

Gundruk, a popular dish among Nepalis, is prepared by fermenting and drying leafy vegetables, namely mustard and radish leaves. The blog Nepali Local Food explains how to cook gundruk ko jhol (soup).

Gundruk ko jhol (soup)
Serves 6 to 8
Gundruk/Sinki 50 g
Onion 1 chopped
Tomato 1 chopped
Dry red chili 2 pods
Turmeric powder 1/2 Tablespoon
Salt 1 Teaspoon
Method: Soak Gundruk/Sinki in water for 10 min. Heat oil and fry chopped onions, tomatoes, chilies. Drain up soaked Gundruk/Sinki and fry, add turmeric powder and salt, and put 2 cups of water. Boil for 10 min, and serve hot with cooked rice.

3. Momo

A typical serving of a plate of Momo with Sesame Yellow Sauce and Red Ginger Chilli Sauce in Nepal. Image from Wikimedia Commons by Kushal Gayal. CC BY-SA

A typical serving of momo with sesame yellow sauce and red ginger chilli sauce in Nepal. Image from Wikimedia Commons by Kushal Gayal. CC BY-SA

Momo, a type of Tibetan dumpling, is so popular among Nepalis that it could be considered the country's top dish. The ubiquitous restaurants selling the dumplings generally stuff it with minced buffalo meat, chicken, mutton or vegetables.

Check out the step-by-step momo cooking guide in the Taste of Nepal blog. Or watch a YouTube video posted by Pucca syanu showing how to cook them:


4. Chhoila

Chhoila, a favourite dish among the Newars of Kathmandu Valley, has become popular throughout the country. Generally made from buffalo meat, the burnt version called “haku chhoila” (black chhoila) is very tasty. Check the We All Nepali blog for details of cooking chicken chhoila.

Watch Babus Cooking demonstrating chhoila preparation:

5. Chatamari

Chatamari, also called Nepali pizza, is a kind of rice crepe made famous by the Newars of Kathmandu Valley. The blog We All Nepali offers details on how to prepare it.

See how chatamari is made in this YouTube video by Marc Wiens:

6. Bagiya

Bagiya is a healthy and delicious dish made from rice flour savoured especially during the Deepawali festival in eastern Terai of Nepal. It is a special to the indigenous Tharus. While Tharus in eastern Nepal prefer flat bagiya with lentils, the Tharus in western Nepal prepare bagiya in a tubular shape without lentils, explains the blog Voice of Tharus.

Learn how to make it via Voice of Tharus:

Soak the rice is soaked in water and mill it in a dheki, the traditional rice milling machine. The taste of the flour ground in a dheki is many times better than the one ground in a rice mill.
Sift the flour and fry it in an iron cauldron (Don't add oil and keep in mind not to burn the flour).
Mix warm water to the flour and knead enough to prepare a tender dough.
Steam lentils and add spices, ginger, mustard oil and salt to it.
Make round dumplings out of the dough. Bore a hole, put the mixture of lentils and spice and flatten it with the palms at the middle and leave both the ends protruding out.
Steam the dumplings over a clay pot of boiling water.
Serve the steamed bagiya with chutney or vegetable curry.

7. Sidhara

Sidhara Cakes. Image via author courtesy Voice of The Tharus blog

Sidhara cakes. Image via author courtesy Voice of The Tharus blog

Sidhara is prepared from taro stem, turmeric, and dried fish. The aroma is pungent and the taste bitter, but still it is one of the delicacies eaten by the Terai dwellers especially indigenous peoples like the Tharus, Danuwars, Musahars and others.

The blog Voice of Tharus details the cooking of Sidhara:

Gather the Dedhna and Ponthi varieties of fish. Both the varieties are found in abundance in the paddy fields and public water sources.
Dry the fishes on sun. It will take few days to dry perfectly.
Gather Kachu (taro – Colocasia) stems and cut them into small pieces. Wash them thoroughly.
Grind or mill the dried fishes, together with the colocasia stem and turmeric, and make small cakes.
Leave the cakes to dry on the sun for 10-15 days and after that it store in a dry place for future use. Your sidhara is then ready to cook and eat.
To cook the sidhara, crumple and break the cakes into tiny crumbs. Fry the pieces of sidhara in mustard oil together with onion, green chillies, radish and spices. Add water and salt to taste.
Garnish the dish with green coriander leaves and serve with puffed and beaten rice.

February 26 2014

Bangladeshis Protest Bollywood Film ‘Gunday’ for Misrepresenting Liberation War

A new Bollywood film, “Gunday“, has people outraged in Bangladesh against the movie's mischaracterizing their country's 1971 war for independence. 

The film begins with a scene of the 1971 India-Pakistan war and ignores the events of 1971 that led to the creation of Bangladesh. It highlights only the 13 day long India-Pakistan war which occurred at the fag end, ignoring the essential element of the nine month long Bangladesh's struggle for liberation from Pakistan, in which an estimated three million people died.

Bangladeshis took to social media networks to express their anger and demand an apology from the production company behind the film, Yash Raj.

There have been offline protests as well. Several youth groups engaged in Street Protests in capital Dhaka. The government also officially protested.

Poster of Gunday movie. Image courtesy Wikimedia

Poster for the film “Gunday”. Image courtesy Wikimedia

Twitter user Abdullah Al Nadim wrote:

Worldfriend4u questioned the film director's knowledge of history:

Saima Selim tweeted:

Zarin Tasnim Maliha complained:

Facebook user Sedative Hypnotics argued with documents the historic facts of Bangladesh's 1971 war of liberation which the film misrepresented:

৯০ হাজার পাকিস্তানী আর্মি ভারতীয় বাহিনীর কাছে আত্মসমর্পণ করে নি। করেছে বাংলাদেশ-ভারত যৌথবাহিনীর কাছে। এই কপি টা ভারতের প্রতিটা ঘরে ঘরে পৌছায় দেবার দাবি জানাই। প্রথমে ‘গুন্ডে’ মুভির পরিচালকের বাসায়।

90,000 Pakistani army prisoners did not surrender to the Indian army. They surrendered to the Bangladesh-Indian joint force. I demand that this copy of historic facts should reach every Indian house. Firstly, the documents should be sent to the “Gunday” director's home.

Mrityunjay Devrat, who is the director of the film “Children of War” based on the Bangladesh Liberation War has expressed his displeasure for the film in an interview with Bollywood Hungama, questioning the way the war was depicted:

If I am allowed to be honest, then I'd have to say that the makers of Gunday have been factually incorrect. I think it is hugely irresponsible and derogatory to use a sensitive subject such as the Bangladesh war for purely commercial purposes.

Yash Raj films has apologized in a statement on their blog for “any disrespect or hurt” that the film has caused Bangladeshis.

Jamaican Dancehall Deported from Dominica

“You're not welcome here”. That's the message the Dominican government is sending to Jamaican dancehall artiste Tommy Lee (real name Leroy Russell), who has been prevented from entering the island, where he was scheduled to host a concert. Lee is known for his Gothic Dancehall style, which bases itself on dark subject matter. The move is the latest of several high profile immigration controversies in the Caribbean, several of which have involved Jamaican citizens. In this instance, the issues of censorship and free speech were also being widely debated on social media.

According to the Dominican authorities, Tommy Lee was considered a security threat:

‘Pursuant to advice received, government had concerns for public safety. The decision to deny entry was intended as a preemptive action and also to provide an opportunity to exhaust all efforts to clarify information received,’ the statement said.

Many religious leaders were opposed to Lee's performance, citing what they considered to be dangerous lyrics:

The Dominica Association of Evangelical Churches (DAEC) had been calling for a boycott of the concert here, featuring Sparta, whom it claims glorifies Satan during his performances.

A spokesman for the group, Bishop Michael Daniel, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio Monday, said he was pleased that the concert did not occur as had been planned.

He said while the churches played no role in the detention of Sparta, their prayers had been answered. 

On Instagram, Lee himself posted video of his supporters in Dominica outside the police station:

Some Dominicans tweeted to show that they did not support their government's actions:

Tyrone Christopher argued that Tommy Lee's rights must be protected, whether you like his music or not:

Some Twitter users referred to the controversial Shanique Myrie case and the Caribbean Court of Justice's involvement:

On the other hand, some netizens seemed glad that Tommy Lee was denied entry:

This Twitter user was amazed – and a tad amused – that the Dominican government was getting criticized for banning Tommy Lee…

…while these were bemused by the government's justification for their action:

Some argued that Tommy Lee was ultimately to blame for his deportation:

Others were confused as to how Tommy Lee was allowed to leave Jamaica in the first place – and why he would want to go to Dominica knowing that protests against his concert were already happening:

Brazil's Racism Problem Front and Center After Black Teen Brutally Beaten

O jovem preso ao poste apenas com um pedaço de jornal para cobrir sua nudez após ser humilhado. Foto de uso livre.

The young boy tied to the lamp post with only a piece of newspaper to cover himself. Photo free to use.

[All links lead to Portuguese-language websites unless otherwise noted.]

A 15-year-old black teenager was found sitting on the ground at Botafogo beach in a central area of ​​Rio de Janeiro completely naked and with a bicycle lock around his neck chaining him to a lamppost on February 1, 2014.

Unfortunately, it is not an isolated case, as attacks by groups of “vigilantes” have become somewhat common in Rio de Janeiro.

Activist Yvonne Bezerra de Mello, who discovered the minor, wrote on her Facebook profile that she was preparing to sleep when a friend who was driving by on Rui Barbosa Avenue called her to say he “saw a young boy bruised, naked and tied to a pole by a bicycle lock. He was beaten by a gang of bikers that often steals on my street.”

She called the firefighters to release him and he was then taken to the hospital. She, in turn, began receiving threats.

In a statement to police, the young man said he had been chased by a group of about 30 men on motorcycles armed with at least one pistol while walking with three friends (two escaped) to take a swim in the sea. He was then beaten, stripped naked and chained to the pole. The 15-year-old has been on the streets of Rio for at least two years since he was caught stealing an electric drill from a family neighbor and being forced to leave his home.

Police believe those responsible for the attack are the “Flamengo vigilantes”, who attack and torture whomever they consider to look suspicious; they are also accused of assaulting gays. About 15 suspected members of the group were arrested by the police.

Cartum de Carlos Latuff, uso livre.

“Any odlCartoon by Carlos Latuff. Free to use

Journalist Rosiane Rodrigues, writing for Afropress, criticized Bezerra de Mello's for taking a photo of the victim and posting it on Facebook rather than just calling the fire department and an ambulance. In her opinion:

A cena chocou. É possível que o motivo da consternação tenha sido o local da ação e não a ação em si. Sim. Um menino, amarrado ao poste, em uma rua da Zona Sul do Rio de Janeiro, não é um fato comum. Meninos, amarrados em postes, baleados, espancados, violentados não cabem na paisagem da Zona Sul da cidade. Essas devem ser imagens periféricas, cotidianas das favelas, dos subúrbios. Imagens de barbárie que já não chocam nem causam espanto aos olhos dos que estão – e devem continuar – à margem. 

O “menino amarrado ao poste”‘ deu sorte. Ele poderia estar morto. Se assim fosse, seria mais um a entrar para a estatística da barbárie cometida diuturnamente nos becos e vielas em todo País. Imagens de corpos violados, machucados, inertes… reflexos distantes de uma realidade encoberta aos olhos sensíveis de uma parcela da população que teima em não querer enxergar: a indústria do genocídio da juventude preta e pobre.

The scene was shocking. It is possible that the reason for the consternation was the location of the incident and not the incident itself. Yes, a boy tied to a lamp post in a street in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro is not a common occurrence. Boys chained to lamp posts, shot, beaten, raped do not fit in with the landscape of the city south. These should be peripheral, everyday images of slums, suburbs. Images of barbarism that no longer shock or cause astonishment in the eyes of those who are – and should continue – at the margin.

The “boy tied to the post” got lucky. He might have been dead. If so, he would be the latest to join the statistics of barbarism committed incessantly in the alleys and lanes throughout the country. Images of bodies violated, hurt, inert… distant reflections of a reality hidden from the eyes of a sensitive population that insists on not wanting to see: the industry of the genocide of black and poor youth.

Activist Caio Almeida warned on Facebook of the danger of the formation of a “fascist militia” in Rio de Janeiro, like the so-called “vigilantes”, and added that “what is going on in the Flamengo neighborhood is very serious”:

Esses caras agridem homossexuais, ambulantes que não concordam com o preço cobrado pela cerveja, usuários de maconha ou negros sozinhos. Em suma, tocam o terror para garantir que o bairro deles sejam para os ricos, brancos e com os mesmos hábitos sociais(e até sexuais!) que eles.

These guys attack homosexuals, hawkers who do not agree with the price charged for beer, marijuana users and blacks alone. In short, they play on terror to ensure that their neighborhood belongs to the rich and the white with the same social habits (and even sex habits!) as them.

According to the assaulted boy, all of his assailants were white “playboys” except one who was brown.

Montagem de Paul Henry Jr.

“Southern USA, 20th century / Brazil, 21st century. Racism always camouflages itself as ‘justice’ to act.” Mock-up by Paul Henry Jr.

Activist Paulo Henry Jr wrote on Facebook that even if the man was really responsible for thefts in the region, the attitude of beating and humiliating him “does not cease to be brutal”, and that it should be up to the police to investigate the veracity of the charges and take him to trial. He added:

Mas a Ku Klux Klan versão brasileira que de tão cômoda nem sequer precisa usar capuz e lençóis, age livremente sem ser perturbada fazendo nas ruas a sua maneira aquilo que considera justiça.

But the Brazilian version of the Ku Klux Klan, which feels so comfortable that it doesn't even need to wear hoods and sheets, acts freely undisturbed on the streets, going their own way with what they consider to be justice.

Similar cases have occurred recently. A few years ago in the Botafogo neighborhood of Rio, bikers stripped a black man naked and left him on the pavement under the scorching sun after they accused him of trying to steal a motorcycle, described John Batista Damasceno. Firefighters helped the bikers take off the man's clothes, and a municipal guard witnessed the scene without intervening:

The role of the media in spreading the horror

Outrage over this most recent case would have been smaller had it not been for the intervention of TV anchor for “Jornal do SBT” Rachel Sheherazade, known for her conservative comments. On primetime, she said:

“Num país que sofre de violência endêmica, a atitude dos vingadores é até compreensível”, disse a apresentadora. “O Estado é omisso, a polícia desmoralizada, a Justiça é falha… O que resta ao cidadão de bem, que ainda por cima foi desarmado? Se defender, é claro”. E finalizou: “O contra-ataque aos bandidos é o que chamo de legítima defesa coletiva de uma sociedade sem Estado contra um estado de violência sem limite”.

“In a country that suffers from endemic violence, the attitude of the avengers is even understandable,” said the anchor. “The state is absent, the police demoralized, justice flawed… What is left for the good citizen, who moreover was unarmed? Defend themselves, of course.”. She concluded: “The counterattack to the thugs is what I call collective self-defense of a stateless society from a state of violence without limits.”

The reaction was immediate, both in support and against. Businessman Vinicius Duarte commented on Facebook:

Quando um telejornal de grande audiência permite que se faça apologia a um crime (sim, ~cidadão de bem desarmado~, acorrentar bandidos ou inocentes nus em postes é CRIME), é sinal que a barbárie está vencendo o jogo.

When a news program with a large audience allows an apology for a crime to be made (yes, you ~disarmed good citizen~, to chain bandits or innocents to lamp posts is a CRIME), it is a sign that barbarism is winning the game.

The profile of social collective Pedra no Sapato, making a pun on the name of the presenter, stated that Sheherazade outdid herself with her statements:

[ Cheira a Nazi ]
Defendeu a ação da milicia carioca que prendeu o adolescente ladrão e negro num poste com uma tranca de bicicleta no pescoço, o espancou e o deixou nu. Acha normal, natural algo assim. Afinal, já que vivemos em estado de barbárie, não custa nada nós mesmos começarmos as nossas, né? Ninguém esta defendendo os atos de banditismo do moleque, agora chamar de ‘compreensível’ e ‘legítima defesa’ uma barbaridade dessas é sinal de que essa mulher não tem um pingo de humanidade!

(Smells of Nazi) [a play with the sound of words Sheherazade]

She defended the action of Rio militia who chained the thief and black teenager to the lamp post with a bike lock around his neck, beat him and left him naked. She finds it normal, something like that is natural. After all, since we live in a state of barbarism, it costs nothing to start our [own barbarism], right? No one is defending the banditry of the boy; but saying that a barbaric act like this is “understandable” and “self-defense” is a sign that this woman doesn't have a shred of humanity!

Montagem do ativista Julio Ferreira

Mock-up made by activist Julio Ferreira: “‘Good citizen’ was the name of KKK's newspaper”.

Student Mosiés Teixeira demanded that Sheherazade “be liable for the blunder issued in primetime” and that those who supported it should “reflect a bit before issuing opinions full of catchphrases that are just polished stupidity.”

According to the Union of Journalists of Rio de Janeiro, the punishment will come. The union and its Committee on Ethics not only expressed their disgust, but also demanded that the National Federation of Journalists take action “in this and other cases of human rights violations and of the Code of Ethics of the Brazilian journalists, which occur routinely in broadcasting programs in our country.” The Union of Journalists of the Federal District also declared their disgust with Sheherazade's statements and added that they will ask a prosecutor to act.

The Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) announced that it also will demand punishment for the presenter.

For activist and journalist Rodrigo Mariano, Sheherazade “reached a level that she now supports murderers openly on national television. And the girl shares the same profession as me, you see. She took the oath she swore and reversed it. She wiped her ass with her diploma, certainly.”

After all repercussions, SBT issued a note stating that the journalist does not represent the opinions of the channel. Sheherazade using airtime on “SBT Journal” tried to explain herself, saying that she was “on the good side, the side of the angels”, which is:

uma crítica da violência. Eu defendo as pessoas de bem deste País, que foram abandonadas à própria sorte, porque não tem polícia, não tem segurança pública. O que eu fiz não foi defender a atitude dos justiceiros. O que eu defendi foi o direito da população de se defender quando o Estado é omisso

a critique of violence. I defend the good people of this country, who were abandoned to their fate because they have no police, no public security. What I did was not defend the attitude of vigilantes. What I defended was people's right to defend itself when the state is absent

Imagem de Divulgação do SBT.

Rachel Cheherazade. Image for publication from SBT.

In other words, Sheherazade maintains a view that, for activist Robson Fernandes, “is tradition among the Brazilian conservative right” and consists of “making a Manichean division of society between ‘good citizens’ and ‘bums'.”

He added:

Nessa crença que divide a sociedade entre “bons” e “maus”, os primeiros seriam pessoas “cidadãs” que “pagam impostos”, “respeitam as leis”, “lutam para vencer na vida” e se dizem “incapazes” de cometer qualquer crime ou dano contra outras pessoas e também contra animais não humanos. E os segundos seriam inimigos da ordem, ameaçadores da vida alheia, preferidores de “caminhos fáceis”, como a criminalidade ou o recebimento de benefícios financeiros pelo Estado, sendo muitos deles autênticos demônios do mal que deveriam ser presos, torturados pela polícia e/ou mortos.

In this belief that divides society into “good” and “bad”, the former would be the “citizen” who “pay taxes”, “law-abiding”, the ones who “struggle to succeed in life” and are said to be “not able” to commit a crime or harm other humans and non-human animals. And the latter are enemies of order, threatening the lives of others, those who prefer the “easy path”, such as crime or to receive financial benefits from the state, many of them being authentic evil demons who should be arrested, tortured by the police and/or dead.

Military police officer from the state of Bahia and contributor to Global Voices Danillo Ferreira made it clear:

Nenhuma violência deve ser celebrada. Tentativas violentas de vingança e “resposta” a outros atos violentos apenas alimentam os ciclos de violência. 

No violence should be celebrated. Attempts of revenge and violent “response” to other violent acts only feed the cycle of violence.

A petition that so far has more than 50,000 signatures was created to demand punishment for the journalist. A Facebook event was created to humorously ask for the replacement of the news programme anchored by Sheherazade by the popular Mexican series ”Chaves”, whose main character “has much to teach us about tolerance and equality.”

Mozambican Tech Woman Talks Local Impact of Social Networks

This Portuguese-language interview was originally published by the Mozambican citizen media platform Olho do Cidadão (Eye of the Citizen) on July 10 2013. 

Ludmila Maguni (@_mwaa_ no Twitter e Instagram)

Ludmila Maguni (@_mwaa_ on Twitter and Instagram)

At a time when more and more Mozambicans are utilising the Internet as a way to show the world their local reality, as well as to share with their locality what is happening in the world, we spoke with Ludmila Maguni, an influential Mozambican on Twitter, who speaks about the impact that social networks are having on Mozambican society.

It is estimated that just 4.8 percent of the 25 million Mozambicans have Internet access, according to 2012 data. In Mozambique, the Internet and social networks provide a space for greater openness of expression. In terms of press freedom, the country was placed at number 73 in the report published by the Reporters Without Borders organisation in 2013 (the recently launched 2014′s report puts the country six places down, at 79).

Ludmila is the head of the Department of Information Systems of the Ministry of Science and Technology in Mozambique. But just like the majority of Mozambicans with access to the Internet, she uses the web for information, socialising and entertainment. On Twitter she is known as @_Mwaa_. She was born in Maputo, but identifies herself as cosmopolitan, or in other words, a citizen of the world. As described on her profile, she is “1st Mozambican, 2nd African, 3rd Citizen of the World”. She posts in both Portuguese and English. 

Ludmila argues that the reason social networks have found success in Mozambique is that the people feel free to interact with each other and to share information:

Quando falamos de redes sociais, a primeira coisa que nos vem a cabeça são as redes sociais que usamos no dia a dia pela internet, mas penso que não podemos nos esquecer que naturalmente os seres humanos sempre se organizaram em grupos, e as redes sociais sempre existiram. E penso que é por isso que as redes sociais eletrônicas tem tanto sucesso hoje em dia, porque naturalmente sentimos vontade de nos comunicar uns com os outros, de partilhar informação, etc.

When we talk about social networks, the first thing that comes to mind are the social networks we use every day on the Internet, but we should not forget that human beings always organise themselves naturally into groups, and that social networks have always existed. And I think that this is why the online social networks are so successful today, because we always feel a natural desire to communicate with each other, to share information, etc. 

And thanks to social networks, citizens have gained the courage to debate the country's affairs in an open and candid manner: 

Os Moçambicanos estão a usar esta plataforma para expressarem os seus sentimentos (bons ou maus) sobre o nosso pais, sobre o que está acontecendo na vida política do país e no dia-à-dia. Todos nós como cidadãos temos uma palavra a dizer sobre o que quer que seja, penso que com a capa das redes sociais muitos ganham coragem e conseguem realmente dizer o que lhes vai na alma.

Mozambicans are using this platform to express their feelings (good or bad) about our country and about what is happening in the political world and in everyday life. As citizens, we all have something to say, no matter the topic. I think that through social networks, they are able to find the courage to say what is really on their mind.

Ludmila believes that social networks can, in some way, serve as a bridge between citizens and the government:

Conheço alguns países em que através do Twitter, Facebook, blogs, os governos usam estes instrumentos para estarem mais próximos do cidadão, gostaria que em Moçambique também fosse assim.

I know that in some countries, politicians use Twitter, Facebook and blogs as tools to reach out to the citizens and I would like it to be like this in Mozambique too. 

During the month of December Ludmila was involved in organising the third edition of Hackathon, which took place in the city of Maputo and whose objective was to promote the development of smartphone apps to respond to the specific needs of the market. 

8 Dishes From Africa We Dare You To Try

Mopane worm. Photo released to be used freely by  Arne Larsen.

A live Mopane worm. Photo released to be used freely by Arne Larsen.

As we conclude “Food Month” here at Global Voices Online, let's take a look at eight dishes from Sub-Saharan Africa that might take you out of your culinary comfort zone. We dare you to try them”

1. Madora (mopane worms):

Delicious Mopane worms ready to serve. Photo used with permission from www.zimbokitchen.com

Delicious Mopane worms ready to serve. Photo used with permission from www.zimbokitchen.com

Madora (Gonimbrasia belina) is a species of moth found in much of Southern Africa, whose large edible caterpillar, the mopani or mopane worm, is an important source of protein for millions of indigenous Southern Africans.

If you want to try mopane worms, follow Zimbo Kitchen instructions here:

Before you run-off, madora are high in protein to the extent that it’s just what the doctor ordered. Here is the power of protein according to WebMD – “protein is an important component of every cell in the body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood“. No wonder why the folks in rural Zimbabwe escape many diseases suffered by us urbanites.

In Zimbabwe, this delicacy is often prepared in a simple and straight forward manner – frying. This is how I intend to do them today with a little variation of my own involving black pepper. You are good to go when you choose this combo: sadza, green veggies and mbuya’s tomato and onion soup to accompany this dish even though it’s still possible to have madora on their own as a crisp snack or with other combinations. Enough said, let’s start frying!

2. Nsenene (grasshoppers):

A male grasshopper. Photo released under Creative Commons License by Wikipedia user Bruce Marlin.

A live male grasshopper. Photo released under Creative Commons license by Wikipedia user Bruce Marlin.

Nsenene” is the Luganda name for a long-horned grasshopper (more commonly called bush cricket or katydid) that is a central Ugandan delicacy as well as an important source of income. The insect is also eaten in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Follow these seven steps to make your grasshopper dish.

3. Bullfrog:

African bullfrog. Photo released under Creative Commons License by Wikipedia user Stevenj

African bullfrog. Photo released under Creative Commons License by Wikipedia user Stevenj

Science in Africa blog explains how the frog is eaten in Namibia:

In Namibian traditional cuisine the entire frog is eaten, with the exception of the alimentary canal, which may be fed to dogs or poultry.

It continues:

Generally people are advised to wait until the Giant Bullfrogs start croaking or until “after the third rain” before eating them. Despite this caution people in some areas choose to eat frogs prematurely. However when they do so very specific anti-poisoning preventative measures are usually taken.

People from the Oshakati/Ongwediva [northern Namibia] area prevent poisoning by lining their cooking pots with pieces of dry wood from a tree locally known as Omuhongo (not to be confused by Omuoongo, the Marula tree). This wood apparently neutralises the frog poison while also preventing the frog skin from sticking to the pot bottom. “Nobody becomes ill from the disease when this cooking method is followed. In the Okambebe/Oshikango areas, where the Omuhongo tree appears to be unknown, people use the Omuva and Oshipeke trees instead. “Only two small pieces cut from Omuva or Oshipeke, when used to line the bottom of the pot while cooking frogs, will prevent the disease from attacking the culprit.

4. Mazondo (Beef trotters):

Mazondo (beef trotters) ready to be eaten. Photo used with permission from www.zimbokitchen.com.

Mazondo (beef trotters) ready to be eaten. Photo used with permission from www.zimbokitchen.com.

Mazondo (Beef trotters) are amongst one of the favourite dishes for most Zimbabwean men and some women too. It’s best to slow cook them on your stove if you’re not cooking them pamoto (using firewood). The way to prepare them is pretty straight forward, much like pork trotters, maguru (tripe) or even beef stew which are prepared in more or less the same way here in Zimbabwe.

5. Termites:

Termits (white ants) in Sudan. Public domain photo from the Agricultural Research Service, the research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Termites (white ants) in Sudan. Public domain photo from the Agricultural Research Service, the research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Termites are also known as “white ants”, although they are unrelated to ants. They are a delicacy in many African cultures.

Here are photo instructions on how to fry flying termites.

6. Blood and milk:

Thomson Safaris blog notes:

[...] but much more fascinating [about the Maasai diet] (and possibly a little off-putting to the western palate) is the tradition of drinking raw blood, cooked blood, and blood-milk mixtures.

This is the traditional method of obtaining cow's blood:

they [Maasai] eat milk and blood which is harvested by puncturing the loose flesh on the cow's neck with an arrow. The wound is closed after a gourdfull of blood is obtained. This operation can be repeated every month or so with no harm to the cow. The Masai typically drink blood mixed with milk.

Brave enough to try it? Make a blood and milk concoction as follows:

Cow blood can be cooked with fresh or sour milk as follows: Pour the fresh blood through a sieve to separate it from the clots. Mix three parts liquid blood to one part milk (or equal parts blood and sour milk). Cook over low heat, stirring often, for twenty to thirty minutes. The mixture should thicken like scrambled eggs. If desired, butter, fried chopped onions, or salt can be added during cooking. Serve with Ugali, Fufu, or boiled Plantains, or Rice.

7. Mbewa (mice):

Mice is a well-known delicacy in northern Malawi, where it is known as “mbewa”, as well as in eastern Zambia.

The YouTube video below from Peter Larson shows roasted mice for sale:

Writing about “mbewa”, Peter Larson says:

Malawians are largely divided as to the culinary merit of Mbewa. Most love the Mbewa and consider it a delicious snack food. Others decry them as unfit for eating. Mbewa are caught and roasted over a fire, but clearly not roasted long enough to burn off the copious amounts of visible fur. Malawians then garnish them with salt and cayenne pepper and gnaw on them like jerky, consuming them completely, bones and all.

If you want to know all the social and cultural dynamics involved in mice-eating and, more importantly, how to hunt your own mice for dinner, read this blog post.

8. Palm tree larvae:

Next time you are hungry, try this one! Photo released under Creative Commons by Luigi Barraco.

Next time you are hungry, reach for one of these! Photo released under Creative Commons by Luigi Barraco.

Palm tree larvae is a delicious tropical treat and a great source of protein.

Follow cooking instructions [fr] from Cuisine Au Kamer to make your own delicious plate of palm tree larvae:

Nettoyer les larves: les laver à grande eau les ouvrir avec les doigts et enlever le liquide marron qui se trouve à l'intérieur des larves

Disposer directement chaque larve nettoyée dans la marmite qui sera utilisée pour les cuire. L'enlèvement du liquide marron à l'intérieur des larves colore les doigts en couleur marron, mais cette couleur s'enlève au lavage.

Préparer les condiments nécessaires: ail, basilic africain, oignon, pèbè, feuille de gingembre (odzom). Mélanger avec les larves et mettre au feu doux. Ne pas ajouter de l'eau. laisser cuire 25 à 30 mns à feu doux, le temps que les larves produisent leur huile, puis servir.

Wash really well with water, open the larvae with your fingers and remove the brown liquid that is inside the larvae.

Put each larva directly into the pot (don't worry if the brown liquid stains your fingers, this color can be removed with washing).

Prepare the necessary condiments: garlic, African basil, onion, pébé [a local spice in Cameroon], ginger leaves. Mix with the larvae and cook on a low heat. Do not add water. Cook for 25-30 minutes on a low heat until the larvae start melting, and then serve.

February 25 2014

Iran Watches Ukraine With Envy and Dismay

Ukraine protests

Ukraine's protest, as covered by Iran's Farda News


Ukraine's protests and change of power in Kiev were covered with enthusiasm in Iran's media. While Iranian officials saw a Western plot led by the United States and Europe, Iranians who once staged mass protests against their own regime were reminded of a revolution that eluded them.

Iran's minister of justice said Ukraine can't be compared to Iran, but many Iranians draw parallels to Green Movement protests after the presidential election in 2009.

Iranian blogger Abgosht writes [fa] that there are several reasons why Ukraine (and Tunisia) where able to accomplish what Iranians failed to do:

The short and useful answer is that the red line for Ukraine's and Tunisia's [opposition] movement leaders was democracy, while the Iranian ones would maintain the regime's [establishment] framework… their people are not traitors, their police and security forces are good people, ours are thugs who believe national interests take priority over individual ones.

On Twitter, Sarah makes fun of the head of the Iranian military forces, Hassan Firoozabadi who said that “Ukraine's revolution was escaping from independence toward dependency.”

She tweeted [fa] quoting Iranian writer, Ebrahim Nabavi:

I don't know why Iranian officials, more than the citizens of Ukraine, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon seem to be so preoccupied with these countries’ independence.

Free Democratic Iran tweeted, quoting a headline from the very conservative Iranian newspaper, Keyhan:

@_Cafe tweeted with irony:

We are ahead of Ukraine. That's why I need anti-filtering software to be able to write these few words on the internet.

Nima Akbarpour tweeted [fa]:

Ukraine's situation reminds me of Zapata's movie where the revolutionaries conquer power and then follow the same path.

Being Gay Is Officially a Crime in Uganda

Protest against Uganda anti-gay legislation

Activists John Bosco, (handcuffs) and Bisi Alimi (sign) in prison uniforms protesting in London against anti-gay legislation in Uganda on December 10, 2012. Photo by Reporter#20299. Copyright Demotix.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni signed a controversial anti-homosexuality bill into law on January 24, 2014 that makes being gay a crime punishable with life in prison in some cases.

The parliament of Uganda overwhelmingly passed the bill on December 20, 2013. It also provides for prison sentences for anyone who does not report gay people to authorities and punishes the use of Facebook and Twitter accounts to fight for gay rights a crime with a maximum of seven years in jail.

US President Barack Obama and other leaders around the world have warned President Museveni that the law is an abuse of human rights.

Ugandan LGBT activists say that the law makes Uganda one of the worst places to be gay in the world. Many people have taken to social media to discuss it, some in support while others adamantly against.

Sexual Minorities Uganda leader and gay activist Frank Mugisha tweeted:

Love1Another wrote:

Wadda Mutebi bashed those speaking out against the law:

Jenny Hedstrom simply wrote:

John Paul Torach noted that the government and opposition are both on the same page on this issue:

Eriche White Walker thought that religious leaders have failed to instill morals into the people:

“I am an African” argued that one's ideas of sexuality should not apply to other people's lives:

Stuart Grobbelaar jokingly said Uganda should pass laws that ban divorce and prescribe marriage strictly for virgins:

Ugandans now wonder what will happen to the relationship between their country and others, mostly Western, that believe the law violates basic human rights.

Zimbabwean Opposition Leader Tendai Biti's House Bombed for Second Time

Zimbabwe's former finance minister Tendai Biti.

Zimbabwe's former Finance Minister Tendai Biti. Photo released under Creative Commons by Chatham House.

Zimbabwe's former Finance Minister Tendai Biti's home was reportedly bombed in the early morning February 25, 2014, Twitter users and other media houses announced. He is one of the key members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and a staunch critic of President Robert Mugabe.

Biti is the secretary general for Movement for Democratic Change, led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. His home was first bombed in 2011. No suspects have been arrested so far.

Although many people seem to suspect the government, one Twitter user, tinashe chirape, suggested that it was the work of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC):

Another user said the news of the bombing is fake:

El ‘Chapo’ Guzmán, World's Most Wanted Man, Captured in Mexico

“El Chapo” Guzman is transfered to a Federal Police helicopter on February 22, 2014. Photo by Omar Franco Pérez Reyes, copyright Demotix.

In the touristic beach of Mazatlán in the state of Sinaloa in northeast Mexico, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, who goes by the alias El “Chapo”, was taken into custody on charges of drug trafficking, organized crime and several murders.

After Osama bin Laden's assassination by the United States Navy SEAL team in May 2011, El “Chapo” Guzmán became the world's most wanted man. Guzmán was also considered one of the most powerful men on the planet, according to Forbes magazine, which pointed him out as the CEO of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Guzmán had already been in a maximum security prison in Mexico in the state of Jalisco; nonetheless, he escaped under suspicious circumstances in 2001 during the administration of former President Vicente Fox.

The Associated Press was the first new agency to spread the news of the arrest on its Twitter account on February 22, 2014:

On Twitter, the news has been thoroughly commented on, to the point that many have been making jokes on the matter:

I didn't know I was working for the C.I.A. with so many national security experts! Speaking about Chapo's arrest

User Pablo M. Aguilar questioned the timing of the drug lord's detention considering a very controversial cover story published by TIME magazine:

It is curious that El Chapo's arrest happened two days before TIME magazine launched its cover story of EPN [Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto] with the slogan “Saving Mexico”.

Isaias Villa G pointed out that there should be a more exhaustive investigation:

Instead of doubting or minimizing Chapo's capture, we should demand to know the extent of his ties with Mexico and the US

John M. Ackerman, a well-known opponent of Enrique Peña Nieto‘s government, said the following regarding El Chapo's arrest:

Chapo Guzmán was Fox's and Calderon's spoiled drug lord. Who'll be the substitute during Peña's era? Great democratic “alternation”.

Journalist Ciro Gómez Leyva [es] talked about the possible involvement of the US Drug Enforcement Administration in Guzmán's detention:

Nosotros, la DEA, atrapamos a El Chapo Guzmán junto con marinos mexicanos. Eso es al menos lo que podía leerse desde anoche en el New York Times, y que se acoplaría con la forma en que se fue conociendo la noticia el sábado.

Antes que cualquier funcionario, AP y el propio New York Times confirmaron, con todo y fotografía, la nota de la captura de El Chapo. ¿Quién les filtró menudo banquete? ¿El gobierno mexicano (por razones que podrían ser entendibles), o fue la DEA? La noticia oficial la dio el presidente Peña Nieto a las 13:43, con un retraso de casi tres horas respecto de los adelantos que salieron de Estados Unidos.

We, the DEA, took El Chapo Guzmán into custody along with Mexican marines. This is at least what the New York Times published last night, and it fits into the way the news broke on Saturday.

Before any officer, the AP and New York Times confirmed, photo included, the news on El Chapo's arrest. Who leaked such a feast? The Mexican government (for reasons that could be understood), or was it the DEA? The official news was given by President Peña Nieto at 13:43, almost three hours after the news got out in the United States.

El “Chapo” Guzmán's arrest came as violence has been getting worse in Michoacán (a state controlled by armed groups that are the enemy of Sinaloa Cartel) and many years after the “war” against organized crime started – which has taken a toll of thousands of Mexican lives. 

This is the second high-profile detention during Enrique Peña Nieto's administration. The previous one being Elba Esther Gordillo's, also known as the “Teacher”, which took place in February 2013.

Police Repression Legalized as Mining Protests Grow in Peru

This article, written by Luis Manuel Claps, was originally published on the NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America) blog Extractives in Latin America. Luis Manuel Claps studied Communications at the Buenos Aires University. He has followed mining in Latin America since 2004 as editor of the Mines and Communities Website. He is based in Lima, Perú.

Elmer Campos Álvarez, a 32-year-old farmer, is from the Caserío Tupac Amaru in the province of Celendín, Cajamarca Region, Northern Peru. On November 24, 2011, Elmer, along with some friends, set out for the mountains of Cajamarca to protest against a massive open-pit gold mine proposed for the districts of Sorochuco and Huasmín. Elmer and his friends call themselves los defensores de las lagunas (the Defenders of the Lakes). See Elmer's video testimony [es] published by La Mula in January 2012.) Still defending the lakes, anti-mining protesters such as Elmer face a new threat in a new law that allows police to use deadly force without fear of consequences.

Three days later they reached the Maque-Maque crossroads, between the Azul and El Perol lakes, two of the four lakes threatened by the project. Meanwhile, a general regional strike had been declared in opposition to the mine. In the early morning of November 29, a confrontation broke out when some 30 police officers contracted by Minera Yanacocha to guard the concession site ordered the protestors to go away. The police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition.

When the police started firing, Elmer went to aid one of his friends and was shot in the back. He lost consciousness and was taken to the city of Chota, and then to the coastal city of Chiclayo, where he was hospitalized for a week. He lost a kidney and his spleen, and suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the waist down. An estimated 24 other protestors were injured in the Maque-Maque crackdown.

(infoconga.wordpress)

(infoconga.wordpress)

People in Cajamarca know all too well of the impacts of large scale gold mining. For the past two decades, Newmont Mining and Buenaventura have operated the Yanacocha mine, the largest open-pit goldmine in South America. A planned expansion known as the Conga project is said to assure another twenty years of production. The total investment tops $4.8 billion, one of the biggest ever in Peru’s mining sector. A plant with the capacity to process 92,000 tons of rock a day would produce 3.1 billion pounds of copper and 11.6 million ounces of gold (an executive summary of the project's Environmental Impactv Study, or EIA, is accessible here [es]).

Compañía de Minas Buenaventura is Peru's largest publicly traded precious metals company and a major holder of mining rights throughout the country. It has two big U.S. partners: Denver-based Newmont Mining at Minera Yanacocha in Cajamarca and Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan at Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde in Arequipa. Peru is the world's sixth-largest gold producer.

Protesters have challenged the Conga mine for the past several years, and police repression is currently the subject of two legal proceedings in Peru. The first is a criminal investigation against the two commanding police officers the day of the attacks, Coronel Amador Bacalla Guadalupe and Captian Wagner Ocampo Huamán. The second is a civil lawsuit against the police authorities [es] and responsible government officials.

Elmer simply wants justice [es]: “I didn’t do any harm and the authorities have been very cruel. I don’t know what will happen to me, the doctor says there is nothing that can be done to my spinal cord.” Mar Pérez, a lawyer at the National Human Rights Coordinator, representing Elmer, adds: “We seek justice, accountability, and greater protection for human rights, and to end a culture of impunity for police repression of legitimate protest activity.”

The struggle has returned to the United States as well. On January 2, 2014, EarthRights International (ERI), representing Elmer Campos, filed a federal court motion in Newmont's hometown, Denver, Colorado, seeking information held by the company including photographic and video evidence, reports of Yanacocha security or employees, records of communications with the police, and internal company communications, that shed light on the events of that day and for the benefit of the Peruvian legal proceedings. The action was filed under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, a law which allows parties in foreign legal proceedings to obtain documents and information from individuals or companies in the United States.

“Police repression of social protest against mining operations is endemic in Peru,” said Benjamin Hoffman, ERI’s Amazon Staff Attorney. “The problem is exacerbated in cases like this where public police officers are deployed in the service of private security.”

Elmer and ERI’s legal action attracted considerable attention in late January in the Peruvian press [es] and social media. This coincided with a coordinated offensive to present the local leaders opposed to Minera Yanacocha in Cajamarca as “backed by foreigners interested in blocking the economic development of our country,” as a researcher associated with the mining sector claimed recently [es] in El Comercio newspaper. The propaganda campaign [es] to delegitimize local leaders also targeted the Piura region, where Buenaventura wants to develop the El Faique gold project.

A Violent Consensus

Starting with a strong precedent under former President Alan García, government response to protest in Peru has been overwhelmingly militarized. Steven Levitsky calls it the “Lima consensus” [es]: Lima elites adhere to orthodox neoliberalism, such that the use of lethal force seems to be a legitimate way to deal with social protests in mining areas. Despite the fact that Ollanta Humala’s administration has sometimes sought more political and negotiated means, this consensus remains in place.

A report released in December 2013 by Peruvian NGOs Grufides, Derechos Humanos Sin Fronteras (Human Rights without Borders), the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (National Coordinator for Human Rights, CNDDHH), and the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) of Switzerland, revealed that foreign mining corporations have signed agreements with the National Police to secure their operations. These agreements allow them to request permanent police presence or ask for rapid deployment of larger units to repress social protests. In some cases, the report reveals, the companies provide the police with full financial and logistical support.

International human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others, have asked President Humala to prevent the unlawful use of lethal force by security forces during crowd-control operations. But Peru’s government seems to be going in the exact opposite direction, as an article in the penal code was modified last month in a way that critics say allows police and the military to use deadly force without facing consequences. The new Law 30151 says that members of the Armed Forces and the National Police are “exempt from criminal responsibility” if they cause injury or death through the use of their guns while on duty.

In a statement [es] condemning the law, the Public Ombudsman’s office recalled that since mid-2011, 34 civilians have been killed and more than 949 people wounded in social conflicts, including five military and 357 police. A number of national [es] and international human rights organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [es] have also condemned Law 30151.

As Yanacocha comes to exhaustion, mining operations need to expand. The Conga project is one of these expansion plans, perhaps the most ambitious. A long history of mining conflicts in Cajamarca suggests that Elmer’s struggle for justice will be a long one, and in all likelihood, one of many.

Show Me an ‘Animal-Driven Constitution', Demands Zambian President

As questions began to emerge over Zambian President Michael Sata's commitment to following through on a campaign promise for a new constitution, the leader stunned with a comment mocking calls for a “people-driven” constitution by asking if any country had ever passed an animal-driven one.

During a swearing in ceremony of constitution office holders, the only time Sata publicly addresses the nation on television, he said:

And for all of you here, ask the most learned woman here, [acting Chief Justice] Madam [Lombe] Chibesakunda. You are always saying people-driven constitution, people-driven constitution. Madam, where do you have an animal-driven constitution? […] Have you ever seen an animal-driven constitution, which country because everybody is talking of people driven constitution, so once you produce the animal driven one, let’s ask Mr Phiri, once you produce the animal driven constitution, we compare the two constitutions, what we have and then we shall look at that.

As an opposition party, Zambia’s now-ruling party the Patriotic Front defeated the then-ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) in 2011 with a promise that when elected into office in elections later that year, it would pass a new constitution within 90 days of taking office.

A few weeks into office, President Sata appointed a technical committee to look into the previous constitutional making processes to come up with a new document. The promised landmark difference with the previous processes was to be that the draft constitution was going to be simultaneously released to both the government and the public and a referendum held.

People holding a banner demanding that President Sata releases the draft constitution. Picture used with permission of The Zambian Voice.

People holding a banner demanding that President Sata releases the draft constitution. Photo used with permission of The Zambian Voice.

With shifting deadlines and the constitution making process running into two years, the government changed its approach and asked the technical committee to only print ten copies of the draft constitution, which the cabinet was to study first. The draft constitution was later leaked via Zambian Watchdog and is now known as the “eleventh copy”.

Some started to cast doubt on Sata’s commitment to enacting a new constitution when he said that the country did not need a fresh document altogether but only amendments to certain clauses. At another time, Sata said the current constitution was still good because six elections had been held under it.

Nyalubinge Ngwende on his Brutal Journal blog wrote:

[…W]hen it comes to the constitution, President Sata will not fool us. The building of roads, universities, more schools and health facilities come to mean nothing if the citizens are enslaved by political tyranny that refuses to hand them a constitution meant to unleash their full liberties and broaden opportunities for citizens, regardless of their geographical position on the global map. 

 A people driven constitution is our choice and not that of PF! 

Ngwende goes on to explain what is meant by a people-driven constitution in a country where Cabinet with the President as the head has a played a bigger role in the enactment of constitutions by excluding clauses that people had recommended and infusing those favouring the rulers:

When civil society activists are talking of a people driven constitution, they mean a good document that will stand the test of time; with statutes that meet the aspirations of the people and one that the people themselves will agree to.

Joining a chorus of other opposition politicians and civil society organisations, MMD President Nevers Mumba commented:

I think that God has allowed him to lose his way because I can’t imagine a President making such comments. What Zambians are saying is that look, we want a better constitution in which we participate in its formulation […] For him to make such comments shows arrogance of the highest level. I appeal to the President to be presidential about this matter. We are determined to have a new constitution, with or without him anyway.

Sata ordered government officials not to respond to the constitution debate. However, his Justice Minister and PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba during a visit to Malawi probably gave away the biggest fear his government had in the draft document—50 percent plus one threshold for election to the office of the president and a presidential running mate for the office of vice president. Kabimba said:

There are all these demands about 50 percent plus one constitutional provision, running mate constitutional provision without taking into account that where these provisions obtain they have caused more problems than the solutions they should have brought about to society.

We can learn from others. We don’t have to make the same mistakes that others have made in order to do the right thing.

February 24 2014

Al Qaeda Calls for Jihad in Bangladesh

Screenshot of a video by Ayman al-Zawahiri

Screenshot of a video by Ayman al-Zawahiri

Global militant organization Al Qaeda has called for jihad in Bangladesh via a video released online. The audio message was circulated in a video featuring the leader of the organization, Ayman al-Zawahiri, calling for followers to resist what he called anti-Islamic conspiracies and launch an “intifada” (uprising) in Bangladesh.

He invited Muslims in Bangladesh:

To confront this crusader onslaught against Islam, which is being orchestrated by the leading criminals in the subcontinent and the West against Islam, the Prophet of Islam and the Islamic creed, so that they may turn you into slaves of a despotic and disbelieving system.

Here is a transcription of the video message (PDF).

The entire clip lasting 28 minutes and 58 seconds, titled “Bangladesh: Massacre Behind a Wall of Silence”, features the message from al-Zawahiri along with his image as well as others, such as the Hifazat's rally in May last year. Aaron Y. Zelin, who runs the site Jihadology, reported in an interview to EuroBDNewsOnline.com that he is certain that this voice is of Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Bangladesh’s elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) tracked the source of the message and arrested Rasel Bin Sattar Khan for circulating the controversial message from Al Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri. He is an admin of controversial Facebook page Basherkella and some other militant blogs [bn] believed to be run by extremist operatives. He confessed [bn] that he started spreading this video in Bangladesh, which was first uploaded in a Pakistani website.

Recently in Bangladesh, religious extremist organizations like Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islam have engaged in a lot of violence. Some netizens have speculated that the call for jihad in Bangladesh is somehow related.

Diaspora legal practitioner Rayhan Rashid (@rayhanrashid) tweeted:

Jamaat, who once worked fought against the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan, had always denied their involvement with militants. However, Mofaqkharul Taufique wrote that Jamaat can no longer deny the truth given this video:

এ বার ভিডিও-বার্তায় প্রকাশ্যেই জামাত-নেতাদের পাশে দাঁড়ালেন আল কায়েদার শীর্ষ নেতা আয়মান আল জাওয়াহিরি। এর পরেও কি কেউ বলবেন যে জমাত জঙ্গী সংগঠন নয় ?

In this video message, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has openly supported Jamaat. Can anyone deny that Jamaat is not a militant organization?

Jamaat and Hefazot both have officially denied any involvement with Al Qaeda.

Activists of Hefajat-e Islam march through as part of its Dhaka siege programme to press home its 13-point demand, near Buriganga Bridge-1. Image by Firoz Ahmed. Copyright Demotix (5/5/2013)

Activists of Hefajat-e Islam march as part of its Dhaka siege programme to press home its 13-point demand that includes the arrest of atheist bloggers. Image by Firoz Ahmed. Copyright Demotix (5/5/2013)

Dr. Imran H. Sarker, a blogger and the spokesperson for the Shahbag movement activists, a movement that supports the death penalty for liberation war criminals, wanted to hear reactions from other political parties:

এক ভিডিও বার্তায় জামাত- হেফাজতের আন্দোলনকে সমর্থন করে ধর্মের নামে মানুষ হত্যার কথিত জিহাদের ডাক দিয়েছে আল-কায়েদা প্রধান আয়মান আল জাওয়াহিরি।

জোটবদ্ধ রাজনৈতিক দলগুলোর প্রতিক্রিয়া কি? যুদ্ধাপরাধী, সন্ত্রাসী সংগঠন জামাত-শিবির, হেফাজত কে নিষিদ্ধ করতে আর কতো অপেক্ষা?

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has called for jihad (killing humans for religion) supporting the cause of Hefazot/Jamaat.

What are the reactions of different political parties and alliances? How long will it take to ban anti-liberation and militant organizations like Jamaat, Hefazot?

Abdullah Al Mamun, a reader on Bangla daily Prothom Alo, commented:

এটি বাংলাদেশ নামক রাষ্টের প্রতি সরাসরি হুমকি বা হস্তক্ষেপ। এসব হুমকি আমাদের সবাইকে ভাবিয়ে তুলছে।

This is a direct threat against Bangladesh as a country. This has worried all of us.

Journalist Anjan Roy, however, called for verifying this video:

বাংলাদেশে প্রতিরোধ গড়ে তোলার আহ্বান জাওয়াহিরি- এই ভিডিওটি এখন আলোচনায়, প্রথমত দরকার ভিডিওটির তথ্য সত্যতা যাচাই। সত্য হলেও বিন্দুমাত্র শংকার নাই- আমরা শত্রু এলে অস্ত্র হাতে লড়তে জানি। এটা আফগানিস্তান না, পাকিস্তান না। এটা বাংলাদেশ- আল কায়দাকে কায়দা করতে দেয়ার জন্য আমাদের পিতা আর ভাইয়েরা যুদ্ধ করেন নি। আমাদের মা আর বোনরাও জানেন কিভাবে অনুপ্রেরণা দিতে হয় প্রিয়জনকে যুদ্ধে যাবার।

Al-Zawahiri called for resistance in Bangladesh – this video is a source of a hot debate. First we need to determine whether the video is credible or genuine. We need not worry even if this is true. This is not Afghanistan or Pakistan. We Bengalis know how to fight. Our fathers and brothers did not fight the independence war to let Al Qaeda reign. Our loved ones know how to prepare ourselves for fight.

A K M Wahiduzzaman wrote that this video has another purpose – to spark debate in the political arena:

দেশে-বিদেশে যখন এই বিচার বহির্ভূত হত্যাকাণ্ডের তীব্র সমালোচনা হচ্ছে, এমন কী সভ্যদেশগুলো যখন এই হত্যাকারী বাহিনীর সদস্যদের প্রশিক্ষণ কর্মসূচি বাতিল করছে। তখন ‘বিডি নিউজ ২৪’ গত ১৪ জানুয়ারি আল শাহাব মিডিয়ার তৈরি এবং জিহাদোলজি ডট নেট সাইটে প্রকাশিত একটি ভিডিও বার্তা নিয়ে মাঠ গরম করে বিচার বহির্ভূত হত্যাকাণ্ডের বৈধতা দেবার পাশাপাশি জঙ্গী ইস্যু দিয়ে পশ্চিমাদের মন গলানোর চেষ্টা করছে।

আরে গর্ধবের দল, ওটা সত্যি হলে আরো একমাস আগেই পশ্চিমা মিডিয়া এবং আল জাজিরা লিড নিউজ করতো।

When there are talks in the country about extrajudicial killings of security forces, even some countries have cancelled training for these security forces amidst the controversy. At this very moment, a video released by the Jihadology.net site and made by Al Shahab media is being highlighted by BDNews24.net to harp on militancy issues.

If this was real, international media and Al Jazeera would have made it top news a month ago.

The government is investigating the threat by Al Qaeda, but State Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal does not see it as a big threat. Security Analyst Major (Retired) Abdur Rashid said in an interview with BBC Bangla that Bangladesh should not take it lightly:

আল কায়েদার শক্তি কমে গেলেও ভাবাদর্শগতভাবে বাংলাদেশে তাদের অনুসারী আছে। তারা উজ্জীবিত হয়ে আল-কায়েদার সহায়তায় কোন নাশকতা করতে পারে। এ আশংকাকে আমি উড়িয়ে দিচ্ছি না।

Although Al Qaeda has been weakened, a number of dedicated followers of them exists in Bangladesh. We cannot rule out any violent activity by them after the support of Al Qaeda.

Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, a retired air force official and a security analyst, commented in an op-ed in the Daily Star:

Those of us who dream of a democratic state, a multi-religious, multi-cultural society, an educated, healthy and prosperous nation, the Zawahiri message, even if it is a hoax, is a stark reminder that we have an enemy at the gate, and only together we can defeat it. We as a nation need to close ranks on the minimum agenda, and on the question of fighting religious extremism there is no other option but a national consensus.

A Day to Strengthen Portugal's Open Data Community

A typical rabelo boat from Porto carrying the open data flag for the #OpenDataDay. Banner by Transparência Hackday.

A typical rabelo boat from Porto carrying the open data flag for the #OpenDataDay. Banner by Ana Carvalho / Transparência Hackday.

[Disclosure: The author of this post was one of the organizers of the event.]

Pro-transparency and tech for citizenship enthusiasts from different cities in Portugal joined in the global Open Data Day celebration with a gathering in Porto hosted by the Transparência Hackday collective on February 22, 2014.

Designers, programmers, hackers, communicators and public servants dedicated a Saturday afternoon to sharing their experience with transparency issues as well as to opening some data to the public.

Hands-on tasks included the Local Open Data Census by Open Knowledge Foundation, which aimed at putting together data sets at the local level, from transport timetables to annual budgets and air quality:

We know there is huge variability in how much local data is available not just across countries but within countries, with some cities and municipalities making major open data efforts, while in others there’s little or no progress visible. If we can find out what open data is out there, we can encourage more cities to open up key information, helping businesses and citizens understand their cities and making life easier.

By the end of the day, the cities of Coimbra and Porto had quite a full range of information available in a collaborative document that will be used to update the Open Knowledge instance for Portugal once it has been setup by the international organization.

A different group took on the yogurt cataloging challenge launched by Open Food Facts, a free, open and crowdsourced food products database. The idea behind “What's in my yogurt?” project was to gather nutrition facts, ingredients and other dairy data from as many countries of the world as possible in just one day. So did the Portuguese

Data ‘visualinspiration’

The cherry on top for this fourth anniversary of the International Open Data Day was the presentation of the designer and researcher Pedro Cruz from the University of Coimbra of his work on data visualization.

The association for cultural intervention Maus Hábitos (Bad Habits) opened its door for the open data venue.

The association for cultural intervention Maus Hábitos (Bad Habits) in Porto opened its door for the venue of the #OpenDataDay in Portugal.

The journey started with Pedro's data visualization of the evolution of the decline of the maritime empires of the 19th and 20th centuries by land extension. In the timeline of events, British, Portuguese, French and Spanish empires dissolute in a fluid way as “some kind of soft bodies”. Other works by him include the traffic of Lisbon condensed in one day – or portrayed as a metaphor of living organisms with circulatory problems – as well as text analysis, public transport exploration, and much more.

“An ecosystem of corporate politicians“ - interactive visualization at pmcruz.com/eco.

“An ecosystem of corporate politicians“ – interactive visualization at pmcruz.com/eco.

But his most recent deed, the interactive visualization ”An ecosystem of corporate politicians” – on the relationships between members of Portuguese governments and companies for the period of 1975 to 2013 – was the one sparking more debate.

The powerful visualization shows the companies where ministers and secretaries of state have had positions and allows for the exploration of what appears to be a parasite ecosystem, given the form of the designed organisms:

Data is approached as an ecosystem, where each set of interdependent relations are regulated by physical conditions—each politician has a sequence of companies to visit, chasing them and jumping between them, in order to restart the sequence each time it is completed.

The data was collected from a study on politics and business carried out for the documentary “Donos de Por­tu­gal” (Owners of Portugal).

Getting to know the community

Improve Coimbra was another project from the third main city of Portugal that participants had the chance to meet on #OpenDataDay in Porto. Alike the organizer in Porto, Transparência Hackday, Improve Coimbra promotes monthly meetings that anyone can join to help solve the problems of the city. In little more than one year of activities, Improve has already created several websites and mobile apps for the citizens of Coimbra, such as a platform for crowdsourcing home rents, a map of cafes with available wifi, and Burocracia which makes the minutes of Coimbra's city government assembly available and easy to search. 

Also the northern municipality of Alfândega da Fé was represented in this #OpenDataDay. Ranked in second place in the Index of Municipal Transparency [pt] launched in October 2013 by the watchdog Transparência e Integrigade, Associação Cívica (TIAC), this small municipality of the region of Trás-os-Montes, with less than 6,000 inhabitants, has been showing positive signs of willingness to open local governmental data

That was the ultimate aim of the event, after all, to encourage governmental data openness, and thus the #OpenData in Portugal has grown a bit stronger with more grassroots organizations and individuals dialoguing with each other and the world.

You can check out the agenda of the #OpenDataDay in a pad available in Transparencia Hackday's blog, and read more about the global event in the official website [all links in Portuguese]. 

Praise for Southeast Asia’s Winter Olympians

Yohan Goncalves Goutt representing East Timor in the Men's Slalom event.

Yohan Goncalves Goutt representing East Timor in the Men's Slalom event.

It does not snow in the Philippines and East Timor but the two Southeast Asian countries were represented in the recently concluded 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Yohan Goncalves Goutt, who qualified for the men’s Slalom event, became the first Timorese athlete to compete at the Winter Olympic Games. Meanwhile, Michael Martinez of the Philippines became Southeast Asia's first figure-skater in the Games.

Yohan founded East Timor's ski federation and raised $75,000 to fulfill his Olympic dream. He competed in the games, completed the race, and finished 43rd out of 117 players. There were 72 other racers who did not finish or were disqualified during the competition.

Yohan shared what he felt after finishing the race:

WOW what an Experience for Me !!!! This race will always stay in my memory and i hope Timor Leste History. It was hard starting last in one of the hardest course of my life but I finish !!! 43 out of 117 !!!
You are Great thanks for all your support !!!!

After this Olympic Games I felt that i have learned a lot and that i come out of this Games as a grown up man !!!

Before the game, he received a letter of commendation from East Timor’s Prime Minister. Naturally, the Timorese are proud of Yohan’s achievements. Below are some of the messages left by Yohan’s fans on his Facebook account:

Popo Lay: So proud of you Yohan!! Congratulations on being the first person to represent our nation in the winter Olympics and making history. You are a true Timorese hero and a role model for the next generation!

José Antonio G. Casimiro: A top 50 finish is a great achievement. I watched so many before you fall and not complete the race. I was praying that you would get a clean run, and you did. Thank you for putting our tiny little nation on the map.

Many were touched that Yohan wore a Timor clothing during the opening ceremonies:

Jacinta Barreto: You just showed us how to wear Timor tais in winter time…cool and fashionable. Best of luck Yohan..

Carla Araujo Machado: Congratulations! What an emotional moment when u were holding Timor-Leste flag! We are all very proud!

The country’s Minister of State Agio Pereira issued this statement of support for Yohan:

We commend Yohan for his commitment and his pride in Timor-Leste. His efforts, along with those of other athletes that represent Timor-Leste on the international stage, raise the profile of our country and increase interest and engagement.

Yohan Goncalves Goutt at the Sochi Games

Yohan Goncalves Goutt at the Sochi Games

Meanwhile, Filipino skater Michael Martinez was the Philippines’ sole representative in the Sochi games. He qualified in the finals and finished 19th.

Many Filipinos were inspired by Michael who learned to skate only in a shopping mall and he succeeded in becoming an Olympian despite being an asthmatic.

But while Filipinos cheered his triumphant participation in the Winter Games, many people criticized the government for the little assistance it gave to the young skater. It was also reported that Michael’s family had to mortgage their house in order to raise funds for Michael's Olympic preparation. Apparently, the president didn't receive the letter sent by Michael's mother asking for financial support because it was tagged as spam.

Writer Jessica Zafra praised Michael’s mother for guiding the talented teenager to achieve his dreams:

I know nothing about Michael's mother, but I know that she urged her son to fulfill his dream, no matter how borderline bizarre it seemed. Parenting is tough, and parenting a genuine talent is especially hard. You have to be honest about your child's abilities, you can’t let him harbor false illusions. You have to calculate his chances of success and make the necessary sacrifice. Congratulations, Mrs. Martinez, you are the coolest kind of mom.

Michael is back in the Philippines and was welcomed as a hero by his fellow Filipinos:

Celebrating Puerto Rican Poet Julia de Burgos on the 100th Anniversary of Her Birth

Julia de Burgos

Julia de Burgos. Screencap from video.

Poem titles given in English correspond with dual-language collection Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos.

February 17th marked 100 years since the birth of Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos (1914-1953), considered by many be the country's national poet. Although her body of work was relatively small, consisting of some 200 poems, the poetry of Julia de Burgos has succeeded in capturing readers’ imaginations and touching their hearts ever since her first book of poems, Poemas exactos a mí misma, was published in print in 1937.

De Burgos only published three books of poems during her life: the aforementioned Poemas exactos a mí misma [Exact Poems to Myself], Poemas en veinte surcos [Poems in Twenty Furrows, 1938], and Canción de la verdad sencilla [Song of the Simple Truth, 1939]. A fourth book, Mar y tú y otros poemas [The Sea and You and Other Poems], was published in 1954, after her death at age 39. The high quality of de Burgos’ poetry has earned her work a permanent place among the best Latin American poetry of the 20th century.

Julia de Burgos was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, and was the only one of 13 siblings to attend university. Although she did not graduate, she succeeded in obtaining a teaching certificate at the University of Puerto Rico. In 1936 she joined the women's branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, The Daughters of Liberty, who advocated for Puerto Rican independence under the leadership of Pedro Albizu Campos. She spent time living in Cuba and in New York, where she died of pneumonia in 1953. Because she carried no identification at the time of her death, she was buried in an anonymous grave in New York. Her remains were later transferred to a burial site in Carolina thanks to friends who were able to find the grave and claim her body.

De Burgos has become deeply imbedded in the collective imagination of Puerto Ricans living on the Island, as well as those of the diaspora. In the following video, Puerto Ricans of New York read excerpts from one of de Burgos’ most famous poems, “Yo misma fui mi ruta” (I was my own route).

According to José Gómez Biamón in his article for the online publication El Post Antillano [es], most of the activities commemorating de Burgos’ centennial took place outside of Puerto Rico:

[...] En el ámbito del Caribe Hispano, ha habido actividades, que demuestran un gran interés por el centenario, según se ha visto en la prensa recientemente. Específicamente, en la República Dominicana han develado un busto en honor a Julia de Burgos, en una plaza de la capital dominicana. Además, en Cuba la editorial Casa de las Américas ha expresado comunicados de júbilo, por la celebración del centenario. Igualmente, en los Estados Unidos ha habido varias actividades culturales, específicamente recuerdo ver en la prensa las fotos de un vistoso mosaico en una Calle del “Barrio” en Harlem, New York. Cabe mencionar, que en España, durante los últimos meses, también ha habido actividades y varias publicaciones relacionadas con Julia de Burgos.

[...] Judging by what has appeared recently in the media, there have been activities in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean that demonstrate a great interest in the centennial. Specifically, in the Dominican Republic, a bust in honor of Julia de Burgos was unveiled in a plaza in the Dominican capital. Furthermore, in Cuba, cultural organization Casa de las Américas has shared messages of celebration of the centennial. Likewise, there have been various cultural activities in the United States; in particular, I remember seeing photos of a remarkable mural on a street in “El Barrio,” in Harlem, New York. It should also be mentioned that in recent months, there were various activities and publications related to Julia de Burgos in Spain.

However, it should be noted that a large number of commemorative and celebratory events [es], like lectures and concerts, have taken place in Puerto Rico as well.

In an article on 80 Grados [es], Puerto Rican singer and composer Zoraida Santiago remembers Julia, who has been one of her great inspirations:

Este año hay mucha celebración de centenario. Sinceramente, me alegro. Pero espero que nos sirva para algo.

Que la celebración del centenario de Julia de Burgos nos sirva para rescatar la poesía. La suya y la de todos y todas las poetas.

This year the centennial is being widely celebrated. I'm sincerely happy. But I hope that it will serve a purpose.
I hope the hundredth anniversary of Julia de Burgos’ birth will serve to rescue poetry. Her poetry, and that of all poets.

Juan Camacho, in his blog post about Julia de Burgos, warns about the danger of her memory being reduced to the stereotype of the bohemian poet who lived a tragically short life:

Como cualquier ser humano de su época y de la nuestra, Julia enfrentó problemas e inconvenientes en el transcurso de su vida. Unos los pudo vencer, otros no. No obstante, entendemos que es injusto que se le recuerde, más allá del consenso de su calidad como poetisa, como la mujer fracasada, alcohólica, excesivamente romántica y pasional, enajenada de la realidad.

Julia fue más que un poema romántico; fue más que una relación amorosa; fue más que una mujer que enfrentó problemas.

Es hora de rescatar, sin que tengamos que reescribir la historia, a la otra Julia. A la otra Julia que también reclama la joven escritora Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro cuando escribe:

“Quiero conocer a la Julia revoltosa y desobediente; a la Julia de la rebelión, la que se codeó con Don Pedro Albizu Campos; que escribió cartas a favor de la excarcelación de Juan Antonio Corretjer; aquella que sostenía reuniones con grandes pensadores y libertarios como Juan Bosch…”

Like any human being of her time, or ours, Julia faced problems and obstacles over the course of her life. Some, she could overcome; others, she could not. Regardless, beyond the consensus about her excellence as a poet, it's unfair to remember her as a struggling alcoholic, excessively romantic and passionate, estranged from reality.

Julia was more than a romantic poem; she was more than a love affair; she was more than a woman who faced problems.
Without rewriting history, it's time to rescue the other Julia. The Julia sought by the young writer Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro when she writes:
“I want to know the unruly and disobedient Julia; the Julia of the rebellion, the one who rubbed shoulders with Don Pedro Albizu Campos; the one who wrote letters advocating for the release of Juan Antonio Corretjer from prison; the one who met with great thinkers and libertarians like Juan Bosch…”

Puerto Rican writer Luis Rafael Sánchez [es] has perhaps best articulated the reasons why we remember Julia de Burgos and, furthermore, how we should remember her:

Alargada en el espíritu de cuantos admiramos su hembría insurgente, enroscado su nombre en los labios de a quienes nos deslumbra su universo hecho de verso, a Julia de Burgos la llamaremos Poeta ahora, después y siempre. Y no porque la recordemos. Y sí porque la sentimos. Que como un grito integral, suave y profundo, estalló de sus labios la palabra.

Embedded in the spirit of all those who admire her rebellious femininity, her name entwined on the lips of those stunned by her universe of verse, we call Julia de Burgos a Poet, now, later, and always. Not because we remember her, but because we feel her. Like a primal cry, smooth and profound, her words burst from her lips.

You can find more information on Julia de Burgos here [es].

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