Echo

Karachi Riots  

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After Mumbai, now its Karachi. Newspapers report that four persons killed and 77 got injured in Karachi ethnic violence . GEO reports:

The riots started in Banaras area where unknown armed-men opened fire at passing vehicles and also pelted them with stones, killing four including a woman and injuring 54 others.

Unknown men also set on fire 7 vehicles in different parts of the city.
The media is reportedly downplaying the incident.

Quote of the day  

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"My powers of empathy, my ability to reach into another's heart, cannot penetrate the blank stares of those who would murder innocents with such serene satisfaction."
- Barack Obama, US president elect

Mumbai blasts  

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Slideshow courtesy Vinu from Vinu's Online Cloud.

Shock and dismay, loath and disgust. When will we bring back sanity in the world?

Full coverage at Global Voices Online.

Live updates at Twitter.

Bangladesh Election: The field gets heated up  

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After the deferral of polls to December 29, 2008 the Election commission of Bangladesh has met one of the demands of BNP and they are hoping that this will pave way for the all inclusive election. The BNP hailed the decision but is still hoping that their three demands including repealing the Section 91E of the Representation of the People Ordinance 2008 will be met. So there is still an element of doubt till the final submission of nomination, that is November 30, 2008.

Amidst all that we have seen the usual hate politics has started. The country is visibly divided in two major issues, the pro-Awami league front and the Anti Awami League front. The pro-Awami League front will bring issues like Razakar, war criminal and religious extremism. The Anti-Awami League forces will do anything in the world to oppose Awami League. Their favorite issue is to say that Awami League will again install the one party Bakshal system. And of course Awami League will sell the country to India for the umpteenth time.

Now conspiracy theories are flying all over and across. Hasina fears that the upcoming election might be engineered in BNP's way whereas the pro-BNP voices are fearing that this interim government setup will ensure Awami League's victory.

The latest rumor is that there might be an assassination attempt by the religious extremists on either Hasina or Khaleda by the religious extremists just like Benazir Bhutto's assassination.

I think all of these people should come to their senses and the parties should pitch their best candidates, good agenda and run a proper election campaign.

And the general people need to use their logic not their emotions while voting for a candidate. We need to break the shackle of confrontational politics.

Video of the day  

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Stacking bricks on the head and carrying them out from a boat: Filmed in Khulna. Although the jobs people do can be mundane, human beings find art in it.

Via : Things we woudn't know if we didn't blog it

Vote for Rising Voices  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

Rising Voices is one of the projects that I love to be associated with. I feel my adrenaline pumping every time I read about the efforts of common people across the world and how they are overcoming all the challenges to share them online. Bangladesh's Nari Jibon is just one of those examples.

Rising Voices provides micro-grant funding for more than a dozen community blogging projects in some of the most under-represented parts of the world. (Read this post for more info)

Jillian York comments on Rising Voices:

Although the global blogosphere on the whole might be growing proportionally..the majority of bloggers reside in cities, are middle class, have traveled. The blogosphere is, in other words, filled with people you already know.

That, in a nutshell, is what’s so great about Rising Voices. The idea of taking something so simple as blogging into a rural or poor or simply disconnected community and offering it up for grabs is one thing, then seeing it through, witnessing the always-unfinished project blossom is the best thing.
Watch this trailer to know more about some of the projects:

Rising Voices has been nominated for the prestigious Deutsche Welle “Best of the Blogs Award” (B.O.B.) in the category “Best Weblog”. The nomination itself is a great recognition as more than 8,500 weblogs were suggested for nomination and a jury selected the final 11 in each of 16 categories.

You can vote for it here till November 26th and view the results here.

Video of the day  

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Vote for Cox’s Bazaar in the New7Wonders.

Via M@qTanim

Election at last!  

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We have got some conflicting reports coming from Bangladesh. The government declared that the election will be on schedule i.e. December 18th after its frantic two-day negotiations with BNP-led 4-party alliance failed.

The government proposals the BNP could not agree with:

"Deferment of the parliamentary election by ten days to December 28, total lifting of the emergency at an appropriate time before the election taking into consideration the law and order situation, holding upazila elections on January 8, 2009, and implementing clause 91(e) of the amended Representation of the People Order (RPO) with utmost caution and accountability."
However Khaleda Zia announced today in a televised briefing after back-to-back meetings of her party and allies:
We will certainly participate in the [parliamentary] elections if it is held on December 28, but the government must implement our three other demands.
The three demands are – a complete withdrawal of the state of emergency on the last date of withdrawal of nomination papers for parliamentary elections, revocation of the Article 91(E) of the Representation of People Order that gives the Election Commission ‘despotic’ power to cancel candidature at any level of elections, and deferment of the upazila polls by one month from the date of ballot in the parliamentary elections.

So it shows that they want to contest in the election but are still in a bargaining mode. Probably they are still maintaining their farcical Hajj pilgrim vote argument as the reason to defer the election date by ten days.

The good side of today's developments is that we will have election with the participation of all parties and the bad side is the country cannot afford to be held ransom by these political games of certain political parties when everyone else is agreeing to the election at December 18.

Uncertainties in Bangladesh  

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"Is everything OK in Bangladesh?" asks BDfact. The government was to announce around 3 PM today a new poll date instead of 18th December.

BNP and its coalition is almost on the verge of boycotting the election. It was evident from their play with religious sentiments. Nazim Farhan Chowdhury bets that if BNP does not want something it does not happen. Let us see whether he is right or not.

Dr. Akbar Ali Khan, ex adviser of the past caretaker government commented:

"BNP will harm more to itself than to the country if it does not participate in the election"
But it seems they are not thinking about the nation instead of their chance of going back to power.

All the other parties including Awami League are all set for the December 18th Election. Will Bangladesh embrace for the change? We can only wait and see what happens next.

Update: The Bangladesh government declared that the elections will go ahead according to schedule that is December 18. According to BBC the BNP boycott would be a serious blow to the government's pledge that the elections will be the fairest in the country's history.

Video of the day  

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Traffic in Bangladesh - fuzzy logic.

Barack Obama's Flickr Photostream  

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Image by Flickr user Barack Obama used under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-SA)

US President elect Barack Obama anxiously waiting for the results on November 4, 2008.

(Via Joi Ito)

A lazy afternoon  

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A lazy Afternoon in Cheb, Czech Republic.

Links of the day  

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Video of the day  

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Watch for the background music of Palbasha Siddique at the end.

Absolute power, nothing else  

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The December 18 general election is crucial for Bangladesh as it will bring the country in the track of democracy after a corrupt BNP rule, years of dysfunctional parliament because of mindless boycott from Awami League and violent protests.

While most of the parties are ready for election, BNP is trying to create more obstacles by asking more time for the submission of nomination papers. It wants its jailed and loan and utility defaulter old corrupt faces to run for them again. It feels that in this election their chances are slim and they could lose many seats in the bargain with the coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami. So BNP wants to boycott election.

It is very sad to see that the BNP is not only refusing to apologize for the corruption and mistakes of their leaders but also bluntly demanding for their release so that they can contest in the election. Their 7 point demand is nothing but a glimpse of the confrontational politics which we have seen in the previous years.

While there is a rumor that the current caretaker government is favoring Awami League, I think people should this time be aware of the candidates before voting. People should vote for the candidates not only judging the party. We cannot let any party take the absolute power without accountability, which is bad for the country's politics. That is why BNP has to run the election to gather whatever seats they can, with whatever support they have.

But it seems they have decided for either absolute power or nothing. Bangladesh politics needs to grow up from this lunacy. Because we will head for confrontations straight away if BNP refuses to participate in the election.

And as for the convictions of corrupt leaders, the Economist has this to say:

The court cases against the two prime ministers have in effect been put on hold until the election. If the past is any guide, the next government will control the judiciary, so convictions will never happen. Observers believe that endless behind-the-scenes talks with the leaders, aimed at bringing their parties to the polls, are likely to have included guarantees by the two ladies not to put the losing rival in prison.
But then again what was the point in having those people behind the bars if we cannot set an example of accountability in the country?

I would like to see new parties, new leaders succeed in the mainstream politics. We had enough of the politics of acrimony and autocracies without accountability.

If anything Bangladesh could learn from the US election is that we need a leader who unites not divides the country across the party lines.

Picture of the Day  

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The Falling Leaves by Margaret Postgate Cole

Today, as I rode by,
I saw the brown leaves dropping from their tree
In a still afternoon,
When no wind whirled them whistling to the sky,
But thickly, silently,
They fell, like snowflakes wiping out the noon;
And wandered slowly thence
For thinking of a gallant multitude
Which now all withering lay,
Slain by no wind of age or pestilence,
But in their beauty strewed
Like snowflakes falling on the Flemish clay.

Obama, hopes and reactions  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

US president elect Barack Obama received a clear mandate from USA and with the support of the world became the first Democrat to win a majority of the popular vote since 1976. Here are some of the interesting reactions found around the web:

A reader writes in Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish:

Everything in my life is exactly the same as it was 30 minutes ago; and yet I feel as though everything is different.

I know Obama isn't going to fix the economy overnight, I know he won't be able to provide healthcare to all Americans by February '09. I know Obama isn't a Messiah who four years from now will have turned this country into a fabled utopia. But I also know Obama will make moral decisions. I know Obama will try to unite where others try to divide. I know Obama will help to make America the beacon of hope it once was to others. I know that at 27 years of age, I witnessed one of the most important and hopefully glorious chapters in American history.

I know hope.
A Bangladeshi-American writes:
Tears surged in my eyes as I left the polling place. This change is not the product of a brilliant fundraiser's fancy marketing campaign, but a very real transformation among people as they have moved through space & time and shared experiences with each other. If a black man with the middle named Hussein can become President of the United States of America, anything is possible.
Tigerhawk, a republican blog comments:
Forty years after Martin Luthor King gave voice to his dream, American voters have, by the many millions, judged a black man by the content of his character. I worry they are wrong on the substance and will argue like hell against his philosophy and policies, but I can also be happy that it happened and hope that Barack Obama governs as well as he campaigns.
Michael Moor writes in AlterNet:
Who among us is not at a loss for words? Tears pour out. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. A stunning, whopping landslide of hope in a time of deep despair.

In a nation that was founded on genocide and then built on the backs of slaves, it was an unexpected moment, shocking in its simplicity: Barack Obama, a good man, a black man, said he would bring change to Washington, and the majority of the country liked that idea. The racists were present throughout the campaign and in the voting booth. But they are no longer the majority, and we will see their flame of hate fizzle out in our lifetime.
The racists may not be a majority but their bites can still be felt.

Robert Spencer writes in Human Events that "Americans should be made decidedly uneasy by this Muslim enthusiasm for the new President." I guess in his eyes there are Muslims only. The KKK aren't too happy about the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. We hope that they will not be a majority again.

German news media 'Der Spiegel' termed it 'the resurrection of the American dream'.

Related Links:

The Bangladesh-Myanmar maritime boundary dispute  

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On the 1st of November four drilling ships from Myanmar started exploration for oil and gas reserves within 50 nautical miles south west of St. Martins Island, in Bangladesh. A South Korean company was awarded the oil and gas exploration contract in that place and two Myanmar naval ships escorted the drilling ships. Three naval ships of Bangladesh went to challenge them but the Myanmar Navy responded by alleging that the Bangladesh Navy ships are trespassing.

This escalated the maritime boundary disputes between Bangladesh and Mayanmar. Mayanmar vowed to continue with the exploration despite the territorial dispute with Bangladesh. Bangladesh Government warned the Myanmar envoy in Bangladesh to immediately suspend all activities within the declared maritime zones of Bangladesh in accordance with the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act 1974 of Bangladesh and sent a high level delegation to Myanmar.

Adding fuel to the fire four Bangladeshi woodcutters were shot dead by the Burmese Nasaka (border force) alleging trespassing into Burmese territory.

But what is the background of this dispute? The Bay of Bengal has become a lucrative territory for the adjacent countries especially after India's discovery of 100 trillion cubic feet of gas in 2005-06 and Burma's discovery of 7 trillion cubic feet of gas. India also discovered oil.

None of the countries in this region so far claimed their marine boundaries before the United Nations (UN). India and Myanmar agreed territory between themselves but they need to solve the maritime boundary issues with Bangladesh as they are set to file their claim to the United Nations on June 29 and May 21, 2009, respectively. Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Bangladesh too has to file its claim within July 27, 2011.

Bangladesh claimed in 2006 that Burma had encroached 18,000 square kilometers into Bangladesh waters and floated gas exploration tenders. The first round of talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh was in April this year but ended inconclusively in Dhaka. Both the sides then agreed to continue with the dialogue to reach a conclusion and meanwhile refrain from intruding into the disputed area for exploration.

Bangladesh has so far refrained from energy exploration in disputed waters. But Myanmar did not. So the country has the right to protect its sovereignty and has demanded the Burmese ships withdraw until a maritime boundary can be established through talks.

The Guardian reports:

The senior official from Burma's foreign ministry told Reuters: "We have no reason to stop the exploration activities since these blocks are located in our exclusive economic zone. We will go ahead with it."
Only a couple of months ago the Vice Chairman of Myanmar Ruling Government during his visit assured Bangladesh that Myanmar will not embark on any drilling in disputed areas of Bay of Bengal and will resolve the boundary dispute through bilateral discussions as per UN guideline. Bangladesh also pressed for early finalization of the demarcation. The next meeting between the parties is due in November 16-17th. Now why Myanmar is going into the offensive?

According to the Law of the Sea, Bangladesh can claims 12 nautical miles of territorial sea, 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zone, and 350 nautical miles of continental shelf in the Bay of Bengal and so does Myanmar.

India/Myanmar claim:


Bangladesh claim:



Images courtesy India Speaks

The main dispute on maritime boundary delimitation between Bangladesh and Myanmar centres around Bangladeshi views to demarcate in equity basis North to South while Myanmar wants it for eco–distance system in East to West boundary.

The issue is not so simple as there are many legal issues and international negotiations at stake. A famous case ruling by International Court of Justice on 'North Sea Continental Shelf' concerning maritime boundaries Federal Republic of Germany, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany and Netherlands describes the equity method (Page 7):
(1) delimitation is to be effected by agreement in accordance with equitable principles, and taking account of all the relevant circumstances, in such a way as to leave as much as possible to each Party all those parts of the continental shelf that constitute a natural prolongation of its land territory into and under the sea, without encroachment on the natural prolongation of the land territory of the other;
Barrister Harunur Rashid has a legal view of Bangladesh's claims.

Engr. Khondkar Abdus Saleque writes in Energy Bangla:
If we fail to stop aggression of neighbours to encroach our maritime boundary through proper diplomatic initiatives we must take resort to UN Convention and move to international court of justice to resolve maritime dispute. We can not afford to compromise our sovereign right on resources. [..]

For several months Bangladesh is discussing with Myanmar ruling junta for bilateral cooperation. Trade, energy, communication came under discussions. (But) Bangladesh did not make strong enough protests when ruling junta unleashed cruel actions against freedom loving Myanmar people were struggling for democratic rights.

In this situation it will not be unwise to consider Myanmar unilateral action as a fragrant violation of Bangladesh’s territorial integrity. If we fail to get the required response Bangladesh government must leave nothing unturned to protect our territorial integrity.
Myanmar earned $2.6bn from selling gas last year and these revues keep the country protected from western sanctions.

According to latest reports Myanmar stopped oil and gas exploration in deep-sea blocks in disputed waters in the Bay of Bengal on Thursday, a day after Bangladesh asked China for help over the row. But they are yet to remove vessels and equipment from Bangladesh territory.

Energy Bangla discusses Bangladesh's unresolved maritime boundary dispute with India. India is alleged to have encroached 19,000 square kilometers into Bangladesh waters. India Speaks defends the case for India:
India and Bangladesh started their bilateral talks way back in 1974, which was inconclusive. India was looking for equidistant border where Bangladesh was for equity based boundary. The same difference in arguments rendered Bangladesh-Myanmar talks inconclusive as well. But, India and Myanmar (opposite States) agreed upon equidistant boundary.
It cannot be denied that Bangladesh is now exposed to international oil and gas politics. We will see more such conflicts between India and Myanmar before 2011 when the maritime boundary is scheduled to be fixed by UN. The government should give more focus to the demarcation issue and employ proper experts and resources to bolster Bangladesh's case.

A Daily Star editorial says:
It is important that we make persistent and determined efforts to protect our interests. Bangladesh cannot afford to lose in the bargain for its legitimate share of the oil and gas rich Bay, which will only weaken our case for retaining the territorial waters that belong to us as per international laws.

Obama for Bangladesh  

Posted by Rezwan in , ,

First published in Global Voices Online

The US presidential election was closely watched by many nations in the world. Bangladesh was not far behind. In a recent post in Voices without Votes we see how Bangladeshi blogs engaged in cheering for Obama and McCain.

What impact the victory of the US presidential elect senator Barack Obama had on Bangladesh? Back to Bangladesh is a blog of a Bangladeshi who came back to the country after living many years in USA. The blogger writes about the sentiments this great victory produced:

Today was a very special day for anyone who loves America.

Grown men cried tears of joy, not just in America, but also in many other parts of the world.
Dhrubo Hasan writes a poem in his blog at the Bangla blogging platform Sachalayatan:
বারাক ওবামা, আমার এই ক্ষুদ্র ৩২ বছরের জীবনে
সবচেয়ে বড় আশাজাগানিয়া মানব তুমি!
…তোমায় স্বাগতম!!

Barack Obama, in my short span of life of 32 years
you are the greatest man I know who brings hope
.. you are welcome!!!
Lipna, a Bangladeshi expat in USA writes in her blog:
When I woke up today, walking on my way to office, I felt different, nothing was literally different, same people, same crowd, same city, same roads…still I smell something different in the air, I felt a change has started happening. I don’t know if it’s the believe that things will change with Obama’s powerful presence as a President or something is really around! But I strongly felt a vibe, I could foresee a better nation, a better future for America - the land of opportunities.
Tanim from Bangladesh writes in My Bangladesh about the amazing phenomena this election revealed:
“In this match of Donkeys vs. the Elephants, we saw an optimistically turbulent evolution where many recognized red states turned blue. And this was because, it was a win for people who seek change, a win for the youth deeming a message of unity from Obama, a change for US citizens from all the different color, creed, race, belief and communities – I haven’t seen a more unified United States of America until now.”
Tanim adds that this will have an impact in the coming parliamentary elections in Bangladesh on December 18, 2008:
He motivated and engaged young people from all walks and the middle-class of the United States, successfully mobilized them and created such an inspirational upsurge of youth takeover worldwide that I believe that this effect will be strongly felt in the upcoming polls here in Bangladesh as well.

Now we can proudly say that it’s not only ‘Obama for America’ but Obama for the World and let me be hopeful and emotional while saying ‘Obama for Bangladesh’ as well.
People say that the Obama story is possible in America, and only in America. Can it be replicated in Bangladesh? But then again Bangladesh needs a leader who can unite the parties.

Back to Bangladesh reminds what lessons Bangladesh could learn from this election:
And let's hope the Bangladeshi politicians learn a little from the grace that McCain showed:- none of that “hey to churi koira jitya gesey (to the opposition -he has won by vote-fraud)” stuff in December, ok?

Yes we can!  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

The next first family of USA.

A change has come.

Related links:

Full text of Obama's victory speech


Obama's victory speech video:



President-Elect Barack Obama: The blogosphere reacts

World leaders hail Obama’s ‘brilliant’ victory

The World's View of Obama's Win at TIME

US Presidential Election 2008 resources  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

Live results:





A list of web and mobile tools to monitor the US 2008 elections:

  • MyFairElection - Report your polling station’s
    condition on Election Day. (in partnership with ABC News)

  • TwitterVoteReport - Use twitter, SMS, audio call or an iPhone and Android applications to send in reports on Election Day. (in partnership with NPR)

  • Video Your Vote - Encourages people to video themselves voting and to upload those to YouTube. (in partnership with PBS)

  • VoterSuppression.net - A wiki where users can learn about and enter in reports of voter suppression.

  • Our Vote Live - A site documenting the voter assistance work of the Election Protection Coalition that uses a phone call-in system (866-OUR-VOTE).

(Via White African)

Live streaming video of US presidential Election coverage  

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Live streaming right now on MSNBC

Liveblogging US presidential election  

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Columbia University's international affairs blog, The Morningside Post, is hosting a global liveblog of the US presidential election today.

Voices without Votes liveblogs global reactions.

An hour-by-hour guide to election night.

Facebook users: 120 million strong  

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Allfacebook reveals that according to the site statistics Facebook has surpassed 120 million active users. If that was a population of a country then it would be the 11th most populous country in the world.

In UK it is more popular than BBC.

And is this a bit over ambitious?

"While numbers provided by Facebook vary and are not exact, the company is on track to potentially surpass 200 million active users by the end of the year."
Will wait and see.

Halloween in Germany  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

You might wonder what is the connection of a pre-Christian Celtic festival of the dead with Germany?

This Spiegel article reveals:

In the mid-1990s, few in Germany had ever heard of Halloween, and even fewer celebrated it. Now, it's a €150 million a year industry.
Dieter Tschorn, a German businessman started promoting the event in 1994 and it took off.



In 2007, 4,600 tons of pumpkins were sold in Germany, says Tschorn. One can buy Halloween bread at the baker's, Halloween sausage at the butcher's, Halloween cocktails at the bar and, of course, Halloween candy in the nation's supermarkets. Tens of thousands of German children now go door-to-door, holding out their bags and saying "sweet or sour," the German version of trick-or-treat.

The Halloween promoter says that the holiday has become an industry worth around €160 million in Germany, in third place behind Christmas and Easter. In 1994, that number was close to zero.


I recently went to the The Erlebnisshof Klaistow about 50km away from Berlin where a pumpkin festival was held. You can see all the innovative sculptures people can do with pumpkins here. The best pumpkin of the region weighs 260 kilos:

Tears for Obama  

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I hope with these hopeful and tearful eyes we will witness history today.

Voices Without Votes  

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From the Washington Post:

Voices Without Votes is an aggregator of the international blogosphere. An offshoot of the nonprofit site Global Voices, which aims to summarize the goings-on in every blogging corner of the World Wide Web, the site focuses solely on the U.S. presidential race. Voices Without Votes was born in early February -- yep, in time for Super Tuesday -- and it's edited by Amira Al Hussaini, a 35-year-old journalist from Bahrain who currently lives in Canada. The site's motto reads: "America votes. The world speaks.



Amira Al Hussaini of Global Voices. Photo by caribbeanfreephoto

"The Internet makes the world smaller, just a few clicks away, right?" says Al Hussaini, who was the former news editor at the Gulf Daily News, the largest English newspaper in Bahrain. With Voices, she says, "Americans can see, if they don't realize it already, that their votes affect the rest of us when it comes to foreign policy, the environment, the global market, you name it."

Scattered throughout the world, they scour the Internet, reading blogs and searching for mentions of the upcoming election. From February to August, 300 to 400 blog entries were featured on the site. It grew to 800 in September and about 1,100 this month.

There's no single directory of international blogs, Al Hussaini says, and she and her staff specialize in specific regions. They make sure that no one region is overrepresented on the site. It's a labor-intensive process. Though many sign their names in their blogs, just as many do not. Each volunteer has to read the blog, contact the blogger and locate where he or she is. "A lot of people write blogs without telling you where they're from," explains Al Hussaini, who speaks Arabic and monitors a list of about 1,000 blogs in the Middle East. Most bloggers write in English. Some, however, need translating.

Survival  

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A BBC documentary on child birth in rural areas of Bangladesh.

(Via ...in the beauty of all the Earth)

The real situation of the US economy  

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Juan Enriquez (2008) Pop!Tech Pop!Cast from PopTech on Vimeo

10 commandments for the next US President Elect by noted debt crisis expert Juan Enriquez:


Combining information and ideas from many sources, Juan enumerated an urgent, non-partisan10 point plan, to be implemented during the next administration’s first 60 days. Enriquez posited that failure to act – or, in his view, further misguided efforts – run the risk of triggering an irreversible economic collapse that could plague the American economy for decades. More here.