Image by Rezwan

Overcrowded passenger ferry capsized in the Padma River in Munshiganj, Bangladesh

The World Cup Goal-E Project

This street in Bangladesh has a colorful world cup celebration

New Chum Hill Ruins

Remnants of Kiandra gold mine at New Chum Hill, #nsw #australia

July 25, 2008

Today's Links

*Is Bangladesh's December election cancelled?

* How to engineer elections: A quick guide

* Bangladesh prepares new voter list.

* Run VOIP in your house and get arrested.

* 7 Reasons why Bangladesh should never allow transit to India.

* Bangladesh says 4 civilians killed in border clash

* BSF jawan killed in exchange of fire

* Bangladesh proposes legalisation of cattle trade along border.

* Book Review: 'The Peacekeeper' by Shabbir Ahsan

Obama in Berlin - Speech and video

Barack Obama was here in Berlin speaking to a massive audience in front of Siegessäule (victory column).

He talked about future foreign policy of America, arms control and unity with Europe in fights against terrorism. His speech was populist I should say touching all the recent problems in the world; he also mentioned Bangladesh once. Some excerpts:

Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin - people of the world - this is our moment. This is our time.
One CNN commenter commented that this has never happened for any other US president candidate. While Obama is rallying in foreign countries, McCain is busy holding meeting in small US town halls.

Here is the full text of the speech. And here is the video:

Barack Obama Berlin Speech - Part One

Barack Obama Berlin Speech - Part Two

Barack Obama Berlin Speech - Part Three

Update: The Gateway Pundit reminds - Obama talks about lifting a child In Bangladesh from poverty... John McCain already did.

July 24, 2008

Terrorism, freedom fight, murder, confession and heroism - its all Middle Eastern politics

Samir Kuntar - Photo courtesy Lisa Goldman

"Last week, Israel exchanged Samir Kuntar and four Hezbollah fighers for the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, two reserve soldiers who were abducted after being mortally wounded during a cross-border raid that sparked the Second Lebanon War on July 12, 2006.

Kuntar was convicted in 1979 of dragging 4 year-old Einat Haran and her father, Danny, from their Nahariya apartment to a nearby beach, where he murdered the little girl by smashing in her head with his rifle butt and killed her father by shooting him in the back and drowning him in the Mediterranean. Danny’s wife, Smadar Haran, hid with the couple’s 2 year-old daughter, Yael, in a crawlspace in their apartment. But she accidentally smothered Yael to death while trying to keep her from crying out by placing a hand over her mouth."

Lisa Goldman translates Samir Kuntar's version here alongwith all necessary links: - a must read.

July 23, 2008

On border clashes

The border clashes between India and Bangladesh continued. It seems a tension is deliberately being brewed. This time according to Indian media Bangladesh Rifles (BDR)has gunned down a Indian Border Security Force (BSF) member and injured a farmer. However report from Bangladesh side is yet to emerge.

It is interesting to note that the news quoted this:
Two Bomb Damage Repair (BDR) personnel were killed on the Indo-Bangla border in Murshidabad District last week. (ANI)
You can judge the quality of report yourself- it invented the term Bomb Damage Repair (BDR). Quite funny.

Here is what happened last week.

Assassination and accomplices

Khalid Shahinshah, the chief security officer of PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and a key suspect in BB’s murder was assassinated in Karachi.
Khalid Shahinshah, who was hired by Bhutto on the recommendation of her security advisor Rahman Malik, has been on the run ever since footage emerged of the strange gestures he had made while standing on the dais next to Bhutto while she addressed an election rally.

Shahinshah was standing on Bhutto’s left during her speech and ran a finger across his throat which implied slitting the throat. Security officials have expressed concern at his “suspicious gestures” which could not be ignored.
The Teeth Maestro has details.

July 22, 2008

Radovan Karadžić arrested

Goethe once said that "every offense is avenged on earth". This became true as the main person behind the Serbrenica Massacre against 8000 Bosnian Muslims Radovan Karadžić was arrested today in Serbia.

Support Rally For War Crime Suspect General Ratko Mladic & Radovan Karadžić
served by picapp.com

After being indicted by the UN tribunal for war crimes and genocide over the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica he disappeared in 1996. Mr Karadzic denied the charges against him and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the UN tribunal.

An international warrant was issued against him and the United States government had offered a $5 million award for his capture. The other accused general Ratko Mladić is still at large.

The accusations against him are:

* Two counts of genocide (genocide, complicity in genocide )
* Five counts of crimes against humanity (extermination, murder, persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds, persecutions, inhumane acts)
* Three counts of violations of the laws or customs of war (murder, unlawfully inflicting terror upon civilians, taking hostages);
* One count of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions (willful killing).

I hope he gets the punishment he deserves.


* A Dark Corner of Europe, Part I - Michael J. Totten

*A Dark Corner of Europe, Part II - Michael J. Totten

July 20, 2008

This is insane!

Just a month ago I blogged that a typical dinner in Zimbabwe can cost you more than a billion Zimbabwean dollars.

Now Zimbabwe introduces a $100 billion Zimbabwean dollars note. BBC reports:
The official annual inflation rate has exceeded 2,200,000%. Independent economists believe the real rate is many times higher. Zimbabwe's meltdown has left at least 80% of the population in poverty, facing mass shortages of basic goods.

Zimbabwe residents say the latest note is already worthless, and does not even cover their daily lunch. "Nowadays, for my expenses a day, I need about Z$500 billion".
This is not only weird, this is insane!

July 19, 2008

Cattle Kill again (or BSF)

I have said it before that the illegal border trades and the involvement of the border security forces in the smuggling are the key causes for the India-Bangladesh border strifes. We have seen trigger happy Indian border security forces (BSF) killing one Bangladeshi every five days on the charge of trespassing Indian borders.

Yesterday the BSF intruders into Bangladeshi soil maintained their legacy by killing two Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) jawans. The Daily Star reports:
BDR officials said BSF guards opened fired on their personnel when they challenged the latter for illegally entering about 1,300 yards into Bangladesh territory shortly after Thursday midnight.

A group of BSF guards from Neemtita camp under Murshidabad district entered Bangladesh crossing the River Padma on a speedboat and walked over a risen shoal to Raghunathpur village of Durlobhpur union under Shibganj upazila near pillar No 110.

Being informed, a patrol team of BDR from Raghunathpur border post led by Habilder Abdul Hannan Sarker rushed to the village and challenged the intruding BSF men for violating the line of control, reported our Chapainawabganj correspondent.

Two BSF bullets hit Hannan while six hit Lance Nayek Krishnopodo Saha as BSF men suddenly opened fire on them, killing them instantly. The bodies were recovered from a pool of blood. "Blood marks were also on the trail of BSF men's escape path." said Ataul Ghani, a villager.

Immediately after the killings, BDR retaliated with full force trading over 200 rounds of shots with BSF for about an hour.

"BSF intruded illegally and opened fire without any provocation," Director (Operation and Training) of BDR Col Abdul Halim told a hurriedly arranged news briefing at BDR Headquarters in Dhaka.

"In the face of BDR's counter attack, the BSF men fled leaving their speedboat behind," Halim said adding that they also arrested an Indian national from the spot.

"We've been informed that a BSF member also died in the gunfight," he told reporters. "The incident could have been prevented had the BSF not opened fire."
Now we will look at the contrast of reports in different news sources:

India said its troops had been chasing cattle smugglers and that both sides' forces had traded heavy fire. One Indian soldier was seriously injured.

Locals said Indian troops had opened fire on the cattle smugglers, perhaps without informing the Bangladeshi border force.
The Statesman:
Two jawans belonging to Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) were shot dead by a BSF constable near Nimtita border outpost in Murshidabad last night while they were allegedly escorting a group of cattle smugglers to Bangladesh.
The clash occurred when an Indian border patrol vessel tried to prevent cattle from being smuggled into Bangladesh on a boat, said Ashish Kumar Mitra, the head of India's Border Security Force.

The Indian forces were monitoring the boat in the pre-dawn darkness when they were fired upon without warning, Mitra said.

Col. Mohammad Abdul Halim (of BDR) said the Indian Border Force patrol boat entered Bangladeshi waters and when a Bangladeshi Rifles vessel challenged them to leave, the Indians opened fire.

The Bangladesh Rifles arrested an Indian citizen, Anjam Hossain, and seized a boat at the scene.
District Magistrate (of Murshidabad) Subir Bhadra said the BDR opened fire when cattle were being smuggled to Bangladesh near Nimtita area of the district.

The BSF retaliated after an Indian border guard was injured in the BDR firing, Bhadra said.
ExpressIndia in an another article:
According to the BSF, four teams of their personnel were monitoring the river around midnight when a large number of cattle were spotted swimming in the river. BSF jawan R K Pande found himself surrounded by a dozen boats while he was trying to bring the cattle towards the Indian side. “It was dark and before the jawan could make any move, Pande was fired upon,” Murlidhar said. The two sides then exchanged fires. Pande, who had sustained bullet injuries with his right toe blown off, meanwhile, managed to reach another border outpost.
Thaindian News reports that Pande fired first:
BSF Inspector General (South Bengal) C.V. Murlidhar told IANS that BSF constable R.K. Pande was on night patrolling when he saw a few people smuggling out some cattle through the riverine border.

“In an attempt to stop the cattle from going to the other side of the fence, he opened fire targeting the smugglers in the dark. Pande also sustained two bullet injuries in his legs during the gun battle. He’s now admitted to a hospital in a critical condition,” Murlidhar said.
China View:
The senior official who asked not to be named said the Indian BSF entered the Bangladesh territorial water last night while chasing some smugglers by speed boats in the Padma river, one of the three biggest rivers in Bangladesh.

As a BDR patrol team challenged, the Indian BSF opened fire killing two Bangladeshi border guards on the spot. BDR made counter fire forcing the Indian BSF to retreat
Sify.com reports:
The BDR had no business to be there at such hours.

Besides infiltration from the Bangladesh side, cattle smuggling from India is common, primarily for beef in Muslim-majority Bangladesh.

India prohibits cattle exports, as beef consumption is frowned upon by the country's majority Hindu population.
Now you see people may easily be distracted by all these news as almost none of them are telling the true story. Now can we summarize the important information from the above?

* Many reports confirmed that the Indian patrol boat entered Bangladesh territory (1300 yrds to be precise). The boat was seized along with an Indian citizen. He is a prime witness to this.

* BSF claimed that they were chasing cattle smuggler. "BSF jawan R K Pande found himself surrounded by a dozen boats while he was trying to bring the cattle towards the Indian side." Well I thought it was the smugglers we were taking about not the cattle. Why were they protecting the cattle?

* In border region the norm is that the forces challenge any trespasser before shooting. BDR said they challenged the intruding BSF men for violating the line of control and they were shot in return. BSF commented "the BDR had no business to be there at such hours" - seemingly they did not anticipate BDR intervention to what they were doing in Bangladesh waters.

* Was the BDR men helping the smugglers as per BSF's suggestion? But wait we also get the report in Express India "BDR opened fire when cattle were being smuggled to Bangladesh". Quite confusing.

* Indian troops had opened fire on the cattle smugglers, perhaps without informing the Bangladeshi border force. - In any logic how can you unprovocatively shoot in a foreign territory on suspicion? Do they have authority to kill on their will? Does the country have any law of shooting alleged criminals (who determines who is guilty?) at sight?

* The Indian forces were monitoring the boat in the pre-dawn darkness when they were fired upon without warning. The BSF retaliated after an Indian border guard was injured in the BDR firing - We are back to the who fired first issue and the Indian newspaper reports are quite contradictory (Pande shot first or was fired upon?).

* India prohibits cattle exports, as beef consumption is frowned upon by the country's majority Hindu population. - Well if it was legalized all these men would not have died.

All of these proves that we need some authentic pieces of journalism to understand these kinds of incidents. Apparently some people are hiding something here and we are getting provocative news reports which are anything other than the truth.

Update: BSF kills two more Bangladeshis n Chougachha border in Jessore Saturday, a day after two BDR members were killed by Indian border guards:
"Rezaul Islam and Zainal Abedin were near the barbed wire fencing in Panchpirtala border area around 5am. At the time, BSF members from Moshrumpur border opened fire on them.

BDR Jadavpur company commander Mosharraf Hossain alleged that the BSF had killed the two Bangladeshi youths without any "provocation"

July 18, 2008

Today's Links

* Indians 'kill Bangladesh guards'

* The tamasha that is SAARC - Who really cares and benefits?

* Bangladesh has one of highest trade barriers: World Bank

* Bangladesh attorney general quits.

* A Refined Pakistan Model in Bangladesh?

* U.N. hails Bangladesh's anti-graft drive.

Bangladeshi beauty

As seen in Flickr. Check also the Faces of Bangladesh.

YouTube Video of the day

July 16, 2008

Bangla blogging platform banned in Bangladesh?

Since 15th of July many readers/bloggers of the Bangla blogging platform Sachalayatan (around 300 bloggers and 500 readers per day) are complaining that they cannot access it from Bangladesh. However they could access it via proxy.

BDNews24.com reported it today (translated summary):
There was a complaint that a Bangla Blog named Sachalayatan has been blocked in Bangladesh. Arup Kamal, One of the founders of the blog told BDNews24.com from Malaysia over phone that "after posting an article on war-criminals recently the site has been banned."

He confirmed that it can be accessed everywhere in the world except Bangladesh. Sachalayatan is an online writers forum which focuses on literature and contemporary issues.
Another Bangla Daily Prothom Alo reported the news with a question mark "Is Sachalayatan banned?" (translated excerpts):
We have asked Mr. ABM Habibur Rahman, head of the internet division of BTCAL whether this is true or not. He refused to comment. The blog authority have said that there is no technical error as it can be accessed elsewhere in the world.
A blogger of Sachalayatan talked with the head of BTCAL internet division and comments that it has been censored in Bangladesh.

I condemn this heinous act if its true. Please spread the news.

For the readers in Bangladesh, you can use any of these proxies to enter the site.

Update: Sources reported that it was a ban on a illegal VOIP soft-switch bearing the same IP. So Sachalayatan was the collateral damage of the ban. But the authority never confirmed or commented on this. Sachalayatan can now be seen from Bangladesh as it has recently changed its IP.

July 15, 2008

World's oldest blogger is no more

A 108-year-old Australian woman named Olive Riley has died two weeks after posting the last post in her blog. Details in Salon.

(Via Anthony Loewenstein)

An US military base in Bangladesh?

A secret meeting was held in Bangladesh between the US and Bangladesh authorities to discuss US Marine Corps assistance to Bangladesh in surveying and managing its borders with India. The goal is being shown as identifying routes of movement of terrorists and religious extremists. But in fact there is a deeper context. According to The Bangladesh Today:
The proposal for such a joint survey of borders with foreign military forces was violently opposed by intelligence agencies and the Armed Forces Division (AFD). Nonetheless, AFD has already received instructions from the Office of the Chief Advisor to allow such surveys with US Forces. Sources further confirm that US forces are already on ground carrying out those surveys and have in fact carried out visits to various bordering areas including Banglabandh.
It came as a surprise because USA does not have any MOU or Status of Forces Agreement with Bangladesh to carry out such activities.

BDFact has some observations in this regards:
* The US has reportedly made a proposal for surveyin Bangladesh's air fields. It is assumed that they may be allowed for the survey only in the southern region.

* The US has requested terrain intelligence information about different infrastructural installations in Dhaka City and sought ground inspection permission as such. It is learnt the concerned ministries have acquiesced with the former's proposal. It seems an attempt for Intelligence Preparation for Battle (IPB) by the former.

* In order to take part in the proposed Command Post Exercise, the US has reportedly proposed the Bangladesh Government to allow US Marine ships to come up to the inland waters at Narayanganj.

Questions have been raised if the CTG has already secretly signed the much-debated Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the US which is now using the treaty provisions for requesting this kind of sensitive information.
And some speculations why the US are up to this exercise:
It is also learnt that the US forces in Iraq will be gradually pulled out very soon and some of those soldiers will be stationed in various friendly countries near to the region. Bangladesh is reportedly is chosen to house some 10,000 strong US forces, when such withdrawal takes place.

A likely place to allow camping of the US Soldiers is the Korean EPZ in Chittagong. The KEPZ has not gone into operation and acres of land are barren in the protected areas, where construction work is going for an airport runaway. It is learnt the former US Ambassador Buetenis who is now deputy head of the US Embassy in Iraq made several trips to Bangladesh recently, only to evaluate progress of works for this camp.
The question is will Bangladesh be turned into a launching pad for the US for its military forays in the neighborhood?

Why is America pleading with Bangladesh?

What would it take to make the mighty lone superpower come crawling on hands and knees to tiny Bangladesh? The Republican Riot has the answer.

July 14, 2008

YouTube Video of the day

“The Internet” music video via OneWebDay

Electoral reforms in Bangladesh

The Bangladesh cabinet approved the Representation of the People Ordinance 2008 (replacing earlier version made in 1972) which has these salient features:

The Daily Star has details.

In text all these sounds promising. But it remains to be seen how these are applied. Hope this will change Bangladesh politics for good.

Update: The reactions of the political parties via an ordinary citizen:
AL acting President Zillur Rahman said that they do not accept the amendments made by the CTG and CTG has no right to make the ordinance.

Brigadier Hannan Shah, the BNP leader also refutes the amendments. But Major(Rt) Hafiz of other group of BNP told that the ordinance includes many of the proposals suggested by them. He criticized the negative voting.

July 11, 2008

Today's Links

* Bangladesh makes Internet use free for primary schools.

* Bringing Bangladesh into the Internet age.

* Bribe-takers found in Bangladesh's anti-corruption body.

* India, Bangladesh pay too much for state workers: study

* BANGLADESH: Arsenic detector saving lives.

* Bangladesh ex-PM offers olive branch to rivals.

* Terrorists in Bangladesh?

* Bangladesh: Government is silent on Al Qaida presence.

The largest Non-profit (NGO) in the world

Did you know which is the largest Non-profit organization (NGO) in the world? Its BRAC of Bangladesh. An ordinary citizen has details.

YouTube Video of the day

Father and Daughter - Paul Simon with photos taken by Anne Geddes

July 10, 2008

Technology business rules in the developing countries

Katy Bacon at the official Google.org blog writes about the mobile phone revolution in Africa:
It is the story of Safaricom, the most successful telecom company on the continent. Safaricom started trading publicly on the Nairobi stock exchange in June and catalyzed the largest IPO on the continent ever. More than $800 million was raised from Kenyans from all walks of life, resulting in an over-subscription of stock of more than 400%. Mobile is growing faster in Africa than in any other part of the world. While levels of internet penetration are well below 5% for the continent, nearly 40% have access to mobile phones and Nairobi sends more text messages in a single day than New York (a statistic frequently quoted in the region).

Ten years ago people were talking about land lines and how they would ever penetrate rural Africa. Infrastructure has long been a constraint on economic development and growth in Africa but nobody imagined that a new technology would completely leap-frog the traditional phone and fundamentally disrupt telephony in Africa. I can't help but think about rural energy in the same light. Today, countries like Uganda are still 90% unserved by electricity. Can you imagine not having power in 90% of any country and still trying to grow the economy? Do we expect Africans to wait for grid electricity to incrementally reach people or are there disruptive innovations that can provide off-grid renewable energy to rural Africans in scaleable ways?
We may see similar response when Bangladesh's largest mobile phone provider Grameen Phone launches its IPO. And Grameen Phone's contribution to Bangladesh's rural economy should not be neglected.

Citizen Journalism and blogging scene in Asia

A presentation was made recently at “Asia Regional Forum for Media Development: Creating a Democratic Media Culture in in Asia” organized by the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) with Sri Lanka in Focus.

Some of the lessons learnt:

* If you work in Journalism, you work for an online news organization whether you want to or not.

* News is a conversation

* Blogs represent the most open public communications platform for the political disclosure

* The peer-to-peer architecture of the blogosphere is resistant to capture and control by the state than the older, hub and spoke architecture of the mass media model.

* Journalists under attack can still publish under new media.

* Leverage the growth of web media for development, democracy, human rights, good governance, transparency, accountability and peace building.

Here is the full presentation:

Via ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace)

Celebrity Blogging

Controversial Indian politician Lalu Prasad Yadav is a celebrity blogger in mypopkorn.com. (Via Watblog)

I wonder when Bangladeshi politicians will learn from him. It would be fun to read some Delwarnama or Suronjeetgatha.

July 08, 2008

She sang in Bangla to create a sensation all over the world

Palbasha Siddique (17), a Bangladeshi student of Minneapolis' Southwest High School was contacted by the makers of the video "Dancing 2008" aka "Where the hell is Matt?" to sing for it. She sang a Bangla song titled Praan (life) and her angelic voice made the video an internet success.

Harding dances in a recording session with Siddique: Photo credit Palbasha Siddique via Minnpost

Minnpost reports:
The video was downloaded to the web on Saturday, June 20, 2008. By Sunday, it had 1 million hits. By Thursday, it was everywhere — embedded on Facebook and MySpace pages and flooding email inboxes and translating into millions of viewers, thousands of comments, and official "gone viral" status.
StarTribune.com reports:
"Dancing" has now been viewed 4 million times on YouTube and is being watched (and praised) by web-surfers from all over the world.
The video took 14 months to make, was shot in 42 countries with a cast of thousands. Its producer video game maker Harding writes about Matt (31) from Connecticut:
"In 2007 Matt went back to Stride with another idea. He realized his bad dancing wasn't actually all that interesting, and that other people were much better at being bad at it. He showed them his inbox, which, as a result of his semi-famousness, was overflowing with emails from all over the planet. He told them he wanted to travel around the world one more time and invite the people who'd written him to come out and dance too."
So if you feel like dancing why don't you join in!

July 07, 2008

Picture of the day

From a Budapest restaurant: they grill aubergine

July 06, 2008

Hitler in today's Germany

During my stay in Germany I have visited in many museums, memorials and a concentration camp, one thing is missing in these deliberately is the prominent display of Hitler's image. I haven't seen any statue or portrait anywhere. Hitler's real bunker was discovered years ago but it has not been converted to any museum for public display.

What I have heard that there are two concerns. One is that the Germans have a sort of collective guilt for what he did during the second world war (including the holocaust) and the other one is that he is also revered by the neo-nazis. Germany is one place where you can get prosecuted for carrying any sort of Nazi symbol (I know of a report which said an Indian women got into trouble for carrying Swastika like Hindu religious emblem in her locket). So any impersonation of Hitler is generally avoided.

When Madam Tussauds announced that they will be including Hitler's wax figure in their new branch in Berlin it created much debate. According to Der Spiegel:
Michael Braun, of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) told the Thursday edition of the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel it was "distasteful beyond comparison." Green politician Alice Ströver called the Hitler wax figure "tasteless, disgusting and in bad style."
And the inevitable had to happen:
On Saturday morning, just seconds after the new branch of Madame Tussauds wax museum opened its doors for the first time, a visitor brushed aside two security guards, jumped over the desk at which Hitler was sitting, and tore the Führer's head off.

The man, a 41-year-old from the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin, was just the second visitor to enter the museum. "Never again war!" the man yelled as he attacked the wax figure.
(Der Spiegel)
That explains a lot about the public sentiments.

July 05, 2008

Picture of the day

"The system of communism has failed in every senses. However it will be very hard to get rid of communists, for there is nobody as dangerous as the usurper of a failed system, who abandons the system but guards his loot and the power position." - written in a monument in front of the Hungarian Parliament

July 04, 2008

Dot sub and the Multilingual Web

dotSUB is a browser based tool which lets you subtitle any video into and from any language in a collaborative way to let them be understood globally. From its about page:
The goal was to create a tool that was as simple to use as the Google search bar, with no downloads, that could engage the power, methodologies and thinking of open source, wikipedia, social networking, creative commons and web2.0 user involvement to substantially remove language and cost as a barrier to cross-cultural communication using video.
Michael L. Smolens is the founder and CEO of dotSUB and I met him in Budapest. He showed us more features in the coming release of dotDUB which enables any user to translate a transcription to any language using machine translation and use it and let the others edit it to perfection.

Look at this video Dr. Muhammad Yunus Banker to the Poor which has been translated in more than 60 languages in the world including Zulu. The Bengali version was translated in parts by other(s)and me and I edited to completed it.

July 03, 2008

Looking back at the GV Summit '08

It has been a fascinating 7 days in Budapest meeting more than a hundred bloggers and more activists, Gurus, techies and journalists from all over the world. Words cannot describe the moments I had with these wonderful people. So I will highlight here what others had to say about it.

Mialy Andriamananjara from Madagascar described it as United Nations of Bloggers:
I met some amazing people at the summit. Everybody had this international mindset, spoke at least two languages fluently, and had lived, not just visited, in 30 countries!
Neha Viswanathan, the South Asian editor of Global Voices is a amazing entertainer and you never feel bored when she is around. She literally made everybody dance to Bollywood music. She tells how it felt in the company of strangers:
To be able to put a face to an email id and to watch their quirks unfold is delightful. We otherwise tend to border on the morbid - covering censorship issues, conflicts, inflation, politics and the lot. But to see these strangers be able to have so much fun, watch them collapsing into laughter every ten minutes over the silliest of things is comforting.
The humble molecular biologist Lova Rakotomalala from Madagascar says:
I learned an awful lot of new procedures, shattered a few of my prejudiced views, met incredibly knowledgeable yet very low-key people.

Steve Sharra from Malawi probably said how I feel about all of this the best: " You sometimes find yourself a bit pessimistic about the fate of the world, yet, an event like this summit makes you believe that maybe, just maybe, we have a chance to be efficient about increasing our understanding of the world and each other".
The legend Joi Ito, also a board member of Global Voices Online says in his blog:
It was amazing to see so many countries and regions discussing issues face to face in combinations that only the UN would come close to.

Global Voices is a super-important part in fixing what I call the "caring problem". There is a systemic bias against reporting international news in most developed nations. When pressed, many editors will say that people just don't want to read articles about other parts of the world. This is because most people don't care. They don't care because they don't hear the voices or know people in other countries. I think that by providing voices to all over the world, we have the ability to connect people and get people to care more.
Patrick Meier, a friend of GV tells:
This was also the most international conference I’ve been to, the diversity was simply astounding: Belarus, Japan, Egypt, Pakistan, Kenya, Morocco, Hong Kong, Burma, Singapore, Iran, Tunisia, Syria, Bangladesh, China, Bolivia, Madagascar, Colombia, Venezuela, Canada, France, Brazil, India, US, UK, Australia, Thailand, Germany and several more!
A delightful addition in this year's summit was the Rising Voices project and everybody was talking about this project after the session where bloggers and manager from the projects presented their works.

Global Voices Co-Founder Rebecca MacKinnon was brought to tears listening to the presentation:
Rising Voices is funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation. It gives micro-grants to promote blogging among groups of people who are - for various reasons, cultural, economic, linguistic, gender - not taking advantage of the opportunity to express themselves online. After Global Voices was created, there has always been concern by many people in our community that blogospheres in most countries are dominated by wired elites - and that unless we conduct more active outreach, Global Voices is really "Global Elite Voices." Rising voices it our first stab at addressing that problem.
Ethan Zuckerman, the other co-founder of Global Voices was blown away by Rising Voices' success:
Collins Oduor, from the REPACTED community theatre project in Nakuru, Kenya, starts his presentation with a story - my paraphrase of it:

"A young girl is very sociable and likes to play with all the children in the village. Her mother is worried that she’s too friendly and doesn’t want her playing with the boys in the village. So she tells her daughter, “You can’t climb trees with the boys because they will look up your dress and see your underpants.” So the next day, the girl takes off her underpants and climbs the tree."

Oduor ends his story with the single word, “Communication” and the room breaks into laughter. REPACTED specializes in communicating through community theatre. The productions use a wide range of techniques to get communities talking about HIV/AIDS.

Voices Bolivianas, led by Christina Quisbert and Edward Avilla, focuses on the voices of indigenous people, especially indigenous women in Bolivia.

I’m blown away every time I read about the work the Rising Voices grantees are doing. It’s a huge treat, and a major inspiration, to see folks like this on stage.
Ethan also discussed about the innovative collective decision making process which was used in the GV internal meeting.

Evegeny Morozov writes a brilliant article in Open Democracy:
Today, the greatest threat to freedom of expression online is not web censorship but mistreatment of bloggers. This trend again connects bloggers both with their antecedents in the communist-era dissident movements and their fellow-citizens living under authoritarian rule. In facing the threat, many bloggers share the same complex of emotions and reactions (including fears, doubts, and the self-censorship that often follows) that haunts other citizens. This reality was reflected in a recurrent theme of the Budapest conference: "bloggers are not aliens".
Evgeny's article in the Economist on blog standard is also a good read.

This was really a fantastic opportunity for me to meet and learn from all these great bloggers. Thank you Global Voices and I am proud to be a part of it since 2005. Needless to say my Facebook friends have grown after the summit.

July 02, 2008

Embassy warning

A German Football fan reacts:
We find it really good that you warn your citizens who are currently in Germany before the football game between Germany and Turkey and that you tell them to stay away from areas where fans could maybe celebrate the game. That way, we can all avoid having to explain fellow Americans that football is not the game with the strange pille (pills) where some boring Weicheier (extra sensitive morons) are dressed in complete Schutzanzügen (protection dress) and run against each other for two seconds just to stop again and beratschlagen (consult) for half an hour what they should do next. Thank you.(Translation mine)
Well this is not new. A mere elephant can trigger such warnings from an US Embassy and I did not know football is also elephant's favorite.