Iran on June 16th, 2009

Captions to follow…

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Bosnia Enters Eurovision Finals with Regina’s “Bistra Voda”

Bosna i Hercegovina will be one of the nations taking part in this Saturday’s Eurovision Finals in Moscow. A band called Regina will be performing “Bistra Voda” (Clear Water). Although I find the song only moderately enthralling, the costumes and stage act are pretty bad-ass.

Here’s a clip from their semi-finals performance in Turkey:

The official video of the song is kinda cool too:

Of course I have a real soft spot in my heart for Bosnia, so I wish Regina all the best. Go Bosnia!

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It was 20 years ago today…

Tiananmen Square

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Well, actually, May 4, 1989 was a major day of escalation in the Tiananmen Square protests. On that day 100,000 people gathered seeking greater press freedoms and a direct open dialogue with the communist government.

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Contrary to popular belief, the protests were not about bringing down the government. Although often unfocused in their message, most of the student groups and others sought greater openness from the existing government and an implementation within that government of the democratic principles inherent in Marxist theory.

Little did they know that they were kicking off a process that would bring tanks down upon them on June 4th and inspire the people of Eastern Europe to throw off the governments imposed on them at the end of WWII.

I plan on chronicling the time points of that history—many of which make up my earliest civic-minded memories—in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned.

Execution by Yue Minjun (1995)

Execution by Yue Minjun (1995)

International Women’s Day

I proudly share my birthday with one of the biggest worldwide holidays:

International Women’s Day

IWD 2009 celebrations in Istanbul, Turkey

IWD 2009 celebrations in Istanbul, Turkey

On February 28, 1909, the Socialist Party of America called the first National Woman’s Day. A year later, Carla Zetkin of Germany’s Social Democratic party proposed the idea of an international women’s day at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. In 1913, the date of the event was changed to March 8th.

Although the holiday has mostly faded from recognition in the United States, it was celebrated widely in the former USSR, and indeed, mainly other regions throughout the world. Every March 8th women gather all over the world in support of equal pay and treatment, freedom from rape and domestic abuse, a voice in civil society, and many other issues facing women including combating sex trafficking and the need for better health care.

A IWD in Kabul, Afghanistan

A IWD gathering in Kabul, Afghanistan

2009 IWD March in Madrid

2009 IWD March in Madrid

The Men of Madrid Getting in on the Act

The Men of Madrid Getting in on the Act

An Activist Burning a Hajib in Oslo, Norway. I know there are speical issues about women's rights in the Islamic world, but I don't necessarily agree with such, eh-hem, incinderary tactics and automatic assumptions that the veil equals repression.

An activist burning a hijab in Oslo, Norway. I know there are special issues concerning women's rights and freedoms in the Islamic world, but I often don't agree with such self-righteous and, eh-hem, incendiary tactics, nor do I buy into the assumption that the veil automatically equals repression.

Ladies in Lima, Peru Making their Way to a March

Ladies in Lima, Peru Making their Way to a March

IWD Marchers in Karachi, Pakistan

IWD Marchers in Karachi, Pakistan

2009 IWD Parade in Warsaw, Poland

2009 IWD March in Warsaw, Poland

2009 IWD in Hong Kong

2009 IWD in Hong Kong

And finally, to the future. The Butterfly Girl of Guatemala.

And finally, to the future. The Butterfly Girl of Guatemala City, Guatemala.

ICC issues a warrant of arrest for Omar Al Bashir, President of Sudan

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Now that we finally have the first warrant ever issued by the International Criminal Court against a sitting head of state, why don’t we all just get together and serve it? Diplomatic measures can be used to isolate China on this. Does any nation really want to be seen as the last defender of a mass murderer/rapist/torturer who also pillages, exterminates, and forcibly transfers his own nation’s populations?:

The warrant of arrest for Omar Al Bashir lists 7 counts on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility (article 25(3)(a)) including:

  • five counts of crimes against humanity: murder – article 7(1)(a); extermination – article 7(1)(b); forcible transfer – article 7(1)(d);torture – article 7(1)(f); and rape – article 7(1)(g);
  • two counts of war crimes: intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities – article 8(2)(e)(i); and pillaging – article 8(2)(e)(v).

Afghan Tech Boom

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Hmmm, yet another reason to put my skills to use in Afghanistan:

Afghanistan is apparently in the midst of a tech boom. Today there are nearly 8 million cell phones users nationwide. Sure, a good percentage of those are undoubtedly international personnel, but nine years ago the only cell users were the Taliban, who banned them for everyone else.

From the article:

Beyond making life easier, some say the country’s embrace of technology could help break the cycle of 30 years of relentless warfare. It puts at the tip of a finger many things that were strictly outlawed by Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar — music, movies, pictures of people and games like chess.

Young Afghans see the world differently from older Afghans because of their use of the Internet and mobile phones, and their participation in sports, said Shukria Barakzai, a female lawmaker and former newspaper editor.

Afghanistan’s youth are not caught up in “the old circle of war,” she said. “They are engaging with the rest of the world. That’s why technology is so important for Afghanistan.”

News of the Day

You gotta learn something on the radio while you’re driving out to Aldi, right?

The Bosnian Serbs in Banja Luka have been ordered by a local court to pay $42 Million for the destruction of 16 local mosques during the 1992-1995 war. Hopefully this is a verdict that leads to more reconciliation than resentment, but I have my doubts.

Futurism turns 100 years old tomorrow. Quite an ironic concept that. February 20th marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of F.T. Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto in the French newspaper Le Figaro. The movement, which called for the glorification of war and the rejection of tradition and religion as a basis for life, inevitably became associated with Italian fascism and lost a lot of its bite. Nevertheless, it was a major turning point in the aesthetics of 20th century art, the reverberations with which we are still living.

And finally the funniest story I heard all day. A British soldier stationed in Bergen-Höhne, Germany was arrested after driving two (yeah two) tanks off his base in the middle of the night without authorization. Apparently he stole the first one and proceeded to run it off of the road into a tree. So what’s he do? Goes back and gets another one. My favorite line of the story: “Reports that the soldier had been drinking could not be confirmed.”