Category Archives: Int’l News

Kids Away

I am listening to an episode from radio program Q, discussing a Pennsylvania restaurant bans children under 6 years old from entering. Since it’s not outlawed so far, of course the rule is a moral debate. Obviously it has crossed the red line for some people, especially parents with infants and toddlers.

It’s a freedom of choice in the market, some argue. If the owner doesn’t care to lose family diners, he is free to do so. By the same token, parents can choose to boycott “family-unfriendly” restaurants.

Some people, on the other hand, are angry that kids are pinpointed. Have you experienced annoying adolescents, young adults, the middle-aged, or senior citizens yelling non-stop in restaurants? If yes, why targets children?

I actually don’t know why this debate is suddenly (re)ignited, unless there has never been a single restaurant in the US banning kids before. “Kids Unwelcome” rule has happened in several occasions before in my experiences, although in Taiwan, the rule is mostly based on heights. On the Taipei International Travel Fair website, for example, kids under 120cm are not allowed in for “safety” reason. I took this photo last time in front of a cafe in Tokyo. The rule is even stricter than US version.

If this “No Kids” rule is justified and, in the end, welcomed in the market, I can imagine airlines banning kids in some long-haul flights in the future. After all, people are already complaining a lot when crying babies are around for , at most 3-hour, dinners. Hey, we are talking about 12-hour flights. 😛

Help Haiti in Different Ways

Since 7.0 earthquake hits Haiti, people around the world have been pouring concerns, time, efforts, aids, and others into this poor country. Poor not only financially, but also historically. Its 200-year history after independence is, to say the least, turbulent. Continuous international interference doesn’t lead to positive results, judging from the status quo.

Global Voices contributors have been trying to help, in our own ways. Our remote time and efforts do not equal to even 0.1% of suffering of population on the ground, but we hope these words, images and videos will help people organize their help. On our Special Coverage page, we not only include our reports in different parts of the world, but also other sources you can click to know more about situation in Haiti. See what Russian bloggers say, see what the situation is outside the Haitian capital, see how Japanese reflects on their (lack of) relief efforts so far in Haiti, how Senegal extends their hands to Haiti survivors, etc. etc.

GV has a group of wonderful authors and editors. Our Caribbean editor Janine has spent her whole birthday, working around the clock to provide us latest information. Her team has been trying to offer different perspectives and spread the words as far as possible. Our Lingua Exchange Director Marc has also made his debut.

Our huge pool of translators are also working in different time zones, aiming to bring huge amount of information to their linguistic communities, without linguistic barriers. We apprciate their extraordinary contributions. Regarding traffic, readers appreciate as well.

Global Voices, in the past few years, has been working to collect what local bloggers respond to domestic and international incidents, but this time we are trying something different. We will soon send one of our people to Haiti, not only recording the situation with her own pen/cell phone/laptop, but also utilizing citizen media among local people to empower themselves.

From the mainstream media sources, we already know people should not expect their governments for help. In the meantime, huge coverage about nasty local elections in local news channels only gives me headache. Ending this post, turning off my TV and focus on my GV translations, I believe, will be a good decision.

Two Years On

Time flies. I join Global Voices (and Lingua) project for two years already. I didn’t realize that until one morning after the conference. I couldn’t sleep that night, trying very hard but in vain. Early in the morning, before the sunrise, I left the bed, turned on my computer, and started to translate another GV article.

Only in this time, I feel intimate with someone else, and that someone is myself. Car sounds are far, birds are still asleep, and no wind strolls in the woods. From nowhere, I recall others asking me how long I have translated for GV. “Almost two years,” I answered then. And now, it’s already two years.

At the end of year is always a time for reflection. Some people sum up the year in preparation for a whole new one. Some just follow others. Creating so many more contents in Chinese, I ask, do they bring up any changes to others?

Global Voices, and I, believe media has power. It has power to increase public awareness, discover interconnectedness, and dig into stories unrealed before.

It has power, for sure, to bring out changes and mobilize the crowd.

For the past year and a half, David Sasaki, Outreach director of Global Voices, representing Rising Voices project, flies around the world and visit different citizen media projects. Among them, HiperBarrio, supported by Rising Voices, has trained a group of citizen reporters in Medellín, Colombia, to cover stories often overlooked or neglected by major media and their correspondents who rarely visit there.

I have to confess that before reading their reports, violence is the only impression I have towards Medellín. After HiperBarrio, I really broad my horizon. Their blogs and records, at least, have changed my understandings about that place.

The project has extensive coverage on a 78-year-old man Suso, who collects bottles and cans for a living. We must have seen someone like this in our neighborhood, but most of us don’t have that motivation to talk to them or understand their stories.

Well, HiperBarrio citizen reporters do, and they discover a great story. Suso’s family had great contributions to the community, including the land for local library, so they think to pay back in some ways. HiperBarrios starts a fundraising campaign to repair Suso’s makeshift shelter.

They also make a great video clip at here.

After months of voluntary works, it’s almost done. If you are willing to play a role in this, but not able to be there, please feel free to make a donation via PayPal to dsasaki@virtualvillagetovillage.com.

Donate to Global Voices - Help us spread the wordAlso, for the past couple of years, Global Voices has been working very hard to bring up voices around the world to join the global conversation. We have Rising Voices aforementioned to enhance digital literacy, Advocacy to promote online freedom of speech denounce censorship, Voices without Votes to amplify concerns from the world about US Election 2008, and Lingua to spread GV information to different parts of the world in different languages. At the time for reflections, we also invite you to make a donation, big or small, to “keep the world talking”.

Some people say there’s already too much information and news online generated by media and bloggers. After two years of participation, I know it is never enough to reveal stories that major media pay not enough attention to. And Global Voices will bring up more for sure.

All Related

My mom says: People are all selfish. Now we can see conflicts, wars, accidents, and disasters from afar on TV. Signals sent through internet and satellites us images and sounds, all live. People watch them, feel sad or sorry, and turn off their TV. Globalization is always discussed, talked, and argued in the media or conferences. People live in it, but never think they are a part of it. Knowing attacks in Middle East influence oil prices doesn’t stop people from complaining when they pay more to fill in their tanks. They still think those news, incidents and tragedies in faraway countries are irrelevant to their lives, even if the TV audience knows much more about the war than those directly involved or affected. That’s one of the million reasons/excuses many say they don’t need to read international news. It’s unrelated.

But to me, it’s almost all related now.

With so many friends from abroad or travel around the world, I know every piece of news on newspapers or on TV will affect one or two of my friends, if not more. Though I don’t have a friend living in Mumbai, when terrorist attacks happen there, I am worried if some friends coincidentally visit there. If attacks happened two or three weeks earlier at the Taj Hotel, my friend could be on the injury or even death list. As the conference I help organize is fast approaching, I wonder if any of our guests will transfer in Bangkok. In this sense, protests in Thailand definitely influences my life and our schedules, if it stays two more weeks.

It’s a gradual process. I never think I will get to know anyone from Trinidad & Tobago before going to Budapest. After that conference, I know four. I’ve never been to Alcatraz in the US, but because of interpretation work, one of the managers and I are now friends. The world is never the same to me now.

Many times when I translate for Global Voices, I am actually thinking similar things happen in Taiwan. Maybe some readers here will be able comapre in those parallel pieces. Election frauds, corruptions, deforestation, languages, politics, TV. I don’t know if readers have noticed those links, but it’s always interesting to see those things happen again and again with the same plots and stories. If some are willing to pay some attention to those news afar, probably they will know what’s happening next in this island.

It’s all related, human nature included.

Read, Write and Learn

Is Global Voices covering Obama and the US election too much recently? That’s what a friend questions in GV mailing list. No, many people respond, it shows how this topic is universal. Most people in that thread would like to continue the coverage, as Obama fad is all over the world. David believes Obama is one of the few topics that everyone is interested in discussing, whatever their backgrounds are, and one that everyone seems to have sufficient knowledge or information to engage in a conversation.

Very true. The price of Big Mac may be different around the world, but the word “Obama” means the same thing, same person, and same face to almost all people. If you have no idea how the world is crazy for this man, take a look on Voices without Votes, and you’ll get a better picture.

Hundreds of millions of blog posts all center on one person: Obama. Politicians are eager to compare themselves to him as a symbol of change, a new era, and self-confidence. Should Global Voices reflect this reality?

Some say “Yes”; others say “Yes, but…” I am closer to the latter group.

To me, Global Voices is a learning process. If someone still questions why read/write/translate Global Voices, it’s because you learn from the process, at least I do.

Last night, I wrote and published a post about New Zealand’s parliamentary election on November 8. Before I start, I know Helen Clark, the outgoing Prime Minister, I know an election is going on, and I know lots of immigrants living in NZ. I didn’t follow the election, I don’t know who John Key is, and I have no ideas about what will happen after voting day. I decide to write a post about it, partly because GV doesn’t have an NZ author, and partly because I want to know what and who these things above are. So I start my journey and write about short post about this election.

It is not a comprehensive post, not even close, but I believe at least it provides a possibility for me and maybe others to get to know some different things. This is the joyful part of being in Global Voices. We can learn because of our innocence. Global Voices posts will not turn you into experts immediately, but they open up doors for you to explore. I don’t know how many people will actually read my post about New Zealand, but I am certain that I am one of them who benefit the most.

Is it easier to talk and write about things that we already know? Absolutely. That’s one of the reasons why people are indifferent towards international news: they don’t find any relevance to themselves. Some people think only domestic affairs matter. Only local stuffs are qualified for headlines.

From Obama case, we can clearly notice the strong power of mass media: It makes people everywhere believe that they know enough about the guy named Obama, and they are able/suitable to share their views with others. Mass media makes people think Obama is as important as an domestic issue. His victory is on the frontpage and headline of countless newspapers.

US election and Obama espeically is indeed one of the rare cases that becomes a common topic worldwide. Can we learn anything from it? Of course. Can we learn from other issues and topics? Of course, and I perceive Global Voices is a good place to start, to put one step out of our comfort zone.

Just put it simply: Isn’t that fun and joyful to learn something that we don’t know?

My friend, Hanako tells me Canada has held a federal election before US presidential one. I don’t know much again, but would be interested in knowing who Stephen Harper is, what will happen since he continues in power and what Québécois think about the results, although GV doesn’t have coverage on this yet. I can read and learn.

David says:

In each place I had to invest uncountable hours of reading newspapers and Wikipedia to have the basic context in order to have a conversation with locals.

But I think it’s very worthy when you see faces delighted when they find someone knows and cares about their country. From my experiences, I think it is.

2008 New Zealand General Election photo from sirwiseowl

Change Overnight?

Americans are now voting for their new president. Every poll I can get so far project Obama is going to win this election. I watched a special report on local TV, in which one expert clearly states, “If I am going to bet with my own money, I put it on Obama.” Most experts point out, though, on the China-Taiwan issue, Republicans are always closer to Taiwan compared to Democrats.

Of course, on the very last day of election campaign, it becomes a topic for my friends. Obama has been emphasizing “Change” throughout his campaign since primary. One friend asks me: “Will Obama cahange everything overnight on November 5?” Her assumption sounds reasonable, given that all media present in a way that it seems everything will be changed after the elction day, no matter who wins (though Bush and McCain have an agree list way longer than disagree list).

The truth is, NO. Most things won’t change overnight after casting your ballot.

Life goes on the same after November 4. The new American president will not inaugurate until January 2009. Dow Jones and Nasdaq still open snd close at the same time. Oil price still fluctuates. American troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. When 20 leaders from around the world gathers in Washington to discuss about global financial tsunami/crisis on November 15, George W. Bush, a lame duck or not, will still be the host. (I wonder whether the new president will be invited, though. He should, as he will have to be take over the government and be responsible for all decisions made in that summit.)

Many people encourage us to vote, saying “your single vote will change everything.” Yes, but it won’t change things in real terms immediately, at least not overnight. The only instant effect I can think of so far is HOPE. The results will light up many hopes that the next four years will be better than the past eight (Can you imagine worse four years than now??).

No matter it’s going to be Obama or McCain, let’s wish hope will prevail.

In Case You Forgot/Missed US Election 2000

US election 2008 is only a few days away. According to many polls, Obama seems to be in the lead. Some people are worried about the so-called “Bradley effect“, which the result goes opposite to polls. Some are concerned about the low turnout. Some are questioning about the possibility of election fraud regarding voter list.

Some hope the situation in US Election 2000 won’t replay.

We should always learn from history, no matter how sweet or bitter it is, so it won’t hurt to have a recap, in case you forgot/missed that part of it.

I recommend “Recount” produced by HBO and directed by Jay Roach. It’s a movie of course, but it has also shown power struggle within campaign, self-interest concerns, propaganda and tactics. It reminds me the atmosphere that had been conveyed to me via TV screen eight years ago. US elction 2000 is a controversy that never ends. You watch the trailer from official website.

This incident clearly changes the direction of history in the past years: national security, foreign policy, healthcare, tax regime, and so on. It was Bush vs Gore, but in retrospect, it is more than that. Reviewing this part of history tells us each decision will lead to unexpected results. At least because of my innocence, I didn’t expect some parts of the world will be like now.

Even if you are not interested in the history, it’s still a good choice to watch Kevin Spacey as a good actor in a Saturday night movie.

Some people wonder why voter turnout in the West is much lower than that in the East. Maybe it’s because people in the West are used to elections. For more possible reasons, You can read this post written by my friend Jason Miks several months ago.