Category Archives: News

Bjork releases new “Moon” music video

Bjork released her new single “Moon” along with a fresh music video straight from outer space. In this eccentric, performance-oriented piece, written and directed by Bjork herself, the eclectic pop star hangs out in the moon and seems to be singing to the universe. And we love it!

The single was released early and is part of her upcoming album Biophilia, which is due to come out on October 1oth.  This 7th album is a multimedia project “encompassing music, apps, internet, installations, and live shows”, Bjork explains. Once again, she dazzles her fans taking bold steps in her musical exploration, evermore exploring unbeaten trails and embracing the digital world.

Watch “Moon”:

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Strauss Kahn copies Clinton barefaced

In his first interview since he’s back in France, Strauss Kahn repeated Clinton’s apology concerning the Monica Lewinsky scandal word for word.

See this:

Many french journalists have accused Strauss Khan of preparing his come-back to politics, delivering a finely-prepared speech instead of honestly answering questions.

According to a survey, 53% of French nationals wanted Strauss-Kahn to confirm his withdrawal from politics before the interview which was broadcasted on TF1 last Sunday. But apart from not taking part in next year’s presidential elections, he didn’t mention quitting the game.

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An exhibit about the tragic fate of tribal people in India

It’s not always a good news when your land contains a large reserve of mineral wealth, at least not in India. In “A Disappearing World”, Photographer Robert Wallis reveals how India’s most ancestral tribe struggles against both the state and big corporations to stay alive.

I lived in India for 6 months and traveled around the country quite a lot. I’ve lived within Indian families enough that they have considered me one of their own. In fact, I’ve immersed myself in the culture in a way few Europeans dare to.

As a journalist, I have also followed Indian news attentively. After all, they affect my friends, some of the people I’m closest to. Yet I’ve missed out on what constitutes the fate of 26 million people in a province I was never really told about: Jarkhand.

Work based on image:India Jharkhand locator map.svg. Made by User:Haros based on map created by w:user:Nichalp & w:user:Planemad.

Jarkhand – A rich Indian state not to be proud about

Jarkhand is rich yet filled with misery. It isn’t a state the usual Indian would proudly boast about. I discovered why in a photography exhibit at SOAS in London. As usual, I like to write to share what I’ve learned.

The source of Jarkhand’s wealth and misery lies in its soil. According to the Department of Forest and Environment of Jarkhand, “40% of the total minerals of the country are available in the state. The state is the sole producer of cooking coal, Uranium and Pyrite. It also ranks first in the production of coal, mica, Kyanite and copper in India.”

Hence, with the well-known unprecedented economic boost India is experiencing, mining corporations are taking over Jarkhand’s lands to extract its raw materials at an ever-increasing rate. But at what cost?

See the consequences of Jarkhand’s wealth at Brunei Gallery

Through his exhibit, Robert Wallis shows that Jarkhand is also home to “non-Hindu tribal groups, known as Adivasi, [who] have traditionally worshiped nature and maintained spiritual connections to ancestral territory where they have lived for thousands of years.”

Residing in the state’s dense forests, they draw all their basic necessities from a nature that is now disappearing. Wallis titled his series of photographs “A Disappearing World” justifiably. In fact, the Adivasis’ lifestyle and traditions are disappearing along with them.

Wallis’ powerful photographs show how today’s reality in Jarkhand contrasts with the tribes’ ancestral lifestyle. Jarkhand’s prolific natural resources is now the object of our modern capitalistic world’s needs. Exploitation of the country’s natural resources is condemning the fate of a culture that has lived in harmony with their land for centuries.

When: April 15th – June 25th 2011

Where: Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London.

Start challenging perceptions

To find out more about this issue and what you can do to help, I recommend visiting:

http://joharadivasi.org/

http://www.vikasmaitri.org/adivasi.htm

http://www.kharia.in/

For more photos from Robert Wallis, please take a look at:

Robert Wallis – Panos Pictures – Dark Side of the Boom

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Sri Lanka faces an immediate humanitarian crisis.

Severe rainfall has displaced more than a million people in Sri Lanka over the past few days. More than 30 people are dead and the UN fears an outbreak of diseases that could threaten hundreds of thousands.

Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, General Secretary of Sarvodaya, said that infrastructure damages caused by the floods could be equivalent to those caused by the Tsunami that hit Sri Lanka in 2004. Emergency disaster relief teams are now working around the clock and trucks have been sent to distribute aid packages along with food supplies in Eastern Sri Lanka.

Sarvodaya is the largest people’s organisation in Sri Lanka

Present in over 15, 000 villages. Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, founder of the Sarvodaya Shramadana movement, has received hundreds of international awards including the Gandhi Peace prize and he was nominated more than five times for the Nobel Prize. Several reconstruction and development programmes were put in place by Sarvodaya not only for victims of the tsunami but also for all the internally displaced by thirty years of civil war.

Now more efforts will be needed for those regions hit by the floods but the Sri Lankan government doesn’t have the same ressources as the Australian government to tackle such an immediate humanitarian crisis. Yet news about the australian floods are attracting much more international media attention than Sri Lanka.

What’s nothing to you may mean the world to them.

5 (or less than $10) are enough feed a family of five for two days in Sri Lanka. Sarvodaya needs cash to purchase needs locally (food, clothing and blankets; medical supplies; sanitary items; and tents or other forms of temporary shelter). They do this to bolster local economies rather than hurt them with imported supplies.

A few bucks can go a long way, so here is the link if you’d be able to make donations: http://www.sarvodaya.org/2011/01/10/appeal-for-emergency-flood-relief

If you can’t donate, you can still help. Tag International Developement will be donating 50p to Savodaya every time someone “likes” or “tweets” this blog post: http://www.tagdevelopment.org/blog/click-to-donate/.

 

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Pakistan’s muted cry for help

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that the disaster in Pakistan is like “few the world has ever seen, requiring a response to match.” But compared to all recent major disasters, Pakistan’s flood aid is coming at a much slower pace. Is the West letting Pakistan down?

A friend of mine who was coming to visit from France last weekend made this comment to me in the tube: “so many people trying to raise funds on the streets here for the victims of Pakistan’s flood. In Paris, I barely ever noticed anyone collecting anything for them since the catastrophy started.” In London, she felt it was different.

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=pakistan+flood+donations&iid=9596315″ src=”http://view2.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9596315/workers-sort-through/workers-sort-through.jpg?size=500&imageId=9596315″ width=”380″ height=”254″ /]

I believe it is true that here in London efforts made for the Pakistanis can be seen. Young people collect money in the tubes and on street corners for charities in action back in Pakistan. Posters are everywhere and I even received a text from Orange today telling me to send a text back to help UNICEF‘s efforts.


What’s behind the West’s lack of support?

I started questioning why the reaction is not like that in France. In fact, the BBC indirectly questionned and explained that recently in an article titled: “Who cares about Pakistan?” written by Jude Sheerin. In this article, Mrs Sheerin gives 5 main reasons why people are feeling less concerned about the Pakistani flood:

– “Donor fatigues” – There has been a number of natural disasters over the past couple of years.
-“Corruption” – The international image of the Pakistani government.
– “Terrorism” – The Talibans’ presence there.
– “Timing” – This is happening right after Haiti’s earthquake and the financial crisis.
– “‘Wrong’ disaster” – It happened gradually with no sudden catastrophe, and the media is missing its drama there.

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=pakistan+flood+president&iid=9499745″ src=”http://view4.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9499745/david-cameron-holds-talks/david-cameron-holds-talks.jpg?size=500&imageId=9499745″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]

I understand most of the reasons given are well-grounded. The seemingly increasing threat of global warming, the recession, the current international conflicts… It’s starting to be to much for the western man.


Is the lack of support from the West justifiable?

Dr Marie Lall, Pakistan expert at the Royal Institute of International Affair, when she says: “The [2004] Indian Ocean tsunami, the Burmese Cyclone [Nargis, 2008], the [2005] Pakistan earthquake, and [this year’s] Haiti earthquake. It is getting too much; we are in a recession and people are short of money.”

This is quite understandable. But are we so much in our bubble that we’d rather care for our next month’s salary than a child stuck on a roof with no food?

I understand people’s doubt about corruption based on the current state of the Pakistani government. Dr Marie Lall says: “People in Pakistan are sceptical the government will be transparent. But they are giving to philanthropic organisations. In the UK, I think people are sceptical of [non-governmental organisations’] overheads and costs.” But will we also reach a point where we will stop trusting non-governmental organisations?

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=pakistan+flood+president&iid=9601100″ src=”http://view3.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9601100/pakistani-soldiers-unload/pakistani-soldiers-unload.jpg?size=500&imageId=9601100″ width=”380″ height=”268″ /]

And terrorism… well what do I say about terrorism? Hasn’t it been the best excuse for all mistakes perpetrated by the west in the past few years? A BBC article 2 days ago was titled “Pakistan flood victims ‘have no concept of terrorism'”.

And have we become so terrorised by the Talibans that we would let a whole population down because of them? After all it’s not about helping the Talibans. It’s about helping people, human lives. Couldn’t that actually participate in giving the west a better image than the Talibans in Pakistan?


Pakistan’s disaster and the media

And finally, how can there ever be any “wrong” disaster? Professor Dean Karlan says: “Sudden events seem to generate more funds. A flood (and droughts) happen gradually and build. There isn’t any one single day in which news is huge. For the same reason, this pushes the story away from the media spotlight. But massive and sudden earthquakes or tsunamis draw our immediate attention and shock us.”

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=pakistan+flood&iid=9600276″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9600276/pakistan-flood-devastation/pakistan-flood-devastation.jpg?size=500&imageId=9600276″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]

I feel the media is simply not doing the best of jobs in reporting the issues. This disaster doesn’t seem dramatic enough, but ironicaly lives have been affected more than ever before. The UN reported 13.8 million people affected by the flood.

A UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) press release said, “this is a higher figure than those who were affected by the 2005 South Asia tsunami (five million), the 2005 South Asia earthquake (three million), or the 2010 Haiti earthquake (three million). The estimate of homes destroyed or seriously damaged — 290,000 — is almost the same as those destroyed in Haiti.” So what exactly is less dramatic for the news?


Pakistan’s muted cry.

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=pakistan+flood+victims&iid=9596741″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9596741/boy-sitting-the-ground/boy-sitting-the-ground.jpg?size=500&imageId=9596741″ width=”380″ height=”293″ /]

However much we see happening and hear around us in London concerning the catastrophe in Pakistan, they see even less in France. But what is happening in Pakistan might deserve more attention than is actually given anywhere in the West and we are not actually seeing everything that is going on there.

All Pakistan needs today is an ear to catch their cry muted below all world’s issues .

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London’s imminent cycling revolution enchants environmentalists but worries many.

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=velib&iid=4524833″ src=”0/2/f/3/PicImg_Velib_bicycles_in_63ac.JPG?adImageId=12882244&imageId=4524833″ width=”380″ height=”256″ /]Only three months are left before London gets its own Cycle Hire Scheme which is now officially set to be launched on July 30th, 2010.

City bikes will then be available for hire on docking stations that will be accessible every 300 meters in Central London. In fact, Transport for London guarantees there will be around 400 stations all together with about 6000 bikes in Zone 1. According to David Brown, the Director of Surface Transport at TfL, “when the London Cycle Hire scheme launches on 30 July, it will be the most sustainable, environmentally friendly and healthy form of public transport ever seen in the Capital.”


London follows inspiring cities

This plan was copied from similar Smart Bike programs that got a surge of popularity in the recent years across dozens of major cities in Europe and North America. The concept originated back in the 1960’s when a group of radicals in Amsterdam set up the White Bicycle Plan to encourage individuals to share bikes. The first municipal bike-sharing program to have successfully worked was in the French city of La Rochelle with its yellow bikes that invaded the streets as far back as 1974.

In 2007, the city of Paris saw the upcoming of the biggest bike hire scheme ever put into place in the world with about 20,000 bikes made available for hire on more than 1,200 docking stations. It proved to be a real political triumph for Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, which inspired former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone to conduct feasibility studies to bring the scheme on to the British capital.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”false” link=”term=bicycle+city&iid=272309″ src=”0268/72dd3618-0e7d-4148-bc29-86077febcd39.jpg?adImageId=12882262&imageId=272309″ width=”224″ height=”341″ /]The current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has been considering the plan as one of his major priorities since he was elected in 2008. He explains, “this will provide a genuinely sustainable alternative to the car and encourage more Londoners to cycle”.


The economical crisis won’t stop it

Since the beginning of the initiative, a number of companies have jumped into the project in order to make the plan a public-private partnership. Last year, the privately owned public sector corporation Serco Limited was given a £140m contract to operate the whole scheme. At the worst moments of the economical crisis in 2008, Serco explained why TfL required their services. According to the company, “the financial crisis and subsequent economic slowdown means that governments around the world are contending with increasing demand for high quality services whilst also facing a sharp deterioration in public finances.”

But as of today, the government has managed to cover all expenses. While the Canadian company Bixi was contracted to build the bikes, Minale Tatterfield is responsible for the branding on the infrastructures. However a source from the project disclosed that the later company “went through a series of branding models, in some of which the scheme had its own branding. But ultimately it was decided this is very much a TfL initiative.”

In fact, unlike the Velib’ in Paris which is run free of charge by JCDecaux, the Cycles for Hire scheme in London has not been funded by an advertising firm but, on the contrary, it is entirely being subsidized by central funds. Today, Londoners fear they might have to bail the scheme out in the future just like Parisians did last November.

Apart from the fears that London’s taxpayer’s face, they also express their apprehension on a number of other issues surrounding the project. For example, safety matters trouble Dave who is a regular cyclist in the City. He ride his personal bike everyday to work and says, “the whole scheme in itself is not a bad idea but I think Mr Johnson should have given his priority to develop better cycling lanes before throwing himself into this. I still find it quite dangerous for anyone not too experienced to manage riding amongst the Taxis and buses here.”


A step towards a greener London

But amidst all this criticism, Johnson’s enterprise continues to be strongly supported by all environmental groups and individuals who believe that the so-called “cycling revolution” will be a way for London to become a greener and therefore healthier metropolis.

Organisations like Friends of the Earth, a charity dedicated to finding solutions to environmental problems, anticipate how beneficial the Cycle Hire scheme would be to London. Senior transport campaigner, Tony Bosworth, pointed out that “nearly a quarter of all car journeys in the UK are less than two miles long. Offering Londoners access to cheap bike hire would provide a greener and healthier alternative to driving – and help cut congestion, carbon emissions and air pollution in the capital.”

Hence, at the moment, if some Londoners are filled with a mixture of anticipations a few months before the launch of this scheme, which could change the face of transportation in London, ecologist and environmentalists continue to back Mayor Boris Johnson in all his efforts.