Archive for March, 2010

Tektonik Dance Craze in France

March 29, 2010

When I took a semester in France 2 years ago, I got the chance to experience the Tektonik, also spelled Tecktonik, trend sweeping Paris first hand. The dance is based in electro/house music, and has been featured in several mainstream videos in France, including Je Vais Vite by Lorie and A Cuase Des Garcons TEPR Remix by Yelle.

Yet Tektonik is not only a dance, but a lifestyle. Parisians that dance Tektonik also seem to have similar styles: spiky almost modern mullet hairstyles and neon-colored tight-fitted clothing.

Check out the videos below to see the dance craze that is not only taking over France, but is expanding internationally.

Mondotek: Alive. Jey Jey is the main dancer in this video and is an expert in the Tektonik dance. He also appears in Lorie’s video: Je Vais Vite.

Another good clip of tektonik:

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Gaza’s Male Hairdressers Banned from Cutting Women’s Hair

March 15, 2010

In Gaza, cutting women’s hair has become an issue for male hairdressers. Currently, there are only 5 to 6 male hairdressers in Gaza that cut women’s hair due to the threats they receive and the changes in Hamas policy that bands men from cutting women’s hair. Some believe that these policies were created to appease extremists that see Gaza as being too liberal, but others believe that it is simply complying with tradition.

One women in her 20s even stated: “It’s about Islam and our traditions. Men don’t cut women’s hair. It’s normal here.”

But others, like Hatem al-Ghoul whose livelihood is dependent on cutting hair, see things differently. “If they come and shut me down, I will just be left to sit at home and watch TV like all the other unemployed people with no life.” Al-Ghoul’s also says that his shop has been the target of two attacks: “They came twice in the middle of the night and blew up my salon with small bombs, once in 2007 and once in 2008.”

Yet when the spokesperson for the Hamas interior ministry was questioned about the matter, he was very reluctant to give any details. However he did say: “The Western media is obsessed with stories like this. This is not a big deal here. It’s a social thing. It’s tradition.”

-Hatem al-Ghoul

The Push to Ban Second Hand Goods in Africa

March 14, 2010

In Africa, there is a big debate going on about banning second hand goods. Many aid agencies and personal philanthropists believe that by sending aid and goods to Africa they will be helping the ‘dire’ situation of poverty. Yet it seems to only be perpetuating it.

Bringing second hand goods into Africa is another example of outside countries importing to Africa. With all these cheap imports, industries in Africa are struggling to compete with the low prices and the economy is becoming more and more dependent on outside sources and outside aid.

“Each garment sold prevents an African tailor or dressmaker from selling his or her product so the cycle of poverty continues.” -John Barnet
-Ghana. Second hand computer waste is often sent to Africa categorized as ‘second hand goods’ and ends up being burnt or dumped.

The World’s Richest Man is from Mexico City

March 12, 2010

Carlos Slim was born in Mexico City to a Lebanese immigrant father and a Mexican mother. Carlos was the youngest of 6 children, and early on discovered his talent for making money. By the age of 26 he had already accumulated $40 million.

What is his secret to developing wealth? A focus in the telecommunications industry and investing in the stock market. Recently, Slim’s net worth reached $53.5 billion, surpassing that of Bill Gates, causing Forbes magazine to appoint him as the richest man in the world. This may surprise many who would not assume that given Mexico’s poverty, someone could make so much money.

World Bank data reported that in Mexico an average of around 50% of the population is living in poverty. This leaves many skeptics feeling that Slim has not donated enough of his wealth back into Mexican society. Yet recently he linked up with former US President Bill Clinton and Canadian mining figure Frank Giustra to launch an anti-poverty campaign in Latin America, and in March pledged $6bn for his three charitable foundations.

It seems that Carlos Slim is more invested in learning how to help others make money rather than donating. As he said in a recent interview: “It’s based on my conviction that poverty is not fought with donations, charity or even public spending, but that you fight it with health, education and jobs.”

Worldfocus Broadcast to go off the air April 2

March 9, 2010

Our Worldfocus broadcast will go off the air after April 2 | Worldfocus. This is so sad! One of my favorite sources for international news is going off the air. Check out their website and leave comments on their site if you like what you see. There must be a way to get more funding so that they can stay on the air!

India’s Overworked Elephants

March 7, 2010

In the southern state of Kerala, owning an elephant is a feudal status symbol. The state has a reported 700 domesticated elephants, many rented out for the equivalent of $5,000 for one performance. Yet many elephant owners, which include private owners and temples, claim that the money they make from performances is barely enough to pay for the upkeep of the animals.

This has resulted in overworking the elephants. Senior wildlife officer KP Ouseph stated: “Some of the elephants are paraded at three or four places during the day for 12 or more hours. A lot of these festivals happen at night. The animals don’t get enough rest, and misbehave mainly because of overwork.”

Lately, the amount of elephants misbehaving has increased. According to Mr. Zacharia, one of Kerala’s best known writers, “Not a day passes without the news of an elephant meeting its death in an accident or getting grievously injured or killing the mahout in sheer desperation or running amok because it simply has had enough.”

The animals endure noisy parades, fire crackers, traveling long distances and many time are walking in the scorching sun on tarred roads for hours. Not only are they overworked, but one survey found that half of the keepers had a drinking problem.

To support India’s elephant population with the World Land Trust organization, click here! Any donations made will be matched by a silent donor up to £100,000.

China’s Big Interest in Africa

March 5, 2010

For my Senior Seminar class we read the article China Safari; On the Trail of Beijing’s Expansion in Africa, by Serge Michel and Michel Beuret, and I was amazed to learn about what has been going on over the last couple of decades in Africa.

The writer was visiting Brazzaville when a group of Congolese children had lined up. Instead of reciting phrases like “Hello mista!” or “Salut Monsieur!” which they learn in their schools to greet foreigners, the children said “Ni hao, ni hao.” It seems these days Congolese children think all foreigners are from China, and for good reason.

Today there are over 50,000 Chinese workers in Nigeria alone. One of them, Mr. Chang, broke down the China’s relationship with Africa: “You Westerners, you’re so patronizing. You come here and talk to the Africans about human rights, copyrights, all sorts of rights. You talk down to them. We get straight to the point. We talk business.”

And business is happening. In Nigeria specifically, the lumber industry has been revamped. In 2009, lumber imports to China had increased by 81% from the previous year. These numbers are a direct link to the business going on in Africa.

But others see this great leap in industry as also cutting corners. The lumber industry in Nigeria, that has been booming under Chinese control, has led to worrisome rates of deforestation. There has also been a case of drilling for oil inside of a national park that is currently receiving funding from the United States for its preservation.

Mr. Chang’s response to this was a reference to an old Chinese proverb: “When a tree is moved, it dies. When a man moves, he can make a fortune.” It seems that the Chinese working force in Africa isn’t going anywhere.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the opening of the China-Africa summit in Beijing.

Witchcraft in the Central African Republic

March 4, 2010

One would think that the days of witch hunts and trials would be a thing of the past, something only referenced to as an example of mass hysteria in Salem, Massachusetts. Alarmingly, more and more cases of witchcraft are being documented in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.).

Every year, hundreds of citizens of the C.A.R. are convicted of witchcraft, with penalties ranging from prison to death. The Catholic mission in Bozoum, located 200 miles from the capital Bangui, often intervenes in witchcraft cases.

“They often accuse the weakest people — people who live alone, the ones who will not cause a lot of trouble and against whom, unfortunately, you can do whatever you like,” said mission priest Father Aurelio Gazzera.

Many times those accused are children and elderly women, but lately there has been a rising trend in the amount of children being accused. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have become active in trying to education the people of C.A.R. of their human rights, raising awareness of legal assistance, and protecting children accused of witchcraft.

A U.N. study found that in the local prison, more than half of those held were accused of witchcraft. To spread more awareness to this dilemma in the communities of the C.A.R., UNICEF is co-sponsoring a documentary film, ‘Witch Trials in the Central African Republic’, to be shown to local audiences in hopes of curtailing this dangerous trend.

As one child recounts, “In the end, I ran away. I had a broken arm and my head was bleeding from the blows of a machete. I’m not a witch. I don’t know what a witch is.”