by Pinar Tremblay, Al-Monitor, Turkey - Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, speaking at a Global Alcohol Policies Symposium on April 26, said beer was forced upon the masses as a means of “modernization’’ in the early years of the republic. Actually, the first beer factory in Turkey was state-owned and produced what was known as Tekel Birasi, (Monopoly Beer). “But beer is not our drink” he added. “Indeed, our national drink is ayran (yogurt drink).’’ This created uproar in social media, mostly among white Turks (traditional elite, well-educated and Kemalist upper class). Erdogan has mastered the game of touching the nerves of angry white Turks and alcohol presents a delightfully contested zone.
Is there anything to learn from this specific case?
by Helen Davidson, World News Australia, Australia - No more survivors will be pulled from the wreckage of the building collapse in Bangladesh that killed at least 381 people working in garment factories. The building housed thousands of garment manufacturing workers in the country’s capital, Dhaka, a city containing thousands of similar factories. These garment businesses supply the world with cheap clothing, and it’s possible an item you are wearing now, or have in your closet at home, was made by one of these workers.
by Susanne Beyer, Der Spiegel, Germany - Some 200,000 people who were mentally ill or disabled were killed in Germany during the Nazi era. The cynical name for the extermination program was "euthanasia," which means "beautiful death" in ancient Greek. This horrific past has shaped the way Germany treats the terminally ill and the disabled. Germany's laws on assisted suicide are restrictive, and the country has stricter rules on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, a form of embryo profiling, than most other European countries.
by Lisa Laplante, riosmontt-trial.org, Guatemala - The Guatemalan trial of former de facto head of state Rios Montt and his then head of military intelligence Rodriguez Sanchez remains at a standstill while various legal challenges wind their way through the Guatemalan courts.
Rios Montt and Rodriguez Sanchez are being prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity for their actions during Rios Montt’s 17-month rule in 1982 and 1983. However, in a bewildering turn of events, their trial was abruptly halted last Thursday, despite imminent closing arguments, when a judge of a first-instance court ordered the trial annulled and the proceedings reverted 17 months, a decision rejected by the trial court as illegal.
by Krista Mahr, TIME, USA - At a major hospital in New Delhi, the 5-year-old victim of another grotesque rape has been making the first steps in what is sure to be a long recovery after being kidnapped, sexually assaulted and left for dead last week in an apartment one floor beneath her family home. Before last week, the initial outrage over the brutality of the Dec. 16 gang rape of a 23-year-old student, which resulted in her death, had been slowly fading in New Delhi, in spite of the unnervingly steady stream of violent rapes that have continued to be reported by Indian media across the country. In March, the government passed a new, tougher rape law that, among other things, allows for rapes resulting in fatalities to be punishable by death. But many say that the more systemic problems at the root of India’s rising violent crime have not been addressed.
by Melissa Gira Grant, The Nation, USA - On the steps of the Supreme Court Sunday morning, shortly before arguments began on the constitutionality of compelling aid recipients to oppose prostitution, a dozen or so students in marigold hooded sweatshirts won the color-coordinated insignia game. Outside a photo op or two, the small group of activists with red umbrellas—which signal support for sex workers’ rights—left them folded at their feet. Sex workers, it appeared, would be as nearly invisible outside the Court as they would be in the arguments made within.
by Jasmina Babic, Global Voices, Greece - Supervisors shot and injured dozens of undocumented migrant workers from Bangladesh in the strawberry farms of southwestern Nea Manolada for demanding months of owed wages, the latest incident in a country where antipathy toward immigrants is on the rise. The horrific show of violence on April 17, 2013 sparked uproar throughout Greece, prompting netizens to launch a boycott of the “blood” strawberries that originate at the scene of the crime.
by Susan Faludi, The New Yorker, US- Firestone was best known for her writing. Notes from the First Year, a periodical she founded in 1968 (followed, in 1970 and 1971, by the Second Year and the Third Year), generated the fundamental discourse of radical feminism, introducing such concepts as “the personal is political” and “the myth of the vaginal orgasm.” Most of all, Firestone is remembered for “The Dialectic of Sex,” a book that she wrote in a fervor, in a matter of months.
by Sandra Steingraber, Common Dreams, USA - The fossil fuel party must come to an end. I am shouting at an iron door. Can you hear me now?
by Kalynne Dakin, Global Voices, Netherlands - Two of humankind’s most treasured resources–water and gold–have instigated a conflict between an indigenous community and a Canadian mining company over an isolated swath of Chile’s Atacama region.
by Colleen Lee, South China Morning Post, China - Political veteran Elsie Tu laments the widening income disparity in Hong Kong and has taken a shot at tycoons who have no conscience.
The former lawmaker and urban councillor, who turns 100 on June 2, became emotional when expressing sympathy for striking dock workers and anger with a billionaire, whom she declined to name.
by Ilene Prusher, Jerusalem Vivendi, Israel - “The air over Jerusalem is saturated with prayers and dreams,” poet Yehuda Amichai wrote, “like the air over industrial cities. It’s hard to breathe.”
But somehow, when a young American named Joseph Shamash went around the city asking Jerusalemites to speak those prayers and dreams aloud, inviting them to express one wish, the artistic micro-documentary that emerged is more like a breath of fresh air.
by Shazia Mirza, Dawn, Pakistan - Margaret Thatcher was an iconic woman. Today, where women become icons for having plastic breasts and marrying footballers, Thatcher was an icon for something substantial rather than ephemeral.
by Dawn Paley, Toward Freedom, USA - Saul Reyes Salazar is a man who understands loss. In January 2010, his sister Josefina was shot in the head, following a botched kidnapping in their hometown of Guadalupe los Bravos, across the border bridge from Tornillo, Texas. She was, at the time, one of the best-known activists in the Juarez Valley, the agricultural region that follows the Rio Grande river east of Ciudad Juarez.
by Chloe Angyal, The Nation, USA - Like most people who were fortunate enough to not have loved ones in harm’s way yesterday, I sat in shock at the news out of Boston. I scrolled through my Twitter feed with the kind of disgust and disbelief, that mingled fear and sadness that has become sickeningly familiar to Americans of late. I didn’t rage and I didn’t cry; I just sat there, reading and watching. And then I heard the news of marathon runners sustaining serious injuries to their lower extremities, the report from Mass General that several amputations had been performed. People losing calves, and feet. Men and women who had just run a marathon, who run every single day, who have honed their bodies into world-class athletic machines, suddenly without feet, or living without a leg. For reasons I can't explain, it was that thought that broke my heart.
by Joan Erakit, IPS News, Italy - The Global Education First Initiative stands at the forefront of this week’s Learning Ministerial Meetings in Washington, D.C., underscoring the importance of education in the development of the global economy. Josephine Bourne, UNICEF associate director and global chief of education, spoke with IPS about the upcoming meetings and the challenges of education for all. Excerpts from the interview follow.
by Linda Burnham, Open Democracy, UK- But no need to get it twisted. Lean In is not about feminism in general, but about a very particular brand of feminism that, delusions aside, has nothing whatsoever to do with inspiring a social movement. We need to understand the core features of the brand, and then decide whether to buy in or take a pass.
by Bina Shah, The Dawn, Pakistan - Twenty women in leadership roles from various industries — finance, the corporate sector, law, publishing — sat down and talked about how Pakistan can promote women role models who are at the forefront of the movement for independence, self-reliance, and empowerment.
by Sara Shahriari, Deutsche Welle, Germany - Hundreds of thousands of children work in Bolivia even though the minimum working age is 14. But as most of them have to help support their families, they depend on their jobs. Some have united to improve their lives.
by Mary Regan, Irish Examiner, Ireland - "WE want to see as many of them as possible” — this was the one-line response by a grinning Enda Kenny two years ago, when he was asked if female representation would increase under a Fine Gael government.
by Alyssa Wiseman and Samantha Levy, The Globe and Mail, Canada - It’s been a horrible few months, with the senseless deaths of teens Amanda Todd and, more recently, of Rehtaeh Parsons. The devastating deaths of these young women, both victims of cyberbullying, have propelled social media to national attention.
by Lee Yoo Eun, Global Voices, Netherlands - South Korean conservative groups are mounting a fierce resistance to a proposed anti-discrimination law in South Korea that would prohibit discrimination based on based on religion, political ideology, or sexual orientation.
by Jill Heller, International Business Times, USA - A new Mexican Barbie in Mattel’s “Dolls of the World” series, which was launched to appeal to a more “diverse generation” of customers and boasts a number of dolls from Latin America, has sparked outrage for what opponents argue is an offensive depiction of Mexican culture. In addition to her fiesta dress and pet Chihuahua, the Barbie carries a passport. "Play with your Barbie Mexicana and don’t even think of calling her indocumentada."
by Anna Klassen, The Daily Beast, USA - As Hillary Clinton campaigned for the Democratic nomination in 2008, a group of men could be heard in the audience shouting, “Iron my shirt!” Rush Limbaugh asked his listeners of Clinton’s possible presidency, “Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?” Everyday Sexism is a free-for-all platform where women and girls can detail instances of sexism in their lives in a public but anonymous space. Laura Bates, the 26-year-old London-based founder, created the site nearly a year ago, after attempting to speak up about the sexism she faced and getting a maddening response.
by Marianela Jarroud, IPS, Chile - Women are playing an increasingly important role in Chile’s mining industry, where little more than a decade ago they were not even allowed in the mines because of prejudice and superstitions that they would bring bad luck. But times have changed. “We have an ambitious goal of reaching 20 percent of women in our labour force, as operatives, heads of sections, in management and on the business side."
by Amira Al Hussaini, Global Voices, The Netherlands - Journalist Jenan Moussa is back in Aleppo, Syria, tweeting her experiences as the war between pro- and anti-government forces intensifies. Moussa's tweets are raw and personal, giving readers a snippet of what life is like for those caught in the crossfire.
By Tina Rosenberg, The New York Times, USA - By the time a poor child is 1 year old, she has most likely already fallen behind middle-class children in her ability to talk, understand and learn. The gap between poor children and wealthier ones widens each year, and by high school it has become a chasm. American attempts to close this gap in schools have largely failed, and a consensus is starting to build that these attempts must start long before school — before preschool, perhaps even before birth.
by Zubeida Mustafa, zubeidamustafa.com, Pakistan - The BBC has reported that a group of British MPs have asked the British “government to withhold extra aid to Pakistan unless the country does more to gather taxes from its wealthier citizens”. This will evoke a strong reaction in many circles in Pakistan. It is shocking that we have shameless people here — many having been associated with policymaking — who treat foreign aid as a yardstick to measure the success or otherwise of Islamabad’s foreign policy.
They have no qualms about going with the begging bowl in hand to foreign capitals. They will be irked by the British MPs’ statement no doubt. Some will see it as an anti-poor stance.
by Olga Khazan, Atlantic, USA - Margaret Thatcher died of a stroke this morning at the age of 87, but not everyone is mourning. Though she was revered by many, some Britons are marking the death of a woman who ushered in an era of austerity, privatization, and union-busting with a hint of "good riddance."
by Inés Benítez, Tierramérica, Brazil - Based on the number of trials conducted and the area of land planted, Spain accounts for 42 percent of all field trials of genetically modified crops in the EU, according to figures from the European Commission Joint Research Centre.
by Maryam Hasan, Dawn, Pakistan - Samira* looks like just another girl next door, but on closer inspection, one sees grief in the eyes of the abaya and headscarf-wearing 17-year-old.
by Nayla Tueni, Al-Arabiya, UAE - Yesterday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad spoke of neighboring countries, including Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, which support terrorists who enter his country. He decreased the gravity of the accusation against the "brotherly" country, Lebanon, due to its domestic divisions. He did not speak of his people who revolted against an authority that ruled for forty years since the era of his father and that dominated all the country's resources along with a limited number of relatives and men. He did not speak of the reasons that pushed the Syrians towards revolting against the rule of the intelligence.
by Lídice Valenzuela, Latinamerican Press, Peru - Two years after the reforms to the Cuban socioeconomic model began, one must ask: have substantial changes to the life of this Caribbean nation of 11 million people been observed? What is missing for the economy to be able to advance in the accelerated manner that is demanded by a population mostly worn down by the U.S. economic, financial, and commercial embargo, internal errors, and the dependency on other nations?
by Ruth Michaelson, RFI, France - Israel is home to one of the largest Eritrean communities in the world. However, they face discrimination and live in constant fear. One Eritrean woman has founded a centre to give them support.
by Jillian C. York, Global Voices, Netherlands - Last month, I received an interesting e-mail from my editor, Nasir Khan, at the Opinion page of Al Jazeera English. In the e-mail, Khan explained that while his goal has been to keep a gender ratio of 50/50 on the page, he has often come up short.
by Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams, US - The global peasant and food sovereignty group La Via Campesina, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, was among thousands of groups at the WSF, and sees the climate justice struggle the world faces as intertwined with the stranglehood corporations have over the global population.
by Agnes Szabó, Der Freitag, Germany - He who swaps his homeland, swaps his soul, they say in Hungary. Still, in the last two and a half years, more than half a million Hungarians have left the country and spread throughout the world. That is twice as many as those who left after the Hungarian Uprising was put down in 1956 – a lot of people for a country with just 10m inhabitants.
by Catherine Wilson, IPS, Italy - In Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, women are taking the lead in developing a burgeoning floriculture industry. At the same time, their enterprise is contributing to community resilience as rapid urbanisation exceeds employment opportunities and challenges the economic wellbeing of many urban families.
by Nicola Abé in North Sinai, Der Spiegel, Germany - The Sinai Peninsula has become a prison and grave for thousands of African refugees. They are kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured to death even after their families have paid hefty ransoms. But Egypt refuses to act. Since the revolution that upended power structures in Egypt, the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula has slipped further out of the country's political control. It has become a lawless region and a hotbed of criminals and terrorists. Groups of young men armed with AK-47s loiter in the streets. The business of human trafficking is booming, and the murder rate has skyrocketed.
by Neena Bhandari, IPS News, Australia- Tales of violence have become all too common — almost every single week, a woman in Australia dies at the hands of a male partner or former partner, often after a history of domestic violence, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology.