Protesters crowded the streets of Bangkok this week.
The Suvarnabhumi airport in Thailand halted departing flights in response to anti-government protesters.
Thousands of anti-government protesters continue to occupy Bangkok’s international airport, clamoring for Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat to resign. Protesters took over the airport on Wednesday and have refused to leave. The protesters have also called for new elections.
The airport is evacuating stranded travelers and halted departing flights.
The halts come as a blow to Thailand’s tourism industry, which has already suffered from the effects of the global financial crisis.
Blogger “Surawat” was at the airport picking up a friend when the protesters arrived and describes the siege.
Blogger and tourist “PJM” is trapped in Thailand due to flight cancellations, while blogger “Storynature” contemplates canceling a trip to the country because of the unrest.
The anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is campaigning against Wongsawat, contesting that he is a puppet for his brother-in-law and ousted Thai leader, Thaksin Shinawatra.
Blogger “Mackensie” writes from Uttaradit, Thailand to provide a background of the conflict, arguing that the airport siege will have massive economic repercussions.
The protesters used open firearms for the first time on Tuesday during street rallies, and some have labeled this the PAD’s “final battle.”
Twitter user “kofty” in Bangkok posts updates about the situation.
A recent announcement from the PAD apologizes for the inconvenience created by the airport closure, but calls the siege “crucial.”
The “ThaiXpatWriter” blog calls for Prime Minister Wongsawat to step down, proclaiming “Fight on yellowshirts!” ( a reference to the PAD’s yellow garb).
The “Aventures d’un métis” blog says the PAD should change their title to TAD — “Thais Against Democracy.”
The “Meaw & More” blog argues that by not preventing the airport siege, the government has allowed the PAD to self-destruct by creating negative public sentiment.
A blogger at “Our Thailand Adventure” writes about possible end-game scenarios to the airport siege and other protests.
Listen to Patrick Winn’s report from Bangkok about the airport siege and Simon Montlak’s report on the impact of protests on the Thai tourism industry.
Photos courtesy of nicolas and LookatLao under a Creative Commons license.
November 25, 2008
South Africa treats Tuberculosis patients at home
AUDIO: Elizabeth Shelburne of GlobalPost discusses South Africa’s efforts to deal with tuberculosis.
A tuberculosis patient at the Botsabelo Hospital in Lesotho.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis (TB) infection worldwide and has declared a national emergency in response to the disease.
TB is a source of stigma in the country, which forcibly quarantines patients.
Countries must weigh the civil liberties of patients infected with the airborne disease against the greater public’s health interests.
Blogger “Peter” writes about the new home care for patients with Extreme Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB).
The “Encyclopedia of Earth” blog argues that environmental risk factors must be addressed to solve the TB problem, saying that one group has helped families pay for an additional room to house the infected patient — thus lessening the chance of spreading infection.
Blogger “Rick Stark” criticizes South Africa’s practice of dumping infected migrant workers across the border, arguing that the “cruel” tactic only augments the spread of the disease.
For more on migrant labor’s role in South Africa’s tuberculosis problem, read a recent report: The mining sector, tuberculosis and migrant labor in Southern Africa [PDF].
Blogger “Ethan Zuckerman” posts the work of photographer James Nachtwey, who chronicled the lives of XDR-TB patients in Southern Africa in an effort to raise awareness and put a human face on the disease.
South African blogger “Ridwan” despairs at the average life span in his country, made worse by TB prevalence and poor medical care.
Drug-resistant TB dominated U.S. headlines over a year ago, when one infected man flew to and from Europe and another was imprisoned for failing to wear a protective mask in public.
In the 1950s, New York confined uncooperative TB patients to Rikers Island to prevent the spread of the disease.
In 2006, about 9.2 million new cases of TB were reported — a 40 percent increase from 1990. The United Nations fears that the global financial crisis will limit medical research and the rate of infection will worsen still.
For more on the global health challenge that tuberculosis presents, see the World Health Organization’s 2008 report on tuberculosis control.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Open Society Institute under a Creative Commons license.
November 25, 2008
Malaysian Islamic body bans yoga
Muslims in Malaysia are prohibited from practicing yoga, which is said to be at odds with Islam.
Islamic leaders in Malaysia have banned yoga, claiming the practice combines physical exercise with chanting and spiritual elements that are at odds with Islam.
The fatwa, or edict, angered some Muslims, including a Malay sultan.
A post at “Islam Web” explains the reasons for the fatwa, writing that yoga goes beyond physical exercise and is an atheist form of worship.
Malaysian blogger “Ahmad” writes that many Muslims in the country will continue to practice yoga, minus the mantras and chantings.
Blogger “Nuraina A. Samad,” a self-professed fitness lover and Muslim in Kuala Lumpur, writes that she is aware of the un-Islamic elements of Yoga but finds the ban insulting, saying, “Am I that weak or stupid to go astray?”
The “Footsteps in the Mirror” blog asks that people respect the edict, arguing that yoga is part of a belief system and even Christian denominations in Malaysia have warned against yoga.
A blogger at “Blogpastor,” a Christian who abstains from yoga, writes that opposition to yoga does indeed have roots in Romans 14:23, though the Christian church has been less firm in forming an official position.
Malaysian blogger “Praba Ganesan” disagrees with the fatwa but tries to assess why Islamic leaders would issue such a divisive ban.
Blogger “Gabriele,” an anthropologist studying Muslim communities, writes that such fatwas are becoming political tools to appeal to the electorate, pointing to their increased frequency.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user j / f / photos under a Creative Commons license.
November 24, 2008
India’s outsourcers look to outsource
In the last 10 years, India has become a global hub for foreign companies looking to outsource. After all, costs are about 40 percent cheaper compared to operating in the U.S. In 2007, outsourcing brought India about $11 billion in business, though the sector has suffered from the recent credit crisis.
As operating in India has become more expensive, companies like Quattro, an Indian business process outsourcing (BPO) company, have opened offices in countries like Singapore or Mexico.
So when a U.S. company outsources work to an Indian BPO, that same BPO could in turn outsource the job to workers from Mexico.
Worldfocus correspondent Daljit Dhaliwal and producers Mary Lockhart and Ara Ayer report from India, where Quattro executive Raman Roy talks about his company’s ambitions.
Below, bloggers discuss India’s role in the global workforce.
A guest blogger at the “Vikas Rikhye” blog writes about the effect of the global financial crisis on BPOs in India.
The “Outsourcing BlogShots” blog writes that outsourcing is going beyond India as world economies decline, and that Chinese and Latin American markets are getting more attention.
American blogger and IT assistant “Rita Cartwright” outlines some disadvantages to outsourcing.
The Wall Street Journal’s “Washington Wire” blog takes a look at the Indian outsourcing industry’s thoughts about Barack Obama, who criticized outsourcing during the 2008 U.S. election campaign.
November 24, 2008
Venezuelan elections validate Chávez and opposition
Sara Llana Miller of The Christian Science Monitor was in Caracas for the elections and speaks to Martin Savidge about the Venezuelan reaction.
People wait in line to vote in Sunday’s local elections in Venezuela.
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez claims the results of Sunday’s state and local elections are a validation of his socialist policies, as his supporters held on to governors’ posts in 17 of Venezuela’s 23 states.
However, Chávez’s opponents won in five states and in the two biggest cities, making gains.
Bloggers in Venezuela and around the world weigh in about the elections and the future of Venezuela after “23n” — the tag used to designate election coverage online (based on the date of the Sunday elections).
Hector Palacios at “Rayas y Palabras” posts videos from an online campaign that encouraged Venezuelans to talk about the elections using citizen media.
Twitter users in Venezuela and elsewhere post snippets about “23n,” and Flickr users post “23n” images.
A software developer at the “Venezuela and Europe” blog writes about election technology in Venezuela and incidences of corruption.
Blogger “Daniel” live blogs from Caracas, describing long lines and confusing voting procedures. In the aftermath, he expresses happiness about the opposition’s gains.
A blogger at Salon.com’s “Devil’s Excrement” blog says the gains are “about the right amount,” hoping that Chávez will be in power and in place to shoulder the blame as the economic crisis hits.
The “Caracas Chronicles” blog writes about significant implications of the elections, including Venezuela’s urban/rural divide, potential changes for the oil industry and new opposition leaders in Caracas. The blogger also posts a final electoral map.
The opposition movement has capitalized on rising inflation and accusations of corruption. Chávez is expected to seek approval to abolish presidential term limits, which would enable a 2012 run.
Photos courtesy of Flickr user LuisCarlos Diaz and M@fe under a Creative Commons license.
November 21, 2008
Tibetan youth call for shift in strategy
Tibetan monks study in Karnataka, India.
A group of exiled Tibetan leaders are partway through a week-long meeting in northern India that may chart a new course in Tibet’s struggle against decades of Chinese rule.
Years of failed attempts at conciliatory relations with China and recent statements by the Dalai Lama have left some Tibetans in search of a new, more aggressive strategy — including a possible declaration of independence that many youth support.
But this week’s meeting has highlighted a generational gap between Tibetans. The older generation prefers a more moderate approach.
A blogger at “Tibet.org” examines calls for new thinking on Tibet in the context of China’s changed motivations since the struggle began. The blogger argues that leaders must focus on Tibet’s economic assets rather than religious freedom or human rights.
Another blogger reposts analysis by a Tibetan Chinese person who expresses sadness at Tibetan riots and trumpets Chinese communism and its economic rewards.
Blogger “Mathieu Vernerey” writes extensively about differences and similarities between the “middle way” approach and those who call for Tibet’s complete independence, suggesting that both approaches can be reviewed and adapted.
The “Potala Times” Web site posts a letter from a Tibetan who believes the meeting in India will not see a full agreement, but who hopes Tibetans can retain their culture with or without autonomy and on a local level.
Watch events of the meeting in India here.
As the meeting commenced, China tighted controls on Tibet and a Chinese official stated that Tibetan separatism is “doomed.”
China has even taken the battle online, where the country has used Google ads to spread its own version of the conflict.
Tibet was essentially an independent country prior to invasion and occupation by China’s People’s Liberation Army in the 1950s.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user bluemoondream under a Creative Commons license.
November 20, 2008
Mexico City divided over legalized abortion
Over a year after Mexico City legalized abortion, women may still find it difficult to abort during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Eighty-five percent of doctors in the city’s public hospitals have declared themselves conscientious objectors and the medical costs are high.
The controversial move to legalize abortion has been challenged in the Supreme Court and upheld. Ninety percent of Mexico’s population is Catholic.
Martin Savidge travels to populous Mexico City, where the abortion debate rages on.
Below, bloggers in Mexico and elsewhere voice their support or opposition to the city’s legalization of abortion — a rarity in Latin American countries.
Reverend Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International writes about his organization’s trip to Mexico, where they prayed in front of an abortion clinic. He calls Mexico City’s law “cruel and inhumane.”
The “Guanabee” blog argues that abortion is much more than a religious issue, writing that it also involves class, gender politics and culture issues.
“The Unapologetic Mexican” blog writes that media coverage of the legalization was biased and virtually ignored women’s voices, but calls the new law “a good start.”
The “South Chicagoan” blog writes that Mexico City’s decision to provide free Viagra to elderly men reflects gender bias when it comes to sexuality, since it is still so difficult to get an abortion.
The “Ciudad de Mexico” blog (in Spanish) wonders why Mexico City’s legislators did not engage in public debate on the issue prior to the legalization. (See Google’s English translation of the entry)
Blogger “Jo Tuckman” writes that it is amazing how far Mexico has come in such a short period of time.
For more on the abortion debate in Latin American countries, see what a Worldfocus contributing blogger had to say about the Urguayan president’s veto of a bill that would have legalized abortion in that country.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user emilyjmc06 under a Creative Commons license.
Blogwatch summarizes what bloggers and news sources are saying about the international news of the day. We’ll link to informative and bold voices that place the headlines in the context of the global conversation.