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September 30, 2008
U.S. bailout failure rattles international markets

The rejection of the $700 billion bailout has crossed oceans and rippled through world markets.

The blog “Eurointelligence” recalls the time when Europeans could not fathom how a U.S.-centric financial crisis could affect European banks, which have suffered in tandem with the U.S.

Henning Meyer of “Social Europe Blog” offers perspective from across the pond and discusses the need for a remodeled regulatory framework worldwide.

At “Macro Man” blog, an anonymous author extends blame of the global crisis to irresponsible lending practices in England as Germany, citing that the U.S. is not alone to blame.

The Latin America blog “Foreign Policy Association” describes what the U.S. credit crisis means for Argentina’s economy.

The Financial Times reports that the economic crisis has led Americans to call for greater global ties.

Click on the countries in blue to see how they are affected by the global credit crisis.

To return to the full screen map, simply click the house icon or ocean areas.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user saibotregeel under a Creative Commons license.

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September 30, 2008
British intelligence recruits spies on Facebook


The MI6 building in London.

The unofficial MI6 group on Facebook.

British secret intelligence agency MI6 is now using the social networking site Facebook to recruit potential spies. The unofficial MI6 group on Facebook has over 2,000 members and is part of an ongoing attempt to expand its forces.

Chris Matyszczyk of the blog “Technically Incorrect” writes that using Facebook undermines the supposed covertness of the agency — a concern that might be warranted given that the MI6 recently sold a camera full of top-secret photos on Ebay by accident.

The “Blorge” blog writes that James Bond would turn in his grave because of the perceived low standards for applicants.

MI6’s Facebook group lists pages of comments and reactions from interested applicants, like Ryan Osborne, who said, “yea 4real, id love 2 b part of an undercover network.”

Earlier this month, 16 U.S. intelligence agencies urged analysts to use a closed social networking site to share information about al-Qaeda and other issues.

Social networking sites such as Facebook are increasingly used for job searching around the world, The Economist recently reported.

Photos courtesy of Flickr users stevecadman and AJC1 under a Creative Commons license.

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September 29, 2008
Syrians speculate on weekend bombing

Syria had experienced fewer bombings compared to neighboring countries. Photo: CIA World Factbook


AUDIO: Nicholas Blanford of The Christian Science Monitor discusses the relationship between Syria and Lebanon and possible motivations for the attacks.

A car bombing left 17 civilians dead in the Syrian capital of Damascus over the weekend — the deadliest attack in Syria in over two decades.

Global Voices Online provides a translation from an eyewitness in Damascus.

Blogger “Qunfuz” discusses the Syrian government’s failure to protect its citizens and the media’s treatment of the attack.

Blogger “Sasa” from Damascus derides rumors about the perpetrators and their motivation, urging people to think of the victims rather than politics.

The “Counterterrorism Blog” reviews possible suspects and theorizes that the Syrian Mukhabarat (an intelligence service) was behind the bombing as a “prelude to attack Sunni strongholds inside Lebanon.”

Andrew Lee Butters of Time’s “Middle East” blog talks about what the bombing will mean for Syria.

Today, an attack on the Lebanese military left at least five dead. Experts have said the attacks in Syria and Lebanon are connected, pointing to an influx of insurgents from Iraq as one source of violence. Syria and Lebanon have recently attempted to establish diplomatic ties.

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September 26, 2008
Myanmar releases several prisoners on protest anniversary

Burmese monks protested a year ago.

A year after Myanmar’s military junta brutally cracked down on protesting monks, the government has released several political prisoners, including prominent journalist U Win Tin, who was jailed for almost 20 years. Human Rights Watch claims 2,100 people are still imprisoned and no progress has been made.

The “Irrawaddy” blog assesses the government’s long-term goals, saying that prisoner releases do not change the junta’s image. “Irrawaddy” also interviewed U Win Tin, who called his release “insincere.”

“Fear from Freedom” calls U Win Tin “out of touch” and speculates on the country’s 2010 election.

As people honor the one-year anniversary of the protest, Ashin Mettacara, a Burmese monk, posts about student demonstrations outside the Burmese Embassy in Sri Lanka and remembers his friend who died a year ago.

On Thursday, a bomb exploded in the main city of Rangoon, but heavy security has been imposed to curtail dissidents. U.S. First Lady Laura Bush has also called for Than Shwe to release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and pledged to hold the regime responsible.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user racoles under a Creative Commons license.

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September 25, 2008
China launches first space walk mission

A float commemorates Shenzhou VI, China’s second manned space mission, which launched in 2006.


AUDIO: Peter Ford of The Christian Science Monitor speaks about the sense of pride and achievement in China.

As the United States curtails its space program, China’s funding continues to expand. Today, China launched the Shenzhou VII spacecraft — its third manned space mission — and will soon complete its first space walk.

Watch a video of the spacecraft launch here, and an animated run-through of the entire mission here.

“The Foreign Expert” posts an audio piece outlining the history of China’s space program and its role in the world.

A resident of Guangdong blogs about the mission as a source of Chinese national pride on the heels of the 2008 Olympics.

NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao posts about reopened space talks between the U.S. and China as well as the Chinese-made equipment used on the mission.

American blogger “Jay” fear that the words ‘Made in China’ will be “plastered on the surface of the moon.”

China’s space program has been called a “growing threat” by the U.S. military, though NASA chief Michael Griffin today downplayed this idea and suggested China and the U.S. might collaborate in space endeavors in the future.

Last week, the Council on Foreign Relations released a report entitled “China, Space Weapons, and U.S. Security” [PDF]. Yesterday, a Virginian physicist was arrested for illegally exporting space launch data to China.

Photos courtesy of NASA and Flickr user drift_would under a Creative Commons license.

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September 25, 2008
American food spoils Mediterranean diet

A cheeseburger.

The Mediterranean diet is disappearing as the American fast food culture spreads throughout Greece. The “Live Fit Blog” provides an overview of the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to longevity and low disease rates in Greece and other Mediterranean countries.

Grecian “Daily Frappe” notes that “Greeks are getting fatter and fatter” as the tenets of the diet wane in popularity.

Pixelle of “A Simple Mind, Simply Amused” writes about the effects of commercial food culture: the extinction of some produce varieties and children who are unable to identify common vegetables.

Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement in Italy, shares Pixelle’s sentiments in this video at, where he explains his anti-fast food attitude as a politics beyond personal diet.

Blogger Chiki Seijo shows a manga warning against the dangers of fast food in the nation of natto, tofu and longevity.

Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom of “Health Journal” reminds readers that “It’s not where you eat, but what you eat,” demonstrating a decrease of local relevance in an increasingly global food market and food culture.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jslander under a Creative Commons license.

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September 24, 2008
Armenia celebrates and looks to the future

Fireworks erupt at Republic Square in the Armenian capital of Yerevan.

Over the weekend, Armenia celebrated the 17th anniversary of its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 — on the same day as the International Day of Peace.

Armenia has dealt with challenges on many fronts recently, accepting people fleeing from Georgia and forging a less volatile relationship with neighbors Turkey and Azerbaijan. Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan may all meet at the U.N. summit in New York this week.

“Armtown” outlines some of the day’s events, and a YouTube user provides video of Armenia’s 2007 independence celebration.

“Hayastan” celebrates independence but wonders, “Is Armenia’s heartbreaking past an excuse for the institutionalized injustice in the Republic of Armenia today?”

“The Armenian Observer Blog” assesses the future of Armenia-Turkey relations. Armenia is embroiled in ongoing struggles with Turkey rooted in Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge the 1915 genocide that killed over 1 million Armenians.

Marie Yovanovitch recently took over as the U.S. ambassador to Armenia — a move that the “Life in the Armenian Diaspora” blog rejects.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Michel S under a Creative Commons license.

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September 24, 2008
South African presidency changes hands

Resigning South African President Thabo Mbeki.
Photo: United Nations

Kgalema Motlanthe has been named the interim president of South Africa until the April 2009 elections.

He follows on the heels of Thabo Mbeki, who was forced out of office by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.

Behind Motlanthe’s succession is ANC President Jacob Zuma, who faced charges of corruption but was acquitted based on a technicality. Zuma has since become the center of attention in South African politics and is first in line to become South Africa’s next president. He has written about the ANC decision to recall Mbeki.

Niki McQueen of “The Democratic Alliance” posts excerpts from a speech by Democratic Alliance Leader Helen Zille, who views Mbeki’s departure as a forced political solution to Zuma’s legal problems.

“Waiting in Transit” writes about the resignations of several cabinet ministers loyal to Mbeki, calling it “the biggest political upset in South African history.”

After Zuma told the public not to worry about the mass resignations, “Doberman” rejected the statement and claims that “the ANC continues to move chairs around on the Titanic.”

Cape Town resident Abigail Abrahams criticizes Zuma, saying she will not vote in the next election, but finds hope in the democratic process.

“Singlesushi” writes that the ANC’s “morally defunct” leadership has inadvertently spawned a groundswell of public attention and activism.

Kgalema Motlanthe will officially replace Thabo Mbeki on Thursday. Ray Hartley speculates in his blog for The Times, South Africa, about potential government paralysis when Motlanthe assumes office.

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September 23, 2008
Egypt may make sexual harassment a crime

An Egyptian woman at a market in Cairo.

The Egyptian parliament may consider a measure to ban sexual harassment after a survey showed that more than 60 percent of men admitted to sexually harassing women.

Read testimonies from Egyptian women.

The “Muslimnista” blog writes that neglecting to represent activists and ignoring harassment against males reinforces stereotypes.

“Majid,” an American studying in Cairo, writes of her experiences with harassment and advises that women wear modest clothing and ignore harassers. About 98 percent of foreign women in Egypt report experiencing some form of harassment, compared to 83 percent of Egyptian women, according to the recent survey.

The “Muslimah Media Watch” blog criticizes the Egyptian media’s shame cartoons that depict women with and without hijabs in an effort to show that unveiled women have only themselves to blame.

The “Babylon and Beyond” blog from the Los Angeles Times covers a campaign to end sexual harassment.

The “Living in Egypt” blog writes about the budding Egyptian feminist movement.

Egyptian Wael Nawara writes from the male perspective and suggests that Egypt might benefit from easing the pressure on girl-boy relationships.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Swamibu under a Creative Commons license.

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September 23, 2008
Finnish shooting raises gun law questions

A school shooting in the Finnish city of Kauhajoki on Tuesday left eleven dead, including the gunman.

Watch AP footage from the aftermath on YouTube.

In the wake of the attack, blogger Sami Mäkeläinen refutes the perception of Finland as “safe.”

The shooting marks the second such attack in Finland after an 18-year-old killed eight people last November, raising questions about Finland’s gun policies. Finland raised the minimum gun age from 15 to 18 following last year’s shooting. Tuesday’s shooter was 22-years-old.

“Masks of Eris” argues that today’s statistical anomaly is not relevant to gun control arguments.

Blogger “Thor Kottelin” defended access to weapons and the value of hunting — a popular Finnish sport — after the 2007 shooting.

In the U.S., local coverage of the Finnish shooting frustrated Denver-based “Latest Word” blog, which argues that parallels to the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School lack perspective.

Finland ranks behind the U.S. and Yemen in civilian gun ownership — there are about 1.6 million privately owned firearms for 5.2 million people.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user barjack under a Creative Commons license.

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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.

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