· May, 2007

Stories about LANGUAGES from May, 2007

Japan: “Thought Check” Screening for Citizen Judges

  30 May 2007

While news in Japan this week has been understandably fixated on the sensational suicide of Agriculture Minister Matsuoka Toshikatsu, another story revealed in a blog entry by Diet member Hosaka Nobuto slipped by with little fanfare last weekend. In the post, Hosaka outlines the latest step in moves by the government to implement a "citizen judge system" in Japan. This step, he claims, would allow the prosecution to effectively disqualify, through a "thought check" screening process, all citizens judge candidates who express doubt about the trustworthiness of police investigations.

Brazilian Express Loves (and jealousy) around the world

  30 May 2007

The Brazilian blogosphere entered in alert a few weeks ago when the major publish house Companhia das Letras (PT) announced a huge literary project. Idealized by Rodrigo Teixeira, the project called Express Loves (Amores Expressos) wants to take 16 writers to 16 cities around the world for a one month trip. Shanghai, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Lisbon, Berlin, Cairo, Saint Petersburg and São Paulo are some among those chosen cities. At the end, each one of them must write a love history tied with those cities. All in 90 days.

Lotto Fever strikes BIG in Japan

  26 May 2007

People across Japan turned out in large numbers last week to line up and get their hands on tickets for “BIG”, a variation on the soccer lottery “toto” operated by the National Agency for the Advancement of Sports and Health. The combined sales figure for all soccer lottery tickets was...

Brazil: New Round on the National Internet Policy Debate

  25 May 2007

There are not many issues in Brazil where you are able to find unanimity. But when you talk about messing with Internet freedoms, the defenders spring up from radically different locations in the political spectrum. That's what we are seeing again this week as Sen. Eduardo Azeredo, the protagonist of...

Turkey: Plans to Attack Kurds

Turkish blogger Murat Altinbasak links to a news article which discusses Tuesday's deadly rush hour bombing at an Ankara shopping district in which at least six people died and more than 100 were injured. His conclusions are: “Turkey plans for attack on Kurds.”

Japan: Listen to the voices of the Tokyo fire bombing victims

  25 May 2007

112 people, including the victims and their families of the 1945 Tokyo fire bombing, are suing the Japanese goverment for an official apology and 1.2 billion yen compensation. On March 24, a trial hearing was held at the Tokyo District Court and blogger tokyodo-2005 urges that more attention should be...

Japan: Bridging the Generation Gap

  22 May 2007

What with all the news last week of beheadings, shoot-outs and baby dumping — and subsequent soul-searching on the part of Japanese bloggers, at a loss for what to make of the nation's younger generation — I felt that it would be appropriate this week to highlight a slightly more...

East Timor: Reflections on the Presidential elections

  21 May 2007

Timor Online brings up Max Lane‘s reflections on the latest Presidential elections (also in Portuguese), which circulated through ETAN's East Timor list, and “are the result of conversations over the phone with contacts in East Timor and with friends in Jakarta who also are in close contact with East Timor,...

Japan: Mail from Henoko

  20 May 2007

dr.stonefly reprints an email sent by an activist in Henoko, urging the readers to take direct action in the protest against the marine survey. The email describes a fierce collision between the authorities and the peaceful demonstrators on boats and canoes. [Ja]

Which father is my real father?: Japan's 300-day rule

  20 May 2007

In early May, the Japanese government announced that it will take a special measure to recognise children born within 300 days of their mother's divorce, given that the mothers became pregnant after divorce. This announcement came after a group of divorced women with children raised the issue on the current...

Beheadings, Shoot-outs and Baby Dumping: Where is Japan heading?

  19 May 2007

News stories covered this week by the mainstream news media in Japan have shaken Japanese society, with many wondering where their country is heading and what has happened to the nation's youth. Most sensational among these stories is the shocking tale of a high-school boy who killed and beheaded his...

Brazil: The Once and Future(?) King

  18 May 2007

There are two kings in Brazil. Pelé, the world famous football star, and Roberto Carlos, a great icon of Brazilian popular music (MPB). The singer and songwriter acquired fame as the main figure of the 60’s musical movement known as Jovem Guarda — Young Guard — in opposition to the ‘old guard’ of Brazilian music. But late last year, the launch of an unauthorized biography has made this King go to war. Confirming the Brazilian saying that “once King, you’ll never loose the majesty”, Roberto Carlos has recently succeeded in a legal settlement with the writer — historian Paulo César de Araújo — and his publisher where all the unsold books will be called back to him, and the book will never again be published. But then… there is the Internet.

Kurdistance: The Honor Killing of Dua

This may seem like old news....but it isn't. Even though the tragic honor killing of a young girl in Northern Iraq/Southern Kurdistan took place in early April, sometimes the meaning of these sad stories take a while to surface. There are conflicting reports about how 17-year-old Dua died, some say that she was lynched, some stoned to death, others say both. What we do know was that Dua was a young girl in love, who left her Yezidi faith to live her life with a man that she loved. She was brave and idealistic; and she died horribly because of it. A mob of Yezidi men dragged her into the street, tore her clothes to shame her, and then the mob killed her...the final blow being a large rock taken to her head. And someone filmed this horror, which is floating around the internet somewhere if you truly wish to see it. What is important, is that this tragedy not only is sad in the individual sense of this girl's death, it is also sad in what it signifies for a culture and society eager to change, but unable to, as the Kurdish bloggers point out.

East Timor: José Ramos Horta Wins The Second Round

  15 May 2007

The Moderate Voice announces José Ramos Horta's victory in East Timor's presidential elections and sees the process as an example the US should follow in Iraq. From the other side, Timor Online comments that FRETILIN [former ruling party] “was beaten by a convergence of global strategic and oil interests with...

Talking to Jamaican litblogger Geoffrey Philp

  14 May 2007

The Jamaican writer Geoffrey Philp has published five books of poems, a collection of short stories called Uncle Obadiah and the Alien, and a novel, Benjamin, My Son. He lives in Miami, a member of the great Caribbean diaspora in North America, and he currently teaches at Miami-Dade College. Since...

Japan: Japanese 30-somethings not happy

  14 May 2007

shigeto2004 refers to and gives an analysis on the result of an online survey conducted by Japanese newspaper Yomiuri on workers in their 30s. This entry is followed by an active thread of responses. [Ja]

Japan's Pacifist Constitution, 60 Years Later

  13 May 2007

Early last week on May 3rd, amid widespread debate and discussion on the topic, Japan celebrated the 60th anniversary of its constitution. The anniversary comes at a time when Japanese citizens and their government are re-evaluating the role of their current constitution and debating its uniquely pacifist nature. With Japan...

Civil movements in Japan and Korea

  11 May 2007

kenzo , an architect actively involved in an anti-gentrification movement in the Shimokitazawa area of Tokyo, talks about his recent experience of receiving a group of enthusiastic urban planning students from Korea. He describes the crosscultural conversation he had with the students on the topic of the differences between civil...

Brazil: The Pope is Here – What Now?

  10 May 2007

Brazil, the world's biggest Catholic nation, is now entering the global media stage surrounding the Pope's visit. The previous visits of John Paul II have left profound impressions here, and although Benedict XVI obviously lacks the friendly compassionate mood that easily enraptures the Brazilian soul, the church and the media are working hard to nurture the numinous qualities around the new Pope's tour. The question is: will Benedict succeed in his attempt to push forward his agenda for Latin America? Bloggers comment...

Japan: Self-Defense Forces to be Deployed to Henoko, Local Blogger Issues a Plea

  10 May 2007

On the evening of May 9, Japanese broadcaster Nippon TV broke the news that the Japanese government is planning to send the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to put down protests in Henoko Bay, Okinawa. Local protesters have responded in shock to this move. One local blogger describes the move as an attempt to legitimize the role of the SDF as a national military.