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Thursday World Blog Roundup

We’re always looking for new ideas and good stories to write about. If you have a story or a blog post that you think would be a good fit for our daily roundups, email us with the link and a short description of the post!

The Middle East

Hoder notes that “[P]olls are usually not reliable when it comes to Rafsanjani. Best example was sixth parliamentary elections in which he was at worst among the top five, but ended up in 30th place.” As background, Rafsanjani is the clear front-runner in opinion polls leading up to Friday’s presidential election. In the same post, Hoder speculates that many of the young people promoting Rafsanjani’s campaign in the streets of Tehran may have ulterior motives for their ‘political participation’.

In other Iranian election news, conservative candidate Mohsen Rezai withdrew from the elections today, reports both Iranian Truth and Iran Scan. It is believed that the reason that Rezai, who was the former commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, pulled out was to consolidate the conservative vote in the election.

LATE UPDATE: Mr. Behi has a late night discussion with his wife about whether to vote. He finally decides he will, and will vote for Moeen.

The Arabist Network covers a small protest outside a mosque in Cairo. The interesting thing that the post observes is that the demographics of the Egyptian opposition are shifting; younger activists are joining the movement, but their motivations aren’t always the same as older activists.

Following up on the item in yesterday’s roundup about a Saudi newspaper that launched an RSS feed, Saudi Jeans notes that BBCArabic.com has launched their own RSS feeds.

Egyptian Person notes that there’s a decent chance that an agreement about the oft-discussed Egypt-Israel gas pipeline might actually get signed this week; he uses the news to ponder the state of Egypt-Israel relations. In order to reach a broader audience, Egyptian Person has started writing his posts in both English and Arabic.

Photograph by Joshua Stacher

Europe

Blog de Connard gets cable television in Kiev and discovers… a channel “that seems to show nothing but rebroadcasts of old Soviet television programs, including the news.”. Apparently it’s quite addictive.

Barcepundit points to more terrorist arrests in Spain.

Vandorlo, at Central Budapest, translates a Hungarian article that reports that a joint cooperative working agreement has been signed between Budapest and Beijing. I’m not sure what this means, much beyond a sister-cities-style agreement, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

South Asia

Troubled times ahead for Sri Lanka? The Sri Lankan ruling coalition has disbanded over a plan to share tsunami relief in Tamil Tiger-controlled areas, and a large proteset march passed through downtown Columbo protesting the plan. Shandy’s Personal (Sri Lanka) Blog has an excellent summary of the situation. Niraj has another summary, while The Acorn provides political analysis of what this means. The Sri Lankan blog Nittewa has coverage of President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s speech addressing the crisis.

Chanakya at vichaar.org writes a slightly tongue-in-cheek letter to the people of Pakistan from Indian bloggers: “While we like Pakistani people, we don’t really like the dude who currently fancies himself as your ‘President’. Given that he was born in India, we feel sort of responsible and guilty in some weird way. If you guys want to send him back we’d probably have to take him (yikes!).”

Photograph by Philippe Tarbouriech

Central Asia

Working Definition reports on the news that Voice of America will start–or rather, resume–broadcasting in Uzbekistan in the Uzbek language.

Africa

Inside Somaliland covers a transport strike, and includes some good photographs of the event.

This is Zimbabwe has another disheartening story about “police” action in the cities of Zimbabwe.

South-East Asia

Both Brand New Malaysian and Jeff Ooi have been following the curious case of Michael Soosai closely. In short, Soosai, who had been wanted by the police, fled to India a few years ago and faked his own death. Last December, a Malay national, who had thought that he had won an all-expense-paid vacation to India, was murdered while on that vacation, apparently by Soosai; the reason he was targeted was because his son had eloped with Soosai’s daughter. Now a website of unknown authorship, michaelsoosai.org, has appeared, alleging links between Malaysian police and Soosai. It’s a bit like a Raymond Chandler novel.

Jakartass reports that President Yudhoyono of Indonesia gave out his cell phone number and invited citizens to call him with complaints; unsurprisingly, the system crashed. Jakartass has a list of issues that might have been among the complaints clogging the President’s voicemail box.

East Asia

Joi Ito posts some interesting statistics about internet usage in Japan. One highlight: a quarter of women in their teens and 20s have a blog.

Tokyo Times brings us a story about a 17.6-pound (8 kg) watermelon that sold for 280,000 yen (a bit more than US $2,500). That means that the watermelon—a special variety with a black rind—sold for about US $146 per pound, or more than 100 times the cost for regular green-skinned watermelon in the supermarket.

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