Tel Aviv has been dealing with the recent opening of the vegan Rogatka Bar, an establishment in which one can drink green beer and schmooze with left-wing activists. Founded by the self-proclaimed "anarchist collective" that has run other alternative Tel Aviv hot spots, the bar bans Israel Defense Forces soldiers in uniform, the carrying of weapons, and products made in West Bank settlements.
It's nothing personal, but ideological," [soldiers] were told by Rogatka employees. "Your uniforms symbolize genocide and violence, and the violence that the IDF perpetrates is the reason for ongoing violence." [...]
The restaurant-bar's policies have begun to elicit a backlash both online and in the Knesset... MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) told the Post on Tuesday that while he was not mulling any formal moves against the bar, "a society that is embarrassed by its soldiers is not a normal society...
This is a symptom of the new Left in this country, as opposed to the old Left of the Labor party. The new left is anti-Zionist, they are against the Jewish state, and while they are a small group, they're very aggressive."
One of the bar's founders, Adi Vinter, justified Rogatka's practices:
"Rogatka" means slingshot in Russian and refers to the slingshots used by Palestinian youth in the first Intifada.
We can't hold views against discrimination and oppression, while at the same time support the infrastructure that exploits human beings and other animals. We wanted to show it's possible and even worthwhile to live differently."
All anarchists, public dissenters, and avid soccer fans should plan on making their way to Spain where whistling at the King has officially been declared legal. At the King Cup final soccer game in Valencia this past May, thousands of Basque and Catalan fans protested the presence of the King by booing, hissing, whistling, and waving separatist banners. DENAES, the Foundation for the Protection of the Spanish Nation, brought the issue to court:
Denaes was accusing these associations of having incurred into hate crimes, on having promoted the whistle to the national anthem, crimes for which they could be given up to five years of jail.
Nevertheless, the Court rests on the criterion of the district attorney to support that the facts denounced "cannot be constitutive of crime."
The court affirms that "the whistling carried out during the arrival of the King, during the interpretation of the national anthem, as well as the banners with the motto 'Good bye Spain' are protected by the freedom of expression, and it cannot be considered to be slanderous or insulting, much less that they support national hate or outrage to the Nation."
For this reason, the judge understands that the behavior registered during the final of Cup on May 13th does not "deserve penal reproach, bearing also in mind the principle of minimal intervention."
Personally, I will be working on attaining a crisp, clear whistling tone so as to be prepared for future travels to El Palacio de la Zarzuela. I like to be able to take full advantage of my civil liberties.
The 35 million people that make up the bustling metropolis of Tokyo experience unique comfort caused by a strange lack of crime -- bicycles can be left unlocked, lost possessions are returned to owners. For this reason, it is understandable that Tokyo police don't resemble stereotypical Officer Krupkes: swinging their billy clubs, waiting for the troublemakin' youth. Recently, however, the fuzz has been faced with a real challenge: Kitashikahama Park in Adachi Ward acts as a social space for rowdy teens to express themselves through vandalism and raucous midnight hijinks.
The Tokyo authorities are attempting to differentiate themselves by fighting crime creatively--by assaulting young ears. A British-made Mosquito MK4 Anti-Vandal system has been installed on the premises. The machine emits a high-frequency whine that only teens can hear.
Seven days a week, the whining begins at 11 p.m. and continues until 4 a.m. Video surveillance cameras monitor park buildings. And Kitashikahama Park empties out.
Except for television news crews.
"We see them on the surveillance videos, and there are too many of them to count," said Haruyuki Masuda, head of park management in Adachi Ward. "They hide behind trees and bushes, They are waiting for kids to come. I think they have scared off the kids."
Neighbors report that the park has quieted down at night, if you don't count the television news trucks and the TV-news-watching busybodies who descend on the park after 11 p.m. to find out whether they are too old to be irritated by the whining."
It's too soon to say if the Mosquito system is the real cause of the preliminary decrease in crime. Masuda commented, "We hadn't planned on this being a news sensation. We need things to calm down before we can decide if it really works. We need the TV crews to stop sneaking around."
Forget Aladdin's friendly blue sidekick--a Saudi family has actually sued a genie for theft and harassment. After living in the same house for 15 years, the family recently became aware of the intruder:
The lawsuit filed in Shariah court accuses the genie of leaving them threatening voicemails, stealing their cell phones and hurling rocks at them when they leave their house at night, said Al-Watan newspaper.
An investigation was under way, local court officials said.
"We have to verify the truthfulness of this case despite the difficulty of doing so," Sheikh Amr Al Salmi, the head of the court, told Al-Watan. "What makes this case and complaint more interesting is that it wasn't filed by just one person. Every member of the family is part of this case."
..."We began hearing strange noises," the head of the family, who requested anonymity, told Al-Watan. "In the beginning we didn't take it seriously, but after that, stranger things started happening and the children got really scared when the genie began throwing stones.""
In Islamic theology, genies or 'jinns' can be invisible or take human or animal form, and are often motivated by revenge or jealousy. I'm envious of the investigators of this case, as I'd like to play ghostbuster myself, although I'm not clear on where I would slap a pair of cuffs.
Yesterday, Passport discussed North Korea's first beer commercial. Today it seems that in the face of economic downturn, many unexpected organizations are resorting to commercialism. Vatican Radio, the wide-reaching voice of the Roman Catholic Church, will begin hosting advertisements for increased revenue.
Until now Vatican Radio has been wholly funded by the Catholic Church at a cost of some $30m (£17m) a year.
But the Holy See's latest finances show that it too is suffering from the global economic downturn...
The station - like other organisations - has recently been looking for outside financial help.
That has now come in the form of Enel. Its commercials are likely to be in keeping with the measured conservative tone of the station.
In return, Vatican Radio could receive some $250,000 (£155,000) over the next six months.
While it is true that profits from these advertisements will contribute to making up a deficit in the Church's finances, the announcement comes at a bit of an awkward time. Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI condemned the current capitalist system in a 144-page encyclical entitled "Charity in Truth," calling for a new financial order driven by ethics.
Enel, the Italian gas and electric company, stated that it "has some of the shared values of the Catholic Church"--one of which, apparently, is a large customer base.
In 1972, the number one priority of new King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan was the country's Happiness. It reads like the beginning of a children's story, but it's a real quantifiable concept. A measure of overall personal satisfaction weighed against detrimental factors such as stress and depression, Gross National Happiness remains the pride of this Himalayan state today, considered even more important than the Gross National Product.
Recently, however, its high GNH has been called into question with an inexplicable surge in the suicide rate. Kuensel, the country's main newspaper, investigated and found some shocking numbers. BBC News elaborates:
'In some villages, committing suicide has almost become a norm," [Kuensel] says.
Official figures show that the highest number of suicides was in 2001, when 58 people killed themselves. The lowest number was in 2006, when 34 people committed suicide. Bhutan's population is 682,000 people.
The figures have concerned the government- which is expanding a counselling service in schools to help teenagers who feel depressed.
Correspondents say that the figures are surprising, especially when the country's two main religions- Hinduism and Buddism- believe that a person who commits suicide will not be reborn as human being."
Secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission Karma Tsheetem concludes, "It means there has to be a better balance between spiritual and the material." Hopefully this balance will be restored and we'll see a spike in the GNH soon.
Forty-eight million people in the Arabic world use the Internet, yet the majority of content they view is not written in traditional script. Rather, those with a Western keyboard spell Arabic words phonetically. Professor Rasha Abdullah of the American University in Cairo expressed concern:
The Arabic content on the Internet now is less than 1 percent. And it's obviously very dismal."
Abdullah says that of her 500 Egyptian students, 78 percent have never typed in Arabic online, a fact that greatly disturbed Habib Haddad, a Boston-based software engineer originally from Lebanon.
"I mean imagine [if] 78 percent of French people don't type French," Haddad says. "Imagine how destructive that is online."
Haddad was inspired to develop the solution: Yamli, a word that derives from yoom-li, meaning 'to dictate'. Co-developer Imad Jureidini explains how it works:
"The idea is, if you don't have an Arabic keyboard, you can type Arabic by spelling your worsd out phonetically...For example... when you're writing the word 'falafel', Yamli will convert that to Arabic in your Web browser. We will go and search not only the Arabic script version of that search query, but also for all the Western variations of that keyword."
...[Jureidini] says in addition to providing the ability for native Arabic speakers to search and write in their own language, Yamli can also be used to teach Arabic to non-Arabic speakers."
Since its release last year, Yamli has helped increase Arabic Web content simply by its being used. Check it out here.
Kumari Mayawati, India's "dalit queen," has been called upon by the country's Supreme Court to rationalize the spending of an estimated $425 million in government funds. The public money has financed the construction of statues of herself and other influential members of the dalit or "untouchable" caste, the largest of which have spanned up to 130 acres. According to the Financial Times, Mayawati, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, has justified the statues as "part of the 'politics of dignity' intended to inspire self-confidence within India's most down-trodden community." Opponents argue:
This is public money "which should be used for the public welfare", Ravi Kant, a lawyer and one of the two petitioners, told journalists.
Uttar Pradesh is one of India's poorest states, with some of its highest rates of infant and maternal mortality. The attorney said the state government should have spent the money on emancipation of child labourers or boosting healthcare."
Mayawati receives much criticism for having spent the majority of her political career going after the premiership rather than improving the destitute state. The Bahujan Samaj Party leader was named the 59th most powerful woman by Forbes magazine in 2008.
As another shorter gal, I can understand the desire to exaggerate size for power. After her party secured only a quarter of Uttar Pradesh's 80 parliamentary seats this year, however, even Mayawati must be forced to rethink the efficacy of such blatant and aggressive propagandizing.
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