This week, I’ve been mostly reading… {week two}

It’s been a busy week. I’m outraged again. Sorry.

The aftershocks of last week’s popular rebellion in Tunisia have been felt all across the Arab world, but particularly in Egypt. Protesters have taken to the street to try to force Hosni Mubarack from office. This year marks the 30th Anniversary of his coming to power and I’ve been getting updates on the situation all week from the Twitter account of Mona Eltahawy.

I linked to a lead article she wrote in The Guardian last week. This week’s first recommendation is less of a ‘read’, more of a ‘follow’. Eltahawy slept for 45 minutes in 48 hours as she relayed the news from the streets of Cairo and other major flashpoints. For me, this represents all that is good about social media and bitesize news. As well as helping rally troops on the ground, people like Eltahawy are raising awareness round the world. The passion and conviction in the work she has done this week has been truly admirable: a great ambassador for the people of Egypt.

13 Year Old Boy’s Murder Trial Could Violate International Law

And from the good, to the downright despicable. In a country that champions itself as the world’s leader in justice and liberty; the land of opportunity, how can America justify trying a 13-year-old boy as an adult? You cannot condone anybody who takes another life. Jordan Brown, an elementary student, shot his father’s pregnant girlfriend in the back of the head as she slept: an indisputably horrendous act. But to lock a child up forever, with no chance of parole?

It reminded me of a story I read last year, around the time of the media’s witch hunt for the details of convicted murderer Jon Venables’ second felony. There are different ways of dealing with such terrible cases. One is to throw away the key; the other, a more measured response, is to find out why. After two kids in Norway committed a similar (if not more horrific act) than Venables and Thompson, this article describes how the local community responded, and is well worth five minutes of your time.


Space Invaders: Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period

I’ve been surprised by the amount of typography fetishists I’ve encountered over the past few years. Anyone who spends a fair amount of time hunched over a keyboard will have preference as to how their copy is turned out. There is room for personal taste, in most cases. But some things are just plain wrong. This entertaining piece by Farood Manjoo develops on a pet hate of my own. Both in altruism and as commercial ventures, I’ve edited a lot of essays, dissertations and thesis’. I’ve always held firm that one space is always enough, no matter what the context. Thanks to Farood for hammering this point home emphatically.

The Battle Against Benefit Cuts and Poverty Pimps

Laurie Penny’s blog in the New Statesmen this week explored the dangers of an outsourcing culture. As the coalition government continues to look for ways to slash the welfare state, the vultures are circling in the shape of huge corporations primed to profit from such moves. She names Atos Origin, who have developed an ‘unreliable’ means of testing people to see if they’re fit to work. Of course, if it’s in your interests, you will find what you’re looking for. Even graver dangers have been outlined by Kathryn Bolkovac, who blew the whistle on the involvement of contracted peacekeepers in child trafficking in Bosnia.

Hatred and Bigotry in the Playground

In a week in which sexism has dominated the UK media, Johann Hari’s latest Indy column tackles the problem of homophobia in schools. Progression has been made on many levels, but not amongst kids. It should be a clear focus for the government. I was shocked to read that France has this week upheld a ban on gay marriage, too.

North Korean Music Updates

This week also marked the busiest day I’ve ever had on my blog. I wrote a piece on the music of South Korea, which obviously struck a chord with some (positive and negative). I will be reading with intrigue, then, the updates of Alex Hoban. He’ll be reporting on the music scene in Pyongyang, North Korea. Don’t ask me how… but it will no doubt be interesting.

Finally, a friend put me onto this interesting interactive program, If It Were My Home. It allows you to compare your own country with any other in terms of every aspect of life. The scary thing is, I have 58% more chance of being unemployed in the UK than I do in South Korea. Yikes.

Happy reading!


3 thoughts on “This week, I’ve been mostly reading… {week two}

  1. Mario Ledwith says:

    Good stuff, Barney.

  2. Maria Lisak says:

    first time visit. thanks for throwing down your hat in gwangju for a bit. appreciate your work and your giving nature.

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