UN Ambassador Lara Croft
American actress Angelina Jolie has been appointed Ambassador of
the UN refugee organisation UNHCR. Jolie can currently be seen as
the computer heroine Lara Croft in the film Tomb Raider. As a UN
Ambassador, she will follow in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn,
Danny Kaye and Sophia Loren.
More information: UNHCR,
Penguin putting 200 books on the internet
British publishers Penguin are putting 200 books on the internet.
The books include classic titles such as Emma by Jane Austen and
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, but also lots of new fiction. The
books can be downloaded from the Penguin website from 17 September
Animation film about Mohammed
The Al-Azhar University in Cairo has granted permission for an
animation film on the life of the Prophet Mohammed to be distributed.
Islam forbids images of the Prophet, so he is portrayed in the film
not as a person but as a blinding light. The animation film was
made by Richard Rich, an ex-employee of Walt Disney, under the supervision
of Khaled Abou alFadl, Professor of Islamic Law at the University
China cracks down on Buddhist institute
The Chinese government has expelled hundreds of Tibetan nuns and
monks from the Buddhist institute in the village of Serthar, one
of the most important centres of Tibetan Buddhism. The Larung Gar
institute was established in 1980 to breathe new life into Buddhism.
More information: Tibet
Information Network, 19-08-01
Greek theatre inspires Turkish women
No water, no sex! In the Turkish village of Sirt, women banned
their husbands from the bedroom for a month. They were fed up of
having to walk kilometres every day to fetch water because of a
broken water pipe in the village. The boycott was inspired by a
TV broadcast of Aristofanes' Lysistrata, an Ancient Greek play in
which the women try to end the war between Sparta and Athens by
denying their men their 'conjugal rights'. The ultimatum of the
Turkish women has had the desired effect: the government is providing
the village with pipes that the villagers can install themselves.
Six million guilders for eight cultural projects
Subsidies for excavating a VOC (United East Indies Company) ship
in the port of Galle, Sri Lanka, for restoring a mission post in
the Genaden Valley in South Africa, and for a Joris Ivens Tour through
the U.S. These are just three of the eight projects that will receive
over six million guilders in subsidies as part of the Dutch government's
international cultural policy. The money is coming from the HGIS
cultural budget (Homogeneous Group for International Cooperation),
and is aimed at drawing international attention to Dutch culture.
More information: Ministery
of Education and science, 08-08-01
Riot in Finland about Shostakovich
The Finnish town of Kaustinen thought it had its own exclusive
premiere. An unknown piece of music by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich
was to be performed at the town's Chamber Music Festival in September.
The piece dates from 1939, the year the then Soviet Union invaded
Finland. Late last month, however, it was discovered that Stalin
commissioned Shostakovich to write the piece to celebrate the victory
over Finland. A lot of Finns now find it inappropriate to let the
premiere go on.
No divorce by SMS for Muslims
According to the Sharia Laws of Islam, a Muslim man can divorce
his wife by announcing to her three times: 'I cast you out'. An
impatient man in Dubai cast out his wife with an SMS message: 'You're
late again, I divorce you'. Sharia bodies in Singapore and Malaysia
spent a lot of time discussing whether such a divorce is valid.
Their conclusion: An SMS message is invalid, because the identity
of the sender cannot be confirmed.
Latin alphabet in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan has been using the Cyrillic script for the last 70 years.
On 1 August, however, the country converted to the Latin alphabet,
which is now compulsory in all official documents and advertisements.
This is the third time in the last 100 years that Azerbaijan has
changed its alphabet. Until Moscow imposed the Cyrillic script in
around 1920, the country had used Arabic script for centuries. Supporters
say that the Latin alphabet will facilitate contact with Western
countries. However, the many Russian-speaking inhabitants are afraid
that they will have difficulty understanding the new Azerbaijani.
Institute for Berber in Morocco
King Mohamed the Sixth has promised that the Berber language and
culture will be given its rightful place in the Moroccan educational
system. Berbers in Morocco have spent many years striving to achieve
recognition for their language alongside Arabic, while the government
has been trying to suppress their efforts. King Mohamed has now
announced the 01-08-01
Sources: NRC Handelsblad,
van OC en W, Tibet
Information Network, UNHCR