Top-100 best African books
The top-100 best African books were announced at an international
publishing conference in Accra, Ghana. The Nigerian Chinua Achebe
is at the top of the list with A World Falling Apart (1958). Jury
members had to choose from among 1521 titles in at least fifteen
different languages. The top-100 is an initiative taken by the Zimbabwe
International Book Fair (ZIBF). The prizes will be awarded during
this book fair in July 2002.
Political leaders want to have a grip on the media
Premier Silvio Berlusconi will probably have control of 95 per
cent of the Italian TV market soon. The businessman, who came to
power in Italy last year, owns three commercial tv stations. In
addition, he now also has influence over the national broadcasting
company RAI. It is normal that the five-member board that controls
the broadcasting company consists of three representatives of the
government and two representatives of the opposition. Berlusconi's
government partners are pushing for a reallocation: four government
representatives and only one for the opposition.
In Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is attempting to keep
a grip on Leo Kirch's collapsing media concern. Kirch owns commercial
tv broadcasting stations, the distribution rights for the foremost
sporting events and forty per cent of the publishing giant Axel
Springer. Currently Schröder, the Deutsche Bank and media giant
Bertelsmann are working on a partnership agreement designed to keep
the empire from falling under the control of media tycoon Rupert
British businessmen do not want to keep in step
The British Supreme Court has decided that only the metric system
is legally valid on British soil. This ruling was made after market
traders, - the so-called 'Metric Martyrs' -, claimed that they had
the right to continue using the pound and ounce, which were the
previous standards for measuring weight. The spokesperson for the
five businessmen called the judges' decision 'the death of democracy'.
Japanese music permitted for a month
In July, the South Korean radio and television stations will be
allowed to broadcast Japanese music. This is in honour of the World
Cup Soccer Match that will take place in both countries that month.
Since the Japanese occupation over fifty year ago, most Japanese
cultural expressions have been banned in South Korea. This includes
the sale and broadcast of Japanese music.
Hindus rebel against Valentines Day
Hindus in Bombay destroyed Valentine merchandise again this year.
Last year believers set fire to the cards and articles that are
typical of this February 14th holiday. The demonstrators claimed
that they were protesting the Western character of the day.
Will clicking hyperlinks become dangerous?
has initiated a striking court case against the American Internet
The subject of the dispute is the use of the hyperlink. This was
invented in 1976 by employees of British Telecom. The company won
the exclusive user rights to the hyperlink in 1989. For some unknown
reason the telecom giant did not utilise the patent for eleven years.
When it was 'rediscovered' in 2001, the patent was no longer valid
in Europe. BT wants to use the case against Prodigy to test whether
the patent is still legally valid in the United States. If the judge
rules that the company's claim is valid, there is the chance that
Americans will have to pay for each hyperlink on their web pages.
Pioneers of the world wide web have reacted indignantly to the case.
They claim that the American Vannevar Bush created the hyperlink.
For more information: the
BT patent (1989)
Vannevar Bush, As we may think (1945)
Old use in new Afghanistan
Afghanistan may have a new government, but the administration of
justice is still based on old Islamic laws. Maintaining the sharia
means that homosexuals and women who commit adultery can still be
stoned to death. Cutting off limbs is also still a valid legal punishment.
The primary difference between today's government and the Taliban
government is that summary justice will no longer be applied. At
least, that is what the new chairman of the Afghan Supreme Court,
Fazel Hadi Shinwari, has told the Associated Press. Accused parties
will have the chance to defend themselves. Moreover, the punishments
will no longer be meted out in public.
The overthrow of the Taliban does not mean the end of the burqa;
the garment, which Afghan women were required to wear under the
previous regime, completely veils the woman. The garment is part
of the culture of the Pathanen - a population group that is spread
throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moreover, some Afghan women
still fear that they will be beaten if they appear on the street
without this cloak.
Composer handed over for Rwanda Tribunal
The Netherlands is turning over the Rwandanese singer and composer
Simon Bikindi to the Rwanda Tribunal in Tanzania. According to the
Human Rights Watch, Bikindi's folk songs stirred up hate against
the Tutsis. Moreover, he is alleged to be one of the founders of
the radio station that incited people during the the slaughters
in 1994. Bikindi fled to the Netherlands in 2000.
For more information: Human Rights Watch
Vagina monologues banned
The theatre piece the Vagina monologues may no longer be presented
in Kuala Lumpur. In January the show, which originated in North
America, was still attracting packed houses in the Malasian capital.
The city council says that it cancelled additional performances
due to complaints from the public. The Vagina monologues are stories
about female genitalia. The show is being presented in dozens of
Mass meetings in the context of globalisation
For reasons of solidarity, the World Economic Forum took place
in New York this year. Normally the financial, political and cultural
leaders meet in the Swiss city of Davos. The consequences of globalisation
was the most important topic of conversation this year. Singer Bono
of the Irish megaband U2 made a strong appeal for a more equitable
allocation of wealth together with Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Secretary-general Kofi Annan of the United Nations also reminded
the multinationals of their moral responsibilities. According to
the Nobel Prize winner, poor countries profit too little from globalisation.
This was the primary reason that fifty thousand anti-globalists
organised a counter-conference in Brazil for the second time: the
World Social Forum. Topics such as participatory democracy and privatising
water were discussed in hundreds of workshops and rave-parties were
organised as a form of demonstration. The foremost objective of
the activists in Porto Alegre was to present a more humane alternative
to the plans coming from New York. This Spring the International
Forum for Globalisation will issue a ten-step plan entitled 'A better
world is possible!'
For more information:
World Economic Forum in New York
World Social Forum in Porto Alegre
Ethiopians get the ten commandments back
The Ethiopian orthodox church has had a sacred object returned
from Scotland. This is a replica of the Ark of the Covenant. The
wooden object is part of the art treasures taken from Ethiopia by
the British military in the nineteenth century. It was discovered
last year in a cupboard in a Scottish church. The replica was received
at the Addis Abeba airport with great ceremony.
World religions continue to grow
During the coming 25 years, all the world religions will gain new
followers. With a 2.11 percent increase, Islam will have the fastest
growth. This finding comes from the
Annual Statistical Table on Global Missions, the annual report
regarding global religious developments.
With over two billion followers, Christianity is the world's largest
religion. Islam is in second place with 1.24 billion Muslims and
Hinduism is in third place with 836 million followers. The Jewish
religion, with 14.6 million followers, is the smallest world religion.
Dagblad, Trouw, de Volkskrant, Associated
Press BBC News,
News Zimbabwe, Human
Rights Watch, World
Economic Forum, World
Social Forum, Annual
Statistical Table on Global Mission