Culture and Society Archives

Panelist's View  |  February 3, 2007 8:00 AM

Political Happiness

It has become one of the best known factoids in the western world: despite a sharp rise in material wealth over the past 40 years the average level of reported happiness has remained static.

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Panelist View  |  February 26, 2007 6:30 AM

Martin Scorsese's Movie, The Departed, Weakens Hong Kong Classic

The movie The Departed -- a remake of the Hong Kong classic Infernal Affairs -- may be considered one of the hottest movies of the year in America. But here in Asia most film critics and movie-goers agree that the original is far superior.

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Travel Video  |  March 22, 2007 10:41 AM

Video: Touring the Antarctic Peninsula

We don't have a PostGlobal panelist in Antarctica, and the continent hasn't factored into too many geopolitical struggles since World War II, but PostGlobal editor Amar Bakshi recently traveled there and created a video about his trip. Check it out here. It's part of a larger package at Look there and then read the transcript of Amar and a group of scientists here.


VIDEO | Touring the Antarctic Peninsula

Guest Voices  |  March 26, 2008 2:24 PM

Ignoring Al Jazeera

CAIRO, Egypt – It appears that Israel is taking a page from the George W. Bush book of public diplomacy: attempting to influence coverage by Arab media by boycotting the most influential television station in the Arab world.

In the latest news from Jerusalem, it seems the Ehud Olmert government has decided Al Jazeera favors Hamas over Israel in the Gaza conflict and will now refuse to deal with its reporters.

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Guest Voices  |  March 28, 2008 12:04 PM

Dialogue of the Deaf: Europe's Muslim "Problem"

By Jørgen S. Nielsen

Copenhagen, Denmark -- In Europe we are anxiously awaiting public reaction to the controversial public showing of a film attacking the Koran, produced by the Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders.

This comes on top of trouble already brewing over the republication of the notorious Muhammad cartoons in several Danish newspapers. More than two years after the cartoons’ original publication, it seems we are back where we started, with protests simmering and sometimes descending into violence in various parts of the Muslim world.

Beneath the myriad reasons for these events appears to be a fundamental inability of people whose beliefs vary to understand how the other side thinks and feels. We have here a dialogue of the deaf, although paradoxically both sides share the same motivation: fear.

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Guest Voice  |  May 29, 2008 12:52 PM

In Egypt, YouTube Trumps Facebook

By Alaa Abd El Fattah

The Current Discussion: Egypt has detained a number of its citizens for using the social networking site Facebook to organize anti-government protests. What online sites are most effective in influencing politics -- and is the impact positive?

Until two years ago that would have been the Egyptian Blogs Aggregator (shameless plug here, since I created the Aggregator.)

It created a space where hundreds of Egyptians from different social and political backgrounds came together, fostered conversation and debate among bloggers and made it easier for activists and journalists to follow trends and news on blogs.

Through the aggregator, blogs were used to recruit for and engage with the pro-democracy movement Kefaya, to organize protests, strikes and sit-ins. The aggregator became a platform for various ambitious campaigns, from election monitoring to a broad anti-torture movement.

Although it’s still popular, today the aggregator is not as relevant. This is mainly due to the exponential rise in the number of Egyptian blogs; no one can keep up with them all anymore. But blogs are still at the heart of Egyptian cyber-activism, and citizen journalism through blogs remains the one consistently free source of information available.

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Guest Voice  |  September 29, 2008 12:15 PM

Firebombing Free Speech

By Salil Tripathi

Three men are under detention here in London after allegedly tossing a petrol bomb at the home-office of Martin Rynja, who runs the Gibson Square publishing firm here. Gibson Square has shown the courage - or audacity, or foolhardiness - to publish "The Jewel of Medina", a novel based on the life of Aisha, the Prophet Muhammad's wife.

This is dangerous territory: Earlier this year, American author Sherry Jones discovered that Random House, which had decided to publish the novel and paid an advance for it, changed its mind and dropped the book. The publishing house did so after receiving unfavorable notices from a critic who was shown the manuscript, and following Internet chatter that suggested that the book would be highly controversial. Ironically, Random House publishes Salman Rushdie, who knows a thing or two about those who seek to silence others. When Random House pulled out of publishing the book, Rushdie expressed his disappointment, calling it "censorship by fear."

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 |  November 26, 2008 3:02 PM

Iraqi Women Face Trials, Tribulations in Jordan

By Sarah Chynoweth and Ada Williams Prince

"Every time a bomb went off I thought the baby was coming."

This is what a young Iraqi woman told us about her experience giving birth in Iraq. Many Iraqi women have demanded caesarean sections rather than risk delivering their infants during war, even though some were well short of their due date, putting the mother and child's health in danger. The woman, a gynecologist in fact, fled to Jordan soon after the delivery with her baby and husband in search of safety.

Although life in Jordan is free of gunfire and explosions, it is not free from fear, particularly for Iraqi women and girls.

If you are an Iraqi woman in Jordan, your life is filled with dread and uncertainty. Since Iraqis do not have legal status there, they are afraid of being caught by the authorities and deported back to Iraq--even though this does not occur very often. Because of this, many are afraid to come forward to receive health care, even if the services are available and accessible.

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 |  February 11, 2009 2:17 PM

'Firaaq' Holds a Mirror to National Healing

The Current Discussion: The Academy Awards are coming, and an Indian movie, "Slumdog Millionaire," could win best picture. But what are we overlooking? What's the best non-Hollywood movie you saw this year?

Danny Boyle's film "Slumdog Millionaire" presents a lively, fast-paced image of the plucky lives of the millions who live in the urban slums of India. It is exaggerated, it is melodramatic, and the coincidences that build its plot are more Bollywood than Hollywood, but the larger truth that the movie represents is not far removed from reality.

But for a truly realistic view of what happens to vulnerable people in urban India during times of strife and turmoil, I would suggest Nandita Das's absorbing, gripping, shocking, and harrowing film, "Firaaq" -- an Urdu word which can mean 'separation' or 'quest.' "Firaaq" is set in 2002, around the ghastly events that took place in Godhra, in the Indian state of Gujarat, when the compartment of a train burned, killing 58 Hindus. In retaliatory violence, Hindu mobs subsequently killed hundreds of Muslims.

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Guest Voice  |  April 22, 2009 12:25 PM

The Politics of Toilets

By Rose George

On Earth Day, let's not forget the dirt. The planet is soiled with sewage, on land and sea. Our waste is the biggest marine pollutant there is, according to the United Nations Environment Program. In the developing world, ninety percent of sewage is discharged untreated into oceans and rivers, where its high nutrient content can suffocate the life out of seas, contributing to dead zones (405 worldwide and counting).

There are dead zones on land, too. Human waste contaminates environments all over the world, rich and poor. Imagine getting up at 4 a.m. in darkness, trekking to a nearby bush or field, and going to the bathroom out in the open. Imagine then being hit by a farmer who doesn't like you toileting in his field, or being raped by someone taking advantage of the dark, which you need to preserve your modesty. The quarter of the world's population without access to sanitation - not even a bucket nor a box - don't have to imagine this. It's their daily reality. What's more, all that excrement lying around has deadly consequences. More children - up to 2 million a year, or one every 15 seconds or so - die of diarrhea, 90 percent of which is due to fecal contamination in food or liquid, than of TB, malaria or HIV/AIDS. Diarrhea is the world's most effective weapon of mass destruction.

That's the gloom. The good news is that it's solvable. And solving the world's sewage mess would be such a bargain that it should appeal to politicians holding the purse strings even in these straitened times. Investing $1 in sanitation reaps $8 in health costs averted and labor days saved. Look at it another way: not investing $1 in sanitation loses you $7. Last year the World Bank calculated that poor sanitation cost Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam between 1.4 and 7.2 percent of their GDP. When Peru had a cholera outbreak in 1991, losses from tourism and agricultural revenue were three times greater than the total money spent on sanitation in the previous decade.

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PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.