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Asia-pacific

Online propaganda on the Afghan conflict

Latest update : 2009-08-05

In this edition: online videos show the violence of the war in Afghanistan; Japanese political parties are using the Web to broadcast messages to net users in the run-up to legislative elections; a quirky walk down the aisle has people up in arms.

RISING VIOLENCE IN AFGHANISTAN

 

A rocket launch attack on a police station, or the ambush of a car thought to be transporting political leaders; Afghan insurgents have recently posted many propaganda videos like these online to demonstrate to the entire world the fire power that they dispose of. Videos often bearing no date, which nevertheless testify to the violence of the war in Afghanistan, with the presidential elections on August 20 drawing closer. 

 

In another video, which surfaced on share sites in recent days, Taliban fighters salvage an old mine to transform it into an improvised explosive device. 

 

These homemade bombs, often hidden at roadsides are dreaded by foreign soldiers in the country. This documentary, available on the US Army in Afghanistan Youtube channel, describes how troops manage to pinpoint and defuse these explosive devices. 

 

It's a vital task as these bombs today cause 75 percent of coalition human losses. As a sign that extremists are regaining momentum, this site, listing military losses in real time, recalls that 77 NATO soldiers died in July, the highest monthly figure since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.

 

NATO has posted online these images of Afghan police officers in training. The aim is to prepare them to guarantee security on August 20, when Afghans head to the polls to elect their president. 

 

 

2.0 CAMPAIGN IN JAPAN

 

With the approach of the Japanese legislative elections, set for August 30, political parties are using the Web to broadcast messages to net users. It's an indispensable tool in a country where 70% of the population has Internet access.

 

The Liberal Democrat party, in power since 1955, has just launched a brand new site, where it broadcasts campaign videos. This one in particular is creating a buzz in the local blogosphere. The Manga animation, aimed mainly at young people, presents the leader of the main opposition Democrat party, Yukio Hatoyama, as a charmer full of empty promises.

 

The Democrat party is equally very active on the Web. It has set up a internet TV channel to broadcast its leaders’ meetings. Amongst their more original initiatives is a telephone game in which players must transport the party mascot to the prime minister’s office, avoiding bombs that rain down from the heavens.

 

During this same period, several politicians, including Kazuo Shii, the Communist party leader, have used the Web to establish direct dialogue with voters. 

 

And YouTube has got involved by opening a platform on which Japanese citizens can question candidates on key issues.

 

But unfortunately for them, due to an electoral law dating back to 1950, candidates must stop updating their websites and Twitter accounts as from August 18 - the official start date for the electoral campaign. The law is considered by many as a hindrance to the development of e-politics in Japan.

 
 
TRAFALGAR SQUARE
 

In London, Trafalgar Square’s fourth pillar has been entrusted to sculptor Antony Gormley for 100 days who, in his project named ‘One and Other’, invites strangers to get up on the pedestal and uses them as real statues. Yoga demonstrations, gardening lessons and anti-Afghan war speeches; net users can follow these performances by anonymous artists thanks to a webcam installed on the pillar.

 

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

 

The video of their wedding made it round the world and was viewed over 12 million times, but for this young couple, a problem has rained on their parade. The song heard as they walked down the aisle is by Chris Brown, the singer who recently made the headlines for hitting former girlfriend, popstar Rihanna. To apologise, the newlyweds have launched a website to invite net users to send donations to an association campaigning against domestic violence.

 
 

VIDEO OF THE DAY

 

Here is the video currently circulating online. A zoo in the state of Oregon, USA decided to put its elephants to work to raise money. For the meagre sum of 20 dollars, you can now have your car washed by one of these heavy-weights. An original and unusual initiative which is a clear hit with visitors.

 

 

Date created : 2009-08-05

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