Syrian cyber activists report on the ongoing crackdown in Homs. Yemen’s presidential campaign has kicked off, sparking widespread reaction online. And a circus acrobat performs a trapeze act, suspended from a helicopter.
Syria: ongoing crackdown in Homs
The situation in Homs remains extremely tense, Syrian government forces continue their ruthless assault on the city, launched a week ago in a bid to bring this hotbed of anti-government opposition to its knees. Cyber activists have been sharing eye witness accounts of the bloody and deadly crackdown.
Numerous pieces of amateur video footage from all over the city have been circulating on sharing sites since the start of the latest attack on Homs. Images of burning buildings hit by rocket and mortar fire, buildings which have been left completely gutted.
And the regime is not relenting, far from it. As we can see here, if neighbourhoods are not been bombarded by shelling then army tanks are patrolling the streets, spreading terror. These pictures suggest Damascus has deployed additional reinforcements and the presence of armored tanks looks set to intensify in Homs over the next few days.
In view of the increasingly alarming situation, many, like this Imam who is showing the damage the deadly shelling has done to his building, hope the international community will now intervene. He has uncovered his face to deliver a message to Arab countries in particular, asking them to do everything in their power to stop the bloodbath in Syria.
Presidential election in Yemen
On Tuesday, Yemen’s transitional government launched the electoral campaign for the Presidential elections scheduled for February 21st. Elections which should mark the end of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s time in power, and which are somewhat unusual because for the moment, the country’s vice president Abdu Rabo Mansour Hadi is the only official candidate.
There has been widespread reaction online. Many have taken to social networks to voice their concern over what they describe as sham elections. This British journalist says an election with just one candidate is not a real election. He writes on his blog that if the ballot goes ahead as planned then it quite simply goes against the country’s constitution which stipulates there needs to be at least two candidates for the election to be valid.
Voters in Yemen have also been making their voices heard. Calls to boycott the upcoming elections have been multiplying online in recent days, on Facebook in particular, where activists have set up pages, in Arabic and English, urging their fellow citizens to protest these elections which many describe as illegitimate.
But despite growing criticism, the official electoral campaign continues, and the authorities have turned to the Internet and social media platforms to try and win over voters. Numerous videos have been posted online, encouraging the people of Yemen to cast their vote and have their say. The videos emphasize the democratic progress these elections represent but omit to tell voters they only have one candidate to choose from.
But what the voter turnout will be is another question altogether. And although the authorities hope it will be high enough to establish the legitimacy of the future president, many observers like reporter Tom Finn who is in Yemen, think a large majority will not vote.
Google public alerts
Google is moving into crisis response with its latest service « Google public alerts » launched recently on Google maps. It will be providing information on flooding and earthquakes, where and when they are happening or will strike, along with the resources available to help deal with the crisis. The service is currently only available in the United States but is set to spread to other countries in the near future.
Now trending on social networks
« Rest in Peace, Wando ». Many web users have been turning to social networks to pay tribute to the Brazilian singer who died on Wednesday, aged 66. The musician who was known for his romantic ballads was hospitalized on the 27th of January with heart problems. During his concerts, fans would often throw their knickers on stage, and so many of his admirers have been posting photos of their underwear online to pay their last respects.
La vidéo du jour
As we can see in this video currently doing the rounds on sharing sites, American circus performer Bello Nock is one plucky customer. His latest act involved hanging from a trapeze suspended from a helicopter 150 meters off the ground, with no harness and no safety net. An amazing performance that will quite simply sweep you off your feet.