Concerns over the fate of Syrian children. Social networks playing a pivotal role in the US presidential campaign. And an interactive map collating information on the world’s biodiversity.
Children caught in Syrian violence
According to UN figures, around one hundred people were killed in the massacre in the Syrian town of Houla on Friday and Saturday, and at least 32 of the victims were children. Pictures of piled up bodies have been circulated online, provoking outrage from the international community.
Children have indeed been caught up in the ruthless and bloody repression. A year ago, 13 year old Hamza was arrested and then tortured for weeks before succumbing to his injuries; his death became a powerful symbol of the Syrian uprising. These practices have been denounced by Human Rights Watch; back in February the NGO documented a dozen or so cases of detention and torture of minors in Syria.
There are a growing number of initiatives aimed at raising public awareness about the situation of children in Syria; collateral or direct victims of the unrest and conflict across the country. 100 Swedish school children recently took part in a flash mob in a shopping center. They lay on the ground, just like the Syrian children killed in attacks, and raised money for the UN Refugee Agency that looks after Syrian children living in refugee camps.
Social media playing pivotal role in US presidential race
US presidential candidates’ Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have been making great use of the web as a campaigning tool. The White House hopefuls are no longer relying solely on the traditional official websites and smear videos produced by their respective campaign teams, they are now working on developing their own social networks to win over as many voters as possible.
The outgoing president has just launched a new platform called “Dashboard” with a view to building a veritable campaign headquarters on the web, a place where Obama’s supporters can discuss ideas and organize rallies. In this video, the man in charge of the project, Jeremy Bird, says in the long run they hope it will be used to coordinate nationwide actions and unite supporters spread out across the country.
The site bears a striking resemblance to the social media platform set up by the campaign team behind Obama’s likely future opponent, Mitt Romney. The project, called “My Mitt” is also geared towards connecting supporters of the former governor for Massachusetts, and encourages volunteers to get involved in the campaign and help bring the Republican candidate to victory.
Because the Republican Party appears to have understood all too well how to use social networks to mobilize voters; an application called “Social Victory Center” is now available on Facebook. It’s described as the nerve center for the Republican campaign, and provides Obama’s detractors with all sorts of information they can share with their contacts and thus do their bit for Mitt Romney’s campaign.
The Map of Life
Walter Jetz is a professor at Yale University in the US, and he and his team have set themselves a challenging project; log all the planet’s flora and fauna onto an interactive map. The site is still under construction, and has catalogued over 25,000 different animal species so far.
Postcards from Google Earth
Bridges that appear to be underwater, uneven cross roads on entangled highways. These stunning images were taken from Google Earth by French artist Clément Valla. The deformed landscapes are down to a fault in the mapping software that renders into 3D, satellite images captured in 2D. The artist has compiled all these oddities on his website, and Google engineers will be able to use them to rectify their systems.
Video of the day
It’s a world first and it’s got web users wiping away a tear or two … last week, Isaac Lamb from America posted this video of him proposing to his girlfriend, a “live lip-dub” proposal. His future bride wore headphones and as she listened to the Bruno Mars song “Marry You”, sixty or so of the couple’s friends and family members lip synched and danced before her eyes. Amy was overjoyed with the performance which has since, and quickly, gone viral.