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THE OBSERVERS

A show produced with photos, videos and personal accounts from our Observers around the world - all checked by our staff here in Paris. Saturday at 10.15 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2013-01-23

Surveillance camera smashers in Germany, shark fin sales in Hong Kong, and more

This show is made up entirely of amateur images. We've seen time and time again how images captured by ordinary citizens then uploaded onto the Web can change history, or at least shift the balance of power. This week, we take a look back at some of those moments.

Story 1: Hong Kong

We begin today with one of the eight 'treasured foods from the sea' - shark's fin soup. The fins are chewy, they've got barely any taste, but they're considered a delicacy in China, served at weddings and special banquets. Critics are concerned, however, about dwindling shark numbers in general, and about the cruel practice of cutting the sharks' fins off while they're alive, and throwing them back into the sea to die. Shark's fin soup is effectively banned in the US, and Europe has banned so-called 'finning'. It's still legal and popular in China, but our Observer says that - at least in Hong Kong - the tide may be starting to turn.

 

Story 2: Germany

Now to Germany, where a failed bomb attack has ignited debate over public surveillance cameras. Police in the former capital Bonn are having trouble figuring out who planted the bomb, because it wasn't recorded on the station's surveillance video. That's prompted calls for UK-style, omnipresent surveillance. And that has provoked a response from an activist group called "CAM OVER". They have launched a competition to see who can destroy or disactivate the most surveillance cameras before a police congress next month. Our Observer Michael Ebeling doesn't like the cameras either, but has chosen a non-violent method of protest.

 

Story 3: World

Now for our weekly roundup of other stories and images sent in by our Observers.

First stop, Algeria, at a residence for female students at the university of Bordj-Bou Arréridj. These pictures were taken by our Observer Sonia, a French-Algerian who did her studies in France. She says she's lucky. She was shocked by the living conditions she saw: filthy rooms, leaking pipes, showers that are available only two days a week - in a building that was built only three years ago. The government is reviewing university conditions nationwide, after a gas explosion two years ago. They've got a lot to do. Currently one out of two Algerian students says they'd rather be studying abroad.

Now to Yemen, the southern part of the country, and its annual January festival. It's a celebration of South Yemeni pride - and the desire of many southerners to go back to independence. South Yemen merged with the north in 1990, but many in the south think they got a raw deal. Amjad Sabeeh was at the festivities. He's a member of the Peaceful Southern Movement, an umbrella group that does everything it can to create a new South Yemeni state - everything except fight.

We finish today in the air, on board a recent flight from Australia to Papua New Guinea. A passenger noticed something flapping against the engine. It turned out to be the tail of a snake - an amethyst python three meters long that had apparently hidden under the wing. The snake stayed up there throughout the flight, but unfortunately didn't make it. It was dead on arrival, of hypothermia.

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