In this edition: American web users react to president Obama’s State of the Union address; a Russian website highlights corruption in the Sochi Olympics; and Swedish marines dancing to Grease.
USA: WEB USERS REACT TO STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
Barack Obama's State of the Union address was widely followed by American web users. Twitter has announced the annual speech to Congress saw the microblogging service record some 1,700,000 tweets relating to the address.
The US president's reference to popular TV series “Mad Men” during his section on equal pay for women received the most comments, with over 33 000 tweets posted in the space of a minute.
And then came his vow to raise the minimum wage to 10 dollars and 10 cents per hour, despite fierce opposition from Republican lawmakers. The democrats are hoping to gain public support by campaigning via social networks under the #RaiseTheWage hashtag. Countless Americans, like these restaurant waiters, have retweeted the phrase and told of their difficulties in making ends meet.
Barack Obama has also promised to respond directly to web users questions about his speech. Questions can be submitted via social media platforms under the #AskObama2014 hashtag. The president will take to ‘Google Hangouts’ on Friday to chat with citizens from different parts of the country.
RUSSIAN ACTIVIST LAUNCHES SOCHI CORRUPTION WEBSITE
With just over a week to go until the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony, all eyes are on the Russian city of Sochi. As we can see from these images recently posted online by Google and Digital Globe, the seaside resort has undergone a massive transformation in order to host the event. But behind this façade of prestige, the Olympics have been marred by strong suspicions of corruption.
And they have been visualized on this Sochi corruption interactive map created by Russian opposition figure Alexeï Navalny. The tool details the actual costs of hosting the Olympics and the construction work involved, estimating overall expenditure at over 45 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money. This is nowhere near the 6.5 billion dollar figure quoted by Vladimir Putin.
The site reports that ten or so buildings have cost more than anticipated. More than 500 million dollars was apparently spent on constructing the 'Fisht' Olympic stadium for example, over 14 times higher than expected. Anti-corruption activists believe these massive differences are down to the bribes and kickbacks siphoned off by officials, and deliberate price-raising by developers and contractors.
It’s not the first time Sochi has been hit by allegations of corruption. Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov released a report back in May, calling the Sochi Olympics a “monstrous scam” claiming as much as 25 to 30 billion dollars has been embezzled. And as these photos posted online by one web user illustrate, the games are fast approaching yet construction work is far from complete.
HOAX OF THE DAY
This photo was posted online early January and has been widely shared online. It depicts a boy who we are led to believe is a Syrian orphan, sleeping in between his parents’ graves, and has been used to decry the murderous folly of the Bashar al-Assad regime. The truth however is that the image is a staged photo, the boy in the picture is the nephew of the photographer, a Saudi national, and was created for artistic purposes only. The photo was not even taken in Syria, but in Saudi Arabia.
LITERATURE GOES ONLINE FOR FREE IN NORWAY
The majority of books published in Norway from the end of the 17th century onwards are to be made available online. Norway’s National Library has launched the "Bokhylla", platform which aims to digitize all the country’s public domain books, both copyrighted and non-copyrighted material, so that Norwegian citizens can access them free of charge. The project has been made possible thanks to progressive agreements between publishers and authors and works will only be available to Norwegians who will be recognized by their IP address.
NOW TRENDING ON SOCIAL NETWORKS
Ever since Pharell Williams’ appearance at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night, web users have been posting under the hashtag #PharellsHat, poking fun at the American producer and singer’s hat. Yes it’s certainly inspired social networkers who have been posting all manner of wacky photomontages online. They’ve compared him to cartoon characters for example and also to a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Stationed in Afghanistan, these Swedish marines took some time out to make a parody of Greased Lightning, a number from the musical Grease. You can check out their fantastic lip synching and dancing, complete with army vehicles and camo gear on YouTube.