Thursday, May 14, 2009

10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger

“The governments on the list are trying to roll back the information revolution, and, for now, they are having success,” Simon added. “Freedom of expression groups, concerned governments, the online community, and technology companies need to come together to defend the rights of bloggers around the world.”

CPJ issued its report to mark World Press Freedom Day, May 3, and to call attention to online repression, a great emerging threat to press freedom worldwide. CPJ considers bloggers whose work is reportorial or fact-based commentary to be journalists. In 2008, CPJ found, bloggers and other online journalists were the single largest professional group in prison, overtaking print and broadcast journalists for the first time.


Egypt a country where more than 100 bloggers were detained last year alone.

Amer is jailed for insulting the president and Islam. (Reuters)
Amer is jailed for insulting the president and Islam. (Reuters)

Authorities block only a small number of Web sites, but they monitor Internet activity on a regular basis. Traffic from all Internet service providers passes through the state-run Egypt Telecom. Authorities regularly detain critical bloggers for open-ended periods. Local press freedom groups documented the detention of more than 100 bloggers in 2008 alone. Although most bloggers were released after short periods, some were held for months and many were kept without judicial order. Most detained bloggers report mistreatment, and a number have been tortured.

Lowlight: Blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman, known online as Karim Amer, is serving a four-year prison term on charges of insulting Islam and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.


Turkmenistan, where the nation's first internet cafe was guarded by troops.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov promised to open his isolated country to the world by providing public Internet access. But when the country’s first Internet café opened in 2007, it was guarded by soldiers, connections were uneven, the hourly fee was prohibitively high, and authorities monitored or blocked access to certain sites. The Russian telecommunications company MTS, which entered the Turkmen market in 2005, started offering Web access from mobile phones in June 2008, but service agreements require customers to avoid Web sites critical of the Turkmen government.

Lowlight: Turkmentelecom, the state Internet service provider, routinely blocks access to dissident and opposition sites, while it monitors e-mail accounts registered with Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail.


With nearly 300 million people online—more than any other country in the world—China has a vibrant digital culture. But Chinese authorities also maintain the world’s most comprehensive online censorship program, one emulated by many other countries. The government relies on service providers to filter searches, block critical Web sites, delete objectionable content, and monitor e-mail traffic. Because China’s traditional press is tightly controlled, bloggers often break news and provide provocative commentary. Blogs, for example, played prominent roles in spreading news and information about the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. But bloggers who go too far in promoting unpopular views or reporting sensitive information can find themselves in jail. At least 24 online writers are now in prison, CPJ research shows.

Lowlight: In 2008, the National Office for Cleaning Up Pornography and Fighting Illegal Publications announced that it had removed more than 200 million “harmful” online items during the prior year.


Internet service providers are required to submit IP addresses and other identifying information to the government on a regular basis. All Internet traffic flows through a central network, allowing the government to filter content and monitor e-mails. The government employs an array of techniques to harass bloggers: conducting surveillance, restricting bloggers’ movements, and undertaking electronic sabotage. Online writers Slim Boukhdhir and Mohamed Abbou have served jail time for their work.

Lowlight: In a March address, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali warned writers against examining government “mistakes and violations,” saying it was “an activity that is unbecoming of our society and is not an expression of freedom or democracy.”


Bloggers have daringly tried to fill the gap in independent news that is left by the traditional state-controlled media. The government has responded with more regulation. Authorities have called on international technology companies such as Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft to provide information about bloggers who use their platforms. Last September, prominent blogger Nguyen Van Hai, also known as Dieu Cay, was sentenced to 30 months in prison on tax evasion charges. CPJ research shows the charges were in reprisal for his blogging.

Lowlight: In October 2008, the Ministry of Information and Communication created a new agency tasked with monitoring the Internet.


Saudi Arabia, a country where an estimated 400,00 sites are blocked.

An estimated 400,000 sites are blocked inside the kingdom, including those that tackle political, social, or religious issues. Self-censorship is widespread. Aside from “indecent” material, Saudi Arabia blocks “anything contrary to the state or its system,” a standard that has been interpreted liberally. In 2008, influential clerics called for harsh punishment, including flogging and death, for online writers guilty of posting material deemed heretical.

Lowlight: Blogger Fouad Ahmed al-Farhan was jailed without charge for several months in 2007 and 2008 for promoting reform and the release of political prisoners.


Cuba, where 21 bloggers are in jail.

Sánchez’s Generación Y is among a small but emerging group of independent Cuban blogs. (CPJ)
Sánchez’s Generación Y is among a small but emerging group of independent Cuban blogs. (CPJ)

Only government officials and people with links to the Communist Party have Web access. The general population goes online at hotels or government-controlled Internet cafés by means of expensive voucher cards. A small number of independent bloggers such as Yoani Sánchez detail everyday life and offer criticism of the regime. Their blogs are hosted outside the country and are largely blocked on the island. Two independent bloggers tell CPJ that they are harassed by authorities. Only pro-government bloggers can post their material on domestic sites that can be easily accessed.

Lowlight: The government now jails 21 writers who were on the leading edge of online journalism in the early part of the decade. These writers, all but one of whom was jailed in 2003, phoned or faxed their material to overseas Web sites for posting.


The government uses filtering methods to block politically sensitive sites. Authorities detain bloggers for posting content, even third-party material, deemed to be “false” or detrimental to “national unity.” Self-censorship is pervasive. In 2008, the Ministry of Communications ordered Internet café owners to get identification from all patrons, to record customer names and times of use, and to submit the documentation regularly to authorities. Human rights groups noted that authorities harass and detain bloggers perceived as antigovernment.

Lowlight: Waed al-Mhana, an advocate for endangered archaeological sites, is on trial for a posting that criticized the demolition of a market in Old Damascus.


Iran, a country where a young blogger died in prison last month, was named as the second-worst country.

Authorities regularly detain or harass bloggers who write critically about religious or political figures, the Islamic revolution, and its symbols. The government requires all bloggers to register their Web sites with the Ministry of Art and Culture. Government officials claim to have blocked millions of Web sites, according to news reports. A newly created special prosecutor’s office specializes in Internet issues and works directly with intelligence services. Pending legislation would make the creation of blogs promoting “corruption, prostitution, and apostasy” punishable by death.

Lowlight: Blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi, jailed for insulting the country’s religious leaders, died in Evin Prison in March under circumstances that have not been fully explained.


Burma has been judged the worst country in the world for online restrictions in a report looking at the repression faced by bloggers.

Bloggers inside Burma proved invaluable in passing out information during the September 2007 uprisings, leading to the ruling military junta blocking the Internet completely for a period, reports The Guardian.

Zarganar is serving a 59-year prison term. (AP)
Zarganar is serving a 59-year prison term. (AP)

Burma, which heavily censors print and broadcast media, has also applied extensive restrictions on blogging and other Internet activity. Private Internet penetration is very small—only about 1 percent, according to the Internet research group OpenNet Initiative—so most citizens access the Internet in cybercafés. Authorities heavily regulate those cafés, requiring them, for example, to enforce censorship rules. The government, which shut down the Internet altogether during a popular uprising in 2007, has the capability to monitor e-mail and other communication methods and to block users from viewing Web sites of political opposition groups, according to OpenNet Initiative. At least two bloggers are now in prison.

Lowlight: Blogger Maung Thura, popularly known as Zarganar, is serving a 59-year prison term for disseminating video footage after Cyclone Nargis in 2008.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Largest Sea Creatures Ever Caught

1. Largest Catfish Ever Caught - Thailand
This Grizzly bear sized catfish measures in at nearly 9 feet long. This might just be the largest freshwater fish ever on record.
Thai villagers tried to keep the giant catfish alive, but despite great efforts, it died and was eaten by the villagers. This species of catfish is listed as "critacally endangered" by the IUCN (World Conservative Union). This catfish specimen was caught in the Chiang Khong district, and is the biggest one caught since 1981. Due to the nature of this rare catch, the World Wildlife Fund is teaming up with the National Geographic Society to study the planet earth's largest freshwater fish.
largest-catfish-caught: The largest catfish ever caught

2. Largest Stingray Ever Caught - Thailand
This gigantic freshwater Stingray weighed in at over 256kg. A team of fishermen fought hard to reel this guy in, after fishing up other stingrays of varied weight, from different parts of a Thai river. It took them 90 minutes to wrangle this beast out of the water, to be finally brought to the side of the boat. This guy was crowned the largest freshwater fish to ever be caught on rod and line.
Largest Stingray Ever Caught: A photo of the Largest Stingray ever caught

3. Largest Salmon Ever Caught - California
A Chinook salmon in lower Battle Creek was found to be 51 inches long, which could have weighed more than 88 pounds, according to standard size-to-weight ratios. Normally, salmon weigh between 20 and 30 pounds. This gigantic salmon was found during a standard fall salmon survey by some DFG biologists.
Biggest Chinook Salmon
4. Largest Eel Ever Caught - Rhode Island
The crew of a fishing steamer were fishing, and pulled up and Eel weighing in at 34lbs, 5 feet 3 inches, and a circumference of 15 inches. Thrashing around in the net, this big Eel was not as feisty as smaller ones, which would have made things pretty interesting.
Eels, are not to be confused with Oarfish:
5. Largest Shark Ever Caught - Mediterranean
Typically, sharks are caught on rod and reel, some in nets. The whale shark is known to be the largest member of the shark family, and also known for their friendly nature and eating only small oceanic organisms. Reports surfaced of a 23 foot long whale shark caught in the Mediterranean, but the actual length was 21 feet.
Whale Shark
6. Largest Crab Ever Caught - Northern Pacific Ocean
Crabs are odd looking creatures, usually sized to fit on your dinner plate. However; the largest crab ever to be caught weighed somewhere around 15kg and was almost 2 meters, tip to tip. A Varanger king crab is the largest crab species in the world, and is often referred to as the "red king crab".
largest king crab
7. Largest Squid Ever Caught - Antarctica
In February 2007, a fishing boat off the coast of Antarctica caught a giant squid. Measuring up at 26 feet long, believed to be the biggest squid captured, ever. Scientists froze the big squid, and now it lives in a New Zealand museum. This collossal squid could keep growing - up to 46 feet long! Due to the nature of these deep-sea squid, these are very rarely seen specimen.
8. Largest Marlin Ever Caught - Kona, Hawaii
Here we've got a legendary Pacific blue marlin, weighing in at 1,656 pounds, caught in 1984. This 17 foot marlin is the largest to ever have been caught in Kona, Hawaii, but only the second largest to have been caught by rod and reel. For two hours and 20 minutes, fishermen struggled to reel the beast in.
9. Largest Barracuda Ever Caught - Christmas Island, Indian Ocean
The Largest Barracuda in the world was caught off Chrismas Island, in the Indian Ocean, on April 11, 1992. A barracuda often appears in open seas, and are deadly predators that usually ambush their prey. With a burst of speed, they can easily overrun their prey. The largest barracuda caught was 85 pounds. That's one heavy fish!
Largest Barracuda
Source: BC Fishing


Monday, May 11, 2009

World's Happiest Place

For those who think a tropical island paradise or a Beverly Hills mansion is the ultimate key to contentment, think again; the happiest place in the world is, according to sociologists, far closer to home. In a new study aimed at charting each country's levels of happiness, Denmark has scored top marks, followed closely by Switzerland, Austria and Iceland. Britain came 41st, 18 places behind the United States.The study, conducted by the University of Leicester, compiled data from 178 countries and 100 global studies to map happiness across the world and found that countries with good access to healthcare and education came out on top.

The report's author, Adrian White, said the results showed that people in the West should realise how lucky they were. "The current obsession in the West about how unhappy we are really needs a reality check," he said. "I think one of the most destructive myths is that people in intense poverty are actually happy. Because if you believe that, why should you do anything?" Most of Africa and the former Soviet republics scored worst. Burundi, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo were the world's least happy places. The report did, however, contain some surprises. The tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, ruled by an autocratic monarch, came eighth, while nations such as Japan and France languished at 90th and 62nd respectively. Benjamin Holst, a Danish journalist, said that Denmark's high suicide rate - the second worst in Europe - and a recent rise in xenophobia should make people question just how content Danes were. "I'm not sure about these studies and I really wonder about the suicide rates in Denmark," he said. "I mean is it that we're so happy we kill ourselves? I really wonder about that."

On top of the world

* 1 Denmark
* 2 Switzerland
* 3 Austria
* 4 Iceland
* 5 Bahamas
* 6 Finland
* 7 Sweden
* 8 Bhutan
* 9 Brunei
* 10 Canada

Article Source: The Independent World


Monday, May 4, 2009

Hatton apologises to supporters

Ricky Hatton has apologised to his army of fans in the wake of his devastating IBO light-welterweight world title defeat against Manny Pacquiao.Hatton is considering his future after suffering a punishing second-round knockout in Las Vegas that left the 30-year-old Briton requiring a brain scan.

"I'm so desperately sorry for you all," Hatton told his followers. "I thought I would win but it went wrong.

"I'm OK but so upset for all the supporters who came out here."
About 20,000 fans are thought to have made the trip from Britain to see Hatton fight.But they witnessed less than six minutes of action as Hatton suffered only the second loss of his 47-fight career.

The Mancunian was knocked down twice in the first round before being counted out with one second left of round two after being floored by a huge left from his Filipino opponent.

"I didn't see the punch coming, but it was a great shot," said Hatton. "I congratulate Manny. He is a terrific fighter."

Despite the manner of his defeat, Hatton was able to host a poolside party at the MGM Grand Hotel on Sunday, appearing relaxed and unmarked.

He posed for pictures with his younger brother Matthew, who won his welterweight fight on the undercard.

Meanwhile, the Hatton camp moved to play down talk of a rift between American trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr and English assistant trainer Lee Beard, which was raised as a possible contributory factor to the defeat.

"It's an interesting point, but the one person to blame is Pacquiao," said Hatton Promotions chief executive Gareth Williams.

Mayweather Sr appeared at the post-fight press conference but only briefly, and he did not sit on the chairs and take questions alongside Beard and Williams.

"Lee's a lot more involved with Ricky Hatton than Floyd Mayweather is," Williams added. "Floyd Mayweather was brought in for 12 weeks to do a job, and that's the end of it.

"He's finished now and we don't know what's going to happen. Lee Beard's with Hatton Promotions 365 days a year, Floyd Mayweather's there for 12 weeks before a fight, and that's the difference.

"Probably the best way to describe Floyd is that he's on board as a consultant. He doesn't control Ricky Hatton, he doesn't speak for Ricky Hatton, he speaks for Floyd Mayweather."

Article from: BBC Sports