Looking Back to 2013- 2014
A BIT OF HISTORY
In 2010 the VOIX Mag website was initially created by Christina Roman. Founder/Editor in Chief and Katelyn Heredia. Co-Founder/Co-Editor. The tag line for the mag's philosophy was An Expression of ME, an Expression of YOU, an Expression of US.
It appears the domain changed owners around 2013. Naila Missous created a Kickstarter campaign hoping to raise funds for the new iteration of the site. The aim was to create a writing network that allows writers, whatever their interest, to have a platform where they could publish their work. The core idea was to have as many ideas and opinions in one environment. From political updates from those on the ground, to art and culture events, Voix magazine wanted to represent views from all its contributors around the world. Although the KickStarter campaign did not succeed in reaching its goals, Voix Magazine was viable for several years as is evident from the selection of archived content from its 2013 - 2014 issues seen below. When the domain's registration eventually expired VOIX Mag disappeared from the web.
In 2020 new owners obtain the domain. Their goal is to show a glimpse of what Voix Magazine offered its readership during those heady days from Sept 2013 with its first issue through February 2014 with its fourth issue.
We miss VOIX Mag
Enjoy the nostalgic look back.
your VOIX matters
Iraq Continues its Downward Spiral
While the militants have been held back from reaching and overrunning Baghdad, they have continued their move southward, coming within 40 miles of the capital.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and its linked-forces continued their battle for Iraq’s biggest refinery on Thursday. The Baiji refinery, located around 130 miles north of Baghdad, produces much of the country’s domestic consumption of fuel. The plant had already been shut down earlier this week and most foreign workers already evacuated. The 250-300 foreign nationals who remained departed on Thursday.
According to witnesses on the ground, the black Islamic flag was seen flying over the watchtowers over the Baiji refinery despite claims from Baghdad that the government still held it. If the militants have indeed taken the refinery, it would be a further blow to the government as the facility accounts for a quarter or Iraq’s entire refining capacity.
While ISIS continues to hold Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul in the north, as well as Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, they have been unable to move into Baghdad, where thousands of Shi’a militiamen have vowed to defend it and fight.
As the fighting continued, a request was made for direct U.S. action. Iraq’s Foreign Minster HoshyarZebari said his country had officially asked the United States to carry out airstrikes against the militants. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed on Wednesday that the request was made.
“We have a request from the Iraqi government for air power,” he said. There was no immediate response from Washington on whether the request would be granted.
Several media outlets reported that President Obama is moving away from launching airstrikes due to the lack of intelligence on the ground for precision strikes. While the administration didn’t rule out the option, boosting intelligence to the Iraqi government and increased surveillance by drones and reconnaissance flights were other possibilities.
After meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday, the Senate’s top Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said President Obama didn’t feel that he needed congressional authority for any military action in Iraq.
President Obama “indicated he didn’t feel he had any need for authority from us for steps that he might take,” McConnell said.
As the situation in Iraq continues to develop, the calls for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to leave power have increased. Despite his coalition winning 92 seats out of 328 in April’s parliamentary elections, Washington is increasingly starting to signal that Maliki must go if there is to be any chance of reconciliation in Iraq. A top democrat in Washington and the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Diane Feinstein of California, echoed that sentiment in public.
“The Maliki government, candidly, has got to go if you want any reconciliation,” Feinstein said.
Prime Minister Maliki has been accused of playing the sectarian card by ostracizing and alienating the Sunni minority in the country. Maliki has jailed leading Sunni politicians and protest leaders all the while continuing to consolidate his power base and grip on power.
Many analysts believe that by isolating and excluding the Sunnis, Maliki has played into the hands of the Islamic militants who have seized on their sentiments of being marginalized. The result is what the world is witnessing today, that is ISIS taking over large swathes of territory with the apparent collusion of several Sunni tribesmen and former disenfranchised officials in Saddam Hussein’s government and military. Hussein, a Sunni himself, led the country for decades, until the United States invasion in 2003 toppled him. The Sunnis account for around 20 percent of Iraq’s population.
While Maliki has the backing of several prominent Shiite leaders and apparently Iran, an effort of reconciliation with the various factions, Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, must be made if any longstanding solution is to be found. Maliki has largely ignored calls from the West to be more inclusive and to mend ties, especially with the Sunnis.
“There’s no question that not enough has been done by the government, including the prime minister, to govern inclusively, and that has contributed to the situation and the crisis that we have today in Iraq,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday. Since the militant takeover of Mosul on June 10, Washington has conditioned its support on Maliki becoming more inclusive, something he has yet to genuinely do.
With Iraq in chaos and large sections of the country under militant control, many argue that Prime Minster Maliki will have to decide whether to continue his sectarian policies or launch a genuine attempt at bringing together the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish factions. Unity in Iraq should be fostered not just to save parts of Iraq from being controlled by a terrorist organization but also to save the notion of an Iraq itself. While this is what the West would prefer, it has to be accomplished and realized by Iraqis. More specifically, the ball is in Maliki’s court on whether Iraq can be saved. Even so, whether he decides to stay or go reconciliation can be the only viable path forward in Iraq.
Us And Them: The Republican Strategies Against Hillary Clinton
By Sabria Chowdhury Balland - June 18, 2014
According to a Gallup poll in 2014, the majority of Americans, that is to say, 59%, still view Hillary Clinton favorably although she has left her position as US Secretary Of State over a year ago. At the time of her positions, her approval rating was at 60%. Today, polls demonstrate that she clearly has the lead over any other potential Democratic or Republican candidate for the Presidential race in 2016.
So, this sounds quite simple and clear cut. Had the US Presidential elections taken place today, we would pretty much know who the winner would be. Granted, the elections are over two years away and quite a few things could happen to change the course of events. For instance, at this point in time before the elections in 2008, Barack Obama had only just started gaining notoriety in public.
Having said that, Clinton’s rather high popularity and approval ratings have done nothing but stir up agitation (as can be expected) in the opposition camp. The Republicans, fearing, (yes….that is the most appropriate word) a Clinton landslide victory all the way through to 2016, have concocted some “interesting” theatrics of their own to undermine her credibility.
There have been comments made by Karl Rove, a Republican policy adviser, on the state of Clinton’s mental health. Cheap trick? Of course, but the Republicans know very well how essential these types of tricks are to keep Clinton’s approval ratings low in order for them to have any chance of success in 2016.
Rove’s comments were just the tip of the iceberg. In the next two years, we can expect many more of such theatrics, which have already started, in order to prevent Clinton from becoming the first female President of the United States and to slowly but surely undermine her political credibility.
As is true for most political campaigns, whether an issue is true or false is irrelevant. As long as the seed of negativity and doubt is planted in the public’s mind, it can be assumed that the job is done. This is essential to the Republican strategy where Clinton is concerned.
The next affair, to put it lightly, in the “undermining Hillary” campaign has been digging up President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Republican Senator Rand Paul, a 2016 Presidential hopeful, has gone so far as to declare that President Clinton has shown signs of disrespect towards women (funny, coming from a Republican!) by “taking advantage” of a young woman on his staff. However, at no point has Lewinsky even herself said that she was forced or taken advantage of against her own will. That’s okay. Republican strategy of planting the “seed of doubt and negativity” has to continue!
The cherry on the cake of the Republican anti-Hillary Clinton campaign is however the Libyan problem of Benghazi.
The first reason as to why this is pivotal to the Republican strategy is because it attempts to erase the events of 9/11 that occurred under Republican President Bush. So, hammering away at Clinton and her role as Secretary Of State and other Democrats on security failures which allowed for the death of four Americans in Benghazi is an attempt at obliterating the fact that during the Bush administration, 3,000 people died in 9/11. By creating fear (a Republican specialty) that the Obama administration and particularly Clinton in her role as Secretary of State, have failed to provide security to Americans and have endangered American lives, the Republicans’ strategy is one of once again undermining Clinton’s leadership capabilities and placing doubts as to whether she is capable of protecting Americans from terror. In doing so, they can only hope that that their Republican candidate, who will no doubt be portrayed as an “all American patriot”, whatever that may mean, will have a better chance of winning.
The antics will unfortunately not cease there. It is highly doubtful that in the next two years, the Republicans will not drag in President Clinton and scandals during his time as President. The Whitewater controversy, the Lewinsky scandal (which has already been dug up recently…we can expect a sequel!), and President Clinton’s various other extra-marital affairs can be expected to be thrown at voters over and over again in attempts to crush Hillary Clinton’s chances of remaining a favorite and eventually winning the Presidency. There are chances that Republicans may also term Clinton as being cold and mean, an “ice queen”…digs at the fact that a female President may not, or rather probably does not sit as very popular idea with them.
Mental health, Benghazi, controversies, etc. are the Republican whitewash strategies. Those who have given Clinton a high approval rating will hopefully see through this. Furthermore, the ways in which she is able to handle the controversial attacks thrown at her will certainly help in determining her chances for 2016. If her past strengths and courage are any proof, she will manage just fine.
ISIS Takes Mosul, Threatens Baghdad
By Garret Pustay - June 12, 2014
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) continues to push southward toward Baghdad, only days after seizing control of Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul. The takeover on July 10 sent an estimated half a million people fleeing from the city.
ISIS took control of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, on Wednesday and threatened the town of Baiji, a major oil-refining artery for the country.
The assault on Mosul sent shock waves far beyond Baghdad, where Iraqi authorities have reportedly asked the United States to carry out airstrikes against the jihadist militants. While Washington has so far rebuffed the calls to strike the extremists, it points to the limitations of an Iraqi military that has been unable to stop the militants from gaining ground.
An Iraqi official told Reuters that Iraq wanted U.S. airstrikes but that the White House was neither interested in getting involved nor committed to any such action.
Affiliated with the al-Qaeda network, ISIS has strengthened its control over territory over the past several months. The movement is in control of the city of Fallujah and much of Ramadi, both west of Baghdad. In Syria, the insurgents control areas in the north and northeastern Syria, with the city of Raqqa serving as its central hub.
Responding to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s request for airstrikes, Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, did not comment on the specifics. “We are not going to get into the details of our diplomatic discussions,” she said.
Meehan added that Washington will continue to focus on strengthening the capabilities of the Iraqi forces to deal with the militants. “While the national security team always looks at a range of options, the current focus of our discussions with the government of Iraq and our policy considerations is to build the capacity of the Iraqis to successfully confront and deal with the threat posed by ISIL,” she said.
Beyond Washington and Baghdad, the Turkish government convened an emergency meeting of NATO on Wednesday to discuss the deteriorating security situation in neighboring Iraq. Militants in Mosul seized 49 Turks from the Turkish consulate on Wednesday, including Ozturk Yulmaz, the Consul General. In addition, ISIS continues to hold 31 Turkish truck drivers who were seized earlier this week.
In a phone conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden stated his support for assisting Turkey. “The United States is prepared to support Turkey’s efforts to bring about the safe return of its citizens,” he said.
The attack on the Turkish consulate in Mosul was swift but the facility was able to destroy diplomatic documents, according to the Turkish daily Hurriyet.
The developments in Iraq over the past few days and the strength of ISIS come as no surprise, according to many analysts and ordinary Iraqis. Hoping to create an Islamic emirate that spans the Iraq-Syria border, ISIS has made significant gains, taking advantage of the chaos in Syria and sectarianism in Iraq.
Reached from Baghdad via Skype, Ali, 25, an engineering student at the University Baghdad said it was the politics of al Maliki’s government that was to blame for the deterioration of security in the country, not ISIS itself.
“We have lived through several years of al-Maliki and the split he has manipulated in our society,” he said, asking to withhold his family name out of fears for his family, who live north of Baghdad. “The truth is there is little we can do as he just won elections. We have a crisis that will continue to spiral in the wrong direction with this government that is self-serving and not driven by unity.”
Asked about his views on ISIS, he responded that while it was not welcome to exert its ideology over the people or create instability, he again referred to al-Maliki’s lack of will to create favorable conditions for reconciliation among the Sunni, Shia and Kurdish communities. “It all comes back to the Maliki government. They only provide rhetoric that harms all of Iraq. Look where we are now,” Ali said. “There is little hope nowadays in my country.”
How Suburban Inhabitants Change Old France
By Nadia Henni-Moulaï - June 2, 2014
‘Our time has come!’ Abdel- Rahmene Azzouzi, 48, claims proudly.
As a very well reputed professor at the hospital of Angers, a town 400 km from Paris, he draws up the balance sheet of the last local elections.
Even if he hasn’t been elected, he was co-listed 11th after Frederic Beaste, the former mayor beaten in last month’s elections. He reminds us that the future is not so dark, even though, admittedly France has lurched to the right, even to the far right with 10 towns now under the heel of Marine le Pen and her activists.
President Hollande and his party were slaughtered in local elections, bringing about a reshuffle of government. Beyond these results, something else has happened. As Azzouzi said, French citizens with immigrant backgrounds are beginning to cause a stir amongst the French power elite. Have a look at the range of candidates located in suburban areas.
Dozens of independent candidates emerged in working class neighborhoods. In Gennevilliers, one of the last communist bastions in the north-west suburb of Paris, Nasser Lajili, a 34 year old chef, won 13.1 % of the vote in the first round of the local elections, with his independent electoral roll register. His motto was ‘A left wing party proud of its values’. He is now an elected councilor of the opposition party.
Haikel Drine, a French IT engineer, is now deputy mayor in Blanc-Mesnil, a town located in the Seine Saint – Denis administrative region where riots broke out in 2005. Haikel Drine who is working in both France and in the United states, remains popular across his region. The proof is that he was elected through ‘Citizens collective’ an independent collective which did particularly well in the first round of elections.
Aware of its potential, the collective participated in launching an atypical coalition with the right candidate, the UDI, which represents the center and another left independent collective! This is an opportunity for the right to regain working- class voters, to the great displeasure of the left. Not only did suburban inhabitants make a storming entrance into the local elections but they proved to be at odds with with the traditional electoral sociology. Until now it has always been shown that working class voters have always remained loyal to left parties.
In 2012, French people with immigrant backgrounds voted for the socialist candidate Francois Hollande rather than Nicolas Sarkozy. According to IFOP, a French research institute, 57% of muslims opted for Hollande in the first round of the presidential elections and 86% in the second round.
Two years after this success, working class disillusion now palpable so much so that the majority of them seized local elections to take the reins of the situation. What better way for them to achieve this than to launch their own political collective? After the last local elections, it is difficult to contradict this assessment. Suburban inhabitants now understand that political policy is no longer the elite’s domain.
Working – classes, confronted constantly with discrimination, unemployment or islamaphobia, a large portion of the Muslims living in suburban areas, are fed up with the politicians constant mistakes, mistakes that could be avoided through smart and honest governance.
Whether it is right or left, people are convinced that they failed to bring under – represented minorities into their own parties or make the Republic more egalitarian. But, over the years, French citizens with immigrant backgrounds have gotten their fair share of hardship (please check this one). Working and campaigning at a local level is the first step to political legitimacy.
This awareness however, is unlikely to be a major turning point in France. French people with immigrant backgrounds are determined to get the better of the dictatorship of the French elite. Apart from the fact that they are largely regarded as not being ‘good French citizens’, their political commitments run counter to that. Quite the contrary, in fact they claim ‘France is a noble and strong republic’, so why destroy it? Why not enrich it with equality and diversity?
08 JUN 2014
Food Paradise in NYC: The Best Eateries
A recent trip to New York saw me eat until my heart was content. I was surprised I didn’t need to be rolled out of our Brooklyn apartment at the end of a magnificent two weeks. If I were ever lucky enough to be able to live in the Big Apple then I think my heart would end up hating me, even if my taste buds didn’t.
Below are some of the wonderful places we dined at, if you ever find yourself in the city that never sleeps then and be sure try out some of these places:
1. Pies & Thighs – Williamsburg.
Lovers of fried chicken should head over to Williamsburg in Brooklyn to have – and I say this without any hesitation – the best fried chicken in New York. Served with delicious sides including mac and cheese and cornbread, Pies and Thighs will definitely have you coming back for more (we definitely didn’t go there twice in a few days).
Recommended: Fried Chicken Box with Mac and Cheese.
2. Café Luluc – 214 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
If you want pancakes, forget iHop and head on over to Cobble Hill, there you will find a café that serves pancakes that taste as if you are biting into clouds. Prices are extremely reasonable and when the weather is good there is outdoor seating to enjoy your food in.
Recommended: Pancakes (You wouldn’t want to risk getting anything else and having extreme food envy).
3. Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory – 1 Water St, New York, NY 11201.
After a lazy afternoon or evening in Brooklyn Bridge Park treat yourself to some fantastic Ice Cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. If you’re lucky you’ll visit them on a day that their special is Oreo Ice Cream – simply delicious.
Recommended: Oreo Ice Cream in a waffle cone (and if this isn’t available try the Butter Pecan.
4. Buddakan – 75 9th Ave, New York, NY 1001.
For those with a more refined palette and a little extra cash to burn, Buddakan offers modern Asian cuisine in swanky settings. Situated next to Chelsea Market (home to the delicious Fat Witch Bakery), the restaurant offers a great atmosphere and excellent service.
Recommended: Black Pepper Beef.
07 JUN 2014
The Most Stylish Young Arab Women in Fashion Today
Women with a unique style always stand among the crowd, they are the ones who inspire others to express their personality through their outfits. They are also the ones who inspire women to dress as if the streets are their runway. Therefore, we’ve decided to highlight some of our favorite young and most stylish Arab women in the region (according to alphabetical order):
1. Amina Khalil
An Egyptian girl who followed her dream of becoming a fashion designer, and her label is currently a favorite of many. Amina Khalil believes that first impressions are very important, a woman should always try to look good even if she’s not feeling her best.
Amina Khalil told us: “Be yourself, be comfortable, and most importantly try to always smile. A smile will take you places.”
2. Dana Malhas Ghandour
Dana Malhas Ghandour is the Creative Director and Co-Owner of Cream Boutique in Jeddah. Dana’s style is flawless and she always manages to pull off great outfit combinations, which we personally love.
Highlights about Dana Malhas Ghandour: She won the “Most Stylish” award this year by Grazia Magazine and was named the “Style Star” at the first season of Fashion Forward Dubai.
3. Leila Kashanipour
The brilliant mind behind the much coveted jewelry label LeiVanKash. Leila Kashanipour’s personal style is all about experimenting with pieces that truly give off her personality, which we personally think is down to earth, playful and fun.
Who was spotted in LeiVanKash? The likes of Olivia Palermo, Cara Delevingne, Rita Ora and Florence Welch to mention a few. (You go girl!)
4. Maha Abdul Rasheed
Maha is the owner of Bambah Boutique in Dubai, and she has grown up with a high entrepreneurial spirit turning her boutique into a hit. She loves vintage, ruffles, bows, polka dots, minimal makeup, messy hair, and distressed jeans.
Maha shared with us: “I think a woman is stylish when she is confident and comfortable in what she’s wearing. Whether it’s jeans and a t-shirt or a ball gown, I believe style is all about how she carries herself and her attitude.”
5. Nimati Shuhaibar
Nimati is the Founder and Event Stylist at Polkadots&Ribbons, a bespoke events company that focuses on children’s parties; her job allows her to be a kid at heart everyday. Nimati is full of amazing energy which perfectly reflects on her style choices.
Nimati talking about fashion: “When It comes to fashion – I am a proud ambassador to the amazing Azza Fahmy Jewellery line! I L-O-V-E mixing and matching pieces to make a style of my own that I feel comfortable in. Do not dress for others but for yourself is my motto.”
6. Razan Alazzouni
Razan Alazzouni exhibited a strong passion of all things related to art at an early age, and that’s one of the main reasons she’s one of the most popular fashion designers in the Middle East. She loves to create clothes that are not only creative and original, but also sculptural.
Did you know that celebrities such as Emma Roberts, Kelly Osbourne, Naya Rivera, Whitney Port and Ashley Tisdale among others dig Razan Alazzouni’s designs?
7. Reema Al-Banna
The mastermind behind a brand we love, Reemami. Reema Al-Banna’s style is very versatile, it changes day to day and is very much based on how she feels.
Reema talking about her style: “If I had to describe it, I would say that I am fond of well-tailored and eclectic pieces with elegant, sometimes minimalistic, clean cut pieces, mixed in a creative way with funky accessories such as chunky heels, big necklaces, unexpected cuts, and new trends. So if I’m describing my style in one word, I may say it’s experimental. I try new trends because I work with it every day.”
8. Samar Youssef
Samar has been a journalist for almost 10 years, and the blogger behind Une Libanaise a Paris which she started back in 2009. Samar is full of energy and has a classic and unpretentious style.
A few confessions by Samar: She’s a collector of necklaces, owns over 250 pairs of shoes, loves Rabih Kayrouz as there’s nothing more feminine and comfortable for her, and enjoys listening to Fairuz for hours.
9. Sana Makkieh
The moment we laid eyes on her gorgeous style on Instagram, we knew Sana had to be part of the list. What else should we say? Pictures speak louder than words! A Lebanese living in Dubai and working in Business Excellence, Sana is planning on setting up her own ready-to-wear label soon.
Sana Makkieh told us: “A woman’s pins, back and hands are the classiest attributes to her femininity, so always vote for comfortable outfits as long as they compliment those subtle features…I mean heels are painful already!”
10. Shimaa Elsayed
Shimaa works in luxury PR at The Qode handling some of the world’s most interesting fashion and beauty brands. She loves classic elegance accentuated with a fashionable twist, and enjoys everything beautiful.
Shimaa talking about her personal take on fashion: “I don’t believe that every fashion trend works for everybody. Instead, I think that people need to dress more according to what suits them, taking into account their age and body shape, amongst other things. I like to think that I wear clothes instead of letting them wear me.”
This was originally posted in Fustany.
20 JUN 2014
Sustainability Costs of the 2014 World Cup
The month of June has arrived and in the UK the temperatures have soared slightly and around the world everybody is enjoying the 2014 World Cup! Even I am following the Games this year, and I am usually not interested in football. I have always had an interest in Brazil as a country though, and now that it is hosting the World Cup, this interest has been amplified especially with regards to the sustainability costs of this year’s Games.
In the recent past, prior to the World Cup, Brazil was a culprit in the demolition of favelas (slums) within cities in order to ‘clean them up’. This was done with a hope to reduce urban crime and to present a more aesthetically pleasing Brazil for visiting public figures such as Pope John Paul II. My opinion: I consider such acts nothing but atrocious. The audacity that one has to destroy people’s homes that citizens have built themselves and have lived in for decades is simply an inhumane and cold-blooded act.
It is no surprise then that in preparation for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games Brazil has resorted to the same technique of favela demolition. It is said that some people have been resettled to government funded housing projects, while others have received rent supplements or were bought out. However, despite being offered to be resettled, there are reports that the government housing projects are experiencing delays, leaving thousands of families homeless. So on that note, I would have to give Brazil a minus and a sad face L on the social aspect of sustainability.
On a more positive side, Brazil and FIFA worked on a 2014 World Cup Sustainability Strategy that was presented at Rio +20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012. It is clear that they have at least been thinking of the sustainability impacts of the Games. It was promised that about $20 million will be used to implement the Strategy. This has been evidenced by lavish stadiums that have been constructed to be environmentally-friendly in nature; they run on free energy. This is the case for stadiums such as Arena Pernambuco and Estádio do Maracanã which have solar panels powering the entire matches. This is to be done with the assistance of Yingli Solar, one of the world’s largest renewable energy firms. You will be surprised and possibly impressed, just as I was, to find out that this year’s World Cup final match will be powered 100% by green energy.
It is great that Brazil is moving towards green energy; especially for such an event where it has worked hard to present to some extent an aesthetically pleasing country with extravagant football stadiums. However, the issue remains that all these costly buildings that were constructed to please other people were done at the expense of the country’s citizens, especially the poor. I stand upon the opinion that no matter how beautiful and grand the buildings and stadiums are, it is a shame and an embarrassment for Brazil when it doesn’t invest the same amount of money into health and education.
06 DEC 2013
An Open Letter to Skyscraper and Hadid Groupies
In a capitalist, consumerist, image-obsessed, gaudy 21st century, it is becoming increasingly challenging to find a mainstream architectural accomplishment that is not a dwarfing skyscraper or another Zaha Hadid conundrum. With all due respect to the fans of the vertically daring constructions and to Hadid herself, who is no doubt a female Freddie Mercury of architecture, the blatantly boastful architecture of financial opulence is becoming yet another sickening fad.
With devastating natural disasters, economic crises, and tales of poverty and starvation never seeming to disappear from our TV screens, I am not interested in playing another game of “how-high-can-you-go” (yes, I mean you, Dubai). Congratulations, whoever you may be, on your Rapunzel-defying shiny extensions, but your feat glorifies only yourself and tramples all over values of humility, selflessness and altruism, favoring instead ostentation, selfishness, and greed.
And as a novice member of the architecture profession, I have been disheartened.
Which is why (and in such ironic, timely parallelism with the unveiling of Hadid’s Qatari “Al-Wakrah Stadium” and the announcement of Dubai’s Expo 2020 win), an unorthodox declaration I recently came across by chance has rekindled my trust in the potential inspirational impact of architects and planners (somewhere, out there).
The Laufen Manifesto for a Humane Design Culture.
Responsibly introducing themselves as “representatives of the professions collectively shaping the built environment,” the authors of the Laufen Manifesto stress collaboration, innovation, and education among many other key elements in achieving a humane design culture. To my delight, the Laufen Manifesto confidently states that “Modernization has leveled cultural differences globally and hampered context specific design” and goes on to divide the quest to alter this reality into seven sections, 01) Collaborating Eye-to-Eye, 02) Designing Work, 03) Unfurling Beauty, 04) Identifying the Local, 05) Understanding the Territory, 06) Educating Designers, and 07) Shaping Policy –covering every real-life aspect of design, from community involvement to job creation to aesthetics and design process to manual, digital, and intellectual competence to legal procedures. They don’t see their architectural interventions as single, isolated projects but as a consolidation of urban and rural enhancements that are tools to “cultivate a constructive atmosphere with lasting effects”.
What impresses me even more is the lack of the words “green” and “sustainability” in the entire text (to be fair, “sustainable” is mentioned once to describe the effect intended on local economies). Opting rather for a meticulously thought-out statement which embodies the complete design picture, the manifesto profusely expresses the aforementioned concepts without even having to whisper these two overused terms -which many benightedly declare in order to effortlessly shoot themselves to the headlines.
Since the Laufen Manifesto was officially launched just a few days ago, its tangible impact cannot yet be judged or applauded. However, with such a profound linguistic stance, I hope that this is only a subsidiary reflection of the work that will manifest (pun intended) on the ground and may not become “TV mainstream,” but will hopefully become the champion underdog of the global built environment and, in the words of the authors, “instill a greater social empathy.”
Dear Skyscraper and Hadid groupies
Please take note.
01 DEC 2013
The Curse Of The Twenty Something In The Twenty Teens
It seems that due to the activities of a few risk taking people (risk taking people wasn’t the word I had in mind but it’ll have to do. I don’t swear on Sundays) several of you out there in the big wide world are like me. You’re twenty something year old college (I’m keeping it real with my American homies. That’s what you say in the States right?) and university graduates who live at home. I was supposed to have a kick ass job in London, or New York, that paid me truck loads of money, but look at me. I mean look at me. I’m working from my bedroom while my parents watch CNN in the next room. I don’t even watch CNN. I find that it’s better to read the news than it is to watch it. If I wanted to watch E (the entertainment channel that’s somehow almost synonymous with Kimmy K soon to be West) I’d watch E, since CNN is a little like serious E, it doesn’t get much watched much by me. My parents on the other hand just can’t get enough. And you know the risk taking people I was talking about in the first line don’t you? They’re the pesky bankers that literally blew up the world five years ago. If they hadn’t done whatever it is that they did, the life I imagined I would have when I was twenty three would be mine. I’m not bitter at all but don’t give me an AK 47.
I was vastly unprepared for the move back home. My mom tempted me with promises of good food, and laundry that I wouldn’t have to do myself and constant access to a fueled car. She made it sound like I would be coming back to a hotel. I wasn’t. Parents lie. I should have known this. They still tell me that I’m more specialer and gifteder than everyone else out there. Sometimes it’s a welcome pick me up, but at other times it’s an are you kidding me right now? If I’m so special why am I in Lagos, and why don’t I have a job at the Goldman Sachs in London? Why? Why? Why? Why? They have the answer to that one too by the way. It’s, God didn’t want it for you… or it’s not the right thing for right now. To the God part, I think, “but what about what I want for me? Would it be so bad to actually have money?” And about the it’s not the right thing for now part I think, “But I needed the paycheck yesterday. There couldn’t be a righter thing for right now!” That’s what I get when my parents tap into the mini Yoda that got implanted into their heads when those gametes met and formed that embryo. Their questions are answers, their answers are questions, and their rhetorical questions work like mind control. “You know you’re going to be all right don’t you?” they say/ask, and for that moment in time, I believe it. Ten minutes later, I’m in my bedroom/office tearing out my hair screaming “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life!!” But I only scream in my mind. On the outside, I’m the three most annoying C adjectives that have ever been placed side by side alliteratively. Yes! You guessed it. I’m cool, calm and collected.
This is the cue for ten years into the future me to walk into the room while I go take a shower and type, “don’t worry man. You’ll get everything you dreamed of and more.” If I get back and see that he hasn’t, my next article will be future me, reveal yourself.
Damilola Ade-Odiachi, VOIX Lifestyle and Health editor, @Afam20
Based in Lagos, Nigeria
25 NOV 2013
If you have just graduated (within the last year), unemployed and suffering from Post-Graduation-Syndrome, you need to take a step back and breathe. Yes, you read right: breath.
Everything is going to be alright. I am sure you had a great time during your undergraduate/graduate studies, you met new people, had great instructors had mind-blowing experiences and everyone told you how much potential you have. You felt invincible and confident that you’d land a job once you said goodbye to the good old days. It’s been three to six months now, and you’re not doing what you thought you’d be doing.
What no one told you is how incredibly competitive the world is today, jobs are available – don’t get me wrong, but just because you have a college degree doesn’t mean you’re going to land one. This doesn’t mean you’re not qualified or anything but it could mean that you might be lacking in certain things. So over the last year or so and through work I have been doing lately, I discovered a few things that have helped me. Here are my top five lessons learned;
I. Look for an internship. If you think an internship is beneath you, think again. You’d be surprised on how much you could learn, particularly basic skills like filing, minute taking, report writing to even managing hardware like scanners and printers. Also, it will teach you a thing or two about being productive and being part of a serious work environment.
II. Apply for jobs, even if you are overqualified. Apply for a job even if you’re a tad overqualified. There are two benefits; first you get to practice interviews, you network and you just might be suggested to someone who knows someone who is looking for someone who fits your description. Or, apply and hopefully you get accepted and make a penny or two while you’re waiting for your big break not to mention you might figure out if you are good at something.
III. Work on your soft skills. Work on all those small things that can set you apart from others; your presentation skills for one, your language proficiency, body language, etiquette and even the selection. Other soft skills you might want to look into improving is your team building skills, communication skills, problem solving and so forth. If you’re wondering how? Reread points I & II or look for some workshops that could help you.
IV. Make your time worthwhile. If your still unemployed months after your graduation, don’t worry something is going to come up. But while you waiting, you might as well do something; volunteer at an initiative you like, find a hobby or learn a new language. Just remember you’re accountable for your time, make sure it’s dedicated towards something worthwhile. Check out www.coursera.org and register for some courses at top universities worldwide and register for free.
V. Apply for masters. Given that you haven’t found a job yet and it’s been over a year, apply for a master’s degree. This will give you perspective and replant hope lost; it would also allow you to specialize in a specific disciple. Note though, points I-IV might help you get into the graduate school your applying to, so word of advice don’t sit on your butt.
11 DEC 2013
Nut-Cracking the Classic: Whatever Happened to the Christmas Hit?
‘It’s Christmastime, there’s no need to be afraid’… that you’re going to hear something new.
Okay, so I love Bing Crosby. I really do. But there’s only so many times you can listen to ‘Christmas in Killarney’, before wishing that the mincemeat filling of that delicious pie you’re currently munching through, was made of fibreglass and methylamine. It’s been far too long since something even marginally listenable was released for our Christmastime enjoyment. Which leads me to ask the oft-pondered question: whatever happened to the Christmas hit?
There was a time when the Christmas album was something of an art. The Holy Grail of the music industry. A delicious, gingerbread mountain, topped with icing sugar and holiday spirit, that every artist who was anybody wanted to scale. For years upon generations, when December rolled in and the air really began to pinch, we were greeted with a new host of jolly, jaunty, jovial – and every ‘J’ synonym you can possibly muster – tunes to get us in the Christmas mood. I’m talking about conspiring with a loved one as you both dream by the fire. Looking out the window at the storm, as a polite gentleman refuses to offer his coat. Listening to the boys of the NYPD choir singing Galway Bay. Or even just wishing it could be Christmas every day.
As I lie here, wistfully imagining what it would’ve been like to be there on the release of these monumental records, I wonder how we got from such unadulterated art, to Justin Bieber screeching ‘With you shawty, with you. With you under the mistletoe’ – could someone pass the vomit-bucket?
Are the days really passed, of genii like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Wizzard, John Lennon, Wham!, Cliff Richard, and Crosby himself? Even East 17 managed a half-decent effort with their 1994 release, Stay Another Day. And who can forget Mariah Carey’s semi-iconic frolicking in the snow, with her original All I Want For Christmas Is You. But as the twenty-first century dawned, so did the sun set on anything we could label as “good”, where Christmas records are concerned.
In the spirit of fairness, with it being the most wonderful time of year and all, maybe I should peg it down to a matter of taste. Maybe I’m just being a little harsh. And maybe there are some, very select few, people out there who relish the musical-stylings of the supra-arrogant, industry-clone, pop-squealers of today. ‘Who can deny the ultimate catchiness of Girls Aloud’s Not Tonight Santa?’ I hear you cry. ‘Why must you brush past the brilliant dance-ability of Selena’s Winter Wonderland?’ you wail through a mouthful of Sainsbury’s Christmas collection, brie and cranberry sandwich.
Well, dear reader, let me explain it to you. If I were to don a Santa hat and beard, and deck my beaten-up combat boots with holly, ready to grant your every Christmas wish, who would you choose to sing live in your living room?: Sinatra or Biebs? If you chose the latter, look forward to an especially large lump of coal in your stocking this year.
If Santa wanted to grant my Christmas wish, he would bring me a hit single, fresh on a platter of Brie de Meaux; something on par with my favourite Christmas record of all time, Fairytale of New York. As soon as I hear the discordant piano opening of the iconic holiday classic, I know that this Christmas is going to be even better than the last. Shane MacGowan’s broken croon never fails to send chills through every nerve. And as the Irish jig precedes Kirsty MacColl’s introduction, there is nothing I want to do more than pick up my dusty violin and join right in. This is what a Christmas single should endeavour to achieve. This is what snow and sleigh bells are made of.
We only have to look to every – good – Christmas movie ever made to see more of such artistry. Judy Garland’s performance of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas in Meet Me in St Louis, looks something like perfection. Bob, Phil, Judy and Betty singing Snow in White Christmas still leads me to re-enact the scene, just like I did when I was a starry-eyed five year old without a cynical bone in my body. And if somebody even mentions Hark the Herald from the ending of It’s a Wonderful Life, I almost break down in tears on cue. It’s this sort of brilliant writing that makes even the most scoffing of twenty-somethings remember what it was like to really believe in Christmas.
Get me a phone. Bring me a pen. Cart the executives of Universal Records right to my front porch. It doesn’t matter; all I want to do is craft a very heated response to the lack of nu-Christmas classics currently “gracing” our ears. Whether it’s Band Aid telling me that there’s a ‘world of dreaded fear’ outside my window. Or The Pogues ‘taking my hand on a cold Christmas eve’; is it too much to ask for a piece of musical artistry that inspires emotion? Ring your bells. Carol in the streets. Do whatever it takes, my little music-lings. We will have our nu-classic. And finally, it really will be like Christmas every day.
Merry Christmas from VOIX Music!
Welcome to VOIX / Bienvenue à VOIX / Bienvendios a VOIX / VOIX مرحبا بكم في / Zapraszamy do VOIX / VOIX hoş geldiniz / VOIX স্বাগতম
We are the global youth magazine. Our aim is to deliver information from the mouth of the people living it: from all over the world.
Whether you live in Bangkok, study in Lagos, or work in Lima, we want to hear your story.
We want to fill our magazine and site with wonderful stories and images; with the help of our section editors, who all come from interesting and eclectic backgrounds.
- Editor in Chief: Naila Missous / @nsabrinem / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fashion Editor: Elizabeth Harper / @E_S_Harper
- Environment Editor: Anoud Al-Fawwaz / @AnoudAlFawwaz
- Politics Editors: Doa’a Abdel-Rahman & Garret Pustay / @d3akar / @garretpustay
- Travel Editor: Danica Vidotto / @meetdanicav
- Sports Editors: James Cronin & Aaron Leggott / @jamescronin1992 / @aaron_leggott
- Culture Editors: Nathaniel Ogle & Lucas Ballesteros / @lucas_voix
- Lifestyle/Health Editor: Damilola Ade-Odiachi / @Afam20
- Education Editor: Sahar Eljack / @SaharEljack
- Photographer & Graphic Designer: Marcus David
- Marketing team: Omar Aljuhani, Jonathan Rowe / @Ojuhani / @ronnyjowe
A New World Order
I consider myself to be within the generation which did not really deal with the internet and everything which followed it directly when we were first born, but one which witnessed its continuous evolvement and its current extreme usage. We started using it step by step, as it grew. First, creating our first email addresses with utter excitement and just sending emails away, to anyone! Second, it was MSN and entering the arena of having live conversations. After of course, struggling to connect to the Internet through our landline telephone lines.
Now, we all -each and every one of us- have our own portable device, and sometimes devices, connected to a WIRELESS network, or have 3G enabled on our devices and we do not only check our emails, but check our facebooks, twitter accounts, appointments, news, articles...etc. We can tweet our thoughts and share our photos on Facebook. We know what is happening in our countries the precise moment it happens even if we are thousand of miles away by only clicking on the newsroom application.
A new thing is arising, and I am starting to notice it more and more, which is the usage of the Internet as a way to blackmail, criticize, compliment or complaint about anyone and anything! I have seen this numerous times in my hometown Jordan. Whenever someone whether a public figure or just an average citizen does some 'eye catching' activity, one can immediately read it on online news websites. Hospitals and schools are currently facing this specific issue, where any patient or student who is dissatisfied with the treatment he/she is getting, an online article or a headline pops up explaining it, hence putting the school, hospital or public authority in an embarrassing situation.
Whether this is an advantageous tool, is controversial. One might argue that the main purpose of the Internet is connecting the world and making it one small village, but that doesn't include blackmailing authorities. For example an employee, who was recently dismissed from work, went to the press about a scandalous issue that he alleged his employer is involved in.
However, another side of the argument clearly says that the Internet and its ability to publish any mistreatment that has occurred to a person, strengthens the 'average' citizen. Sometimes people go through hardships and no one even the law can help them, and so gaining the sympathy of the 'people' and making them point the blame with him towards one hierarchical authority/organisation balances the unfair treatment that most societies deal with. Mistreatments at hospitals which usually lead to death, suspension of students for invalid and trivial reasons, using the public money for personal use are just examples of what newspapers are now all about. News portals are now racing to be the first in publishing a 'scandalous' story and the Internet is becoming a real weapon that anyone can use.
Many versions of one story can lead to confusion, assumptions and rumours. Is that really how we want to use the network, which literally changed our lives?
Badia El-Wer for VOIX Opinion
Based in the UK currently, Jordan resident.
Photo by Alan1954 (Flickr)
The All New-Rage
Despite my firm belief that successful writers are those who are able to resist their self-centered impulses; and view life from an outsider's perspective, this article will be entirely subjective
Lately, I have come across a number of posts and articles discussing the newly found phenomenon "quarter life crisis"; when all the eager and often naive aspirations of earlier youth come crashing down. You suddenly find yourself bemused by a somewhat stale reality.
This turbulent period often starts after graduation, after that first crappy work experience that leads you to question the "integrity" of the world, and your own significance. I always saw myself as a bright, dynamic, hard worker. I had tons of extra-curricular activities, recommendations, and credentials. Had worked hard to achieve a distinguishable resume to present to potential employers: then reality struck, and it hit me that without experience, you are worth squat. However, I was determined.
Fortunately, the fresh optimism of my tender age was enough to sustain me into pursuing my legacy, and I was perseverant. In a country run by nepotism, bureaucracy, and patriarchy; and throughout my mother's cancer struggle, I was finally able to secure a good job, at a reputable local company. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but was a stepping stone which was fair enough.
As far as relationships go, as to be expected, I had my fair share of ups and downs, revelations and heartbreaks. Being a Muslim makes things that much easier and that much more difficult; dating in its regular sense is out of the question, which somewhat makes relationships more stable once you reach that stage of "commitment", but for an eccentric, unconventional writer, who seeks to explore the word and humanity- finding a match is easier said than done.
This would have been fine if it weren't for the newly-found need for companionship (usually I'd be too proud to admit this). Suddenly I found myself changing… I'm not just looking for a blazing romance, and I no longer believe that this is the answer to life's problems, but this doesn't diminish the need for a partner-in-crime, someone to have your back and make the world slightly better every now and then.
Of course, there is always an upside to everything. I was finally getting along with my parents after years of being "the wild child". Work was reaching a somewhat stable phase, where I was receiving recognition as someone with potential (nevertheless worth squat). My regular tantrums and emotional outbreaks were reaching a standstill.
So it suddenly struck me- I'm maturing! Did I like it though? Not particularly.
Suddenly I'm the kind of person who's always too busy or too stressed out to stop and smell the roses, who's constantly worrying about expenses, and decisions, and other people's opinions.
Friends started drifting away, and everyone seemed to have a solid life plan, except for me. All around me were solid paths and people heading steadfast towards their goals -as varying as they may be- while I was still trying to figure out mine! The odds didn't seem to be in my favor.
The dream of a successful life, roaming exotic places, meeting all different types of people and having adventures was suddenly slipping from between my hands faster than quicksand.
Though I remained upbeat for a while, and tried to enjoy life as it is and with what I have; more unpleasant life experiences started to get the best of me, adding to my acquired skepticism and cynical approach. I found myself being a blend of my former self, and the version tainted by the outside world.
The break-through point for me, after a lot of crankiness, disappointment and confusion (common symptoms of a quarter-life-crisis) was when the temporary security I had reached started going south and I realized that I had absolutely zero control- the control I was so obsessed with achieving for so long.
There had been blatant signs that my company was going downhill; downsizing, resignations, substandard replacements and repeated client complaints.
Everything was very hushed, until I faced the overt truth by a coworker who laid it all upon me: I was caught in a sinking ship, in fact my very employment was out of a desperate attempt to hire cheap new talent.
That's when something peculiar hit me- I didn't really care that much!
I thought I would have been devastated, the only thing I had going for me was crumbling to pieces, and I could not care less- life was less scary than I figured, and now I can face it headstrong.
- I am not tied down by any actual financial or emotional responsibilities. I don't have any mouths to feed, or mortgages to pay; simultaneously I'm now a professional, I have experience and can bring something to a company without having to exaggerate my skills in order to impress employers (like I used to have to).
- Even though I have absolutely no idea where I am heading, I somehow know who I am, and what I'm capable of. I now realize that I am old enough to be recognized as an actual contender, but young enough to occasionally goof around if needed.
- I maybe alone, and lets face it, often lonely. But I'm willing to wait, and know that it'll be worthwhile. All around me, I see families being shattered because a parent suddenly had the need to "rediscover". But I'm smart enough, and mature enough know that being in a relationship isn't fulfilling unless the parties are compatible, also that love can happen at any day and age.
- I have the best of both worlds, and maybe I am having a quarter-life-crisis now. But sometime in the distant future, things will make sense, and fall into place- and I'll be thankful it happened sooner than later.
Perhaps I am being overly optimistic, and this may be wishful thinking- but if so, then I haven't entirely lost my sense of wonder, and one of the causes behind my crisis has already been resolved.
Reham Omar for VOIX Opinion
Based in Alexandria, Egypt
Photo by BastropTXEDC
The rise of the Voluntourist
In the past twenty years – give or take – anyone with an eye on travel trends will have witnessed the rise of Voluntourism.
Voluntourism is, at its simplest, defined as a form of travel, which includes volunteering for a charitable cause.
Last summer I spent six weeks in Malaysia teaching English to students aged 8-17 who had fled Burma with, or some without, their families and were waiting to gain official UN refugee status and eventually be relocated.
I feel the experience was mutually beneficial. I learnt about Myanmar culture, had the chance to learn some of the language and how to cook some of their food and I hope they had the chance to ask me anything they might have wanted to know about my culture (as well as getting the chance to listen to English being spoken with an undoubtedly Northern accent).
However, it had taken me months to find the right volunteer opportunity. Due to their highly invested marketing strategies corporate Voluntourism companies dominate search engines and it’s very hard to find out about the volunteering opportunities where you deal directly with the charity themselves.
Since the 1990’s the travel industry has really invested in whipping up a new niche within the market centered on offering holiday packages to the philanthropic tourist. As testament to the fact that this niche industry has begun to boom it now feels almost impossible to find a way of offering to volunteer without paying serious mega bucks to do so (and I mean serious mega bucks: over two and a half grand to do Equine therapy in Boliva anyone?).
This rise in Voluntourism, as it has come to be called, has been much criticized. Undoubtedly there is some truth in the cynics’ criticisms that the practice isn’t always as altruistic as it seems and sometimes the programs can be simply another part of conspicuous consumption for the traveler.
There are also more serious claims that the industry can be actively detrimental to the local community, in fact in Cambodia an inspection in 2011 into orphanages suggested an unpromising link between the growth of tourist interest in orphanage volunteer program packages and an increasing number of orphanages, with almost 90% of the orphans having at least one parent.
Not to mention the criticisms that have been launched claiming that the whole process is potentially paternalistic with little communication between volunteer companies and local residents, meaning often money is poured into unnecessary or unwanted developments.
Maybe the critics are right but I think conceding to this view completely suggests there is never any possibility to be altruistic. I think you can be aware of these criticisms whilst finding a way of doing volunteer work which minimises any potential negatives and offers benefit to the local community.
If you’re interested in helping with a project, and want to make sure what you do is of value to those you work with and you don’t fancy lining the pockets of a travel agency, here are a few places to get you started:
- Just Volunteers: They are a middle man organization but they’re a non-profit group who put you in touch with the charities themselves so you can organize your volunteering with them directly. http://www.just-volunteers.org/
- The Government offers a scheme to support volunteers and manage the volunteer quota to make sure help is being sent to places with active need. https://www.gov.uk/volunteering/find-volunteer-placements
- Ethical Volunteering: It may be a little out of date (not having been updated since 2006) but this website run by Dr. Kate Simpson offers a guide to the most ethical volunteering projects out there. If you’re interested in anything that’s on there but are worried about any of the information being out of date its worth trying to get in touch with Kate first hand. http://www.ethicalvolunteering.org/
Hannah Lawrence for VOIX Travel
Based in Yorkshire, UK
Photo by HandsUpHolidays
Writing Guide & Contacts
-This is the hook that tells the reader what the story is about, and includes who, what, when, where, why. (Shorter leads of fewer than 35 words are preferable)
-A good lead entices the reader to continue reading
-In a hard-news story, the lead is usually written in one sentence (first sentence of the story) and gives the most important information about the event. This is often called a “summary lead.” However, a news story can have a “soft lead,” which is more creative and descriptive.
2. Backup for the Lead
-The lead should be supported with facts, quotes, and statements that substantiate the information in the lead.
3. Lead Quote
-The first quote that backs up the lead is called the “lead quote.” It is usually the strongest quote in the story and it supports the concept in the lead without repeating the same wording.
-Make sure to attribute quotes to proper sources.
-Is there any history or background the reader needs in order to understand how a problem or action occurred?
-Whenever possible, the writer should explain how the news affects the readers. The “impact” sentence or paragraph should answer these questions:
*What is the significance of the story?
*What in the story makes the reader care?
-Supporting points related to the main issue constitute “elaboration.” These can be statements, quotes or more detail to explain what happened, how, and why the problem or action occurred.
-The most common type of ending includes one of these elements:
*Future action (statement or quote that summarizes previous information)
-Avoid summary endings that repeat what you have already said.
Keep articles around 600-1000 words maximum. We accept articles and posts in all languages, as well as photo essays.