‘Would You Take Tea With Tyrants?’ is the question that journalist
Lyse Doucet put to politicians, diplomats and activists around the world. In an interesting article for the BBC she gets people who have dealt with the worst tyrants in modern history to open up about how they separate emotion from the need to conduct business and asks whether engagement is always the right thing to do. Ambassadors and envoys often talk to people they see as tyrants or terrorists. But why do they do it? Former Finnish President, Marrti Ahtisaari, a Nobel Prize winner advises, “You don’t need to love the people you talk to but you have to talk to everybody whose assistance you need to solve the problems.” Listen to the programme or read the article. Comments Norwegian Envoy, Jan Egeland.

If you want to make a difference where human rights are most at stake, you have to meet them”

Google is always featured at the end of my talks
as one of the few ‘cultural superhero’ global organisations of this world. I know that my own Google homepage often has a Google Doodle especially for their UK clients.  But, it’s not often I get to see some of the other doodles that are created for other nations.  Here’s Google’s Doodle to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day.  So, Happy Independence Day to All!

Bloggers in Africa have are having a riotous time writing tongue-in-

cheek articles with headlines like: Africa to send troops, food parcels to UK as riots spread. I came across an article by Ndesanjo Macha sharing African perspectives on the riots in the UK with a good dose of humour. However, one blogger, Nana Wireko, reminds us about the unpleasant things the British press were saying in the run up to the South African World Cup saying: “When your neighbor is down, don’t kick him but rather help lift him up. The UK press should take a cue from this. It’s a lesson. A very important one!”

The gorgeous historic Royal Square of Patan Durbar is about to host
literary jatra for the very first time. The World Heritage site, dotted with pagoda-like structures, is the stunning location for the festival which is sponsored by Himal magazine and will bring together writers and poets for workshops, reading and discussion. Billed as a festival of both national and international writers, some disaapointingly point out there are no representative writers/poets from Nepal’s indigenous languages (other than Newari). If you need an excuse to visit the area, the maybe this is it: September 16th-18th 2011. Festivals already take place in Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and it’s beginning to look like visitors to South Asia should be able to catch a literary gathering throughout the year

Read the views on the USA of a 25 year-old girl from Taiwan, whose
first experience of ‘abroad’ was as a student in Michigan. A lot of cross-cultural differences between those two cultures! Mindy (Min-Yi Chang) is now back home and reflects on her time in the US. Here are the two extracts I found the most interesting – from the blog post on Pocket Cultures which is always an enjoyable and insightful read.

Najwat Rehman winning logo design

International Youth Day celebrates the experiences and voices of young people between the ages of 15 to 24 years. They represent one sixth of the world’s population. Established by the UN in 2000, the purpose of the day is to draw our attention to youth issues world wide in the 10 areas of: starvation, poverty, education, employment, health, drug exploitation, childhood felony, recreation events, the child and young women, environment. Every year has a different theme and 2011’s theme is: “Youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local, national and global levels.”

Today is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.
The 9th August each year offers the world community an opportunity to reaffirm the principles of respect and protection of minorities. Created by the United Nation General Assembly in 1994, this year’s commemoration theme is: “Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting our own future”.

Whether one wants to argue about the rights or wrongs of the British
Empire, few can deny that it has left a lasting legacy in many parts of the globe. Our industrial might has left trains chugging across the vast lands of India, a rail infrastructure that spans the Cape to Cairo and British steel was used in spanning vast expanses as in the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But, many of the world’s trouble spots are those left behind by the chaotic retreat of empire, and its ghosts continue to haunt today’s international scene. The problems the empire encountered have still not been resolved and in Iraq, Kashmir, Burma, Sudan, Nigeria and Hong Kong new difficulties have arisen which continue to baffle politicians and diplomats. ‘One sows the seeds of demise at the outset’ is a well-known concept that can really apply to the collapse of the British Empire…

With on-going shifts in economic power from West to East, an
interesting topic of research and debate concerns the long-term potential of the next generation around the world and in particular: what is the IQ potential of the populations of the two biggest countries, China and India?  Without doubt, British Indians seem to gain higher grades on average than their ‘white’ British counterparts. And it is a well known fact that the Chinese in the UK are more diligent at school.  We put this down to cross-cultural differences within the family in a UK environment. But what about around the world – how smart are Chinese and Indians in their home countries compared to the rest of the world?

How the world loves action adventurers who get off their butts and
make things happen! I’m no different. So, have we got a latter day Indian Jones? My best wishes go to Thomas Köhler, a Swiss citizen, who has decided to walk the length of the Japanese archipelago in a bid to support the return of foreign tourists to Japan after the devastating events of March 11th. Few people will forget the combined disaster of an earthquake in Northern Japan, followed swiftly by a major tsunami and the great suffering they caused for the people of the region.  However, the knock on effect is that tourists are staying away in droves. So, how will ‘Walking Through Japan’ help?