International Coverage of The Boston Bombings- One Year Later

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the terrifying terrorist attacks at the Boston Marathon. At exactly 2:49 pm last year, the first bomb was detonated, seconds later, the second bomb went off killing 3 people and injuring over 200. But before this all occurred, Dzhokhar and Tarmerlan Tsarnaev were just two ordinary men, who aspired to become professional boxers. At 2:50 pm, they were the most wanted terrorist in America.

The faces of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were plastered all over American television, newspapers and computer screens after a three day manhunt that ended with the death of Tarmerlan and the arrest of his younger brother Dzokhar. But how were their faces potrayed in media networks around the world? Especially in Russia and its federal republics of Dagestan and Chechnya were the two men were born?

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 1.36.07 AM

Public Radio International’s The World reported that people from different parts of the world expressed their condolences to the U.S and felt their pain. From Syria, to Israel, to China to Spain, PRI reported how many countries felt sorry but at the same time were not as shocked since these attacks happen to them frequently.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 1.40.07 AM

Voice of America reported how many Russians “watched with quiet satisfaction” as how the two Chechen brothers terrorized the United States. The portal reports how Russians, who have long been targets of Chechen terror attacks, now see “Americans walking a kilometer in their shoes.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 1.45.11 AM

The Moscow Times, an English-language newspaper from Russia reported a piece that stated how the Boston Bombings taught terrorist all around the world about how a “well-timed attack” can spark International media frenzy. The column also reported how the bombings would help to justify Vladimir Putin’s efforts to maintain tight policies toward the bombers native towns of Chechnya and Dagestan. Other coverage in The Moscow Times focus on a more historical analysis of how the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, unleashed tensions many of which are endured regularly by natives of the area.

In China, the response to the Boston Marathon bombings was heavily impacted by the death of Chinese national Lu Lingzi, a graduate student at Boston University. In the early stages, China’s media coverage was reported as an international terrorist attack, but after it was discovered that Lu was hospitalized and later died from the attacks, Chinese media coverage shifted completely. They were now covering images of Lu’s family and their efforts to fly over to Boston and see their son. Social media also played a big role, as 73 other Chinese participated in the marathon, each tweeting and providing their experiences before and after the terrorist attacks.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 1.58.40 AM

Russia’s communist newspaper, Pravda, covered the story by asking “Who set up Tsarnaev brothers?” Their coverage centered around all the possible reasons and speculations behind behind the bombings. The newspaper goes even further and provides some possible theories that explain how the Tsarnaev brothers were “set up.”

Chernovik is an independent newspaper in Dagestan that also reported on the bombers and their ties to Dagestan. In an article titled, “My children have been substituted,” the author writes about the shocking revelations of the Tsarnaevs’ connections to Dagestan. They also include an interview with the bombers parents, but more interesting are the comments where many readers protest against the U.S. trying to find connection to Dagestan. “Blatant lie,” “I do not believe the Americans,” and “cannot be trusted,” are comments made by readers throughout the story.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 2.18.14 AM

Kavkaz Center a privateIslamic news website in the Northern Caucasus had some of the most controversial coverage of the bombings. The news site called out Russia for secret “KGB involvement” in the bombings. Though the stories lacks proper credentials and sources, they feature a variety of opinions and speculations that pertain to the Tsarnaev brothers and their ties to the Northern Caucasus. The site writes, “The KC editorial staff does not exclude that some of the publications in the U.S. and western media could be influenced by Russian spies. We also do not rule out a possibility that the U.S. deliberately misinforms the public on the progress of their investigation. The Kavkaz Center believes that at this stage, it is important to monitor the situation and inform the public about every more or less important turns in the murky FBI/KGB/CIA Boston story.”


ZunZuneo-“Cuban Twitter”

From 2010-2012, the U.S. Agency of International Development (US AID) worked on ZunZuneo, a project maketed to young Cubans. USAID is a government agency that oversees humanitarian aid and development projects. This particular project was designed to encourage young Cubans to revolt and stand up to the authoritarian model set in place.  The company, Creative Associates, was hired to supply the phone numbers of thousands of Cubans then send casual text messages to them. The numbers were acquired by a contact at Cubacel

The plan was to send out nonchalant texts and eventually transition to propaganda-like messages to encourage revolt. Though the project stopped suddenly in 2012 due to a lack of funds, at some point, ZunZuneo reached almost 40,000 users. ZunZuneo also included a companion website where Cubans could subscribe and post feedback for free. The total cost or the two year project was about $1.6 million.

“Documents show the U.S. government planned to build a subscriber base through “non-controversial content”: news messages on soccer, music and hurricane updates. Later when the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize “smart mobs” — mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice that might trigger a Cuban Spring, or, as one USAID document put it, “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.”


“By early 2011, Creative Associates grew exasperated with Mobile Accord’s failure to make ZunZuneo self-sustaining and independent of the US government. The operation had run into an unsolvable problem. USAID was paying tens of thousands of dollars in text messaging fees to Cuba’s communist telecommunications monopoly routed through a secret bank account and front companies. It was not a situation that it could either afford or justify — and if exposed it would be embarrassing, or worse.”


The Hybrid Craze of a Hybrid Product: BB Creams

The all in one power product, BB cream, has been recently taking the U.S beauty/cosmetics industry by storm.  Although the trend just recently started in 2012 for the U.S market, bb cream has been renowned in South Korea for the past decade. Yet, the trend actually dates back to the 1950-60’s to when a German dermatologist developed the cream for post-surgery patients. Still, South Korea has been taking most of the credit as bb creams became a major staple in the population’s make-up bags over the past years.

The name “BB cream” stands for blemish balms in East Asia.  On the other hand, western markets refer to “BB cream” to stand for beauty balms.  It is marketed to be the in-between, perfect solution that’s lighter in texture than a make-up foundation, but thicker than a tinted moisturizer.  It’s enough to just wear on its own or under powder when in need for more coverage.  It is the all in one solution that combines a moisturizer, primer, sun screen, foundation and anti-aging cream.


While both the Asian markets and U.S. markets sell technically the same product, there are slight differences in the methods of advertising/marketing.  A trend of bb creams with skin-whitening properties became a fad to East Asian markets aimed to target consumers wanting the stereotypical pale, blemish-free skin.  BB creams for men are also common in South Korea.  On the other hand, the American market tends to advertise to the woman on-the-go as a multi-tasking product.  Also, brands of bb creams in South Korea, such as Missha or The Face Shop, tend to carry fewer options in terms of shade and color. Brands in America, such as Clinique, Maybelline, Smashbox, Boscia, and Dior tend to offer a variety of shades and a wider palette.




The Harlem Shakes


That is the video that started the internet meme “The Harlem Shake.” It was a response to post from a video vlogger “Filthy Frank,” but that hardly matters as what is important is what followed. The Harlem Shake went on to be one of the most viral internet memes of all times, spawning thousands upon thousands of imitations in every sort of context imaginable. The short duration, the simplicity,  an infectious 30 seconds of music, the ease in which you can reproduce it, and the ability to be understood across by just about any culture all combine to show just how effective a piece of independent media can be on an international scale. The fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with the original dance called “The Harlem Shake,” (The Harlem Shake originated from Harlem and was popular with members of the hip-hop community. It is based off an Ethiopian dance called Ekista) didn’t matter at all, as it’s popularity caused to it hi-jack the term and become the dominant meaning.



As people across the globe reproduced The Harlem Shake, several interesting scenarios began to be reported. 2 Isreali soldiers received prison sentences after they performed the Harlem Shake around a cannon, 15 miners in Western Australia were fired for performing the Harlem Shake in a mine, The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration had to investigate a Harlem Shaking during a commercial flight, a religious education teacher in Wales was suspended when he Harlem Shaked with a cutout of the pope, and The National Coalition Against Censorship have reported that over 100 students have been suspended for Harlem Shaking across the US. The Harlem Shake was used as a form of protest outside the headquarters of President Mohammed Morsi after 4 students had been arrested for dancing in their underwear the previous week.



No one could resist making their own Harlem Shake, and almost every type of organization possible got in on the mix, from the Miami Heat, to college sports teams, to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, to the WWE. In the context of International Media however, I think the most interesting aspect is how this meme managed to reach almost every inch of the globe, even the areas affect by extreme poverty. You can even see videos of Ethiopians reproducing the Harlem Shake, more than likely completely unaware that it somehow morphed from a native dance from their own culture, into an iconic American hip-hop dance, into an internet meme that has made it back into their culture, looking nothing like what it sprang from.

The internet is an example of international media that can affect the global community in ways we quite don’t understand yet, and I think the Harlem Shake is an example of it’s potential to affect behavior on a global scale that has not quite yet been tapped.





Penguins Found in Saudi Arabia

While no actual penguins have been found in the desert country, the Penguin Dance has been taking the country by storm. Men and women of all ages have adopted the dance as a form of entertainment in a traditionally ultra conservative nation. The dance, also called “raqsat al-batriq” in Arabic, is being shared all across the internet on social medias like YouTube and Keek. One of the most popular videos of the dance depicts a man in traditional white robes called thobes, hopping and side stepping in his living room while holding the hand of his young daughter. The video has 1.8 million views worldwide.

While no one is certain where the dance originated, a Finnish nurse named Layla who lives in, and writes a popular blog on Saudi Arabia called Blue Abaya says that she thinks the dance is a dead ringer for a popular Finnish folk dance. On the other hand, many “Western educated” Saudis say they believe it bears resemblance to the Hokey Pokey. Videos of the popular dance can be found as far back as 2010 at a wedding in Macedonia. Turkey and Albania also host videos of the dance.

However, the dance does not come without controversy. Many people think that the dance is unbecoming of Saudi culture and oftentimes women are only allowed to do the dance in the company of other women, if they are allowed to do it at all. Pop videos from the Gulf typically only showcase traditional dance, music, and instruments.!D992E751-3FC0-4EF1-9BC0-7EC19DE96670


Water: An Environmental Problem Worldwide

I came across an article from the Tehran Times. Tehran is Iran’s capital, and in addition is the largest city in Western Asia consisting of around 8.3 million individuals. The article was concerning an environmental issue that is an international problem, water consumption. The governor of Tehran said if water consumption in Tehran is not reduced by 20 percent, then water will have to be rationed in the metropolis. They reported that water in 57 dams in the country are less than 40 percent, when the country has a total of 157 dams.

“According to IRNA news agency, 19 dams contain between 40-50 percent water, 27 between 50-70 percent, 25 between 70-90 percent, and 24 between 90-100 percent. The deputy head of Iran’s Water and Sewage Company recently warned that “500 cities in Iran are facing a water crisis.The private intelligence company Stratfor noted in a recent report that Iran’s rainfall rate is only about one-third to one-fourth of the global average. ” -The Tehran Times
The critical issue of the lack of safe water is affecting us on an international level. Resulting in human’s detrimental habits and lifestyle worldwideis affecting the ecosystem in harmful ways. Being ecologically conservative is a difficult task when many people are unmindful and sometimes indifferent to the way the world is destroying the environment. This shows that no matter where you are from in the world, we are all humans. When it comes to globalization, we can think of this example as a factor in linking many different nations around the world to come together to help save our environment.

Some Facts on Water Shortages:

3.4 million people die each year from a water-related disease

783 million people lack access to clean water, that’s 11% of the global population.

The world must help each other in raising awareness of the importance of water for the wellness of mankind. Technological advancements in media enable us to gain information of what is going on all around the world. Here is a video on the water crisis in Iran: