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Best of the web: 7 May
Fast-food-loving Kuwaitis battle the bulge;What is a hung Parliament? Sweet to tweet; Lessons of the Spill; 'Historic' day as first non-Latin web addresses go live
May 7, 2010 5:09 by Rasha Reslan
Fast-food-loving Kuwaitis battle the bulge
Kuwait has joined the fast-food revolution, CNN reports.
One of the fattest nations on earth, the tiny Gulf country is gripped by an obesity epidemic. Three-quarters of Kuwaitis are overweight, the World Health Organization warns, and 14 percent of Kuwaitis are diabetic.
True to the spirit of Arab hospitality, status and generosity are conferred by the opulence and abundance of food on the table. But all this is taking a toll on the health of Kuwaiti citizens, whose appetite for fast food is made worse by a sedentary lifestyle. Many Kuwaitis have maids and helpers at home.
“Where scorching summers keep people indoors, this appetite for excess is taking its toll,” CNN reports. “Kuwait is one of the fattest nations on earth – and it is affecting people’s health.”
What is a hung Parliament?
Now that UK voters have elected a hung parliament, interested observers around the world are asking, “what exactly is a hung parliament?”
The Telegraph explains: “A hung Parliament is created if no party wins an outright majority. In this election that would require one party to win 326 seats out of 650.”
When no outright majority is secured, then two parties must form a coalition in order to create between them, a governing block in the Commons.
Understandably, much political wrangling is required to form such a coalition, delaying the swift formation of the new government — a concern to economists, particularly in light of euro woes, Greek unrest, and the large fiscal shortfalls of European budgets.
The last hung parliament was elected in 1974, and it didn’t work out well.
Sweet to tweet
With all the tweeting by politicians, the Economist wonders if our public servants are really as constituent-aware as they appear to be.
Twitter messages are a type of “public telegram,” the Economist contends, a form of communication that makes it “easier for voters to reach politicians and for politicians to react to them (or at least to pretend to).”
US President Obama used it to much advantage in his bid to reach the White House, with a staff dedicated to exploiting social media like Twitter.
But the trend towards involving the populace in a seeming two-way dialogue may not be all it seems. “Twitter may feel personal but it is all too public,” the report contends, and may be better suited to the campaign trail than the seat of power.
Slogans are “easy to fit into 140 characters,” the Economist says. “Explaining the messy and inevitable compromises of power is a lot harder.”
Lessons of the Spill
Six miles beneath the ocean floor, under nearly a mile of water, British oil company, BP, placed the multimillion dollar Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the Louisiana coast in the US Gulf of Mexico.
Bloomberg described it as the “perfect expression of humankind’s ability to find buried treasure deep beneath the ocean floor and bring it safely to the surface.”
Last month a devastating explosion rocked the rig, sending 11 crew members missing (now presumed dead) and casting doubt on the notion that high-tech offshore drilling is an ultra-safe enterprise.
Here’s what analysts contend are the “Lessons of the Spill.”
‘Historic’ day as first non-Latin web addresses go live
The internet went fully global this week, in an “historic” move that saw the first web addresses written in non-Latin alphabets, the BBC reported.
The advancement represents the opening of the web to multiple language scripts, as “country codes” can now be written in non-Latin alphabets.
“Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the first countries to have so-called “country codes” written in Arabic scripts,” the BBC reported.
“Previously, websites could use some non-Latin letters, but the country codes such as .eg for Egypt had to be written in Latin script. The three new suffixes will allow web addresses to be completely written in native characters,” the report added.
More than 20 countries having requested similar approval from Icann – the internet regulator that assigns domains. And while Icann said non-Latin alphabet domains are currently available, work is ongoing to ready the domains for everyone. Chinese, Thai, and Tamil scripts are reportedly among the non-Latin alphabets that will be used in the new ‘country codes,’ the BBC reported.
One of the first with a fully Arabic domain name address is Egypt’s Ministry of Communications website.