Belarus exit polls show Milinkevich would have forced run-off

Br23 blog has some unofficial exit poll figures – no idea where they came from – which shows Lukashenko winning 45-47% of the vote, and Milinkevich in second with about 30% of the vote.

I have to say I’m slightly sceptical of them. The results above would force a run off between Lukashenko and Milinkevich, but they are ever so slightly too close to the opposition’s ‘dream result’ for comfort.

It was pretty clear from the beginning that Lukashenko was going to actually win the popular vote (he was genuinely popular among many because of his state subsidies, which appeared to increase wages dramatically in the last couple of years). So, the best Milinkevich’s team could hope for was to force a run-off, and hope that mass protests would turn the election their way (a la Ukraine).

So for this poll to suddenly show Lukashenko failing, by a whisker, to hit the 50% mark, seems awfully convenient.

Anyway, moving on (because I’m running late for work).  Protests kind of fizzled out last night, as it was cold and no-one could hear what was going on in October Square.  But Milinkevich has called on people to come back at 6pm tonight, and I’m hopeful people will turn up.

In particular, I’m encouraged by the fact that last night’s protests passed off peacefully, and hope that the people of Belarus will be encouraged by that, and feel that they can come onto the streets without real fear.

Additionally, for those who feel that the whole protest is over because last night’s event fizzled out, take a look at Neeka’s Backlog, who puts last nights protests into the context of the Orange Revolution:

It’s upsetting – but my mama has just reminded me that the rally in Kyiv on the night of the vote was nothing special, either. Then Yushchenko asked people to come over to Maidan at 9 am Monday, and most people had nightmares and insomnia, fearing that no one would come, and of course everyone did rush to Maidan first thing in the morning. (I overslept – because I stayed up till 5 am…)

Well, off to work for me now.  More later this evening.

The history of Soviet underwear

Some people choose to study the most curious things:

Olga Gurova studies the cultural history of underwear in the Soviet Union. “When I am talking about Soviet underwear,” she says, “I mean the underwear that appeared after the 1917 revolution.”

Presumably, pre-Soviet and post-Soviet underwear just wasn’t interesting enough. Still, brings new meaning to the term Control underwear, doesn’t it?

Via Normblog

Cleric offers $1million bounty for cartoonists

Karim Elsahy at One Arab World reports that a slightly over-excited Pakistani cleric has posted a $1 million bounty on the cartoonists who dared to draw the Prophet Muhammed:

Even in Pakistan that is illegal. That man should be arrested at once and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. His assets should be frozen immediately.

The question that immediately springs to mind is – does this cleric actually have the $1 million? And, if not, how does he plan to protect himself against any aggreived bounty hunter who comes to claim his cash?

Belarus elections – electronic freedom or electronic censorship?

Presidential elections are due in Belarus this March and, showing off the country’s democratic and high-tech credentials, each Presidential candidate has launched a campaign website.

Hooray for Belarussian democracy. Well, maybe not.

Although all the sites are working at the moment, there are concerns that, as the election approaches, they may be blocked for internet users within Belarus. br23 blog writes:

On 09/09/2001 a few opposition and independent news sites were blocked inside Belarus. I myself wrote an article about that back in 2001, with the technical details on how the blocking was implemented.

I have absolutely no doubt that on March, 19, and perhaps several days prior and after the election date, quite a few websites will be blocked again. First of all, their entries will most probably be deleted from the Belarus’ root DNS server. Second, our telecom monopolist Beltelecom will probably block the actual incoming traffic from the IP addresses that correspond to those domain names.

br23 blog asks for suggestions as to how internet users in Belarus can circumvent any potential block on opposition candidates websites. If anyone out there who is more technically minded than me has any suggestions, do let him know.

However, in the meantime, probably the best approach is to attempt to stop the government of President Lukashenko from blocking access to the sites in the first place.

The more websites that carry the news that opposition Presidential candidates in Belarus actually have a website, and how President Lukasenko has previously dealt with internet-based opposition, the better.

Roundup of Jordanian bloggers’ reactions to Danish cartoons

Global Voices Online is again doing what it does best – this time it has put together a great roundup of Jordanian bloggers’ reactions to the Danish cartoons, and the furore that followed.

Nobody came out in favour of a violent reaction but, as you would expect, reaction was otherwise mixed, with some arguing for free speech, and others expressing the feelings of insult.

Perhaps the most interesting response, though, was from Ahmad Humeid, who suggested five responses that would have more truly captured the spirit of Muhammed:

  1. Apply to the Ministry of Culture in Denmark to organize a big exhibition about the Life of Prophet Mohammad and Islamic History. The Saudi and other Arab governments would finance this event and promote it in a big way in the Danish media.
  2. Invite 100 Danish children to come and live with Arab and Muslim families to learn about life in today’s Arab and Muslim world.
  3. Invite the editors of the Danish newspaper to a well publicized cultural debate in Doha, Qatar or Copenhagen.
  4. The embassies of Arab and Muslim nations could commission a website in Danish about Islam, contemporary muslim thinkers and life in today’s Islamic world. A dedicated staff would respond to incoming questions and request for information.
  5. Subtitle the movie ‘The Message’ in Danish and try to get many movie theaters and cultural centers in Denmark to show it.

And the best thing about these suggestions? There’s still time to implement them.

Update 9 Feb: The indefatigable editors at Global Voices have put up further roundups of reactions – this time from Iranian and Moroccan bloggers.

When is a pig a person, and when is a pig Muhammed?

Remember those ‘extra’ pictures of Muhammed that I mentioned yesterday? Well, NeanderNews has done some investigating, and it turns out that one of the pictures isn’t of Muhammed at all – it’s a picture of Jacques Barrot, a contestant in the 2005 French Pig-Squealing Championships.

pigsquealer colour.jpgpigsquealer black and white.jpg

You really could not make it up. Next they’ll have to bake him in a french oven, like one of these.

(Via: Gateway Pundit).