Who Won the Presidential Debate 2012: Twitter Wins Again


Maybe it was my fault for being excited about waking up at 2:30 in the morning (in Denmark) to watch the final presidential debate. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed. Luckily, twitter provided entertainment and worthwhile commentary when Romney and Obama failed.

After the first presidential debate, the Atlantic argued “Twitter Won the Presidential Debate” as it was the “most tweeted about U.S. political event in history.” I would say, twitter wins again! Or, the Giants overtake the presidential debate for Californians, as my Facebook timeline would argue.

3 Debate Moments from the Twittersphere

1) Horses, Bayonets and Battle Ships

“It’s not a game of battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s ‘What are our priorities?'” Obama to Romney full clip on Huffington Post and Mashable reports that Obama’s ‘Horses and Bayonets’ ZingerSinks Twitter’s Battleship. It is the most tweeted moment according to@gov twitter’s official government twitter page.

2) We All Love Teachers

Turns out Obama and Romney both love teachers, or at least claim to. Wow. Maybe teachers beat out twitter?

3) Romney says America is the “Hope of the Earth”

Surely Romney plans to release his new policy on climate change in a few days…



10:30 Mitt – If Obama is re-elected the US will turn into Greece!

10: 15 Rise of China! Let’s try answering the questions guys, and not just talking about the economy.

10:11 It is actually possible to have a debate on foreign policy without knowing anything. Romney as evidence.

10:10 Mitt – is it a failed state or fragile?

10:01 Polish friend to me – how can you listen to these guys sober?

9:59 What if questions are silly? I agree with Romney, we should not ask “what if” questions. Wow, I am agreeing with Romney.

9:50 Obama: highlights working with people in the diplomatic community.

9:37 Obama defends teachers in a foreign policy debate, and I like it.

9:34 Romney high-lights time zone and language opportunites in Latin America, what does that even mean?

9:32 Obama mentions clean energy. Yes!

9:30 America must be strong means the US needs a stronger military for peace… Romney will not cut the military budget.

9:26 Mitt: Our purpose is peace… so let’s shift discussion to the economy!

9:25 Regret’s when it comes to Egypt? Obama harkens back to defending democracy in Egypt. Rights of women are critical to development. Entrepreneuship conferences for Egyptians. Nice.

9:12 Mitt wants to kill bad guys, how simple!

9:05 Mentioning Cuba and Libya… Romney is lookin’ slick. Romney can’t handle Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim equals terrorism?


In the third and final debate of the season, Governor Romney and President Obama faced off at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.

Florida: The Land of Swing Voters, Hanging Chads and Felons Who Can’t Vote

Full disclosure: In 2008, I worked for Barack Obama’s Campaign for Change in Lakeland, Florida. A central location in the I-4 corridor located in the middle of Florida, a prime swing state. Lakeland was featured in an article in the French newspaper Le Mond as being a “microcosm of the U.S.”.

Florida as the back drop to this debate brings up memories of hanging chads, from the Florida recount of 2000, the seemingly never-ending media focus on the swing voter, as well as old-school voting laws, that do not allow former felons to vote. This time around, the focus is on foreign policy.

Foreign Policy: Israel, Iran, Libya, China and Questions of Power

As Romney and Obama “cram” for the debate those of us who have halfway been paying attention to foreign policy in the present world order know that there are some key issues that may be up for the Obama-Romney remix. Questions regarding what should be done about Iran as a growing nuclear threat to Israel, the the region, and the world. What happened in Libya and “who is to blame” for the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya? Lastly, there is also a fear of China, as an emerging world power that could pose a threat to the U.S. as the global military and economic power house. And of course, there is always the military budget, but that remains more so a fact than a question.

Let us not forget that the final debate will be a question of personal power as well, who looks more powerful to prospective voters, will undoubtedly come in to play.

Let’s hope no one suffers from Romnesia tonight, and we can get through it, without too many interruptions.

India: Conflict Over Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant Continues

The Atomic Power Project in Koodankulam in the Tirunelveli district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has started operations last month amidst protests (see Global Voices report). The plant has started generating electricitybut the situation is becoming worse as arrests are still being carried out and protesters remain in jail. This week also marks a call for a fortnight of protestsacross India in solidarity with people’s struggle against the Nuclear Plant.

On Sunday, 14th of October, the revolutionary Democratic Front issued a statement condemning the illegal detention and, arrest on the members of an all-Indian fact finding team to Koodankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu. The team was detained at Nanguneri on the 12th of October, 20 km away from Koodankulam on charges of “illegal assembly”. After a daylong detention, the police charged them under different sections of Criminal Law Amendment Act. The team members have been taken to Palayamkottai prison.

According to Sanhati:

“The people of Koodankulam have been bravely fighting against the nuclear power plant which has come up in their homes and hearths for months now. The government instead of responding to their just demands and concerns for the immense security risk and the environmental hazard that this plant can cause on the surrounding area, has responded with the most cruel repression on the protesting masses. Their attempt to restrict and repress this fact-finding team also clearly shows how they do not want the people to speak out or even knows about the conditions in Koodankulam or about the valiant movement the people are fighting there. The government is simply trying to intimidate and throttle all voices of solidarity and support to the people fighting against Koodankulam nuclear plant.

Protesters across the nation send in their signatures to kudankulam, India, in solidarity with the anti nuclear campaign. Image by Dipti Desai. Copyright Demotix (15/03/2012)

Also on Sunday, the Socialist Janata (Democratic) Party in Kerala voiced support to people agitating against the proposed nuclear project at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu.

Women from the protests are still in prison. Anitha S. writes about them in a post titled ‘Koodankulam women from prison: Tell everyone we are still here !:

Xavieramma said, “We are here so that the world will not see any more nuclear power plants that are dangerous and uneconomic… I saw that there are so many people in various parts of the country who are raising their protest. It is not just about losing their land and sea, but it is about the creation of spaces where life itself is in danger. Who would want to live in such places?”

As another woman Selvi said, “It is only after being part of the struggle that we realized that trying to establish one’s right to live as one wishes, pursuing traditional livelihoods and also questioning activities that are being implemented without consulting the people is equivalent to crime and sedition.”

As Sundari said, “We are here for a common cause- we are here for the world.

They wanted to tell the world that they are here, inside, locked up only physically within concrete and iron.

“Tell everyone we are still here”.

They are still in the Women’s Prison of Trichy, holding on to their vision of a world that is “free from one of the most toxic of human inventions”.

Solange Knowles Losing You Video Review: Beyonce Sister Reinvents Ghetto Chic

Shooting a music video in South Africa is the new thing to do. Solange Knowles came out with her video, “Losing You” last week, and Little Dragon’s music video for “Little Man” surfaced on the web in the past month.

Both videos were shot in Cape Town’s townships. Little Dragon’s video doesn’t interact much with the surroundings, but Knowles dances around the township with friends she apparently flew down for the occasion, using the Sapeurs style as an inspiration for her video.

Produced by Blood Orange’s Devonté Hynes, “Losing You,” is a “sticky mid-tempo dance-R&B cut,” according to the LA Times. Which says the song is best enjoyed with the music video.

The use of Cape Town as a backdrop brings up questions of cultural appropriation. As Marissa Moorman, from the blog “Africa is a Country” says, “both videos just use these neighborhoods as background, as periphery ghetto chic.”

Fellow writer at “Africa is a Country,” Marian Counihan, says: “Township life has never looked so glam. In some ways it feels cheap, it’s like the (re)discovery of the ghetto — but now it’s slightly exotic, and so fresh again…” Counihan goes on to add that it’s a nice track, and “it’s refreshing to see Africa filmed in a slightly faded palette instead of the oversaturated one we’re used to.”

Despite the fact that the videos exoticize Cape Town, the style and creativity go beyond the mini-drama love story that is so popular in other music videos. I am left both wanting to go to Cape Town, and listen to these songs on repeat.

Ai Weiwei Exhibition 2012: Chinese Dissident Opens First US Show in Washington DC

You must have at least heard the name Ai Weiwei, right? But who is he, and what’s his deal? Ai Weiwei is a Chinese contemporary artist critical of the Chinese government’s treatment of democracy and human rights. His story has been made into a documentary called Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. In the las year, as a result of his outspoken criticism of the government, Chinese authorities have beat him up, bulldozed his studio, and held him in secret detention in 2011 for nearly three months. His secret detention even prompted a Free Ai Weiwei street art campaign in Hong Kong. On October 7, his first major U.S. show “According to What?” will open in Washington, D.C.

Blurring Art and Politics

Like the film, the story of Ai is the story of a “dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics.”

In his 2011 Ted Talk, he described via pre-recorded video message (since the Chinese government would not let him out of the country) how you cannot even search Ai Weiwei in the internet in China as the characters are deleted once you type them.

He connects art and social change. For his work, in May of 2012, he received the inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent of the Human Rights Foundation along with Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist Manal al-Sharif and Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi. He has also been blogging with Sina Weibo, one of the biggest internet platforms in China since 2005, and in December 2011, he was one of four runners-up for Time’s Person of the Year award.

The Art Amidst Sunflower Seeds

Ok, so he’s won awards and been recognized, but what is his art all about? From October 2010 to May 2011 a piece called “Sunflower Seeds” was exhibited at the Tate Modern. The piece consisted of millions of life-sized sunflower seeds hand-crafted in porcelain by specialists working in a workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. As the exhibition information states, “Sunflower Seeds invites us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today.”

Ai has exhibited around the world in Australia, Europe, North and South America. On 25 July 2009, Ai opened his solo show “According to What?” at Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, Japan. This exhibition presented 26 works, most made over the past decade. The show will now be featured atThe Hirschhorn on October 7. The Washington, D.C. venue will be Ai’s first major show in the U.S. featuring new as well as older works. Unfortunately, Ai will not be present for his show, as the government still has his passport. “They said they want to give it to me but have no clear time schedule for that,” Ai told the New York Times.

According to the Huffington Post, the exhibit will also feature works from his most recent interactions with the government, including an installation made from steel reinforcement bars from the rubble of the school collapsed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. A collection of porcelain river crabs, will also be featured. The crabs are a reminder of the public feast he hosted at his studio in honor of its destruction. River crab also means harmony in Chinese, a word the government uses as a euphemism for censorship.

I wish I was in D.C. this weekend to pay homage to river crabs, and a true political artist.

“Ai Weiwei: According to What?” opens at the Hirshorn in Washing D.C. on Oct 7. The exhibit runs through February 24, 2013.