December 18, 2008
By Eliana Maakaroun

Russia is the largest federation, composed of 21 republics that form the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The country is situated between eastern Europe and north Asia, making it half european, half asian. It goes from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, and from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea and the Caucasus in the south.

Norway and Finland border the country from the northwest, and in the west, Russia shares a frontier with Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania. Georgia and Azerbaijan are Russia’s southwest neighbors; and Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and North Korea along the southern border.

The country is a Constitutional federation.

2008 marked the 10th consecutive year of growth for the country, averaging around 7% annually, since the 1998 financial crisis. The growth was driven by high oil prices and a cheap ruble; followed by higher consumer demand and investment.

Investment has indeed played an important role, as it achieved more than 12% of real gains per year, and over 10% of personal income, thus declining poverty and empowering as well as expanding the middle class.

Furthermore, since 2001, the federal budget has had an average surplus of 3% of the GDP.

Regarding the political life, former President and current Premier, Vladimir Putin, was an essential pillar in building the rule of law, and progressing the bedrock of a modern market economy. Under his mandate, the Government has promised additional legislative amendments regarding intellectual property protection, yet enforcement remains problematic.

Actual President, Dimitri Medvedev is following Putin’s steps into making Russia a better and less corrupted country.


Website critique

December 18, 2008
Asian Lite Website

Asian Lite Website

The site that I am going to critique is Asian Lite, a Tabloid targeting Asian community in Britain. Published from Manchester, the magazine is edited by Mr. Anazudheen Aziz. It covers news, fashion, sports, business and entertainment.

First impression

The first impression of the website is the colour red is used at various places in bold coupled with big pictures that distract the attention of the reader from news content. Although there is little content on the front page, one has to scroll down to figure out what news to pick from. There little care taken of news but adverts are given more emphasis.

The page also has a ‘video of the week’ right in the centre, but what is the video about, is unknown as there is no information regarding it, therefore making the reader not interested in it.

 As the newspaper is fairly new, the editors have given more importance on advertising themselves by writing how they are UK’s best quality newspaper for Brit Asians, a permanent scroller keeps appearing on top of the page, saying the same thing.

On the left corner there is a long list of categories that one may be interested in which is a plus  but again news is definitely not given weightage on clicking the link for information mere headlines appear regarding the category, on further reading stories turn out to be month old.


The writing style of the stories is fairly understandable but the font used for the story is extremely small.  It makes it impossible to follow the news for too long. The news story has no pictures to support the story, the content for one story is very long, and there are no links in the story to be followed later, by the reader for more information.

 There are no subheadings and therefore it is too long and boring to keep reading 500 odd words without any breaks, it is definitely not web friendly. The first page is full of distracting advertisements; Sahara care in the middle, Asian Lite subscription, and Health Insurance Shop advert at the end is the biggest ad and is present in all the pages opened. The writing does not follow Jacob Neilson’s F plan and is an extremely long essay type article.


There are no links on the articles posted in the website; the only video available on the site is also a promotion of an electric departmental store owned by a ‘Brit Asian’. Before which a LICI UK advert is long enough to bore out the reader.

 The unique selling point of this website is that it popularises the Asians living in the UK. Giving them social status and recognition in the community. Bollywood news can also be one of its key points as Asians are extremely interested in what’s happening in the country. Therefore film reviews are first few links on the website.


The navigation is kept only on the left hand corner and on the top of the page. The left hand corner list of categories is just too long and difficult to sieve through, it should have been better to have a drop down menu for some of the categories. On navigating from the weather page on the site surprisingly one is led to the weather page of BBC weather, which will make the reader definitely leave the current website and continue reading news on the BBC.


Critique El Nacional

December 17, 2008


Introduction to the website


El Nacional, is one of the most read newspaper in Venezuela, besides had been the first editorial corporation which launched a web portal in the country, specifically in 1995. It aim is to provide the most diverse information addressed to intellectual target reporting educational, political, and entertainments issues.


The portal show not just the link to the newspaper also connects to the different kind of medias that the company has, such as two magazines EME and Todo en Domingo and another paper, Primera Pagina. For this reason, the web has so much information.


The website www.el-nacional.com it is probably the best news website which can show the journalistic style in Venezuela.

First Impressions

El Nacional shows being a respectful and fresh news site where the user will find what they can read on the printer version in a digital edition. The colour, structure and organization really help to scam the information faster than others webs.

  • The site has two main colours. The banner is dark blue with a white background where the stories are published. The election of white for the bottom of the site helps enormously the reading and searching. The titles of each story are written in light blue.
  • The site is divided into four columns. On the left one are the most important news of the day. On the second column we can find the stories divided according their categories, such as politics, economics, entertainment and sports. This tool provides to the user an easy way to find what they want to read with just one click. The third column shows a news update called “Minute to minute”. This is an option where the users have the opportunity to give an opinion over a specific topic answering a poll. This section involves the reader directly with homepage doing it more friedly. Last column is the space for animated advertisements with moving text and images. For me, too many.
  • The most distracting factor on El Nacional is that they want to show so many links and pictures trying to sell and communicate all the medias that El Nacional represents. As was said above, El Nacional is a media corporation which involves many communications media in the country. Two magazines and two papers. Each media have their own portal web but they are linking it among them. Probably, this is the main reason because the web has many links and different kind of information. But even like this, for me, still is the most serious and respectful news web in the country. Easy way to find the information required and has a completely fresh style.
  • The website is considered a Web 2.0 having published features like video and multimedia.
  • The web site’s name is on the top left hand corner, such as Jakob Nielsen`s rules suggest.


·         The font used is not Verdana and has different size among whole website.

·         Each article has at least three sub headings which is very useful to explain the new in a easy way, but the content of each subheading does not have a balance. Many have much more words than others in the same article. Visually is a problem.

·         There are tags in some articles.

·         Each paragraph contains one idea, but many of them are too long. That happens because the journalists do not write with a different style used it to write for a print media. Many copy for the web the exactly information published on the printer paper.

·         The journalist style demonstrates follow the inverted pyramid pattern.

·         No use of bullet points.

·         Use bold text.

·         Each story has a link which connects it to the background of the news. Also has links in boxes with past related features.

·         The website has videos and pictures.

·         Visitors can leave comments.

·         Many articles are without links to any other websites.



  • The Jacob Nielsen´s F pattern is not follow it
  • The information is taken as it was published in the printer newspaper and pasted it on online sans any change.
  • The first sentence is not highlighted.
  • Each article has subheadings.
  • None of the articles has hyperlinks.
  • Sentences are too long, but this is the Spanish style.


  • The banner “Home” navigator is located on the top of the web conversely as BBC which uses the left hand navigator. Nevertheless, for me, this top navigator is very clear and helpful.
  • It has 8 categories which each one has various sub-categories as well. This helps to tell the users where to go to find what they are looking for.
  • Also the page has sub navigator located in the middle of the web, as second column. This is one of the worst mistakes that I can attribute it. Actually, was in several minutes later of navigating the web that I realized that this second column is not just a column. It’s the main navigator, with 5 categories like economics, politics, entertainment, international and sports. Very confused.  
  • The ‘Search’ option is located at the top left hand of the page.
  • On the top of the page the reader can find the link “Digital Edition” which connects the user with the newspaper print version but in a digital edition.


El Nacional needs make the most of the opportunity that they have being one of the biggest selling newspapers in the country. The already have good reputation, but is necessary that journalists learn how to write for a website and understand what the users expect when they visit a portal web.    



‘Green’ plans for London

December 17, 2008

Tory Mayor Boris Johnson seems to take seriously the environmental issue, and has planned several strategies to make London a ‘green’ capital.

The ongoing plans for the 2012 London Olympics were born under the sustainability star, marking the difference with the latest Beijing’s pompous style.

From one side because of the climate change, that just few years ago was not taken as a real issue by politicians, from the other as a consequence of the global economic downturn.

As to say, to kill two birds with one stone.

The hope is to use the Games to revive East London and leave residents with a usable new infrastructure, and environmental concerns are a top priority at every phase of the preparations.

The Games are supposed to be a zero-waste event by keeping all materials out of landfills.

Recycling is a key element of the strategy.

Reducing carbon emissions

Moreover the Mayor has recently confirmed the target of reducing carbon emissions by 2025 set by his predecessor, Ken Livingstone.

London is responsible for 8 per cent of the CO2 UK’s total emissions.

Given London’s forecast economic and population growth, this would increase to 15 per cent by 2025 if action is not taken.

The effects of the climate change are already visible: wetter winters, drier summers, floodings, overheating.

In response to these threats the Mayor is preparing London’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

Part of the plan is the Green Homes Programme, an information service that will help Londoners to cut climate change emissions through a telephone advice service and a free website.

Johnson is also opposing to the plans for a bigger Heathrow airport.

“I hope you will all join me in deprecating this government’s plans to build a third runway, which would drive a coach and horses through our attempts to reduce C02 emissions,” he told John Biggs, the deputy leader of the Labour assembly group, as reported by the Guardian.

Cycling London

An idea that will positively affect Londoners’ everyday life, such as the millions of tourists that visit the capital everyday, will be the planned bike hire scheme, originally suggested by the former major Key Livingstone and quickly adopted by the new mayor.

Johnson said: “I have long held the view that a cyclised city is a civilised city, but if we are to get more Londoners on to two wheels rather than four we need to provide the facilities to help them do so.”

Let’s hope that all this will become true.

Related local story: Stolen bikes ride faster


The 60’s style of fashion

December 16, 2008

Background story to ‘The Twiggy Story’

 There were several youth cults in the sixties, each quickly succeeding the other. First the Rockers that had leather jackets and motorbikes, then the ultra stylish Mods, who clashed with the Rockers at seaside resorts. Then the Hippy look, based on a growing drug culture and finally the Skinheads.

In the first half of the 60s, for women’s fashion, the look of the late fifties remained. It was all about the glamour of American movies. By 1963,the wide skirts of the 50s had disappeared, but the look was still formal.

Slim fitting trousers were also popular casual wear for women in the early sixties. By the middle of the decade little had changed in women’s fashion. The Chanel suit, left, a hangover from the 50s was still very popular in the 60s. Hemlines might have been slightly higher.

The smart suit and fairly formal look remained popular, certainly for women over thirty.

Hair styles

 There were many differnt hairdo’s followed in the 60’s like the flip, the pixie style, the beehive.

The flip was a classic 60s look that remained ‘in’ for most of the decade. The beehive was popular in the early to mid 60s; a typical ‘Audrey Hepburn look’.

The pixie was a short hairstyle, which was popular in the mid 60s, before long hair came back in the hippy era. The bouffant hairdo dated from the middle years of the sixties. It needed a considerable amount of back combing and hair lacquer.


The mini skirt was the fashion phenomenon of the sixties. Hemlines rose to 7 to 8 inches above the knee. There is some debate over who invented the mini.

 Mary Quant’s boutique, Bazaar, on the King’s Road, Chelsea was one of the first places that sold them in 1965. French fashion designer, André Courrèges, also added mini skirts to his fashion collection in 1965.

The mini skirt slowly caught on throughout the country in the years following 1965. Most women took a couple of years to accept the new look.


Fur: the brutal reality (Background to Worldwide participation in Fur-Free Friday 2008)

December 16, 2008

Is fur so irresistible, that innocent animals are not just killed, but have to endure terrible suffering? And for what – our satisfaction and pleasure?

Animals, indispensable for the survival of the fur trade are not just captured, but hunted to death for their ‘biggest asset’.

Those captured in sharp steel traps, suffer the most excrutiating pain. The sharp steel digs into their bodies, legs or paws.

On the other hand, hunted animals are shot and killed instantly or bleed to death.

At other times however, the animal suffers in a trap for hours or even days, before the hunters snap their necks in half or even tear up their chests. 

In both the above cases, these same traps may cripple and kill thousands of dogs, cats or any other unsuspecting animal that happens to cross its path.

In an effort to free themselves, they often bite off their own paw to escape.

Fur farms

According to Peta, animals that have been bred on fur farms spend their entire lives in small, dirty cages.

They suffer physical and psychological before they are killed.

To avoid the fur being damaged, some farmers kill bigger animals (like foxes) with an electric shock. 

This means they electrocute them through their mouth, anus or vagina, burning their inner organs.

 Animals killed by electricity feel the intensive pain of a heart attack while they are fully conscience.

Another method of killing includes poisoning with gas which leads to  suffocation.

In some cases, nearly 20 little animals have been pressed into a box through which poisonous gasses are released.

Other methods include killing animals in a decompression chamber, where compressed air bursts their inner organs.

Fur facts

Did you know that to make just one fur coat, you need to kill:

·         12 – 15 Lynx

·         10 – 15 Wolves or Coyotes

·         10 – 24 Foxes

·         16 -20 Beavers

·         27 -30 Racoons

·         60 – 80 Minks

·         60 – 100 Squirrels

·         130 – 200 Chinchilla

Making a difference….

In the past decade or so, the fashion industry has seen several leading names, turn to fur alternatives in their designs.

Such progressive designers include, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein and Vivienne Westwood are several amongst many.

Hollywood starlets like Alicia Silverstone, Kim Bassinger, Charlize Theron and Pamela Anderson are involved in a number of animal rights campaigns, protesting against the cruelty, fur-bearing animals must endure.

Tyra Banks and other internationally renowned super-models have also turned their backs on fur, raising awareness on the fur industry.  

In the UK itself, various High Street stores have adopted a fur free policy. Boots, H&M, Marks and Spencer’s, Dorothy Perkins, Selfridges, John Lewis and House of Fraser are all on the list.

Saying ‘no’ to fur has even reached as high up as the Monarchy.

The Royal Guardsmen’s iconic hats (made from the fur of Canadian black bears) came under scrutiny, and are to be replaced with more eco-friendly alternatives.

What alternative?

Furriers claim that the manufacture of polyester and nylon copies of the “real thing” involves chemicals that pollute the environment.

Also, there is a great deal of risk to the health of the factory workers who have to handle the fake fur.

The American Fur Commission has claimed that it takes one gallon of oil to make three just fake fur jackets.
Real fur, on the other hand, is natural and biodegradable, and therefore more ethical than artificial fibres, goes the argument.
Click here for Worldwide participation in Fur-Free Friday 2008 (main article).
To view date when this article was first posted, click here.





X-Factor Ordeal (Background to Unjust Exit)

December 15, 2008


Alexandra Burke won “The X Factor” crown on Saturday the 13th of December’08, landing a one-million-pound recording contract and a possible path to stardom.


The 20-year-old singer from north London could barely speak after beating group JLS, who came second.


Her version of the winner’s song, “Hallelujah”, is now a clearly tipped to become the Christmas number one and was released for download on Sunday the 14th of December.


The X-Factor host said on ITV, a record breaking eight million viewers voted in the showpiece final and according to bookmakers ,Saturday’s final was the biggest reality television betting event they had witnessed.


Burke was in the last 21 of the same show three years ago but was booted out of the contest by judge Louis Walsh.


However, she could now follow in the footsteps of 2006 winner Leona Lewis, who has gone on to become an international star.





The X-Factor is one of the most popular music talent show in the UK and one of the biggest talent competitions in Europe .


It is produced by Fermantle Media’s Talkback Thames and Simon Cowell’s production company SYCOtv.


Every year there are public auditions to participate in this programme. But only few make it to the top list to perform on stage and only one of them wins.


The winner gets a prize of £1 million recording contract with Sony BMG and SYCO.


This show has been running for five consecutive years and has given many refined singers to the music industry like Steve Broostein, Shayne Ward, Leona Lewis, Leon Jackson and now Alexandra Burke.


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