What’s Up World? #9

Published on MTV’s international pro-social website MTV Voices on 23.11.12

What’s Up World?
Between the cracks of the world’s news headlines


Babies smoking in Indonesia

Remember the viral video of the chubby, Sumatran baby smoking cigarettes like a 2 year old boss? Well, I bring good news: he quit smoking. The bad news is, that wasn’t a one-off…

No longer a spectacle, the sight of children smoking has become alarmingly commonplace in Indonesia. A third of all children in the region take up smoking before their 10th birthday and many of them start as toddlers. We’re talking kids as young as two, putting away a packet or two per day like it’s no big deal.

Due to a lack of government regulation, Indonesia has become the playground of tobacco superpowers, where they spent more than $200 million on marketing in the last year alone and count kids amongst their target market. If you want to help pull them into line, you can sign a petition here.

People power raid frees 11 slaves

A group of tenacious activists have carried out a raid on a mini-mart in a suburb of Moscow, Russia, where 11 people were being held as modern day slaves, abused, beaten and forced to work long hours without food or any pay.

Having been alerted by one of the victims’ mothers, the activists decided to take the law into their own hands, after realising that local police knew about the slaves being kept underneath the store, but were being paid off to ignore it, even bringing back those who managed to escape.

Build your own bamboo bike

East London knows it’s hip to be sustainable. And it’s also cool to be a bit home made. So two locals are taking the latest fashion of the hipster cycling scene, the bamboo bike, and making it into a green, DIY experience.

The Bamboo Bicycle Club opened in September and offers two-wheeled enthusiasts the chance to fashion their own vehicle out of sticks of bamboo (sticking the pieces together with hemp, no less) to end up with a one-of-a-kind, custom made, sustainable bike which, according to the workshop’s creators, is just as strong as a bought one. Anyone care to give it a try and report back?

Meet the world’s poorest president

While headlines around the world have been occupied of late with all things Obama v Romney, here’s a President with a different agenda altogether.

Meet Jose Mujica, the President of Uruguay, who has shunned the high-flying lifestyle usually enjoyed by world leaders for the simplicity of farm life. Ditching the official presidential residence to oversee national affairs (and grow flowers) from the comfort of his wife’s farmhouse, President Mujica gives away around 90 percent of his salary in charitable donations, bringing his income into line with that of the average Uruguayan.

The simple life, he says, is a matter of freedom. “I can live well with what I have… Do we want the model of development and consumption of the rich countries? Does this planet have enough resources so seven or eight billion can have the same level of consumption and waste that today is seen in rich societies?” He has a point!

Something brewing in your part of the world? We want to know about it. Tweet @its_alicia or @mtvvoices using the hashtag #WhatsUpWorld