discarded lies: thursday, march 22, 2018 3:38 pm zst
Voted "Best Greek-Palestinian Blog"
daily archive: 04/27/2005
evariste in Discarded Lies:
Quantum dots to spy inside your cells!
The newest generation of nano-sized probes should give scientists a look into the secret lives of nuclei within your body, researchers say.

The tiny probes, called quantum dots, are a melding of biology and technology. The crystalline semiconductors with a biological protein coating are no larger than a few hundred atoms. Importantly, they shine brilliantly when hit with a laser.

Quantum dots are leaps and bounds better than current fluorescent probes, according to developers Fanqing Chen of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Daniele Gerion of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Not only are the dots non-toxic to the cell, but they don’t fade when exposed to light.

"The advantage is that they don’t photo-bleach like conventional fluorescent dyes," Chen told LiveScience. The dots can stay in cells for weeks, Chen said, adding that "it looks like the protective coating we put on there is quite good."

The tricky part was to get the dots through a nuclear membrane. Part of the solution is just a matter of making them tiny. But nuclear membranes have gate-keeping mechanisms to keep foreign objects out.

To get past this barrier, Chen borrowed a page from a virus’ playbook. The virus SV40 coats itself with a special protein that allows it to sneak into the nucleus. By attaching this protein to the quantum dot, the part biological, part nano-sized semiconductor slips through the membrane.

Scientists attach probes to cellular molecules, such as DNA and proteins, to monitor their travels through a cell. Similarly, the probes could be attached to disease-fighting drugs and scientists could track how they go to work, Chen said. This type of information could help doctors in prescribing medications.

High-tech Probes Sneak Inside Your Cells
My extremely intelligent comment on all this: Wow. Totally freakin' awesome.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Woman Convicted of Rape in Norway
Woman convicted of rape
In a landmark case a 23-year-old woman has been convicted by a Bergen court for the rape of a 31-year-old man.

The woman was sentenced to nine months in prison and ordered to pay NOK 40,000 (USD 6,385) to the man.

The incident occurred on Jan. 4 last year in a Bergen apartment. The man testified that he fell asleep on a sofa and woke up to find the woman performing oral sex on him.

The woman eventually admitted sexual contact but claimed that it was voluntary and that the man was willing and smiled.

The case has attracted attention and is the first time a Norwegian woman has been charged with raping a man.
I can't believe he pressed charges.
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guest author: ördög in Discarded Lies:
In the Czech Republic
[For a background on this thread, please see Roma Holocaust Survivors in Europe - ed.]

Ater Czechoslovakia split up in early 90's, there has been a mass influx of Slovakian Roma into Czech Republic, Not only that, but also Roma from far as Romania followed the suit. Some 300,000. Considering that the total population is some 10.5 million, it is not a negligible figure.

The Czech Roma integrated in the last 40 years into society. It was not something that went easy. The number Zorkie quoted (75%), corresponds to my experience at the time (early 60's). It was not unusual that Roma kids did end the school in 6th, 7th and 8th grades. However, they were usually 2-3 year older then the rest of the class at the time, because they went through a couple of repeats. In a decade, things got much better as the Czech Roma settled down. The truancy seen in the early 60's almost disappeared, and I 've seen Roma teenagers entering the secondary educational level.

In early 60's it was not unusual to find Roma families tearing the hardwood flooring of an appartment that they moved into and use it as firewood. 20 years later, trashing of apartments was unheard of. Normal tear and wear, yes, but anything of that sort.

I left in 1984, so what transpired after is not from my direct experience, but having family and friends there, I can still get a bit of insight into situation.

The situation changed after the influx of non-Czech Roma. In many cases, there was a language barrier,needless to say, but in behavior and culture, the newcomers remind of the Roma at the beginning of 60's. It even goes so far that there are many clashes between Czech Roma and the immigrants on a regular basis. Czech Roma complain that police is slow to intervene on their behalf, but police is between a rock and a hard place, readily accused of racial prejudices if they do intervene and sometimes if they don't, by Western European media.

The new immigrants, for the most part, found out the rules of the game--whine and gimme--and are milking it to what it is worth. Due to the pressure of EU, teachers can't give failing grades to Roma kids. Kids must past the 9th grade no matter what, at the prescribed age. The special schools placements are a result of the government trying to find a solution.

The non-integrated Roma found out that there are greener pastures for gimme in Western Europe and are on the move again. Their target is mostly UK. But Brits are starting to turn them back. The pitch of whine is bound to increase, but this time the accusing finger will be not pointing at Czechs...

There are, of course, other minorities in Czech Republic (CR). One of them are Vietnamese, and as with any group of non-native populations that are recent, there are problems, as well as success stories. For comparison with Roma situation... You would hear no complains about racial treatment or bias from Czech Vietnamese, whatsoever. Their kids are doing rather well in schools, and although Czech Vietnamese tend to get jobs withing their community, they are quite successfull if they decide to get them in the wider job market.

Since 1975, the Vietnamese population in Europe has exploded. France, with the oldest Vietnamese diaspora in Europe, now reports over 300,000. Germany claims 140,000, Russia 80,000, and the Czech Republic between 60,000 and 80,000. According to intelligence reports from Asian experts, heavier emigration from Asia to Central Europe is around the corner. Houses and plots have been purchased by Asian traders in expectation of immigrants from Vietnam, Taiwan, China, and Korea. There will be an estimated 100,000 Asian residents in the CR by 2010.

The vast majority of Indochinese newcomers are simply trying to improve their lives and ensure a better future for their children. But a minority have brought new types of crime with them. Asian criminal bosses are planning for Czech accession to the EU, and are now building bridge-heads for the further expansion of criminal syndicates from East to West.

The origins of the Vietnamese community in the CR are unique to the region. During the Vietnam war, communist Czechoslovakia was a main source of military materials and weapons for the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong. Especially important were exports of the plastic explosive SEMTEX, which was developed by the Czech firm Synthesia Semtin for the NVA in 1964. During ten years of war, shipments of SEMTEX and other weapons created a huge Vietnamese debt.

After the Americans left Vietnam, economic and political relations between the two communist states grew tight. Czechoslovakia exported finished industrial products to Vietnam in exchange for raw materials and agricultural goods. Student exchanges were even initiated in 1975.

But as its debt to Czechoslovakia grew in the late 70's and early 80's, Vietnam began exporting Vietnamese labor to the CSSR, usually young men between the ages of 18 and 20. These men were trained at Czech schools and then sent to work in the Czech industry for between 4 and 7 years. The workers only received between 40 and 50 percent of their wages directly, the rest of the money used to pay off the foreign debt of their government. Beside that, Vietnamese laborers have been segregated, and had no civil rights.

As word spread of the quasi-slave conditions of life in the CSSR, people stopped signing up to go, and there are rumors that the Vietnamese police collected “volunteers�? off the streets of Hanoi and Saigon. Some of those who came to the CR as part of this labor program ended up marrying local girls and assimilating into Czech society. They became the base for a new wave of emmigrants who came after 1989.

How is the diaspora structured in the CR? The street dealer of goods, the cook or waiter in a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant, or the worker in legal/illegal manufacturing is on the bottom of the Vietnamese emigrant hierarchy. Since the price of getting smuggled into the CR is between 3,000 and 7,000 USD, most newcomers arrive with enormous debt, and must work for a very low salary for mid-level Vietnamese bosses as street sellers, restaurant workers, or factory workers.

The conditions of these semi-slave contracts are usually very tough. If the street sellers are not able to make the payments regularly, the bosses seize their goods. If this is not enough, other types of pressure follow: beatings, raping of women, kidnapping of children, and murder. Under pressure to cover these debts, emigres sometimes turn to the more lucrative underground: trafficking in drugs, weapons, cigarettes, or servicing the criminal gangs.

Who are these gangs? There are approximately ten to fifteen Vietnamese gangs operating in the CR. Although they are often equated with Vietnamese organized crime as a whole, this is not true. They're just the most violent part of it. Their structure and activities also vary from groups exclusively specialized in acts of violence to groups engaged in white collar criminal business activities.

The gangs are highly mobile, and gang members often travel abroad. They are usually violent and involved in a wide range of criminal activities: extortion, theft, contract killing, smuggling of people and drugs. The gangs have from 3 to 20 members ranging in age from 14 to 35 years.

With the exception of Czech Vietnamese, they have little knowledge of the language and are very skillful in the use of weapons. Territorially, we can differentiate three types of Vietnamese gangs now active in the CR: gangs created by “local�? Vietnamese who have lived in the CR for some time; gangs coming from the post-communist East (especially Russia and Ukraine); and gangs coming from the US and other Western countries, such as Germany.

The most well-known gang of this last sort is The Flying Dragons, which was probably organized by former members of the American Flying Dragons operating in New York´s Chinatown who emmigrated to the CR. They are Viet Chings and often work for the Chinese. The gang has created a network of small subgroups distributed across the Czech territory: members of the FD are operating in Cheb, Varnsdorf and Prague.

All the gang´s members have organized small groups controlling certain territories and act as parasites on Vietnamese and Chinese merchants.

But these gangs are only the most sensational aspect of Vietnamese criminal activities. Vietnamese organized crime in the CR has a wide variety of interests, including the smuggling of people and goods, racketeering, extortion, kidnapping, enforcement activities including contract killing, usury, stealing of goods, trafficking people, prostitution, counterfeiting activities (credit cards, passports and documents) trafficking in drugs, weapons, violation of customs and tax laws, and money laundering. Increasingly, they are developing mutual relations with Chinese organized crime to enhance their power.

It is frequently misstated that Vietnamese only perform “dirty work�? for Chinese organized crime. This is only partly true. The Chinese (Beijing, Fujian and Wenchu groups, are the most active in the CR) started to employ Vietnamese as interpreters, middlemen, dealers of goods and elite assassins at the beginning of the '90s.

Gradually, Vietnamese began to enter big business on equal terms. Although the structure of their groups is not as hierarchical as the Chinese Triad, we are seeing more and more Vietnamese top criminal bosses and groups operating independently and organizing their own criminal networks.

In many respects, they are just copying successful Chinese models. They are not mere “lackeys�? for Chinese organized crime anymore, but are becoming “partners�? in it, partners often expressing strong national feeling.

All of which is not to say that there is not a lot of legal economic activity in the CR on the part of the broader Vietnamese community. Thousands of independent sellers and businessmen - mostly former guest workers from the communist era who stayed on CR territory and started business activities - have been creating a real middle class of the Vietnamese community in CR.

They typically serve as the base for other Vietnamese immigrants: members of their families, villages, and newcomers from their native districts at the moment. They have been financially supporting their families in Vietnam as well.

What is seen in CR is the establishment of businesses, companies and special interest groups composed of members of the same family clans, territorial origin, and natives from the same provinces.

Midlevel businessmen are gradually enlarging their activities and even becoming wealthy men and, in several cases, “bosses�? and “financiers.�? In terms of wealth and status, they often outdo their criminal counterparts.
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ev and zorkie in Discarded Lies:
Books. Books. Books.
Pete (Alois) of Schmaltz und Grieben tagged me "it", along with his multitalented son, Michael of Kosher Eucharist. Thanks, Pete! This was really fun. So, here goes.

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

Hmm, tough one. First I have to decide the nature of the question, and having decided that, it still won't winnow down the field much at all. Is it about a book I really despise and want to spare the rest of humanity the futility of it, because it sucked so bad, or was so wrong and inspired the wasted efforts of so many for so long? That would mean I should choose one of the worst of books. Or is it about a book I fear the power of and want to make sure no one ever reads it? Well, I'm not that patronizing and I trust most people to recognize evil so I probably wouldn't do that. I could pick a book I don't think is worthy of any bookshelf, through sheer force of crappiness. Maybe I'll answer with a book that I loved so much that I don't want anyone else to ever have read it? (Now that's selfish, but you can't deny you've had the same impulse to hoard an experience for yourself alone). Or perhaps I'll follow the letter of the question but not the spirit of it, and pretend the question was about which living book I would choose to be, in case I ever got the opportunity to regurgitate my memory and resurrect it from the dead. That's an interesting question too.

I guess I'll answer all four that I found relevant. The first two questions have answers that are worst books, and the latter two have answers that are best books. The "humanity can't handle this knowledge" one just isn't me, so I'll pretend I never posed it. If any of you feel that way about any book in particular, such as Mein Kampf or something, say so in the comments! As for the book I despise the most, it's hard to pick one. Okay, I promise that's the last time I'll whine about how hard it is to pick. I'm gonna go political here rather than literary, because misguided books that inspired politicians who were either mediocre, strangling wastes of time, or mass murderers, or both, deserve special opprobium. I'll just pick The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels for the sheer brutal lethality it inspired, and mention in passing that Carson's Silent Spring (probably a close rival in body count if you count the whole silent malaria genocide) and Ehrlich's The Population Bomb (which inspired millions of idiots to think all human beings were burdens and not resources) were also contenders for most despised. In reality, anyone who bought Ehrlich's schtick, including Ehrlich, are indeed burdens who have removed themselves from the ranks of the useful and productive, retiring to the ranks of those self-loathing humans who think they are the worst thing that happened to this planet, and our productive toil is a crime in the eyes of their God, which is some conception of nature that never included humans. The Monkey Wrench Gang by Abbey also came to mind, because it's a very beautiful story about rebellion and camaraderie and adventure, and it basically glamorizes ecoterrorism and probably inspired a lot of the arsonist Earth First! types. Abbey is the Sayyid Qutb of the ecoterrorist movement. Anyone ever read The Turner Diaries? I never did and I'm curious to know what you thought.

The sheer force of crappiness book, the one that I'd burn to spare the rest of you the bother...hmm. A lot of the books I despise were actually pretty popular, and I wouldn't deny people the pleasure of reading books they enjoyed, even if they did nothing for me and I felt cheated out of my money (If I had to pick one like that, it'd be A Confederacy of Dunces-it sucked, it wasn't funny at all and I didn't care about the characters. Or Faulkner, a volume of whose turgid, lifeless, and simultaneously confusing and boring short stories I was given as a birthday present on my twenty-first. Worst. 21st. Birthday. Present. Evar. What's wrong with giving me liquor and weed like everybody else did? Eh?). Oh, OK! I know! The Celestine Prophecy! That was terrible, but all the teenage girls and many of the oversensitive boys I knew when it was still trendy thought it was soooo deeeeeep and full of portent. What a piece of crap it turned out to be when I finally read it. I despise it, not because it was such a waste of ink, but because it taught me that everyone I then knew was pretty much shallow and would fall for a piece of mumbo-jumbo, an insignificant tome of new-age claptrap, in a jiffy. Making me lose respect for everyone is very sad. I was young and innocent. Now I was young and jaded. Fine, I admit I was already jaded. But it still wasn't very nice, and besides, much of the joy of this is arbitrariness. It Takes A Village and Earth In The Balance were also contenders but since I didn't read them in the first place, I'll stick with The Celestine Prophecy. I haven't read Quinn's Ishmael (and multiple profitable spinoffs), but I suspect it's equally shitty because all the shallow people I know loved it, which means it's just as McSpirituality™ as The Celestine Prophecy was.

The book I would keep to myself as my private delight is a weird, pretty, handmade book I have that contains drawings and a sort of poetry, and it already is my private delight, and I already am keeping it to myself. The poet/illustrator is named Brian Andreas and you can see an example of his stuff here. Everything in my book has been seen elsewhere in Brian's work, and I'm not sure who made this handmade book, but I love it, and no, you can't borrow it, though you can look at it in my presence. I found it during a period in my life when I really needed to hear a lot of the things it said and I fancifully believe that maybe someone secretly left it where they knew I'd find it. I don't really know why someone would make me something so beautiful, so it probably wasn't left there for me, just a coincidence where I found it. I left a note there about it but no one ever called. It's just a beautiful book with beautiful contents, it brings me joy that I possess it, and that someone made it. I would have named a Neil Gaiman book, but I think zorkie would organize a lynching if I dared try keep a Gaiman book to myself.

The living book that I would choose to be is probably Ecclesiastes, from the Bible.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

In print, Cosette in Les Miserables. On TV, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman herself. I always thought she was smokin' hot. At least, when I was a horny teenager.

The last book you bought is:

John Irving's The Fourth Hand. It was on sale at the grocery store's bookstore (25% off!) and I've always loved his writing.

The last book you read is:

Hunting Down Saddam, by Robin Moore. It was terrible. The cover blurb promised "a fast and furious read", which was a lie. About half of the nearly 300 pages of this paperback are by Robin Moore, who is the author listed on the jacket and who also wrote The Hunt For Bin Laden and Green Berets (I've read neither). The crappy half, that is. Those parts are mostly about "we flew in the plane, and I was scared. I'm old. We met people from the military. They all respected me, and were amazed that an old man with Parkinson's was here in Iraq. For some strange reason, the soldiers distrust the media. I spent a day with so and so, and three days with so and so. Everyone said I was a really great guy." The book would have just been that, but luckily for me, Saddam had been captured already. So the other half, the fast and furious part that was worth reading, was by LTC Steve Russell, who was actually on Task Force 121, which captured Saddam, and he gave a floppy disk of his letters to Moore. That part of the book reads great, but first you have to wade through Moore's boring, repetitive, self important garbage. They should have just published LTC Steve Russell's letters. Anyway, in a crowning irony, I realized that the promise in the blurb, "a fast and furious read", was by none other than Doris Kearns Goodwin, the plagiarist historian.

What are you currently reading?

Sans Famille/The Foundling by Hector Malot, with zorkie, and Tim McCarver's Baseball for Brain Surgeons, my current bathroom book.

Five books you would take to a desert island.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, The Virginian by Owen Wister, Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, and How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

I'm giving it to Patrick Kafir of Clarity & Resolve, because his writing is fantastic, and I want to know what books he's into. By the way, you can thank Patrick for the piggy icon in your address bar (IE users, if you don't see it, it's because you haven't bookmarked us) and the envelope that you click on to get each other's email addresses.

I'm also giving it to papijoe of Marlowe's Shade, because he's thoughtful, a thinker, a writer and a Christian (I mean that as a compliment, for those of you who know that I'm an atheist). He's been doing some great work lately covering the history and ins and outs of the euthanasia movement that some of us only just woke up to, but has been slithering into the mainstream for years.

Finally, I'm giving it to zorkie, because her taste in books fascinates me, we constantly talk about them, and she has a library to make you weep. as usual, zorkie's is better, and unlike me, she didn't feel the need to babble endlessly to paper over her insecurity in her taste in books. I'm sure you'll breathe a sigh of relief.

Hello evariste and thanks for the tag. I'll be sure to return the favour of having to write one extra post someday.

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

"Moby Dick". Boredom must die.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Of course, and I still do. Neil Gaiman's, the Sandman.

The last book you bought is:

"Mullahs, Merchants and Militants: The Economic Collapse of the Arab World" by Stephen Glain

The last book you read is:

Neil Gaiman's "Coraline"

What are you currently reading?

"Inside Iran: Women's Lives" by Jane Howard (upstairs bathroom)

"The Italian Boy: A Tale of Murder and Body Snatching in 1830s London" by Sarah Wise (downstairs bathroom)

"Sans Famille" by Hector Malot (with evariste)

Everything on our blogrolls.

Five books you would take to a desert island:

Whew! I'm glad it's five and not one! Awright, I can limit it to five but these particular five will have to be in Greek:

One hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Dictionary of the Khazars - Milorad Pavic (either female or male version of the book, I don't care)

Christ Recrucified - Nikos Kazantzakis

Hans Christian Andersen's Fairytales (the collected works)

The Odyssey

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

To militarybrat because she only has four children and I know she needs something to fill those long hours she spends lounging on the couch with nothing to do.

To Glen Wishard because...well, just because.

And finally, to john b because I like bugging him :-)
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
No anti-Semitism here at all

ArabNews Cartoon

Notice this is happening while thousands of Jews are being expelled from Gaza. I wonder what the cartoon would be like if Sharon hadn't decided on the withdrawal. They'd probably portray him eating Palestinian babies again.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Kifaya movement gathering steam in Egypt
BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Dozens arrested at Egypt protests
_41084083_la203.jpgOrganisers of a series of pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt say police arrested about 75 people in connection with protests held across the country. The Kifaya movement says all but two of their activists were later released.

Events were held in 15 cities to call for an end to President Hosni Mubarak's presidency and the lifting of emergency laws imposed under his rule in 1981.

In Cairo, more than 1,000 riot police prevented about 300 protesters from approaching the Supreme Court.

In the southern city of Luxor, more than 1,000 people are said to have taken part in a protest.

Witnesses in some cities, including Suez and Benha, are quoted as saying police beat protesters with batons to disperse them.

The group has held a series of protests since December gradually attracting larger numbers of participants.

Kifaya says it will keep on protesting until the authorities release all those detained in demonstrations.
Police arrest 75 across Egypt

Thimbleful of cognac goes to snooze, and does anyone know any good Egyptian bloggers?

UPDATE: read this in Lebanon's Daily Star for a cold dose of reality:
The recent furor over a constitutional amendment theoretically allowing Egypt's first open presidential election illustrates the posturing and maneuvering that passes for public service. The president's February 26 announcement that multiple candidates could vie for Egypt's highest office was greeted with typical fanfare. While the amendment is still pending in Parliament, the press called it a "coup," a "bombshell" and a "political fireball." Egyptians have learned to content themselves with very little, and the government has become expert at administering homeopathic doses of freedom to temporarily quell domestic and foreign pressure for reform. Nevertheless it is true that no Egyptian president has ever had a rival. A schoolteacher who wanted to challenge President Gamal Abdel Nasser was committed to an insane asylum.

Nor has there been a rush of presidential hopefuls, prompting Suleiman Hakim's comment in the weekly Al-Masri al-Yom that Egypt may "need to import a president like we do the coaches of football teams." Even the opposition has so far declined to offer a candidate. "It was all so sudden," a bewildered Al-Wafd spokesperson told Al-Ahram Weekly, "we are normally unprepared." In fact presidential pretenders face serious restrictions. Mubarak may have invited them to play ball, but not before tying their shoelaces together.

The Emergency Law restricts public assembly and therefore campaigning. "Mubarak has it all," said Hamed Mahmoud, deputy chief of the Nasserite party; "he rules the media, the ruling party, the state apparatus and executive powers, all beside his experience in the presidency for 20 years." It's ironic to hear the most long-winded critics of Mubarak's administration imply that he's probably the best man for the job. Mubarak was wise to allow the opposition relatively free rein in voicing their criticism; in time they confused words with action.

Mahmoud got one thing right: Egypt's authoritarian system "has hindered the emergence of public figures." In other words, it has eliminated the competition and discouraged people from imagining alternatives. Egyptian voter attendance, reportedly 25 percent for the parliamentary elections of 2000, reflects the prevailing anomie. Although the prime minister has stated that opposing candidates would be allowed equal time in the state-owned media, he also said that foreign monitoring of the fall elections would be unwelcome, and that the Emergency Law was unlikely to be lifted any time soon.

Although a handful of presidential hopefuls are cautiously raising their heads, the pickings remain rather slim. The Muslim Brotherhood also declined to enter the fray, but not before Supreme Guide Mohammed Mahdi Akef remarked that "we have candidates who are capable of ruling the world and not just Egypt." The Brotherhood's bravura is not unfounded, owing to a massive popular support base of which Mubarak, however removed from his people, is well aware.

The press has made much of a series of demonstrations calling for the president to step down. But those willing to take to the streets seem awfully few, especially given people's economic tribulations and an endless string of rights abuses, including mass arrests following the Taba bombing last year. Political detainees, denied due process because of martial law, number at least 20,000. Indeed, the most remarkable aspect of the recent protests was the lack of interest they inspired. Passersby hardly gave them a second glance and the traffic jams caused by stepped-up security was always likely to draw the most comment. Student protests demanding an end to the Emergency Law have attracted several thousands throughout Egypt, but they remain confined to campuses by security forces. A protest organized by the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo resulted in dozens of arrests, an event the state-owned television thought it best not to cover.

"A country where demonstration is prohibited ... [deprives people] of the most basic of human rights - the right to express pain," wrote Muhammad Hamad, in Al-Arabi. But presidents are people too, and Mubarak is apparently feeling unloved. "It's no picnic [being president]," he said earlier this year; "If I want to ... walk on the street - it's impossible. I stay surrounded by walls. The president of Egypt is a detainee." Mubarak overlooked the fact that he has obliged his people to share his fate.

If only he were less recognizable, he might have been able to get out a bit more. He could have disguised himself as did Harun al-Rashid, the Abbasid caliph, and roamed the city at night to see how people really lived. But Mubarak may feel he knows Egyptians well enough already, and he may be banking on their fear, and their disillusionment, to see himself through another term.

The Daily Star - Mubarak the detainee, has stifled Egypt's dreams
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Even the Palestinians think the AUT boycott is ludicrous
Alan Dershowitz in the National Post:
The British Association of University Teachers has now created a blacklist against Jewish Israeli academics -- really a blue and white list -- reminiscent of the worst abuses of McCarthyism. And just as McCarthyism was a barrier to peace between the U.S. and the Soviet Union - by contributing to a dangerous atmosphere in which each side vilified and threatened the other - so too does the British lecturers' boycott endanger the progress now being made toward peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. It is not surprising therefore that even the Palestinian Al-Quds University in Jerusalem released a statement against the British association blacklist, saying, "We are informed by the principle that we should seek to win Israelis over to our side, not to win against them ... Therefore, informed by this national duty, we believe it is in our interest to build bridges, not walls; to reach out to the Israeli academic institutions, not to impose another restriction or dialogue-block on ourselves."
Now that the alleged intended benefactors have spoken out, can there be any doubt that this move was more about leftist loathing for Israel than about concern for the downtrodden? Not that I had any doubt to begin with, starting with the malicious scheduling of the vote on Pessach, the distortion of the fig-leaf pretexts, and the refusal to allow objectors to speak.

The conclusion that Israeli academics must be punished came first and the reason why came second, it's blindingly obvious. It appears they kept holding a vote to boycott Israelis until they got the result they wanted. Now that they have it, it's not like those who instigated this will rest easy with their new scalp-they've finally tasted the blood that they bayed after for so long now, and I'm sure they liked it.

A shotglass of cognac bourbon :-) to bigel for this story.
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kianb in Pahlaver:
Prodi Warns about 'The Fall of Europe'
As French get closer to 29 May for EU voting, more European politicians wake up in the middle of a terrible nighmare every night:
Former European Commission president Romano Prodi has warned that a French No to the European Constitution would mean the "fall of Europe".

In an interview with French newspaper Journal du Dimanche (24 April), Mr Prodi said that a French rejection of the document on 29 May would result in "no more Europe".

"We will go through a great period of crisis. The problem will not only be a catastrophe for France, but the fall of Europe.

"A No would be catastrophic for Europe, from a social and economic point of view, not only political. And that is the whole contradiction: everybody knows very well that there is no Europe without France, yet France does not realise the chance it has with Europe. She should reflect on that because an isolated France would be very weak", said Mr Prodi who presided over the Commission during the making of the Constitution.

Mr Prodi's warning comes as consecutive polls in France have shown the No side to have the lead over the Yes camp.
Also on The Weekly Standard: Saying "Non" to Chirac:
France may not be turning into a nation of free-marketers and Yankee-lovers, but it is stunning to see how little purchase such arguments now have, how tired the public considers them. People are looking elsewhere for answers. Today, the leading source of information on the European constitution is not any of the daily newspapers but Etienne Chouard, who teaches classes de brevet de technicien supérieur (French for "shop") at a high school in Marseilles. In the past few weeks, Chouard's website (http://etienne.chouard.free.fr) has turned into a rallying point, a sort of low-tech French Drudge Report, full of simple republican sentiments. "I believe that it is fundamentally undemocratic to propose a constitution that is so difficult to read," Chouard writes.

The constitutional treaty is looking a bit like the last utopian gasp of the French generation of 1968. The more people get to know it, the more closely they read it, the less they seem to like it. After Chirac's failure on TV, former president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who authored the constitution in consultation with European bureaucracies, went on One Hundred Minutes to Convince, France's Nightline, to try to save the day. "It's easy to read," he pleaded. "Limpid, rather beautifully written . . . " Without cracking a smile, he urged his readers to spend an evening reading the first 60 articles
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Huge Deficits in Austria's Historic Consciousness
One of Austria's biggest houseware chains found itself with unwanted publicity Tuesday after protesters complained its summer catalog lists a tool shed as the "Mauthausen" model, the same name as one of the worst Nazi concentration camps.

Karlheinz Essl, the bauMax chain's chief executive officer, expressed "deepest regret" at what he called an oversight and said the shed would be renamed the "Linde" - or Linden tree. He said tens of thousands of catalogs at the company's stores were being recalled and the offending name crossed out.

"We are sorry that we used this historically burdened name," he told The Associated Press.

The catalog came out in March, but the name of the shed - also suitable for backyard summer sleeping - went unremarked until the Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper reported Tuesday morning on the complaints of anti-Nazi activists.

Asked about the protest, Essl said the original name was thoughtlessly chosen after company officials decided to name different models for towns and cities where bauMax has branches - among them Mauthausen, in Upper Austria province.

But activists said at least some of the company's employees were aware of the significance of the name and its association with forced labor and Nazi gas chambers.

One critic, Gerold Gruber, said a young man at the information desk of a bauMax branch in Salzburg grinned and said "that's our gas house," when asked about the item.

Essl said he opposed such sentiments "in such a strong way that I cannot believe someone would say something like that."

More than 110,000 people died within the bleak stone walls of Mauthausen and its 47 subsidiary camps between 1938 and 1945. It was the last big Nazi death camp still operating when the U.S. Third Army's 11th Armored Division arrived in early May 1945.

Many prisoners were killed by gassing, shooting, hanging or beating, but Nazi guards mostly worked inmates to death in an adjacent quarry. Others died of sickness and as a result of medical experiments.

The controversy over the shed broke less than two weeks before survivors and anti-war activists plan to gather by the tens of thousands at the Mauthausen camp to commemorate the 60th anniversary of its liberation by U.S. troops at the end of World War II.

Marco Feingold, head of Salzburg's Jewish community and a former concentration camp inmate, called the shed's name "morally unacceptable."

Robert Eitner, of the Mauthausen Actions Committee in Upper Austria province, welcomed the company's apology, but said naming the shed after the camp was an "unexplainable stupidity."

"The fact that such a name appears in a catalog shows that there are huge deficits in (Austria's) historic consciousness," he said.

After years of denial, Austria has turned in the past two decades from depicting itself as a victim of Adolf Hitler to acknowledging its role in the Holocaust.

The government has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to Nazi victims or their offspring, and political and church leaders routinely speak out against anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance that fed the rise of Hitler in this country and Germany.

Still, Joerg Haider led the rightist Freedom Party into the government in 2001 with populist rhetoric sometimes tinged with anti-Semitism. And a poll last year said more than a third of Austrians believe the Nazi era was in some ways positive.

Just last week, Siegried Kampl, a Haider associate who is up for is a candidate for the presidency of parliament's upper chamber, described some Austrians who deserted from Hitler's army as being "comrade-murderers."
Austrian Houseware Chain Renames Tool Shed
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