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daily archive: 10/06/2005
evariste in Discarded Lies:
Stereotypes about Egyptians
The Big Pharaoh has this disturbing story:
A terrible accident happened around a week ago that brought back the issue of how rich Arab tourists are treated in Egypt and the extremely negative attitude that many Egyptians hold towards their oil rich guests.

A Qatari prince was among several participants of an illegal car race on Cairo's airport highway. The prince's car flipped and landed on a group of youth who were watching the race from the sideway. 5 youth were killed on the spot. The Qatari royal simply ran away, took his private jet and flew to Qatar. There are speculations that Egypt's police were complacent in his escape. In addition, it appears that the authorities in this particular area of Cairo were well aware of the existence of the race but turned a blind eye because of some hefty bribe they got.

There is a tremendous sense of resentment among many Egyptians regarding what happened and especially how the prince managed to escape so easily. Many ask the question of what would have happened if an Egyptian worker killed a dog in an Arab oil rich country. They believe he would have been in deep trouble. In addition, many people believe that the Egyptian government facilitated the prince's escape in order not to taint Egypt-Qatar relations.

If you asked any Egyptian about his opinion on oil rich Arabs, you would mostly get words such as "snobbish", "arrogant", and "dislikes Egyptians and look down on them." I am well aware of the bias of stereotyping but definitely these feelings did not arise in a vacuum. Personally, I think such feelings are understandable due to the actions of some rich Arabs in Egypt, but we just cannot paint the entire Gulf area with the same brush.

Well, if this is how many Egyptians feel towards Gulf Arabs, I would love to know how they feel towards Egyptians. If you are a Gulf country citizen or you're someone living in the Gulf and know about this issue, please email me or post your comment on the comments column.
I know Jordan's not in the Gulf, but when I lived in Jordan, here's how Egyptians were stereotyped:

-hard workers

-not very strict muslims (If a Jordanian or Palestinian is observed drinking a beer, it's mildly scandalous. An Egyptian, not exactly a surprise).

-often illiterate

-willing to live in extremely cramped quarters together. Actually, it occurs to me that a lot of the American stereotypes of Mexicans apply to Egyptians in Arab countries, because Egyptians are the menial manual labor force in so many Arab countries where the native sons are too good for honest work.

-the salt of the earth, funny, poor, honest, warm, possessed of a simple cunning, and often seem to be cursed to a life of hardship.

-exist entirely on foul medammes-a paste of boiled fava beans and lentils, with lemon juice, kammoun (cumin) and olive oil. Really delicious with fresh hot pita bread.

-Egyptian women MUST be circumsized at a young age, unlike Palestinian women, because otherwise their clitorises grow to penis proportions and they turn into sluts. No kidding! As ridiculous as this one sounds, I heard this one from several women in my extended family.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The Effects of the Sexual Revolution
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Oh No! They're On To Us!
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
EU, China team up to wrest control of the internet away from Uncle Sam
More internet turbulence ahead
We said "hell no", so they decided to take it anyway. "It" being control over the internet's root dns server system. This is basically a naked power grab by Europe and China, two totalitarian governments that are after political control over the internet. We'll see how attractive "their" internet will be to the rest of the world. Can you hear me snorting?
You would expect an announcement that would forever change the face of the internet to be a grand affair - a big stage, spotlights, media scrums and a charismatic frontman working the crowd.

But unless you knew where he was sitting, all you got was David Hendon's slightly apprehensive voice through a beige plastic earbox. The words were calm, measured and unexciting, but their implications will be felt for generations to come.

Hendon is the Department for Trade and Industry's director of business relations and was in Geneva representing the UK government and European Union at the third and final preparatory meeting for next month's World Summit on the Information Society. He had just announced a political coup over the running of the internet.

Old allies in world politics, representatives from the UK and US sat just feet away from each other, but all looked straight ahead as Hendon explained the EU had decided to end the US government's unilateral control of the internet and put in place a new body that would now run this revolutionary communications medium.

The issue of who should control the net had proved an extremely divisive issue, and for 11 days the world's governments traded blows. For the vast majority of people who use the internet, the only real concern is getting on it. But with the internet now essential to countries' basic infrastructure - Brazil relies on it for 90% of its tax collection - the question of who has control has become critical.

And the unwelcome answer for many is that it is the US government. In the early days, an enlightened Department of Commerce (DoC) pushed and funded expansion of the internet. And when it became global, it created a private company, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) to run it.

But the DoC retained overall control, and in June stated what many had always feared: that it would retain indefinite control of the internet's foundation - its "root servers", which act as the basic directory for the whole internet.

A number of countries represented in Geneva, including Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states, insisted the US give up control, but it refused. The meeting "was going nowhere", Hendon says, and so the EU took a bold step and proposed two stark changes: a new forum that would decide public policy, and a "cooperation model" comprising governments that would be in overall charge.

Much to the distress of the US, the idea proved popular. Its representative hit back, stating that it "can't in any way allow any changes" that went against the "historic role" of the US in controlling the top level of the internet.

But the refusal to budge only strengthened opposition, and now the world's governments are expected to agree a deal to award themselves ultimate control. It will be officially raised at a UN summit of world leaders next month and, faced with international consensus, there is little the US government can do but acquiesce.
That's really cute, Guardian, but you know it's wishful thinking. Not. Gonna. Happen.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Level 3's Continuing Assyness
The Internet Health Report is really sweet! It shows the time in milliseconds that it takes for a packet to hop from one of the major internet backbones to another. As you can see, Level 3 is still depeering (refusing to talk to) Cogent. You can use that page to figure out when the dispute finally ends.

click to rebigulate
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Only One Effective Response
Many people feel that America is fighting an unpopular war in Iraq and even though we have allies and we're not in this alone, the world's eyes are turned solely on us. That last part shouldn't be surprising, America is a unique nation and always has been the focus of the world's attention. This is also not the first time and won't be the last that America has jumped in--willingly or not--to save the day. We're a strong nation and we have perseverance. We have to stick this out and I hope we will.

Bush: Radicals Seek to Intimidate World
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Britain's First Suicide Bombers
Little note to keep in mind: the first suicide attack carried out by British Muslims didn't happen in London, it happened in Tel Aviv. (Speaking of canaries in goldmines.)

Sister encouraged British suicide bomber, court told.
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guest author: papijoe in Discarded Lies:
Part V: Patroon
Joop Zalm hung up and looked out the window at the harbor. The sign on his richly appointed office identified him as a shipping agent. However he was also well known to local authorities for being the local kingpin of illicit trade.

Of course the police were in an awkward position regarding his business. Contrary to popular belief, drugs were still illegal in the Netherlands. The use of small quantities was decriminalized, but possession of all but the smallest amounts was still technically illegal. Although hash and mushroom shops were tolerated on the consumer end, there was still the problem of supply. Dutch law enforcement congratulated themselves on an enforcement policy that was was much different that the "John Wayne" approach of the US war on drugs. By not focusing resources on users and small time suppliers, they argued, they could be more effective in battling organized crime. Police were still averse to looking the other way when big drug cartels were involved. This is where Mynheer Zalm had positioned himself as an "independent local supplier". He actually did have an extensive network of marijuana and even psilocybin mushroom growers in Holland. But this was only part of his portfolio that included ecstasy, cocaine and heroin, as well as the smuggling of illegal immigrants and "sex workers" from Eastern Europe.

The subject of precious gems evoked some strong memories. His grandmother had worked as a diamond polisher before the War. He mother was born out of wedlock during the Occupation and there were rumors that the father wasn't Dutch. Although ostracized, she moved in with a kind British sergeant major who continued to support her and his mother after he returned to England. His mother Katia had been part of the Amsterdam hippie scene. His father was a Surinamese in the merchant marine. He lost touch with his father during Katia's career as a performer in The Walletjes. When he started in the business he re-established contact with his father and the connection to South America has proved to be very profitable.

He had at one point tried a new line of business. Imports of diamonds from certain African countries had been put on a restricted list because they were being used to finance some unsavory dictators. Where others saw vice, Mynheer Zalm saw opportunity. The war had destroyed the diamond trade in Amsterdam, but some of the Amsterdam Jews who has survived had set up shop in Antwerp, including the family that had formerly employed this grandmother. He had tried to establish a business relationship, but he was disappointed to find that contrary to what he had always heard, the scruples of the current head of the business outweighed their financial acumen. Irritation turned to fury when he discovered that this Jew had warned the rest of the tight knit community and he was effectively blackballed.

He wondered if these same Jews were trying to set up their own channel in his territory. If so they would be very sorry. Part of his success was also due to the fact he had been so effective at neutralizing the competition without creating messy situations that make the police so upset. Interlopers simply disappear, the only trace being some small token sent to the right people to warn of any future transgressions.
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
22 Observations: Texas v. Louisiana
2 States - 22 Observations
Things I have noticed while watching media coverage of the recent hurricanes.

1. Texas: Productive industrious state run by Republicans. Louisiana: Government dependent welfare state run by Democrats.

2. Texas: Residents take responsibility to protect and evacuate themselves. Louisiana: Residents wait for government to protect and evacuate them.

3. Texas: Local and state officials take responsibility for protecting their citizens and property. Louisiana: Local and state officials blame federal government for not protecting their citizens and property.

4. Texas: Command and control remains in place to preserve order. Louisiana: Command and control collapses allowing lawlessness.

5. Texas: Law enforcement officers remain on duty to protect city. Louisiana: Law enforcement officers desert their posts to protect themselves.

6. Texas: Local police watch for looting. Louisiana: Local police participate in looting.

7. Texas: Law and order remains in control, 8 looters tried it, 8 looters arrested. Louisiana: Anarchy and lawlessness breaks out, looters take over city, no arrests, criminals with guns have to be shot by federal troops.

8. Texas: Considerable damage caused by hurricane. Louisiana: Considerable damage caused by looters.

9. Texas: Flood barriers hold preventing cities from flooding. Louisiana: Flood barriers fail due to lack of maintenance allowing city to flood.

10. Texas: Orderly evacuation away from threatened areas, few remain. Louisiana: 25,000 fail to evacuate, are relocated to another flooded area.

11. Texas: Citizens evacuate with personal 3 day supply of food and water. Louisiana: Citizens fail to evacuate with 3 day supply of food and water, do without it for the next 4 days.

12. Texas: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials provide accessible distribution points. Louisiana: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials prevent citizens from reaching distribution points and vice versa.

13. Louisiana: Media focuses on poor blacks in need of assistance, blames Bush. Texas: Media can not find poor blacks in need of assistance, looking for something else to blame on Bush.

14. Texas: Coastal cities suffer some infrastructure damage, Mayors tell residents to stay away until ready for repopulation, no interference from federal officials. Louisiana: New Orleans is destroyed, major infrastructure damage in and around city, Mayor asks residents to return home as another hurricane approaches, has to be overruled by federal officials.

15. Louisiana: Over 400 killed by storm, flooding and crime. Texas: 24 killed in bus accident on highway during evacuation, no direct storm related deaths.

16. Texas: Jailed prisoners are relocated to other detention facilities outside the storm area. Louisiana: Jailed prisoners are set free to prey on city shops, residents, and homes.

17. Texas: Local and state officials work with FEMA and Red Cross in recovery operations. Louisiana: Local and state officials obstruct FEMA and Red Cross from aiding in recovery operations.

18. Texas: Local and state officials demonstrate leadership in managing disaster areas. Louisiana: Local and state officials fail to demonstrate leadership, require federal government to manage disaster areas.

19. Texas: Fuel deliveries can not keep up with demand, some run out of gas on highway, need help from fuel tankers before storm arrives. Louisiana: Motorists wait till storm hits and electrical power fails. Cars run out of gas at gas stations that can not pump gas. Gas in underground tanks mixes with flood waters.

20. Texas: Mayors move citizens out of danger. Louisiana: Mayor moves himself and family to Dallas.

21. Texas: Mayors continue public service announcements and updates on television with Governor's backing and support. Louisiana: Mayor cusses, governor cries, senator threatens president with violence on television, none of them have a clue what went wrong or who is responsible.

22. Louisiana: Democratic Senator says FEMA was slow in responding to 911 calls from Louisiana citizens. Texas: Republican Senator says "when you call 911, the phone doesn't ring in Washington, it rings here at the local responders".

What if state and local elected officials were forced to depend on themselves and their own resources instead of calling for help from the federal government?

Conclusion: Texas cities would be back up and running in a few days. Louisiana cities would still be under water next month.

Republicans call for action, Democrats call for help.

What party will you be voting for in the next election?
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zorkmidden in Bloggies Of Our Lives:
The Verdict
evariste and zorkie (minus her one shoe) are limping back to bloggie. The street outside the courtroom is empty, it's dinnertime and the comrades have gone home. Torn "La Vache Qui Rit" wrappers litter the sidewalk and someone has spray-painted "Portia, I love you!" in huge, red letters on the courthouse wall.

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evariste in Discarded Lies:
British convinced Iran behind their Iraq fatalities
The British are finally joining the rest of us in realityland. I wonder what Jackass Straw thinks of his moronic "inconceivable" comment now.
There are strong suspicions that the bloodshed is being orchestrated with weapons and encouragement from Iran.

The clashes and the arrest of two undercover soldiers was almost certainly triggered by the arrest at the weekend of Sheikh Ahmed al-Fartusi, the leader of the Mahdi Army, a banned militia loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr. He was seized by British troops in a raid that also netted his brother and another colleague. “The operation is the result of an ongoing multinational force investigation that identified individuals believed to be responsible for organising terrorist attacks against multinational forces," said a statement released by the British military on Sunday after the deaths of six British soldiers and two security guards over the past two months.

Al-Sadr’s supporters are known to dominate the local police and can mobilise gunmen or mass protests at short notice, as they did regularly during an uprising last year that swept across southern Iraq.

British officials are convinced that Iran is implicated in the upsurge in violence and suspect it may be connected to Britain’s hardening position against Tehran’s nuclear programme. Britain has been working closely with Iran over the past two years to reach a compromise. But with the victory last month of the hawkish President Ahmadinejad, Iran has hardened its position.

Britain is now actively lobbying to have Tehran referred to the UN Security Council, where it could face sanctions.

Iran’s policy in Iraq is co-ordinated by the Supreme National Security Council — the body responsible for running its atomic industry. “The Iranians are careful not to be caught," a British official said. “But they like to stoke up the temperature in Iraq when it suits them."

Apart from the activities of al-Sadr’s supporters, military intelligence has concluded that Iran has been supporting a local terror group run by Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani, who is blamed for the murder of at least 11 British soldiers.

In a secret report, military intelligence warned commanders that attacks on British forces were being deliberately intensified, with the use of a new bomb, developed in Iran, that can penetrate the thickest armoured protection.

Al-Sheibani’s group is said to have an estimated 280 fighters, divided into 17 bomb-making teams.

One of al-Sheibani’s bombs, a passive infra-red device, is blamed for the deaths of Second Lieutenant Richard Shearer, 26, Private Leon Spicer, 26, and Private Phillip Hewett, 21, of the Staffordshire Regiment, in the Risaala neighbourhood of central al-Amarah, near the Iranian border in July.

A similar roadside device was used six weeks ago against a British embassy convoy in Basra that killed two British bodyguards.

The report, drawn up by British and US experts, said that al-Sheibani’s group was being investigated for its role in the murders of six Royal Military policemen in June 2003 by a mob in Majar al-Kabir.
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