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Topics - Henny

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3DHS / Jordan Next to Fall?
« on: November 14, 2012, 05:34:38 AM »

People are back in the streets today. Schools are being closed and kids sent home early - even in private schools where the teacher strike/protest doesn't affect them, in anticipation that this is going to get really bad.

I don't blame the people on this one. What CNN calls "cooking gas" is the gas that more than 80% of the people (myself included) heat their homes with - and it gets COLD here during the winter. The government may have signed its own death warrant!

3DHS / Anyone watching the Egyptian Elections?
« on: December 01, 2011, 04:11:31 AM »
Election results may be announced today in Egypt. As to what I'm reading, it would be really scary if the Noor Salafists win - Egypt would become the new Saudi Arabia.

Again, as to what we all talked about earlier this year, the Muslim Brotherhood are Boy Scouts compared to some of these other groups.

Egypt awaits election results

Cairo (CNN) -- Initial results of Egypt's first parliamentary elections since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak are due as early as Thursday.

Both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Al Noor Salafi Muslim Party have claimed a lead in ballot counting, but election officials have been tight-lipped.

Voting took place Monday and Tuesday, the first in a multi-step process to pick members of the lower house of parliament.

The lawmakers will then be tasked with drafting a new constitution.

It was the first time some Egyptians -- young and old -- ever cast ballots after three decades of Mubarak's rule.

Some voters and human rights activists expressed hope that their votes will actually count, though some boycotted the elections saying they don't trust the voting will be free and fair.

There were reports of some illegal campaigning taking place, with the Egyptian Association of Human Rights alleging some cases of vote-buying in the city of Alexandria.

Elections for Egypt's lower house of parliament are scheduled to take place in three stages, based on geography. The last of the three stages is set to take place in January.

Upper house elections will run between January and March.

Presidential elections will be held by June, according to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Egypt's acting ruling body. Military leaders have said they will hand over power to a new government when one is elected, but many Egyptians say they don't trust the council and fear the military will cling to power.

During the past two weeks, at least 42 people have been killed in clashes, as protesters called for an immediate end to military rule. An additional 3,250 have been wounded, according to the Health Ministry.

3DHS / Obama Turns 50 Despite Republican Opposition
« on: August 04, 2011, 03:44:09 PM »
Obama Turns 50 Despite Republican Opposition


WASHINGTON?After months of heated negotiations and failed attempts to achieve any kind of consensus, President Obama turned 50 years old Thursday, drawing strong criticism from Republicans in Congress. "With the host of problems this country is currently facing, the fact that our president is devoting time to the human process of aging is an affront to Americans everywhere," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who advocated a provision to keep Obama 49 at least through the fall of 2013. "To move forward unilaterally and simply begin the next year of his life without bipartisan support?is that any way to lead a country?" According to White House officials, Obama attempted to work with Republicans right up until the Aug. 4 deadline, but was ultimately left with no choice except to turn a year older.,21061/

3DHS / Jordan Bids to Join Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Bloc
« on: May 12, 2011, 01:04:02 AM »
Some of the biggest news in the region - Jordan has formally made a bid to join the GCC ( The application is basically considered a formality, and rapid acceptance is anticipated.

Morocco has just been accepted as well.

This is, from the perspective of a person living here, the best news I've heard in ages. The economic benefits will be vast, as with GCC membership laborers can move freely (without residency permits and visas) between the countries. Oil prices in Jordan will certainly go down. From my perspective, just being able to enter Saudi without a month-long wait for a visa that I might not get anyway is tremendous - business has been seriously hampered by the restrictions there. I have 2 passports, so Saudi was my only problem, but my Jordanian colleagues, for example, also had to apply for advance visas for UAE, Qatar and Kuwait and were often rejected.

Reflecting the Jordanian optimism, the Amman Stock exchange trading value was JD11.9 million on Tuesday; on Wednesday it more than doubled to JD25.7 million.

But that's all the optimism. Now think about it from a Western perspective. If the GCC is bringing in other non-Gulf Arab countries to stem the revolts and relieve the economic burdens of the people that is driving unrest, what does that mean for the rest of the world?

For one thing, as I understand, it will also be a military union.

For another, countries like Jordan which are supported by the U.S., in exchange for playing nice with Israel, aren't going to be so desperate for American money.

On the other hand, it is considered to be a union to form a strong alliance against the Iranian threat in the region, which is good for everyone in the world but Iran.


3DHS / Here we go...
« on: March 26, 2011, 04:53:59 AM »
Yesterday morning, I took my son to the opening day of Little League Baseball. On the way back, I was caught up in heavy traffic - buses and buses and buses (I'm talking big buses, at least 50 of them) of protesters coming from the South. Not just in the buses, but sitting on top of the buses, on the hoods of the buses and hanging out the windows. All young men, extremely hyped up - chanting and singing. And each and every bus had a sign saying "Bani Hamida tribe."

Bani Hamida is the largest Bedouin tribe - and trouble at a protest. Very pro government, but it seems out of place because no one in Jordan has called for the King to step down... just for reforms. Anyway, it is the equivalent of finding as many uneducated bubbas as you can and setting them loose in a riot. Trouble, trouble, trouble.

Wonder what happens next? Glad to be out of these heavily populated areas.

Government backers, police attack Jordan protest

AMMAN, Jordan ? Protesters demanding reforms clashed with government supporters in the center of Jordan's capital on Friday, pelting each other stones until security forces charged in and beat protesters, as unrest intensified in this key U.S. ally.

The clashes, in which 120 were injured, were the most violent in more than two months of protests inspired by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. One man reported to have been killed while protesting was later identified as a government supporter who died of a heart attack.

Protests in Jordan have generally been smaller than those in other Arab nations ? and in another difference have not sought the ouster of the country's leader, King Abdullah II. But the young Jordanians organizing the demonstrations said this week they are intensifying their campaign, demanding the removal of the prime minister, creation of a more reformist government, the dissolving of what is seen as a docile parliament and the dismantling of the largely feared intelligence department.

Hundreds of anti-government activists ? many of whom coordinated through Facebook ? vowed to camp out in a central Amman square in front of the Interior Ministry until their demands are met. Their numbers swelled to more than 1,500 during the day to include members of the Islamic Action Front, Jordan's largest opposition party, and their leftist allies.

In the afternoon, several hundred government supporters attacked the protesters, sparking stone-throwing clashes until about 400 riot police stormed the square. The pro-government crowd appeared to disperse as the security forces waded in, hitting protesters with clubs and firing water cannons. At least a dozen protesters were dragged into a nearby government building.

One person died. The opposition Islamic Action Front said he was a protester and that he was beaten to death by police. Later, however, a spokesman for the anti-government protest movement, Ziad al-Khawaldeh, said the man who died was not among the protesters.

Police chief Lt. Gen. Hussein Majali said the man was a government supporter who died of a heart attack while running for cover when clashes broke out. He identified him as 55-year-old Khairi Jamil Saad. Other government officials, including the foreign minister, also said he was on the pro-government side and died of a heart attack.

Majali said 120 people were hurt, including 52 policemen. Eight people were detained for questioning.

Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit accused the Islamic Action Front and the umbrella group it is part of, the Muslim Brotherhood, of inciting the violence.

The Muslim Brotherhood rejected the accusation. "The protesters were peaceful and didn't attack anyone," said Jamil Abu-Bakr. "The prime minister is running away from his responsibility."

Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said police had surrounded the protesters to protect them but were then caught in the middle when counter-demonstrators attacked the crowd.

Hospital officials said more than 100 people were admitted with serious to minor injuries to the head and the body. The officials insisted on anonymity, fearing government reprisal. An Associated Press reporter saw three police officers, their faces covered with blood, being taken away in ambulances.

One of the wounded, Mohammed Maaytah, 26, said he passed out after suffering an eye injury from a hurled stone.

"As I tried to get up from the ground, five policemen attacked me with batons and kept beating me until I passed out again," he said. "The police were supposed to protect us, but they attacked us."

Noor Smadi, 23, said she was also beaten by police until "I fainted."

"Our Cabinet is a bunch of criminals," she said. "They had policemen beat us savagely, although we insisted that our protest was peaceful."

A similar clash broke out in the same square late Thursday, injuring 35 people.

Elsewhere, 3,000 pro-king loyalists took to the streets of the capital in two separate protests, waving portraits of the monarch and chanting "our lives and souls we sacrifice for you, King Abdullah."

Around 7,000 people reiterated pledges of loyalty to the king in demonstrations in the Red Sea port of Aqaba and the Jordan Valley, bordering Israel and the West Bank, the Petra state news agency said.

About 400 members of Islamic Action Front and their leftist allies also staged another demonstration outside Amman's Kalouti mosque, near the Israeli Embassy. They demanded an end to Jordan's 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

In the western city of Salt, some 300 Salafis ? an ultraconservative Islamic sect banned in Jordan ? protested in the city, demanding convicted al-Qaida prisoners be released from Jordanian jails.

Meanwhile, Petra said 15 leftists and independents quit a national dialogue committee with the government on reforms to protest police using force against the protesters. The 53-member committee was formed earlier this month to draft laws that would give wider public freedoms.

3DHS / What is Jordan?
« on: February 28, 2011, 03:52:49 AM »
Via a good friend in Amman:

What is Jordan?

A tiny slice of desert stuck between Iraq and a hard place.


3DHS / Violence Erupts at Jordan Protest
« on: February 19, 2011, 03:15:49 AM »
You have the NYT article below, but they missed something that we all watched on the news last night: the group of thugs that disrupted the protests yesterday were videotaped climbing into POLICE VANS to leave the scene. The police stood aside and let all of this happen in addition. I can't wrap my head around this; does the King want to make things worse? Things have been pretty calm here - just a few hundred protesting yesterday. Wanna bet after that was shown all over the news the protests might get bigger?

Violence Erupts at Jordan Protest

AMMAN, Jordan ? A protest turned violent here in the Jordanian capital on Friday as government supporters clashed with demonstrators calling for political change, injuring several, witnesses said.

Antigovernment protests, though rare for Jordan, have become routine on Fridays in the weeks since popular uprisings swept over Tunisia, Egypt and other parts of the region, but this was the first time that one ended in confrontation.

Jordanians expressed surprise over the turn of events, saying that this Friday?s antigovernment gathering was actually smaller than previous ones, with only a few hundred participants, as opposed to earlier demonstrations that had attracted several thousand.

The protest started out peacefully outside the King Hussein mosque in downtown Amman, according to participants, with the demonstrators calling for an end to corruption and constitutional monarchy and for the lowering of prices.

?Then,? recounted Firas Mahadin, 30, a movie director who took part in the protest, ?more than a hundred young thugs surrounded us from in front and behind and started attacking us.?

Mr. Mahadin was speaking by telephone from the hospital, where he had gone with a suspected concussion after being hit on the head with a metal club, he said. He said that the attackers were shouting slogans in favor of King Abdullah II and against Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite station that has been accused by parts of the Middle East establishment of fomenting the recent upheavals and unrest.

Mr. Mahadin and others described the pro-government supporters as young men in civilian clothing armed with metal bars and wooden clubs.

Witnesses said that the police at the scene did not intervene.

A police spokesman, Mohamed Khatib, described the clashes as the result of a ?quarrel? that broke out ?between a pro-government rally and another demonstration staged in the same location,? Agence France-Presse reported.

Most of the rallies for change have been led by the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, joined by leftist groups, students and trade unions.

Another antigovernment protester, Sufian al-Tell, an engineer and a member of the Jordan National Party, said that the Muslim Brotherhood did not participate in this Friday?s demonstration.

During previous Friday protests, Mr. Tell said, there were fewer police officers and the atmosphere was relaxed, with the police offering protesters juice and water. This Friday there was a stronger police presence, he said, ?and although we asked for help, they walked away.?

The demonstrations in Jordan have represented the first serious challenge to the decade-old rule of King Abdullah II, a critical American ally in the region. The king enjoys absolute powers, and appoints the prime minister and the cabinet. But he is contending with the country?s worst economic crisis in years.

King Abdullah has already taken some measures to try to calm the atmosphere. Responding to the protesters? demands, he dismissed the prime minister, Samir Rifai, on Feb. 1 and replaced him with Marouf al-Bakhit, a former general who has served before in the post and is widely viewed as clean of corruption. The royal palace said in a statement that Mr. Bakhit was asked to take ?practical, swift and tangible steps? toward comprehensive political change.

A week later, several dozen Jordanian tribesmen, historically core loyalists to the monarchy, issued a rare statement calling for urgent and far-reaching political reform and an end to corruption. They said that without a more open and responsive political system, the country was headed down the path taken by Tunisia and Egypt. The statement, signed by 36 members of tribes, mostly Bedouins, was published on Jordan?s most popular news Web site.

Despite the growing undercurrent of unease, there was little sign before Friday?s clashes that things could turn violent. Opposition forces had said that they would keep up their symbolic protests but that they did not intend to escalate the situation.

Few consider either the monarchy or the country at imminent risk of serious turmoil, not least because the population is divided between groups with differing grievances and interests. Jordan is a country of six million, more than half of them Palestinian, and 40 percent members of tribes, also known as East Bankers.

3DHS / Some Jordanian Blogs
« on: February 12, 2011, 02:50:00 AM »
First sample: 360 East (

Egypt's Revolution. My Revolution.

I?ve been glued to Twitter for the past 16 days.

Too many thought racing through my head to think clearly.

A total emotional roller-coaster.

My generation?s first revolution!

All that I can think of right now is that everything in this region, in our lives, need to be rethought.

I am part of the 1989 generation. I was 19 when the Jordanian mini revolution started in the south of the Kingdom then started spreading north. This promoted the late King Hussein to lift emergency laws, un-ban political parties and allow the country to have a fair and free election, leading to a pluralistic parliament.

So my adult life started in an era of relative freedom and democracy. The political suppression suffered political activists was something my generation read about. But our experience was that of democratic possibility. My university years in the mid 1990?s was marked by a brief period of student political activism, which maybe felt a bit risky at times, but I never really felt very threatened by the state.

But from those hopeful days of early adulthood it was pretty much downhill. Local and regional events ate away at Jordan?s democratic potential.

In August 1990 we woke up one day with the news that Saddam had occupied Kuwait. I can clearly remember the headline of the front page editorial of the normally conservative and government serving daily newspaper Al-Rai, declaring the occupation of Kuwait as ?The Correction of the Arab?s National Path?!!

Whoever wrote that headline didn?t know that there was nothing but one defeat and disaster for Arabs in store for the next 20 years. The few months of fervent Saddam worship in Jordan, ended with the brutal defeat of the Iraqi army at the hands of the United States.

Then the endless Israeli-Arab peace process started a year later, with no results beyond a few half-achievements and a string of bitter disappointments.

Elections in Jordan became worse and worse with an election law that ripped the country to tribes and neighborhoods. Political parties became a joke. Islamist were the only political force out there.

The new millennium brought nothing but more disappointment. Osama bin Laden kidnapped the whole muslim world on September 11, 2001. The threat of terrorism became THE issue and democracy only an empty word. The tragedy of Iraq deepened, ending with total American occupation in 2003 and the unleashing of the monster of sectarianism.

The 1989 generation started becoming convinced that Arabs are probably ?genetically? unable to grasp progress, freedom and democracy.

Besides authoritarian governance and increasingly conservative if not fanatic religious fundamentalism, consumerism was the only thing ?happening? in this region.

Until 16 days ago, I was just another 1989er, barely holding on to the belief of a freer, better tomorrow, almost giving up hope on better governance of social progress.

I was living in a ?confused Arabia? as the tagline of this blog declares above!


But wait. This is not the full story.

Against the backdrop of decline and depression, something was moving.

Sometime in 2004, I started blogging.

Then I found out about JordanPlanet, a now defunct site that brought together Jordan?s first bloggers. At first there was only four or five of of us. Mostly tech geeks. But soon enough there were tens then a hundred then we stopped counting.

Through blogging meetups I started meeting people who where at least 10 years younger than me. I saw a generation that was simply different. Willing to express itself openly. Young people with individual voices. Writers who were not about to ask the Ministry of Information or the Press and Publications Department for the permission to publish.

In some of our early JordanPlanet blogger meetups we got to know bloggers from Tunisia and Egypt as well as Jordanian bloggers who lived abroad. A culture of online self expression was bubbling everywhere.

Isn?t it intriguing that the first real post-indepence Arab people-power pro democracy revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt started at the end of the 2010. The year that saw the passing of three of the most renowned Arab thinkers of the late 20th century: Mohammad Abed Al Jabiri, Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid and Mohammad Arkoun.

Here is what I wrote in March 2010 after returning from the ArabNet online business conference and reading what the late Samir Kassir?s book ?Being Arab?

Kassir?s views are, of course, controversial. And I am not attempting to dissect the book here. Yet, I found myself intrigued by his ultimate hopefulness. I, like many, might feel a sense of despair at the current state of affairs in the Arab region and often find it hard to believe that change can come from within. But I feel I learned something as the book was drawing to a close: reconnecting to the heritage of Arab modernity and extending is something worth trying.

The last few pages of the book held a surprise for me.

Kassir says that the lack of interface and connection between the culture of creation and the social reality is a big concern .. And here is where Kassir?s says we should seek solutions: ?In the galvanizing effect that new media can have on cultural development, and that culture in turn can have on durable economic development.?

New media. The internet. Mobile. Satellite.

Which brings us full circle to ArabNet and the dozens of hopeful, young Arab faces, from the lebanese girl who wants to invent a better Arabic web font to the Syrian podacasters covering the conference, to the Saudi guy in dishdasha and tennis shoes who want to start an Arab business-rating site, to the many Jordanian startups who presented their ideas. Maybe Kassir was right. Maybe the future can be created at the intersection of culture and commerce happening in the cloud of new media which knows no Arab borders or limitations.


A young man burns himself in Tunisia and a dictator who gripped that country for 23 years falls.

A young Egyptian computer programer, Khaled Saeed, gets beaten to death by Egyptian police on June 6, 2010 (

A young Egyptian Google executive, Wael Ghonim, anonymously sets up a page dedicated to Khaled Saeed on Facebook. He calls for a protest on January 25, 2011. A peaceful demonstration becomes a full scale revolution!

Arab revolutions used to be military coups rebranded as revolutions. In other words, with the exception of Lebanon?s Cedar revolution against the Syrian presence, Arab dictators where only overthrow by new dictators and not the people.

People like Jamal Abdelnasser and Saddam Hussein where military officers. What Arab coups have achieved was mostly the crushing of civil society, creativity and even business.

Some years ago I visited the old building of the Cairo stock exchange, a beautiful old building designed by a Viennese architect during the Egyptian monarchy of the early 20th century. I was told that until a few years before, the blackboards of the stock exchange still carried the last share prices from the 1950s when Nasser nationalized the whole Egyptian economy.

Wael Ghonim today pledged he will go back to his day job one the aspirations of Egypt?s youth have been achieved. He doesn?t want to be in politics. He may still find himself dragged into a longer struggle. But he is a symbol of a revolution of a middle class. It?s not fanatic. It?s stance vis-a-vis business and capitalism is diverse. But it is young, decent and full of hope.

The Tunisian and Egyptian revolution have already transformed the Arab world. Things will never be the same again. Being Arab has been redefined.

These are not the revolution of military officers, or the revolt of only farmers and factory workers. They are revolutions for dignity and freedom by a dazzling spectrum of society.

Veiled girls and pierced girls. Bearded guys and guys with ponytails. Someone in a dishdasha and someone in a heavy-metal t-shirt. An unprecedented unity. Coexistence born out of working on a common goal.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Egyptian revolution today is the number of entrepreneurs and business leaders who are supporting it.

Let?s make no mistake. The heros of this revolution are the millions on the streets right now. But Arab tech executives aren?t usually instigators of regime change! In Egypt, now, they are.

My Twitter stream carries messages of support from Arabs who are comfortable business owners and executives. A successful Egyptian entrepreneur I met in a couple of conferences seems to have nothing to do but go to Tahrir Square and shoot video interviews and post them on YouTube!

Last November, I was there in the hall when Naguib Sawiris, an Egyptian billionaire, was being interviewed by Fadi Ghandour, founder and CEO of Aramex during the Celebration of Entreprenurship in Dubai.

?What is change,? asked Ghandour.

?Change is when the young people in this room overthrow their governments.? shot back Sawiris.

Billionaires talking about a revolution!

How do you solve the street littering problem in Arab cities? Start a revolution.

To me this revolution is personal. It is the most important event public I witnessed in my lifetime. I am happy to be alive and not too old today because I am excited, exhilarated, worried, hopeful about where things go from here.

I feel totally connected, personally, to people in Tahrir square.

If I allowed, apathy or hopelessness to creep into my mind over the past 20 years, the courage of the millions of people on the street in Cairo and all over Egypt gives me a million reason to cast hopelessness aside.

I will be changing 360east?s tagline. Arabia is no longer confused. Tunisia and Egypt have made it clear that people know what they want.

3DHS / A Guide: How Not to Say Stupid Stuff About Egypt
« on: February 02, 2011, 04:21:21 AM »
A Guide: How Not to Say Stupid Stuff About Egypt

The past few days I have heard so many stupid things from friends, blogs, pundits, correspondents, politicians, experts, writers that I want to pull my hair.  So, I will not beat around the bush, I will be really blunt and give you a handy list to keep you from offending Egyptians, Arabs and the world when you discuss, blog or talk about Egypt.  Honestly, I would think most Progressives would know these things, but let?s get to it.

    * ?I am so impressed at how articulate Egyptians are.?  Does this sound familiar?  Imagine saying this about a Latino or African American?  You don?t say it.  So don?t say it about Egyptians.   Gee, thank you oh great person who is of limited experience and human contact for recognizing that out of 80 million people some could be articulate, educated and speak many languages.  Not cool.  Don?t say it.  You may think it, but it makes you sound like a dumb ass.

    * ?This is so sad?:  No, sad were the thirty years of oppression, repression and torture.

    * ? I loved Sadat?:  Mubarak was made of the same cloth of Sadat.  Same repression, same ill-treatment of their people, yet you were all in love with Sadat.  Hmm, where and when do you think the repression started?  The State Of Emergency?  Sadat was not loved by the Egyptian people.   Why do you love Sadat?

    * ?What they did to the Mummies is horrible?:  Yes, but who did it?  Think, Mubarak, for years has been playing the ?I am the stabilizing force?.  The one thing you know about Egypt, the stuff that was underground and from the past, you will be distraught and find the protestors to be disgusting.  Yet it was not the protesters who did it.  In Alexandria, the young people protected the library.  Did anyone carry that story?  Statement from the Director of the Alexandria Library:

    The library is safe thanks to Egypt?s youth, whether they be the staff of the Library or the representatives of the demonstrators, who are joining us in guarding the building from potential vandals and looters.  I am there daily within the bounds of the curfew hours.   However, the Library will be closed to the public for the next few days until the curfew is lifted and events unfold towards an end to the lawlessness and a move towards the resolution of the political issues that triggered the demonstrations.

    * ?The Muslim Brothers are Terrorists?  Maybe you should look at their English Website, or try something easy like this link Check this out:

    The Muslim Brotherhood is not on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations list. It renounced violence in the 1970s and has no active militia (although a provocative martial arts demonstration in December 2006 raised some alarm that they may be regrouping a militia.)

    Nevertheless, the Muslim Brotherhood or Ikhwan Al Muslimun in Arabic, is frequently mentioned in relation to groups such as Hamas and Al Qaeda.

    * ?The Twitter Revolution?. No, this is the Revolution of the Egyptian people.  Egyptians resisted for decades.  They were tortured, jailed and repressed by the Mubarak and Sadat regimes.  Twitter and Facebook are tools.  They did not stand in front of the water canons, or go to jail for all these years to get the credit.  There were demonstrations all summer long and for a several years through out Egypt but they are rarely covered, because we are worried about what Sarah Palin said, or some moronic Imam saying something stupid.  Does it sound a bit arrogant to take credit for a people?s struggle?

    * ?The women are so brave?:  Egyptian women have always been brave.  If you want to know about Sadat?s Egypt, read Nawal El Saadawi?s memoir while in jail.  Memoirs from the Women?s Prison

    * ?Al Jazeera has come to it?s own?: Al Jazeera has been on it?s own, you just only noticed. .  Do you think you believed the Bush administration spin about Al Jazeera?  Just maybe you believed the bullshit?  They must be doing something right if all the factions on the ground want to shut them down.  The tyrants, the US and the Israelis.  Hmm, maybe they are speaking truth to power?

    * ?Mubarak kept the peace treaty?: So, what do you think, if the Egyptian people choose another government, they will go to war with Israel?  Maybe they will demand a few more things from Israel in how they negotiate with the Palestinians.  Maybe Gazans will get better treatment?  Maybe the balance of power will not be tipped over to Israel?  Egypt protests: Israel fears unrest may threaten peace treaty.   Hmm, so we should support the oppression of 80 million Egyptians for a false stabilization?

    * ?If they get Democracy they will elect extremists?.  Imagine if the world said that about America.  How would you like if others used that as a threat to support an autocrat who made all opposing parties illegal?  In truth, US politics threaten world stability more than Egypt does.  Second, the implication is that democracy is not to be trusted in the hands of ?certain? nations, people and religions is offensive, racist and ignorant.  You do not claim to value human rights, democracy and freedom and then you make exclusions based on race, nationality and religion.  Don?t say this shit.

    * ?The people are so nice?:  Yes they are, it?s your ignorant self that assumed they are all terrorists and fanatics.  What did you think?  Glad you went to Egypt and found the Egyptians nice.  After all, they do have a cosmopolitan civilization of over 5,000 years, yet you reduced them to ?rag heads? , ?jihadists?, ?ali babas?, ?terrorists?, the list is endless.  Imagine saying this about African Americans?  Asians?  Nope.  Just don?t fucking say it.  It?s patronizing.

It?s time Egyptians were heard.  It?s time the pundits and ?Egypt hands? (old recycled western diplomats) were retired. These people were as good at predicting the current events as our economists were in predicting the economic calamity.  I am glad you all got to see things from Egypt outside your comfort zone.  Maybe now, you can give Egyptians and Arabs some respect.  The people in Egypt are struggling for human rights, dignity and freedom.  Like the rest of us, they want the economic means to care for their families.  Break down those closed ideas that dehumanize the Arab and Egyptian people in general.  That is all I ask.

3DHS / What IS This Poll????
« on: September 24, 2010, 01:29:54 AM »
Someone emailed me some information about a poll out there on a little site called "The Daily Conservative" asking people to go out and put in their vote (intentionally, to skew the results).

(I see a lot of this poll skewing activity both in blogs and in emails I get from friend - I usually only jump in to skew results about creationism and evolution (when creationists/ID'ers are the ones putting up the polls).  ;D

Anyway... this one was a bit different and to be honest, I would have rather seen the real results of such a poll. The question? "Are blacks equal to whites?" You can see it here:

When the poll was emailed around for skewing, the results were something like Yes - 57% and No - 39%, although it has been since skewed in much higher favor of Yes now.

So I'm curious - have any of you ever heard of this site? I like to think that some small-time racist is running a website, but the name of the site gives conservatives a bad name by association.

3DHS / Sorry, Couldn't Resist.
« on: March 25, 2010, 06:18:42 AM »

3DHS / Social Media Gives Rise to the New iMuslims
« on: January 06, 2010, 08:53:21 AM »
Social media gives rise to the new iMuslims
Global View by Mona Eltahawy

You?ve seen their mugshots: A Nigerian charged with trying to blow up a plane on Christmas Day; five young American Muslims detained in Pakistan, apparently desperately seeking jihad.
You?ve heard they went online in search of radical imams ready to recruit every Muslim within a foot of an Internet connection.

I bet you haven?t heard of these mugshots: Iranian men in chadors and headscarves.

As part of the ?Men in Headscarves? campaign, Iranian men have been posting pictures of themselves wearing the head and body coverings the Iranian regime imposes on women. Their pictures have spread on Facebook and YouTube in support of Iranian student activist Majid Tavakoli.

Authorities arrested Tavakoli in December after he called for more democracy and urged students to reject ?tyranny.? The next day, government newspapers published pictures of Tavakoli dressed in a chador and claimed he had tried to escape arrest disguised as a woman.

Yes, violent radical groups such as al-Qaida and others have used the Internet to their advantage. That is not new.

But what is new is how young Muslims around the world have been using the Internet to challenge authority. Their exciting work is overshadowed by news of angry, young Muslims online.

Do you know of the Egyptian blogger who helped convict police officers for the sodomy of a bus driver by posting footage of the crime on YouTube? How about the female Saudi blogger who challenges her country?s restrictions on women (she is married to a former officer of the morality police, who often enforce those restrictions).

Pick up Gary Bunt?s iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam and learn that for every online al-Qaida recruiter there are thousands more Muslims reforming Islam online. Interpretations and commentaries on the Qur?an fill the Internet and recreate the vibrant intellectual atmosphere that many Muslims lament we?d long ago lost.

I see it every day on Facebook, where I have almost 5,000 friends. We argue over everything from polygamy and burqas, to being gay and Muslim. You rarely see such diverse opinions in news reports on Muslims.

Twitter is just as vibrant. An American Muslim I follow summed up the sentiments of many towards those five young American Muslims: ?I say we welcome these kids home from Pakistan with a swift kick in the ass. Who?s with me??

The Internet deals a blow to radical groups by giving anyone online the chance to answer back. For every Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, there are dozens of Iranian men taunting the regime that runs the Islamic Republic of Iran.

3DHS / What's Under Your Burqa, Barbie?
« on: January 06, 2010, 08:46:51 AM »
Authenticity has never been Barbie's strong suit. It's estimated that if the doll were life sized, she would tip over because of the size of her breasts.

So I shouldn't be surprised that as part of the 500 international outfits designed to mark Barbie's 50th birthday - yes, she's that old but doesn't she look good for her age - "Muslim" Barbie is wearing a burka. The doll isn't actually called "Muslim Barbie" but what else to conclude from two dolls covered from head to toe, just their eyes showing?

As a Muslim woman, I'm all too familiar with the media shorthand for "Muslim" and "woman" equaling Covered in Black Muslim Woman. She's seen, never heard. Visible only in her invisibility under that black burka, niqab, chador, etc. Her male equivalent is Angry Bearded Muslim Man. Whenever the Muslim world is supposed to be upset or offended, invariably that story is illustrated by images of Angry Bearded Muslim man marching, shouting, fists raised in the air in righteous anger and burning something: an American flag, an Israeli flag, preferably both.

In those images you have conveyed all you want to say about Muslims: the men are angry, dangerous and want to hurt us; the women are just covered in black.

While there are indeed some Muslim men and women who fit both such descriptions they are by no means the majority and they are utterly insufficient in describing the diversity of views, appearances and attitudes among Muslims. But they make for sexy TV and front page photos. And they are my biggest competitors when I give lectures or appear on television.

This being Barbie though, her burka isn't in forbidding black. Italian designer Eliana Lorena, who made the outfits for an auction Sotheby's is holding to collect money for Save the Children, instead made Muslim Barbie's burka vermilion and lime green!

What will the Taliban say?

More importantly, what on earth are little girls supposed to do with Burka Barbie? More intriguingly, what is Barbie wearing under that lime green burka? I was at a loss until I came across an ad by German lingerie company Liaison Dangereuse.

A woman steps out of the shower into stilettos (because they're the first thing a woman wears after showering, of course). She stands nude at her mirror to apply make up followed by lingerie, on top of which she throws a burka (black, not vermilion though). The clip ends with the tantalizing line "Sexiness for everyone. Everywhere".

That's more like the Barbie we've known for 50 years! Burka Barbie and Liaison Dangereuse must be in some kind of marketing cahoots.

But hold on a minute, what's a German lingerie company doing making a "Does my burka turn you on?" kind of ad? Isn't Germany, along with many other European countries, opposed to burkas and niqabs? Those all enveloping veils famously described by French President Nicolas Sarkozy as not "welcome" are sexy now?

More recently French Immigration Minister Eric Besson said that he wants the wearing of Muslim veils that cover the face and body to be grounds for denying citizenship and long-term residence.

I'm no fan of Sarkozy but I support a ban on face veils because they erase women from society and are promoted by an ultra-conservative ideology that equates piety with the disappearance of women.

It's the kind of ideology which in Egypt a couple of years ago was behind an altogether different kind of ad, circulated on the internet, which used a split screen - in one, was a lollipop in a wrapper, in the other, the lollipop was uncovered and surrounded by flies. Message - in a country where 83 percent of women polled said they had experienced sexual harassment including groping and verbal abuse: if women cover they will be safe from harassment, as the lollipop is safe from flies.

And yet here is Liaison Dangereuse using a full face and body veil to tantalize and beguile.

The final piece of the puzzle came when the BBC reported that on the Saudi religion channel Awtan TV women presenters are dressed from head to toe in a black niqab. (The burka has a mesh for around the eye area, the niqab leaves the eyes uncovered).


Those Burka Barbies must be spin-offs for those women presenters, one of whom told the BBC that wearing the niqab helps her to concentrate more on her work and that what she looks like is irrelevant. It begs the question why she didn't choose radio instead but hey, I'm still trying to figure out this Burqa Barbie business.

Apparently, fans of these women in black from head to - gloves included - urge them to stay just the way they are. Little did Ms. Lorena realize that she was actually supplying a demand most of us never knew existed - Burka Barbie TV Presenter!

And who needs Ken when Burka Barbie can have Angry Bearded Muslim Man as her companion? (I want my share of royalties for that idea).

My only hope is that Sarkozy - G.I. Nicolas, in my doll analogy - is true to his word and lets Burka Barbie know that she is not welcome in France.

I was never one for dolls.

3DHS / Obama team fumbling the key messages
« on: January 04, 2010, 01:31:55 PM »
Obama team fumbling the key messages

By Drew Westen, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Drew Westen is professor of psychology and psychiatry at Emory University, founder of Westen Strategies and author of "The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation." He has been a consultant or adviser to several candidates, nonprofit organizations and Fortune 500 companies, and informally advised Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- Hopefully the President is returning rested from the closest thing to a vacation a President can get, which is not much.

George W. Bush took vacations seriously (and often), even after the terrorist attack that defined his presidency. In that sense, there's something deeply ironic about Republicans attacking the vacationing Obama for failing to prevent a Nigerian from blowing up his underpants in mid-air.

There is, of course, plenty of blame to be shared between the two administrations, which have similarly handled both security (with a Swiss-cheese system that can't stop a man whose own father warned American officials in advance) and averted disasters (with measures designed to prevent the last attempt rather than future ones, e.g., making us all take off our shoes when the next bomber can hide the explosives in his undies; forbidding the use of laptops in the last hour of a flight when the next terrorist can simply detonate his explosive five minutes earlier).

But the response to the Undiebomber underscores a problem the current administration does not share with its predecessor, which not only "stayed on message" but largely controlled it for the first six years of Bush's presidency: the ability to communicate a clear vision to the American people.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano initially suggested, in a tone intended to reassure, that the failed terrorist attack proved the system works. A few days later, when that comment could no longer even pass through airport screening machines, the president reversed course, calling the event a systemic failure of catastrophic proportions.

Napolitano's gaffe (which, to be fair, she later sought to correct) was not an isolated incident. It is emblematic of a seat-of-the-pants approach to speaking with the American people about issues that really matter to them that is increasingly undermining the administration's credibility (and with it, its poll numbers).

Just two weeks ago, on the Sunday morning talk shows, one member of the White House economic team confidently asserted that the recession was over -- a statement that was tone deaf at best to a nation in which one in six people is out of work or has given up looking and one in five families is in danger of losing its home. An hour later, a second senior member of the White House economic team responded on a different show that the recession is definitely not over.

That two members of the president's inner circle had obviously not discussed a key question they both knew they would be asked speaks to the same problem as Napolitano's out-of-touch remark.

The White House seems unable to convey to an anxious and angry electorate that has just lived through one of the most unsettling decades in American history that their leaders understand what they are experiencing and have a clear, shared vision of how to restore stability. President Franklin D. Roosevelt didn't reassure a frightened nation that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself -- or maybe we do."

It is difficult to find an issue on which the White House has offered a coherent, compelling message. Consider the administration's stance on deficits, which will constrain every piece of legislation the president attempts to pass.

President Obama never made a concerted effort to explain to the American people, in plain language, the most basic lessons of modern economics as to why deficit spending is essential to breaking a downward spiral in which major banks fail, the stock market collapses, businesses lay off employees, people who've lost their jobs can't buy or pay their mortgages, more businesses collapse as consumer confidence and spending plummet, banks stop lending, and home foreclosures skyrocket, leading to further layoffs and decreased demand.

When no one has the money to spend or invest, the only one left to do it is the federal government. Breaking that spiral (and beginning to reinvest in America) was the primary purpose of the "stimulus package"-- something the president should have repeated dozens of times.

Instead, the administration has been mixing messages -- often in the same sentence -- about the need for government spending and the importance of deficit reduction and making any new spending "deficit neutral." To the average American, it's difficult to see how those messages fit together, and with good reason: They don't.

The same has been true of the administration's message on health care reform. Conservatives had a simple, clear, compelling story to tell:

Democrats want a government takeover of our health care system, which will increase costs, raise taxes on the middle class, reduce the quality of care for Americans who have insurance, and put a bureaucrat between you and your doctor.

The White House never offered an equally compelling story, even though they could have:

Over 40 million Americans lack health insurance, and we're all one pre-existing condition, lost job, or catastrophic illness away from losing our life savings and our doctor. Why? Because insurance companies have doubled our premiums in the last eight years, refuse to cover people who are or have been ill ("pre-existing conditions"), and routinely cut off coverage to people when they get ill, even though they've been paying their premiums for years. The answer? Regulate insurance companies to make them treat people fairly, require them to compete with each other and with at least one plan they don't get to pick, and tax the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans who got hundreds of billions in tax cuts over the last decade so people who work for a living can take their kids to the doctor.

What would that story have offered? A description of the problem in terms everyone can relate to, an explanation of how it came about that people have seen with their own eyes, a clear plan for solving it that passes the "common sense" test, and an appeal to core American values like security, hard work, competition and fairness. I happen to know that message would have garnered 2 to 1 support for health care reform because I polled various versions of it during the election and have done so recently.

But what the public heard instead is how Nebraskans aren't going to have to pay for Medicaid like every other state because their senator negotiated a special deal. They also heard how the president and senate would like to cut hundreds of billions in Medicare spending for seniors and to tax companies that offer working and middle class people good health insurance plans so they'll drop those plans in favor of lower-quality ones.

Both of those happen to be true, and neither would have been necessary if the White House had told a coherent story that just made sense to the average American in the first place.

President Obama has accomplished much in his first year in office, but paradoxically, the man who ran on hope has governed without it. He has listened too often to advisers who have counseled that the possible is impossible and that the path to success is the path of least resistance, making deals with the same special interests who have stolen the jobs, homes and hope of working Americans, and whose fingerprints are all over every major piece of legislation on the horizon -- or not on the horizon.

As the president moves into his second year, it is time for a course correction. As one of the most effective communicators in modern American history, he should heed the wise counsel of the president he most admires, Abraham Lincoln: "...public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently, he who moulds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible."

It is time this president makes statutes and decisions possible, not by compromising at the outset with the people who dug the holes in which we find ourselves or staying "above the fray" as legislators and lobbyists work out the details, but by articulating clearly what he believes in and putting the power and prestige of his office and his presence behind it.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Drew Westen.

3DHS / Iranian to be blinded with acid for doing same to woman
« on: December 15, 2008, 10:12:39 AM »
That's a harsh sentence! But I have to say, despite the brutality of it, at least they're taking a crime against a woman seriously. And then the jerk had the nerve to say he's still marry her and consider it compensation for his crime? Ugh.

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- An Iranian woman, blinded by a jilted stalker who threw acid in her face, has persuaded a court to sentence him to be blinded with acid himself under Islamic law demanding an eye for an eye.

Ameneh Bahrami refused to accept "blood money." She insisted instead that her attacker suffer a fate similar to her own "so people like him would realize they do not have the right to throw acid in girls' faces," she told the Tehran Provincial Court.

Her attacker, a 27-year-old man identified in court papers as Majid, admitted throwing acid in her face in November 2004, blinding and disfiguring her. He said he loved her and insisted she loved him as well.

He has until early this week to appeal the sentence.

 Doctors say there is no chance Bahrami will recover her vision, despite repeated operations, including medical care in Spain partially paid for by Iran's reformist former president, Mohammed Khatami, who was in power when the attack took place.

Majid said he was still willing to marry Bahrami, but she ruled out the possibility and urged that he remain locked up.

"I am not willing to get blood money from the defendant, who is still thinking about destroying me and wants to take my eyes out," she told the court. "How could he pretend to be in love? If they let this guy go free, he will definitely kill me."

Bahrami told the court that Majid's mother had repeatedly tried to arrange a marriage between the two after Majid met Bahrami at university.

She rejected the offer, not even sure at first who the suitor was. Her friends told her he was a man who had once harassed her in class, leading to an argument between them.

But he refused to accept her rejection, she said, going to her workplace and threatening her.

Finally, she lied and told him she had married someone else and that "it would be better all around if he would leave [her] alone."

She told the court that she reported the conversation to police, saying he had threatened her with "burning for the rest of my life" -- but they said they could not act until a crime had been committed.

Two days later, on November 2, 2004, as she was walking home from work, she became aware of a man following her. She slowed, then stopped to let him pass.

"When the person came close, I realized that it was Majid," she said. "Everything happened in a second. He was holding a red container in his hand. He looked into my eyes for a second and threw the contents of the red container into my face."

Bahrami knew exactly what was happening, she said.

"At that moment, I saw in my mind the face of two sisters who years ago had the same thing happen to them. I thought, 'Oh, my God -- acid.' "

Passers-by tried to wash the acid off Bahrami, then took her to Labafinejad Hospital.

"They did everything possible for me," she said of the doctors and nurses there.

Then, one day, they asked her to sign papers allowing them to operate on her.

"I said, 'Do you want to take my eyes out?' The doctor cried and left."

They did want to remove her eyes surgically, she learned, for fear they would become infected, potentially leading to a fatal infection of her brain.

But she refused to allow it, both because she was not sure she could handle it psychologically, and because she thought her death would be easier for her family to bear.

"If I had died, my family would probably be sad for a year and mourn my death, and then they would get used to it," she told the court. "But now every day they look at me and see that I am slowly wasting away."

The three-judge panel ruled unanimously on November 26 that Majid should be blinded with acid and forced to pay compensation for the injuries to Bahrami's face, hands and body caused by the acid.

That was what she had demanded earlier in the trial. But she did not ask for his face to be disfigured, as hers was.

"Of course, only blind him and take his eyes, because I cannot behave the way he did and ask for acid to be thrown in his face," she said. "Because that would be [a] savage, barbaric act. Only take away his sight so that his eyes will become like mine. I am not saying this from a selfish motive. This is what society demands."

Attacking women and girls by throwing acid in their faces is sufficiently common in countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia that groups have been formed to fight it. Human rights organizations have condemned the practice in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is not clear how often such attacks take place in Iran.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are the only countries that consider eye-gouging to be a legitimate judicial punishment, Human Rights Watch has said.

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