The Israeli invasion of India

Oh, those damn imperialist Jooz. When will they ever stop?

The 21 detainees got released

After a lot of hassle, they finally got released yesterday . Congratulations!

On the latest arrests

My piece for PJM can be found here!

A long day

This day started with me finding out that the number I reported yesterday was wrong. There were 35, not 31 detained. Hosam followed them around yesterday:

The detainees–we were told by leftist activists and rights lawyers
who took their cars and started chasing the Police trucks that had the
kidnapped activists–were taken to CSF troops camp in Darrassa (besides
Al-Azhar Park). Later, the trucks took the detainees to El-Dhaher
Police Station (halfway between Ramses and Ghamra), and that’s where
they are now.

The lawyers have not been granted access to the detainees inside the
police station, so we do not know the full number inside, but we think
it’s 35. Two activists earlier were released before the trucks reached
the police station. And now I’m told at least another four were
released.

I’ll update the posting, as soon as I know the fate of the rest of the detainees.

UPDATE: 11 detainees have been released uptill now..

1-Abdel Khaleq Farouq

2-Mohamed Taher

3-Fathi Farid

4-Mohamed Saad Abdel Hafiz

5-Salah el-Weteidi

6-Mohamed Abdel Salam

7-Ahmad Islam

8-Amr Adel

9-Yehya el-Qazzaz

10-Abdel Hamid Arafa

11-Mohamed Ismail

UPDATE: It’s 1:30am now, three more have been released:

12-Mohssen Semeika

13-Mohamed Badr

14-Ahmad el-Gendy

UPDATE: It’s 3:30am now… No more detainees
released, and still no access given to lawyers for those in the custody
of El-Dhaher Police Station. The only thing the police station allowed,
was passing the food and blankets bought by activists who had been
assembling outside the police station, according to lawyer Ahmad Ragheb
of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center who’s currently present in front of
the police station. The officers also refused to disclose the full
number and names of activists in their custody, but it’s believed there
are at least 20 Kefaya members locked up, including: Khaled Abdel
Hamid, Bahaa Saber, Waleed Salah, Nagui Rashad, Mohamed Malek, Mahmoud
el-Wardani, Ahmad Alaa, Omar Ibrahim, Ahmad Abdel Gawad, Na’el Yehia,
Mohamed Adel, Abdel Hadi el-Mashadd, Victor Naguib, Rami Tawfiq, Gad
el-Islam Gamal, and others.

The El-Dhaher Police Station agents told the lawyers the detainees
were to sleep overnight at the station, but will be referred to the
State Security Prosecutor on Friday morning…

Update: It’s 4am now… The lawyers still given no
information, no access to the detainees, so they are leaving and will
be returning in the early morning (in few hours) to follow up on the
case. We still don’t know which prosecutor office the detainees will be
shipped to: el-Tagammu el-Khames, Galaa or Heliopolis.

So the wisdom of the day is basically Mubarak’s Egypt starts the era
of “constitutional reforms” by detaining those opposed to the
“constitutional reforms”…

UPDATE: It’s 5:20am now… and here’s the latest update
from HMLC lawyer and activist Ahamd Ragheb: There are 21 detainees at
the El-Dhaher Police Station, locked up in two seperate cells. One has
12 detainees and the other has nine. More worryingly, the detainees
have not been registered officially in the police station’s records,
according to Ragheb. There will be lawyers waiting in front of the
police station tomorrow 8am, to know where the hell exactly the
detainees will be taken to, as the El-Dhaher Police Station officers
would not release any information, except they “received verbal orders
from State Security to keep the detainees till the morning, before they
are taken to the prosecutor,” said Ragheb.

And now, today, I wake up to the news that the 21 activists that weren't released got taken to the Gala2 court. Later on, while being in the Sawy culture Wheel, where I saw Gharbeia, we get a message from Sharqawi informing us that there is a police arrest order for him, Alaa, George Ishac, AbdelHalim Qandill, Kamal Khalil and Kefayah financer Hani Anan. Will seek confirmation.

Update: Sharqawi confirmed it. His lawyers found out from the police reports that there were orders for the arrest of all those people. We will have to wait and see whether this pans out and they do get arrested. The regime seems to be very intent on silencing all opposition voices before this year's referndum on the constitutional reforms. Guess the new terrorism is geing tried out for measure!

Update: Also add to this list Abeer el askary and Wael Abbas. The charge? The crime of instigating people and causing instability. I swear to god. It's an actual charge! 

Breaking news: 31 demonstrators arrested!

My laptop is going to be operational tomorrow, so that's when I am going to be back at posting things. However, this, couldn't wait!

There was a demonstration planned for the day, to protest against the egyptian constitutional changes, which pretty much outlawed independent candidacy, and made the emergency law permenant under the guise of the terrorism law. I had passed by the area today, and there was about 20 state secuirty soldiers trucks. The area was flooded with black uniforms. Apparently the demonstration went as planned and the police cracked down on them and arrested 31 demonstrators, amongst which are bloggers Mohamed al taher and Meit.

The way it worked was as follows: The police seperated the area of Talaat Harb from The Tahrir square, so many demonstrators couldn't get to Tahrir square. So a group of 100 of them made a demonstration and were chased by the police into a dead end alley and were kept there. There were fringe demonstartions all over the surrounding area, of groups of 2-5 demonstrators staging their own demonstrations independently from anyone else. The Police reportedly cracked down on them in the alleys and the streets surrounding the area. An eye-witness friend informed me that she saw 2 demonstrators getting the shit kicked out of them in a side street and then getting arrested. The Police has reportedly arrested 29 others the same way.

As you can see the terrorism law is working effective immedietly, and used as expected as a tool against political opposition. If this is anything, it's an omen of dark times ahead. 

The tone, has already been set!

The list of the names in arabic can be found here. 

A Middle-east democracy success story

It's hard not to get excited over what's going on in Muritania. I mean, a country that was ruled by a despot for 21 years gets a military coup, that gets done by a group of military officers who chose not to rule the people but hold fair and democratic elections, where not a single one of them or anyone backed by them gets to run, and where they will resign from power and the military after the new government is in place, and this is the middle-east? And they did this totally by themselves, without foreign intervention or pressure? How could you not love that?

Power in Mauritania has never changed hands at the ballot box,
although past votes have been held by dictators amid opposition cries
of fraud. The last president, Maaoya Sid'Ahmed Ould Taya, took power in
a 1984 coup and held it until a popular military junta led by Col. Ely
Ould Mohamed Vall toppled him in August 2005.

Vall has been praised for ending the nation's history of
totalitarian rule, making good on promises to ensure a free press and
establish an independent judiciary. In June, he oversaw a successful
referendum that enshrined basic constitutional liberties and limited
future presidents to two five-year terms. Municipal and legislative
elections took place in November.

"We have big hopes for democracy," said Ahmed Ould Daddah, a leading
candidate in Sunday's race and a longtime opposition figure who ran
twice against Taya in past ballots and spent four years under house
arrest. "People are afraid of a return to the old ways. They are
paranoid about this."

And they won't. Once given a choice, no one would take tyranny over democracy! 

Let's hope the entire middle-east follows suit one day! 

Bin Laden turns 50

Remember those old looney tunes cartoons, where a character would be given a birthday cake, and the candle is really a dynamite stick and it blows up in his face?

You do?

Can you think of a more appropriate gift for this guy? 

Blogging from a cyber Cafe

My laptop is getting fixed, which sucks because of the timing of it all: I am suppsoed to also guest blog over at Michael Totten. Grrr….

Anyway, at least I don't have it as bad as sharqawi, whose laptop got stolen from his house. The fact that he had a new police torture video he was going public with and that the police refused to have him file a police report of the theft have nothing to do with nothing, of course.

Virus

Keeping up with the fun ride that is my life, my computer apparently got hit by the Kernell Virus and the whole system is wiped. I am sending it to the computer store and hopefully they will be able to salvage something. Until then I have no laptop, and no way of doing anything. This sucks. I hate Virus makers. Hate them!

Bastards! 

Breaking News: 21 websites, including blogs, sued

This is going to be a tough year for a lot of people.

I have no confirmation of this yet, but I was informed by Amr Gharbeia that the blogging Judge is suing the government to get them to block 21 websites, some of which include the blogs of Gharbeia and Bent Masreya and the websites of HRInfo and Kefaya. The official reason behind his lawsuit is that those websites defame Egypt, but the real reason might be a bit different. Amr had discoverd that the man had plagarized almost 1/3 of his book's content from his website and others, which, surprise surprise, include Bent Masreya and HR Info. Here is HR Info's campaign against the man for plagarizing. The man seems to be taregting websites that exposed his plagarism. There is nothing so far about this alleged law suit. However, the moment I get confirmation I will let you know.

Update: Confirmation was obtained from the head of HR Info. The story goes something like this: Judge Mourad didn't like the websites exposing his plagarism, so in order to sielnec or bargain with them, he filed a lawsuit accusing them of extorting him by spreading false claims about his plagarism. He did that thinking that the websites and blogs would budge, but they didn't, so now , as a back up plan, he is filing a lawsuit demanding that the government shuts them down because they "defame Egypt". This is why he added a bunch of websites like Kefaya and Yehia Megahed's blog to the list. I have no idea who the other 16 websites are and neither does anyone else at the moment. But once we get them, it will be clear who else he is targeting. I don't think this blog is on that list, but I am still waiting for confirmation!

Lovers’ spat

If this is to be believed, then Assad and A.J. are mad at each other. However, el seyaseyah isn't exactly the most trusted source, so..ehh..

But If Iran sold out syria to avoid a bigger Sunni-Shia conflict, they might be smarter than most people give them credit for. 

Turkey blocks Youtube

For hosting videos that insult Ataturk. The model secular islamic state everyone.

Outed

I was gonna play guess the lebanese blogger in this piece, but it seems that someone already outed him!

Socialist country no more

Today is a fantastic day in Egypt's history. The Parliament has finally removed any word that stated that Egypt is a socialist country from the constitution. We are, for all intents and pruposes, a capitalist country now. So, why am I not happy?

Maybe it's because I know that those are hollow words replacing even hollower words to begin with. A country is not a capitalist country just by calling itself capitalist, the same way a country is not a socialist country by calling itself socialist. What matters is the way they conduct themselves, the way they run the government. And in a country where education, healthcare, and food are subsidized, and where we hire people we don't need and can't by law fire them, is not a capitalist country, no matter what you call it. So why the change in name?

Well, the government in charge, in its ineptness, hasn't been able to run the hundreds of factories- many of them are in the red- that they own, which employ thousands of egyptian workers for a less than living wage (most don't get more than 50-60 $ a month). However, they can't close them down and fire the workers, because it's against the law for them to fire government employees. So, what they do is this: They sell a controlling interest in the factory to some foriegn investor, which makes the factory of the company private, and have him/her deal with the problem, which of course the investor has no interest in doing. He just wants the land of the factory or company, or the fact that it's one of the few companies that operate in that specific market sector and already has a huge share in, which allows them to become instant oligarchs thanks to government control of that sector before. Fine, all is well in good. Nothing against the basic principles of Capitalism here, right?

Ehh, not really! There are a few things that are against the principles of capitalism in that nifty litte model. First of all, those factories/Companies were owned by the government, through seizures or investment, which makes them funded and run by the taxpayer, which are egyptians like me. The fact that they can sell the factory that technicaly belongs to the people for whatever price they deem right, without oversight or accountability to the price of the sale or the money received, is bullshit. If it's public property, then the public owns the property and the government is the managment, so if a sale is negotiated, then the money should go to the public, directly in cash, and not in the hands of the government. No?

But even if we ignore that little problem, we have the problem of corruption in setting the sale price. Since the ministery of Investment has the portofolio of  all public owned properties and is the one handeling all sales in that matter, it has unchecked power regarding who buys what for what price, which gives the minister in charge fantastic leeway to make croney business deals. Let's, for example, take the case of an unnamed Hotel in Luxor, which uswed to be owned by the government, which rented it to a foreign firm that ran it for 2 million dollars a year. You then receive a nice little news bit that last year the ministery of investment sold the entire Hotel for less than 4 million dollars a year to a very known egyptian billionaire. Now, if you studied Finance, you would know that the average payback period on any investment is anywhere between 3-5 years on average, so let's say 4 years. Since the Hotel sued to bring in pure income to the owners of 2 millions dollars a year, that makes its average price based on the payback period in order for the investor to break even about 8 million dollars. And mind you, this is just from renting it, which means that the revenue of running it must exceed that by at least another million dollar a year, i.e. 3 million dollars, which in turn makes the average price around 12 million dollars. How much was it sold for again? Less than 4 million dollars. This means that it was sold at a discount of 8 million dollars, or 66.6%. This of course makes no sense, unless the Minister pocketed some of that discount in his pocket, and let's say half of it, i.e. another 4 million dollars, which makes the discount on the price about 33%, which is still a good deal for the investor. Everyone wins, if by everyone we mean the investor and the minister. Meanwhile, publi property has been sold grossly below fair market price, and the egyptian budget defecit is closing in at 500 billion Egyptian Pounds thanks to mismanagment and corruption. And people wonder why the hell they keep pushing for this newer and tougher tax law. Well, someone has to pay for their newly pruchased by the government luxury cars. God forbid they use the money they stole to buy their own cars. That's for retirement pruposes! You don't want them to work in their old age, now do you? 

Now, which brings us to the final problem with this new capitalistic model: It's not capitalistic at all. It's exactly what capitalism stands against. But they call it that, and that's what the people in the street see, so that's the view they get of capitalism and businessmen: corrupt exploiting croneys. In their heads, Capitalism ends up meaning: factories closing, less jobs, corrupt government and shady sales. And people wonder how socialism still has it's appeal in Egypt after ruining the economy for so many decades. Well, the so called socialist ruined it, and now the so called government capitalists are selling it for much cheaper than it costs. And slowly but surely you find yourself staring at a very nice and impending economic crisis. Good thing we are not called socialist anymore, huh?

A capitalist government should be one to encourage investment in new sectors and old ones, not one selling off all of its money making properties cheap during a fiscal crisis. A Capitalist government wouldn't allow such corruption or wouldn;t have the necessary system to keep the corrupt in their midst in check. A Capitalist government would start looking at its own out of control spending instead of creating new tax laws in order to collect money to keep it floating. A Capitalist government would harnass the power of capitalism to improve the economy and raise the standard of living for its people, like Ireland and Spain did, instead of selling everything off and hope for the best. But we are not that. We are capitalists now to justify corrupt and shady business deals and sales, the same way we were socialist to justify controlling the entire economy and making sure that nobody would have the money or the ability to oppose the government. What's in a name, really? It doesn't matter what you call it, what matters is how it works, right?

Right?

The Egyptian embassy responds

To world criticism of Andel Karim, in this Op-Ed piece. It's quite amusing, because they completely ignore the "Insulting the President charge". Or maybe that's part of the sanctity of religion that we put first before free speech.

Hmm… 

Earth’s Crust is missing

This is such a strange story!

No ACM noms for the Dixie Chicks

I guess they ain't ready to make nice either…

The Canadians wake up

What? They were taking a long nap.

But now they are paying attention, and they are not happy with Egypt at all!

Brave New World!

The CIA is now running ads on TV for recruitment (see here and here ). I guess with the Private Intelligence agencies springing up all over, they have to compete with the market, no?

There are also Private military operations companies in case you are wondering. Blackwater has to be my favorite. I mean, you gotta love their Global Stabalization services, no?

On freeloaders

Ouch!