Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Check the archives too - a lot of good stuff to enjoy. Me myself? Off to new adventures in the blogosphere, if time permits.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Cleopatra Died Yesterday

Yesterday in History: In 30 B.C. (on Aug. 30, by some estimates), the seventh and most famous queen of ancient Egypt known as "Cleopatra" committed suicide.

Rent a Brothel, Pay 100 Men...

Two 19 year old women in German Cologne has proved they are the biggest whores living. They rented a room in "Europes largest brothel," and received the 100 (each) pre-booked men who all got paid. And what was the purpose of this? Fame. Says Der Spiegel: ..."the secret of this sorry tale is that there aren't any secrets at all. No secrets and no morals."
They allowed about nine minutes per copulation. The men came and went follwoing a strick order -- shoes off, pants off. Nathalie's memory of it has become a bit blurred...

Opera Browser Ad-free party - hours left

If you're a fan of the Opera browser (which you should be if you like me is not impressed by the performance of Mozilla Firefox), you should join their 24 hour birthday party now - only hours left - and get the registration key for the ad-free version gratis.

Jacko in Dubai

Michael Jackson has been photographed in Dubai where he is being shown around with the son of the king of Bahrain, a country where Jacko is thought to have purchased property. There you go Michael, get yourself a harem of boy-jockeys.

Egypt to Liberate Gaza

Cairo will work “hand in hand” with the Palestinians for an end to Israel’s occupation of all territory seized in 1967. Egypt’s intelligence chief addressed Palestinian MP’ on Tuesday. Quote:
“… the pleasure … to convey the congratulations of … Mubarak and his commitment that we stay hand in hand with you until all Palestinian territory, in the West Bank and as well as Gaza, is liberated,” … Omar Suleiman said.

He said Egypt supported Palestinian efforts towards “the complete and total freedom of land occupied in 1967 to pave the way to the creation of a Palestinian state that will take its place in the Arab nation.”

“Our security cannot be guaranteed while you are being threatened. We cannot rejoice while you suffer. We will not be silent until you have recovered your legitimate rights,” he added.
1) What happened to the peace treaty with Israel?
2) He is speaking on behalf of Mubarak.
3) He is tipped as a likely successor to the incumbent.

Edit: here is a longer version of the report.

Is the US Fighting in Sinai Too?

Battle for Sinai: I haven’ seen this claim anywhere else but the army sappers that has joined the hunt for terrorists in Sinai (my Monday entry here) is said to be U.S. army sappers in this report.

Big question mark – and it is not the only one. Did Mubarak and Bush spend hours on the telephone recently to discuss CIA’s failure in Sinai and Aqaba? The report is based on information from Debka, which might explain the unverified information. Let’s see tomorrow if the NYT picks up on the story.

Iraq’s Doomed Police Training

Sixteen nations provide a total of 352 police trainers for the center. The camp has a capacity to train 3,000 Iraqi police recruits in an eight-week basic police skills course and graduate 1,500 new police every month.

… the comprehensive training I witnessed was disheartening. The Iraq coalition constituency deserves to know why this mission is likely to fail.

The wary, uncommitted recruits are immature and lackadaisical about the mission; the parsimonious training is inadequate…

… the troops are often recruited from among intimidated teenagers or disillusioned, desperate unemployed men left with few job prospects in their chaotic country.

We aren't always getting the highest quality ''volunteers" because many of those have already joined the insurgency. Others are understandably concerned about their life expectancy if they join the police.

… about 40 to 60 percent of these graduates never actually join the Iraqi police force when they return from Jordan. They defect, taking their coveted pay and their new skills to the insidious insurgency, according to liaison officers in Iraq.

- the Boston Globe / Jihad Watch

Iraq: 88 % to Vote for Constitution

"A poll taken by “The Iraqi center for national development & dialog”, which is headed by former Planning minister Mahdi Alhafith. Reveals 88% of Iraqis polled said they will participate in the next vote (for the constitution) on the 15th of October. 5% said they will not vote 6% had not decided yet." -Read much more at Chrenkoff

Sinai: Police Casualities Expected

Battle for Sinai: the NYT is picking up on the information that troops now have returned to the mountain range where they clashed with suspected terrorists last week.

We are coming in from below, and they are in control from above. It is expected that we will lose some men because it is a war and there are arms being used.
Last week, troops where withdrawn last week after two generals were killed in an explosion said to be caused by a land-mine. It is the worst incident since the hunt for Islamist insurgents in the 1990's. Before the fatal explosion, authorities had announced that they had captured, killed or identified all those responsible for the Sharm El-Sheikh and Taaba attacks.

Extensive report - read all of it. Michael Slackman has provided the best international coverage of events unfolding in Egypt for several weeks now and deserves credit for his work.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Fresh Troops Hunt Terrorists in Sinai

Battle for Sinai: The hunt has resumed after the troop withdrew last week, following the death of three high ranking officers. Here's what super-Israeli Debka can report:

The new force is commanded by interior minister Gen. Mohammed Sharawi who takes the place of Maj. Gen Mahmoud Adel and Lt. Col. Omar Abdel-Moneim, whose death in bomb traps last week halted the pursuit for nearly a week. A third Sinai casualty revealed now was General Salah Sharbini. The new deployment consists of 22 task forces, including military engineers. Their job is to sweep the mountain trails and caves for bomb devices and mines of the types which have accounted for the destruction of 22 Egyptian armored vehicles.

Interior minister?

Edit: "Programmer Craig noted something I didn't: "22 armored vehicles destroyed! If that's true, there's been a lot more going on in Sinai than what was reported!" - from the comment forum.

Born Again Muslim Woman's Tale

Her childhood was dominated by Islam and the learning of the Qu’ran. At University, she entered the secular world and left religion behind. Then the London bombs happened.
It's been more than 20 years since I prayed in a mosque. The last time was when, as a reluctant 12-year-old… Watching them carry out their ablutions was not a pretty sight, hawking spit and mucus as required by Islamic practice from their mouths and noses before being able to pray. … Recalling the Arabic that my father had taught me came easier than I expected. Suddenly, tears started to roll down my cheeks. I sneaked a glance at the other women. They were all dry-eyed.

At first, I thought it was guilt, remorse at not having stepped inside a mosque for so long. Then I realised - I was crying for my faith.

Condom Shortage in Uganda

Uganda’s men are short of condoms. Any healthy mind immediately connects this sudden lack of pleasant protectors with an extended period of country-wide hanky panky. How good for them! So well, guys, the party is over; blame yourself and leave the women alone.

The blame is not falling on the copulating Ugandans though, but on George W. Bush! According to the UN!

Here is the disaster: While Uganda needs between 120m and 150m condoms a year, only 32m have been distributed since last October.

Here is the alleged problem: A pledge by Bush in 2003 that $ 15 billion should fight Aids had moral strings attached. Apparently the equation didn’t work out in Uganda.

Then again, the claimed shortage might not be true. If we are to believe the minister of health who says there are still rubbers in the back-pockets, I guess they’re still humping.

Tele-commute? Sounds Like New Age

Sandmonkey is working another corner today. Blogging feels like work but in the end we turn out paying for it. I admire SM for admitting he is at work; I don’t think I could ever admit I work for money. Perhaps it is just a cover. Perhaps he is by the Marriot pool having the time of his life with rich ladies who are soon going to marry him and take him away from us. Don’t let that happen. Go to his blog and tell him how much you have missed him today. Pretend, at least! Save him from sinful women. And this is a humorous eye on working from home.

His Thing in That and That and...

Oh my, is this what happens when waiters are sobbing… That’s it. From now, guys are not allowed to work in restaurants. Unless, they’re dancing in a cage or something, anywhere they can’t do so much damage.

(Wait.. cage-dance... Is that what Sandmonkey is doing today?)

Is Al-Qaeda Moving to Africa?

Minister: Terror suspects hiding in southern Africa
Individuals with links to al Qaeda and other groups are hiding in southern Africa and could be setting up networks within the region, South Africa's intelligence minister said on Monday.

Al-Qaeda leader may flee to Africa
BRITAIN and the United States are training border guards in the Horn of Africa in the expectation that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, may seek sanctuary there if forced to flee Iraq.

Al-Qaeda will retreat to Africa, says US general
A senior US military officer on Wednesday predicted that al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq will move to the "vast ungoverned spaces" of the Horn of Africa once conditions in the country get too tough for them.

The Sahel is Osama's New Playground

Election: Restraining Violence and Monitors

Police Ordered to Show Restraint
Police have been ordered to exercise "maximum self-restraint'' during Egypt's first contested presidential campaign and to prevent a repeat of attacks against opposition protesters. -Prime Minister.

US Presses Egypt to Allow in Election Monitors
The United States pressed Egypt to allow independent observers to monitor next week's presidential elections but played down opposition complaints of unfair coverage by the country's media.

Watchdog: Egypt Poll to be Unfair
Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights said it does not expect the country's first multi-candidate presidential vote to be fair.

Monday, August 29, 2005

18,000 US Troops to Egypt

Troops from the US and a dozen other countries are heading to Egypt for a joint operation, the US embassy in Cairo confirmed on Monday. It is the Bright Star joint military exercise that is taking place again. Last time, 2001, some 18,000 US troops participated.

THIS IS a Corruption Scandal

Sometimes Egypt is not poor at all. A $ 500,000 salary was not enough, this media "tycoon" also had millions in hidden benefits. He pocketed $ 14,400 PER DAY in commissions for advertising and distribution. All this from a state owned company.

Ibrahim Nafie, former chairperson of the Al-Ahram group, is also a personal confidant to President Hosni Mubarak. As such, Nafie held his position for 26 years. According to weekly El-Osboa, Nafie transferred $ 70 million into his own account before being replaced in July.

El-Osboa published facsimiles documenting the corruption allegations and detailing some of the payments made to Nafie and his close associates. The paper also accuse Nafie for throwing extravagant birthday parties at his home every year, at a cost of $ 43,000, charged to the state owned company.

Now, don't expect workers, unions and regular people who can barely make a living from their salaries - including the majority of Al-Ahram's employees - take to the streets. Regular people do refer to the top-shots as thieves, without exception. They know how common it is. But only rarely are the facts laid on the table for everybody to view.

I have always been against the death penalty but knowing how people are struggling, struggling, struggling and struggling day in and out year after year, I would understand why few - including me - would hesitate too shout out loud in protest if Nafie were to dangle from his neck on Ramses Square.

Edit 31/8: See more media that now has picked up on the story.

Poll: Religious Leaders Too Political

Egyptians don't want their religious leaders to affiliate themselves too closely with politicians, according to a poll carried out by opposition movement Kifaya. Out of 500 people asked, 461 thought religious institutions are damaging their reputation by showing support for a candidate. Most said religious institutions should stay clear of the elections.



Not sure I want to know what it is all about.

h/t: Mia

Blogger Goes Wild in Dahab

There's coffee all over my place and it's only because Egyptian blogger Mostafa who normally writes about making omelets and Mother Theresa baffled me today by revealing his other side. Before he sober up and delete it, here is his blog entry, let's hope his mom doesn't find out:
... sleeping on the beach and dodging police flashlights at night, watching the sunrise and seagulls, sleeping in an Internet cafe along side a stray dog, sleeping in a bar's toilet, getting your legs bruised and scratched in your first windsurfing lesson, seeing veiled women getting out of the men's room, entering a room where two people were getting laid or whatever freaking mad thing you can do in that town.

Just discovered my new favourite activity in Dahab. Try ripping and bringing down Mubarak banners at 5 am in the morning followed by throwing the banners in the middle of the street and jumping up and down on them, while people can clearly see you from a distance.
And next time Mostafa, take me with you!

Amr Moussa: Iraq Charter for Chaos

Iraq's draft constitution is a recipe for chaos. The Arab League shares Sunni muslims concern over federalism, says the Cairo based organization's secretary general Amr Moussa. Sunni negotiators fear the proposals would lead to the break-up of the country into a Kurdish north and Shia south, depriving the Sunnis of access to the country's oil resources.

Moussa also said he was concerned that the draft text denies Iraq's "Arab identity".
"I do not believe in this division between Shia and Sunni and Muslims and Christians and Arabs and Kurds," he said. "I don't buy this and I find in this a true recipe for chaos and perhaps a catastrophe in Iraq and around it."

Polling the Elections

Here’s a roundup of a few internet polls on the Egyptian presidential elections from The Arabist Network:

Shebab Misr (2264 responses):
Ayman Nour -63%; Hosni Mubarak - 21%; Nomaan Gomaa - 12%
Egyptian Referendum (1591 responses):
Hosni Mubarak - 39.66%; Ayman Nour - 28.16%; Nomaan Gomaa - 15.78%; Boycotting - 10.56%
From Al Waai Al Misri (2706 responses):
Ayman Nour - 31%; Hosni Mubarak - 11%; Nomaan Gomaa - 11%; Boycotting - 37%
The Coptic run Watani Newspaper (233 responses):
Hosni Mubarak - 45%; Ayman Nour - 34%; Nomaan Goma - 17%

Last but not least:

Al Jazeera Poll (32,197 responses):
Do you think the candidates in the Egyptian presidential elections have an equal chance in the election campaigns?
Yes - 6.9%; No - 93.1%

Hitchens: A War to Be Proud Of

A must read by Hitchens in the Weekly Standard (Sep. 5 issue). This is just a part of the lenghty piece but a good start anyway! Quote: "Does the President deserve the benefit of the reserve of fortitude that I just mentioned? Only just, if at all. We need not argue about the failures and the mistakes and even the crimes, because these in some ways argue themselves. But a positive accounting could be offered without braggartry, and would include:

(1) The overthrow of Talibanism and Baathism, and the exposure of many highly suggestive links between the two elements of this Hitler-Stalin pact. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who moved from Afghanistan to Iraq before the coalition intervention, has even gone to the trouble of naming his organization al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

(2) The subsequent capitulation of Qaddafi's Libya in point of weapons of mass destruction--a capitulation that was offered not to Kofi Annan or the E.U. but to Blair and Bush.

(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.

(4) The agreement by the United Nations that its own reform is necessary and overdue, and the unmasking of a quasi-criminal network within its elite.

(5) The craven admission by President Chirac and Chancellor Schröder, when confronted with irrefutable evidence of cheating and concealment, respecting solemn treaties, on the part of Iran, that not even this will alter their commitment to neutralism. (One had already suspected as much in the Iraqi case.)

(6) The ability to certify Iraq as actually disarmed, rather than accept the word of a psychopathic autocrat.

(7) The immense gains made by the largest stateless minority in the region--the Kurds--and the spread of this example to other states.

(8) The related encouragement of democratic and civil society movements in Egypt, Syria, and most notably Lebanon, which has regained a version of its autonomy.

(9) The violent and ignominious death of thousands of bin Ladenist infiltrators into Iraq and Afghanistan, and the real prospect of greatly enlarging this number.

(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.

h/t: The Anchoress

Perspective on BBC and Iraq

The Telegraph puts the development in Iraq in its right context. Read the full story here.
The reality is, in fact, considerably more hopeful than that. Iraq, a country with no tradition of democratic values and institutions, is emerging from decades of totalitarianism under Saddam. The murderous violence that has blighted the country since coalition forces freed Iraq from his tyranny is almost wholly the consequence of the activities of imported fanatics, whose blind and bitter dedication to the massacre of innocent people is equalled only by the nihilistic futility of their cause. Iraq's native, democratic politicians are in fact making significant progress towards agreeing a document that will provide a framework for a peaceful and democratic future.

All Men in Heaven

From Silly Bahraini Girl: "What do you a call a man in heaven?""An Angel.""Many men in heaven?""A host of angels.""All men in heaven?""Peace on Earth!!!!"

Abnormal Normality of Sharm El-Sheikh

I scolded "Come back to lovely Sharm where we have more armed troops and it is 15 percent cheaper now." Turns out, Sandmonkey notices, the 'campaign' might have been a success! A wire report [WP] [Yahoo] tells about hotels that are almost back to normal levels of bookings for the season. A government push to share the cost of cancelled charter flights eases the burden on risk-taking operators. Countries that issued travel warnings after the July attack now gives tourists thumbs up.

What we shall notice above all is that last years attack in and around Taaba did not halt this years rapid growth of Egypt's tourist market -- the main source of income for this poor country. Also, the chock-effect that followed the attack in Luxor almost ten years ago when the tourist market died flat out is unlikely to happen again since we are living in a different world these days and are aware that attacks can happen anywhere. My final point: yes, Egypt's tourist industry will suffer since travelers from some (but not all) European nations that usually comes here in masses are still hesitating to book their trips. But if the effect is that the market only grows less than last year, or actually goes down, is too early to say. Let's cross our fingers. Egypt is still the best place to be, no one should think anything else!

The Daily Egyptian: Unbelievable Hoax

'Father, please don't die' a little girl implored in letters published during two years in the student daily paper The Daily Egyptian, Illinois. The father died and it turned out it was all an anti-war hoax of unbelievable dimensions. h/t: Michelle Malkin Edit: read more here.
Finally, Bush's supporters arrive to Crawford

Cindy, can you cry one more time for the camera?

Edit: The Anchoress has commented on this:
Cindy Sheehan kneels before a cross with her son’s name on it, touches his picture, wipes her tears. It’s an outpouring of emotion that is part of a scheduled news event organized daily for the television, radio and print reporters who crowd in to capture a mother’s grief.
I’m sure her grief is sincere and heartfelt. But I must say, I don’t think I could put it out there for the cameras, on schedule. As Daffy Duck would say…”hmmm…somethin’ amiss, there.”But then, I’m no marketer. I guess the folks surrounding Mrs. Sheehan know what they’re doing.

Egypt's Potemkin Election

Freedom isn't on the march in Cairo; at best, it's a slow crawl. But compared with the chaos in Iraq, maybe that doesn't look so bad to the Bush team. Or maybe there just isn't the stomach to insist on more.
- Jackson Diehl in WP.

Another excellent column in today's WP is quoting Dr. Rice's speech in Cairo in June:
"The day must come when the rule of law replaces emergency decrees -- and when the independent judiciary replaces arbitrary justice."

Perhaps Rice did not mean that the day must come in time for the approaching Egyptian elections.
- Robert Kagan, WP

Who Said Coffee was Bad?

Suzi love, I simply have to call Martha and Ophra to let them know: A new study says coffee delivers more health benefits than fruit and vegetables. Scientists measured the antioxidant content of more than 100 items; coffee emerged as the biggest source.

Government Pays Brotherhood Back

Payback time: The Muslim Brotherhood is not calling for a boycott of the election, nor is it causing trouble for the government in any other way. So here is the payback: prominent leaders released. Expect more goodies to be thrown their way. This being said, people shouldn't be in prison on political grounds in the first place.

The Economist on Egypt's Election

One thing everyone knows about Egypt's first-ever presidential election, due on September 7th, is who is going to win. Hosni Mubarak has held the top job for four terms already, and, barring divine intervention, is set to keep it for six more years. The reason, suggests a buffoon in a play recently staged in Cairo, may be that Egypt's politics is rather like a football tournament: “If a team wins it three seasons running, they keep the trophy in their clubhouse forever, right?” Full story here.

Hunt for Islamists Hiding in Caves

The Battle for Sinai: Army sappers have joined the 5,000 security forces currently hunting down suspected Islamist terrorists in the Mount Halal area of North Sinai. The area is full of caves and deep ravines. At least two army units to clear mines and one boarder guard unit joined the sweep on Sunday, not long after masked gunmen opened fire at a check-point and then ran off to the mountains. The police believe the terrorist cell hiding in the area are responsible for the July bomb attack in Sharm El-Sheikh as well as last October's string of attacks in the Taaba region of Sinai. Developing story.

Unlikely Winner # 4

Name: Ahmed Al-Sabahi
Party: Al-Ummah Party
Profession: Fortune Teller, Hair-dressing teacher, Horoscope writer.
Pros: Wants to re-instate the offical tarboosh (fez).
Cons: 90 year old; Mubarak campaign supporter. Invented 'rocket-ball' - a new sport he says is olympic discipline.
Chances: Widely expected to spend his $86k campaign grant to mass-hypnotize the population to vote for him.
Quotes: When asked what his electoral program is, he says "it is all in my books," that is, 23 volumes in a series titled "Sabahi Psalms," dedicated to Mubarak. "Mubarak has opened the way for democracy and we will be with him to the very end." link

Previous: # 1 - # 2 - # 3

Unlikely Winner # 3

Name: Ossama Mohamed Shaltout
Party: Al Takaful (Solidarity)
Profession: Professor of Accounting C.V
Pros: Captain, Egyptian Weight Lifting Team
Cons: Ex-military. Want to convert the world to Islam
Chances: Claims to descend from the Prophet Mohamed; thus, if he doesn’t win, it would be God’s punishment for stretching the truth.
Quotes: "The whole world should convert to Islam. Now." He brands Osama bin Laden a "stinking dog" and a "bastard" and Saddam Hussein a "psychopath." Even advises Palestinian refugees to waive their right of return. "They have a better life in the countries where they are now, such as Lebanon or Egypt." link

Previous: # 1 - # 2

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Japan: TV Teaches Kids About Israel

Says Riding Sun: Not bad, although it would have been more accurate if it had shown the Palestinians attacking nightclubs and pizza parlors... More images at his site.

Perv Caught in a Flash

Here is a Perv that was caught in a flash! His portrait has been watched by 45,000 Internet users since last week when he flashed his private on the tube and his victim pulled out her big weapon - a 1.3 mpx mobile camera. If you recognize the masturbating train rider, let Ritzy know first!

Black Hole: The Life of Captured Islamists

Bloggers and Islamist fear the day when the battle is over and they end up hanging from their feet in a murky cell. When the alleged leader of the suspected terrorist group currently being hunted in Sinai called authorities and claimed his innocence and offered to hand himself in, I thought: poor weapon smuggling criminal sod, your days are over and you’ll be lucky if you even make it to a cell and if you do you’ll never come out, guilty or not. Yes, I pray for him too. Less for the security apparatus; I respect their effectiveness and force, but much has to be said about their methods. Follow me:

Torture in Egypt is practiced routinely and systemically when it comes to suspected Islamist militants. It is “normal investigative practice.”

Methods of torture include beatings with fists, feet, leather straps, sticks, and electric cables; suspension in contorted and painful positions accompanied by beatings; sexual intimidation and violence. Last year, 22 people died by torture in police stations. Mass punishment also increased, including the arrest of wanted individuals’ relatives and random firing on citizens.

HRW and Egyptian human rights groups found credible evidence that SSI routinely used torture during interrogations following the October 2004 bomb attacks against the Taba Hilton hotel and other tourist sites, when thousands of persons were taken into custody and held without charge in incommunicado detention.

An estimated 15,000 persons, including scores of lawyers, are still in detention under Emergency Law provisions.

Reminder: foreign governments are sending scores of suspected terrorists to Egypt. Says former CIA official Robert Baer: “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear—never to see them again—you send them to Egypt.”

Previously: Without Gloves, Police Torture 22 to Death, Also: Technorati search results, Human Rights Watch.

The Battle of Sinai -p. III

- Suspected Islamic militants hiding in Sinai mountains are mining the approaches to their hideouts, officials said.
- Number of security forces sweeping the region now quoted to be 5,000.

Police believe some of the suspects holed up in the rugged mountain area are linked to the triple July 23 attacks in the southern Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheik that killed at least 64 people, as well as the Oct. 7 bombings of two Egyptian resorts near the Israeli border that killed more than 30 people. (AP)

Why is it not Live! on Al-Jaz TV?

Lady Geeka's Tag Performance

I have added a TagCloud to my sidebar that supposedly displays a weighted count of words occurring in my syndication feeds. Accurate or not, I love it anyway. Sine my lady-geeka button has been triggered; I wanted to know if Technorati is offering something similar. Surprise! Here are my alleged most recent 100 tags and their frequency, plus/minus some terms that I will never admit I actually forwarded to their engine. {smile}

Egypt 121 News 118 Terrorism 67 Politics 45 Iraq 18 Culture 17 Elections 12 Islam 12 Sharm 12 demonstration 11 sharmel-sheikh 11 War 10 Religion 9 Blogging 9 Jihad 9 Sheehan 8 Election 7 Gaza 6 Security 6 Mubarak 6 cairo 6 Life 5 CindySheehan 5 History 5 Muslim 4 Greece 4 arab 4 Health 4 Tourism 4 Egyptology 4 al-Qaeda 4 Sex 3 Rape 3 SaudiArabia 3 Crawford 3 Bush 3 Afghanistan 3 Blogs 3 Women 3 Society 3 fascism 2 FrontPage 2 Soldier 2 fashion 2 missmabrouk 2 sandmonkey 2 suicidebombing 2 Media 2 Libya 2 Humor 2 topless 2 veil 2 Africa 2 sexuality 2 AndrewSullivan 2 Internet 2 Cooking 2 bin-laden 2 SharmRelief.com 2 Crash 2 Writing 2 Saudi 2 Holiday 2 Art 2 Entertainment 2 polygamy 2 HumanRights 2 Alexandria 2 Iran 2 bigpharaoh 2 sinai 1 conservative 1 Dresscode 1 swimsuitislam 1 AnnCoulter 1 baheyya 1 antijihad 1 Shopping 1 pictureswar 1 Salon 1 alahramweekly 1 Travel 1 warmom 1 al-ahram 1 al-ahramweekly 1 IQ 1 Circumcision 1 JuanCole 1 Diana 1 harrods 1 slut 1 lgf 1 fatwa 1 Robertson 1 Guardian 1 Freshmen 1 generation 1 Starbucks 1 cloud 1 tagcloud 1

This should somehow turn into a tag cloud and I guess if you’re a developer you’ll get what I do not. Anyway, if you’ve claimed your blog on Technorati, retrieving results such as these above are fairly easy. Start here or search for links to this intro first. The URL to put in your browser will look like this: http://api.technorati.com/blogposttags?key=[your API key that you get from Technorati]&url=http://[your blog]&limit=100 The results are delivered as html on several lines, all you have to do is to run it in MS Word’s edit/replace function.

If you figure out how to make a cloud without knowing programming… please let me know. If you’re not using Technorati yet, please do. Here is a great introduction by blogger Improbulus. I’ve put the tag url’s in bloggers post edit template (settings) so all I need to do is to change the keywords in the Edit Html field before I post a new entry. This post is tagged tagging, tagcloud, technorati. A tag search on Technorati with either of these terms (or multiple with OR between) should display this message! Lady-geeka rocks!

PS: don't tell Cindy how to improve her visibility on the net.

A Pleasure Trip to Basra, Anyone?

I was referring to Basra the other day when I scrutinized Al-Ahram Weekly’s pitch to promote Sharm El-Sheikh (the we-have-more-troops & it-is-cheap argument), asking if that’s what makes a holiday, why not instead head to Basra that is also promoting itself as a holiday destination. By then, this lovely story couldn’t be accessed but the Guardians’ helpful support have already fixed the bug. Money Quote:
Stroll down the corniche at sunset and you can stop for kebab and ice cream, smoke a hubbly bubbly, play chess and listen to the water lapping below. And then, if you are a westerner, you can check you have not been followed, adjust your disguise, and signal to your bodyguard that you want to return to the hotel.

Basra declared itself open to foreign visitors this week but instructed them to be vigilant, dress like locals and hire armed escorts. "Then there is a 70% to 80% chance you will be OK," beamed Abdul Razuqi, the head of the tourism office in Iraq's second city.
In this perspective, Sharm is the safest place to be. Flights between Basra and London are due to start anytime soon. ‘Hubbly Bubbly?” – You have to be Brit to actually say that. Grrrh!

The Government 50k per Vicitim Pledge

Karim at One Arab World has replied to my inquiry about where the LE50k per victim the government is promising is coming from - a question posed in this Friday entry. You can read his answer in the post comment forum, or here:
About two weeks ago six egyptians banks pledged six million egyptian pounds combined (roughly one million dollars) towards the revitalization and relief of Sharm. The governmental pledges have not changed (to my knowledge they have only fluxuated between 5000 and 8500 Le for each victim) The 50k are donations in the form of bonds; a great achivemnet regardless of their timed political connentations. We are still going ahead with our efforts. We have managed to raise more than 1,000 Le for each breadwinners family and we intend to continue even if it is relativly small. Great investagative journalism by the way, I think I'll start reading this blog more often. Karim Elsahy

They are doing a great job. Learn more at sharmrelief.com and in this post by Karim.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Foreign Terrorists Linked to Sharm Blast

Security officials has revealed a link between the perpetrators of the bomb attack in Sharm El-Sheikh and "outside terrorists," says Akhbar Al-Yom, a leading Egyptian daily. The suspected group was not named. In the week following the 23 July attack that killed nearly 70 people, three militant Islamist groups claimed responsibility.

Officials has since then insisted there were no foreign elements involved in the attack, instead focusing the investigations on residents in the area. But last week, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif surprised commentators by discussing the possibility of outside connections in an interview with the New York Times. But we do not have any evidence to prove that suggestion, he warned.

The Battle for Sinai -p. II

- Third ‘landmine’ hits police in Sinai search.
- 15 armed terrorists in fierce resistance.
- Police killing previously blamed on ‘landmine’ is now explosives related to bombs in Sharm El-Sheikh.

A ‘landmine’ damaged a police vehicle in Northern Sinai on Saturday. The explosion injured a police officer and a local civilian, a Bedouin with tracking expertise. It is the third ‘landmine’ blast since the hunt-down began last week. Explosions on Wednesday and Thursday damaged three police vehicles, killed two police officers and injured at least five policemen and a civilian.

A security official says the ‘landmine’ explosives are the same used in the deadly string of attacks in Taaba, last year and in the July Sharm bombings.

Some 3-4,000 security personnel are involved in the search for a local group with connections to militant Islamists.

Fierce resistance is put up by a group of around 15 heavily armed “terrorists and runaway criminals,” says the leading daily Al-Ahram despite a ban on media coverage of the probe into the Sharm bombings. The suspected ringleader is said to be a notorious trafficker of arms and drugs.

The wanted man, Salem Khodr al-Shnub, have “phoned a local official to deny any connection with the Sinai terror attacks and offered to turn himself in.”

More than 500 people are still held in connection with a ‘landmine’ blast in Sinai two weeks ago when two Canadian peace-observers were injured. Around 200 detainees have recently been released.

Why is this boy Stealing our President and Where is he Taking Him and What is he planning to Do to Hosni?

Developing story.

Swimsuit-related - from Budapest

Says the mayor of a Budapest district:
- Females are only to wear miniskirts if they have "completely perfect legs."
- Male employees should wear blazers in the summer.

The dress code was needed because he had seen staff dressed like beggars or holidaymakers.

Re. last week's discussion on this blog: Conservatives are conservatives; religion is not always the issue.

Out of Topic but it is Coulter!

Hold your horses for a while before the public slapping begins, I know sister Coulter makes people explode and that is why I think she is so funny; I beg your pardon; but I have to show you the latest:

COLMES: …you said, "It's far preferable to fight them on the streets of Baghdad than in the streets of New York, where the residents would immediately surrender." Now, some New Yorkers...
COLMES: ... felt that you were calling them cowards by making that statement.
COULTER: No, I think I was calling them supporters of Cindy Sheehan.
COLMES: Is that what that is? You certainly don't feel that New Yorkers are cowards?
COULTER: I think they would immediately surrender.
COLMES: So you do?
COULTER: ... I think I'd rather have them trying to invade Mississippi or Georgia, Alabama, you know, the states where I want Cindy Sheehan's bus tour to go.

Baheyya Finally Let it Out - Kifaya

If you haven't been over to Baheyya's blog before, now is the time to be there.
For its shameless exploitation of the lovely Egyptian tradition of khamseena tea in afternoon. For the cynical evocation of filial respect. For the unsightly expression on Mubarak’s face. For the ruthless use of this woman’s genuine smile and generous offering as a mere election prop. Mubarak and his handlers’ sordid efforts to negate 24 years of his well-known aloofness and indifference to ordinary Egyptians have surpassed all decency. Kifaya

Egypt Campaign Coverage Biased

Grossly unbalanced and biased in favor of the incumbent,” is the verdict of The Cairo Centre for the Study of Human Rights which is monitoring the campaign for the presidential election, that no one doubts Hosni Mubarak will win.

Some of the state-run press was “altogether critical of Mr. Mubarak’s rivals, but failed to publish any criticism of the president himself.” Independent papers also failed the test of balance and objectivity. Although better than the press, “state television still falls far short of standards of impartiality”.

- - Everybody are participating in this theatre and it is ok because maybe next time it is for real.

Arab Inbreeding and Nazi Ghosts

Suzi dear, how comfortable it makes me to know that you are once again able to read my letters, as I need to bring urgent matters to your attention. Of course you remember how the Nazi's believed that biology could explain everything. That lunacy can still be noted; in some places perhaps more than others. Follow me:

Infant mortality rates are twice as high among Israeli Arabs as among Israeli Jews, according to FrontPage Magazine who are referring to a report by the Israel Medical Association Journal. One of three contributing factors is diseases resulting from inbreeding. FrontPage adds that inbreeding is typical for the Arab worlds and produces a theory of their own :
… psychology recognizes genetic components in many psychological problems including criminality. … a region where inbreeding is rife … should also have a greater frequency of such mental ailments. … the high levels of social pathology, violence, and terrorism in the Arab world suggest that inbreeding is one of the causes.

Attempts to “reform of the Arab world” should shift focus from religion and politics to reducing inbreeding. It “could contribute more to helping the Arab world overcome its problems than strictly political reforms for which it may not be ready.”

Genetically speaking, according to this writer, the “Arab world” is not capable of organizing political institutions. That is fascism.

It would also be fascism if I would claim that since Jews can only marry Jews and since the Jewish livestock were nearly exterminated in the Holocaust, the Jewish gene pool has obviously been exhausted; and that this explains the irrational policies of all Israel’s governments.

Disgusting, is it not? When shall these people learn that we are perfectly aware of our problematic political situation and the problems that haunt the developing world? It is so easy, yet so difficult for some. I will not bother taking sides in the larger political conflict behind this article; it is enough to notice that FrontPage are not part of the solution; this attempt to avoid the real issues is merely a sign of desperation.

Edit: The original headline "Arab Inbreeding and Jewish Nazis" assumed that FrontPage/its writer either are or are representing Jewish people. Sloppy writing, angry thinking. Now changed.

The Bliss of Polygamy – Woman says

Suzi love,
I am impressed by this lady, Mrs. Hayam Dorbek, who is begging her husband to marry again. And again.

“My Son is helping me to promote the idea,” she says. I do not blame him for seeking an additional mother; Dorbek is a busy woman who says she is also too busy for her man.

She goes on TV to tell people to be more open-minded. In return, she is accused for turning Egypt into a Saudi Arabia. Her pro-polygamy campaign is not based on Islam; she considers it a women’s right issue to marry a married man. She argues families will be saved because of less divorces. There would also be fewer spinsters in Egypt, an issue with a stigma.

I do not approve of polygamy myself but this is a courageous stance. Polygamy is legal in this country. Adultery is not. Polygamy is sanctioned by Islam, sleeping around is punishable. So how come so many people are prefering an affair? (Don’t be shy; you know it is as common as dates in a palm tree garden). Polygamy is the less hypocritical option. What Mrs. Dorbek is doing is actually no more than asking her society move forward and to live up to the principles it adheres to on the way. She is modern, in a way.

Now to the Polygamy Pundit:
Protest in Benin when a new law prohibits polygamy. “This law allows women to dominate society,” taxi driver says.
This guy has tamed all his wives. “At least I don’t chase up girls or commit adultery,” 60-year old housemaster says.
The Jihad-factor: Why Polygamy makes terrorists – or not. By me.

EDIT: Another version of the Dorbek story.

Who Said Size Does Not Matter?

A hearty laugh on the topic of male apparatus size at Sandmonkey's is matched by this at SillyBahrainigirl.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Battle of Sinai

Developing story. The police have withdrawn temporarily from the Sinai mountain range where two high-ranking officers were killed Thursday during a search for militant Islamists. The police say they want to assess the strategic situation and ‘clear any more landmines.’*

- The sweep and siege of militants is still on, says anonymous ministry of interior official.

- 4,000 security troops backed by armored cars are involved in the weeklong hunt for Islamists in the Sinai area.

* clearing landmines is as far as I can understand a time-consuming process; how is the police doing that if they have withdrawn their forces from an unsecured area?

- The government yesterday imposed a media black-out on the developments in Sinai; local media are not allowed to report on the hunt for Islamists.

Anti-Jihadi Handbag

The Peacekeeper

Defend yourself against bearded punks with rucksacks - your peacekeeper handbag can terminate every vicious violator of peace and order in your home town.

design: James Piatt h/t: MoCo LoCo

Le Grande Final

Ritzy's Weekly Eye Part III - the grand final:Same Sharm, Same Charm.” You know they’re out of business in Sinai when the Weekly dedicates the whole monthly travel supplement to promote a prime destination. Says Rasha the writer: “Life is returning to normal – and getting cheaper…” That will please the travel operators here and abroad who has been moaning all month and week about how business is dead, stone dead.

“It was as if nothing had ever happened. Tanned bodies relaxed on the soft sand, grinning two-year-olds tickled by the mild waves washing their tiny feet… silent spellbinding underwater world.” Rasha is a pioneer in a blasted paradise that Europeans won’t go near.

“Safer now than ever… discounts up to 15 percent…” Well if the number of increased security troops define safety and bargain prices equals a good holiday, why not head to another city promoting itself as a tourist destination, like Basra?

Follows a desperate attempt by Hilton Sharm Dreams to sell its time-share units; you get two free nights in a double room. “We ask that you and your spouse spend approximately 90 minutes with us to learn more about ownership at our beautiful resort.” The big question is: Can you endure a weekend with time-share reps. and other “free-riding” cheapies?

Thought not. So let’s look at the statistics instead. The Weekly has a new PR from the World Tourism Organization. Eh, don’t bother. Worldwide tourism will not go down; Egypt will not suffer too much but Sharm will suffer a great deal; that’s what is says between the lines and you read it at Miss Mabrouk a month ago – without the cuts.

On Killing Police Officers in Sinai

Sandmonkey is doing a great job putting one and two together about the news of explosions in Sinai that killed two high-ranking police officers (I.E.D., likely says SM); the news that are no news in the local press since the media blackout imposed yesterday. Read also here and here.

Ritzy's Weekly Eye, Part II

Turning pages backwards you’ll pass the sports and the horoscopes until you find the recipe for Lemon curd ice-cream - it has a by-line so it must be special. Next stop: two relevant stories about environment - relevant, not captioning. Nr. 611 in the series “A Diwan of Contemporary Life” which uses a full page every week to look at the not contemporary life. It had readers, I was told, before the series approached its Nr. 100 issue. I suspect this is the re-run.

Better up is a much awaited piece on the newly renovated Lady Nafisa’s sabil. Fascinating, as most pieces on the Heritage page is, this time archaeologist Agnieszka Dobrowolska is the guest writer.

Culture and Listings… Opinion pages… no, forget it. Just note that Abdel Moneim Said continues to lecture us about the roots of terrorism. Well, it is rather the Muslim Brotherhood he is asking to take notes. So what about us, the readers?

Internationally, “Guilty by association,” is the report on the first person ever brought to court for charges related to 9/11 – guilty on one charge, in Germany. Why do we need a conspiracy theory? Next: “A Woman of Courage” – Mo Mowlam!! Arrgh! Didn’t any person of importance to Egypt’s international affairs die last week? Or would that have required a trip down the stairs to the archive? Mo deserves the honor but what did she do for Egypt? Set a good example in peace brokering? Is the editor trying to tell the English speaking world something? Naughty! Go to the opinons pages, that is where you belong!

Another Chiller: “The Power of the Ordinary:” “Cindy Sheehan ... adds an important voice to the ... anti-war moment.” Read it for fun. It could have passed unnoticed on the opinion page where it belongs: that is usually where personal feelings and heart-gripping adjectives go.

Actually, I liked the Weekly better when Arafat was alive -- at least you knew who they would praise.

Sign me up for Buddhism

Boys are boys... Biker Riding Sun - a favorite blogger - is asking why no one told him there was a religion with wet t-shirt contests after finding this picture and report about a cult where women endure a waterfall - clad in white robes. Chains included.

Songs, Poems, Reform Protest

More - and quite a lot more - on this week's protest by artists. Typically media only give these events limited space. Here is a full description. For this kind of stuff, Islam Online is actually a rather nice resource.

Two, Three Million Egyptians in Iraq

Ritzy's Weekly Eye, Part I: Grandchildren will be told about “how we lived with military governments since the revolution and even smiled.” Meanwhile, let us put the aparatniks at Al-Ahram Weekly under Ritzy’s scrutinizing eye. Since this issue almost looks like a real, critical paper, I’ll do my best to promote its highlights – typically hidden behind the lead stories. So let’s go:

Second century Roman theater -- excavations revealed a beautiful foliage mosaic floor with birds. Also new: an Ibis statuette.

Egyptians in Iraq – two to three millions, they are that many according to rough officials’ estimates, or vice versa plus a by. Most never bothered reporting to the embassy. I guess they could do without the government they left behind. The intriguing question is: What better life did they find with Saddam, and why? Egypt is instead inquiring into the fate of the 80-some nationals who are imprisoned for collaborating with terrorists, although the Weekly doesn’t spell the charges out, Miss Mabrouk readers know all about it already.

Sharm victims receive LE 50,000; saving bonds with current return has been issued with the name of every Egyptian killed. If that is true we need to alert One Arab World who is running the Sharm Relief call based on the assumption that each family will only receive ten percent of this value. He can tell us if this is spin, official typo or, a new deal.

That’s the first page in the print edition and since you have a healthy critical mind you would not want to bother with what is coming next (campaign, Gaza, Sharon blah blah blah). Blogging is however mentioned in an otherwise irrelevant piece. At the last page, you’ll find an interview with Zahi Hawass. He is the guy with the Indiana Jones hat on National Geographic channel. He also heads the SCA – the Supreme Council of Antiquities. Yepp, he is in charge of all digs, mummies and museums. He does a lot, and loves telling everybody about it and that the guy who had his job before him accomplished nothing than disasters. Possibly true. Obviously, this Pharaoh intends to keep his job for life. Since I like characters, I’m a fan.

War Mom is Here!

Introducing the White House War Mom to the World: Mrs. Pruett, 46, has FOUR SONS serving in Iraq.

AND one son that has returned from Iraq.
AND one husband that has returned from Iraq

What breakfast did she cook for them?

Media Blackout on Sharm Bomber Hunt

National media are not allowed to report on the probe into the 23 July attack in Sharm El-Sheik that killed almost 70 people.

… from now on, we cannot publish anything. The rest of the world will be able to talk about this issue except for the people who are the most affected by it," said Hisham Kassem, Al-Masri Al-Yom.

Information, often conflicting, during the past two weeks has mostly originated from unofficial sources. Yesterday, the attorney general said the ban is imposed to protect the work of the judiciary.

Claims by interior ministry officials that extensive efforts had led to the capture of the masterminds behind the attack were contradicted by information from unofficial sources.

It was further questioned after two explosions in Sinai in two days killed two police men and wounded two others. Officials said the explosions were caused by land-mines left behind from previous Arab-Israeli wars.

The explosions followed a sweep of Sinai by 3,000 security personnel, or more, that captured some 650 local residents, mostly in and around the north coast town of El-Arish, near Gaza.

Quote AFP: Kassem said authorities were afraid that leaks on the perpetrators of the deadly bombings and the way they were carried out could expose cracks in the state security apparatus.

The authorities want to avoid embarrassing leaks on those involved in the bombings ... But at the same time the media ban is also a way of concealing the state's failure to find the culprits," he said.

Egypt’s Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif told the NYT the country is working on two theories; the first being that local residents in Sinai are upset by the mass-arrests following last year’s string of attacks on the east-Sinai coast. The second theory, that local terrorists have made connections to networks of international terrorism, is less likely according to the PM.

Battle of the Sexes

This is simply not true but a study claims that the cleverest people are much more likely to be men than women.

Same Theater, New Play

The lead actor himself is in Upper Egypt, Minya to be precise and, although I adore the Minyawis who are always blessing everybody around them with their shining smiles, I suddenly learned why I never accepted to visit their homes. Let's begin the play. Act One:
"I swear to God, Oh Mubarak, that I am in love with you," Mahmoud Fathy declared through a toothless grin.

… this was a one-off, a carefully scripted moment intended to make the president look like a man of the people, part of his campaign for election to a fifth six-year term.

The theater of politics has arrived in Egypt, a country that has never known democracy.
Not quite so, this political theater has been going for the past 30 years – compare that with long-lifers at Broadway or in the West End! That said, our incomparable play may have brought on more laughter; their plays less suffering.

Act Two:
"With our blood, with our souls, we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Mubarak," the carefully screened crowd chanted as the president entered a tent on a small island in the Nile to give his campaign speech….

"I will donate my organs for you," one man shouted, after jumping to his feet and pumping his hand in the air… The president was relaxed on the dais. He repeatedly thanked the audience for its support, and at one point tried to stop the "blood and soul" chant" which was routine during rallies in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, for example.

"There are some people who dislike this whole spirit and blood, or soul and blood business," Mr. Mubarak said to the crowd. "It's better to change it."

The Final:
As soon as the speech was over, Alaa Hussein rushed toward the stage but was stopped by plainclothes security officials. He was carrying a large letter mounted in a gold frame. It was written in the blood of local people, and marked with more than 100 bloody thumbprints.

"People cut themselves and used their blood to do this," Mr. Hussein said. "It is a way of showing our allegiance to the president."