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February 04, 2011


Call the White House 202-456-1111 and State Dept. (and use the contact form at the state.gov website). Ask that they freeze U.S.-held assets of Mubarak and family and suspend military aid until he goes. Let them know how completely unacceptable it is that a 75-year-old professional torturer would oversee any "democratic transition".

The idea that Suleiman, http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/01/the-torture-career-of-egypts-new-vice-president-omar-suleiman-and-the-rendition-to-torture-program/
">torturer-in-chief, will be the one to preside over any kind of "reform" process is laughable, disgusting. Here's an intelligence chief whose level of awareness is such that he said yesterday about the protesters "We will ask their parents to tell them to go home." Take a look at the massive Alexandria march and the Tahrir Sqare demonstrators; they're all ages, all classes, women and men, secular and religious.

It's very clear that the Muslim Brotherhood has made an active, organized decision to stay out of the demos; beyond chance that there'd be no signs mentioning Israel (it's not a big secret to the Egyptian people why their army gets $1.3 billion a year).

Violence against unarmed people is terrifying; violence against unarmed journalists, and others whose only job is to observe and report, is even more so. What does the Mubarak regime have to hide that is worth this much violence? The last number I saw on Al Jazeera tv was an estimated 6,000 injured and dead in two days.

Thank you for the interesting links, Gary.

The idea that Suleiman, torturer-in-chief, will be the one to preside over any kind of "reform" process is laughable, disgusting.

He's also been one of the chief makers of what peace there is between both Israel and Egypt, and to some degree between Hamas and the PA, you know. Things, and people, are always complicated.

Notice I'm not disagreeing with you, Nell. I'm merely making an additional small point.

I may have another post on the situation tomorrow, but we'll see.

There's hardly a shortage of stuff for me to address; the opposite problem. There are hundreds of invaluable reports worth highlighting, and aspects worth discussing, about Egypt, and the question of which to address without going too long, too deep, we'll see.

I also have a lot of other stuff to do.

It's telling (again) that a part of the RW media (Limbaugh in the lead) at first mocked the attacked journalists/reporters until the guys from FOX became victims too. Then it went to 'we were just joking' etc.
The Son of Cain used the word 'virus' in decscribing the popular anti-dictator movement currently sweeping the Near and Middle East and was very ambiguous about it (giving the impression that keeping the old reliable dictators would not actually break his heart).

I may not get to the substantive post I hoped to do, as I've wound up awake all night, with Ailments.

But I'll note that the internet can also be used against activists, as the Iranian government has successfully been doing.

[...] But since that revolt collapsed, Iran has become a cautionary tale. The Iranian police eagerly followed the electronic trails left by activists, which assisted them in making thousands of arrests in the crackdown that followed. The government even crowd-sourced its hunt for enemies, posting on the Web the photos of unidentified demonstrators and inviting Iranians to identify them.

“The Iranian government has become much more adept at using the Internet to go after activists,” said Faraz Sanei, who tracks Iran at Human Rights Watch. The Revolutionary Guard, the powerful political and economic force that protects the ayatollahs’ regime, has created an online surveillance center and is believed to be behind a “cyberarmy” of hackers that it can unleash against opponents, he said.

Repressive regimes around the world may have fallen behind their opponents in recent years in exploiting new technologies — not unexpected when aging autocrats face younger, more tech-savvy opponents. But in Minsk and Moscow, Tehran and Beijing, governments have begun to climb the steep learning curve and turn the new Internet tools to their own, antidemocratic purposes.

The countertrend has sparked a debate over whether the conventional wisdom that the Internet and social networking inherently tip the balance of power in favor of democracy is mistaken. A new book, “The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom,” by a young Belarus-born American scholar, Evgeny Morozov, has made the case most provocatively, describing instance after instance of strongmen finding ways to use new media to their advantage.

After all, the very factors that have brought Facebook and similar sites such commercial success have huge appeal for a secret police force. A dissident’s social networking and Twitter feed is a handy guide to his political views, his career, his personal habits and his network of like-thinking allies, friends and family. A cybersurfing policeman can compile a dossier on a regime opponent without the trouble of the street surveillance and telephone tapping required in a pre-Net world.

If Mr. Mubarak’s Egypt has resorted to the traditional blunt instrument against dissent in a crisis — cutting off communications altogether — other countries have shown greater sophistication. In Belarus, officers of the K.G.B. — the secret police agency has preserved its Soviet-era name — now routinely quote activists’ comments on Facebook and other sites during interrogations, said Alexander Lukashuk, director of the Belarus service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Last month, he said, investigators appearing at the apartment of a Belarusian photojournalist mocked her by declaring that since she had written online that they usually conducted their searches at night, they had decided to come in the morning.

In Syria, “Facebook is a great database for the government now,” said Ahed al-Hindi, a Syrian activist who was arrested at an Internet cafe in Damascus in 2006 and left his country after being released from jail. Mr. Hindi, now with the United States-based group CyberDissidents.org, said he believes that Facebook is doing more good than harm, helping activists form virtual organizations that could never survive if they met face to face. But users must be aware that they are speaking to their oppressors as well as their friends, he said.

Widney Brown, senior director of international law and policy at Amnesty International, said the popular networking services, like most technologies, are politically neutral.

“There’s nothing deterministic about these tools — Gutenberg’s press, or fax machines or Facebook,” Ms. Brown said. “They can be used to promote human rights or to undermine human rights.”

Gary: He's also been one of the chief makers of what peace there is between both Israel and Egypt, and to some degree between Hamas and the PA, you know. Things, and people, are always complicated.

Oh, yes. He's a vital prop to the "cold peace" policy of supporting Israel's seal-off and economic siege of Gaza, very much including the torture of Egyptians and Palestinians who oppose the policy.

I don't regard that as a countervailing "complexity"; the torture and spies are all in support of a set of arrangements that need to end. Someone with absolutely NO commitment to democracy on any level being put in charge of a "democratic transition"? Laughable and disgusting.

In the spirit of Nell's response, I'm not sure that Suleman is complex so much as smart and amoral and maybe ruthless. There are lots of smart Egyptians. Ditching this one doesn't seem like a great loss, and losing someone who was complicit in torture on a massive scale seems like a big win.

"), because it's exactly what people do, though no one wants to admit to doing it.

No... Each year I buy the "Best Science Fiction Stories of XXXX" and read it. The authors I like go on my 'buy' list. The author's I don't like, well, don't make the 'buy' list...

I also look to the Nebula's and Hugo's for authors. Plus recommendations from people who share my over-all level of taste...

The map really should distinguish safe countries from no-information countries. I doubt that Mali is as safe as Sweden. Maybe just fewer journalists.

It's been surprisingly under-covered, but the basic demands of the demonstrators were listed on a gigantic banner in Tahrir Square on Friday. (Related digression: Turns out that the U.S. daytime Al Jazeera English anchor, Polly somethingorother, does not read or understand Arabic. WTF? I assumed wrongly it was a job requirement.)

Our demands:
1. Resignation of the president
2. End of the Emergency State 3.Dissolution of The People's Assembly and Shora(adviasory) Council
4. Formation of a national transitional government
5.An elected Parliament that will amend the Constitution to allow for presidential elections.
6. Immediate prosecution for those responsible of the deaths of the revolution's martyrs
7. Immediate prosecution of the corrupted and those who robbed the country of its wealth.

Youths of Egypt.

Ran into an informative rundown on Suleiman and the U.S. govt from Katherine (former ObWi main poster) somewhere in the twitterstorm.

But I don't need a rundown on Suleiman; I've been following what he's doing for decades as it happened since, well, I'd date my news-junkiedom in particular from the first week of June, 1967, if that's helpful.

Respectfully, anyone who needs an introduction to him is saying they know next to nothing about Egypt/Israel and the surrounding polities, their interactions with the rest of the world, and internal Egyptian matters of the past twenty five years or so. It's like saying "hey, here's a rundown on this 'Dick Cheney' guy I've just heard is in the news now."

Moses ZD:

Each year I buy the "Best Science Fiction Stories of XXXX"
Cool, but are you referring to Terry Carr's, Don Wollheim's, the continuations by Art Saha, Gardner Dozois', Judy Merrill's, Hartwell & Cramer's, "Lester del Rey"'s, the Bluejay editions, Ellen Datlow's, the modern, well, I tend to be this specific because I was a friend of Terry's, know Betsy, hung in Art's home innumerable times as a kid, first met Gardner in '73, chat with him most days, worked with David decades ago, known Kathryn since she was 16, Frenkel tried to hire me as his assistant, can tell you "Lester del Rey's" real name, and in general it's barely possible I might know a bit more about the sf field and publishing and bookselling and buying then you do.

But if you'd like, I'll bring some of these folks over here to tell you.

Not Terry or Art or Don, alas.

Also, you may not have noticed, but the title of a book is what we put on the cover. If we published them all with brown wrappers, no names, and just said "good book," then, yes, you'd probably be buying simply on the content, which, of course, you'd only be able to do by having first read the book.

I spent a lot of years writing cover copy, and oh, hell, I'm not going to list my credits for you. As I said, no one admits to buying a book based on the cover, and anyone in the business will laugh heartily at that.

Because there's no other way to judge a book that isn't otherwise second-hand, and don't get me started on the logrolling with the Nebulas, the predictability of who is popular with the core Worldcon membership that votes for the Hugos, and so on, or we'll be here for a couple of decades.

I'll helpfully point out that I've not done more than glance at Jonathan Strahan's.

Also, there's no apostrophe in "Hugos" and "Nebulas." :-)

But you might want to take a look at my Facebook Friends List sometime, and then look at which old friends I tend to chat with. As in, say, Gardner a few hours ago, ast Kathryn or David about me, Chip Delany, blahblah, etc.

I shouldn't write comments when I'm this tired; I get a little too honest and a little too easily buttons-pushable. Your methodology is very reasonable, and I'm just rather too close to the subject.

But one of my strengths and occasional weaknesses as a blogger is what I regard as one of the Great Little-Known Sekrits of Life: try to stick to only talking abut subjects where one really knows what one's talking about.

The topics I'm not competent to discuss are infinite.

But, then, you won't find me discussing them.

So if I'm discussing something, I tend to come off as if I'm playing Mr. Know It All, when all it is is that I only address a fairly specific range of topics.

Don't ask me to blog about plumbing, gardening, math, well, as I said, an infinite list.

SF, history, politics, subtopics thereof, on the other hand....

Really, I think this will be my last comment of the evening. Unless I stick to something very simple. G'night!

Except. Nell:

Laughable and disgusting.
Yes, that's the world we live in, all right.

And people do both good and evil.

I'm also deeply unclear where you're deriving your "countervailing" from: could you quote which words of mine you believe suggested any such thing, please?

I don't see that word in what I wrote: "Things, and people, are always complicated." Did I forget to write it, or what?

Also, I wrote: "Notice I'm not disagreeing with you, Nell. I'm merely making an additional small point."

Which part of this, specifically, are you disagreeing with?

Given that these are, in fact, the words I did write, and you're responding to the, I'd like to know which words you're actually responding to, because I'm having trouble finding them in what I did write. Help me out here, please?

I'm happy to endorse and agree with Turb's 11:39 AM.

It seems a bit more on-target to me, but if you'd help me out with which words of mine you didn't quote, Nell, that you're responding to, I might agree that you're on-target.

Or were you responding to something someone else wrote somewhere else?

this might be helpful?

Also, Nell, I should acknowledge that your link to Katherine's links are very useful to people who aren't already knowledgeable about the field, and most of the point of blogging is educational, as well as stimulating discussion, so please let me apologize for sounding as if I was implying that Only Experts should comment, which is not at all remotely what I believe.

I simply should have stuck to what I wrote here, and not written any comments until I'm feeling better.

I think it would be tacky of me to delete my previous comments, so let me please instead immediately apologize for some of them, much though my simply being less compulsive about responding to writing in front of me is always a better idea.

If we want quick and dirty summaries of Omar Suleiman, you could do worse than Jane Mayer.

There's also a certain name in that article that I should discreetly not say anything more about other than noting that there's a certain name.

Otherwise, if we're sticking to quick and dirty contemporary news stories, rather than the many indepth books, history as it happened, etc, Suleiman, Suleiman two years ago, more background, and on we can go.

Yes, things and people are complicated, and no, such a statement doesn't imply any "countervailing" unless a statement uses such a word.

There aren't many governments run by the equivalent of Mahatma Gandhi, and he never ran a government, either. Instead we got Jawaharlal Nehru, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Are these men black and white, evil or good?

How many governents are, there, exactly, today or ever, run by purely good people who have done no wrong?

I'd really like to move to a place with one of those.

Which is not to say that Suleiman should have any role in the next Egyptian government. If I wanted to write that, I'd write it, and I'm not.

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