Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Observations from the Window 2.16, Egypt

Following the lead of Tunisia and Egypt protests seem to be spreading like a wildfire through the Middle East with Iran, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, and Bahrain all seeing protests of one kind or another. Even in the newly democratic Iraq people are in the streets again. Why does that last sentence make me want to laugh or cry? It all makes the dark one in me want to start some sort of dictator death pool; any takers? I'll take Iran with the first pick, more out of hope than anything else.

At times the world seems such a tiny place. Over the weekend I was reading some about the Egyptian uprising and in the process came upon my own minor connection to it. Dr. Zahi Hawass was appointed Egypt's Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs as part of a Mubarak's cabinet shakeup at the beginning of the protests. Always a controversial figure Dr. Hawass is at the center of a storm over what, if anything, was looted from the Egyptian Museum during the protests. I met Dr. Hawass at a lecture he gave at NYU a few years ago and got close enough to shake his hand. After reading "Egypt’s Zahi Hawass and a dark past" all I can say is this; I do not recall any call girls being present.

Another big story to come out of the Egyptian uprising was the government shutdown of the internet for five days. How the shutdown was done is something it has yet to explain in full but it seems it was accomplished by simply closing down the choke points where data enters and exits the country. Whether by high-tech means or by simply pulling the plug Egypt's internet was killed between 12 and 1 on the morning of January 28th and nobody knows how. In ways the strategy backfired on the government in that the shutdown had to be partly responsible for the near collapse of the Egyptian economy and that near collapse is what prompted the military to act.

And finally; I want my own internet and I want it yesterday. “It is not hard, when everybody is just in one big database controlled by Mr. Zuckerberg, to decapitate a revolution by sending an order to Mr. Zuckerberg that he cannot afford to refuse,” Mr. Moglen said." From "Decentralizing the Internet So Big Brother Can’t Find You." Totally awesome idea and a good article in the New York Times but I'll let you read it if you want and wont bore you with my geek side.

Bob Marley - Redemption Song

2/21 update - At this point I have to say I was wrong to pick Iran in the death pool. As troops fire on protesters and ambassadors around the globe resign Libya seems to be the next to fall ....
From The Nation - "The End of Qaddafi?"

3/1 update - Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s antiquities chief mentioned above, resigned today.

3/30 update - From The New York Times today, "Zahi Hawass, who resigned as Egypt’s minister of antiquities less than a month ago under criticism for his close ties to former President Hosni Mubarak, was reappointed to the post on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported, citing an Egyptian news report; Mr. Hawass, reached by phone, confirmed his reappointment."

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