She noted that he gave his Nobel Peace Prize money to the poor of Egypt, despite her telling him that the family could use it. “He said, ‘Money comes and goes, but friends are forever.’ He was right, of course.”This from the widow of the man who began the institutionalization of corruption in Egypt. And now she participated in a dinner that raised $7 million in bond sales for Israel.
- They keep on referring to "so-called" Palestinian terror attacks (the rockets launched on Israel from Gaza), putting the stress on "so-called." If they are going to pursue this, which is fair enough, they need to develop the debate over legitimate resistance to occupation using terrorist tactics. The insertion of qualifiers like "so-called" and "alleged" will quickly get tiring without a more probing debate into what's legitimate resistance and what's terrorism against civilians (and where the two meet.)
- My impression is that they are pretty fair on Israel -- they don't only show in a bad light, they interviewed Shimon Peres and did a little featurette on the Israeli national football team.
- Their focus on Gaza is on the misery and poverty. I'm glad this is getting more attention, but it'd be great to talk about the ins and outs of Palestinian politics and the role Egypt, Israel and the US have in them. We have enough channels pretending that Palestinian politics are completely independent without external influence already.
- Their reporting on Zimbabwe, including the first live broadcast in seven years, was impressive and obliquely tough on Mugabe. But why didn't he give the background story to farm nationalization that caused the current crisis? Are there red lines he's not crossing?
- The reporting on Iran was very interesting. At one point they had Richard Haass from the Council on Foreign Relations debating Egyptian octogenarian strategist Muhammad Hassanein Heykal. Great to see Heykal talking in English, but he was unconvincing. In another segment they had a professor of political science in Tehran who was much more interesting and not pro-regime.
- Did they really need to include a report on the Emir of Qatar's latest speech as the third or fourth leading news item? Small price to pay, but still...
- They make obvious attempts to position themselves as outside the West, for instance referring to "making the headlines in the West is Tony Blair's recent statements on Iran..." and then following it with a segment on Iranians not paying attention to all this. Interesting strategy, but it won't always be convincing.
- They tried to get several scoops in during the first day. The reporting from Somalia was interesting but too human interest and not political enough, but still good to see live images from there. The Zimbabwe report was not as exclusive as they say since the BBC regularly goes there covertly. The interview with the head of Interpol warning that most countries were doing nothing to check for stolen passports was great, a real scoop, but so far I haven't seen it picked up elsewhere. Sour grapes?
U.S. Copts and Fox News Partner on Egypt Project Washington DC Nov.15, 2006 Dear Copts and Friends, I'm pleased to share with you news of Fox News Channel's upcoming special report on religious freedom in Egypt, in which I had the pleasure of co-operating with Fox News producers and journalists during this past summer. U.S. Copts has joined with international cable television giant the Fox News Channel to create a televised special report on human rights abuses against Copts in Egypt. The report, part of a new Fox News series on religious freedom in countries around the world, features exclusive interviews with Coptic victims, priests, and others inside Egypt. In the summer of 2006, I traveled to Egypt with Fox News journalists where we went on locations all over Egypt to shoot hours of documentary footage highlighting victims and sites of anti-Coptic human rights abuses. The footage include those of destroyed churches, victims and their families. If the serious is to come out in the way I hope too, it will provide a great exposure for our cause. My understanding is that the initial report which will air starting today will be a short program. However, I am promised by Fox that the hours of tapes they recorded will be used in another full hour special on Egypt and the Copts. The entire series, including the Egypt report, airs this coming Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, November 15- 17, 2006 on the Fox News Channel at 7.00 PM Eastern Standard Time (2:00 AM Egypt time). Best Wishes, Michael MeunierIf someone can digitally record this on Fox News and somehow send it my way, I'd be very grateful.
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Iraqi artist paints Rumsfeld gloating over ruins of Iraq by Asaad Abboud BAGHDAD, Nov 14, 2006 (AFP) - Moayyed Mohsen likes to paint great figures from Iraq's past like the mythical hero Gilgamesh. But this year he turned his talents to another larger-than-life subject in his country's history -- Donald Rumsfeld. Dominating the wall of a Baghdad art gallery in the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah is a massive mural that is no tribute to the outgoing US defense secretary. Rumsfeld is depicted leaning back reading papers, with combat-boot-clad feet propped up on a ruined building. Beside him is a weathered image of the Lion of Babylon -- potent symbol of Iraq's illustrious past -- atop a ruined plinth. The US official is surrounded by whirling bits of paper that morph into birds and fly off into the distance. The artist's image is striking and it was conceived in anger -- not just over the occupation of Iraq but also over what Mohsen sees as the humiliation of a nation that once taught mankind how to write.Thanks, Paul!
"I long wondered if I could somehow find a way to concisely express my own and everyone else's concerns about the war and Iraq," the artist told AFP from his home in Hilla, the capital of Babil province south of Baghdad. "When I painted this, I felt I wanted to talk to Rumsfeld, to know why we got into this situation," he said, saying the one meter by a meter and a half (3.3 by 4.9 feet) painting took three months to complete. More than any other official, the controversial Rumsfeld came to symbolize the US intervention in Iraq as one of the main architects of the invasion and subsequent occupation. His resignation on November 8 -- the first casualty of the Republican defeat in mid-term congressional elections last week -- met with almost universal acclaim across Iraq's divided communities, who seem to agree on little else than the situation in their war-ravaged country is getting worse by the day. Many Iraqis feel the US defense secretary's handling of the war showed arrogance and disdain for their country -- tellingly symbolized by his famous quip that "stuff happens" when asked to comment on the looting of Baghdad, including its museum, in the invasion's aftermath. Mohsen, who loves reading American magazines, said his model was a photograph he found of Rumsfeld. "The way he sat was very strange to us here in the East -- it is an insult to those around," he said. In the Middle East, showing the soles of one's feet is considered very poor manners, so the Rumsfeld in the painting automatically offends the viewer. The Lion of Babel atop a ruined perch sends another message. "I decided to make the base of the statue a bookcase containing volumes on the arts, literature and knowledge left by Iraqis," he said. "Then I destroyed the base to symbolize the repeated wars and showed the papers flying through the air and changing into white birds showing love and peace to the world." By juxtaposing his subject with ancient monuments, Mohsen sought to pit the endurance of history against the fleeting nature of man -- an apt visual statement, it turned out, in light of Rumsfeld's resignation. "The lion is a long-lived symbol expressing creativity and sublime artistic work in Mesopotamia, while the person is modern and fleeting and will end one day." Mohsen, who is in his 50s and rarely leaves his home in Hilla these days, said he likes to mix past and present to provoke viewers and make them think. Art in the service of politics has a lengthy history in Iraq, especially under deposed dictator Saddam Hussein whose cult portraits as everything from warrior, to Bedouin leader to camera-toting tourist once adorned all parts of the country. Mohsen maintains that he never painted images of Saddam, and said he now makes a living doing portraits. Although the Rumsfeld painting currently hangs in a Baghdad gallery, owner Qassem al-Sebti said he has put it up for sale through a New York gallery. He boasts that the US embassy here once offered him 35,000 dollars (27,000 euros) for it but he refused, a claim that could not be substantiated. "We thought we could get a better price for it in the US," al-Sebti said.
The Street is Ours We shall start a campaign defending our presence, our right to public space, our right to a life free of violence and sexual harassment; We call upon everybody, women and men, to gather in front of the Metro Theater (one of the locations where the harassments took place) Tuesday 14 November, at 3 p.m., to express our solidarity with the victims of harassment to make a statement that the street is ours. Nobody will terrify us away. Nobody will isolate us in our country.
This rather amusing example ranks at the very bottom of the misuse of public funds (or materials), which is wide-spread in Egypt, as Transparency Internationalâ€™s Corruption Perception Index 2006, which was released two days ago, suggests once more. Egypt ranks 70th, with a score of only 3.3 out of 10 (last year it was 3.4).
Highest-ranking country in the Arab world is Qatar with a score of 6.0, the lowest is Iraq with 1.9.
I think corruption is still the best example for why economic reform canâ€™t be sustainable without political reform. Countries with wide-spread corruption attract much less foreign investment, and innovative companies have lesser chances to gain grounds against the established ones. But in Egypt, corruption is too important for the regime to stay in power, so the fight against corruption will always serve only its own interests. So, Egypt just came in 165th on the World Bankâ€™s annual â€œEase of doing businessâ€� ranking.
Speaking of cars and corruption: The US scholars Ray Fisman and Edward Miguel published a study in which they draw a correlation between the amount of parking fines of foreign diplomats accredited at the UN in New York and the level of corruption in their home countries. In other words: â€˜show me where you park, and I tell you how corrupt your home country isâ€™.
Here is the link to the study (pdf-file): Cultures of Corruption: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets
Results: First Kuwait, second Egypt.