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Egypt

ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

The military council presiding over Egypt's transition forms an eight-member panel to recommend revisions to the country's Constitution.

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie


TOP STORY

*The military council presiding over Egypt's transition forms an eight-member panel to recommend revisions to the country's Constitution. "The armed forces want to hand over power as soon as possible," said Sobhi Saleh, a former Muslim Brotherhood MP, a lawyer and member of the panel.

*Labor strikes continued across the country. "The Supreme Council is aware of the economic and social circumstances society is undergoing, but these issues cannot be resolved before the strikes and sit-ins end," the council said in a statement. "The result of that will be disastrous," it added.

*Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit called on the international community to assist Egypt financially, as the economy "was severely affected by the political crisis that has shaken the country." EU finance ministers are debating an Egyptian request to freeze the assets of former government ministers from the Hosni Mubarak administration.

*The Muslim Brotherhood announced its intention to form a political party that will participate in the next, as yet unscheduled, legislative elections.

ARAB MUSIC

*The unofficial anthem of Egypt's revolution has become Voice of Freedom, sung by a group of Egyptian singers with accompanying footage shot in the streets at the peak of the protests. A sample of the lyrics: The most important thing is our rights … We broke all taboos … For a long time, we've been waiting… (chorus) In all the streets of the country is the sound of freedom. Freed Google executive Wael Ghonim showed the clip to a 60 Minutes correspondent, saying it embodied the spirit of Egyptians and the moment they are living.

FACEBOOKED

*An Al Arabiya article today highlighted a new facebook group called "The Man Standing Behind Omar Suleiman," a group created to wonder about the angry-looking man standing behind Egypt's new vice president as he read the announcement of President Hosni Mubarak's resignation last Friday. The mission of the group: "Of course none of us denies the critical role played by the Admiral/Guy Who Stood Behind Omar Suleiman, who was steadfast and solemn throughout all recent events while remaining behind Omar Suleiman. In this, we fully recognize the strength of our conviction and hereby nominate the Admiral/Doctor/Engineer/ Guy Who Stood Behind Omar Suleiman to the presidency of the Arab Republic of Egypt."

*The creators of that group link to another called "Obama: Shut Up. We can solve our own problems," which pretty much speaks for itself.

SURREALPOLITIK

*Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi gave a live interview with Al Jazeera in which he expounded on the meaning of the word "democracy," much to the amusement of the host and audience.

"There is a new trend in the world – the system of ruler and ruled is finished," said Gaddafi in the clip that has already racked up 39,000 views on YouTube. "Democracy is an Arabic word – demo, meaning "to stay" in Arabic, and cracy, meaning "chairs' in Arabic." The word "kurasy" in Arabic usually refers to the thrones or seats of power of ruling dictators, who are meant to "sit on the chair" for life. Gaddafi, who has been on the chair himself since 1969, seems to understand that democracies are meant to be dictatorships, and vice-versa. "A system where you have a party, a president and a government is ridiculous," he said. People, he concluded, should rule themselves through committees, as they do in Libya.

The leader ended with the usual plug for his book, The Green Book ("all this is in The Green Book," he concludes) – a manifesto for government based on the Third Universal Theory, which proposes a solution to economic and social problems for humanity. If followed correctly, governments and societies would look much as Libya does.

Those commenting on the clip do not appear to be clamoring for the spread of the Third Universal Theory. Reactions included: "Swear to God, this is the funniest president in the universe," and "I have no idea how this idiot became president." In fact, Gaddafi is not technically president, and insists instead on being referred to as the Leader, or Guide, of the Libyan revolution. Of course, there is also plenty of room for debate on the meaning of ‘revolution."

Feb. 15, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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Ideas

Joshimath, The Sinking Indian City Has Also Become A Hotbed Of Government Censorship

The Indian authorities' decision to hide factual reports on the land subsidence in Joshimath only furthers a sense of paranoia.

Photo of people standing next to a cracked road in Joshimath, India

Cracked road in Joshimath

@IndianCongressO via Twitter
Rohan Banerjee*

MUMBAI — Midway through the movie Don’t Look Up (2021), the outspoken PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is bundled into a car, a bag over her head. The White House, we are told, wants her “off the grid”. She is taken to a warehouse – the sort of place where CIA and FBI agents seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in Hollywood movies – and charged with violating national security secrets.

The Hobson’s choice offered to her is to either face prosecution or suspend “all public media appearances and incendiary language relating to Comet Dibiasky”, an interstellar object on a collision course with earth. Exasperated, she acquiesces to the gag order.

Don’t Look Upis a satirical take on the collective apathy towards climate change; only, the slow burn of fossil fuel is replaced by the more imminent threat of a comet crashing into our planet. As a couple of scientists try to warn humanity about its potential extinction, they discover a media, an administration, and indeed, a society that is not just unwilling to face the truth but would even deny it.

This premise and the caricatured characters border on the farcical, with plot devices designed to produce absurd scenarios that would be inconceivable in the real world we inhabit. After all, would any government dealing with a natural disaster, issue an edict prohibiting researchers and scientists from talking about the event? Surely not. Right?

On January 11, the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), one of the centers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), issued a preliminary report on the land subsidence issue occurring in Joshimath, the mountainside city in the Himalayas.

The word ‘subsidence’ entered the public lexicon at the turn of the year as disturbing images of cracked roads and tilted buildings began to emanate from Joshimath.

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