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Showing posts from January, 2011

Egypt after Tunisia: the same Revolution?

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Tunisian General Ammar - The real father of the Tunisian Revolution (Image by Getty Images via @daylife)

I watched President Mubarak last night (January 28, 2011) with bated breath as he spoke for the first time on Egyptian television after a "Friday of rage" in which thousands of protesters demanding his ouster invaded the streets, torched police stations and other government buildings all over Egypt, notably Mubarak's party headquarters in Cairo, and defied the government imposed curfew that night.

All this in spite of the fact that since morning Mubarak, following Iran's infamous example, had shut down  Internet. The web was reputed to guide and hold together protesters, like it had done in Tunisia. But shutting it down could not stop that "Friday of rage", which was the culmination point of four days of uprising. No doubt it was boosted - and better organized - as for the first time opposition parties joined it, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood and

Belgium: What Next After Your Shame March?

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Image via Wikipedia
Some 34,000 young and not so young, marched for hours through the streets of Brussels on Sunday 23 January 2011, carrying slogans putting to shame the political class for not having formed a government.The streets of the city centre were filled with flags and funny hats, making for nice photos that rebounded around the planet, surprising most people.

What, the jolly, beer-drinking Belgians, ever so peace-loving, are getting angry at their government, or rather, lack of it? The day before, a popular Belgian actor had vowed he wouldn't shave until a government was formed, and everybody thought that was "une bonne blague belge", a good Belgian joke: More and more beards in the street until finally politicians would deign to come together and form a government. Ha, et vive la barbe! Meantime, financial market are getting increasingly nervous, gossip about Belgium's sovereign debt is on the rise, and everyone wonders what will happen to Brussels, the s…

Tunisia: Where is Your Jasmine Revolution Going?

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January 20 2011 Protests in front of the RCD party HQImage by Getty Images via @daylife
When the long-time autocratic President of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled Tunisia last week after weeks of riotous street protests and one hundred dead, everybody was surprised. First, at how quickly Ben Ali vanished - and still no one tells us where he's gone to. France? Probably not, the French denied him entry. But then where?  For the moment, his assets are frozen and there aren't probably too many places for him to go to, except the usual ones for people like him...

The other ground for surprise was Tunisia's image as a quiet country where tourists are safe to enjoy sun, sea and golf. A sort of peaceful Muslim version of the Spanish coast, with a nice, growing economy.

How could anything go wrong here? All went well until 2009 when Italy and Spain - both Tunisia's main markets - were hit by the Great Recession. Then the recession ricocheted back to Tunisia, and economic…

If the Euro Crashes, so will the European Union!

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Image via Wikipedia
The British and other European Union members who don't belong to the Euro-zone are gloating these days: they've escaped the fate of the silly Euro! Little do they realize that if the Euro crashes, so will the European Union, including Britain and all the other gloaters...

The Euro is the end product of the European Union dream: if it goes down, so will the rest. And Britain will find itself belonging to a Europe that is likely to be run-down and depressed for a very long time: hardly a good platform to work from on the international scene!

If you don't believe me, read Krugman's major magazine article in the New York Times on the subject: he's just come out with an extraordinarily clear and pointed analysis of the Euro - a must read! Here's the link:
Krugman: CAN EUROPE BE SAVED?

He makes several major points (many of which for those of us who live in Europe are quite familiar):

- the Eurozone is an INCOMPLETE monetary union (read: no fiscal …

HAITI: A Year Later and Still So Much to Do...But One Clever Project is Completed!

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Old Iron Market in ruins after earthquakeImage by NewsHour via Flickr
A year later, after the terrible earthquake that killed 220,000 Haitians and left 1.5 million homeless, over 700,000 people are still living in tents, many with no access to clean water - which means they have little or no defense against the on-going cholera epidemic which has already claimed 3600 lives. And women living in tents find themselves the constant target of sexual assaults. Every day, at least two women report being raped but the victims are probably many more as this is the kind of crime that is classically under-reported.

Only five percent of the rubble has been removed...You read that right: FIVE percent! You'd think that was the first thing that would have been done with the billions of aid pouring in. $500 billions were pledged and so far only some $6 billion have turned up. Where has the money gone? But it should come as no surprise in a situation where there is a continuing political vacuum an…

Gun Control in America: an almost Taboo Subject in spite of Rep. Giffords Tragic Shooting!

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Image via Wikipedia

Three days after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Dem) was shot, and six innocent bystanders along with her, including a Federal judge and a 9 year old girl, the reactions in America have all been about the "terrible" political climate that has supposedly promoted this kind of violence.

A climate in which Ms. Palin played no small role with her map of 20 House politicians adverse to the Tea Party and that needed to be targetted - the map, published on her Facebook page, unfortunately bearing crosshairs like gun sights.

Does it all come down to a climate of hate and one unbalanced young man?

May be.

What is absolutely astounding is that virtually no one in the media is raising the issue of gun control. With one notable exception: New York Times Op-Ed columnist Gail Collins  Click the link and read it: a very courageous bid for more gun control. You'll see however that even Ms. Collins is careful about where she treads. She'd like to see Glocks banned - be…

Violence in America: Why its Political Class Bears the Brunt

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Image via Wikipedia
Everything in the USA tends to be bigger than elsewhere in the developed world, from skyscrapers to violence. The recent shooting in Arizona of  Democrat Rep, Gabrielle Giffords, that left her clinging to life - the bullet travelled through her brain - and killed six people, including a child (9 years old) and a Federal judge, is a case in point.

The blogosphere and the media immediately went a-twitter: this was so much better than Wikileaks! Of course, Arizona is a state awash with anti-immigrant and anti-government passions, so assigning the blame to the political right was a no-brainer. The fact that she's a pretty, 40 year-old woman, wife of an astronaut and Navy captain, added to the unholy glitter of the news.

Politicians jumped on the bandwagon of comments: starting with the local county sherif (a Democrat) raging about "the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country", a direct result, as he saw it, of Republican Tea Party rants a…

Christians Crucified Everywhere in the Muslim World...Except in Turkey!

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Logo Muslim BrotherhoodImage via Wikipedia

A powerful bomb exploded in front of a Christian Coptic Church in Egypt, killing 21 and wounding nearly 100 of the faithful who were attending New Year's mass. When, on the following day, the Pope in Rome called for world leaders to protect Christians, he immediately drew criticism from the Great Imam of Egypt. The Pope's call, he said, was tantamout to interference in internal Egyptian affairs...

Internal affairs? Since when killing religious minorities is an "internal affair"? Of course, killing people from other faiths has been a regular activity in the Middle East since earliest times - starting with the Hashashin sect in the 11th and 12th century, that fought other Muslims for political power and Christians for religious reasons.

In case you're wondering why all this hatred was exploding back then... remember? That was the time of the first Crusade. Christ's teaching of tolerance and forgiveness had already been…