Thursday, June 28, 2012

Raped in Tahrir

But in a split second, everything changed. Men had been groping me for a while, but suddenly, something shifted. I found myself being dragged from my male friend, groped all over, with increasing force and aggression. I screamed. I could see what was happening and I saw that I was powerless to stop it. I couldn’t believe I had got into this situation.

My friend did everything he could to hold onto me. But hundreds of men were dragging me away, kicking and screaming. I was pushed onto a small platform as the crowd surged, where I was hunched over, determined to protect my camera. But it was no use. My camera was snatched from my grasp. My rucksack was torn from my back – it was so crowded that I didn’t even feel it. The mob stumbled off the platform – I twisted my ankle. Natasha Smith
This happened during the evening sometimes last week.This is just the latest example of mob rape in Tahrir during the evening when there were tons of people around in celebration (the first was the Lara Logan rape case on February 11, 2011 - when she was raped in the middle of the square among the crowd of hundreds of thosands).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shrimp Post

I am in my island Tarakan, Borneo. We are famous for our organic shrimp produce and this is a small sample of what we have. This is a size 16 shrimp. The size is counted on how many shrimps needed to weigh 1 kilo.

Size 9 shrimp is a third larger than this and a size 3 is at least double. We weigh these shrimps without their heads so they loss about a third of their weigh.

Mursi First Speech as Egypt President Elect

O people of Egypt, you have bestowed upon me a heavy trust and great responsibility. I say to all of you, by the grace of Allah and your will, that I have been entrusted with this and I am not best of you. I will sacrifice all my efforts to be loyal to the duties and pledges which I made before all of you, and that all would be equal in rights and duties.

As for myself I have no rights but I have duties; so I call upon you my people to support me as long as I establish justice and righteousness among you, and as long as I obey God in your affairs. If I don't do so, and I disobey God and I do not adhere to what I promised, you are not obliged to obey me. Guardian
I think I met Mursi two years ago while attended an IBM Patent seminar. He was in my group and we worked out some fantasy gadget to help blind people to navigate a street. He was a pretty pleasant and quite a bright guy (got his phd of Engineering from California) 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Off blogging for now

I am travelling to my island from Cairo tonight. It will take 2 today to reach the island.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Iceland tops ranks of most peaceful countries in the world

The ranking list is here.

I heart Iceland. It's impossible not to love a country where they put house for elfs on the roadside.

Microsoft Surface

A tablet with touch keyboard? I want one. Finally the tablet market heats up and we have a real contender to Apple's iPad.

The Verge

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Brother is set to win Egyptian Presidency

The final result is not in yet, etc, etc but this guy, Mohammed Mursi, a long time member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a doctor, is set to be the next President of Egypt.

He will arrive at his post without a parliament, without defined powers and without a constitution. The military will handover power to him in June 30. The rest will be improvised.

Make no mistake, the Egyptian military still hold the power in Egypt even after Mursi. They have inserted themselves in the process of writing new constitution (the assembly for this has been formed and disbanded twice) - which I think is not a terrible thing. The Islamists have tried to dominate the 100 person body twice and they have been thwarted by hook and crook by the military and the rest of the secular Egyptian.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The election that matters

Greece goes to the poll today which will determine the country's participation in the Euro.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

50 best dive sites

The list is dominated by Egypt and Indonesia
This is Raja Ampat, Indonesia, which is listed on the list.

The Egyptian Mirage

So the Egyptian Supreme Court ruled that a third of the elected Parliament was elected under unconstitutionally and therefore that the whole parliament that was elected in December last year is now dissolved.

Think about that for a minute.

The Islamists won majority of the parliament last year (around 60%, in a combined result of Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist's parties). Now they have none.

They just got rolled by Egypt's Supreme Court and have to start over. A new parliamentary election will have to be done again in 60 days.

So everything that you know about Egypt's new political structure is now wrong and no longer apply.

Even more, Egypt is holding a run off Presidential election between Mursi (MB candidate) and Shafiq (ex PM of Mubarak era) today and tomorrow. We won't know the results of these elections until late tomorrow. However there is a good chance that Shafiq will win the Presidential election.

So there is a good chance that Egypt again will be ruled by an ex air force general with no existing parliament - which structure will change again after the upcoming Parliamentary election.

House of Saud reorganization

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud has died in Switzerland following an illness.Guardian
 The current king is 88 years old.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Greece Crisis in a picture

A family beg on the street of Athens Guardian

Odessa Black Market

"7 km" in Odessa. The open-air market is the biggest employer of the Ukrainian Black Sea port city of Odessa. Some 60,000 people earn their living here. Spiegel

Nokia Down

Nokia is cutting another 10,000 jobs globally and has warned that second-quarter losses from its mobile phone business will be larger than expected.  
The cuts bring total planned job cuts at the Finnish group since Stephen Elop took over as chief executive in September 2010 to more than 40,000. BBC
They do the wrong firing. They should fire the number 1 and 2 in the company and get new leadership.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Not so fast

We have all come to assume that the developed world lost its drive or "will to win," ceding manufacturing to emerging markets. China and India built impressive manufacturing platforms or back-office strengths based on a belated unleashing of private-sector initiative, low labor costs, and impressive investment in infrastructure. China and others gained a near monopoly on making cheap goods cheaply. Consumers in the United States began to feel that China had won the battle for shelf space in Walmart. American infrastructure fell way behind in building a 21st-century network of roads, rails, bridges, pipelines, airports, and communications technology. Political antagonism combined with the budget and debt crises had placed the onus on "expense cutting" instead of rebuilding infrastructure to remain export-competitive and promote manufacturing. America's traditional brands had lost some of their luster: No longer was General Motors the pride of global automaking; iPhones were neat, but made in China. Meanwhile, India's Tata Corp. bought iconic brands like Jaguar, Land Rover, and Tetley Tea. China's Geely bought Volvo, while Lenovo purchased IBM's computer division. In South Korea, Samsung and Hyundai became major players; in Taiwan, HTC came from nowhere to be a recognized and respected brand name. To cap it all off, it seemed an irreversible trend: The United States had missed the boat in becoming a "green" leader in a more environmentally conscious world as it ceded ground to mass production in China and innovation in Europe.

But as I saw on my travels, the story is beginning to change. I now believe the despair and fear felt by many in the United States is misplaced. In fact, there are early signs that the United States may be regaining some of its lost competitiveness in manufacturing and that China is losing some ground, especially against other emerging markets. Foreign Policy

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

No more fluffy Buddhists

Gunshots rang out and residents fled burning homes as security forces in western Burma struggled to contain ethnic and religious violence that has displaced thousands of people.

The conflict pitting ethnic Rakhine Buddhists against Rohingya Muslims has left at least a dozen civilians dead and hundreds of homes destroyed since disturbances began in coastal Rakhine state on Friday. Guardian
It is time to put to bed the 'fluffy panda' image of peaceful Buddhists communities. I am a Buddhist myself and the stereotype of the holy and smiling men incapable of violence is just not true.

Dalai Lama has been a good ambassador for Buddhist's image around the world but the Tibetan Lama is not the only reality. The Buddhist dominated Sri Lanka end game against the Tamil Tiger rebellion is as brutal as any events in the world history. And don't forget about Imperial Japan in WW 2. How about the 1 million killings in the Buddhist Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime?

There are violence within Buddhists community as well as outside. What we don't have is the global determination to build a global Buddhist country - we are simply content to be local or regional power.

The good thing we got going is that we are not obsessed so much with viewing sex under moral judgment. We don't  build all sorts of punishments to regulate sex and this makes the Buddhist communities less threatening to the world. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mogadishu 2012

Al-Shabaab's fighters mainly withdrew from Mogadishu last August after months of building-by-building battles with Amisom troops. They vowed to change tactics and have since carried out a string of suicide bombings and gun attacks in the city.
But late last month, Amisom pushed them out of Afgoye, a strategic stronghold 30km from Mogadishu, where Amisom officials say the militants used to manufacture explosives used in attacks on the capital. The insurgents have also lost ground in the south, where Kenyan troops have inched towards the port stronghold of Kismayo, and are under pressure from Ethiopian troops in the centre of the country, but Brigadier-General Paul Lokech, the commander of the Ugandan forces, warns that al-Shabaab are not finished yet. "We haven't yet dealt with the al-Shabaab cells in Mogadishu … We are encouraging national security and police to deal with the problem."
But al-Shabaab, which includes Britons, Americans and other foreigners in its ranks, has been weakened and – at least in Mogadishu – freedoms long forgotten are slowly being recovered. Guardian

Somalia Online is a great site to find everything about Somalia and it has very active community.
For example, this thread contains pictures of hotels in Mogadishu and other places in Somalia and Somaliland.

Sierra Leone's growth will be 35% this year

Lying in Sierra Leone's mineral-rich eastern belt, the Koidu Holdings diamond mine and others like it were once at the heart of the country's decade-long civil war. Six hours from the capital, Freetown, burned-out houses are testament to the conflict that coined the term "blood diamonds" as warring factions fought to control lucrative diamond fields. 
Now, the mine that served as a war chest for the rebels supplies the jeweller Tiffany's. It is at the heart of a remarkable turnaround that has lifted this nation of 5 million people to world-leading growth of 35% this year.Guardian

They started from nothing but the growth number is remarkable nonetheless.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Eurozone, whatever you are doing is not working

Spanish banks to receive 120 billion dollars bailout
Spain has given up the battle to rescue its ailing banks alone and accepted a European bailout of up to €100bn to join Greece, Ireland and Portugal in requesting outside aid to survive Europe's debt crisis.

European leaders hope a bailout will prevent a wider deterioration of the eurozone's fourth largest economy, which is paying punishing interest rates on borrowed money and is key to the survival of the single currency. Guardian
1 in 4 Spaniards don't have a job. Fix that first. This austerity program you are adopting has been killing you.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Evidence of al-Qubeir massacre

Confronting a scene of congealed blood, scattered body parts, shelled buildings, bullet holes and the smell of burned flesh, United Nations monitors in Syria quietly collected evidence on Friday of a mass atrocity in a desolate hamlet, more than 24 hours after Syrian forces and government supporters had blocked their first attempt to visit the site.NY Times
This happened just a week after the horrific Houla massacre. It has the same modus operandi - initial shelling by the Syrian army then door to door shooting and knifing of surviving civilians.

More from Guardian
"It is not hard to verify. As soon as you walk into the first house, you are hit by the stench of burnt flesh," reported Paul Danahar. "You can see that a terrible crime has taken place. Everything has been burnt, houses have been gutted. The most distressing scenes were at the house next door. I walked in and saw brains lying on the floor. There was a tablecloth covered in blood and flesh and someone had tried to mop the blood up by pushing it into the corner, but it seems they had given up because there was so much of it around."

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Another push for unilateral solution

“Unilateralism” has a bad name in Israel, given that the country’s pullout of settlers and soldiers from the Gaza Strip in 2005 led to a Hamas takeover. But a unilateral departure from the West Bank could be carried out in slow motion, and in a way that leaves the Israeli army in place until negotiations resume in earnest. A pullout of settlers would signal to the Palestinians that the Netanyahu government is serious about compromise. It would show the world that Israel is not interested in being an occupying power forever. And it would show Israelis that their government is interested in finally winning the Six-Day War. Goldberg
It's not as good as a comprehensive plan but it's not a unicorn either. It is much better than the current 45 year stalemate.

Qubeir Massacre

A Local Coordination Committees activist near Qubeir said the Syrian army began shelling the village using tanks at 7 p.m. The shelling lasted for an hour, after which militias loyal to the regime raided the village and began executing people using knives and AK-47s, the activist said. CNN
What a horrifying account. We should wait until more pictures emerge (sic) but usually the Syrian activists are pretty accurate in their massacre reporting.

You shall not rise again

Bulgarian archaeologists are showing off two centuries-old skeletons that they say were pinned down through their chests with iron rods to keep them from turning into vampires — a trend that was all the rage in medieval Europe. MSNBC
One can't never be too sure.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Stupid Indonesian Local Politicians

Shariah-inspired bylaws due to be enacted in the West Java city of Tasikmalaya have been condemned by Islamic leaders, locals and politicians, with one even lambasting the plan for “indications of treason.”

Tasikmalaya city assistant Edi Sumardi told news portal on Tuesday that one of the two bylaws would prohibit women from going outside without headscarves, while the other would bar men and women who were not married from being alone together. The Jakarta Globe

Just because it is a democracy doesn't mean that it can't be stupid. This decision is widely condemned in Indonesia. One lawmaker was especially harsh
“The plan not only shows indications of treason and insubordination toward the Constitution but also violates the Law on Regional Autonomy, which stipulates that legal, security and religious affairs are not within the jurisdiction of regional authorities,” said Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) legislator Eva Kusuma Sundari. “Obliging women to wear headscarves and forming a shariah police force is unconstitutional and discriminatory.”

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Hong Kong is awesome

Tens of thousands of demonstrators packed Hong Kong’s Victoria Park on Monday night, holding up candles and glowing cellphones to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the crackdown in a ceremony that included comment from one of China’s highest profile human rights activists.

Organizers claimed a new record of 180,000 for the annual vigil, up from 150,000 last year, while police estimates pegged the crowd at 85,000 at its peak, up from 77,000 in 2011. WSJ

Tienanmen Square 1989

More pictures

The Singaporean travesty

9 maids already fell to their deaths this year because they demanded that the maids clean up the outside windows of their high rise apartments without any safety precautions.

Look at these pictures

One such maid was rescued after falling from a 9th floor apartment and somehow she managed to grab to a railing before neighbors came to help.

The good thing is the Singaporean government is about to introduce legislation to ban these unsafe practices.

Euro German

Europe's leaders appear to be edging towards an ambitious and controversial new blueprint for a federalised eurozone after Paris and Brussels threw their weight behind Spain's pleas for an EU rescue of its beleaguered banks.

At the start of three weeks likely to be crucial to the survival of the euro, the new French government and the European commission voiced strong backing for a new eurozone "banking union" to save the single currency.

The plan could see vast national debt and banking liabilities pooled – and then backed by the financial strength of Germany – in return for eurozone governments surrendering sovereignty over their budgets and fiscal policies to a central eurozone authority. Guardian

Monday, June 04, 2012

Long Live the Queen

Her empire might be crumbling down but she knows how to throw a party. Look at this amazing boat parade. The Telegraph has more beautiful pictures from yesterday.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

A premier bath salts drugs

These bath salts, also known as "plant food," are a blanket term for a group of synthetic drugs.

The drugs usually come in powder and crystal form, looking like the real-deal bath salts and also carry names that call back to our bath products, like Ivory Wave and Red Dove. Also, selling them as "bath salts" served as a legal loophole for dealers. That along with the misleading label "not for human consumption," which gets around the Analog Act, under which substances "substantially similar" to illegal drugs is deemed illegal, but only if it is intended for consumption. See the trick there? The Atlantic

So no, you cannot get high on bath salts you get in normal supermarket.

Back to Tahrir


People are angry that Mubarak's sons walked from their charges. The six police chiefs also walk free. The judge decided that he could not find any sufficient evidence that anybody was responsible for the killing of protesters last year.

The last time so many people in Tahrir was back in January 25 earlier this year.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

saltine crackers.

Fucked again. Just when I thought the cracker industry was done making my life a living hell, I’ve just returned from the grocery store, where I was disturbed to find that the Nabisco people have gone and decided- without warning, mind you- to make their popular Original Premium saltine crackers in round form instead of the popular square shape that I and about 700 billion other people had been doing just fine with for pretty much as long as I can remember. I’m really not sure where to start with this one. First off, how are these “saltines” still “original” and “premium” if this is apparently an entirely new cracker that has gone out of its way to tell me to go fuck myself right there on the box? (some blogger whose sentiments I share)

Chicago Loop Jam

Live video for mobile from Ustream Coming up soon this Summer

President for life, in jail

Hosni Mubarak, the President of Egypt for 32 years, was sentenced to 25 years in jail today. Egypt rejoice. Unfortunately two of his sons were cleared out of all charges due to technicalities. They will face more charges in the coming months.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Noise vs Signal

Imagine someone of the type we call neurotic in common parlance. He is wiry, looks contorted, and speaks with an uneven voice. His necks moves around when he tries to express himself. When he has a small pimple his first reaction is to assume that it is cancerous, that the cancer is of the lethal type, and that it has already spread. His hypochondria is not just in the medical department: he incurs a small setback in business and reacts as if bankruptcy were both near and certain. In the office, he is tuned to every single possible detail, systematically transforming every molehill into a mountain. The last thing you want in life is to be in the same car with him when stuck in traffic on your way to an important appointment. The expression overreact was designed with him in mind: he does not have reactions, just overreactions.

Compare him to someone with the opposite temperament, imperturbable, with the calm under fire that is considered necessary to become a leader, military commander or a mafia godfather. Usually unruffled and immune to small information —they can impress you with their self-control in difficult circumstances. For a sample of a composed, call and pondered voice, listen to interviews of “Sammy the Bull” Salvatore Gravano who was involved in the murder of nineteen people (all competing mobsters). He speaks with minimal effort. In the rare situations when he is angry, unlike with the neurotic fellow, everyone knows it and takes it seriously.

I am looking forward for this book, from the author of "Black Swan".

Qatar 2012 stadium rendering

It's designed by a German engineering firm.

US Cyberattack against Iran

At some point they lost control of the virus. It is better than real war but folks we are just at the beginning of this. In the next round, virus/worm attacks will disable critical infrastructure, etc, more than just being used to steal credit cards.