Sunday, June 30, 2013

D Day

Tahrir from the view of Cairo tower. I've never seen anything like it. The square was full and people were still streaming in.

My Dokki neighborhood is quiet. Today is Sunday, the start of the working day in Egypt. There is barely any activity on the street. Food places and small shops are open.

The big marches are expected to start at 4PM today although people have started to walk to the squares and meeting points for the protests.

This is the map of the rallies today for Cairo.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Waiting for tomorrow

Cairo is a resilient city. No matter what tomorrow brings, we'll cope one way or another. Dokki street has light traffic. Local supermarkets are fully stocked in preparation for Ramadan (we have 7 major supermarkets and one traditional market in walking distance in Dokki). There is no spike yet in the price of vegetables and eggs (Vegetable produce is very sensitive to major disruption in distribution channels - you can wait to slaughter chickens and cows but farmers must distribute their produce daily otherwise they will rot in the fields)

Protests across Egypt

Yesterday my neighborhood Dokki (about 2 KM away from Tahrir Sq) was eerily quiet but safe. Most people decided to limit their travel due to the planned protests and a severe shortage of Gasoline.

The protest at Tahrir sq was massive and peaceful. But this cannot be said of other protests elsewhere.

An American college kid interning at AMIDEAST was killed in Alexandria (Egypt's second largest city) yesterday after he was apparently stabbed in the chest while phone filming an attack-in-progress against a Muslim Brotherhood office (I think in Sidi Gaber). 5 people in total died in Alexandria protest.

Violent protests have targeted the local offices of Muslim Brotherhood's party many times in this year. What I fear is if the mass start to turn to the individual prominent figures, then we are going to see some serious clashes on the street.

So far in Cairo things are OK but the big day is tomorrow.

But the ugly head of sexual attacks in Tahrir continues
This video apparently showed of a foreign woman being escorted to safely from a mob in Tahrir

Russia Today has a good recap of yesterday's event.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the heart of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 federal law that prohibits married same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits.

The landmark 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, and joined by the liberal-leaning justices, invalidated Section 3 of the law, which prohibits same-sex couples from receiving federal tax, retirement and immigration benefits. TPM
I am so happy with this. One by one pillars of discrimination is being destroyed and left to the dustbin of history. Bravo!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

The mob lynching of Shiite near Cairo

It happened yesterday and it is horrific. This video has an interview of a journalist the covered the whole thing yesterday (with English subtitle). It is chilling.

This video contains the actual attack (I am not embedding this for obvious reasons)

Mark June 30th

The grass root Tamarod (Rebel) has successfully gained written petition of at least 15 million people to demand the resignation of President Morsi.

They are planning to do massive country wide protests next week Sunday June 30.

It is quite remarkable that they have managed to gain so many petitions. You do see volunteers everywhere in Cairo bringing photocopy forms for people to sign their names and national id information. People are going from neighborhoods to neighborhoods, on the side of the streets, inside buses and micro buses. You hear anecdotes of microbus drivers expelling passengers who are against the Tamarod effort. People are donating to the canvasser so they can do more copies of the petition.

There movement has no political affiliation although several opposition parties have declared their support for this. Everybody is volunteering their time, from the usual activities to people from poor and upper class neighborhood.

You can sense the palpable excitement for June 30 here in Cairo. Expect big things.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How to avoid NSA surveillance

This site,, has a list of recommended software to use to give better protection to massive NSA surveillance.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

More revelation of NSA hacking on China's network

  • Extensive hacking of major telecommunication companies in China to access text messages 
  • Sustained attacks on network backbones at Tsinghua University, China’s premier seat of learning.
  • Hacking of computers at the Hong Kong headquarters of Pacnet, which owns one of the most extensive fibre optic submarine cable networks in the region

This is not a surprise - countries are hacking against each other but it is interesting nevertheless. 

Jon Stewart in Cairo

At El Bernameg 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Occupy Brazil

MERS kills half of its infected victim

Yes, CDC is concerned about MERS-CoV. The virus has caused severe illness in most infected people, and about half of them have died. Also, the virus spreads from person to person and has spread between countries. CDC recognizes the potential for the virus to spread further and cause more cases and clusters globally, including in the United States. CDC

It comes from Saudi Arabia and has spread slowly to at least 10 countries. Yes, it can be transmitted from human to human. The Ebola virus in contrast has fatality rate of 65% - so at 50%, this MERS virus is one hell of a killer.

The New England Journal of Medicine just released an article about MERS virus hospital outbreak 
One patient transmitted the infection to seven persons, one patient transmitted the infection to three persons, and four patients transmitted the infection to two persons each. The incubation period of confirmed cases was 5.2 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9 to 14.7)

An explanation on exploding casket

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

E tu Brazil?

Tens of thousands of people marched through Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, on Monday as protests spread over rising public transport prices and the cost of staging the 2014 World Cup.

Marches took place in at least ten cities including the capital, Brasilia, where demonstrators climbed onto the roof of the national congress building. BBC

This blog covers the protests live.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Priced out Paris

Two mournful friends dropped by our flat in Paris last Sunday. They are a well-paid couple from the caste known in Paris as “bobos”: people with bourgeois incomes and bohemian tastes. In the popular narrative, bobos have invaded Paris, driving out pure bohemians and the working class. But my bobo friends had a new story: they themselves were being driven out of Paris. To get enough space for their kids, they were leaving for the suburbs. When they’d told the headmaster at the children’s school, he had looked sad and said: “Everyone is leaving.” Paris is pricing out even the upper middle-class.

There is a wider story here. The great global cities – notably New York, London, Singapore, Hong Kong and Paris – are unprecedentedly desirable. At last week’s fascinating New Cities Summit in São Paulo, the architect Daniel Libeskind said: “We live in a time of renaissance … cities are coming back to life, after a long neglect.” Edward Luce chronicled the urban revival in last Saturday’s FT Magazine. However, there’s an iron law of 21st-century life: when something is desirable, the “one per cent” grabs it. The great cities are becoming elite citadels. This is terrifying for everyone else. FT
This will kill what made the great city great in the first place. You cannot have a city full of elites and expect it to be vibrant. A city needs its diversity.

Why HongKong

Local Popular Support. The other day, Hong Kong legislative councillor Leung Kwok Hung launched a small protest in support of Snowden at the US Consulate, a curtain-raiser for the larger demonstration that's being planned for this Saturday. During the mini press conference at the gates of the consulate, a Chinese reporter asked Leung what was the relevance of Snowden's plight to Hong Kongers. Without missing a beat, he answered, "Do you use a mobile phone? Do you surf the web?". Unlike the reporter, most young people in Hong Kong aren't so clueless and they've made the connection: Snowden is standing up for the right to privacy of everyone who uses electronic communication, no matter where they live in the world. And they are embracing him as a cyber-crusader--last I looked, the front page poll of the South China Morning Post's online page was running 70-30 in support of Snowden.Corrent Wire

This is one of more insightful blog post regarding the NSA whistle blower's decision to run away to Hong Kong. 

Your secure BBM ain't

"A detailed report records the efforts of the NSA's intercept specialists at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire to target and decode encrypted phone calls from London to Moscow which were made by the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, and other Russian delegates." Guardian
The UK was spying on G20 conference they hosted in 2009.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Raised stakes in Istanbul

Protesters have clashed with Turkish police in Istanbul, after riot squads used tear gas and water cannon to eject demonstrators from Gezi Park.

The protesters quickly fled the park, but later erected barricades across nearby streets and lit bonfires. BBC

Change has finally come to Iran

Hassan Rowhani, a cleric backed by reformers and main figures in the Green Movement of 2009, vaulted to a majority win in the first round of Iran Presidential election. The original expectation was that he would face a second position mayor of Tehran in a run off election, but his astonishing result of over 50% in the first round completely negate the need for a run off election. 
Rohani adopted the key as his campaign symbol -- in what he called "a direct reference to the fact that the situation is locked" -- and often referred to his "Government of Deliberation and Hope."

He has called for improved foreign relations, and has pointed to Iran's immense material and physical resources as a way out of its economic crisis, which he blames on "individual decision-making, without consultation." Remedies, he says, can be found in tourism and greater involvement of the private sector in manufacturing.

Rohani has also supported greater freedom of expression and has pledged to free political prisoners. Radio Free Europe
It is heartening to see the potential change within Iran as it is a strategic country in the Middle East. It brings hope to a peaceful resolution to the nuclear program and integration of Iran back to the international economy. Iranians are awesome people and it looks like they are finally getting a President that match their awesomeness.  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Roman Cement

As anyone who’s ever visited Italy knows, the ancient Romans were master engineers. Their roads, aqueducts, and temples are still holding up remarkably well despite coming under siege over the centuries by waves of sacking marauders, mobs of tourists, and the occasional earthquake. One such structure that has fascinated geologists and engineers throughout the ages is the Roman harbor. Over the past decade, researchers from Italy and the U.S. have analyzed 11 harbors in the Mediterranean basin where, in many cases, 2,000-year-old (and sometimes older) headwaters constructed out of Roman concrete stand perfectly intact despite constant pounding by the sea. BusinessWeek

Friday, June 14, 2013

A message from Australia Army Chief

The US is going to war (again)

You can forgive a president once – even though his misguided, counter-productive and destabilizing war in Libya was almost as nuts as this latest foray. But by deciding to arm the Sunni radicals fighting the Shiites in Syria and Lebanon, the president has caved to the usual establishment subjects who still want to run or control the entire world. I don’t buy the small arms qualifier. You know that’s the foot in the door to dragging the United States into the middle of a civil war we do not understand and cannot control. If it has any effect, it will be to draw out the conflict still longer and kill more people. More staggeringly, he is planning to put arms into the hands of forces that are increasingly indistinguishable from hardcore Jihadists and al Qaeda – another brutal betrayal of this country’s interests, and his core campaign promise not to start dumb wars. Yep: he is intending to provide arms to elements close to al Qaeda. This isn’t just unwise; it’s close to insane. Andrew Sullivan
You know my position on this. Middle East is a very strange and complicate place. Intervention or non intervention will bring blow back - which at this moment is unknown.

This upcoming US intervention to the Syrian war might still not happen if the Assad regime quickly realize that fighting a superpower full of war fighters who have been fighting multiple wars continuously for the past 12 years is not a winning proposition. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gezi Grandma

People develop, not places

Measuring the development of “patches of Earth” seems ridiculous. But that’s exactly what we do, with all kinds of industries (such as placemaking) stemming from this perspective. Migration is a zero-sum game. For people, migration is most certainly not a zero-sum game. If a person’s development comes at the expense of a place, then so be it Pacific Standard

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The return of PlayStation

The PS4 will contain no region lock, play used games, no requirement for online connection to play game, no DRM, no restriction on playing or trading used games. This is a very customer friendly attitude, as it should be. Well done Sony (In contrast to XBox One fucked up policies).

Check the loud applause from the audience when all the above were announced at E3

Monday, June 10, 2013

Another amazing pic from #OccupyGezi

Edward Snowden - the whistle blower

He has a lot of balls to blow whistle on US government digital spying programs on US and non-US citizens alike. He is currently in Hong Kong.

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell. Guardian
The US wide ranging digital spying program pretty much means that all your emails and all sort of communication you are doing on US based servers (and its affiliates) are accessible by the employees of US governments.
So far, the leaks have revealed that the N.S.A. is collecting records from Verizon Business (and, it emerged, from any number of other companies) for every phone call placed in the United States; that, with a program called Prism and some degree of coöperation from technology companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Apple, it is looking at the private data of both foreigners it targeted and—“incidentally”—Americans a degree or even two removed from them; that another program, called Boundless Informant, processed billions of pieces of domestic data each month, and many times that from abroad. We also learned that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, flat-out lied to the Senate when he said that the N.S.A. did not “wittingly” collect any sort of data on millions of Americans. And we were reminded of how disappointing President Obama can be. These were all things the public deserved to know. New Yorker
This guy needs to be protected and supported. We will see in the next coming few days whether people really care about their privacy by supporting him. He has all the weight of US government and its allies on him.

Better still, nominate him for Nobel Peace Prize. It will give him better political protection against the current US government. He will also be one of better winners of the Prize this decade.


Saturday, June 08, 2013

Occupy Gezi Full page ad on NY Times yesterday

Juan Cole in person

The blogger behind Informed Comment is currently in Cairo and I stumbled upon him on a terrace party of my friend last night.

I have often read on his blog whenever there is a big event happening in the Middle East and I found his analysis thoughtful and spot on most of the time. In the real life he is a very engaging conversationalist and very much a person you want to pick his brain on.

Friday, June 07, 2013

US government has access is monitoring your private data

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims "collection directly from the servers" of major US service providers.

The Guardian has been awesome in the past few years.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Possible evidences of India national exams result tampering

Nobody in India makes the following scores out of their 10th and 12th grade national exams : 36, 37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47, 49, 51, 53, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61, 63, 65, 67, 68, 70, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, 82, 84, 85, 87, 89, 91, 93.

This is out of 200,000 samples.

IMF doesn't learn

The International Monetary Fund admitted it had failed to realise the damage austerity would do to Greece as the Washington-based organisation catalogued mistakes made during the bailout of the stricken eurozone country.

In an assessment of the rescue conducted jointly with the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European commission, the IMF said it had been forced to override its normal rules for providing financial assistance in order to put money into Greece.

Fund officials had severe doubts about whether Greece's debt would be sustainable even after the first bailout was provided in May 2010 and only agreed to the plan because of fears of contagion.

While it succeeded in keeping Greece in the eurozone, the report admitted the bailout included notable failures.

"Market confidence was not restored, the banking system lost 30% of its deposits and the economy encountered a much deeper than expected recession with exceptionally high unemployment." Guardian
IMF imposed austerity in Indonesia in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis. Its prescriptions brought much acute suffering to the population at the time (our currency was devalued 500%). We paid the IMF loan in 5 years and got rid of the policies attached with the loan.

And now these fuckers are bringing their medicine home to Europe and bringing their own continent down.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Fukushima Nuclear Fallout

Now the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has drawn on 80 scientists from 18 countries to produce a draft report that concludes: "Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima-Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects. It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers." The Age
Apparently nothing.

Flood pictures of the Czech Republic

This site contains the most comprehensive pictures from flooding in Czech Republic.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Finnish Baby Kit

For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates. BBC

More on Istanbul

As for the police, Odabaşı describes how even minor altercations between schoolchildren in minor league football matches in Istanbul are now being handled through the use of teargas. Following this year’s May Day celebrations, the government banned public demonstrations in Taksim Square, and have used tear gas throughout the month of May to clear out demonstrators. For many residents of Istanbul, they feel that they have no say in their community, and that when they do speak up that they will be repressed by overwhelming force.(Distilled)
Tear gas for everybody!

Monday, June 03, 2013

A fundraising for Gezi Park protests

This indiegogo campaign aims to raise 50K USD to publish a full page ad on the NY Times or Washington Post about the protest. So far they have raised 35K

The protests are still going strong today around Turkey.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The story of Gezi Park demonstration

Four days ago a group of people who did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Among them there were many of my friends and students. Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city. There are numerous shopping malls in Istanbul, at least one in every neighborhood! The tearing down of the trees was supposed to begin early Thursday morning. People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees. Early in the morning when the bulldozers started to pull the hundred-year-old trees out of the ground, they stood up against them to stop the operation. 
They did nothing other than standing in front of the machines. Defnesumanblogs

One more from New Yorker
"Last year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Gezi Park would be levelled to make room for a reconstruction of the Halil Pasa Artillery barracks, which had been built there under Sultan Selim III, more than two hundred years ago; the reconstructed barracks would then be converted into a shopping mall. On May 28th, a peaceful demonstration convened in Gezi Park to protest the bulldozing of the first trees. The weather was, and continues to be, beautiful. But over the course of the week, Occupy Gezi transformed from what felt like a festival, with yoga, barbecues, and concerts, into what feels like a war, with barricades, plastic bullets, and gas attacks."

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Istanbul, e tu?

Turkish protests in Istanbul for the 4th day

They are protesting the government plan to demolish a small park in Taksim square and replace it with shopping mall (how classic)

More pictures from the protests can be found at OccupyGezy tumblr.