Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How to communicate securely

Tips from a journalist working on the Guardian's Prism story
"If sources have taken material from a corporate network or from a work email account, the way they first contacted you, if they have done that from a system they don't control, be it their work computer or work mobile, you will not be able to retroactively help them. So a large part of our role is actually being very honest in what we can and can't do."

You are tracked

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its "widest-reaching" system for developing intelligence from the internet.


Monday, July 29, 2013

EVE Online Massive Battle

"The fleet fight in 6VDT-H tonight is the largest ever in EVE, topping at 4070 pilots (so far). Previous was P-2TTL at 3615" The Verge

2900 space ships are lost.

Check out this battlefield report. It's epic.
Today, ladies and gentlemen, we saw the largest engagement in the history of video games.

I say that because a battle of over 4000 pilots is now over, with the embers of our enemies wrecks still smoldering (even though they technically can't) in the cold dark of the space of 6VDT-H in Fountain.

This battle is the culmination of what will likely be called the Fountain war, a war that has raged for two months and represents one of the more dynamic conflicts of EVE Online in the last two years. The Mittani

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Syrian War Crimes

There are two Reddit wikis being set up to document war crimes committed by Assad and the Rebels.

War Crimes by Assad Regime

War Crimes by the Rebels

I kid you not, Al Nousra fighters instagrammed this picture of surrendered Assad Soldiers before they murdered all of them.

The slaughter of MB in Cairo

This is a fucking disgrace. The MB protesters have lasted for 30 days in Nasr city (a large middle class neighborhood of Cairo) and have largely remained peaceful (except three weeks ago when 51 protesters were killed by Army).

I strongly disagree with the ideology of Muslim Brotherhood but a peaceful sit in is a right of every citizen and this violent effort to disperse them earlier this morning is a criminal act. The Interior Ministry of Egypt has always been plague by poor management and discipline and they are a major part of the problem in Egypt right now.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Excel Painting

 This painting was made using Excel by a Japanese gentleman.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Classic Big Pharma and Third World Country Tale

Auditors found that researchers did not report the results of animal studies in a drug that was already being tested in humans, a breach that one medical ethicist described as a “mortal sin” in the world of drug research. They also concluded that workers at the research center did not properly monitor clinical trials and paid hospitals in ways that could be seen as bribery.

Last year, Glaxo said, a more favorable audit found the concerns had been addressed. But several outside experts said the problems outlined in the initial audit were grave and painted a picture of an organization that failed to keep tabs on a crucial research center as it expanded both in size and scope. And it indicates that the problems there were more extensive than were reported in June, when the company fired the head of research and development in China after discovering that an article he helped write in the journal Nature Medicine contained misrepresented data. NY TImes
This is in addition of recent acknowledgement by GSX that its operation in China has used travel agencies as a channel to bribe doctors in China to use their medical products.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Australian introduces new asylum seekers policy

Under the deal, all asylum seekers who arrive by boat will be transferred to Papua New Guinea for processing. If found to be refugees, they will be resettled in Papua New Guinea or a third country. SMH
They are pretty much shutting down the doors on boat refugees completely. In coordination, Indonesia has close down Visa on Arrival program for Iranian because we found a lot of cases they are using Indonesia as a jumping point to get to Australia by the boat.

This will kill off the income of various people's smugglers once people know that Australia is completely off limit.

What's interesting in this case is that the Labor government in power that introduces this policy is pretty much on the left side of Australian politics - which in American political term, a far left.

They are all in it together

Surprise surprise, the Germans are using data collected by NSA

Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND, and its domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), used a spying program of the American National Security Agency (NSA). This is evident in secret documents from the US intelligence service that have been seen by SPIEGEL journalists. The documents show that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution was equipped with a program called XKeyScore intended to "expand their ability to support NSA as we jointly prosecute CT (counterterrorism) targets." The BND is tasked with instructing the domestic intelligence agency on how to use the program, the documents say. Spiegel
The same with UK. I bet France, Canada, Australia took a dip into the data collected by NSA as well.

The disgrace of Egypt

Syrians who have fled the war and have faced harsh conditions in Egypt are suffering new consequences from the leadership change, including travel curbs. Mr. Morsi’s ouster has also been accompanied by an outburst of national chauvinism, whipped up by television hosts and the authorities, who have cast Syrians and Palestinians as traitors while warning, absent any evidence, that they are fighting on behalf of Mr. Morsi’s supporters. NY Times
Every time you heard or see about Arab solidarity for the Palestinians or Syrians, point them to this article.

My friend is stuck in Beirut after she took a short break there. She just reported that all Syrians visa application in Beirut for the past weeks have been rejected. Syrian refugees used to be able to get in to Egypt without applying for visa. This policy changed after Morsi was overthrown. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Outdoor summer safety

"Permethrin is a common synthetic chemical, widely used as an insecticide, acaricide, and insect repellent."Wikipedia
"N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, abbreviated DEET, is a slightly yellow oil. It is the most common active ingredient in insect repellents. It is intended to be applied to the skin or to clothing, and provides protection against mosquito bites, tick bites, flea bites, chiggers, and many other biting insects."DEET
Do not mix them together in usage.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Travesty of Justice

George Zimmerman walked free from a Florida courtroom late on Saturday after a jury acquitted the neighbourhood watch leader of murdering an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in a case that played into the national debates about race, civil rights and the proliferation of guns in US society.

Zimmerman, 29, smiled briefly and shook the hands of his lawyers Mark O'Mara and Don West after the verdict from the jury of six women was read.

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, the parents of the 17-year-old shot dead by Zimmerman on the night of 26 February last year, were not in court to hear the decision. Martin said he was "brokenhearted", and Fulton said it was her "darkest hour". Guardian
You could stop a young man on the street and shot him dead and get away with it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A wedding during time of revolution

Italian Consulate, Cairo, July 11, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Egypt's miraculous post coup recovery

NY Times reports on the sudden improvement on electricity supplies, gasoline distribution and return of Police to the street of Egypt and suggest that there was an active campaign to undermine Morsi's rule.

The sudden improvement is true, at least in Cairo. The long lines of cars queuing for hours till up their gas tanks are gone. The almost daily power cuts are gone too.

However I think the gasoline distribution issue can also be attributed by the financial guarantees made by countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE to the oil distributors that supply oil to Egypt. The three countries have quickly supported the ousting of Morsi and pledge immediate 12 billion dollars financial support in forms of loans and grants.

The electricity cuts can also be attributed to this fuel supplies issue. Most of power generators in Egypt are diesel based.

There are widespread mid trust against the Muslim Brotherhood within the rank and file in Egypt's vast bureaucracy. He tried to appease them by immediately raising their salaries within the first week of Presidency. The failure of Morsi's to engage and gain trust of Egypt's public servants is one of the many failures that he made that turned the Egyptian people swiftly against him. 

So yeah, everything suddenly feel normal in Cairo. You could come here and not notice that there has been a popular military coup.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ramadan 1st day in Egypt

Things are quiet - most people went by their business as usual. Sorry I haven't been blogging for the past few days. Arranging a wedding in the time of a revolution takes a lot of time.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

It's less scarier than reported

All the news coverage have been concentrated on the fight near Tahrir Sq. They are quiet spectacular which makes all the reporting all the more exciting. For us fighting in near Tahrir Sq. is 'business as usual'. There have been so many fights in this area for the past two years that it's nothing new.

My neighborhood Dokki which is located 1.5 KM away from Tahrir was pretty quiet in the past few days although some disturbing signs of general security breakdown have popped up.

Last night there were two new things: Fighting in Galaa Sq at the beginning of Dokki (which ended early morning) and fighting in Manial which is apparently happening until this morning. If these fights continue, we will have to start setting up barricades in our Dokki streets at night.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Today is the test

An alliance of Islamist group is planning a demonstration against the overthrow of Morsy's government. So people are bracing for the potential clashes for this.

Other than that, the life in Cairo is getting back to normal. There are arguments and parties among friends whether this is a coup or not. Protesters here really hate the terms "coup" because its connotation with "a few generals overthrowing an elected President". Their plan since the beginning is to use the Army to overthrow Morsy's government. The Army is a necessary instrument used for this particular purpose because there is no other institution such as Parliament exists that is capable of responding to it.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Morsi Overthrown

Morsi has been overthrown, the streets of Cairo celebrates, fireworks everywhere, cars honking on the street, gunshots. The chair of the constitutional court will be the new transitional President. No SCAF (No Military Rule).

Party Party on the street!

The Army is on the street of Cairo

Day 4

Cairo is still safe. There is no general security breakdown and food supply is normal. People are out and about on the street doing their business although the activities are reduced. The good thing that also there's no traffic jam on the street. I just returned from the Italian consulate which is located at the merchant district the edge of downtown. The consulate is open and you could see people queuing for their visas.

Yes there were deadly clashes in the past few days but they are always context specific - especially when pro-Morsy and anti-Morsy managed to get physically in contact. There is no general riot.

There are a lot of political negotiations happening right now and we can safely ignore the blusters and heated statements being reported on the news.

We don't want the Army to comes to the street and fight the Muslim Brotherhood members. It does nobody any good.

Any political negotiation output will involve amendment to the constitution and a scheduled parliamentary election. The demand for Morsi's resignation can probably be satisfied with some creative arrangements. Any resolution will be distinctively Egyptian.

An oh, MSNBC is a fucking asshole.

Now the Revolution starts

We are in the standoff between Morsi and the Egyptian Military (and much of the population).

Deadly clashes happened in Cairo University last night - about less than a kilometer from where I live. This video from a UK's Independent newspaper captured the violence. 16 people killed and 200 injured.


Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Egyptian Identity

This rant on YouTube pretty much encapsulate the mood on the Egyptian street. Below is an insightful analysis on what's underlying the anger on the street against Muslim Brotherhood.

For over 7,000 years, Egyptians have accumulated a diverse mixture of various identities – Pharoanic, Coptic, Arabic, Sunni, Shia, Mediterranean, Nubian, and Bedouin – all brought together in a big mixing pot that is called ‘Egypt’. The people have welcomed newcomers without compromising core values of tolerance and deep relation to the land, which has surprisingly been maintained within roughly the same borders for centuries. Egyptians have a long record of rejecting forced change by autocratic or colonial power; even Nasser’s Arab nationalism fell quickly after his death. Over the last year, Islamists in Egypt have assumed that winning the election was a license to change Egypt’s identity into a new Islamist one – an identity that they can’t even define or outline, and yet they’re consistently yelling at what they reject. This list is long and growing – from ballet to opera to satire. Nervana

This is the scale of anti-Morsi demonstration last Sunday

Monday, July 01, 2013

Tahrir celebrates military's 48 hour ultimatum

I spent 2 hours in the square tonight and people were ecstatic.

People partied on the street as if Morsi has resigned. Well Morsi hasn't resigned and the Army's 48 hour ultimatum adds more fuel to the combustible mix of political crisis in Egypt.

The demand of Tamarod grass root protest movement is the call for an early Presidential election. This nascent movement has managed to collect millions of petition (it claimed 22 millions petitions) in less than three months and yesterday orchestrated the largest demonstrations Egypt has ever seen.

One of the point of these astonishingly large demonstration is to appeal to the military as the only institution that can force this demand of early election on the current government. There is no other institution in the country is capable to do so. There is no parliament in Egypt and the judicial branch has been under tremendous pressure and intimidation by the supporters of the Islamist government.

We are looking at an extremely popular Coup d'├ętat against an increasingly unpopular and undemocratic government.

This is how your rule ends

Rebel Day 2

Protesters are pointing laser beams on Army helicopter flying over Itahadeya, Egypt's Presidential Palace.

Today is day 2. Traffic is light in Dokki this morning but it's a bit more than yesterday. The usual morning traffic jam of people rushing to their offices is gone. This is a good sign for the Rebel movement.

The money supply is still good. We tried to withdraw money at the ATM this morning without a problem (July 1st, it's rent paying time) - there were no queue of people either.

Small shops in Mesaha are stacking boxes of water outside their premises signalling a plentiful supply for now.

The estimates of the number of protesters on the streets across Egypt was 17 million. I don't know how accurate this number is but yesterday was definitely the largest demonstrations Cairo has ever seen.

The scourge of Tahrir, which is the sexual attacks to female protesters, persisted yesterday. There were 20's reported cases. This has really gone far too long. In comparison, there was no report from Itahadeya, the other large demonstration site in Cairo.