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Daily Archives: 03/02/2011

(guardian.co.uk) Messages urged ‘honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals’

Dozens of foreign journalists were arrested, attacked and beaten today as the Egyptian government and its supporters embarked on what the US state department called a “concerted campaign to intimidate” the international media.

A number of human rights workers also fell victim to crowd violence, while police raided the offices of two groups in Cairo – the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre and the Centre for Economic and Social Rights – and arrested observers. Amnesty International said one of its staff was detained at the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre with a colleague from Human Rights Watch.

The Egyptian interior ministry arrested more than 20 foreign journalists in Cairo – including the Washington Post’s bureau chief and a photographer – while al-Jazeera said three of its journalists had been detained.

In Egypt‘s second city, Alexandria, hostility to western journalists escalated as angry mobs accused reporters of being Israeli spies and demanded they leave.

According to locals, Egypt’s national television channel had warned viewers to beware of Israeli agents masquerading as journalists and seeking to damage the country’s image and national interest.

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(samuliegypt.blogspot.com) Thursday, February 3, 2011

A tense day in Cairo

As the day turns to evening, we are again sitting in the apartment. Today morning began peaceful but tense, and many people were out in Downtown Cairo, and we could move freely and pay a visit to Tahrir Square. But in the course of afternoon, government thugs have been spreading on the streets of Downtown Cairo in small but aggressive groups, and friends of ours had to turn back as their tried to get to Tahrir in the afternoon. Many others have been able to reach Tahrir Square through other routes, and a number of people are moving through the streets here right now trying to get to Tahrir – from shouts few blocks away we guess that there are still standoffs going on. We hear occasional gunfire, probably by the army. Through phone calls I know that there are already now more people on Tahrir Square than there were yesterday.

Sitting unable to do anything and trying to guess what the situation is like out in the streets is the worst thing there is, and I feel that I should have rather stayed on Tahrir Square if there is nothing I can do here. But while I write this, BBC tells that the protesters have been able to push pro-Mubarak folks back from the streets leading to Tahrir. Friends from different parts of the city are determined to get to Tahrir Square, and many seem to be successful. Our spirits, which were down just an hour earlier, rise again. One friend says: Tahrir Square is the only place where I feel safe.
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(Democracy Now!) In recent weeks, popular uprisings in the Arab world have led to the ouster of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the imminent end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, a new Jordanian government, and a pledge by Yemen’s longtime dictator to leave office at the end of his term. We spoke to MIT Professor Noam Chomsky on Wednesday’s live program about the situation in Egypt, and then continued the interview for another 50 minutes after the show to further discuss what these popular uprisings mean for the future of the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy in the region, how U.S. fear of the Muslim Brotherhood is really fear of democracy in the Arab world, and what the Egyptian protests mean for people in the United States.

To watch the first part of the interview with Noam Chomsky during the live program, click here.

In the interview, Professor Chomsky links the U.S. military industrial complex to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and its support of the Mubarak government. He then discusses the decades-long “campaign of hatred” in the Middle East against the United States for blocking democracy and progressive developments, along with the impact of revelations from WikiLeaks on the uprising in Egypt and the consequences of U.S. support for radical Islamism. Next, Chomsky makes the point that U.S. fear of the Muslim Brotherhood is really a fear of democracy in the Middle East, and examines the role of U.S. corporations in a “stable” Egypt in the Middle East. The interview wraps up with an analysis of what the Egyptian protests mean for people in the United States.
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(TreeHugger) The background impact of food price rises and high levels of food insecurity in general can’t be overlooked.
February 2, 2011 |

While years of political dictatorship and repression are no doubt the top line cause of the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Yemen, and Egypt, the background impact of food price rises and high level of food insecurity in general can’t be overlooked. In Egypt specifically, many Egyptians spend about 40% of their monthly income on food–compared to about 17% in Brazil and 20% in China and Saudi Arabia.

We’ve covered the impact of climate change and extreme weather on food prices a number of times, but Climate Progress and Al Jazeera both have good commentary on how this feeds into the ongoing uprisings:

From Climate Progress:

That high food prices are historically a major driver of political unrest is pretty much an uncontroversial historical fact.  Indeed, there is actually recent research on this very subject: “Economists at the University of Adelaide, for instance, recently examined the impact that food prices have on civil conflict in 120 countries in the past 40 years. “Our main finding is that in low-income countries increases in the international food prices lead to a significant deterioration of democratic institutions and a significant increase in the incidence of anti-government demonstrations, riots, and civil conflict,” the researchers note. The same finding does not hold true in high-income countries, where citizens can better afford food.”

40% of Egyptians Live on $2 a Day – Food Price Rises Really Hurt

And Danny Schecter, writing in Al Jazeera, quotes NYU economist Nouriel Roubini:

What has happened in Tunisia is happening right now in Egypt, but also riots in Morocco, Algeria and Pakistan are related not only to high unemployment rates and to income and wealth inequality, but also to this very sharp rise in food and commodity prices. [Which in Egypt have increased 17% and 40% of the population lives on $2 a day.]

By Matthew McDermott

Via: http://www.alternet.org/world/149780/food_price_rises_contribute_to_popular_uprisings_in_egypt,_tunisia,_yemen/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=alternet_world

(eff.org) “Effective data protection is vital for our democracies and underpins other fundamental rights and freedoms.” – Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

Last Friday, privacy advocates and government officials in countries across the world celebrated the 5th annual International Privacy Day — even as individual privacy is threatened by surveillance proposals and security breaches worldwide. This day commemorates the first legally binding international agreement on data protection – the Council of Europe’s Convention 108– which was opened for signature on January 28th, 1981. Last week’s celebration marked the 30th anniversary of Convention 108, which has served as a foundation for many countries’ national data protection laws. It is an opportunity to raise public awareness about privacy threats and to urge governments to protect citizen’s privacy rights.

In Europe, the celebration highlighted citizens’ rights with respect to collection and processing of their personal data. 
Several events organized by governmental and privacy advocates drew attention to the value of privacy in our societies. The European Court of Human Rights joined the celebration by compiling some of its key judgments protecting citizens’ privacy rights. The European Data Protection Supervisor, an independent authority tasked with ensuring that EU authorities and bodies comply with EU rules on data protection and privacy, celebrated the occasion by calling attention to the need for governments to set the right balance between security and the protection of fundamental rights. It emphasized that “authorities should only collect information for specific purposes,” and criticized attempts to create enormous databases of personal information “just in case” of a crime, promoting instead the concept of targeted data collection. This comes even as the European Commission is revising their Mandatory Data Retention Directive, a framework that allows blanket surveillance of traffic data on private citizens’ online activities.

In the U.S., the Senate expressed support for the designation of January 28, 2011 as U.S. National Data Privacy Day for the third year in a row. It is a welcome gesture, if no somewhat ironic, given that the U.S. Congress is discussing legislation that undercuts the fundamental principles of individual privacy they purport to celebrate. (If you need a refresher, see CALEA II,USA PATRIOT Act renewal, data retention mandates and the much-discussed cybersecurity bill).

Celebrations were also held in Canada, MexicoUKNepal, among others. In Nepal, Privacy Nepal urged the Nepalese government to pass the Data Protection Act to safeguard the privacy of Nepalese citizens. They further raised their concerns about the national ID card, and the dangers posed to citizens’ privacy rights.

Much of International Privacy Day rightly focuses on the advances established by critical moments in history, but it is clear that all governments around the world must move quickly and more aggressively to truly improve privacy as we move into the future. Despite the high degree of theoretical protection for privacy and private communications in international law and national Constitutions, in recent times we have seen an increase of legal exceptions, lack of enforcement of privacy laws while the threats to citizens’ privacy multiply.

For example, increasingly ubiquitous online surveillance technologies undermine the legal protections for privacy. While there has been a significant expansion in the volume of personal data that is being collected and stored by third party providers, mechanisms to ensure that law enforcement agencies are only granted access to that data in appropriate circumstances have not kept pace. Mandatory data retention regimes to force ISPs and telecom providers to log information about users’ online activities and communications are an overwhelmingly invasive and costly mandate with serious privacy and free expression implications. And hard lessonsabout the cost of the failure to protect privacy are already being learned, as we’ve seen in Iran and Tunisia. Political activists in authoritarian regimes have used social networking tools to rejuvenate and empower democratic participation, collaboration, and freedom of expression, but those same tools also give authoritarian governments new ways to identify and track political activists that they wish to silence.

For these reasons, we believe that governments around the world need to take urgent action to give real meaning to the right to privacy and to protect citizens’ personal data from these new threats.

EFF calls upon governments worldwide to:

Repeal the EU Data Retention Directive, and any mandatory data retention regime that requires ISP to preemptively record traffic data about the online activities of millions of citizens who haven’t committed any crime.

Provide strong safeguards against government intrusion of individuals’ information stored in third party providers, especially cloud service providers.

Provide strong safeguards against government intrusion of individuals’ transactional data such as the location of your cell phone, click stream data revealing the web sites you visit, and search logs indicating what you searched when using search engines. Monitoring of this information is just as invasive as reading your email or listening to your phone calls.

These long-overdue reforms would be a first attempt to bring privacy protection back in line with the strong policies and traditions first established by International Human Rights Law. We look forward to continuing our work with privacy advocates on these issues, and hope to see governments and industries live up to the promise of better privacy and greater freedom.

by Katitza Rodriguez

Source: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/02/governments-celebrate-international-privacy-day


RESPONSE TO HOSNI MUBARAK
February 1, 2011
President M. H. Mubarak:
We are Anonymous. We, along with the rest of the world, watched and listened to the speech you gave to the Egyptian People. We were all deeply disappointed by your decision to ignore your people’s desires by continuing to cling to the last vestiges of power in the face of your overwhelming lack of support. Your reign as “The Pharaoh” has come to an end, and it is only a matter of time before you are removed from your office. The method of your retirement was solely in your hands, but by your poor judgement and choices, you have handed your fate over to the people who have suffered under your tyranny for nearly thirty years. In light of this development, we have concluded that your decision to continue to hold the office of the President is an insult to the people of Egypt. It is obvious that you are no longer deserving of such a title. We are not alone in our conclusion. See for yourself the protests growing across the country; a manifestation of the people’s seething anger for the whole world to witness. Hear the calls of solidarity throughout the world demanding your immediate resignation. We stand alongside the Egyptian people and we will lend them our support in order to put an end to your self-righteous, authoritarian rule.
The Citizens of The Arab Republic of Egypt have demanded that you step down from your post as President of Egypt, demands that you have blatantly ignored and the expectations that have been placed on you. Mark our words that the consequences of this course of action will be dire; do not delude yourself into thinking that the political game that you are attempting to engage in will ultimately end in your victory. The people have spoken, and your stubborness and resistance to change delays the only acceptable resolution – the removal of you and your puppets and the termination of your undemocratic regime.
You have already been judged, but it is the people of Egypt and not history that has passed the judgement. It is obvious to all that the decision they have made is not in your favour. You have been found guilty of numerous crimes against your people. You have used your influence to try to hide these crimes, and denied them when they could no longer be kept down. Even now you attempt to twist the situation and the suffering of your people to advance your own agenda. Try as you will, but your attempted political machinations have fooled no one.
Allow us to better illustrate this to you. You say that you “take pride in the long years” that you claim to have served the people of Egypt; however, the use of secret police forces, the torture of innocent citizens and political acitvists, the repression of the freedoms of speech and assembly, and the murder of the Egyptian people are all testament to your tyrannic disposition, rather than your alleged benevolent rule. It is precisely the opposite of what you claim to want for Egypt. Only a madman would flaunt such a record with pride. The uprising of your people and the reverberation of their message throughout the world is undeniable. These views speak of the true legacy you are leaving behind.
Like a cancer, the resentment for your regime has festered within the people for nearly thirty years. For the last few days, the Egyptian people have united to speak as one voice against you and together have cried out in unison for your immediate removal. People young and old, and of all classes, creeds, and religious convictions are ready to stand as one nation and ensure their basic rights of economic security, political equality, and freedom of speech and assembly. Whatever dignity you have left can only be preserved by honoring their demands. You have said that you will “die on the soil of Egypt.” The Egyptian people are desperate for change, and may make you honor your words if left with no better alternative. You have indeed “served long enough.” Do the right thing and step down, and do it now, and not in eight months. Let the aspirations of the Egyptian people be realized. Mr. Mubarak, free your fellow countrymen from the grasp of tyranny! You have been warned.
We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not forgive; We do not forget.
We have spoken.