Daily Archives: 08/02/2011

(Huffington Post) CAIRO — At least 297 people have been killed since Egypt’s anti-government uprising began two weeks ago, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch told The Associated Press on Monday.

The count is based on visits to seven hospitals in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez that included interviews with doctors and morgue inspections, said the group’s Cairo researcher, Heba Morayef.

Egypt’s Health Ministry has not given a comprehensive death toll, though a ministry official said they are trying to compile one.

The revolt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that erupted Jan. 25 brought days of fierce clashes. Protesters have clashed with police who fired live rounds, tear gas and rubber bullets and fought pitched street battles for two days with gangs of pro-Mubarak supporters who attacked their main demonstration site in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square.

The violence has spread to other parts of Egypt and the toll includes 65 deaths outside the capital Cairo.

Morayef said the count is preliminary and is expected to rise. She said a majority of deaths were caused by live fire and in most cases, doctors were reluctant to release names. She said she did not have a breakdown of how many of the dead were protesters.


The researcher said she counted 232 deaths in Cairo, including 217 who were killed through Jan. 30 and an additional 15 who were killed in clashes between government supporters and opponents in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protests, on Feb. 2 and 3.

In addition, 52 deaths were reported in Alexandria and 13 in the city of Suez east of Cairo, she said. Read more…


( RevolutionTruth started out as an open letter to the US government about their undemocratic handling of journalist Julian Assange and the nonprofit organization Wikileaks. Deeply distressed by the implications of my country attempting to try Assange on espionage and what this means to a free press, my intent was to write a strong but moderate letter that a lot of people could stand behind. I then began to ask people around the world to speak this open letter on video. My goal is to show the world that, despite the plethora of deeply biased and negative press in the US, and despite the fact that this situation is not unambiguous, there are a lot of people who stand behind Wikileaks and Assange – and for good reason. This organization has given common people access to truths that are being systematically denied us. Truths that we need to restore and preserve our democratic freedoms.

Due to overwhelming response, RevolutionTruth has morphed into a short film (to be released soon), a website, and a growing global campaign. Citizens around the world need their voices to be heard. We hope to be a conduit for these voices. Please join us.


( Syria is reportedly set to unblock facebook, youtube and twitter today. Syria’s state-owned fixed line operator ISP, the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE) requested its licensed distributors to permit access. Syrian censorship of the internet has been seen as among the worst in the world, and it has targeted social media in particular. The relaxing of access appears to be a part of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s commitment to progress and communication with the Syrian people.

As reviewed earlier on WL Central, that commitment has been primarily verbal in a country that has a long way to go to meet standards requested by such authorities as Amnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists. Syria escaped a scheduled protest on February 5 through a combination of suppression, threats and bribes to the Syrian people, and it was hoped at that point that the promised reforms would be substantial enough to reward the Syrian people’s restraint. In a country with a reported 10,000 political prisoners, where bloggers are routinely jailed, tortured, and ‘disappeared’, more substantial reforms are required.


( Indian naval forces have shut down two Somali pirate “mother ships” operating close to the subcontinent, highlighting the increased range and sophistication of the pirates.

Indian naval forces have shut down two Somali pirate “mother ships” in as many weeks operating close to the subcontinent, highlighting the increased range and sophistication of this scourge of the seas.

A new concept, mother ship is the term given to a hijacked oceangoing vessel that the pirates are using to extend their operations and avoid counterpiracy efforts closer to Somalia. Both of the mother ships off the coast of India were Thai fishing vessels captured by pirates in April 2010.

While India’s Navy scored two tactical victories, maritime experts say a more robust international strategy is also needed in the face of the pirates’ proven ability to adapt under military pressure. The problem has already cost governments and businesses an estimated $7 billion to $12 billion a year and is raising costs along vital sea lanes between Europe and Asia.

“It’s a sign of the situation worsening,” says P.K. Ghosh, a maritime expert at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. “While the numbers of incidents are going down, the [pirates’] sophistication and their strategic reach are increasing dramatically.”

Until recently, pirates had mostly used skiffs and small whaling boats operating close to shore to hijack ships for ransom. The mother ship idea – which uses the hijacked ship as a floating base for the skiffs to launch further attacks – took off in November, says Dirk Steffen, a director at the Hamburg, Germany, office of Risk Intelligence.

“They have used hijacked ships before in support roles,” says Mr. Steffen. “But in terms of using mother ships in an offensive role, not just as a pure support platform … that is new.”

Mother ships tend to be fishing vessels, small tankers, and cargo ships. The hijacked crew is kept on board. They are needed, says Steffen, because the pirates often don’t know how to work larger ships, and because they can be used as human shields in encounters with navies.

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( Controversy over proposed new domains like .xxx and .gay has the US government pushing for veto power from different nations to ensure a “less fragmented” Web.

In the midst the forthcoming rampant expansion of the Internet, the US government will look to gain veto power over future domain name suffixes. Numerous additions, like .car, .movie, and .web, could be officially introduced next month. But before anynew top level generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) are allowed into our address bars, ICANN’s international representatives have to sign off on them.

Until now, ICANN’s policy for gTLD applications were only rejected based on its Limited Public Interest Objection rule, which simply mean that unless a proposed gTLD offended the “generally accepted legal norms of morality and public order that are recognized under principles of international law,” it passed.

ICANN retains authority from any government, but some international entities have lobbied concern over US control since the independent web organization is housed stateside. But this most recent suggestion seems like a move for the US government to find favor with its global ICANN colleagues by giving the advisory panel increased powers over domain name registration. According to the proposal, any government “may raise an objection to a proposed (suffix) for any reason.”

The debate over somewhat controversial web addresses is already rising. The previously Bush administration-vetoed .xxx already made it back to the drawing board, and human rights groups are advocating for .gay. The proposal to include a mandatory review by the ICANN advisory panel means that the red tape to introduce a new gTLD will only get thicker. The US Commerce Department has addressed these particular concerns only with a vague statement, saying only “it is premature for us to comment on those domain names.”

Aside to argument over specific domain names, the government is feeling the need to defend its right to veto power over the web addresses. In a statement to CNET, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said that taking such action “has merit as it diminishes the potential for blocking of top level domain strings considered objectionable by governments. This type of blocking harms the architecture of the DNS and undermines the goal of universal resolvability (i.e., a single global Internet that facilitates the free flow of goods and services and free of expression).” Which, as CNET points out, is a very p.c. way to say that global conservative regimes might block certain domains (like .gay) that we wouldn’t, and this could lead to a fragmented web.

In addition to veto power, there will be an $185,000 application fee attached to new gTLDs, as well as an annual ICANN fee of $25,000 to retain control of the web suffix. The hefty price tag has outraged Internet rights groups that believe the panel simply wants to take advantage of the situation. According to the Washington Post, ICANN’s chair of the board of directors Peter Dengate Thrush insists the steep costs are to ward off cybersquatters and protect the organization in case of lawsuits. “Our job is to protect competition and give extra choices for consumers and entrepreneurs,” Thrush said. ICANN will meet in March to discuss the proposal.

The Internet is being opened up in a way it hasn’t before, and there’s speculation that the race for domain names will only confuse and clutter web navigation. Over the next week, industry analysts and experts will meet in San Francisco for the first .nxt conference to discuss the US’ proposal as well as current ICANN regulations.

by Molly McHugh


( Military police reportedly detained Abdul Kareem Suleiman Amer, the blogger better known as Kareem Amer, together with the film-maker Samir Eshra on Cairo’s Kasr El-Nil bridge yesterday evening as they were leaving Tahrir Square. Reporters Without Borders calls for their immediate release.

“Kareem Amer owes his prominence to his virulent criticism of the regime,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We fear the authorities will use this opportunity to send him back to prison for a long time.”

Reporters Without Borders is also concerned about the possibility of reprisals against local journalists, bloggers and fixers as the international media gradually leave Egypt. It appeals for the utmost vigilance and reminds the authorities that they have a duty to guarantee the safety of all the media personnel trying to cover events in Egypt.

Asma Mahfouz, a blogger who urged Egyptians to take to the streets on 25 January, told the BBC on 5 February that she had received many phone calls from Mubarak supporters threatening to kill her and her family.

Reporters Without Borders has also been told that journalists wanting to go to Tahrir Square have had to register with the information ministry. This constitutes government control over the movements of media personnel and is therefore a form censorship (see

On 7 February 2011, the press freedom organization has also received reports of disruption of mobile phone services and problems connecting to the Internet from Tahrir Square.

Kareem Amer was arrested on 6 November 2006 for criticising the government’s religious and authoritarian excesses in his blog and was subjected to appalling conditions in detention. His blog entries had also criticised the Sunni University of Al-Azhar, where he had studied law, and discrimination against women. He was previously arrested for similar reasons on 2005.

He was sentenced on 22 February 2007 to three years in prison on a charge of inciting hatred of Islam and another year in prison on a charge of insulting the president. Countless protests were organised by the Free Kareem Coalition and others throughout the four years he was held. Reporters Without Borders awarded him its “Cyber-Freedom” prize in December 2007.

He should have been released on 5 November 2010 on completing his sentence. But he was not freed until 15 November and, during the 10 days he was held illegally, he was again subjected to physical mistreatment at the headquarters of the internal security department in Alexandria

Reporters Without Borders has been keeping a tally of all the abuses against journalists. Since 2 February, at least 75 have been physically attacked and at least 73 have been detained for two hours or more. One journalist, Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud of Al-Ahram, has been killed. See the tally:,39487.html