Sunday, June 10, 2007

Weekend News Roundup

The New York Times has a special travel issue dedicated to photography, including an article about sharing photos online: The Photography Issue

The Horny Toad Returns: Eating live frogs, rats "cures tummy upsets"

BEIJING (Reuters) - A man in southeast China says 40 years of swallowing tree frogs and rats live has helped him avoid intestinal complaints and made him strong.

Arab pop stars raise funds for Darfur
Sudan, under a strict version of Islamic sharia law, rarely enjoys visits from pop artists, and some Islamic scholars protested the week-long set of concerts by stars like Sherine, Hani Shakir, Mounira Hamdi and Mohammad Mounir.

But despite the charity's good intentions, some Islamic scholars in Sudan said the concerts were sinful.

"We view this as a way to corrupt this country, its people, its values and morals," the Sudanese Islamic Scholar's Society said in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site.

"We urge ... the president of the republic, to intervene, stop this and protect this society and its religion and values."

Fatwas and Modernity, by Sheikh Ali Gomaa (Washington Post) - for more and the interesting responses to his post, check out the link.

The experience that Egypt went through can be taken as an example of this. The period of development begun by Muhammad Ali Pasha and continued by the Khedive Ismail was an attempt to build a modern state. This meant a reformulation of Islamic law. This process led Egypt to become a liberal state run by a system of democracy without any objections from Muslim scholars. Muslims are free to choose whichever system of government they deem most appropriate for them.

The principles of freedom and human dignity for which liberal democracy stands are themselves part of the foundation for the Islamic world view; it is the achievement of this freedom and dignity within a religious context that Islamic law strives for.

Islam in modern Europe: revivalism or alienation?
Finding out and implementing necessary changes to European integration policies will inevitably lead to less division and fear, and more prosperity and development, not to mention a sense of shared national unity, says Talajeh Livani.

The other scenario, which I believe is more likely, is that these youth are being drawn to their roots not because they are judging between cultures, but because of the feeling and conviction that they will never be accepted as natives in the European countries in which they grew up. In contrast to the United States, where an American can be white, black, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern etc., in Europe, and most other parts of the world, there is an image of what a native of a given country looks like.

New French Political Cry: Liberté, Egalité, Diversité

Propelled by weeks of street violence in immigrant-dominated neighborhoods in 2005 and emboldened by record numbers of new voters from minority populations, French minorities are redefining the political debate and taking on the entrenched powers of one of the least diverse governments in Europe.

"We're challenging this country," said Patrick Lozes, president of Action Circle for the Promotion of Diversity in France, an umbrella organization that represents dozens of local black political associations across France. "Look at France's record: black ministers -- zero; black representatives -- zero; black senators -- zero; black ambassadors -- zero; black CEOs of the country's top businesses -- zero."

Minorities hold about 13 of the 22 assembly seats representing overseas parts of the country such as Martinique. But they hold none of the 555 district seats representing continental France, where an estimated 10 percent of the population is made up of Africans, Arabs or other minorities.

Attempts to restore “Cairo’s Belle Époque”
When passed, the law will allow for construction of new buildings that maintain the same architectural heritage as those of the 19th century, as well as allowing for restoration of old buildings without changing their original architectural façade.

“Basically, what the law aims for is to preserve architectural beauty of 19th century buildings. Officials focus on protection of archeological sites only and overlook architectural artifacts, which will also play a role in boosting tourism,” she said.

Most of these endangered artifacts stretch along Cairo’s Downtown strip, particularly in El-Tahrir Square, Talaat Harb Street, Bab El Louk, and Garden City.

The European Union has earmarked 40,000 euros to fund this project, named “Cairo’s Belle Époque.” By the end of this year, the database will include all of Cairo’s historic buildings, which are estimated to number 5,000.

We moved to Anchorage, Alaska early 1990, just when the trial of the Exxon Valdez's Ship's Captain Joe Hazlewood started. This case, after 18 years has still not been settled:
Years later, Valdez's stain remains

ExxonMobil's legal battle rages 18 years after the oil spill, as the case is likely headed to the Supreme Court.

In its ruling last month – its third in the case since 1994 – the appeals court declared, "It is time for this protracted litigation to end." Plaintiffs agree, noting that at least 6,000 of those who originally claimed to have been harmed by the massive oil spill have since died.

Earlier this year, ExxonMobil reported the largest-ever annual profit by a US company – $39.5 billion in net income.

After the 1989 spill, the Exxon Valdez was banished from Prince William Sound, renamed the "SeaRiver Mediterranean," and sent to other parts of the world. In 1990, Congress passed a law banning single-hulled tankers like the Valdez from domestic waters by 2015.

Meanwhile, in Cordova, Alaska – the fishing village most devastated by the oil spill – villagers recently erected a "ridicule pole." It's a traditional native yellow cedar totem pole mocking a company official's promise shortly after the Exxon Valdez ran aground: "We will do whatever it takes to keep you whole."

VFW Backs Vet in Trouble Over Protest

Marine Corps veteran Adam Kokesh talks with reporters during a news conference in Washington, Friday, June 1, 2007. Kokesh had already received an honorable discharge from active duty before he was photographed in April wearing fatigues - with military insignia removed - during a mock patrol with other veterans protesting the Iraq war. A military panel in Kansas City, Mo., will hold a hearing Monday to decide whether he should be should be discharged from service and, if so, with what type of discharge.

"Trying to hush up and punish fellow Americans for exercising the same democratic right we're trying to instill in Iraq is not what we're all about," said Gary Kurpius, national commander of the 2.4 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"We all know that people give up some individual rights when they join the military," Kurpius said. "But these Marines went to war, did their duty, and were honorably discharged from the active roles. I may disagree with their message, but I will always defend their right to say it."

More on this story and on others being charged:For US military veterans, a free-speech dispute

Ex-spy Plame vows to battle CIA over free speech

"Just as we have to be vigilant to protect our national security -- something I believe in passionately -- we have to be vigilant to protect our freedom of speech and First Amendment rights," Valerie Plame Wilson said in a speech at a book convention.

Brotherhood blogger release ordered
Defense says international pressure played major role in decision

CAIRO: The general prosecution in Nasr City issued a release order Wednesday for detained Muslim Brotherhood blogger/journalist Abdel Moneim Mahmoud, lawyer Islam Lotfy told The Daily Star Egypt.

Mahmoud has been held at Mahkum prison since his arrest on April 14 pending investigation into his membership in a banned organization. The release order was made for lack of evidence.

Following Egypt’s accession to the UN agency last week, reputable rights group Human Rights Watch immediately urged the Egyptian authorities to “turn a new page on human rights and uphold international standards.”

“Egypt has for too long committed serious and systematic abuses at home while consistently undermining UN mechanisms to defend rights. Its appalling domestic rights record includes routine torture in police stations, arbitrary arrests of non-violent dissidents, and crippling restrictions on civil society organizations. If Egypt is serious about cleaning up its human rights performance, it should start by allowing the Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services to reopen, and by freeing Ayman Nour and Abd Al-Moneim Mahmoud,” the organization stated in a recent press release.

However, Brotherhood member Ibrahim El-Houdaiby emphasized that while the release serves as an “important decision for Egypt with regards to the country’s poor human rights conditions,” he stressed that “one must not forget those opposition activists still in detainment in Egypt.”

YouTube: The Battle of Technology vs. Censorship
Although authorities in Iran filter thousands of websites including YouTube, it is increasingly used by many Iranians who manage to by-pass the censorship; they regularly place their home made or semi-professional controversial videos on the web, to challenge the Islamic government's social and political restrictions.
Three articles about Musharraf's recent attempts to censor the news.
As TV Coverage Feeds Protests, Musharraf Reacts

Musharraf Issues Decree Cracking Down on News Media

Pakistan Arrests 300 Workers From Opposition

Afghans Seek Men Who Killed Broadcaster as She Slept
Zakia Zaki was the director of a private local radio station. She was shot seven times as she slept beside her 10-month- old baby.
Rahimullah Samander, the leader of the Afghan Independent Journalists Association, attended the funeral for Ms. Zaki and said she was the third Afghan journalist to be killed this year. He added that there were many other cases of threats, mistreatment and obstacles presented to Afghan journalists, both by the Taliban and by people who hold power in the government.

China: No More New Net Cafes in 2007

Opposition journalist assaulted

BAKU — The editor of a minor opposition daily in Azerbaijan was abducted and severely beaten by unknown men on 18 May in what critics say is part of a government crackdown on the opposition media.

RWB said the attack on Haziyev was the second apparent murder attempt against an opposition journalist in Azerbaijan in the past three months. Fikrat Huseyinli, a reporter with the opposition Azadliq newspaper, was kidnapped and beaten up by unknown men on 5 March.

1 comment:

  1. ""We view this as a way to corrupt this country, its people, its values and morals," the Sudanese Islamic Scholar's Society said in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site."

    Yeah. If this music is the most corruption Sudan seens again, they should count themselves lucky.