The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Sat. Dec 01, 2001

QuoteLog, 12/1

QuoteLog, 12/1” ’He is Egypt’s first web prisoner of conscience,’ quipped one recipient of the news that a web designer was arrested last week, charged with posting an indecent poem on the Internet. Although the incident was not entirely unique—people have been hounded in the past for posting Internet content deemed to be offensive to public morals—the case of Shohdy Naguib, Al-Ahram Weekly’s 39-year-old web master, is different because it relates to freedom of literary expression [...] The arrest seems to push Egypt towards an age of Internet control. Will Egypt become another Cuba, China or Saudi Arabia? ’These countries have a clear and announced philosophy regarding Internet control, while Egypt officially has no regulation at all,’ Al-Sayyad told Al- Ahram Weekly. Moreover, he argued, the recent strategy of arresting the designers of Web sites deemed indecent in an attempt to protect public morals ”has not proved to be effective because what many fail to understand is that the virtual world is a new world that requires new tools tailored specifically for it. We cannot apply the rules of our real world to the Internet.’ According to Al-Sayyad, ’in the real world, arresting a thief or a murderer will mean stopping a crime—but this is not the case in the virtual world.’ Al-Sayyad noted that Naguib’s arrest ’did not make the offending site or poem disappear from cyberspace.’ ”

Amira Howeidy, Al-Ahram Weekly

”If this is the case, there is one powerful way to make America listen that does not need the involvement of corrupt organisations or governments: do not buy American (or English) goods or services. America’s large corporate interests are the most powerful lobby in Washington, even more than the formidable AIPAC. If the average citizen wants to pursue an effective non-violent means to force the US listen, this is it. I can’t help but think what would happen if all Muslims in the world stopped consuming Cokes and Pepsis for a year! Last night, I saw an image of Afghan ’leaders’ meeting in Pakistan to discuss their country’s political future. Guess what they all had in their hands? A Pepsi!”

F. G. Sanford, letters to Al-Ahram Weekly

”The key to a successful storming of the concrete and steel-lined complex of caves and tunnels would be precise intelligence of the location of the bunkers and possibly penetration of the outer rock by drilling and bombing. Modern mining techniques are likely to have as much of an impact as any military strategy. Vertical or horizontal drilling, using the most advanced engineering equipment, could penetrate the rock, experts say. This could give American and British commandos the chance to fill the bunker complex with smoke or CS gas or some other form of disabling substance [...] John McCarthy who works for an American company, Berco Services of Houston, Texas, which specialises in horizontal drilling, said: ’If you know where the entrance to the caves is, you could drill a hole 20in in diameter through solid rock for up to two miles at the rate of 1,000ft a day. We have drill bits that can go through steel as well as rock. The possibilities are endless.’ ”

Michael Evans, The Times

”Once a fortnight since America launched its war in Afghanistan, President Bushs secret service agents have left him alone with an Afghan wielding any number of sharp implements. Fortunately Zahira Zahir is one of Mr Bushs most ardent admirers. She also happens to be his hairdresser. Since September 11, she has lost two dozen of her regular Washington customers because of her nationality. ’Its hurtful,’ she said yesterday. ’I have known them for a long time and some of them I considered my friends.’ But Mr Bush has remained loyal. ’Hes been very kind, generous and gracious and was shocked when I told him I had lost some clients,’ she said as she sat in her Watergate Hotel salon overlooking the Potomac River. Mrs Zahir, who has groomed three Presidents, numerous prominent Republicans and Baroness Thatcher, seldom gives interviews but made an exception on this occasion because she wants ’the world to know this President isnt fighting a war against the Afghan people because otherwise I would be the first one to be fired’.”

Martin Fletcher, The Times

”The predominantly male delegation at the Afghan peace talks in Bonn yesterday agreed a package securing the rights of women to an education, work and a role in politics. The handful of Afghan women at the talks welcomed the commitment, which will be included in the final communique, even though it fell far short of full rights. Fatima Gailani, an adviser with the delegation representing the former king Zahid Shah, said she was satisfied with this for the time being: ’We do not want things that will lead to a backlash. I just want these three things: education, work, politics. If we have these we can build on it.’ ”

Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian

”The Marines have seized an airstrip originally built to provide access to what has been described as a hunting lodge owned by a wealthy Persian Gulf family fond of falconry in the Afghan desert. But the walled compound seems more like a military compound. Four tall watchtowers loom at the corners of the wall enclosing several buildings. The buildings contain what appear to be large, barracks-like rooms, a warehouse and high-ceilinged maintenance bays for trucks. A small, one-story mosque was also visible, which the Marines, as a sign of respect, have barred anyone from entering [...] Under ground rules the military has imposed on reporters at the base, its exact location cannot be disclosed. In Washington, however, it has been widely reported that the airstrip, which was well known before the Marines got here, lies 55 miles southwest of Kandahar, the last major city under Taliban control [...] The Marine base is in a particularly dreary patch of desert. On a night flight to the base, ground lights were sparse and there appeared to be nothing but sand from horizon to horizon. Only sand dunes, rising as tall as five- or six-story buildings, broke the monotony.”

Carol Morello, Washington Post

”Vietnam War veteran Gene Bess formed an opinion different than most when he learned an American flag that flew over Ground Zero and is scrawled with messages of anguish, vengeance and patriotic fervor is being sent to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. What others called uplifting, he deemed appalling. ’You can’t do that,’ Bess said matter-of-factly. ’Do you realize they had to lay the flag on the floor and walk on it to sign it? Don’t do that. Don’t walk on my flag, and don’t write on my flag.’ He cites the Federal Flag Code, which says ’the flag should never have placed upon it, nor any part of it, nor attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, frame, design, picture of drawing of any nature.’ ”

Jacob Messer, Charleston Daily Mail

”Particularly in times of crisis, our mass-mediated democracy makes us part of a swift marketing loop: the media spin is intense; opinion polls gauge its effects; the polling results are grist for further media spin. Among the American public, we’re told triumphantly, the president’s favorable ratings like the approval numbers for the war – are very high. Television has served the White House well. To credulously watch TV is to submit to a numbing process. What TV offers today, perhaps more than ever, is anesthesia in the face of apprehension.”

Norman Solomon

”Describing herself as ’still tearful’ after viewing the World Trade Center site, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor told a law school audience in Manhattan yesterday that as part of the country’s response to terrorism, ’we’re likely to experience more restrictions on our personal freedom than has ever been the case in our country.’ [...] ’Lawyers and academics will help define how to maintain a fair and a just society with a strong rule of law at a time when many are more concerned with safety and a measure of vengeance’ [...] Justice O’Connor posed a series of questions at the ceremony: ’First, can a society that prides itself on equality before the law treat terrorists differently than ordinary criminals? And where do we draw the line between them? Second, at what point does the cost to civil liberties from legislation designed to prevent terrorism outweigh the added security that that legislation provides?’ Without answering the questions herself, she concluded: ’These are tough questions, and they’re going to require a great deal of study, goodwill and expertise to resolve them. And in the years to come, it will become clear that the need for lawyers does not diminish in times of crisis; it only increases.’ ”

Linda Greenhouse, NY Times

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