Archive for July, 2007

Apparently the US and EU have just signed a treaty, replacing temporary provisions, to force airlines to send a host of personal information about all passengers traveling to the States within 15 minutes of take-off. Apparently, “most of the treaty relies on the US to follow the rules and notify Europe later.” And, according to the article, “Skeptics say the European negotiators should have pushed for more concessions, especially given the US track record on data protection.” Ouch. But, true. Although i’d have to go back and look at the exact provisions, the USA PATRIOT Act does some serious harm to the protection of private data, both in terms of granting non-court-approved access to private data as well as (and this is probably what’s being references by the critics) reducing (ie removing) restrictions on the transfer of such data between intelligence agencies.

I think it’s great to see the US and Europe are finally waking up to what arab leaders have known all along.

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China: paper basket

Just read a report [pdf] issued by Forrest Trends, a sustainable forests non-profit. The report addresses the environmental implications of trends in China’s paper making industry. I was quite surprised to find that the report is actually mostly positive.

Over the decade since 1996 china has imported enormous amounts of wastepaper, particularly from the states that would have otherwise gone to landfills. It uses all this recycled paper to make, mostly, the cardboard boxes that it ships all of its exports in. In fact, a good portion of the wastepaper imports are probably these very same boxes. And, no, it’s not just the absolute volume of paper imported.Virgin fiber has apparently been decreasing significantly as a percentage of total fiber used.

Overall, the only issue raised seems to be that while much of the fiber sources seem to come from sustainable forests and plantations, those from russia and indonesia are less than reliable due to doubts about governance capacity.

All in all, while a little technically laid out, the report’s findings are a sign that China’s hyper-growth isnt necessarily all bad for the earth.

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Bedouin Ostriches?

Very nice article in bidoun by someone i’ve crossed paths with. I thought her intelligent and intriguing. This is engaging and enlightening. On the fates of the Al-Murrah bedouin warriors since the advent of modernity to the arabian peninsula. It doesnt hurt the writing that she happens to be one of them.

And, no, it’s not a reference to buried heads. Although there is a lot of sand.

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The NYT has a piece about Cairo traffic by Michael Slackman. Some exerpts:

The traffic here, and the army of police officers who try to manage it, tell much about modern Egypt in ways big and small. The first seems to be that no matter how crowded, and it is beyond crowded, no matter how chaotic, and it is beyond chaotic, Egypt functions.


In fact, it is such a miracle that someone can get from Point A to Point B at certain times of the day that some say it must be a result of divine intervention. And that may be the second point. No one is saying the traffic is responsible for the Islamic revival in Egypt, but some people say the burden of the street, like the struggle of daily life, has reinforced a conviction that God’s hand must be helping people get through their day.


Chaos. It is often the word associated with Egypt’s roads, its maddening bureaucracy, its ill-prepared health care system. But it is chaos only to the untrained eye, the uninitiated, and in the case of driving here, the weak of heart. There is a system, from top to bottom, which may be corrupt, class-based, inefficient and ineffective, but it is a system nonetheless.

Simplistic generalizations? Yes. Deniable? Hardly.

Two more specific bits and thoughts on them after the jump.


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veil accolade


umm.. err.. uhhh.. umm.. sigh..


It’s a recent music video called: “You’ve taken on the veil; bravo!”

Do i have to elaborate? i’m sorry, am at a loss.

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Inherited Jihadism

Just caught this article by ICG SE Asia director titled “Inherited Jihadism: Like Father Like Son”. She’s essentially saying that, in Indonesia at least (and i would say it’s more or less applicable across the board) there has already been at least one generation of islamists by inheritance and that mechanisms to draw them away from the tightly-knit community are necessary. I would tend to agree.

But i dont think it is nearly enough. Not every living terrorist’s father is an afghan veteran. For every son-of-a-terrorist terrorist there must be at least several “first-generation” violent islamists. I’m not well-versed in SE Asian socio-economic environmental factors that lead indonesians down this line. But i think for Egypt and much of the arab world at least, the only way to effectively put a dent in terrorism (and islamism, more broadly) is to target these factors. And as anyone who’s invested the least bit of somewhat objective research into the matter can tell you, they are primarily economic, social and political.

And, no, it’s not just the poverty. The impoverished are just that: the impoverished. They have no hopes or aspirations. They live out their miserable lives, milking what little they can out of it, barely making ends meet. On the contrary, the vast majority of people that have gone down that line have been (see Saadeldin Ibrahim and the Ibn Khaldun Center’s research in the 70s and 80s) and continue to be often middle class, well performing professional students/youth that have been shafted by the system, or lack thereof. They’re the engineers and schoolteachers and writers that didnt have access to that crucial put-in word or didnt have the family-financed capital to start their own businesses or the second language that would land them a private-sector job. It is no wonder that the MB have such a strong presence in the Doctors’, Engineers’, Lawyers’ and Journalists’ Syndicates.

I think i’ll cut the ramble off here. I’m sure to revisit.

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