Syrian Revolution Digest (Washington, D.C.):
The fight for Syria’s future reaches the capital
Syrian Revolution Digest (Washington, D.C.):
The fight for Syria’s future reaches the capital
TomCast podcast for March 18, 2012: Ever More and Ever Less
Karen Greenberg, the executive director of the New York University Center on Law and Security, and author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First One Hundred Days, talks about the current status of the American legal system as it applies to the so-called war on terror and what Karen describes as ‘legal limbo.’
Daniel Varisco at Tabsir.net (New York)
Indonesian lawmakers claim women are raped due to provocative clothing
Why is it that men blame women for their own failures? Whenever I hear a variant of the phrase, “Well, he couldn’t help himself,” I can’t but think that this excuse is in need of a lot of help. In Indonesia there is a bill being considered in parliament that would ban female lawmakers from wearing provocative clothing, such as miniskirts. Given that the number of Indonesian lawmakers wearing miniskirts must be a whopping minority, why is this needed? Here is the rationale:
“We know there have been a lot of rape cases and other immoral acts recently, and this is because women aren’t wearing appropriate clothes,” house of representatives speaker Marzuki Alie said.
“Women wearing inappropriate clothes arouse men, so it needs to be stopped. You know what men are like — provocative clothing will make them do things.”
So men rape women because women wear miniskirts. I have not seen the statistics, but I suspect the majority of women in Indonesia do not fall for the idea that all they have to do is dress conservatively and there will be no danger of a man raping them. This notion that the male rapist cannot really be blamed because “provocative clothing will make them do things” is not limited to any national or religious group. What is rather bizarre in this case is that the ban would only be to protect male lawmakers and not for the public at large. So either there is an epidemic of male lawmakers raping female lawmakers in Indonesia or these males are so easily aroused that the ban need only be to stop those provocative female lawmakers. I guess once outside the parliament building, male lawmakers can contain themselves.
Next week, The Assad House for Arts and Culture (as the building is officially known) will be staging Gao Xingjian’s absurdist drama, Bus Stop. When first produced in China, it ran to 13 performances and was then closed by the authorities on grounds of political ambiguity. It’s a story about people who spend 10 years waiting for a bus and complaining before they eventually decide to walk.
I can’t help thinking that Syrians will detect a subversive message in the play but perhaps the regime is assuming it must be OK since it comes from China. Either way, its Damascus run will be even shorter than that in China – only five nights.
In Moscow’s Shadows (New York):
Putin vs the opposition: Famed activist’s husband sentenced to 5 years in labor camp
The decision today to convict Alexei Kozlov on fraud charges and sentence him to 5 years in a labor camp, seemingly as retribution against his wife, the activist journalist Olga Romanova, raises a crucial issue in terms of Russian reform. I appreciate that I am unfashionable in being mildly optimistic about police reform in Russia and the prospect that — over years, not overnight — it might lead to the emergence of a force concerned less with protecting the interests of the state and the elite and more with upholding the law and providing security for all. However, that will be impossible or meaningless without a corresponding change in the nature and culture of the Russian court system. If the courts are corrupt and/or subject to undue political influence, then police reform will be largely irrelevant: the guilty can arrange for themselves to be released, even if arrested, through bribery and blat (influence, connections), while the innocent who fall foul of the state or the elite will still be at risk. As is, time and again the courts appear to be — as in Soviet times — nothing more than instruments of factional and elite interest, from denying environmentalists their rights to characterizing efforts to confront homophobia as ‘extremism.’
A Second Glance (Gaza):
Terminally ill patients in Gaza denied proper health care
“I had been tired for a while and had pains throughout my body. It was the 20th of August in 2009, and I was in my classroom, teaching my students when I suddenly felt close to collapse. I had pain everywhere, but especially in my upper legs. I went to the clinic located 100 meters away from the school where they gave me some medicine. The next day the same thing happened. Blood tests were done; they came back abnormal and I was referred to the hematology department of al Shifa Hospital. The following day I went to take the results and they told me I have chronic myeloid leukaemia.”
Many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip suffering from cancer or chronic illnesses, have been denied their basic right to life and healthcare over the years. They are struggling to receive medicines and medical treatment or elsewhere, many of them encountering obstacles in terms of availability, access, funding, and bureaucracy. And the crisis continues to worsen.
The depletion of substantive amounts of essential medicines in the Gaza Strip is caused by a combination of factors: the on-going illegal Israeli closure, the international boycott of the Hamas authorities, and the political rift between Fatah and Hamas.
The right to health is a basic human right that cannot be held hostage by occupation and internal politics. The abundance of political meetings and statements is in stark contrast to the lack basic care for people’s lives.
The Arabist (Cairo):
After the revolution: Temporary barriers divide Cairo
This mural was painted a few days ago on the wall blocking Sheikh Rihan Street, at the corner of the American University in Cairo. There are still at least half a dozen cinder-block barriers cutting off streets in Downtown Cairo — most notably the major artery of Kasr Al Aini Street. Many of the walls block the way to the Ministry of Interior (after clashes between demonstrators trying to reach the ministry and police). Others just block the way to Tahrir Square, create enormous traffic jams, and seem part of the ruling generals’ general passive-aggressive strategy of making life in Egypt as uncomfortable as possible right now (“how do you like that whole revolution thing now?”). No one knows, but at this point it looks likely that the streets will remain closed until after the presidential elections. They are a spectacularly apt metaphor for the short-sighted heavy-handedness and senseless obstruction that has characterized the military leadership’s handling of the transition.
And this artwork is a sweet reminder that the current barriers won’t last forever.
Ballots and Bullets (UK):
Anders Behring Breivik and the state of right-wing extremism in Western Europe
One month from now, the trial of Anders Behring Breivik will begin. Aside from sparking a vigorous debate in Norway over the mental state of Breivik, the case has also prompted an upsurge of interest in the underlying causes and perpetrators of right-wing extremist violence. In the UK, the events on July 22 2011 prompted a Home Affairs Committee on the Roots of Violent Radicalisation to devote greater attention to a form of extremism that, as the Committee noted, has often only been paid ‘lip service’ . Elsewhere in Europe, commentators and policy makers have paused to ask whether governments have established the right balance in their approach to tackling violent extremisms.
Ballots & Bullets (UK):
Notes on Putin’s victory: Is Russia changing?
In the end, for all the fevered discussion of recent months, Putin’s third presidential election victory on March 4, 2012 looks on face value much like his previous two: a first-round landslide that surpassed all his opponents put together; the communists in a distant second, and a rag-bag of liberal, nationalist and pro-regime candidates polling in single digits. What’s more, Putin’s result comfortably surpassed the 49 percent score for the pro-regime United Russia party in December, the 50 percent threshold for avoiding a second-round and his 53 percent support in 2000.
Of course, this score was likely massaged: it’s notable that Putin was the only candidate whose final tally surpassed the exit-poll estimate given by VTsIOM (58.3) and FOM (59.3), and even Russia-watchers who are not normally particularly anti-Putin (such as Anatoly Karlin) estimate the rate of fraud at 3-4 percent.
Still, such peripheral fraud is nothing new to Russian elections and a support base of nearly 60 percent is enviable for a leader entering his twelfth year at the political apex. But Putin’s post-victory tears (though he blamed them on the bitter wind) indicate that this was Putin’s most emotional and hard-fought victory yet, and perhaps one that he was never fully sure of until the count. So is the initial impression of business-as-usual merely illusory? How much has actually changed?
Egyptian Chronicles (Egypt):
Egyptian football fans march in Cairo, demand justice following stadium massacre
Thousands of Ultras Ahlaway fans are marching to the office of the public prosecutor at the cessation court Downtown Cairo along with the families of the martyrs of the Port Said stadium massacre demanding justice for the victims of the massacre.
Now the Ultras Ahlaway aka UA07 has announced that they will start a sit in at the Cessation court till the retribution for the victims. It is expected that Ultras White Knights “Zamalek SC” and Ultras Ismaili “Ismaili SC” to join the sit in.
Yesterday late night the public prosecutor ordered the detention of Port Said security officials along some officials from El Masry Club as well leading members of El Masry Club and Ahly Club Ultras groups. The public prosecutor had ordered the detention of 3 leading members of Ahly Club from couple of days ago and the answer of Ultras Ahlaway members to the police was “Come and get them from the protest on Thursday if you are men !!”