For Women’s History Month, meet Hatshepsut

Wikipedia introduces Hatshepsut as follows:

Hatshepsut (/hætˈʃɛpsʊt/; also Hatchepsut; meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies; 1508–1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. Hatshepsut came to the throne of Egypt in 1478 BC. Officially, she ruled jointly with Thutmose III who had ascended to the throne as a child one year earlier. Hatshepsut was the chief wife of Thutmose II, Thutmose III’s father. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty. According to Egyptologist James Henry Breasted she is also known as “the first great woman in history of whom we are informed.”

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Egypt, Brazil, Turkey and the revolutionary implications of a Social State

An Egyptian protester shouts ant-President Morsi slogans as anti-riot forces block the entrance to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

An Egyptian protester shouts ant-President Morsi slogans as anti-riot forces block the entrance to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

In August 2006, 18 months before I would choose to leave South Africa, I was invited to speak at a gathering of technology pundits.

It was still the height of the last economic boom and the room was a hubbub of young people doing well for themselves. I was surviving a disastrous business venture and had spent a year contemplating the emptiness behind that financial well-being.

“An individual is a person with a long tail. Individuals have tended to live in states full of wildly swinging doors. Cities, nations and markets are as able to serve their needs as they are of tracking every grain of sand in a three-week desert sand-storm,” I said.

I warned of revolution, that emerging social media would lead to people finding mutual interests that would permit them to express themselves in ways we had yet to understand. People who are currently alienated and isolated will make common cause with others. Continue reading

Egyptian protesters eat their own

Two years after the Lara Logan assault, women continue to be attacked at protests in Tahrir Square.

Remember the Tahrir Square attack on Lara Logan two years ago while she was covering the demonstrations for CBS News? It seems that women — even protestors — continue to be sexually assaulted. At the Egypt Independent, Tom Dale writes:

A woman was sexually assaulted with a bladed weapon on Friday night, leaving cuts on her genitals, in central Cairo, in the midst of what was purportedly a revolutionary demonstration. … She was one among at least 19 women sexually assaulted in and around Tahrir Square on Friday night, according to accounts collated by Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment, an activist group. … There were other attacks involving bladed weapons. Six women required medical attention. No doubt there were more assaults, uncounted.

To experience the sheer horror of one of these attacks second-hand,  read this account at the Nazra for Feminist Studies website. Meanwhile, Dale again:

It is neither my place nor my wish to draw conclusions about “the revolution” from all this: I do not believe that is possible or wise. But I can say that as the familiar chants resonated in the square, the demands for justice, a new government and new constitution, I felt a little sick.

“Tahrir Square,” he writes, “is both a place in which people both demand dignity for themselves and, in some cases, violently strip it from others. … It is not inevitable that Egypt’s revolutionary street politics be undercut by a current of rape.”

Still, there’s a certain inevitability to the emergence of mob mentality. Especially with all the unemployed — and thus un-marriageable — young men in Egypt. Ideally, the perpetrators would be singled out and subjected to some form (not fatal!) of “revolutionary justice.” Still, these crimes can be classified as fallout from not only the Egyptian government’s repressive policies, but its failure to improve the economy. At Time, Tony Karon elaborates on Egypt’s foundering economy.

Youth unemployment, one of the key drivers of the revolutionary upsurge in 2011, continues to grow, with official figures revealing that 25% of economically active [not sure what that means — RW] people ages 25 to 29, and 41% of those ages 19 to 24, are jobless.

Karon again: “President Mohamed Morsi’s plans to save Egypt’s sinking economy hinge on” — stop me if you’ve heard this one before —

… a $5 billion loan from the IMF [which] can be accessed only on the condition of implementing austerity measures that will bring a sharp spike in the economic pain suffered by millions of impoverished households.

In any event, male Egyptian protesters would do well to remember it’s not their sisters who are oppressing them. Diverting resources to policing their own while at the same time fighting the Egyptian government only slows the advance of their cause and diminishes its integrity.

Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.

With friends like Morris Sadek, Egypt's Copts don't need enemies

The man who translated and promoted “Innocence of Muslims” is a one-man anti-Islam P.R. firm.

Pastor Terry Jones — the man who gained infamy for threatening to burn the Koran — promised to promote Innocence of Muslims, the film that’s setting off sparks and lighting brush fires across the Middle East. But Morris Sadek is the man who, Daniel Burke at Religion News Service reports, “translated it into Arabic, sent it to Egyptian journalists, promoted it on his website and posted it on social media.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #120: Crazy Ivan

“If you can make a woman laugh, you’re seeing the most beautiful thing on God’s earth.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

OK, now it's Iran

The Iranian government arrested all the opposition leaders and moved them to a military jail over the weekend. Bear in mind none of these guys is an actual liberal, merely calling for less oppression from the state. Still, it appears to have acted as some weird trigger. That and the protests elsewhere.

Anyhow, #10esfand is the hash-tag and the protests are happening right now. Unbelievable stuff. Traffic is ground to a halt in major cities. Thousands of people are standing on their roofs screaming, “Down with the dictators”. Plenty of YouTube stuff showing the crowds and chants. Absolute chaos. I still don’t believe the Iranian regime will fall but it is weakening daily. Who knows, though.

A lot of governments are considering that the choice is definitely as extreme as Egypt or Libya and have to be asking themselves which world they want to live in…

However, try for a moment to imagine a world in which most of the Middle East is run by representative governments. It doesn’t matter whether they’re Islamist. Imagine a shade of Turkey, for example. It could be the largest shift in human development … ever…

The wrong side of history

So what about Egypt, eh? Is there anything more amazing than the relatively spontaneous gathering of humanity to peacefully declare freedom for itself? This following Tunisia must bring up comparisons to Eastern Europe in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Unlike the “color revolutions” of the 00’s which looked like foreign policy set plays to elevate friendly leaders and haven’t amounted to much beyond the adoption of neo-liberal economics. As Kissinger said, the US doesn’t have friends, it has interests. Consequently, we have a long history of supporting “friendly” dictatorships and one-party states. The equipment used by the Egyptian military and police that proudly proclaims “Made in U.S.A” proves the point. Mubarak’s Egypt is a cruel police state, but that’s ok because he serves our interests. He’ll take our terror suspects who need to disappear. He’ll do what he can to enforce the blockade of Gaza. And he’ll keep his own people in line, quiet about any feelings the 40,000,000 of them might have about US behavior in their neighborhood. All while preaching ceaselessly about freedom and democracy.

We’re standing on the wrong side of history.
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Nota Bene #113: Seth's Near-Death

“Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #109: You Can't Tuna Fish

“It’s absolutely stunning to me, the contempt in which the network holds the audience. The idea that these people have standards is laughable.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #101: Your Pal, Mike S.

“The guys who are shooting films now are technically brilliant, but there’s no content in their films. I marvel at what I see and wish I could have done a shot like that. But shots are secondary for my films, and with some of these films, it’s all about the shots. What’s the point? I’m not sure people know what points to make.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #100: Il Planetario di Figaro

Wow, 100 issues of Nota Bene! Props to Russ for helping me for a while with this nifty little S&R feature. Never mind all that now, let’s get on with this issue. “What splendid buildings our architects would be able to execute if only they could finally be less obedient to gravity!” Who said it? Continue reading

Beyond the soaring rhetoric of Obama's Cairo speech: a toxic innocence at home

by Phil Rockstroh

Even as President Barrack Obama waxed eloquent in Cairo, Egypt, on the moral imperatives of the community of nations, public opinion polls released in the United States revealed that, by a substantial percentage, its citizens believe torture is an acceptable option for interrogation of suspects deemed terrorists by various US governmental agencies. In addition, other polls show a majority of the American public hold the opinion that the all-American theme park of state torture, located at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, should remain open for business and continue to welcome guests from around the globe, taking them for the ride of their lives through the dark id of the American psyche.

These revelations should not come as a shock. Torture, official secrecy, and other sundry apparatus and accouterments of the national security state are about the only viable enterprises remaining in this declining nation. Continue reading