Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Virgin Komodo Becomes New Parent

"A female Komodo dragon which laid fertilised eggs despite being a virgin is now a mother and "father" of five.

Flora produced a clutch of 10 eggs without mating at Chester Zoo, Cheshire, in May 2006.

When Flora, one of the zoo's two female Komodo dragons, laid her eggs in May, they were put in an incubator where three collapsed.

On opening the eggs, staff discovered they contained embryos, and genetic fingerprinting by scientists at Liverpool University showed Flora's eggs had developed without being fertilised by sperm - a process called parthenogenesis." A real interesting news story by the BBC ....

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Trois Couleurs: by Krzysztof Kieślowski (1993 -1994)

Over three scattered weeks, I watched three great movies that make trilogy of “Trois couleurs” or three colors. The three movies were directed by late Polish film director and screen writer Krzysztof Kieslowski. And in my opinion, he is one of the most talented directors with a very special unforgettable fingerprint and cinematography.

The trilogy is made of three separate movies that are linked with one scene in the last movie of the trilogy which is Rouge.

The three colors are blue, white and red, which represent the French flag. Each color is said to be standing for France’s political pillars. Blue is for liberty. White is equality. And red stands for fraternity.

I think one reason why I fell in love with the three movies though with degrees is because the director is a novelist, not literally but he has the brush of a novelist when directing his movies. Audience can read every single ray of light, movement and silence…etc. It is fascinating how I enjoyed reading the movies rather than watching them. My train of thoughts was stimulated with each and every scene. I believe my love for literature could be the reason why I think this trilogy is simply a masterpiece.

I will tell you which color or movie that I loved the most to begin with. I love “Rouge”. Everyone who sees the three movies comes up with a favorite color. They are so encompassing to human psychology. It is hardly that one of the three movies can miss touching a part inside us. I was mesmerized by “Rouge”.

One thing about Krzysztof’s trilogy is that does not have much talk, however your mind and heart are continuously engaged in every scene.

“Blue”, "Bleu", stars Juliette Binoche. She plays Julie, wife of the famous composer Patrice de Courcy. Following the death of her husband and only daughter in an automobile accident, that she herself survives, she has to cope with the tragedy. The entire movie is about emotional liberty. Though she did not die in the accident but she subjects herself to mental suicide. She wanted to erase her ties with the past, leaving no memory with her past life. It is quite an experience to watch Binoche trying to cut her past off. Every time she plunges into the blue waters of the swimming pool, she tries to give herself a sense of emotional liberty. However, she could not successfully live her present or her future without reconciling with her tragic past. She learns how to live when she learns about her past rather than dumping it into the nothingness of life. The movie is filled with so many transparent visualizations related to water. The mood of the color blue brings feelings of serenity and clarity, a mood that certainly suits the pursuit of emotional liberty. The word emotional liberty might sound easy to write but it is so difficult to reach. It is a complex simplicity. Sometimes we trap ourselves in memories, experiences, emotions and feelings that never leave us. The cure is not forgetting but is simply getting into good terms with the self to let go or keep what we want to keep. We need to decide on what is happening to us in the past to lead a positive present and promising future.
White, “Blanc”, takes place between France and Poland. It is the only movie among the three that takes place between two places. White stands for equality. The movie starts with a humiliation scene in a court to a pole man married to a French woman. She is filing divorce for impotence reasons and sexual problems. In my own personal opinion, white did not stand for equality but rather for revenge. The entire movie was based on a revengeful plot executed by Karol (the husband). Karol is faced by difficulty of not speaking French. His wife stripped him out of any money. He begs in Paris metro station. He returns to Poland to plot his revenge. It is said that “Blanc” has a political sub-context playing the idea of communist countries and France. It has so many flashbacks that are just adding to the vagueness and restlessness that I experienced while watching it. White is not as angelic symbol as known. White is associated with foggy thinking and cruelty.
The last of the trilogy that links the three movies together is “Rouge”. This is also my favorite among the three. It is simply one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life. It is a masterpiece painting. The more you look into it, the more it brings from inside you out. Red is simply is a bombshell of symbolism about human connections. All I can see that light was talking throughout the scenes. The dog that was featured said something in the few seconds it appeared in. Every single movement is subject to interpretation and meditation. The story is about this innocent Swiss student Valentine who meets this old experienced judge. The movie is about how unexpected human interactions can bring a new level to any human being’s life without expecting it. The idea might sound simple, but the movie brought in a very sophisticated way that made me almost want to repeat every scene to have a better understanding. The details are simple. Dialogue is short. However, the movie presents itself among one of the most intricate films. The movie is window for meditation into life cycles and human lives.

I am writing about this trilogy, because I would like to share with you my wonderful experience watching it. Do not miss watching it, if you have the chance. They are worth seeing…
Great Polish Director, French actresses, American production. ... It can never get better...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Detained Egyptian Blogger Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman Amer's Update

Disclaimer: This update is driven from Wa7damasrya blog (Arabic) who attended detained Egyptian blogger Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman Amer's trial in Alexandria last Thursday. I m writing the heads-up in English for a better reach out. The update is followed by response from human rights organizations like RSF and U.S. Congress.

Thursday, January 25, 2007 was the trial session of Egyptian Blogger Kareem Amer who is accused of insulting Islam among other accusations that level to disrupting public state security and insulting the President.

Some Egyptian and foreign journalists as well as bloggers were there to attend the court session. Egyptian bloggers included wa7damasrya, Benhawy and Sandmonkey . Journalists were from the daily Egyptian Al Masry Al Youm , Reuters and other press outlets.

Lawyers attending on behalf of Kareem were from Hisham Mubarak Center, on top of which was Mr. Ahmed Seif. He was the first to come to court. Mr. Seif is known to be among top lawyers in the field of defending human rights in Egypt.

Television stations were not allowed to film inside the court hall. Video cameras were not allowed as well. A crew from Dream TV channel was there and could not film the trial.

Kareem was not seen entering the building as he was given access to the trial through the garage and from there to the dock.

The trial started at noon. The judge was surprised to find a big number of interested people in Kareem's trial. The session started with Mr. Ahmed Seif's defense. He pleaded that there are no regulations or laws for internet publications or blogging in Egypt that justify the trial. He confirmed that the Egyptian laws have no say on blogging. He also requested delegating a professor from the faculty of engineering from Alexandria University to identify the venue and the owner of Elaph site. This is the site from which the prosecution printed Kareem's articles. If it was proved that the site has a non-Egyptian domain or server, Kareem cannot be charged in Egypt for that.

Following the lawyers' defense, a man stood up to say he is filing a lawsuit against Kareem. The lawsuit is called "Hessba" in Islamic Jurisdiction. The "Hessba" lawsuits are (voluntary) soliciting good and advising against evil in Islam.

The man was so emotional. He spoke in a loud voice. He introduced himself as a lawyer. He said he came to stand by Islam for its victory. He recited some parts of Quaran about those who fight against Allah and his profit Mohamed who should have their hands and legs cut. He meant Kareem.

The session was adjourned to February 1, 2007 to decide on delegating
a professor from Alexandria University to check Elaph's server or not.

If Kareem is acquitted from all charges, "Al Hessba" lawsuit will be complicating things for Kareem and he might be sentenced to three years in prison just only for this "Al Hessba".

Kareem looked self-composed in the dock. His jailers stood in front of him. Kareem was hardly seen as a result.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Congressman Franks Concerned by Lack of Freedom of Religion and Speech in Egypt

Joint Letter Urges Egyptian Government to Release Young Web-blogger Imprisoned for Criticizing Radical Islam
January 24, 2007—Congressmen Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Barney Frank (D-MA) today wrote Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy regarding the arrest and imprisonment of Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman Amer, a 22-year-old resident of Alexandria, Egypt. Mr. Amer criticized the radical Islam expressed by his professors at Al Azhar University, where he was a law student, as well as in society more generally in a personal weblog. Before his arrest, he was kicked out of Al Azhar for his opinions. More....

Friday, January 19, 2007

Egyptian Blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil's update

This blog post is quoted from Jar Al Kamar blog that is originally written in Arabic. He is closely following Egyptian blogger Abdel kareem Nabil Soliman Amer case. I am publishing his last update on Karim's case in English for more outreach.

“The pronouncement of a sentence on Egyptian blogger Abdel kareem Nabil Soliman Amer was adjourned to Thursday, January 25, 2007. He was accompanied in today’s court session by lawyers Ahmed Seif Al Islam from Hisham Mubarak Center, Rowda Ahmed from the Arab Network and Mohamed Baymoumy from the Legal Support Association. The session was adjourned upon a request from the lawyers for further case study and pleading preparations.

The session was attended by the three lawyers and two persons me (Jar El Kamar) and Mahmoud Al Banhawy. The latter took pictures with his cell phone for Karim. More pictures can be seen here. Karim seemed to be in a terrible situation. The accompanying state security officer to Karim prevented us from talking to him. He was hastily led to custody following the court session. The lawyers got a photocopy from the case file for study. Articles from some sites like Al Hewar Al Motamaden were attached to the file as evidence to Karim’s internet writings. Charges included religion disdain, insulting the president, attempts to flare up sectarian unrest and turmoil and disrupting public security.

The case file also included confessions for Karim during the first interrogation process. Confession records contained that he is no longer a Muslim except in the national identity card and that Karim calls for the deletion of any information in the identity cards that indicates religion. A discussion with the interrogator about the ideas he published on the internet and how far he believes in them was included in the case file.

The lawyers believe that charging Karim with those three charges might double the sentence which will be determined next Thursday, concluding that he might be spending nine years in prison. The sentence will be appealed of course. The case will be pending in court for a longer time as a result. And Karim’s preventive detention will continue until a decision is taken.

We went to Al-Hadra prison where Karim is detained. We made clear that the solitary detention is based on his personal request. Karim’s brother whom we met at the court was able to pass him some food and clothes and may be money. His family will try to visit him another time this week. Visits were stopped for the last two weeks.

The next court session will be on Thursday and it will be the most important for Karim so far. Proper legal and media presence will affect the judge’s sentence. We have noticed today that the judge was affected by the number of the people interested in the Karim’s case. More media and press personal presence will strengthen and support Karim’s stance very much or any freedom of expression cases in Egypt. We will try during this week to mobilize all interested people in this case to attend session. Your presence will have a great impact as you cannot imagine, if you are interested in Karim’s case or any freedom of expression cause.

Please bear in mind that Karim is subject to a prison sentence up to nine years to expiate his crime of expressing his opinion peacefully or through a medium (internet), provided that this medium so far has no censor or limits. Sentencing Karim will be the first legal internet case in Egypt and that will set a precedent to violate internet freedoms. Threatened persons will take the liberty to call for the imprisonment of anyone who is expressing his/her opinion and ideas on the internet, and they are many. I hope I can see you all there this Thursday at the court. The case might seem simple and individual, however it needs our defense.”

On the trial from international press in English:
AP: Accused Egyptian blogger stands trial
CNews: Egyptian blogger on trial
New York Times : Egypt: Blogger Goes on Trial

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Israel appoints first Arab Muslim minister

"Amir Peretz, the leader of Israel's Labour Party, has appointed the first Arab Muslim to the Israeli cabinet.

Raleb Majadele is to be the new science and technology minister."

I wonder if there will be an Egyptian Jewish Minister one day......

I am not bringing this news with the same mentality of some Muslims who are adopting the idea of the Islamic dominance over other religions or races. I know there are people who will be cheering the fact that he is a Muslim, believing that he is standing with the Islamic Califate project. I am bringing this piece of news, to show you that even in a Jewish State, minorities have rights to attain political posts. Majadele, a Knesset member , will be the second Israeli Arab to serve in the Cabinet in the history of the country. Israel is a 58 year old country....... Full Story

Friday, January 12, 2007

Human Rights Watch World Report 2007 on Egypt

Human Rights Watch released its annual report 2007 on human abuses in the world. Egypt regrettably has its own share...

Torture In Egypt

Human rights organizations continue to receive credible reports that security services and police routinely torture and mistreat detainees, particularly during interrogations. On May 25 State Security officers detained Karim al-Sha`ir and Mohamed al-Sharqawi, badly beat them both, and sexually assaulted al-Sharqawi. The authorities had detained the two for participating in protests supporting the Judges’ Club .. More from the Report...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Washington, DC, rally to free Egyptian Blogger Kareem

Egyptian blogger Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman Amer has been detained by state security on several charges that have to do with insulting a religious institution, threatening state security... bla bla... He is a student who dared to express himself and his mind on his own blog. In a country of state-controlled media, bloggers caused a kind of confusion that led to violence against citizens. Kareem became one of the victims of violence.

Please check the rally details that will be in Dupont Ciricle tomorrow, Thursday Jan. 11, 2007 at noon during your lunch hour. Go to DC Coalition for Blog Freedom for all the details. Here is the email for questions as well

DC bloggers, DC blog readers, and all people of conscience are invited to attend a solidarity rally on Kareem's behalf.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A Woman that Will Be Remembered By History

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds up the gavel as she stands on the podium with her grandchildren and the children and grandchildren of other representatives on the first day of the 110th Congress, January 4, 2007 (Reuters)

This elected woman, Nancy Pelosi, will always be remembered as the first female in the history of the United States to be the Speaker of the House.

Despite the bipartisan-driven politics in the US, however Pelosi's new position should make all American women proud for the achievement. I am not American, however happy and proud of her.

The United States was born in 1776. More than 200 years later, they succeeded in having the first female Speaker. There are so many countries that have been existing for centuries and their women do not have proper identity cards until today .... Congratulations!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

African Path Website is Born

Acknowledging the need for free voices to report about their homelands, here is a new African news/blog posts aggregator is born. From the news letter I received: "The African Path web site has launched. African Path is created to fill a void in the marketplace for a strong Pan-African web site where news content and blogging can be merged into a unified voice. A lot of African bloggers are discussing issues relevant to the continent but online exposure to these blogs is limited. African Path aims to provide this much needed exposure. We aim to fill the void left by big media in covering information on Africa and providing a forum in which Africans can discuss issues concerning themselves both within and outside the continent.

The African Path website features news headlines from global and major African media houses, an ever growing group of bloggers covering various topics and an interactive calendar for events taking place in different cities worldwide.

Topics featured on the site include current events, politics, technology, religion, music, entertainment, sports, health, human rights, AIDS, democracy and much more. The site will share experiences inherently African from daily accounts of people within the continent, Africans in the Diaspora and foreigners who have visited Africa. "