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Kidnapped in Gaza

More than most journos, the BBCa€™s Alan Johnston has had his close-up with the imbalance between Israeli fortunes and those of the Palestinians.

But the reporter, who refused to cover Gaza from the comfy confines of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem or, worse still, rely on Al Jazeera footage, was also the subject of a real-life drama few TV thrillers could match.

One day in March 2007, Johnston was snatched from his car by a shadowy band of kidnappers belonging to the Army of Islam and was kept in a three-month captivity that had the world on the edge of its seat.

Johnstona€™s appearance in Toronto Wednesday, April 30, at a gathering hosted by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression was his thank-you to supporters here who joined others around the planet to press for his safe release.

a€oeIt was one of the most moving things I have ever known,a€A says a gracious Johnston on the phone from London, where he now works in the relatively safe environs of Bush House, home of BBC World Service radio. a€oeSo many people stood up for me. It was extraordinary.a€A

But nowhere was the support more generous than in Gaza itself, where not only Palestinian journalists but also the citizenry turned out day after day to demand the release of the only Western journalist who had told their story while living among them.

As well as a kidnap drama, Johnstona€™s story is about the limits of knowing in a place as complicated as Gaza, even for someone who lives there 24/7. And in a perverse irony, the only Western journalist in the Palestinian enclave had to follow the most significant development in the Palestinian struggle since the death of Yasser Arafat with the rest of us on BBC World Service radio.

Wea€™re talking about that night in June of last year when Hamas pulled off a military putsch that sent Fatah packing from Gaza. Lying in his bedroom jail, Johnston tried to follow events, listening to the fiercest bombardment hea€™d heard in a place where a nighttime symphony of small-arms fire is as normal as the sound of crickets.

It was the Hamas takeover that inevitably set the stage for Johnstona€™s release.

a€oeHamas delivered the knockout blow, and the first thing they said was that they would free me,a€A Johnston recalls. But was he a step closer to freedom or to death?

Soon after Hamas announced its intentions, his kidnappers decked him out in an explosives-filled suicide jacket and paraded him before TV cameras as a warning of what would happen if Hamas or anyone else tried to spring him. a€oeI was worried that in any rescue I might not make it,a€A Johnston recalls.

But Hamas did prevail, and its prize was having its Gaza chief bring a freed Johnston before a relieved press corps, a public relations victory that allowed the organization to show that Fatah lawlessness was history and the Palestinian territory was under new management.

Although his three-year stint reporting in Gaza ended with a bang, Johnston had otherwise been in sync with his neighbours.

a€oeLiving a Gazan experience, I was there for every Israeli raid and I was under every Israeli sonic boom, just like the Gazans,a€A Johnston says.

BBC listeners will remember Johnstona€™s distinctive voice a€" higher-pitched than the standard broadcast bass a€" and his on-the-ground reporting of what passes for ordinary life there.

a€oeI tried to cover the conflict in a way that people can relate to,a€A he says. a€oeGaza is more than a conflict. There are people studying, starting careers, opening shops, getting married and having kids. Theya€™re making their way in an extraordinary setting.a€A

Perhaps ita€™s because he has this unique vantage point that he offers as much equivocation as journalistic certainty. He admits, for example, that there was much that eluded him about Gazan politics, even after breathing its air for so long.

a€oeI always found it quite hard to understand the factions within Hamas,a€A which, like any political outfit, is filled with hard-liners and moderates, the former now in the ascendancy.

Then there are those rockets fired regularly from northern Gaza into southern Israel. Is that the work of Hamas? I ask him.

a€oeIt often wasna€™t directly Hamas,a€A he says. a€oeIt was more likely Islamic Jihad or occasionally and somewhat ironically the Al Aqsa Brigades, which are aligned with Fataha€A a€" Israela€™s supposed partners in peace.

a€oeIta€™s important to say the rocket fire is feeble and usually does little damage,a€A Johnston says, a€oethough ita€™s meant to kill, especially when it involves the bombardment of urban areas. But to focus only on the rocket fire is not useful in understanding the desperate need to find a political solution to a problem.a€A

As Johnston points out, a€oeEighty per cent of the residents of Gaza are refugees who are embittered by the loss of Jaffa,a€A the Arab settlement thata€™s now an artsy suburb of Tel Aviv, an hour up the Mediterranean coast.

As well as posing a political challenge, Gaza poses a moral one. a€oeOne people has a state, one does not,a€A Johnston says. a€oeOne people is occupied, the other is not.a€A

Parachute journalists shy away from that part of the story. Johnston couldna€™t, because he lived it. via


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Posted: May 6th, 2008
at 11:24am by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: hood status,apple,politricks,fo' real?,9th dan,et cetera

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Alyonka Mail Art Show In Yoshkar - Ola Museum Of Fine Arts

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Posted: May 6th, 2008
at 10:44am by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: apple,contemporary

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Alphabet in the Boiling Pot of Politics

Conservatively speaking, the Azerbaijani or Azeri alphabet to date has been altered four times - to Arabic after the Islamic conquest; to Latin (1928-1938); to Cyrillic (1939-1991) and to Latin again (1991 to present). On each occasion, the motivation for change was political. However, if we consider the replacement of a single letter in any of the phonetic alphabets (Cyrillic or Latin), then the Azeri alphabet has been changed at least ten times (Tables 2,3,4). Nor does this take into account the pre-Islamic scripts used by the Turkic nations and other ancestors of modern Azerbaijanis such as Caucasian Albanians. If those are added, then the historical fgure would be raised to twelve or more, depending on how far back one digs in search of ancient scripts.

Azerbaijan International

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Posted: April 5th, 2008
at 1:43am by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: apple,games,politricks,design,science

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What the newspapers said _about Zimbabwe

The electorate has opted for a system where no one political party can exercise absolute power… The economic problems Zimbabwe is facing require all parties to come together to offer solutions. a€" The Herald (Zim).

Those elected into office have to serve all the people including their political rivals because they now occupy national office… These representatives should take the lead in fighting social ills such as the now cancerous corruption which is plaguing our society. a€"The Chronicle (Zim).

It is beginning to seem just possible that one of the ugliest regimes in Africa, and one of its most tyrannical leaders, could soon be peaceably and democratically removed from power and office… President Robert Mugabe may soon no longer be with us. a€" Business Day (SA).

Unlike Kenyaa€™s first-past-the-post system, which allows few options for dealing with a close vote other than the courts or the streets, Zimbabwea€™s two-round runoff system could be the mechanism that forces a relatively peaceful transition following President Robert Mugabea€™s five-term rule… There is a lesson here for Kenya. a€" The Standard (Kenya).

Two recent elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe provide a key insight into a bright future democracy in Africa… Zimbabwe and Kenya scenarios could be significant as they shed light on future elections… Ita€™s also a demonstration that if the opposition puts its act together and the population shows determination, there can be a change of regime. The Monitor (Uganda).

The much-anticipated chaos has not taken place. At least not yet. a€" Le Pays (Burkina Faso).

In 1980, Robert Mugabe was a liberation hero. Twenty-eight years later Old Bob is a villain, clawing over Zimbabwe like a personal estate, pawing like a cornered leopard, spewing venom like a rattled snake… At 84, Mugabe has refused to appreciate there can be another Zimbabwe without him. a€" The Standard (Kenya).

Father Time has a way of wearing you down and men, even heads of state and kings, are not able to resist him. Robert Mugabe is learning his lesson the hard way. a€" Le Potentiel (DR Congo). a€" BBC.


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Posted: April 4th, 2008
at 9:22pm by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: apple,business,politricks

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Mari Pagans Go Online to Defend Their Holy Places

In Mari El, a Finno-Ugric republic in the Middle Volga region of the Russian Federation, leaders of the most ancient of mankind’s religions have turned to the most modern communications channel as part of their struggle to defend their culture and beliefs against the encroachments of modernity.

the Russian-dominated government in Mari El may soon find itself confronted with an even more powerful force than the one that it confronted three years ago when Finno-Ugric activists abroad attracted more than 10,000 signatures on an appeal to end Ioshkar-Ola and Moscow’s oppression of the Mari people. [mari]

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Posted: April 1st, 2008
at 6:00pm by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: hood status,computers,apple,web

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West and Muslims clash on free speech

GENEVA a€" Muslim and Western nations clashed at the United Nations on Tuesday after a measure backed by Islamic countries added monitoring religious prejudice to the duties of a U.N. free speech expert.

The U.N. investigator on freedom of opinion and expression is responsible for reporting on repressive governments’ restriction of free speech. The change sponsored by Egypt and Pakistan now requires him to also report acts of "racial or religious discrimination" that constitute "abuse of the right of freedom of expression."

The change passed 32-0 by the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday was seen as a move against forms of expression that have offended Muslims, such as Danish newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The U.S., Canada and some European countries said the measure could curtail freedom of expression and help dictatorial regimes block dissenting views.

"The resolution adopted attempts to legitimize the criminalization of expression," U.S. Ambassador Warren W. Tichenor told the 47-nation Human Rights Council. [idahostatesman]

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Posted: April 1st, 2008
at 5:28pm by Koookiecrumbles

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Posted: March 25th, 2008
at 8:00am by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: apple,design

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DIY iPhone Stand

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Posted: March 22nd, 2008
at 1:41pm by orangemenace

Categories: apple,green,cell phones,gear,diy

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Dubai first Arab city to join Earth Hour

Dubai city has joined the WWF- Earth Hour movement, as part of a global climate change initiative, which will see thousands of lights turned off all over the city at 8:00pm on Saturday March 29, in the largest voluntary power down in history.

Dubai is the first Arab city to declare its support for Earth Hour.

"We are asking everyone in Dubai to switch off all non-essential lights for one hour, at 8.00pm on March 29, to send a message around the world that we have the power to take action against global warming and that by working together we really can make a huge difference," said Fadel Ali, executive chairman Dubai Holding Operations.

He added that "Earth Hour will clearly demonstrate the connection between energy usage and climate change, showing that we as a broader community can address the biggest threat our planet has ever faced." Dubai Holding and the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) have linked up to lead the initiative that also has the support of Dubai Municipality, Dubai International Financial Centre, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai World Trade Centre, Nakheel, Emaar and Leo Burnett.

Earth Hour, from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm local time on March 29, will involve people and businesses turning off non essential lights and appliances for one hour to show how people working together in a spirit of openness can make a difference.

Earth Hour, which began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, is now a worldwide environmental movement that will see millions of people turn off non-essential lighting. Earth Hour will roll through 14 time zones, starting in New Zealand and ending in the Pacific Time Zone. It will traverse more than 25 cities. [full article]

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Posted: March 19th, 2008
at 5:55pm by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: hood status,life,apple,green,fo' real?,science

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