Category Archives: Interesting bits in the news

Seven Simple Steps to Ruin a Perfect Revolution

This article originally appeared on my friend Marwa Rakha’s blog:

This post has an Arabic version here – عربى

Seven simple steps to ruin a perfect revolution

STEP ONE: Let bygones be bygones!

Forgive and forget! Turn the other cheek! Do not pursue anyone! No prosecution! No Trials! Be a bigger person and forget about the mean corrupt guys!


People calling for the forgiveness of Mubarak!

People calling for the forgiveness of the members of his corrupt regime!

People accusing those who are insisting on a transparent live trial of ruthlessness and cold-heartedness!


Divide and conquer!

Create a split between people!

Create a counter team of people who are actually sympathizing with the toppled regime.


STEP TWO: Let there be chaos!

More protests! More strikes! More rumors! More confusion!

Example: Strikes in banks, oil companies, factories, and universities!


Make the country come to a standstill

Make people wish for the stability of the old regime!


STEP THREE: Turn the ousted president into a compassion-worthy figure!

Poor old defeated President Mubarak! Humiliated in his old age!


Mubarak is in a coma!

Mubarak’s sons are fighting!

Mubarak is sick!

Mubarak insists on dying on Egyptian soil!

Mubarak has served the country for 30 years!


Guilt-trip: Making people feel like ungrateful brats!

Emotional blackmail: Coercing people into sympathizing with a dictator.

Replacing the image of the dictator by the image of a father who was abandoned by his kids in his old age!


STEP FOUR: Defame those protesters and revolutionary figures!

Plant the seed of doubt and reap the fruits of confusion!


Wael Ghonim is part of a masonic conspiracy theory!

El Baradie is behind the ruin in Iraq!

God-knows-who is an addict, etc!

Purpose: Make people lose faith! Kill their hope in a better future! Destroy their glory and victory!


STEP FIVE: Clear the corrupt slate on TV

Shows and interviews with the very same people accused of corruption and of abusing their powers and authority. Instead of apologizing they present bedtime stories of how they were forced to do what they did or how they never did what they are accused of doing!

Example: Interviews with officers from the Ministry of Interior!


Opening people up to the idea that those icons of corruption could be innocent!

Getting people to calm down and accept step one; let bygones be bygones!


STEP SIX: Creating conflict and tension between the army and the protesters

There is already lack of trust between the people and anyone representing the government! By capitalizing on that tension and adding more fuel to its fire, the army is bound to start attacking the people!

Examples: Many bloggers are now highlighting the torture incidents in military camps and how the army was neutral in the face of the regime during the revolution and over the past 30 years!

Purpose: If the army turns against the protesters; the revolution is over! Change is history before it even starts!


STEP SEVEN: The old regime is reintroduced in its new attire!

A new name, a new face, and a new voice … the same corruption … the same nepotism .. the same injustice … the same abuses!


Back to square one!



Where Do We Begin?

Today, like many others, I am walking on the razor edge of complete despair and profound hope. Deep in my heart I am trembling with fear that tomorrow Mubarak will order his thugs to massacre any protesters. In my bones I am certain–just as the quivering voice of Salma speaking from Tahrir Square declared–that if Mubarak remains in office until September (or November as PM Shafiq later mentioned) many Egyptians who had the courage, nerve, and dignity to demand their human rights will be rounded up, tortured, and imprisoned–if not assassinated.

How have we created such a world? How is it that so many of us move along happily ignoring the numerous injustices plaguing the planet. I just cannot stop caring. Where do we begin to build peace? Where do we begin building cultures and societies that simply do not allow such atrocities to take place. This is not an Egyptian crisis, nor is it simply an Egyptian uprising. This is a global crisis and in my opinion it is a very private crisis too. All I can come up with, all I can grasp, is this: We must each make it our foremost duty to actively build peace in this world. I’m not talking about going to Yoga class and claiming bliss–I mean action. Action at home, action at work, action in our communities. Each one of us holding ourselves accountable and honestly reflecting on our own behavior, choices, and thinking.

This massacre is not being carried out by Mubarak alone but by many people. There are the thugs, of course, who have fallen in love with their power and have lost touch with their humanity. Hell-bound sycophants who eagerly assault unarmed innocents so that they may hold their grip on their positions. Some people enable the massacre by hiding away in their flats and growing revolution fat. Others enable the brutality by leaving the country and trying to forget about the chaos. Further away, some of us simply ignore the atrocities and justify our apathy in various ways: I am so busy, I have my own problems, that’s just a crazy part of the world and I don’t get it. LOOK INSIDE YOUR HEARTS!!!!!!! What is there! Aren’t you aching for this man above?! Aren’t you aching for Egypt? Aren’t you aching for this entire human mess? Look into your heart and pull aside that dark curtain that prevents you from seeing, from feeling. Look inside your heart and recognize–finally–that there you CAN create infinite space and hold within it every being on this freaking planet.

I cannot stop caring and I am praying that you will have the same affliction.

In honor of the brave Egyptians protesting in the dangerous streets, I am reposting this article so that you may be aware.

Here are the signals I picked:

Omar Soliman claimed the youth in Tahrir now are NOT those honorable ones on 25th! ( A BIG LIE )

Then all int’l reporters started getting calls to leave the square tonight ‘as gov. Can not guarantee there safety!!!’

And all live camers (at least from one side of tahrir have been confiscated!!)

Earlier the military police stormed the Hesham Mobarak center for human rights (not related to Mubarak) and detained at least 24!!

And a probaganda plan started about a foreign groups behind the protests continuing till now!!

I feel They are keeping (who are the foreigners! behind it?) open so they choose later who will not side with the reports after massacre is over by the mafia of Mubarak (US cia or HAMAS or Israili intelligence)

I tried to suggest protestors now to be aware and hide or leave and choose another form of protesting NOW suddenly like hanging a black cloth from each balcony but idea was turned down



Will you begin caring now? Will you look into your heart? Will you make this commitment to yourself and to your community? We must begin building peace in ourselves and doing that requires us to look into our hearts and realize that it DOES hurt to witness atrocities. It is our duty to bear witness, it is our duty to care, it is our duty to take action.

Please share this.

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,
I understand that everyday you must make difficult decisions. Thank you, Sir, for speaking out against Hosni Mubarak’s violent reaction to the Egyptian people’s protests.
I just spoke with a friend of mine in Cairo. She is five months pregnant and today she is on the street with her fellow citizens and protesting for a better Egypt. When I got through to her phone–finally after nearly 24 hours of disrupted service–the first question she asked me was this, “Is the US putting pressure on these thugs to step down?” I told her about your speech. She assured me, “We will not leave the streets until Mubarak steps down. He will not stop down as long as the US supports him.”
Mr. President, we cannot afford to lose the affection of the Egyptian people. It is urgent that we put ourselves on the right side of history. Let us not continue supporting a repressive regime, let us not make it easier for Mubarak and his cruel secret police to torture and murder journalists, dissidents, and other innocent citizens.
Sir, the Egyptian people are fighting for their freedom. They are in the streets–some are pregnant with a new generation of Egyptians–risking their lives for a better future. They are fighting for grassroots democracy.
Democratic values and ideals should not be reserved for those of us who were lucky enough to be born in the Western world. It is bitterly ironic for the US to suppress a popular movement for democracy. Please Sir, let Mubarak know that you do not have his back.
Sir, thank you for your service.
Warmest regards,
Kelly Marie Johnston

Please contact your local representative and President Obama. You can write to the President here Support human rights everywhere. Our friends in Egypt are being murdered simply because they want basic freedoms.

Please tweet

Dear Congressman

Thank you for your kind attention. Sir, I am writing to request that you let it be known that American voters are outraged by the horrific human rights violations taking place in Egypt. The United States’ support of the Egyptian regime is not only unsustainable and inhumane, it is utterly hypocritical. Egyptian men and women deserve the right to free speech, free assembly, and peaceful protest. They deserve the right to access information and communicate with one another via internet and telephone.


I received a phone call one hour ago from a close friend of mine who is Egyptian. She is in Cairo now, five months pregnant, and stranded. The internet has been completely shut down and it is expected that phone, electricity, and water services will be cut tomorrow in effort to prevent the planned protests. If the United States continues to support this illegitimate regime we not only risk further damaging our legitimacy abroad, we also risk contributing to the development of another Iran. PLEASE DO NOT LET THIS FALL OFF YOUR RADAR.


I lived in Egypt for three years. It is a powder keg precisely because of the widespread corruption, ridiculous presidential referendums that are widely mocked, and a police state that makes it impossible for young, poor, frustrated Egyptians to innocently blow off steam. If we do not support grass roots democracy in the making, we have turned our backs on the values we claim to hold dear. Egyptians should no longer suffer under the weight of US support for puppet regimes. I am an American voter and tax-payer and I protest the US support for non-democratic regimes. Enough is enough.


Please fight for an official statement from the United States government–a reiteration of Secretary Clinton’s remarks with some teeth–that we do NOT support this thug regime’s tactics and that we stand behind all peoples seeking to claim their human rights.


Sir, do take care and thank you for your service.


Kelly Marie Johnston

University City, MO

Please write to your local representative, your congressman or congresswoman and urge that the US support Egyptians in their struggle for freedom, democracy, and human dignity.

Please Tweet to spread the word. Feel free to use this letter as a template.

Flashback to Fuji-san

In a few weeks (October 6th) it will have been exactly four years since Laco and I climbed Mt. Fuji for the first time. We had just moved to Japan less than two months before (August 2006) and just couldn’t bear to wait until the following summer to climb it. These photos and captions are taken from an old blog that I made at the time but never updated.

Laco and I arrive at the 5th Station, elevation 2400 meters, where we will begin our climb. It’s approximately 9.30AM and we have driven past the clouds into a clear and sunny day. We are psyched!! The sign behind us translates (rougly): White people beware, you think you’re strong but Fuji-san will destroy you!

Expression of strength? Drunken air-guitar? Or is it simply the early stages of altitude sickness? This bizarre moment was captured somewhere between the 5th and 6th stations.

Let me see…I think we should go this way.

(Laco practices navigation WITHOUT his handheld GPS. What a stud!)

What do you mean this isn’t the summit?!

(Kelly summits a large rock at the beggining of the climb. Phew, it’s kinda hot for October isn’t it?)

Crap! Where did we park the jeep?

(Just one more step back, one more, almost a perfect shot!)

Laco and our new climbing buddies put rabbit ears on their invisible friends at approximately 2700 meters. I just realized we never exchanged names with these kids who we crossed through the last arch and onto the summit with.

Laco negotiates with Kelly to please haul ass a little, there’s still some climbing to do.

But I’m tired and it’s getting windy…

Seventh Station! Only three more to go!!

There’s more?!!!!!!!!!! THREE more?!!!!!!!!!!!

I forget the Japanese word (or the more appropriate English word) for the temple gates…these are found surrounding temples; they work to keep out the evil spirits. I don’t really think evil spirits have the chutzpah to climb this high but I guess it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Calling in an exorcism team would not only take FOREVER but would also just cost a fortune!!

I did it!! Er…what? This isn’t the top? What’s up with all these rocks posing as the summit? Zenith envy. There’s no other explanation. I feel a little dizzy and I wish whoever that is would stop squeezing my head.

Fine! You’re right, this isn’t the top. Gawwwwd.

(Kelly painfully dissolves a small bit of denial.)

Why are all these pictures of Kelly? Only Laco has enough strength to carry the camera.

(Laco’s shadow and Kelly napping.)

We’re almost there!!!

Kelly looks down at the ground covered. Oy.

It’s much steeper than it looks…

Laco is on cloud 9…

Hey! Grab me some yen for the vending machine!

Yen coins wedged into the posts of the wooden gates. Maybe for good luck…or alms for the needy climbers.

This is it! Check out the snow!

Our Japanese friends waited for us just before the threshold to the peak. We all four walked through the last gate together (too bad we didn’t get a photo of that). This map charts the Fujiyamora trail that we followed up the mountain. There was just a tiny bit of snow. It took us a little less than four hours to climb up. The descent was very painful and increasingly cold.

Laco’s anticlimactic summit: So where’s Mt. Fuji???

Is this where they keep the lava?

Climbers can hike the perimeter of the peak (which is said to take a half hour to one hour depending on how many supplements you imbibe) but the trail was closed and we were too too tired to circle round. We also wanted to get off the mountain before the sun went down.

I’m SO over this…

Seriously, this trail is super steep in most places. At some points we climbed rocks that were more like jagged stairs. As we climbed up and down Japanese men in their sixties and seventies breezed by us on the trail wishing us a happy afternoon and good luck. This is a serious climb! In total, it took us almost eight hours to reach the peak and descend. We were both pretty dehydrated, headachey and exhausted. We said to ourselves: let’s get lost on the way home! And we did! It was a blast.

Decade of Roma Inclusion

Approximately ten million Roma (Gypsies) live in Europe; they are the largest minority group in the region and among the most vulnerable. The community at large “remains trapped in poverty and isolated in society’s margins” (Open Society Institute, 2009). Across Europe, Roma children’s participation and performance in school is markedly worse than their non-Roma counterparts and in several contexts—Slovakia included—Roma students are segregated into “special schools,” which further adds to their marginalization and limits the options available to them once they finish school.

According to “The Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 Terms of Reference” white paper,  The Decade of Roma Inclusion (The Decade) “is a political commitment by Governments to combat Roma poverty, exclusion, and discrimination within a regional framework” (Decade of Roma Inclusion, 2005). The Open Society Institute (OSI), a major participant and source of funding for Decade initiatives, has made the claim that “Education is the key to inclusion of Roma as equal and active citizens” (Open Society Institute, 2009).

This spring I am travelling to Slovakia to work on some non-formal educational projects with Roma students. In the past several weeks I have been poring over reports about the situation in Slovakia and have found that one of the elements that most doggedly prevents Roma inclusion—that is, discriminatory attitudes—goes largely unaddressed by the policies and projects undertaken as Decade initiatives. It occurred to me that digital autoethnographies might be a useful means for students, assistant teachers, and administrators to record, replay, and reflect on their experiences and vlogging could be a means through which Roma students broadcast themselves via YouTube and therefore acquire a stronger voice and presence. The idea is two-fold: encourage self-reflection in order to investigate and ultimately dismantle discriminatory attitudes toward self and others; empower yourself by defining in your own terms who you are, what you think, believe, feel, and experience. It is my sense that more self-reflection and creative engagement and participation in the discourses about Roma (which for now is dominated by non-Roma voices) should make a meaningful difference.

Recently, I came across a group on Facebook called Typical Roma. According to the group page, “”Typical Roma?” is a campaign which addresses stigmatization and stereotypes as root causes of social exclusion of Roma. The campaign raises the awareness for active citizenship of ALL in ONE society and intends to promote a positive image of Roma.” There, I was thrilled to see short videos and photographs depicting Roma individuals from five European countries. The project was launched by the European Roma Grassroots Organization Network . Another group, Gypsy, was founded by a 19-year-old Roma man named Joe. Here, you can find conversation among Roma and non-Roma from around the world talking about culture, dispelling some myths, propagating others, discussions about Roma history, personal and family origins, and so on. It would be fascinating to see participants in these groups produce vlogs that convey their ideas, depict images from their everyday lives…perhaps, little-by-little, as those who are typically silent and lacking presence approach the microphone, clear their throats, and speak…their voices will be heard in greater numbers and volume and the destructive current of anti-Roma racism will eventually lose its steam.

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