The Egyptian military claims it caught saboteurs in a small boat trying to sever one of the country's main undersea Internet cables. No word yet on who the guys were and what their motive might be:
Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said in a statement on his official Facebook page that divers were arrested while “cutting the undersea cable” of the country’s main communications company, Telecom Egypt. The statement said they were caught on a speeding fishing boat just off the port city of Alexandria.
The statement was accompanied by a photo showing three young men, apparently Egyptian, staring up at the camera in what looks like an inflatable launch. It did not further have details on who they were or why they would have wanted to cut a cable.
The Pyramids of Giza close to tourists at 4:00 pm. Recently, a group of Russians managed to hide out at the site after closing time and scramble up the Great Pyramid of Cheops in the fading light. Naturally, they took photos. (Because if there is one thing the Internet has taught me about Russians, it's that they like to climb to dangerous heights and then take photos.)
These shots are kind of fabulous, not just for the thrill of "yeah, somebody broke the rules!", but because of the perspective you get from on high that isn't visible in the many ground-level shots I've seen. From on top of the Pyramid, you can see how the stone is pockmarked and carved — it really looks like something humans cut out of the Earth. You can also see the graffiti left by generations of tourists in multiple languages; English, Arabic, French, and more. And you can see the edge of the modern city, shimmering just at the horizon. I don't think I'd previously had such a profound sense of how closely modern Egyptians lived and worked to the Great Pyramid, before. What a fascinating view!
Lex sez, "I've just posted an interview with Indie Hannah of the Cai Rollers, Cairo (and Egypt's) first roller derby league.
They're a mixture of local women and international residents, and are finally practising after the project has been over a year in the making. They're had to fight hard to get to this point, and have plenty of struggles ahead of them."
Who are the CaiRollers? Many leagues in far-flung places are conglomerations of ex-pats with little local involvement. Something tells me that's not the case for you...
Nope, CaiRollers are as diverse as the city. Right now, we have about eight skaters, one coach and two volunteers who make up the foundation and are all working equally as hard to get this league going. Skaters include Egyptian natives, Egyptians with dual citizenship who are third world kids having grown up around the world, and some ex-pats from other parts of the world including America and Argentina. Our volunteer--hopefully future refs--are equally as diverse from Africa and America. Our belief and value systems range from Muslim to Christian, Agnostic to Buddhist. We range from teachers and nonprofit workers to female entrepreneurs.
AirPano created a breathtaking 360° interactive panorama of Egypt's Great Pyramids of Giza. The video above shows how AirPano collected the images that went into the panorama. How did they do it? As Greg from Daily Grail explains, "Just like the aliens that built the Giza pyramids, they used UFOs (or possibly remote-controlled drone-copters) to fly a panoramic camera up to certain points above the plateau in order to get the best possible view of these jaw-dropping structures." When I visited the pyramids as a 13-year-old, I was struck by how close the pyramids are to bustling Cairo. I imagined a long camel trek into the desert (hey, I was 13!) when it was really just a 15 minute taxi ride. Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt • 360° Aerial Panorama
When Howard Carter opened the tomb of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamen in 1922 he found a series of chambers piled high with “wonderful things.” For nerds of a certain age, this is a story we’ve heard many times before. King Tut was a part of our lives from childhood. On the list of “Dead Things Small Children Get Really Excited About”, he ranks just below dinosaurs and just above Pompeii. By the time we reached junior high, we had explored the Valley of the Kings through diagrams in National Geographic, catalogued Tut’s treasures in the pages of glossy DK picture books, and watched innumerable actors recreate Carter’s day of discovery on TV documentaries.
Given all that you already know about the Tutankhamen story, why should you bother reading Joyce Tyldesley’s new book Tutankhamen: The Search for an Egyptian King? Because Tyldesley asks (and answers) questions those old familiar sources seldom bothered with. Her book takes a popular kid’s history and fleshes it out with grown-up levels of depth and context. For instance: Why exactly was King Tut buried with all those grave goods to begin with?
The answer isn’t as simple as you might suspect. The golden couches, ornate game boards, food, and flowers are all usually presented as things Tutankhamen thought he’d need in the afterlife. But that doesn’t match up with what we know about ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, Tyldesley writes. Kings were supposed to spend their afterlives away from the tomb—reborn as a star, or merged with the god Osiris. It was non-royal elite who, at one point, thought they would need to deck out their tombs to be eternal vacation homes. By Tut’s time, though, even they were granted access to Osiris’ kingdom. Technically, there was no religious reason to bury anyone with as much stuff as Tut had, let alone a king. Howard Carter’s “wonderful things” were probably a function of cultural tradition, rather than religious necessity. It was about wealth and appearances, an effort to keep up with the Joneses which spiraled so out of control that real treasures were eventually replaced by representations of treasure. More important, Tyldesley says, there’s no reason to suspect that an older king would have been buried with more grave goods than Tutankhamen got.
Five port workers in Cairo refused to sign for a shipment of 7.5 tons of tear-gas from the US, fearing that it would be used against demonstrators; another 14 tons of tear-gas were expected from the US at the time. Peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square were subjected to relentless gas attacks by the military government last week. The shipment was eventually released and sent to storage owned by the Ministry of Interior in Cairo.
Egypt’s al-Shorouk newspaper reported that upon the arrival of the shipment, massive disagreements broke out between employees, where five employees refused to sign for the shipment, one after the other.
The five, being dubbed by activists as the “brave five”, were to be refereed to a investigative committee as to why they refused to perform their duties, which has since called off.
The news about the shipment’s arrival stirred the Twittersphere, after it was consumed all day with the country’s first post-revolution elections, and activists mocked the reinforcement of weapons that is being used against them.
Alejandro De La Cruz from Turnstyle News tells Boing Boing,
Our reporter out of Egypt, Shadi Rahimi, has completed an online post with video on a Tahrir Square protester who was in the middle of Monday's clashes. The demonstrator, whose name is Saleh, says he was battered, arrested and later released. He says he considers his fate "fortunate" compare to those who lost their lives.
When Rahimi met up with Saleh, he was still deciding whether to boycott Egypt's historic vote.
[video link] US-based Egyptian blogger, speaker, and journalist Mona Eltahawy was released today after spending 12 hours detained by Egyptian security forces in Cairo. According to her tweets, she was arrested by riot police while observing the ongoing protests in Tahrir Square, where thousands of Egyptian citizens are calling for the military junta SCAF to be disbanded, and a representative, democratically-elected leadership to take their place.
While she was held, Mona managed to tweet from a fellow detainee's Blackberry that she had been beaten and was in prison. When she was released, Mona tweeted more details: she had been sexually and physically assaulted, and sustained a broken arm and a broken hand from beatings inside the interior ministry in Cairo, in the early hours of Thursday morning.
"The whole time I was thinking about article I would write," she writes, "Just you fuckers wait."
[Video Link, warning: graphic content.] Reuters reports: "Cairo police fought protesters demanding an end to army rule for a third day on Monday and morgue officials said the death toll had risen to 33, with many victims shot in the worst violence since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak."
Below: Gotta love the cotton candy vendors who are still out there, peddling their fluffy pink wares, even as tear gas and live ammo are deployed against protesters by the military police.
"Alaa’s detainment proved to be a lot tougher than I had initially hoped for. It’s a wake up call for the expensive price of freedom, and it makes one value the struggle on the one hand, but curse the incomprehensible cost on the other. I just didn’t think that the news of Alaa in military prison would affect me so strongly. But it did. As it will, when he’s released. And as it will, when our fight reaches victory."—Tarek Shalaby. — Xeni
This isn't the first time Alaa has gone to jail for political reasons: there was a high-profile internet campaign five years ago for his freedom, when he was held under similarly trumped-up charges. The regime hasn't changed. The images in this post are all from that campaign.
As they vowed earlier this week to do, Egyptian pro-democracy protesters marched from Tahrir square to the U.S. Embassy today to march in support of Occupy Oakland—and against police brutality witnessed in Oakland on Tuesday night, and commonly experienced in Egypt.
Above and below, photos from Egyptian blogger Mohammed Maree, who is there at the march live-tweeting. He is a journalist with Egytimes.org, a human rights activist, and a veterinarian. All photos in this post are his.
The larger demonstration back at Tahrir was about issues closer to home: Egyptians are demanding that the military transfer power quickly to a representative civilian government, after the death by torture of a 24-year-old political prisoner named Essam Ali Atta. As the Guardian reports, critics say his death proves that the junta is failing to dismantle Mubarak's brutal security apparatus:
Essam Ali Atta, a civilian serving a two-year jail term in Cairo's high-security Tora prison following his conviction in a military tribunal earlier this year for an apparently "common crime", was reportedly attacked by prison guards after trying to smuggle a mobile phone sim card into his cell.
According to statements from other prisoners who witnessed the assault, Atta had large water hoses repeatedly forced into his mouth and anus on more than one occasion, causing severe internal bleeding. An officer then transferred Atta to a central Cairo hospital, but he died within an hour.
His funeral took place today. Follow live tweets from the memorial at #esamatta. Journalist Reem Abdellatif, who is there, tweets:
His sister just passed out screaming they took my brother from me. [photo]. The scene is devastating at the morgue #essamatta's mom and sister keep calling out to him like he's still alive. Essam was 24.
As some protesters noted, that is exactly the same age as Scott Olsen, the US vet injured at Occupy Oakland. They see both men as victims of state brutality.
We just watched Penn & Teller's Magic and Mystery Tour, their 2003 documentary on traditional magic in China, India and Egypt, and really enjoyed it. Penn and Teller resolve to track down performers who are still doing the street magic that inspired western magicians in years gone by -- the Indian Rope Trick, the Egyptian Gali Gali men with their cups and balls, and Chinese classics like the mask trick and the glass bowls trick.
Each segment is very self-contained, and full of the brash Penn humor and Harpo Marx Teller mischief that they're known for. There's a bit of general history and cultural overview in each nation, but the emphasis is always on magic and its odd history in each nation -- Mao's purge of street magicians, the hieroglyphs that (may) depict an ancient cup-and-balls routine, the colonial soldier who faked evidence of the Indian rope trick.
But where the video shines is in the intimate views of the lives of the magicians and their families in the countries that P&T visit -- a village filled with traditional magicians in China, a slum known for magicians in Calcutta, the descendant of Luxor Gali-Gali, an Egyptian magician who played the Ed Sullivan show and attained fame in Vegas.
The documentary left me with a sense of the overall oddity of devoting your life to magic, and the strange ways that magicians all over the world, and all through time, are bound together by this craft of trickery and illusion. Teller has a moment where he addresses the camera at some length on the nature of the linking rings and the cultural differences in the way that it's transformed that is one of the most interesting bits of video I've ever seen.
Oh, and the Crosby and Hope-style title animation and themesong are a hoot.
AccessNow, an NGO that works for human rights values in telcoms policy, took a resolution to the Vodafone Board meeting in London last week, holding the company to account for its network shutdown during the Egyptian revolution and asking it to endorse a plan to uphold its customers' human rights in future.
"I am asking this question as a proxy and on behalf of thousands of people from over 85 countries who have endorsed this question to the Vodafone Board.
Our question is, in recognition of the challenges that you and other telcos faced during the Egyptian revolution and the lessons you’ve learned from this experience might you be better prepared for any future crises - which is undoubtedly in the wings - by committing to doing a human rights assessment of your licensing agreements in the roughly 70 countries you operate in, to ensure that, for example, you are both able to protect your staff and the integrity of the network, but not in the position of having to once again shut down the internet or send pro-regime messages to your customers as happened earlier in the year in Egypt?
I would like to present you with a five step action plan, consistent with the GNI principles, which we believe would assist you to protect Vodafone's brand and shareholder's profits and ask that you consider adhering to the practices outlined in the action plan."
In addition to prolonging the misery and bloodshed of the Egyptian revolution, Vodafone's network shutdown also resulted in the death of Egyptians who couldn't use their phones to call ambulances during medical emergencies. Not to mention all the money the shareholders lost when millions of Egyptians lost their phone service.