Friday, July 17, 2009

Thanawiyya Amma

This is for all those who´s just been through the thanawiyya Amma exams(final High School exams) and got their results. The year is finaly over!

This is the make or break exams that will in some way determine the future for all those hoping to study at the prefered faculties at universities(Hey a society does not only need medical doctors). The year, or as it has been for the last years, two years is a nerve-racking experience for all those involved, students, parents and family alike, when everything in the household is focused on how to help the student prepare in best possible way,including the obligatory private tutoring for those who can afford it(as those woo really can´t, but realizes that this is a necesity if they want their children to achieve the neccesary results), and if one fails, it´s like going to a funeral , when visiting. Of course the opposite happens if the student get the result expected, or a higher one, then the joy has no limits.

This year´s exam showed that girls fair better than boys generaly and that among the students with the best results in the country, there was 23 girls and 17 boys, if i´m not mistaken this has been the trend for a number of years, and i hope that this will show in the coming years within the work force in general, in board rooms of the private and government sector, and indeed that this majority can also reflect ministrial posts, women in elected office, as heads of universities and the diplomatic corps, some of this might be wishful thinking, but everything starts with a dream.

I´m also thrilled to see that the governate of Minya faired so well(No 2 in the country after Cairo), and my special congrats goes to Noha, who passed her exams with flying colours.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bandung 1955, Sharm al Shaikh 2009

On the opening day of the Non-aligned Movement´s conference in Sharm al Sheikh , i would like to present a photo that was taken 54 years ago in conjunction with the Bandung conference, the precursor to the Non-Aligned Movement. Held in Indonesia with the leaders from the free countries in Africa and Asia, it projected a vision of hope, modernity, and perhaps most of all, freedom for other nations still living under colonialism.

Today´s summit in Sharm al Sheikh projects nothing of that, it actually makes the G8 summit in the ruins of the earthquake shaken L'Aquila, Italy looking rather symbolic and projecting solidarity with the city, though that being exactly what Berlusconi wanted it to look like. The NAM-conference is just one more international photo op and a cash cow for the government, i would have loved the government to follow in Berlusconi´s footsteps for once, Duweiqa would have been the perfect venue, and the topic should have been one of tackling informal settlements/slums, poverty and job creation, and the widening gap between rthe haves and the have nots in the member states , in short, how to create a better life for the ones who needs it the most.

The movement that started out with high hopes and a vision of a better future, needs to find it´s focus and purpose again, right now it´s just a blur and a mess. The conference being held at a lovely though artificial venue will not change that.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Amnesty International Report on¨ Operation Cast Lead¨

The leading Human Rights organization, Amnesty International launched an extensive 117 page report today, Operation 'Cast Lead': 22 days of death and destruction on the January war on Gaza.

In the report, Amnesty accuses both the Israeli Army and Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups of war crimes.

The use of artillery shells carrying white phosphorous by the israeli army in densely populated areas, hindering paramedics and ambulances, including attacks on them, and the use of human shields by the israeli army, something the israeli authorities blames the Palestinian side of using is but a few examples of israeli actions during the 22 days of the operation.

Amnesty International found that the victims of the attacks it investigated were not caught in the crossfire during battles between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces, nor were they shielding militants or other military objects. Many were killed when their homes were bombed while they slept. Others were sitting in their yard or hanging the laundry on the roof. Children were struck while playing in their bedrooms or on the roof, or near their homes. Paramedics and ambulances were repeatedly attacked while attempting to rescue the wounded or recover the dead.

On the Palestinian side, the shelling of Qassams and Grads on the civilian population of southern Israel throughout the 22 days is a war crime , and the use of residential areas to fire rockets from, as well as storing them there, endangered Palestinian civilians.

According to Amnesty International 1400 Palestinians were killed during 22 days , from Dec 27th - Jan 18th, in the same period 13 Israelis were killed. Among those killed on the palestinian side were approximately 300 chilren, 115 women , 85 men over the age of 50 and 200 civilian men under the age of 50.

The figure are markedly higher than the figure given by the Israeli military,especially the death toll of civilians, were the military are claiming 1,166, of whom 295 were "uninvolved" civilians.

I have not yet read through the full report, that can be found here(PDF), this is based on a brief first look of the introduction and the press release, i will try to post more during the weekend, after reading through all of it.

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