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January 29 2011

Hungary: New Media Law To Be Modified?

Written by Veronica Khokhlova

Hungarian Watch reports that “Hungary seems poised to make changes to media law” - but “freedom of the press is still on shaky ground.”

Hungary: Filtering Foreign Media Content?

Written by Veronica Khokhlova

Hungarian Spectrum reports that the official Hungarian news agency seems to be supplying other media outlets with “wrong translations” of foreign media content, perhaps trying “to conceal some of the bad news–bad that is from the point of view of the government–from the Hungarian public.” Galamus Csoport, however, offers “accurate [volunteer] translations of articles that appeared abroad about Hungary.”

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Czrch Republic: Lawyers Uncertain About Ukrainian Politician's Right to Asylum

Written by Veronica Khokhlova

Czech Position reports that “uncertainty prevailed among [Czech] lawyers on whether [former Ukrainian Economy Minister] Bohdan Danylyshyn merits asylum in the Czech Republic.”

Bulgaria: Sofia's Sugar Factory Tragedy

Written by Veronica Khokhlova

Maya's Corner writes about Sofia's Sugar Factory, where two people died in 2009 when the neglected building collapsed, and the fate of other landmarks owned by “predator ‘investors'.”

January 28 2011

El Salvador: Court System Employees End Strike

Written by Silvia Viñas

Judiciary workers have concluded a week-long strike requesting higher salaries. Voices from El Salvador's Weblog summarizes how the strike ended and its impact.

Poland: Blogger Prosecuted for Criticizing Local Mayor

Written by Jakub Górnicki

Łukasz Kaprowicz, a journalist working for Fakty Mosińsko-Puszczykowskie, a local Polish newspaper, and a long-time author of the blog , was sued for defamation after he had criticized Zofia Springer, the mayor of Mosina, in his blog posts.

As he writes on this blog, the sentence he has received obliges him to:

  1. not work in his profession for a year
  2. pay 500 PLN fee to the Polish Red Cross
  3. 10 months of limited freedom + 300 hours of community service
  4. publish apologies in the local newspaper Głos Wielkopolski
  5. cover the cost of psychological and psychiatric tests (3 items)

Bloggers and social media users are highly critical of the prosecution and are defending the blogger. A special fan page on Facebook has been created: Popieram Łukasza Kasprowicza skazanego za bloga. Stop cenzurze władzy. (”I support sentenced blogger Łukasz Kasprowicz - stop censorship.”)

Piotr Wajszczak comments on his blog:

Communism is totally back in my city!!! I was not expecting this from the mayor, Ms. Zofia Springer. Apparently, [she] has forgotten that PRL [Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa - the People's Republic of Poland] ended years ago. Łukasz Kasprowicz was critizing the mayor's actions, but what's important is that he was doing it with high standards. He was taking quasi-successes and turning them into tough questions on his blog.

[…] I am shocked by what has happened in Mosina, and that constructive criticism may have been a reason to send a professional journalist and blogger for unemployment. […]

On the other hand, Piotr Vagla Waglowski, a blogger who writes about the Internet and law, tries to define what the term “press material” might mean for the judge and points out various scenarios in which a blog can be named “press material” or not.

If in fact Poznań's court sentenced the man for not doing his professional work as a journalist, that means that the judge thinks that self-publishing on an internet portal (on a “blog”, that is) is in fact doing this job.

Olgierd Rudak highlights different aspect of the case:

The sentenced blogger not only ran for city council with a different committee than the Mayor, but he was writing for a local magazine - and not the Merkuriusz Mosiński, which - suprise, surpise! but how typical - fully supports the mayor's actions. I think that we can say that the judge got somehow involved in a local “political honor” conflict.

Olgierd points out at the end:

To sum it all up, I think we have the first Polish blogger who was banned by a judge to write his blog.

Trinidad & Tobago: More Questions About Ramnarine

Written by Janine Mendes-Franco

Of the ongoing controversy over the appointment of Reshmi Ramnarine, Jumbie's Watch says: “The failure of the PM to apologise for misleading the country is not merely a stalling tactic. It is an aberration of her promised mantra to “Serve the people, Serve the people, Serve the people”.

Cote d'Ivoire: Lessons for international community

Written by Ndesanjo Macha

Laura's thoughts and links on Cote d'Ivoire: “After a nearly two-month stand off between former President Gbagbo, who refuses to admit defeat, and newly-elected President Ouattara, who is sequestered in a U.N.-fortified hotel, the situation for civilians is grave and looks likely to become even more dire.

Taiwan: Ma Ying-jeou on Facebook

Written by Portnoy Zheng

President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan(Republic of China) opens his official facebook fan page today. At the “About” session it says that the goal of the fan page “…is not to be trendy, but to exchange ideas with all of you, share experiences through wall posts, think together, click ‘like' for Taiwan…”. Twitter user @irrenhaeusler soon tweeted his comment:”Ma's joining Facebook immediately shows a severe defect in the site's design: there's no ‘fuck' to click”.

Ukraine: YouTube Helps Discipline Traffic Police

Written by Tetyana Bohdanova

On Jan. 22, a Ukrainian police officer was filmed [ENG] speaking insolently to a driver he had stopped in the city of Odesa in southern Ukraine, and making offensive comments about the state language. In particular, the video shows the driver addressing the officer in Ukrainian and the policeman replying in Russian that he “does not understand [this] calvish language.”

Although the video documents [RUS] many other offenses committed by the policeman, it is this particular comment that has drawn public attention. In Ukraine, the official state language is Ukrainian, native to 67.5% of the population, according to the 2001 census. The second most used language is Russian, with 29.6% of the population considering it their mother tongue. Although the primary language spoken in Odesa is Russian, according to the country’s Constitution, Ukrainian must be used in the public sphere, and, in particular, when state officials exercise their immediate duties [UKR].

After the video appeared on YouTube, the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior instructed [UKR] the Traffic Police Department to conduct an internal investigation into the incident, which uncovered that, while fulfilling his duties, the policeman - Sergeant Shvets - has violated at least three laws, including the Constitution. For the police officer in question these findings resulted in an immediate job loss.

This incident, although widely publicized, is not the first case of unlawful actions committed by traffic police exposed through the Internet. In August 2010, for example, a video of a traffic inspector from the town of Haisyn insulting a driver was uploaded to YouTube, after which the officer was fired [RUS]. Another policeman from the Crimean city of Dzhankoy was investigated and then fired [RUS] after a video of him harassing a driver appeared online.

Amidst such cases, the Ukrainian public has learned about a civic initiative called “Road Control.” According to the project’s website [RUS], its central advice to drivers is to know their rights and to openly film their encounters with police officers. For instance, “Road Control” claims [RUS] that it was one of their activists who filmed Sergeant Shvets mentioned above.

After the recent events, the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior has ordered [UKR] additional legal training for its traffic inspectors, while stressing unacceptability of offensive language or signs of discrimination of any kind towards citizens by its employees. Moreover, in a December 2010 interview to the TV channel “1+1″ a spokesperson for the Kyiv Traffic Police Department admitted that the use of cameras was helping both drivers and police officers to “avoid ambiguous situations” [UKR].

While the number of corrupt traffic cops being exposed online continues to grow, more and more Ukrainian drivers install cameras in their vehicles [UKR].

Egypt: An Internet Black Hole

Written by Jillian C. York

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011.

Over the past few days, as protesting Egyptians have utilized social media tools for organizing and disseminating information, they've also come across numerous obstacles to access: On January 25, Twitter was reportedly blocked, with Facebook following the next day.  By the 27th, access to both sites was sporadic.

At around 1:00 am in Cairo on Friday, January 28–a day of planned protests–reports began to trickle in that the Internet had become inaccessible to Egyptians in Cairo and Alexandria.  A few minutes later, @iman_said tweeted:

yes, CNN confirms internet is down in ALL of Egypt. Egypt now is total blackhole #jan25 #egypt #SHAME

Shortly thereafter, Alaa Abd El Fattah (@alaa), an Egyptian based in South Africa, warned:

we should be prepared for total mobile phone blackout tomorrow also (or at least in protest hotspots) #Jan25

Jacob Appelbaum (@ioerror), an American who has been reporting instances of Internet filtering in Egypt, confirmed the almost-complete block, saying:

It sure looks like nearly all of Egypt is offline - only their SS7 network seems to be working. #jan25 #egypt

Those working to contact friends and family in Egypt expressed frustration and concern over Twitter.  @alaa explained:

cell phones still working in egypt that's how I'm staying in touch, but service spotty in areas

The view from the U.S. is somewhat encouraging; in an interesting twist, Alec Ross (@alecjross), Senior Adviser for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, tweeted in Arabic:

أننا ندعو السلطات المصرية أن تسمح بالاحتجاجات السلمية ، كما ندعو أن تمتنع عن التدخل في وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي #jan25 #Egypt
We call upon the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests, and call on them to refrain from interfering with means of social communication.

Despite the block, it appears that a few remaining Egyptians are still tweeting in hopes of getting news out to the world. In light of the blackout, Global Voices will attempt to report from phone calls and other communications over the course of the next few days.

Ukraine: Police Treatment of Foreigners Raises Concerns Ahead of Euro 2012

Written by Tetyana Bohdanova

According to - a leading Counter Strike 1.6 coverage site – Ukrainian police assaulted [ENG] gamer Baljit “zE-” Lal, who came to Kyiv to participate in the Intel Extreme Masters European Championship.

Reportedly, police officers stopped the Danish player outside a club in Ukraine's capital and asked him to show his passport. Baljit Lal did not have the document with him, and was taken to the nearest station, where the policemen asked him for money in return for his release. Upon learning that the player had no cash, the policemen punched him twice and then released half an hour later.

The story on drew mass attention from the website’s users, with representatives of more than 20 countries leaving over 580 comments. Many have expressed their shock and outrage.

User 4v3 from Ukraine writes:

Rly sad… it is the shame for all ukrainians

User marrrk writes:

[…] I’m French and I must say I’m quite shocked to see that in some countries pple may have to [bribe] the police just to be in peace

Some users, however, did not seem so surprised by the incident. Tiago Soares (tiggieLOLCAT) from Australia writes:

Welcome to eastern europe guys :) PS - No hate intended with this comment

User ygos? from Estonia agrees:

[…] These things happen when you are living in a free world and happen to be abroad in not so free world.

User wynn from Denmark wonders if the color of the gamer’s skin had anything to do with the incident:

[…] Anyone know if there was racism involved as well? :(

His concerns are seconded by user APS89 from India:

I dont want to offend anyone but I have heard if you are not white then you get picked upon alot in Eastern european countries like russia, ukraine etc. […] If ZE was white maybe then the police wouldn't have assaulted him

User naffanya from Kyiv, Ukraine, explains:

If you are a foreign person in Ukraine, look like an Asian and don't have the pasport, you may have troubles with them [the police]. […]

While has also noted [ENG] that the police tried the same extortion trick on the German player Roman “roman” Ausserdorfer, naffanya’s suspicions about xenophobia among Ukrainian policemen are not groundless.

For instance, the recent detention of Ukrainian journalist Mustafa Nayem [UKR] has sparked a nation-wide discussion after the journalist mentioned [RUS] that the police justified their actions by his non-Slavic appearance.

The episode was perceived as especially alarming since Ukraine is currently preparing to co-host the 2012 European Football Championship together with Poland.

Users of the Ukrainian e-business and social media marketing website, which covered [UKR] the incident with Baljit Lal, have also actively commented on the story.

Ihor Vispyanskiy writes [UKR]:

Треба знати в кого можна вимагати гроші, а в кого нє :) А взагалі смішного тут мало. На його місці може бути будь-хто. Та й навіть, якщо когось і покарають, то це нічого не змінить в цілому. […] Welcome to Ukraine! Як злодії не обкрадуть, по міліція.

[They] should know better from whom [they] can and cannot try to extort money :) But actually, this isn’t too funny. Anyone can be in his [Lal’s] place. And even if someone does get reprimanded for that, it won’t change the overall situation. […] Welcome to Ukraine! If the thieves do not rob you, the police will.

Another user, Vladyslav Bogutsky, ironizes [UKR]:

Українська міліція: підготовка до Євро 2012.

Ukrainian police: preparing for Euro 2012.

January 27 2011

Ecuador: Blog Competition Focusing on Public Safety

Written by Silvia Viñas

Ecuadorian bloggers are encouraged to participate in a Blog Competition [es] organized by the Guayaquil Canton to, “encourage the use of blogs as a platform for expression of ideas by discussing proposals related to public safety in the canton.” Visit the site [es] for more details and follow the competition on Facebook and Twitter.

Israel: Bloggers Eye Gaza as Egypt Unrest Spreads through Sinai

Written by Gilad Lotan

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011.

This is a summary of Israeli perspectives, blog posts, and media shared online over the last two days, in reaction to the unrest in Egypt. Referenced by Israeli sources as the ‘Egypt Intifada', bloggers are looking closely at the spread of the violence into Sinai and the possibility of igniting violence in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.

The recent JCPA post by Zvi Mazael describes Tunisia's domino effect and its spread in the region:

Egypt has a strong and stable government. Every political analyst starts with those words. This is true until the circumstances change, and they have. We are seeing a wholly new condition in Egypt and the Arab world. Tunisia's domino effect is alive and kicking. Tunisia's people's revolution is spreading like fire in a thorn field through the region.

Tzvi continues, describing the hesitant Egyptian opposition:

The large opposition parties have not called out to join the demonstrations and have not backed them. The Muslim Brotherhood announced that “a few of their leaders” will participate in riots in a symbolic way. It is known that the Egyptian security forces have warned the Brotherhood's leaders around the country from calling their supporters to join the riots. However it seems like the Muslim Brotherhood leadership is motivated by a different set of considerations, and estimate that it is not yet time to confront the leadership.

How does all this affect Israel and the US? Tzvi writes:

What does this mean for Israel and the USA, who have been worriedly following the turn of events, and are fearing for the stability of Egypt? It is still difficult to predict.
With that, it is important to state that up until now, neither Israel nor the USA have been mentioned in the demonstrations. Egyptians took the streets for democracy, human rights and to improve their living conditions. A new gov't will need to make economic and social reforms. American support will be more necessary than ever.
Additionally, there's no reason for Egypt to harm the existing peace agreement with Israel. I may be wrong, but it is without a doubt that the Tunisian revolution changed the Arab world. We will see the outcomes in the upcoming months.

The popular forum site,, has been hosting a number of discussions about the events in Egypt.
As the fighting in the Sinai Peninsula spreads, an unconfirmed post claims protesters have taken over gov't facilities in Northern Sinai:

The link mentioned in the Tweet above, hosts a conversation describing the possibility that riots may fuel an uprising in Gaza:

Spread of the riots into sinai can bring the fire of demonstrations into the Gaza strip. Hamas might be tempted to think that it can help the people in their resistance towards the central gov't. It is also possible that terrorists operating under Al-Quaeda will try to send armed forces to operate in Sinai to add to the chaos in Egypt. I have no doubt that in this case, the Egyptians will react mercilessly. It it clear to them and to Hamas.
Hamas will allow itself to operate only if it is sure that the Egyptian wheel has turned, and that the gov't is dying.

In that same forum thread, a number of users portray their thoughts:

If he'd use even a little bit of the force that his army is capable of, the demonstrations would have stopped. I'm not trying to discount the riots, but only when the army switches to the opposition, will it be the beginning of the end of Egypt's current regime.
We're not there yet.

Another post describes recent actions the Egyptian religion ministry has taken in preparation for tomorrow's planned demonstrations:

- the religion ministry will postpone the Friday prayers to Sunday
- the Egyptian gov't is planning to disconnect internet connectivity in the whole of Egypt if the situation deteriorates tomorrow
- unverified information states Mubarak has taken command over the Egyptian security forces. In preparation for tomorrow he commanded that the army is ready to replace police forces across cities in Egypt.
- Egyptian gov't ordered media blackout tomorrow. Communications, water and electricity will be shut off.

Video footage posted on the Israeli video sharing site flix:

Two Israelis on holiday in Egypt who were caught in the heat of events reported by +972 Magazine:

When we suggested to an Egyptian friend affected by teargas that he buy onions and use it to diminish the affect of the gas, as we do in Israel and the Occupied Territories, he laughed. He then explained his salary is about 300 Egyptian pounds, and one kilo of onions is three pounds.
We got back to our hotel after being at the demonstrations all through the day. During the night, we could hear the protest continuing – people screaming and police vehicles driving through the streets.
This morning we woke up to find  the streets were quiet and full of policemen, but the Facebook page of the anti-government movement was very much alive.

We would be lying if we said we did not envy the Egyptian people: Seeing masses of people out on the streets to protest for what they believe in is something we, as Israelis, can only dream of now. And it is truly frightening to think that similar masses of Israelis will act only when have experienced the levels of oppression and rage that people are experiencing here.

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011.

Ecuador: Netizens Discuss Referendum on Constitution

Written by Milton Ramirez

Last week, President Rafael Correa presented 10 questions in a consulta popular (“popular consultation” [es]), a referendum which amends several areas of the Constitution. The Latin American Herald Tribune explains:

This consulta will consist of 10 questions, ranging from opinions on the treatment of animals and gambling to constitutional changes such [as] support for changes to the Corte Consticional [Constitutional Court] and the proposed controversial Ley Orgánica de Comunicación, Libertad de Expresión y Aceso a la Información Pública [The Organic Law of Communication, Freedom of Expression and Access to Public Information]

The organism in charge of deciding the constitutionality of the process is the recently created Constitutional Court, which still struggles to get recognition as a legally seated body after its automatic self-appointment to the Court back in October 28, 2008. The Constitutional Court has 45 days to qualify the constitutional validity of the questions.

President Correa handed out referendum questions this past Monday to Patricio Pazmiño, the president of Constitutional Court. Photo by Santiago Armas, used under a Creative Commons License.

Reactions from the blogosphere

Correa declared that the main goal is to bolster the justice system's ability to fight crime, but José J. Zurita Andrade of Ces’t la Vie [es], who has read the 10 questions, does not see it that way:

1) No es una consulta que resuelve los temas de inseguridad, como se dijo que era el objetivo inicial; 2) votar NO en la consulta, no es votar en contra de Correa es votar a favor de la libertad individual de escoger, de triunfar o fracasar, de hacer el bien o hacer el mal.

1) It is not a referendum that resolves the issues of insecurity, as the initial goal was said to be; 2) To vote NO on the referendum, is not to vote against Correa, it is about deciding in favor of individual freedom of choice, to succeed or fail, to do good or evil.

Another well know blogger, Pitonizza [es], reflects on several areas of the referendum. She writes about her own experience as an example of why not having social security (IESS [es] by its initials in Spanish) should not be a crime as it is proposed on the referendum:

…Cuando me hice atender en embarazo en el Seguro -por obligación de la empresa en la que laboraba en ese entonces-. No habían ecógrafos, se monitoreaba a mi bebé con una corneta tipo cuernófono picapiedresco. El seguro privado que yo tenía entonces corrió con todos los gastos, venturosamente. Nuevamente, libertad de elección. A quien le parezca bien el IESS que lo elija, y a quien no, no debería ver mermado su sueldo pagando por un seguro que no es de su agrado personal.

…When I became pregnant I received attention under the Social Security plan- as an obligation from the company I worked for at the time- There were no ultrasounds, my baby was monitored with a horn that looked like it came out of The Flinstones. The private insurance that I had then paid all expenses, happily. Again, freedom of choice. People who consider that IESS a good option, let them choose it and those who don't shouldn't see their wages eroded by paying for insurance that they do not like.

In response to a column by Emilio Palacio in the newspaper El Universo [es], blogger Rafael Méndez defends [es] the referendum by clarifying some of Palacio's points. Rafael writes:

- la consulta no es para sacar a correa. Decir o insinuar lo contrario es demostrar mediocridad y mala leche
- efectivamente, se va a modificar la constitución, pero es por temas que tenían cola por culpa de la legislación existente y la constitución anterior”

-the referendum is not meant to take Correa out of office. To say or imply otherwise is to demonstrate mediocrity and anger.
-indeed, it will amend the constitution, but on issues that were queued because of existing legislation and the previous constitution

Ecuadorians don't seem comfortable expressing their thoughts in favor of the referendum, even though 57% of them support it, according to a local pollster. An anonymous reader in the blog Ecuador Ecuatoriano [es] explains why he supports the referendum, in part:

Yo votare SI en la mayoria de las preguntas, no en todas como lo hara la mayoria de los ecuatorianos que NOOOO tienen acceso al internet pero q ya tienen acceso a lo que no tenian antes con Gobiernos en realidad corruptos como los montones de anteriores en la pasada decada

I will vote YES on most questions, not on all of the questions as will the majority of Ecuadorians who DO NOT have Internet access, but who now have access to what they didn't before with actual corrupt governments like the bunch we had in the past decade.

In the same blog another visitor [es] argues that it doesn't matter whether people choose to vote yes or no: Ecuadorians should vote consciously in accordance to their ideals, the readers suggests, because they are all looking to improve individually in order to improve the whole country, and adds:

Creo que el Gobierno ha hecho cosas positivas como ayudar a la educación, a la salud […], el arreglo de carreteras, quitar las tercerizadoras que lo único que hacían es robarle la mitad del sueldo al empleado. Obligar a que los empleadores afilien al IESS a sus empleados (aunque es cierto, el servicio debe mejorar, aún falta pero de poco en poco se lo va logrando con el apoyo de todos los que formarmo este país).

I think the government has done positive things like help in education, health […], fix roads, remove outsourcing that all it did was steal half of the salary of employees [,] [f]orcing employers to affiliate their employees to the IESS (although it is true, the service needs improvement, something has to be done, but bit by bit it gets better with the support of all of us who make this country).

Silvi of Lunas Azules [es] (@silvilunazul) believes that it is unrealistic to completely agree or completely disagree with all the questions. She agrees in part with the referendum, to be precise, with the legislation to protect bulls from suffering in bullfighting:

Para no caer en la contradicción de deberle respeto sólo a quien puede razonar, debemos aceptar que el principio “no hacer sufrir” tiene su base en la capacidad de sentir dolor, no en la de discernir. Siendo así, cualquier especie capaz de sentir dolor tiene intereses, el instinto y el deseo de seguir viviendo y llevar una vida plena, exenta de sufrimiento.

To avoid falling into the contradiction of owing respect only to those who can reason, we must accept that the principle “to not cause suffering” is based on the ability to feel pain, not to discern. Thus, any species capable of feeling pain has interests, the instinct and the desire to continue living and have a full life, free from suffering.

Professor and journalist Ruben Dario Buitron [es] asks a key question on the role of Ecuadorian media in this process: “Take sides or do journalism?”. He writes that it is fundamental that journalists either take a stand on the issue or simply do journalism. Professional media, he argues, should develop a space where all citizens can express themselves, debate, question, and propose ideas. Serene, balanced and fair journalism is what the country needs now, concludes Buitron.

Reactions on Twitter

Ecuadorian Twitter users, through the hashtag #ConsultaEc [es], are also discussing the referendum. Pablo Garzon (@pgarzon), for example, believes,

Al final, RC busca legitimar su popularidad, nuevamente. El pliego de preguntas de la consulta es secundario.

In the end, RC [Rafael Correa] seeks to legitimize his popularity once again. The list of questions for the referendum is secondary.

While journalist Belen (@Belenper) thinks that everything is too complicated; she says she doesn't know anything about law and that the questions are not clear enough as to be a referendum.

Rosa María Torres (@rosamariatorres) says she has already made a decision: she will not go to the polls that day and she would rather pay the fine. In Ecuador, voting is mandatory.

No apoyo la #consultaEC convocada por #Correa para enmendar la Constitución recién aprobada. Creo que no votaré. Pagaré la multa. #Ecuador

I do not support the #consultaEC [referendum] convened by #Correa to amend the Constitution recently approved. I will not vote. I'll pay the fine. # Ecuador

Carla Bonilla (@CarliBonilla) Tweets an equation that seems to be a general concern among Correa's opposition:

Consulta popular + reformas constitucionales = manipulación total

Referendum + constitutional reforms = complete manipulation.

Correa has recognized that carrying out the referendum is going to be an uphill battle [es], and said the Constitution drafted in Montecristi in 2008 “is extremely good, ” but “if we see that something does not work, the faster you correct it, the better.”

Jamaica: Wikileaks & “Dudus”

Written by Janine Mendes-Franco

Jamaica Salt says that Wikileaks only confirmed what people already knew about the Christopher “Dudus” Coke extradition, which “pretty much makes this whole Jamaican govt enquiry completely redundant (at a cost of JA 40 million), but they carry on regardless and the Jamaican people have to eat it.”

Sudan: What will be the new name for Southern Sudan?

Written by Ndesanjo Macha

A referendum took place in Southern Sudan from 9 January to 15 January 2011 on whether the region should remain a part of Sudan or become Africa's new independent state.

As of 27 January 2011, preliminary results showed that 98.81% of voters are in favor of secession while 1.19% are in favor of unity. Final results will be announced early February.

Since it is almost certain that Southern Sudan will secede, what will be the new name for Africa's new child? In this podcast, Marvis Birungi talks to the Minister of Information of Southern Sudan, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, about the country's name, anthem, flag and emblem. Dr. Benjamin sits on the steering committee which is working on the name of the country among other issues.

Maggie Fick, blogging from Southern Sudan, posts links to interesting articles that have delved into a variety of referendum-related topics:

Now that I’m on a reporting trip in Northern Bahr al Ghazal state—away from the referendum fever that has continued to reign in Juba—I’ve been slowly working through a stockpile of interesting articles from the past week or so that have delved into a variety of referendum-related topics, including the looming process of nation-state formation in the south. Although I’m too disorganized to commit to a weekly round-up post on my blog, find below a basic “links I dug” plus quotes from these articles that made me think. Given the slow ‘net speed where I am (plus my blog-technology-ineptitude), I’m simply pasting the URLs below instead of hyperlinking them; I realize this is unacceptable in the blogosphere so sorry for this.

Dadakim is amazed by a huge turnout rate of 97.6% of Southern Sudan voters in Dallas, Texas. She writes, “I’ve never heard of an election with such high participation rates (even in Australia, where voting is compulsory).” She continues:

I tried to learn as much as I could about the people who didn’t show up to vote. One woman had come up from Houston on Saturday with all the documents she used to register to vote (including her passport). She had lost her registration card and was hoping these documents would convince the polling staff to allow her to vote. Just as the rules required, she was turned away. Another woman came to the center with the registration card of her relative (as well as her own). She wanted to cast a vote for him because he was in jail. She too, was denied her request (she was, of course, allowed to cast her own vote). There were stories of others deployed in the US Army, sick and in hospital, or others who had lost their registration cards.

Suleiman Rahhal, Chairman of Nuba Mountains Democratic Forum, asks, “Why Are The Nuba Protesting?” Nuba is a collective term used for the peoples who inhabit the Nuba Mountains, in the states of Southern Sudan.

He argues that the Nuba need to be given the right to self-determination:

The indigenous people of the Nuba Mountains are extremely concerned that international concentration on South Sudan’s independence referendum has meant other crucial aspects of Sudan’s so-called Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) have been neglected. The CPA stopped the brutal civil war in the South, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, and as such was initially greatly welcomed by people of the Nuba Mountains, despite failing to recognise their claims and their aspirations. However, the CPA does not only apply to the South. Separate protocols call for a referendum in the disputed Abyei district and for “popular consultation” in the two contested areas, the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The Nuba had for long years been voicing their deep concern over their lack of collective rights, including the crucial right to self-determination.

Their claim for self-determination, he notes, is based on their long history of political and economic marginalization:

The fact that Nuba were not present at the peace talks meant their claims were brushed away and compromised. For example, the historical name on the world maps ‘Nuba Mountains’ which has great meaning to the Nuba people. During the peace talks the name was replaced by Southern Kordofan, so as to accommodate the Messiriya Baggara tribe of the former state of West Kordofan, which was incorporated into the new state. The right of self-determination is at the core of the Nuba’s claims. This claim for self-determination is based on their experience of struggle as part of the SPLA/M; long history of political and economic marginalisation; ethnic, religious and cultural discrimination; dispossession of land, tradition and customs and finally poor education, political and economic opportunities since independence 1956. These are the factors which led to the conflict in the Nuba Mountains.

Responding to Suleiman's post, Samani says that the arguments he put forward are both ludicrous and illogical:

If every group of people that see themselves as ‘cohesiveness and distinctiveness’ called for self-determination or Secession then there would be no need for countries and we should all go back to live as tribes ! Other then Israel no other country in the world is based on race, ethnicity or religion. Surely Mr. Suleiman Rahhal if you are Sudanese and Muslim you would be familiar with our belief that God created us different so we mix, integrate and utilize each others differences, cultures and experiences to better mankind. How many distinct peoples and groups live in the Sudan (North) today, would you suggest each group ask for self determination.

Another reader, David Barsoum, disagrees with Suleiman's position. He says that the Nuba are part of the whole Sudanese fabric:

What intirgues me in Rahal’s argument is how”exclusive” he is?He draws the”Nuba” out of context altogether,and restricts them to Nuba Mountains,thus severing any ties with the other parts of Sudan,this is contrary to history. Where did these Nuba come from and what links them to North Sudan do not feature in his thoughts. Well historically these Nuba are related to the Nuba of the North and if they withdrew to where they are before after the collapse of the ancient kingdoms of the North,it was for reasons best explained by the historians, notably, Basil Davidson.This is as far history is concerned. The Nuba are part of the whole Sudanese fabric,researchers have been trying to identify lingustic similarities between the languages of the Nuba Mountains and the present day language of the Nubians in the North.

Giorgio Musso wonders if the referendum would trigger the quest for self-determination in Africa and the rest of the world:

Among the many issues which are being discussed in the aftermath of Southern Sudan’s self-determination referendum, the “domino effect” which could be triggered in Africa and the rest of the world is one of the most worrisome. Analysts and journalists have warned that from Western Sahara to Nepal, from Zanzibar to Mindanao, secessionist movements and guerrillas could draw further strength from the success of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). As a matter of fact, the eventuality of a secessionist wave seems unlikely if we consider the situation with a more balanced attitude: fears of a domino effect have been a constant during similar events in the past, but the independences of Eritrea, Timor-Leste and Kosovo have not shaken the world as they were expected to do.

Finally, Sudan Vote Monitor, an initiative that utilizes information and communication technology to support independent monitoring and reporting of the referendum, has released a summary report for January 13 - 20:

Reports from January 13 – 15 (while voting was still taking place) are mostly positive, with reports indicating a peaceful voting process in Khartoum, Juba, Eastern Equatoria, Northern Bahr ElGhazal an

Russia: Domodedovo Bombings Expose Unbalance Between Traditional and Social Media

Written by Gregory Asmolov

Domodedovo International Airport

Domodedovo International Airport , photo by Flickr-user swperman

In most recent emergencies, the new media proved to be a significant source of first-hand information. Although the Domodedovo bombing wasn't much different in this regard, the role of new media here was corroded by sophisticated manipulations.

Frustration with mass media coverage

Russian media reports on an attack in Moscow metro in 2010 and recent blast in Domodedovo International Airport raised a question if Russian traditional media are capable to provide adequate coverage of this type of events. In March 2010, bloggers already expressed their outrage [RUS] about the fact that most TV channels didn't stop entertainment programs with breaking news broadcasting. The same scenario repeated in Domodedovo.

Blogger Netdogg wrote [RUS] that the quality journalism in Russia was eliminated and replaced by relaxing PR. Famous blogger Alexey Navalny suggested [RUS] that the event symbolized the end of traditional media:

Прямо сейчас мы наблюдаем окончательную смерть телевидения и традиционных СМИ как источника оперативной информации в кризисной ситуации. Информационные агентства, радио и тот же телек. Все цитируют сообщения из твиттера. Первый раз я об этом подумал, когда там транслировались “события на Манежной”, сейчас это стало очевидно. Первые полтора часа есть только твиттер.

Right now we are witnessing the final death of TV and traditional media as a source of first-hand information in emergency situation. Information agencies, radio and TV - they are all quoting information from Twitter. The first time when I though about it was during the “events on Manezhnaya square,” but now it's obvious. The first hour and a half there is only Twitter.

As described by Alexey Sidorenko [ENG],an editor of RuNet Echo, Twitter and other social media platforms provided a lot of first-hand information, photos and videos that were re-published and broadcast later by traditional media. Blogger Rokoto conducted [RUS] detailed analysis of media coverage of the Domodedovo attack and argued that with Twitter one could get information as fast as president. “Slon” news portal made comparative analysis and wrote [RUS] that “TV channels totally lost the first hour and a half when people found information, photo and video on the Internet.”

But the role of social media should be evaluated not only in terms of their  impact on traditional media, but also its influenced on the content of the coverage.

The case of taxi drivers

One of the major stories circulated on social media was an allegation that taxi drivers raised prices [RUS] for a ride from the airport to Moscow. The information triggered not only angry reaction in the blogosphere, but also an active bloggers' response. Hashtags #dmdhelp and #freetaxi were set up to organize help with transport and list of phone numbers of social media users who are ready to give a free ride to passengers were distributed online.

The first disproofs of this rumor appeared within the first minutes but were silenced by the bloggers' rage towards taxi drivers.

Few hours later, popular blogger Rustem Adagamov (drugoi) published under a title “Civic solidarity” [RUS] a Reuters' photo of three young ladies standing at the airport with hand-written signs: “Free ride to metro.” But Bloggers stated that the women were activists of the infamous Kremlin youth movement “Nashi.” Another well-known blogger Anton Nossik claimed [RUS] that the assistance to passengers was another PR action of the activists who already tried to use emergency situations for political purposes. Adagamov responded [RUS] by saying that any collective action made by a political group in Russia is labeled as a window dressing and people miss the fact that actual assistance from any person or a group is valuable. Others mentioned [RUS] that “Nashi” were not the only ones to offer help.

And still, the situation with the taxi drivers wasn't clear. One of the drivers who published his phone online and went to Domodedovo wrote [RUS] that the only calls that he received were either from journalists or contained threats. Ilya Varlamov went to Domodedovo and testified [RUS] that the highest price was not more than usual $100. Besides, he reported, “almost immediately, ‘Aeroexpress' (the train from Domodedovo to Moscow - G.V.) offered a free ride to passengers.”

Ilya Barabanov, deputy editor of liberal magazine “The New Times” suggested [RUS] that “the taxi drivers' case” was a plain political manipulation[RUS] :

Идея: перевести гнев с ментов и чекистов, которые прососали теракт, на таксистов - могла сработать. И твитили нашисты, политонлайны

The idea:  transfer the anger from police and security agencies that failed to stop the terrorist attack to the anger toward taxi drivers - it could work. And those who twitted (information about the increased prices - G.V.) were “Nashi” activists and Politonliners (propagandist social media aggregator - G.V.).

Barabanov acknowledged that he was not able to find any significant first-hand evidence to his claim. He explained [RUS] why the manipulation could be done easily, or one particular case could grow out of its proportion:

Журналисты-информационщики сегодня брали по максимуму и оперативно все и из соц.сетей. В такой запаре времени проверять нет.

News journalists took as much as possible and as fast as possible information from social networks. In such a rush they didn't have a time to check (the information - G.V.)

Unbalance between traditional and social media

There is no proof that the story of taxi drivers was a political manipulation from the start. The perceived picture could be explained by the nature of the new media. The effect of the new media was so powerful because of the information vacuum caused by both mainstream media editorial policy (to minimize the coverage) and authorities' information policy (to limit the access of media to the scene of the attack). On the other hand, we could see that social media (because of its personalized nature) tended to be dramatic and easily spread rumors and unverified information.

As Zyalt concluded [RUS]:

В блогах все обсуждают, как Твиттер заменяет СМИ. К сожалению, СМИ он не заменяет. […] СМИ просто не может дать в эфир сомнительную информацию, поэтому картинка там не такая яркая, как в блогах и Твиттере. Поэтому у многих создается ошибочное представление, что в СМИ недоговаривают всей правды, врут и умалчивают факты. Зато в Твиттере все пишут правду.

Everyone discusses now how Twitter replaced traditional mass media. Unfortunately, it hasn't replaced it. […] Mass media just can not broadcast information that raise some questions, therefore the picture is not so colorful as it is in blogs and on Twitter. That is why many people have the misleading impression that mass media doesn't tell all the truth and silence some facts while everyone posts the truth on Twitter.

Coverage of the Domodedovo bombing not only revealed problems but also provided solutions. First of all, social media has a certain level of self-awareness. It not only covered the events, but also discussed the coverage. Moreover, we can see that some bloggers (e.g. Varlamov) made attempts to get more first-hand information on the spot.

But the self-accountability of social media can’t be sufficient for its sustainability as a news source. According to Anton Nossik, it has to be supported by traditional media:

Мы не будем узнавать новости из Твиттера ни сегодня, ни через 10 лет.
СМИ будут узнавать новости из соцсетей, и нам докладывать. На то они и СМИ. А Твиттер с Фейсбуком были, есть и останутся сырьём для их работы.

We will not get news from Twitter neither today, nor in 10 years. The mass media will be getting news from social networks and will report it to us. That's why they called mass media. And Twitter with Facebook will continue to be a raw material for traditional media.

In Russia, the traditional media are not capable of fulfilling their duty as a tool of information balance. Despite the fact that in the time of emergency the demand for information is increasing, the Russian media, especially TV, made artificial efforts to minimize its role trying to reduce the psychological impact of the terrorist attack on the population. The idea that the media should stop to “make PR for terrorists by covering the attacks” [RUS] is popular not only among Russian authorities, but also among media consumers. But minimizing the coverage has quite opposite effects. It creates informational vacuum and leaves more space for Internet-based rumors which, in turn, increases panic and dramatization.

Plus, since the authorities limit the access of traditional journalists to the scene of the attack, the major source of visual information is user-generated content.

Not only traditional media, but also the authorities themselves did nothing to avoid information vacuum. In a country where the president and many officials use Twitter, one could expect that in the emergency situation these channels will be used to provide credible information when it is especially important. There is no doubt that any tweet that comes from official person with any information about the situation would be re-tweeted hundreds of times and it would provide some more certainty and balance.

While all government-Twitterers ignored this channel of information, the only “official” Twitterer to realize this was @KermlinRussia, popular president's fake account. Several minutes after the bombings, he ceased his ironic style and started to post real, verified and needed information.

Aside from both old and new media, as well as authorities, the society, the fourth important actor, had influenced the observed media effects. In an emotional post angry-ksen described [RUS] the atmosphere of apathy among the majority of her Moscow friends:

Сегодня в Москве произошёл «очередной теракт». Это уже даже не новость. Это меньше, чем новость. Это – само собой, как сугробы зимой, отключенная вода летом, опаздывающие троллейбусы и стервозные продавщицы. Это не новость, потому что это нечто обыденное. Ну, взрыв. А у меня, между прочим, чайник кипит. Или мне, как говорится, чаю не пить? <…>Несколько человек посоветовали мне не смотреть новости, чтобы не портить себе настроение. Ещё несколько сказали, что новости всё равно не смотрят и посему настроение у них постоянно-стабильно великолепное.<…> Меньше умерло сегодня в Домодедово, чем нас уже давно неживых ходит по Москве.

Today “another terrorist attack” took place in Moscow. It is not even news. It is less than news. That's something that is as common as snowdrifts in winter, lack of hot water in summer, trolleybuses running late and rude cashers. It is not new because it is a routine. Bombing, so what? And I have a kettle bowling in my kitchen. Does the bombing mean I shouldn't have tea? <…> Several people advised me today to avoid watching news in order not to spoil my mood. They also said that they won't watch news anyway and therefore they are always in a good mood. <…> There are less people who died today in Domodedovo than alive dead walking on Moscow streets.

Anton Nossik concluded [RUS] on a relatively optimistic note:

Что же касается телевидения — оно умерло не тогда, когда его бригада опоздала на 2 часа в «Домодедово». Оно умерло, когда захотело за нас решать, что мы хотим смотреть: новости, сериал или «Большую стирку». В 2011 году такие решения принимает зритель.

Regarding TV - it hasn't died when the TV crew was two hours late to Domodedovo. It died when they decided what we want to watch: news, soap operas or  “The Big Laundry” (popular yellow Russian talk show - G.V.). In 2011, this decision will be made by the audience.

Lebanon: ‘Day of Rage' Shocks Bloggers

Written by Antoun Issa

Hariri supporters burn tyres in Tripoli - Courtesy of Friday Lunch Club

Thousands of supporters of deposed Sunni Prime Minister Saad Al Hariri took to the streets in a ‘day of rage‘ on Tuesday to protest the fall of their leader.

The worst of the scenes were in the predominantly Sunni city of Tripoli, where protestors burnt tyres, vehicles, offices, and attacked the media.

Hariri called for a day of angry protests after Hezballah and its allies forced his government to collapse, and through a parliamentary majority, have moved to form a government without Hariri as its head.

If the protests were designed to generate support for Hariri's case, they appear to have failed at least on the blogosphere. Bloggers of all political persuasions expressed dismay at the violent behaviour and openly sectarian nature of the protests.

Rita Chemaly responded angrily to the protests:

I felt frustratedashamed and furious yesterday when I saw what happened during the riots, the riots for expressing the “rage” of some Lebanese! During the ” day of rage” as it was called by some people.

Destroying the live press car of Al-Jazeera?!

New TV,  girl being beaten and intimidated?!

By whom? The political party or force that usually claims the state of Law? The so called “ democracy”?

The state of law I live for, advocate for, and hope for? A state where the balance of things is equal to all?

The army not doing anything to stop the masses from burning a building where the press was trying to hide in?

A press-car, Burned and Destroyed?

Lebanon was always known for its Freedom of EXPRESSION and thought!!!

Sectarian banners again? Friends tell me, that this is Not true!!! Shiia/ Sunni? No way…I totally refuse such an equation!

Rami Zurayk at Land and People condemns Hariri's Future Movement for stirring sectarian strife:

Elsewhere in the Arab World, they demonstrate for freedom and in Lebanon they demonstrate for the sectarian leader.

Yesterday's events exposed the ugly face of the Future Movement and on the March 14 coalition: a small group of western-dressed neo-cons suavely wielding the most despicable sectarian discourse in order to control masses of poor people they themselves contribute to keeping in poverty, and whom they only remember when they need to pit them against another sect. For these people, humans are just numbers, both economically and politically.

Ghassan Karam at Ramblings calls for the sacking of Lebanon's entire political class:

Lebanon cannot be saved by those that have created the problem. All of the current crop of politicians needs to be fired. Are we up to the task? Don't hold your breath.

Hariri supporters burn posters of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt - Courtesy of Mohammad Elrifai, Twitter: @moe_elrifai

The AngryArab notes the double standard approach to Western media reporting of Hariri's ‘day of rage', and Hezballah's brief display of manpower on the streets of Beirut last week:

Last week, Hizbullah men gathered peacefully while wearing black t-shirts in various parts of Lebanon.  They did not speak and stayed for an hour. The Western and Hariri press treated that as an assault on the city and its civility.  Watch and see how the Western press will treat the thuggish and Salafaite protests of today in Lebanon.

He continues by arguing that Hariri's overtly sectarian protests may have backfired by alienating any Christian support that remains for him, and ultimately pushing the Christians further into the Hezballah camp:

… mini-Hariri, instead of falsely posing as a statesperson, decided to play it thuggishly and it seems to have backfired.  They are clearly embarrassed as evidenced by the speech of mini-Hariri and they have scared off the Christian allies of Hariri Inc.  Gen. `Awn (the Christian ally of Hizbullah) was beaming today and this is why.  Christians still remember when the Hariri Inc sponsored a Salafi demonstration 4 years ago (?) against the Danish embassy in Beirut over the Danish cartoons and it went out of hand and the Salafite Harirites went wild attacking churches and residential buildings.

Whilst Mustapha at Beirut Spring chastises Hezballah and his Christian allies as hypocrites for undertaking the same violent approach in the past, he equally criticises Tuesday's protests for harming the brand of the Hariri-led March 14 coalition:

In reaction to that, Hezbollah and Aounist apologists did what they did best. They rose on a pedestal, wagged their fingers and started lecturing us about Sunnis being sectarian and thugs.

Oh please shut up. How can you blame them for being angry and behaving like that? If there is one lesson our country learned from Hezbollah, it’s that violence works.

Hezbollah used violence to secure the Doha veto by virtually blocking an entire city for almost two years. They cowed Walid Jumblat by physically assaulting his people, and they scarred the Beiruties by sending their armed thugs into peaceful neighborhoods and imposed their wills.

If there’s anything those demonstrations are saying, it’s this: This is not a level playing field. The people with the guns are the ones who are winning every time. Maybe we should play their game for once.

Mr. Hariri should be very careful about controlling his die-hard supporters. I’m talking about the kind that is in it for Sunni domination and whose idea of protest is to curse the vaginas of the sisters and mothers of opposing politicians.

Although they provide feet on the ground, they are a threat to the March 14 brand and they risk alienating people like Dana who will probably stay home during the next demonstration.

MarillionLB at For a Better Lebanon also shares empathy with the anger felt by protestors, but deplores violence as a means to express it:

I can understand the anger and the frustration, but I cannot accept the similarities (save the detail of armed thugs) with what I condemned vehemently in 2008; the similarities were there for me to condemn. Yes “sticks and stones will not break my bones” as the saying goes, but this does not in any way justify stooping to their level and falling into their well laid trap. All that was missing was the herd of mopeds, AK47’s, RPG’s, and militia uniforms. This does not make the impact any less gruesome and worrying.

Graffiti art in Beirut turns political - Courtesy of © Beirut Spring

Sean at The Human Province gives a much deeper analysis by emphasising Lebanon's structural flaws as at the core of its continued instability:

So this leads back to the initial question of what the problem is. One could point to the STL, but really, that’s just the catalyst. It could just as easily be another issue, as it has been in the past, and it will be something else later down the road. The problem here is structural. In order to accommodate the National Pact and the Ta’if agreement,  this paralyzing “consensus” has become an unwritten rule.

Personally, I think the idea of “no victor, no vanquished,” which has been used to justify paralyzed governments of “national unity,” is stupid — at least when it comes to coalition politics. I think the best thing for Lebanon would be to have a proper government and proper opposition, meaning when one side loses, they bow out of government leaving their opponents to govern and trying to do better in the next elections.

Political analyst Elias Muhanna at Qifa Nabki echoes similar sentiments by adding his support for a majoritarian democracy, and an end to the notion that a consensus must be reached within each sect to form government.

While I sympathize with those who chafe at the hypocrisy of March 8th’s newfound majoritarian impulses, I strongly support the democratic principle that legitimizes Hizbullah’s current move. The March 8th coalition is now Lebanon’s parliamentary majority. They should have the right to bring down this government and form their own. Governments fall all the time, all around the world. This should be able to happen in Lebanon without sparking sectarian protests.

On a slightly more abstract note, I found myself wondering today (as I did back during the 2006-08 constitutional crisis), what effect the majority coalition’s pro-democracy rhetoric would have on Lebanon’s political culture in the long term. The fact that we’ve seen both sides of the political divide appealing to a majoritarian logic within the space of six years seems significant to me. No?

Obviously, what I would like to see happen is for this new method of choosing prime ministers (and speakers) to be enshrined in the Constitution, such that we don’t keep flip-flopping between consensual and majoritarian procedures every other year. A precedent has been set. Let’s stick with it. But you can bet that won’t happen.

American blogger on Middle Eastern politics, Andrew Exum, warns on his blog Abu Muqawama of the danger posed by Israel now that Hezballah has taken the lead role in government:

I want, though, to focus on how this plays into the way another war between Hizballah and Israel might look. Israel, since the conclusion of the Lebanese Civil War, has always held the government of Lebanon responsible for the actions of Hizballah. In the 1993's ‘Operation Accountability,” for example, Israel said it was bombing southern Lebanon in part to coerce the governments of Syria and Lebanon to rein in Hizballah. (Why the Israelis thought Hafez al-Asad cared about people dying in southern Lebanon, Dear Reader, is as much a mystery to me as it is to you.) In 1996's “Operation Grapes of Wrath,” meanwhile, Israel actually gave us a foretaste of the 2006 war by targeting Beirut and Lebanese infrastructure (such as power stations), again in an effort to get the government of Lebanon to crack down on Hizballah.

But Israel's habit of hitting Beirut gets a little less crazy each year. In 1993 and 1996, it made no sense to target the government of Lebanon. By 2006, though, Hizballah was in the government of Lebanon — or was at least holding seats in parliament. And now, Hizballah has formed its first government in Lebanon, which — and Paul Salem is right here — probably makes the organization a little nervous. There are huge risks associated with this. In another war, for example, Israel will be able to claim — for the first time, really — that Hizballah is Lebanon, and Lebanon is Hizballah. Since Hizballah controls the government, any attack on the institutions of the state — to include the US-equipped Lebanese Armed Forces — will be legitimate. And even people like me, who genuinely love Lebanon and its people and do not like to see either bombed, will not have much of an argument for why Israel should not.

Calm has since been restored to Lebanon following a day of ugly scenes, but the country holds its breath as to what lies ahead.

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