Friday, December 23, 2011

Re-nationalization: A Cotton Pickin' Mess!

Egypt's white gold
Buried under the endless commentary of the recent violence in Egypt (but not lost on investors), a decision taken by an administrative court to annul the sale of shares of a then state-owned cotton ginning company threatens to cause far more lasting damage than any demonstrations, election results or political figurehead. Taken within the context of an already toxic mix of a fiscal crisis, unstable leadership and the urge for short-term, populist policymaking, this decision (still hopefully to be overturned) sets the stage for complete economic chaos. 
The ruling itself is based on vague allegations of an undervaluation of assets and even more vague allegations of corruption, and follows a troubling trend of similarly statist edits from imprecise, activist judges (encouraged/directed, no doubt, by military insiders seeking to reassert their total control over the private sector, incompetent interim governments, as well as misguided activists in their fanciful mission against the bourgeois). Left totally unanswered are questions of how to redeem shares held and traded by the wider public and workers (who as per most Egyptian privatizations, were granted a significant stake of floated shares as an incentive to participate as part owners in their company), and the impact on creditors. Egypt's reeling stock market is being further damaged, and the uncertainty of the decision further undermines the already compromised credibility of the country's investment climate.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Buy Egyptian?

 
Not to be confused with the evil import
If the latest gimmick to jump start the dormant Egyptian economy is a sign of things to come, then we are in big trouble. No matter how many bags of kebab-flavored Chipsy (owned by Pepsico) are munched, nor colorful galabaya are purchased (typically with imported, short-staple cotton, since higher quality long-staple Egyptian cotton is used in higher end goods that are exported and produce much more value added), the “Buy Egypt” campaign will do nothing to address the structural deficiencies in the economic system. 

Mmmm
Worse, the campaign is a reflection of the quick-fix, delusional and autarkic thinking that looks to isolate Egypt from the global economy and create artificial markets, when it is precisely the opposite that is needed. Whether it is flawed ideas of disavowing foreign borrowing, fanciful and regressive notions of food self-sufficiency or grand, national schemes to create dead-end jobs, all of this is stifling the country’s potential and delaying badly needed reform.   

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Brothers in Arms: Team Obama and the Muslim Brotherhood


Ughh
Senator John Kerry’s recent high-profile visit to the ostentatious new headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood (query the funding source) is the latest in the continuing outrages of the Obama Administration's placation of regressive Islamists. Never mind that the lower house election cycle in Egypt is only one-third complete. Never mind that secular forces naturally allied to U.S. ideals of civil and individual rights are being suffocated by religious demagogues of whom the Muslim Brotherhood are the patron saint. Never mind that U.S. attention and recognition remain decisive factors on the Egyptian political scene. The head of the Salafist party - supposedly distinct and separate from the supposedly moderate Brotherhood party - synthezied it all quite well: "[t]he American administration's contact with Islamists is a sign of victory for us." 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Message to Egyptian Revolutionaries: GET REAL!

So the experiment of populism has produced an unsurprisingly miserable outcome.  No need to whitewash the result through tortured reasoning about the differences between backward and even more backward brands of political Islam, the allocation of distant minority votes or trying to make sense of the idiosyncratic voting system Whatever feel-good factor was generated by the relatively high voter interest and participation, the landslide victory of the Islamists is a blow to the cause of the betterment of a progressive Egypt.     
This result should not be a surprise.  It is virtually exactly the same result as that of the constitutional referendum from last March.  The vote simply is a reflection of what Egypt has become over the past sixty years – a country lacking in economic growth, lacking in proper education, lacking in cultural openness, and a country that is highly susceptible to the corrupting influences of a paternalistic state and even more paternalistic and manipulative religious clergy.  The result is also unsurprising because it stems from an ill-considered process of political transformation driven by street demonstrations, Twitter feeds and idiotic political televangelists that cornered the ruling authorities into following quick-fix solutions to protect what will always matter most to them – maintaining a pliable status quo wherein they always come out on top.  And the result is unsurprising, because the brain-children in the White House fatally comprised the standing of secular forces in the region by naively (Team Obama is too ignorant to have done so intentionally) aiding-and-abetting the intractable rise of the Islamists.    

Get used to it
What is surprising, annoying, depressing and ultimately most damning to the cause of a progressively transformed Egypt, however, is the reaction of a wide spectrum of the self-appointed guardians of the defunct Egyptian “revolution.”  However well-intentioned and passionate, the ostrich-like vision of liberal activists to the trying circumstances surrounding them has been detrimental to the good cause.  The majority vote of the Egyptian populace will not be won during this election cycle, and it could not have been won. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ganzo for Life

A very wise, experienced, accountable, super prime minister. Sorry for those inappropriate criticisms made of your time in government (your governorship in Wadi El Gadeed in 1976 is exactly the sort of hand's-on experience the country needs to navigate through the turmoils of the international financial crisis, to communicate in the age of the internet and transition Egypt into a beacon of reform).

We love you so much, that this little election thing need not get in the way of your mandate to govern Egypt for life. Who says that landslide parliamentary elections (and anyway they will win less than 100% of the vote) should result in any mandate for the victors to appoint the head of the legislature - that is such a narrow-minded view.

May your reign be successful and long...very, very long.

The Visionary 


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ahly = Corruption in Egypt

Ahly are outdoing even their own, tainted standards by setting a new low on disparaging all norms of sporting behaviour.  Bailing out on the country's oldest competition for the sake of their new shirt sponsor is nothing short of reprehensible.  Let's see if their brothers-in-arms at Itihad El Zift will do anything about it; probably not, when there are clear and present dangers to worry about, such as using the excuse of controlling firecrackers in matches played by a certain, superior competitor, to ban home matches and further tilt the playing field.

Egypt will not progress so long as Ahly's corrupt ways remain.

Disgusting.
Not with Ahly around

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Classless Mob

As always, Ahly and its classless fan base never cease to probe new depths of their corrupted and mob-like ways. And, as always, the blinded apologists are rationalizing the irrational.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Egypt and the BRICs

Inspiring Tahrir

Egypt has rejected (apparently) a $3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, goaded (apparently) by populist idiots who believe Egypt can become a socialist paradise on its own initiative. Never mind that the IMF standby loan facilities are specifically designed to stabilize economies that have undergone the sort of negative shock that Egypt is witnessing by offering front-loaded, low-interest loans. Never mind that Egypt’s ability to tap into the far more expensive bond market is highly limited by the depressed macroeconomic landscape, the Greek debacle and the very decision of not accepting loans from the World Bank Group. Fear not, for Egypt is separate and apart and can count on “freebies” from “friends” in the Gulf who will, surely without any condition (thanks for keeping the enlightened Sheikh Qaradawi safe in Doha and for inspiring progressive policies at our heathen beaches, hotels and shopping centers), shovel money into the country out of their (apparent) love for its culture and people.

Monday, June 6, 2011

At Least They Listen

So there will be no capital gains tax after all.  Hopefully, this will be a step in the right direction...assuming, that is, they mean what they say (or did not mean what they said before).

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Economics 101: Tax Them, and They Won't Come

The brain-trust running Egyptian economic policy (assuming, that is, there actually is an economic policy) are, to be blunt, idiots. In the midst of halted growth and a near total collapse in domestic and foreign investor confidence, the Ministry of Finance has announced an intention to apply a ten percent capital gains tax and raise corporate taxes so as to fund the country’s notoriously inefficient system of subsidies on fuel and food staples. The result? A greater than three percent loss in equity values in the first hour of trading post announcement, higher bond yields and yet another hit to the credibility of the country’s financial reputation.

Then there is the bright idea of instituting a minimum wage increase that will set minimum pay above the average wages of many East Asian countries…surely something that will augment competitiveness and encourage investors to look to Egypt, given the already exciting investment climate of stagnant consumer spending, an industrial and service sector in recession and basically nothing to suggest the country is a more appealing investment destination than the already difficult place it was pre-January 25, apart from the vague foreign aid commitments that will further crowd out the private sector from the economy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Protect the Copts

Nestled into the Egyptian landscape
More and more, all that is separating Egypt from descent into a total abyss is the simple existence of its indigenous Christian population. The continuing (it did not start in the past few months, but rather has been ongoing for centuries) efforts to plaster over Egypt’s Coptic community has far-reaching implications for the direction of a post January 25 Egypt. But for the presence of many millions of Copts (it’s ridiculous, we don’t know how many), the continuum of the Muslim Brotherhood – Salafists (don't know their numbers either, but there are too many directly and indirecly sympathizing with them) would have a far clearer path to imposing their regressive monopoly over Egyptian society. Ideally, one would not have to revert to such simplistic and anti-modern notions of nation building, but the depressed state of Egypt leads to this conclusion.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You Can't Make This Stuff Up!

For all the fretting about how the disjointed and basically hopeless opposition can break the seemingly unstoppable momentum of the Muslim Brotherhood and its mind-controlling P.R. machine, the best bet for defeat is to simply let these guys reveal themselves.  The Brotherhood’s ridiculous announcement of an intention to form a sporting arm that can field a team to play in national sporting competitions is a priceless platform for exposing its real limitations.  The day Egyptians abandon their love of Zamalek (and for those less fortunate ones, Ahly), or give up on the cathartic and decidedly unreligious practice of mass, dirty chants against the opposition, the referee and their respective mothers and sisters, is the day donkeys (the real kind, rather than the symbolic ones flapping about from time to time) will fly over Tahrir Square. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Where Bin Laden is Missed

Peace and Love
So the same Muslim Brotherhood whom President Obama and his cheerleaders hopefully point to as forward thinking reformers who will create a new Middle East, and with whom a leadership in Egypt  continues to disturbingly accommodate, turn out to be rather ambiguous, if not outright remorseful and bitter, it would seem, about the death of a man who is an embodiment of hate and destruction.  In its own words, the Brotherhood's official statement about the "assassination" of "Sheikh" Osama Bin Laden (and women and children) makes not a single reference to this man's destructive legacy.  Instead, they moan and groan about the familiar and tired refrains about Western imperialism, Zionism, etc.  Such is the state of retardation and escapism among the Egyptian population, that this view sadly is not confined to just the Brotherhood, but in varying degrees, reflects the thinking of many Egyptians, including seemingly educated and Westernized ones, bitter that it does not fit into the comfortable storyline of a saintly uprising versus American-backed purveyors of suppression in the region. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

No more candy, please

Egypt is not exceptional. Unfortunately, those are four words practically no Egyptian or world observer of Egypt accepts, and the longer it takes for this reality to set in, the more torturous the path of reforming Egypt will be. From birth to the grave, Egyptians are fed a steady diet of self-edifying drivel about their uniqueness, based on everything from the civilization built up by the Pharaohs seven thousand years ago, to their supposedly superior ability to do anything and everything in modern times. The inconvenient truth of the chaos and underdevelopment that defines Egyptian life always is the fault of some sort of other (from either within or outside of Egypt), and the path forward is one that Egyptians can define without reference to lesser places like the United States, the entirety of Europe, India or China - which are still somehow widely considered less advanced - or anywhere else for that matter. Hence, the zig-zagging approach to drafting a new constitution, the obtuse definition of the relationship between state and religion, economic policies which, to be generous, can only be considered as idiosyncratic, and the omnipotent short cutting and rule bending of Egyptians on anything and everything.

The world, led by the United States, has reinforced this exceptionalism by playing along to and expanding the mantra of Egypt’s special role in the region. Thus, the tens and tens of billions of dollars in grants, debt relief and concessional loans that though well meaning, have retarded the country's economy, and kid-glove treatment on the blatant disregard of universal norms of respect for individual and minority rights by Egypt’s power structure (which structure extends far beyond a single leader or institution, but rather is the potent combination of the repressive central state and mob rule that has defined Egypt since 1952, and still does).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Game Over

The day of reckoning awaits
Neither Ahly's corrupt officiating, Ahly's budgets tainted with corrupted funds, Ahly's corrupted media, Ahly's tail-between-the-legs pleas to cancel the league, nor any other human force in Tahrir, Tanta or Tizi Ouzo will stop Zamalek's rightful ascension to victory.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

We're gonna be rich!

My other car is a Cadillac
So based on the latest fanciful figures dreamed up by Egypt’s ever so precise prosecution team, every man, woman and child can expect to receive over 50,000 Egyptian Pounds from stolen funds from just the former president.  And surely there must be at least an equivalent sum from the other rascals being put behind bars to feed the masses lust for raw meat, so it is very reasonable to believe that after all is said and done, your average citizen will be dressed up in silk suits and driving a shiny new Benz.  Add to this the exciting prospect of re-instituting the great successes of public ownership of private assets (we all remember the excellent the quality at Omar Effendi, Stella (aka “One Million Cockroaches Can’t Be Wrong”) and other marquee brands before the evil efficiencies of private ownership took over), and things really are looking splendid. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dear President Obama: Shut the Hell Up

Thanks for Nothing
President Obama and his clan of “experts” middling in the affairs of Egypt is going from bad to worse. The continuous effort to accommodate Islamists generally, and the Muslim Brotherhood specifically, is legitimizing and empowering a movement that is antithetical to a modern Egypt. Now Team Obama is injecting itself even further into the domestic debate by recklessly advising that Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution – an article that is per se discriminatory and against the principle of a country that treats its citizens equally – should not be part of the reform discussions. Not only is a public comment on the what to change and not change in the Egyptian constitution stepping well over the bounds of what any U.S. official should be doing, but to single out this particular issue is putting the U.S. squarely on the wrong side the debate.

The U.S. Government can and should be a force for positive change in Egypt, but this Administration is ill serving Egypt, the United States and indeed the world.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fawda

Madness
When a country is unable to host and secure a preliminary round soccer match, it is not ready to put at stake its entire political future.  That might seem trite and simplistic, but it is the crude reality.

With all due respect to the organization of the protests in January, Egypt is not prepared politically, socially or otherwise for democratic elections to decide its fate.  The country has no culture of acceptance of winning and losing, a fatal flaw in any democratic environment, but especially one where there are no institutional checks and balances to measure the outcome.  Yes, there was a peaceful voting process for the referendum (nb:  not really sure why we had that vote, given many other changes to the constitution were subsequently passed by decree), but there the proscribed outcome was overwhelmingly approved, and the stakes were transient.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

We Love You...


Picture Perfect
One of the principal myths that allowed the January 25 movement to achieve the goals that it did, was creating the sense of a loving relationship between the military and the people. This fiction conveniently glossed over the common knowledge of widespread misappropriations by the military, the fact that Egypt's military spending is wildly disproportional to spending on basic services, the deadweight loss of forced service for those Egyptian men who cannot pay their way out of it, and the reality that the military has not really done much of anything for Egypt for almost the past forty years (and there is a strong argument of even longer than that, but let's not go there).
We don't trust you Papa Smurf

Be that as it may, the fiction worked, and the military was hoisted up on a pedestal and returned the favor by giving the movement the space to push out the sitting president and parts of the ruling structure around him (not including, naturally, those expansive segments of the system under direct and indirect military control). Since then, however, the reform movement has splintered along innumberable lines with innumerable demands, which not only has resulted in a loss of unity and purpose, but also given the other enemy of reform, the Muslim Brotherhood, the space to position itself to the military -- and the military's U.S. backers -- as the only alternative path for stability, a sense now reinforced by the lopsided referendum results.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stop Dithering

There is a train of thought suggesting that the reform movements spreading throughout the Middle East are the result of a carefully crafted plan put together by the Obama Administration. On the sinister side, it is seen as a part of a “New Imperial Plan for the Middle East”:
"The new imperial plan for the Middle East capitalizes on the willingness of the modern middle-classes of the region to enthusiastically serve the international class of super-rich..."
To put it gingerly, that is an idiotic analysis. Others like to think it is all the beneficence brought to the world by the radiating graces and professorial intellect of President Obama, complete with his magical ability to channel American goodness to cavemen enlightened by Google Earth to come to know there is a split between rich and the poor in their countries (…again, a wee bit off).


Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Loss - Now Grow Up


The “No Vote” lost…overwhelmingly.  There is no point in sugar-coating the outcome; when you lose an election by 40, 50 or 60 percentage points, it is a landslide loss.  Yes, the voting process was unprecedented and civilized, and yes it got the blood flowing in the veins and raised civic awareness, and yes, the no vote had to campaign against the odds, but the end result is that the groundwork is in place for the Muslim Brotherhood, in alliance with the thugs of the past, to set the terms for the Constitutional direction of Egypt. 
The reform movement in Egypt needs to mature, and do so with immediate effect.  Not in six weeks, six months or most probably six years, will it be possible to educate and convince forty million Egyptians of the importance of defending individual rights enshrined in a modern Constitutional structure that supports a liberal political and socio-economic society.  Instead, the focus of the reformists must be on educating and convincing those in positions of authority of this, which requires a credible and organized political leadership that understands how to engage in the real world of politics, and not just in the kinder world of promoting popular engagement.  As important as the grassroots are, without top-down leadership, this revolution will continue to fall victim to cunning opportunists who are capitalizing on the military’s anxiety with being in the spotlight, the White House’s misguided accommodation of political Islam, and Egyptian society’s conservative leanings, to further their own, pessimistic agenda.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I Voted!

Just say no
For a day at least, cynicism took a backseat to hope.  I joined a patient, committed and polite populace in my voting district that looked overwhelming driven to make it known that they are not going to be taken for a ride.  Lines were long and uncannily single-filed.  There were smiles, candy, exceptionally cordial volunteers and, best of all, not just hope, not just a sense of novelty, but a very palpable expectation for better days ahead.   They will not always be beautiful spring days, and the downside risks of the wrong outcome are worrying, but today Egypt has changed for the better.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Vote No

Going dry?
All sorts of people and outlets have formed arguments on how to vote in the upcoming referendum on amendments to the Egyptian Constitution. Unfortunately, much of the discourse has been too esoteric to give people any true sense of the meaning of the proposed changes – length and nature of the transitional powers of the military, powers of a future president, amending versus redrafting the Constitution, implications to the longevity to the January 25 movement, the constitutionality of the proposing changes to the Constitution, etc. None of this speaks to the actual impact on daily life.

So here is one very practical reason to vote no – protecting your right to drink a beer. There is little doubt that a democratic majority of Egyptians would happily vote in favor of banning the sale of beer in Egypt, or at least the sale of beer in Egypt to Egyptians (a dubious distinction that already exists in Egypt during Ramadan, when a holier-than-thou paternalism prevents heretical Egyptians, but not heretical foreigners, from booze). And while reflecting the will of the majority, it would be a step symbolic of all of the misguided notions of living in a democracy, allowing a totalitariat of the masses to run over individual rights. But that is precisely what this referendum would encourage in stipulating that the next parliament control the drafting process for the next set of amendments to the Constitution.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Treaty of Tripoli

How so very topical
Despite the comforting comparisons of the Muslim Brotherhood with political movements in Europe, and the enthusiasm with the group’s active role in the pushing for regime change in Egypt, there is the uncomfortable truth that there are core principles of the Muslim Brotherhood that are regressive, exclusionary and bigoted. 
There should be no space in the 21st century to party proclamations that over half the population is “unsuitable” to run for presidency by sole virtue of their religion or gender.  Nor are the following type of half-assed accommodations by “reformists” acceptable:  
Our adherence to the jurisprudential opinion refusing the appointment of women or Christians as president does not mean we impose this opinion on the people, who have inherent jurisdiction in this regard…I personally accept for Copts to be appointed in hundreds of positions, including sensitive leadership positions in the country in accordance with the criterion of efficiency and competence, regardless of their proportion in society.”
One might suppose coming from a base in which Copts and women were meant to accept their rightful place as irrelevant to the body politic, such a message might be seen to be uplifting.  But in truth, only contrived relativism could make that actually seem reasonable.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan and Egypt

A natural disaster of biblical proportions, nuclear meltdown, burning oil refineries, a tragic death toll, and Japan’s Nikkei braves the conditions and remains open for regular trading.  By contrast, the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange has been shut down for almost six weeks, pulling out excuse upon excuse to protect against market corrections that become more self-fulfilling and inevitable by the day.  Egypt once housed one of the five largest stock exchanges in the world…little wonder it no longer does.


The sun shall rise again

Friday, March 11, 2011

Trade, Not Aid

In all of the clamoring for how to support the cause of reforms in Egypt -- through everything from aspirational declarations of common values, to a dubious openness to dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood (nb: let’s at least agree it is not a secular organization), to targeted economic aid, “democracy-building” initiatives and debt relief packages -- what is the single biggest act that the United States can do? Close on a bilateral free trade agreement. It is not so much that other forms of assistance are not without merits (notwithstanding the largely misguided criticisms that are in vogue concerning USAID programs, USAID and other foreign aid programs have produced many real benefits in Egypt), but that a free trade agreement offers so much more.

The biggest threat to derailing the vision for a modern and developed Egypt is an economic one. The need for vast and rapid improvements in the quality of life for Egyptians is beyond debate, but how to achieve it is not. As questions about the religious-secular divide and constitutional reform dominate internal and external discourse on Egypt, the outcome of the battle over the orientation of the Egyptian economy will have the greatest impact on what kind of Egypt emerges from January 25.

The starting point is not looking good. Despite producing positive economic returns, endemic corruption, inept governance and the disjointed and slow pace of implementation of economic reforms have discredited capitalist principles for many Egyptians. Further, the self-defined “intelligentsia” of Egypt still clings to globally-discredited socialist ideas (even if Egypt’s economy was brought to its knees by the disastrous socialist experiment under Nasser’s tutelage). 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Sixth Amendment

No photos please
It seems Egypt is taking to heart the right to a speedy trial (though somewhat less so on the U.S. Constitution’s take that such trials also be in public and before impartial juries, but let’s not digress). How speedy? Really speedy. Charges against dozens upon dozens of selectively targeted people (the selection process itself being highly suspect in nature) have been drummed up in a matter of days, allowing the prosecution to then incarcerate the unfortunate ones who did not manage to leave the country quickly enough, dress them in snappy white jump suits, and then have them pictured in a courtroom cage or prison cell. The scene typically is accompanied by wailing women, abusive shouts from the judges, prosecutors and gallery alike, and then inevitably followed by widely-published news stories condemning the accused for eternity.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

#4 - How Not to Run an Economy

What is the thinking behind the economic policy espoused by Egypt’s latest government (ie, the one appointed and formalized yesterday, not to be confused with the two other cabinets that have come and gone in the past five weeks)? Seemingly, a hopeful return to the unmitigated failures of state-led growth plans that promises to have Egypt become one of the BRIC members, only as Bolivia rather than Brazil. One million new nurses needed at state-owned hospitals? Sure, why not? May as well add another couple of dozen to the guys manning the automated parking machine at Cairo Airport too, since the other 350 or so that already are there seem overworked. The endless delays in reopening the stock market, and the various, increasingly strained theories used to justify doing so, is having a highly detrimental effect on investor confidence, as evidenced, by among other things, a massively undersubscribed bond offering (notwithstanding junk-bond type yields). One way to guarantee losing investor confidence is to deny people access to their own money.

So far, the government has hidden behind the illusion of relatively marginal movements in longer-term macroeconomic indicators, and proudly pointed to exchange rate stability (itself, a misguided barometer of economic performance that is misusing foreign reserves and punishing further the already beleaguered Egyptian exporters to subsidize commodity imports). The wider population seems to have accepted the line that all of this is understandable in the context of a political revolution – but it should not.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Resala Raqam Saree

Now we’re talking – the tip of the iceberg on Ahly’s corruption.
The allegations of corruption wracking Egyptian soccer are particularly painful for Al-Ahly SC…  [t]he club chairman Hassan Hamdy is suspected of corrupt practices in cohorts with Yasser Mansour, one of Egypt’s wealthiest businessmen, whose financial largesse is believed to have attracted players to the team. Mansour is being investigated by prosecutors for allegedly having benefited from close ties to the Mubarak regime.  At one point, Yasser’s brother Mohammed served as Mubarak’s transport minister. The brothers also have family ties to former tourism minister Zuheir Garana and former housing minister Ahmed Maghrabi, both of whom have been arrested on charges of corruption.  Al-Ahly’s predicament is reinforced by the fact that Hamdy doubled as the head of the  government-owned Al-Ahram advertising department, which allowed him to funnel lucrative advertising and sponsorship opportunities to his team. One such contract is Vodafone’s two-year, $10 million sponsorship of Al-Ahly.
You can run, but you cannot hide.  The league will restart at some point, and Ahly will find itself challenging for relegation spots in the brave new world of playing on a level field.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Plog Numero Due - fresh green fields

Surprising, how the millions of overnight political experts in Egypt sort of missed commenting on the 800 pound gorilla with whom they are faithfully entrusting themselves (though I think we can all agree, they do manage to prepare the best grass fields in the local stadiums, and have become proficient in paving roads and the Jeeps are ok too). Nice to see the NY Times actually send their own investigative reporters to do something, rather than formulate their "news" on the basis of the handful of social media outlets that are consistently measured and unbiased...shame it was so unintentionally timed after the cement had dried from the military coup d'etat otherwise known by its various other, warmer and fuzzier names.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

First Bost

I have felt compelled to start this ‘plog’ in consideration of the idiocy currently prevailing in much of the world, and particularly in my country of origin (but, mercifully, not the country of citizenship) Egypt. Countering widely misguided views of big ideas, like democracy and liberty, in the context of the wild-eyed excitement of a "revolution" is not an easy task, particularly when virtual reality is considered an apt substitute for 7,000 years of factual realities, but I shall nonetheless try.

For openers, I will limit this to a few, summary thoughts. You cannot "breathe" freedom. You can breathe air. Medieval retards who aspire to return 85 million, already largely retarded people to an eighth century fantasy world are not inspired democrats, political prisoners or freedom fighters; they are retards. And, incidentally, dear President Obama: kindly keep your na├»ve and subversive ideas about how to interact with such retards to yourself. Egypt is not a “test case” for your social studies experiment on how to interact with them.