الثلاثاء، سبتمبر 30، 2008

Going Down a Financial Black Hole

When Markets go Crazy

Well, markets are tumbling and the Dow will probably fall another 2000 points. The 2002 low looks like the best support for a bottom on the technical charts. The financial cannibalism also continues on Wall St.

Wachovia bank was gobbled up by Citicorp. Wachovia almost ate up Goldman Sachs just a few weeks ago. The concentration of more wealth in fewer and fewer hands continues.

Congress revolted today because it has lost a lot of political power since Bush took office. First with limits on foreign policy and judicial oversight. Now with even more limits in the financial sphere.

Bush, McCain and Palin are now seen by many Americans as a joke. But Obama will have a hard time governing when he wins in November because he will inherit a nation in serious decline.

The US is saddled with huge amounts of debt and most of it is owned by foreigners. It was a nice party while it lasted. Americans are now going to wake up in a world where they are no longer number one.

It's nothing to cry about. Usually one single power has a hard time running the world. When there are multiple powers its hard to run things too, but it forces nations into international cooperation. It's an unstable system, but history shows these two options are the only ones in town.

We are in the middle of a historic shake-out.

See you on the other side of the historical black hole....

  • Comments from Michael's Readers

    Financial Chaos
    Yes. It was a nice party while it lasted.

    But I am afraid there are going to be many chaotic repercussions until things settle again ...

    Our global financial system is seriously flawed ... fundamentally screwed up ... simply because it is built on rewarding speculation not hard work ...

    Brokers, rather than producers or service providers, making the bucks .... this is good in a gambling casino for a weekend in vegas, but can not be the basis for a solid financial system to govern the lives of 6 billion people and many trillions of dollars ...

    On capital gains, achieved by inflatting stocks rather dividends coming from actual operations ... on P/E ratios in the hundreds or throusands when they should be should be 5, 10, 20 or even 30.

    That kind of correction requires major major change of mind ... I do not think that it is even going to happen this time ... but it is going to be painful as hell ...
    ( Posted by: wael nawara [Member] On: September 30, 2008 )

  • Too Easy

    Might have guessed it would be all too easy for Government to buy up all the bad debt.... After all unlike the people that buy debt at vastly reduced prices the government wouldn't have a clue how to "Chase it UP" and would write it off or the tax payer would pay it in full?

    I remember the big Lloyd's insurance scandal...well not really a scandal they just called in commitments from high interest account holders or whatever (much to their disgust) to meet a big loss....as per the agreement...

    Yep far too many fat cats taking money that isn't there to be taken...why should the tax payer be hit....... of course everyone knows the money will come from "The Man (or Woman) in the street) at the end of the day..... It will just be different highwaymen taking a turn at robbing him/her.

    Is there is no way of making the rich poor.....?

    ( Posted by: Fairplay [Member] On: September 30, 2008 )

  • Well....

    This happens in cycles. The empire starts running on acts of financial hocus pocus rather than real and self-generating invention and production. Spain, Holland, England got hit by this and now the US....

    ...the ponzi scheme has reached its mathematical limits and now everyone is fighting about who gets screwed the least. Many rich are falling, but the survivors of this rich spat will always come out on top....

    I hope you have cash.
    ( Posted by: gamblerman [Member] On: September 30, 2008 )
  • Just have to Wait : Cash would be fine though it would have to be in Gold...... or at least something other than notes with pictures of people on them....We are living in a word of make belief it seems...Babies are now getting born with no teeth no hair no clothes and an outstanding loan... Eric
    ( Posted by: Fairplay [Member] On: September 30, 2008 )

  • Uh.... All is digital illusion:
    Just like paper illusion in days gone by, but the effects on economies are REAL...I see someday a totally automated society with only digital cash and no big bureaucracies....this transcends left/right arguments.It's sci-fi right now....but it won't be for long. This current economic creative destruction will get us there. Who will rule this new world is not clear.Also the demographic bubble that has been building since the 1400's will pop in 30 years. China and India are the last to have a baby bust. Less people less green problems....Russia, Europe, and Japan cannot even replace their populations....without immigration neither could the US. Michael

Financial Chaos: Vegas at Large

Gambling Made Legal Everywhere

Our global financial system is seriously flawed. Flawed is not the right word, it is fundamentally screwed up. Simply because it is built on rewarding speculation not hard work. People are encouraged to borrow and spend beyond their means. Banks lend money and they know that the borrower can not pay back. Banks think, or pretend to think, that their loan is guaranteed because they have the house as a collateral. But the house price is 10 times inflated. The higher the price, the bigger the loan, or mortgage, the higher the interest revenues earned, the happier the bank!

But what happens when people can not pay back their loans and banks end up putting their hands on thousands of houses? What happens when banks need money to pay their bills and they can not give employees salaries in "living room", "stairway" or "basement" tokens? Banks then have to sell. But when everyone is selling, prices plunge. And when prices plunge the collateral's selling price becomes 50%, 25% or less of the original loan value. Trillions of dollars, value which never existed in the first place, evaporate in thin air.

In our global financial system, brokers, rather than producers or service providers, are rewarded by making the big bucks. This is good in a gambling casino for a weekend in Vegas or so, but can not be the basis of a solid financial system to govern the lives of 6 billion people and many trillions of dollars.

Speculators make their profits not from "dividends", which represent a variable percentage of the profits earned by the economic enterprise they had invested in. No. They make their profits from capital gains, achieved by inflating stock prices rather than earnings or dividends coming from actual operations, on P/E ratios in the hundreds or thousands when they should be in the range of 5, 10, 20 or even 30. These capital gains happen as a result of stock appreciation, created by demand being more than supply, again as a result of the growing market of speculation, as everyone seems to enjoy gambling. The stock market has thus become the biggest legal "Get-Rich-Quick Scheme" on Earth.

The stock market is no longer a place where companies wishing to erect plants or expand operations can raise capital to finance purchase of assets, fund new production lines, spend on research and development of new products or technologies, marketing or distribution channels. The stock market is and has been for a very long time Vegas at Large. Where everyone can gamble, win and eventually lose, legally, all year round and often at tax-payers' expense.

The kind of correction needed, requires major change of mind. I do not think that it is even going to happen this time ... but it is going to be painful as hell.

الأحد، سبتمبر 28، 2008

Before America Votes

US presidential debate:

Early polls give

Barack Obama

slender victory

Barack Obama appears to have won a slender victory over John McCain in the first presidential debate, a vital test for both candidates in America's knife-edge election campaign.

By Philip Sherwell in Oxford, Mississippi Last Updated: 7:58AM BST 28 Sep 2008

Two instant television polls and a focus group showed Barack Obama ahead Photo: EPA

Two instant television polls and a focus group conducted by top consultant Frank Luntz gave the Democratic senator a lead over his Republican rival among the all-important undecided voters.
His apparent victory was not clear cut, however, with some pundits declaring Sen McCain the winner on points just five weeks before Americans cast their ballots.

Although the party nomination battles began 20 months ago and the election has already cost more than $1 billion, this was the first time that many Americans will have focused closely on the performance of the two candidates to replace President George W Bush.

With two more debates due before the Nov 4 voting, neither candidate landed a knock-out punch or committed the sort of disastrous gaffe that can determine an election.

Instead, they both tried to impress on viewers a negative image of the other candidate: Mr McCain kept insinuating that his younger rival lacked the experience for high office.

"There are some advantages to experience and knowledge and judgement," he said. He then taunted Mr Obama by quoting a remark used in the primaries by Joe Biden, who subsequently became the Democratic senator's running mater. "I don't need to do any on-the-job training," he said.

In turn, Mr Obama repeatedly linked the Arizona senator to the failed policies of the Bush administration, saying Mr McCain had agreed with the president "90 per cent of the time".
When pressed to answer the most important question in America today, however, neither candidate was willing to risk a clear response: they both dodged questions on the $700 billion plan to rescue Wall Street.

Mr McCain cited his battle against wasteful federal expenditure, the first of many references during the evening to his "record" - drawing an implicit contrast with his rival's inexperience on the national stage.

Mr Obama countered by seeking to tie Mr McCain to the economic policies of the Bush White House and its "orgy of spending" and argued that he was out of touch with the needs of American workers.

During the exchanges on economics, Mr McCain accused Mr Obama of having "the most liberal voting record in the Senate" and then added: "It's hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left."

Mr Obama responded: "John mentioned me being wildly liberal. Mostly, that's just me opposing George Bush's wrongheaded policies since I've been in Congress."

In these televised debates, as much attention is paid to style as substance. Mr Obama still came across as cool and slightly detached at times - although not as aloof or professorial as during the primaries. And he came to life during the more lively clashes over foreign policy.

But Mr McCain also sometimes reinforced negative impressions of himself as a "cranky old man" as he repeatedly put his young foe down with the words "he doesn't understand" and refused to look him in the eye.

Just hours before the debate began it was unclear whether it would happen at all. Mr McCain had stunned Americans by announcing he would not take part in order to help push the financial bail-out through Congress.

But at the last minute he changed his mind and flew to the small college town of Oxford where the debate was being held on the campus of the University of Mississippi.

While the financial crisis dominated headlines, it was foreign affairs that provoked the sharpest exchanges in Friday night's showdown.

On Iraq, Mr McCain assailed Mr Obama for opposing the recent troop "surge", refusing to acknowledge its success, insisting on a timetable for withdrawal and not visiting the country for more than 900 days.

But Mr Obama took the fight to Mr McCain, reminding the audience that he had opposed the war from the start and then attacking his rival's judgment on a series of key issues.

"You said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong. You said we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between the Shia and Sunni. You were wrong."

Mr McCain took the harshest digs at Mr Obama over his assertion during the primary battle with former First Lady Hillary Clinton that he would be willing to meet the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without setting conditions.
"Sen Obama doesn't seem to understand that if without precondition you sit down across the table from someone who has called Israel a 'stinking corpse', and wants to destroy that country and wipe it off the map, you legitimise those comments," he said witheringly. "This is dangerous. It isn't just naive, it's dangerous."

Mr McCain also slammed Mr Obama for allegedly saying he would attack Pakistan. That brought a stinging riposte. "Coming from you, who in the past has threatened extinction for North Korea and sung songs about bombing Iran, I don't know how credible that is," said Mr Obama.

The Democrat repeatedly said that Mr McCain had backed Mr Bush in making Iraq a priority when Osama bin Laden remained free somewhere on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Although the debate was originally scheduled to cover foreign affairs and national security, the first 40 of the 90 minutes were eventually allotted to the economic crisis.

Mr McCain's sometimes patronising attitude cost him support among a panel of 27 undecided voters assembled in the swing state of Nevada by Mr Luntz, a Republican polling guru.
Using hand-held dials, they indicated their reactions throughout the debate. Thirteen had supported Democrat John Kerry four years ago and 12 were for Mr Bush, with two voting for neither. By the end of Friday's debate, 17 said they felt more favourable about Mr Obama and 10 about Mr McCain.

"They felt that McCain was too negative and they didn't see the validity of some of his attacks," Mr Luntz told The Sunday Telegraph. "They felt he had the experience ut they wanted to hear him talk about the future not the past. And they felt he had been playing politics when he threatened not to turn up for the debate.

"Obama came across as more passionate and more eager. He seemed to have more life to him.

"It was an ok night for John McCain and a good one for Barack Obama. The trouble for McCain is that he's the one behind in the polls. He now only has two debates left to score."

In a so-called "insta-poll" of 524 uncommitted voters for CNN, Mr Obama won the debate by 51 per cent to 38 per cent. CBS conducted a similar survey with a victory for Mr Obama by a 39 to 24 per cent margin, with 36 per cent declaring it a draw.

Advisors to the two candidates sought to spin the debate result afterwards. "John McCain had Obama on the defensive throughout for his naïve statements and bad judgement," said Charlie Black, a senior aide to the Republican candidate.

Mr McCain's campaign senior strategist Steve Schmidt stuck to similar talking points, arguing:

"McCain showed his mastery of the issues tonight and Obama was on the back foot. Sen Obama is a gifted speaker but he doesn't have a record of bringing about change."

David Axelrod, Mr Obama's top strategist, responded:
"Only one candidate was presenting a vigorous case for change and standing up for real America. That was Barack Obama. McCain is mistaking his long resume for evidence of wisdom and judgement."

Sad Friday: Cairo Fire in Small Installments

Egyptians React to Cairo "Fires"

in their Facebook Status Lines!

A month has barely passed since the Shura Council (Upper House of the Egyptian Parliament)fire. You could still sense the heat, if not in the ashes on site, you would so in the debates which are sweeping the Egyptian society.

And now, the Egyptian National Theater, Ataba Square, is also on fire. What is going on?
At six o'clock, the time of breaking Ramadan fast, on the "Sad Friday", or the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, the National Theater of Ataba square came under fire.

Why is it a "Sad Friday"? It is probably sad because Ramadan is about to end. But it is also sad because this theater is one of the oldest in Cairo and witnessed quite a number of great performances specially in the sixties. Because that Theater was a government-owned entity, a non-commercial theater, many had regarded it as the last resort for serious theatrical works. But that was in the past. The theater like everything else related to the regime in Egypt, had also been plagued by corruption and beaurarcy and the the laws of "inverted selection", or "natural deselection", where the "good would die young" and mostly, with a few exceptions, hypocrits and mediocre artists of proven loyalty to a corrupt regime would survive and stand a chance.

Enough opinions for now. The Egyptian Community on Facebook reaction to the fire was quite interesting but largely consistent:

Amira Mekkawy said in her status: "Cairo Fire on Installments"! This witty comment refers to 1952 huge fire in Cairo which devoured many theaters, cinemas and buildings, and compares it to events of 2008, 56 years later, where the fire is also devouring important and ancient buildings of Cairo, but now one at a time.

Manal Fahmy asked, also in her status line: "our heritage on fire ... is it a coincidence?" and got a comment from one of her friends saying that "Our Heritage is the target!"

Sameh Abu El Dahab an activist and a blogger was one of the first to alert the Facebook community to news of the fire in a factual, neutral manner.

Bahaa Mohamed, suggested that the fires are a part of a zionist conspiracy and a cultural war against Egypt!

Ahmed Milad, an activist and a blogger asks: Why none of these fires come even close to Presidential Palaces?

Eman Hashem sees that this is "Business is usual, in fact, less than the usual" !

Walid Fouad makes an observation, that the Fire took place on the "Eve of the Decree" or "Lilat El Qadr", which, with a little twist, could be translated as "Eve of Fate", and wonders if there is a hidden meaning for this connection!
Samir Saad describes the fire as "Episode number 10,000 of Egyptian Disaster Series, and is sadened as Egypt's cultural heritage burns".

Hany El Khayat wonders "Who is burning Cairo? "

Moataz Emam provided a link to a BBC video clip of the fire and asks for Gods Support, Grace and Mercy.

There are about 900,000 Egyptians on Facebook, and thus Facebook is the largest connected community in Egypt, online or otherwise.

The reactions to the Shura Council fire of last month were less sympathetic. In fact, in trying to understand the reactions, we ran a small survey asking if "The Egyptian Parliament truly Represented the People", and 89% of the respondents said "No. Almost never!" while 8% said, "Yes. Sometimes!"

The reactions this time are much more concerned, probably because the Theater is more of cultural, rather than a political, symbol, unlike the Shura council, which people saw as a part of a corrupt regime.

السبت، سبتمبر 27، 2008

Hypocrisy of Egyptian NeoCons

Liberals ...
Damaging the Liberal Cause

Recently, we have witnessed a commendable campaign to bring President Bashir of Sudan to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes committed against humanity in Darfur ...

Honorable Judge Bastawisi, wrote an important article in Al Masry Al Youm in support of this measure, and explained that the REAL GUARANTY against having heads of states tried before the court, is to INSTALL INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY on a National Level, where fair trial is guaranteed of every one and for every credible claim ...

What amazes me, is that so called, self-proclaimed, Egyptian NeoCons, were very much SUPPORTIVE of bringing President Bashir to trial ... what I do not understand is, how can they do that, when they know that that the United States under NeoCon administration tried everything possible to undermine the court including pressuring other states to refrain from cooperation with the court.

Under Clinton Administration (Democrat), the United States of America was one of only 7 nations (joining China, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Qatar and Israel) to vote against the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998.

But the Bush administration's hostility to the ICC has increased dramatically in 2002 under the Bush administration. The U.S. opposition to the ICC was in stark contrast to the strong support for the Court by most of America's closest allies.

In an unprecedented diplomatic maneuver, the Bush administration effectively withdrew the U.S. signature on the treaty. The Bush administration then went requesting states around the world to approve bilateral agreements requiring them not to surrender American nationals to the ICC !

The U.S Congress passed the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA), which was signed into law by President Bush, which prohibits U.S. cooperation with the ICC; allowing the U.S. to "invade the Hague, Netherland, seat of the ICC"تصريح بغزو لا هاي (!!) by authorizing the President to "use all means necessary and appropriate" to free U.S. personnel (and certain allied personnel) detained or imprisoned by the ICC, in addition to punishment for States that join the ICC treaty: refusing military aid to States' Parties to the treaty (except major U.S. allies), etc.

When I see "Egyptian" NeoCons Supporting, in fact promoting, Trial of President Bashir of Sudan before ICC, when the NeoCons passed a Law allowing INVASION of another Sovereign State to illegally extradite possible US offenders tried before the very same court, ICC ... when I see that ...

I say that this is Hypocrisy of the highest proportions ...

And for the avoidance of doubt, I am with and whole-heartedly for, the fair Trial of Bashir before ICC, and I am for fair trial of every person who is suspected of commiting crimes against humanity but may go unpunished under the inadequacy of national or local laws, also before ICC.

But I am asking self-proclaimed "Liberals" to stop their systematic use of double standards which has in fact damaged the Liberal cause and has given "Liberalism" a bad name, a bad name which it does not deserve.

I say to those claiming to be liberals and freedom fighters, who insist that "Islamic Extremism" is a threat to our country and to our world, I tell them, that the only chance that liberals have in reaching out to the people and gaining their trust and votes, thus curbing "Extremists" from climbing the seats of power, is for Liberals to WALK the TALK, to embrace Liberal values and principles and APPLY them equally on friends and adversaries alike, without DISCTINCTION between those we like and those who are unpopular.

The real test of our integrity is NOT when we fight for the the freedoms of those whom we like. The Real Test of our Integrity is not when we defend our friends. The real test of our integrity is when we fight for the freedoms of those who are unpopular. Those whom we do not particularly like. The real test of our integrity, is when we tell friends that we believe they are WRONG.

Please stop your double-standards and hypocrisy, for they have damaged the Liberal Cause a great deal.


Read HJ Bastawisi's Article in Al Masry Al Youm

المستشار هشام البسطويسي يكتب: نعم
يجب أن يحاكم البشير دوليا ولو اعتصم بحصانة مغتصبة



الجمعة، سبتمبر 26، 2008

Post-Realism Demystified


What does it Mean?

Wael Nawara

In simple and short words, Post-Realism refers to a new "realization", that force and military might alone have not managed to provide security for the "strong".

Political Romanticism
In the fifties and sixties, many politicians, specially in the "Third World Countries", relied on rhetoric using terms such as "Justice", "Equality", "International Law", etc., to demand what they believed to be their nations' rightful dues. After a long era of colonialism, Third World Countries were demanding self-determination and natural justice.

The Heroes of this period of "Political Romanticism", were leaders like Nasser and Nehru. Their argument amounted to the proposition that "stronger" and "richer" states should adhere to such concepts on moral grounds. Third World countries, suddenly made a majority in the U.N. General Assembly! All kinds of UN resolutions sponsored by "Third World Countries" and "Non-Aligned Movement" were passed in the UN General Assembly. UN General Assembly had no "Veto Powers" for any member state, big or small and its resolutions of course were non-binding !

Nasser was promoting the end of colonialism and imperialism and insisting that "Peace" can only be built on "Justice". He even sought to promote what he thought as "social justice" at home, through successive waves of land re-distribution, nationalization, fixing of the prices of food, basic commodities, and housing rents, expanding government employment to accommodate every graduate of a free education system, and a package of socialist laws and measures which practically ruined and crippled the Egyptian Economy for decades to come. But these populist measures and the sort of romantic rhetoric which characterized that period, fueled the passions of hundreds of millions of dreamers around the world.

So, in summary, during the era or age of Political Romanticism, politicians just referred to terms and concepts like Justice, Equality and Peace, as principles all states should adhere to, on moral grounds!

An Era of Realism
Egypt's humiliating defeat in 1967 proved the romantic dreams which Nasser had promoted, in fact ended as dreadful nightmares, at least for Egyptians, Arabs, Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese and other Arabs. Romanticists were awakened by a sobering reality, that "force", and not "justice", wins land and redraws national borders. Sadat, who became President after Nasser's death in 1970, was the champion of the new period. An age of "Realism" started.

This "Realism" had started to show itself in Egypt's foreign policy as early as November 1967, when Nasser formally accepted UN Security Council resolution. In the summer of 1972, Sadat asked the Soviets to withdraw their troops and military experts from Egypt. The Americans were surprised that he never consulted with them before making such a decision. He never asked for a price or attempted to draft even a memo of understanding with the Americans of the arrangements which would follow such an evacuation. Kicking out the Soviets, I believe, was an early turning point in the cold war. A point which signified perhaps a small victory for the West, but it was a small victory of far-reaching consequences as it started to permanently upset the power balance favoring the United States and the West. That turning point sent the curve of the Cold War on a one-way route which ended some 17 years later when Berlin Wall was demolished by the People of East and West Germany in 1989.

Egypt has seen this before. The British and French Empires signed their own death warrants in Portsaid, Egypt in 1956, when they attacked Egypt, employing Israel as their Bullying Agent, and were forced to withdraw primarily as a result of American pressure but also Soviet displeasure that the weaker allies of the Second World War would double-cross them and continue to act as a Great world powers without consulting the new world powers countries which really decided the fate of World War II, the USA and the USSR.

In November 1973, immediately after the seize fire was affected on the wake of the 1973 October War, Yum Kippur War, Sadat took yet another step into the "Age of Reason", the "Age of Realism", when he consorted with Kissinger in November 1973, and gave him his vision of the peace in the region and of the power shift in the cold-war world. Sadat, acknowledged the Arab defeat and wanted to create peace and prosperity based on new power balance. He realized that Egypt and the Arabs would be unable to defeat Israel either by their own weakness or because the world powers simply would not allow it. So, he became a "Realist".

What is "Realism"?

Realism is that we ask Palestinians to negotiate with Israelis under gun-point and demand that they (the Palestinians) be content with the outcome of such negotiations despite the power parity. Imagine a thug who stops you in the street, points a gun to your head and strips you off your wallet. You go to the police to file a report and the police tells you to go and negotiate with the robber to get back your wallet, some of your money, credit cards and ID cards. "But the robber is armed, officer?"

Realism is that we ask the Tibetans to calm down because China is a Superpower. Realism is that we ask Kuwait to accept the invasion of its strong neighbor, Iraq, gracefully!

In short, politicians of the Age of "Realism" adopted the approach that "force" and immediate "self-interest" alone govern foreign policy and the behavior states towards one another. Realism is the opposite of the rule of law, it is to accept that we shall be ruled by the law of the jungle. Force and might alone can protect you and yours. But even a bully goes to sleep. Even the strongest of us blinks. Even the strongest has weak children?

Post Realism
In 1978, Egypt formally made peace with Israel. But we must ask ourselves today, has this peace paid dividends? The state of War between Egypt and Israel ended. Egypt regained Sinai. But the problem was neither Egypt nor Sinai. The problem was, is, always has been and will remain for many years to come, Palestine.

Hundreds of millions of Palestinians, Arabs, Israelis, Citizens of New York, London, Madrid, & even Visitors of Bali have had to pay for the Palestinian problem until this very day.

We have learned from bitter experience the same lessons which made individuals, our ancestors, devise and submit to local laws thousands of years ago. Osiris, or Aser, it is said, gave Egyptians Laws of Maat and took them out of their savagery. Now, we see that "security" (in relation to, and against, terrorist attacks) has become the highest item on every nation's "interest", specially the "strong" and "rich" who have much more to lose. What sadly happened on the morning of 9/11 and the chain of events which followed, have proved that "the strong" is vulnerable to terrorism and terrorism is fueled by injustice.

The battle against terrorism, unlike traditional warfare, can not be won through armies or hi-tech weaponry alone. As knowledge of simple yet devastating technologies became available to everyone, it became easy to breach security if one is disgruntled enough to be so determined to trade his or her own life with the lives of "targets", civilians or otherwise, but usually civilians who are most vulnerable at their workplace, during traveling, in the streets, in the tube, in a supermarket or a shopping mall, in a restaurant, in a bus or even sitting at home minding their own business.

This experience suggests that the war against terror can only be won though re-establishing and re-instatement of the principles of justice, this time not as a moral necessity, but as security prerequisite!

Anyone of us can fall a victim to terror. There is no guaranty. No insurance. The only insurance, which does not eliminate, but considerably reduces the risk, is to erect an effective and efficient "International Justice System".

We learned to install "Justice Systems" on local and national levels. This was the basis of civilization. For civilization is built on accumulation. Such accumulation would not have been possible unless stability, security, safety and property are protected. Why would anyone work or build or farm, if he or she knows that their hard-earned fortunes can be taken away by some robber who will go unpunished, with no law, no enforcement to deter the perpetrators?
The League of Nations and its upgrade version, The United Nations and its institutions such as The
International Court of Justice (ICJ) as well as other Independent International Institutions affiliated with the United Nations, such as International Criminal Court (ICC) were meant to play that role, but unfortunately, as we have pointed out in a previous article, the United States, being the "strong", has consistently worked towards undermining the United Nations and any attempt to install or develop an effective system for International Justice.

Good News?

The good news is, even inside the United States, more and more people are now realizing the necessity of reforming the United Nations. Senator Obama, who is the Democratic Party Nominee in the Presidential Elections due in a few weeks' time, has showed "some" support to the concept of working towards reforming the United Nations.

America cannot meet this century's challenges alone; the world cannot meet them without America.

In addition, we need effective collaboration on pressing global issues among all the major powers -- including such newly emerging ones as Brazil, India, Nigeria, and South Africa. We need to give all of them a stake in upholding the international order. To that end, the United Nations requires far-reaching reform.

In fact, President Bush, in his farewell speech to the United Nations also
called on the UN to


open the door to a new age of transparency, accountability, and seriousness of purpose.

But as you may guess, the reform which Bush seeks for the United Nations is slightly a wee bit different from that which is required to truly minimize injustices, conflict and terror.


Post-Realism is a new realization, that the principles of Justice are not just words or moral rhetoric, they represent "behavioral solutions" which the evolution of our civilization and cultures have provided us with for "survival". In business terms, accepting to submit to a "Justice System", local or international, is like an insurance policy which reduces the "risk" of being victimized, both to the strong and the weak alike. Should we decide now to neglect these principles and resort to "might" and "strength" alone, we might just as well stop complaining about terrorism, violence or international conflicts, demand that beauty pageant contestants stop babbling about "world peace" and accept the world as dangerous as it is, can and will become.


Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

—Matthew 26:52, King James Version

الخميس، سبتمبر 25، 2008

Post Realism 4

Renewing American Leadership

Article By: Barack Obama
From Foreign Affairs, July/August 2007


After Iraq, we may be tempted to turn inward. That would be a mistake. The American moment is not over, but it must be seized anew. We must bring the war to a responsible end and then renew our leadership -- military, diplomatic, moral -- to confront new threats and capitalize on new opportunities. America cannot meet this century's challenges alone; the world cannot meet them without America.

Barack Obama is a Democratic Senator from Illinois and a candidate for the U.S. Presidential Elections 2008.


At moments of great peril in the last century, American leaders such as Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy managed both to protect the American people and to expand opportunity for the next generation. What is more, they ensured that America, by deed and example, led and lifted the world -- that we stood for and fought for the freedoms sought by billions of people beyond our borders.

As Roosevelt built the most formidable military the world had ever seen, his Four Freedoms gave purpose to our struggle against fascism. Truman championed a bold new architecture to respond to the Soviet threat -- one that paired military strength with the Marshall Plan and helped secure the peace and well-being of nations around the world. As colonialism crumbled and the Soviet Union achieved effective nuclear parity, Kennedy modernized our military doctrine, strengthened our conventional forces, and created the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress. They used our strengths to show people everywhere America at its best.

Today, we are again called to provide visionary leadership. This century's threats are at least as dangerous as and in some ways more complex than those we have confronted in the past. They come from weapons that can kill on a mass scale and from global terrorists who respond to alienation or perceived injustice with murderous nihilism. They come from rogue states allied to terrorists and from rising powers that could challenge both America and the international foundation of liberal democracy. They come from weak states that cannot control their territory or provide for their people. And they come from a warming planet that will spur new diseases, spawn more devastating natural disasters, and catalyze deadly conflicts.

To recognize the number and complexity of these threats is not to give way to pessimism. Rather, it is a call to action. These threats demand a new vision of leadership in the twenty-first century -- a vision that draws from the past but is not bound by outdated thinking. The Bush administration responded to the unconventional attacks of 9/11 with conventional thinking of the past, largely viewing problems as state-based and principally amenable to military solutions. It was this tragically misguided view that led us into a war in Iraq that never should have been authorized and never should have been waged. In the wake of Iraq and Abu Ghraib, the world has lost trust in our purposes and our principles.

After thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent, many Americans may be tempted to turn inward and cede our leadership in world affairs. But this is a mistake we must not make. America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, and the world cannot meet them without America. We can neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission. We must lead the world, by deed and by example.

Such leadership demands that we retrieve a fundamental insight of Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy -- one that is truer now than ever before: the security and well-being of each and every American depend on the security and well-being of those who live beyond our borders. The mission of the United States is to provide global leadership grounded in the understanding that the world shares a common security and a common humanity.

The American moment is not over, but it must be seized anew. To see American power in terminal decline is to ignore America's great promise and historic purpose in the world. If elected president, I will start renewing that promise and purpose the day I take office.


To renew American leadership in the world, we must first bring the Iraq war to a responsible end and refocus our attention on the broader Middle East. Iraq was a diversion from the fight against the terrorists who struck us on 9/11, and incompetent prosecution of the war by America's civilian leaders compounded the strategic blunder of choosing to wage it in the first place. We have now lost over 3,300 American lives, and thousands more suffer wounds both seen and unseen.

Post Realism 2

A Quest for International Law:
UN Version 3.0

Realists tell you it does not exist. That there is no such a thing as International Law. And even if there was, there was no way of enforcing it. Their arguments make a lot of sense. Their logic is pure Realism at its finest :

• There is no International Law.
• Laws are made by the stronger.
• the UN is Useless, can not & should not have a role in resolving conflicts or promoting justice
• Because there are dictators who might sign international treaties we should not have treaties

Realism is great. But Guess what. It did not work. It did not protect the strong. The minute that the strong decided to break the spirit of International Law, which it did not really acknowledge as a concept, the strong became weak, exposed and vulnerable ... we all become vulnerable in absence of the law ... because the law, JUSTICE, is an insurance policy for all of us ...

So. Realism did not quite seem to work.

Hence, comes this notion of Post-Realism. A Search for International Law. A Pursuit of Happiness, not just for the Americans, Europeans or Japanese but for every nation. A Quest for Justice not just for Egyptians, Palestinians & Syrians but for Israelis, Tibetans, Indians, Sri Lankans, Cubans, Russians, Armenians, Ethiopians, etc., ... justice for all ... justice for everyone. For we have learned that no Nation can be happy alone ... while the rest of the world suffers.

Realism talks about what's possible in terms of our own past experience of how things used to happen.

At one moment of Man's journey ... there were no states ... there was no law, there was no electricity or telephones.

When one man, possibly code name Osiris, or Azer, but he really represents the civilizing spirit in every society, had the idea, that Man should not kill another man for food ... that a concept of "property" exists ... at that precise moment ... the concept of LAW was Born:

And Aser gave his fellow men (probably Egyptians :) Laws, taught them how to farm and how to make wine ... and taught them how to honor the gods (do good really) .. he took them out of their savagery.

If MAN insisted on being realist all along that journey of civilization ... we would never have LAWS or States ... or Electricity ... or wine ... :)

الواقعية تشبه إلى حد بعيد المنهج السلفي
أن نفعل
كما رأينا آباءنا يفعلون

والمحافظون ما هم إلا نوع مودرن شوية من السلفيين
سلفيين ببدل وكرافتات يعني

But luckily, Man has never given up the gift of "Dreaming" ... for he was endowed with imagination and vision , the ability to see things ... not only as they are ... or as they used to be ... but as they COULD BE.

This is the power of Vision my friends ... we should never lose sight of that ... and we should never let anyone tell us that things can't get better on the grounds that things are indeed dire ... for when things are bad ... this is the best time when Man can install something better ... only when it is bad ... that traditionalists and conservatives will accept a new solution which may allow things to be less bad ... or simply better ...

But most of all, we should never fall victims of Realism at bad times, because when things are bad ... Realism really becomes another word for pessimism.

Now, we have to ask ourselves: is this the best Man can do?

International Justice: is it really "No-can-do"?

I am not talking here about Palestine or Israel, I am talking about everything ... about Kyoto and the Ozone Layer ... I am talking about kids starving in Africa and conflicts breaking in Georgia. I am talking about it all. Wouldn't be nice to have something, an international institution, which can actually provide a framework for International Law, including arbitration, letigation and enforcement?

Guess what. Such an institution exists. In fact, version 2.0 of that institution does exist. It is called the United Nations. Version 1.0 (the League of Nations, rest-in-peace) was full of bugs, and because it was so buggy it did not manage to prevent the horrors of World War 2. World Peace "Crashed" and 40 million people died. So in 1945, the warring nations, after the war, developed version 2.0, and sat on its Security Council. And it did manage to prevent War again between the five.

But guess what. It had no room for the weak. It did not listen to the poor. So, the weak decided, to take the Law in its own hand, launching a "Parallel War", using terror and killing civilians instead of engaging in a formal conventional war for which the weak had no capacity to handle or chance to win.

Isn't this always the case? When the Law fails to deliver justice, people resort to violence, hire thugs and take the law in their own hands?

So,I say that now, it is time for UN version 3.0

And please, this time, we need the weak to sit on the table with the strong.

The poor with the rich.

This is how we can rid ourselves of this Bad Karma which seems to be haunting us. Catching up with us where we least expect it.

Let us work on UN Version 3.0 and improve our Karma a little. Shall we?


Post Realism 3

Bush Calls for Reforming the United Nations!

Wael Nawara

Yes. It is true. This is not a joke or a make-blieve post or a wishful-thinking sort of article. Bush on Tuesday (23 Sep 2008), called for the reform of the United Nations!

Jay Allbritton: Sep 24th 2008 12:49 AM

During President Bush's farewell speech to the United Nations Tuesday, he called on the UN to reform. Despite running what many critics refer to as the most secretive administration in American history, Bush called on the UN to "open the door to a new age of transparency, accountability, and seriousness of purpose."

The UN didn't exactly extend Bush a rousing ovation. According to the Associated Press, the President received "less than 10 seconds of polite applause at the end of [the] speech".
I think Bush will be remembered as the President who made a mockery of the United Nations. In 2003, ordered the invasion of Iraq despite a Security Council refusal to approve it. President Bush also had his own sideshow act on global warming. Instead of working with the international community and signing the Kyoto Protocol, ratified by 172 countries, he insisted on opposing international constraints aimed at curbing carbon emissions. In 2004, on the wake of the Tsunami disaster, Bush was accused of trying to undermine the United Nations by setting up a rival coalition to coordinate relief.

Under Clinton Administration, the United States of America was one of only 7 nations (joining China, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Qatar and Israel) to vote against the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998. But the Bush administration's hostility to the ICC has increased dramatically in 2002 under the Bush administration. The U.S. opposition to the ICC was in stark contrast to the strong support for the Court by most of America's closest allies.
In an unprecedented diplomatic maneuver, the Bush administration effectively withdrew the U.S. signature on the treaty. The Bush administration then went requesting states around the world to approve bilateral agreements requiring them not to surrender American nationals to the ICC !

The U.S Congress passed the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA), which was signed into law by President Bush, which prohibits U.S. cooperation with the ICC; allowing the U.S. to "invade the Hague, Netherland, seat of the ICC" by authorizing the President to "use all means necessary and appropriate" to free U.S. personnel (and certain allied personnel) detained or imprisoned by the ICC, in addition to punishment for States that join the ICC treaty: refusing military aid to States' Parties to the treaty (except major U.S. allies), etc.

Why does the U.S. Oppose Development of an "International Justice System"?

The United Nation's Security Council is already flawed. The five permenant members of the Security Council are: the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China. Britain and France are close allies of the United States, although France sometimes votes against the United States' wishes. These permenant members have "Veto Powers" which can stall any Security Council resolution which "any of them" does not like! The U.S., in this position, already has a disproportionate influence on the United Nations and on the Security Council decisions. An influence it has often used to prevent even symbolic gestures of "International Justice" to be made against Israel for instance.

On Sept. 10, 1972, for the second time in its UN history, the U.S. its veto, this time —to shield Israel. (Source: http://www.ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/p-neff-veto.html)

That veto, as it turned out, signalled the start of a cynical policy to use the U.S. veto repeatedly to shield Israel from international criticism, censure and sanctions.

Washington used its veto 32 times to shield Israel from critical draft resolutions between 1972 and 1997. This constituted nearly half of the total of 69 U.S. vetoes cast since the founding of the U.N. The Soviet Union cast 115 vetoes during the same

The initial 1972 veto to protect Israel was cast by George Bush [Sr.] in his capacity as U.S. ambassador to the world body. Ironically, it was Bush as president who temporarily stopped the use of the veto to shield Israel 18 years later. The last such veto was cast on May 31, 1990, it was thought, killing a resolution approved by all 14 other council members to send a U.N. mission to study Israeli abuses of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Then President Bill Clinton came along and cast three
I believe that George Bush [Sr.] had realized the importance of having a balanced approach in the Middle East region, to be able to act in situations such as the first Gulf War with some Arab backing. Ironically, Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, brough about a decade of positive progress in the Palestinian Front. Oslo accords were signed in 1993 and the few years that followed saw hope and optimism.

In my view, this hope and optimism was brought about by this slight change of policy on the U.S. part. Blind support of Israel undermined U.S. credibility as a "broker", but most importantly, it had given Israel the comfort that it can get away with murder with U.S. shielding it from International blame. This unconditional backing created a monster. And that "monsterous" approach, in my view, sabotaged Israel's ability to co-exist peacefully in the region. Israel became like a bully whose mum was the headmistress of the school. When bad behavior goes unchecked for years, it develops into bad attitude, which stays with one for life, a life marked by repeated offences and jail time. Eventually, when the mother is no longer there to protect the now-grown-up bully, the poor bully finds it hard to adjust to the real world which no longer forgives such misconduct.

I believe that the U.S. policy of undermining the United Nations and opposing development of International Justice institutions such as ICC, also works against U.S. best interests. Only when an effective International Justice System is developed, can the world be a more safe place. The United States needs to play a strong role in that process, which can never be successful if the U.S. refrains from supporting it, or worse, work to undermine it.

Senator Obama wrote an article last year which was published in Foreign Affairs, July/August 2007, where he said:
America cannot meet this century's challenges alone; the world cannot meet them without America.
I have only one word to say in response to that:


الجمعة، سبتمبر 19، 2008

Isratine or a Swiss Cheese State

Is a Two-State

Solution still Viable?

The "Fringe" program of the "LibDems' Fall Conference" had a number of extremely interesting "topical" sessions. One of them was about Palestine, with the question "Is a two-state solution is still viable?" as a title.

The panel of this "debate" included One Palestinian Author, an Israeli Dissident who tried to Break Gaza's Blockade with a boat filled with humanitarian aid, a British MP (from Scotland) who had visited the occupied territories and Israel recently and an Israeli diplomatic diplomat, with a moderator of course from LibDems!

I will have to write about this session in detail later, but the conclusion of the debate had confirmed my growing fears, that a two-state solution was no longer, in fact since the 80's, viable, and we may be looking at a one-state solution, a democratic state, whereby Israel will be no longer a Jewish State.

In fact, I remember that in one of my articles in Al Masry Al Youm of the series "Against God-State" about Muslim Brothers "Religious State", I made a statement, that Israelis are facing the same challenge like Muslim Brothers, for either Israel to be a Democratic State, or a Jewish State, for the two can not happen together, same as "Muslim Brothers" alleged "Islamic State", it is either an Islamic State, or a "Democratic State", but the two can not happened simulateneously!

  • إن الخيار الإخواني الذي يطرح نفسه علي الإخوان اليوم في مفترق طرق تاريخي، يشبه إلي حد كبير الخيار الإسرائيلي الذي يتعين علي الشعب الإسرائيلي أن يتخذه، فإسرائيل التي تدعي أنها دولة ديمقراطية، هي دولة دينية علي أرض الواقع، لأنها تعطي حق المواطنة لأي يهودي في العالم مهما كان مكان مولده، بينما تنكر حق المواطنة والعودة للفلسطينيين الذي ولدوا وآباؤهم وأجدادهم علي نفس الأرض التي تحكمها إسرائيل اليوم، ويصبح علي إسرائيل أن تختار، إما أن تكون دولة يهودية أو تكون دولة ديمقراطية لأن النقيضين لا يجتمعان علي سلم المواطنة بنفس المنطق الذي ذكرناه. والإخوان أيضاً عليهم أن يعلنوا بكل صراحة، هل يؤمنون بالهوية المصرية كأساس للمواطنة، وبالديمقراطية كأساس للحكم، أم يؤمنون بالطائفية والهوية الدينية كأساس للمواطنة، وبالإرشاد الإلهي كأساس للحكم وسن القوانين والسياسات ...
Israel has stalled and stalled and out-smarted every negotiator by imposing Settlements and changing maps and borders on daily basis, but it has done so to its own detriment. The Israeli negotiator was "too smart" for Israel's own good. Now, what the palestinians are left with, if any, is the corpse of a state, devoured from every vital organ or resource necessary for survival, such that a two-state solution has become impossible. Now the reality is, we have Palestinians caged in an aparheid setting, similar to what had happened in South Africa for decades and we all know how that ended.

This is the thing, you can not "deceive" the land. You can not violate the order of geography and expect that things will just eventually work out! They won't! If Israel wants a two-state solution, and I would very much think that they can not face the Israeli voter with a one-state solution now, since it will mean the end of Israel as a "Jewish" state, something which the Israeli public has never been prepared to accept, then Israeli negotiator, must work very hard NOW to try to give a new package which includes land, water and economic solutions to the Palestinian Negotiator, so that a two-state solution is possible again.

Again, this may require some huge sacrifices which no Israeli government is prepared to give, simply because the Israeli public has not been prepared for these options.

We always make fun of the "Green Book" prophet of the desert, sitting in his fancy tent and issuing prophecies. This time one of his prophecies starts to make sense. The Prophecy of "Isratine" ! Which is becoming more reasonable than a Swiss Cheese State of Palestine with a manufacturer's health warning label marked, "Expired - Long Time Ago".

الثلاثاء، سبتمبر 16، 2008

Who are these People

نسبة 89% من المشاركين
يرون أن البرلمان المصري
لا يمثل المصريين

انتهى التصويت اليوم في الاستطلاع الذي أجريناه حول البرلمان المصري، وإن كان يمثل المصريين بحق أم لا، وقد صوت 89% من المشاركين بأن البرلمان المصري لا يمثل بحق المصريين، بينما رأى 8% أنه يمثل المصريين في بعض الأحيان، ورأى حوالي 1.3% أن البرلمان المصري يمثل المصريين في معظم الأحيان.

وقد قمنا بإجراء هذا الاستطلاع في محاولة لفهم المشاعر المتناقضة التي أحاطت بحريق مجلس الشورى، وطرحنا السؤال على أحد المواقع على الإنترنت وروجنا له من خلال العديد من مجموعات الفيس بوك.

وكان السؤال ببساطة هو:

هل البرلمان المصري يمثل بحق المصريين؟

بينما كانت الإجابات المتاحة هي:

نعم. تقريباً دائماً

نعم. في بعض الأحيان

لا. تقريباً أبداً

لا أعلم.

Does the Egyptian Parliament Truly Represent the People?
هل البرلمان المصري يمثل بحق المصريين؟

Yes, almost always ..نعم في معظم الأحيان 2 (1%)

Yes, sometimes ... نعم، في بعض الأحيان 14 (8%)

No, almost never ... لا، تقريباً أبداً 139 (89%)

I do not know ... لا أعلم 1 (0%)

Votes so far: 156
Poll closed

و الأمانة العلمية تقتضي أن نقول أن النتيجة ليست دقيقة للأسباب التالية:

• أن قطاع كبير من المصريين لا يستخدمون الإنترنت
• أن الترويج للاستطلاع ربما كان في دوائر معارضة
• أن حجم العينة صغير 156
• يمكن للبعض أن يصوت مرتين من خلال جهاز آخر

ولكنني أرى أن هذه النتيجة معبرة بصورة عامة عن رأي المصريين، وعلى سبيل المثال فإن من شاركوا في انتخابات مجلس الشعب لعام 2005 لم يتجاوزوا 23% من الناخبين،بما يعني أن 77% من المصريين امتنعوا عن التصويت ولم يختاروا من يمثلهم في مجلس الشعب، وبالتأكيد فمن ضمن ممن صوتوا (23%) هناك نسبة ليست راضية عن نتيجة الانتخابات أو أداء المجلس لأسباب مختلفة، وبالتالي فإن يأتي 89% من المصوتين ليعلنوا أن البرلمان المصري لا يمثل المصريين، فهذا أمر ليس مستغرباً، وربما يفسر بوضوح ردود فعل الشارع المصري تجاه حريق مجلس الشورى.

لمتابعة نتيجة الاستطلاع بعد إقفاله، نرجو الرجوع للموقع:


الاثنين، سبتمبر 15، 2008

Final Hours in the Poll:
Does the Egyptian Parliament Truly Represent the People ? o.o.o

آخر يوم في استطلاع رأي حول البرلمان المصري

هل البرلمان المصري يمثل بحق المصريين؟

في محاولة لفهم المشاعر المتناقضة التي أحاطت بحريق مجلس الشورى، قمنا بطرح استطلاع رأي على الإنترنت

هل البرلمان المصري يمثل بحق المصريين؟

Does the Egyptian Parliament Truly Represent the People?

والإجابات المتاحة
Possible Answers
Yes, almost always ..نعم في معظم الأحيان

Yes, sometimes ... نعم، في بعض الأحيان

No, almost never ... لا، تقريباً أبداً

I do not know ... لا أعلم

Only 20 Hours left to vote

Participate Now

شارك الآن

What do Politicians do? ooo

Nick Clegg's** Speech

to Bournemouth 2008 Rally

Sat, 13 Sep 2008

During his speech at the Liberal Democrat opening night rally in Bournemouth Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg set out bold plans to fix the political system of the UK, which LibDems believe to be broken and outdated. In his speech, he attempts to answer a question from a ten-year-old girl: "what do politicians do?"

Hello everyone, welcome to Autumn Conference 2008. Thank you very much to Dorothy and Henry for their speeches.

When we decided to talk about democracy tonight I immediately remembered a primary school I visited in Sheffield recently. I was trying to explain to the pupils how Westminster works and what it means to be an MP. I talked about elections, about making decisions on grand matters of state...that kind of thing... And a little girl put up her hand and said:
"But what is it that you do?"

She had that look on her face that only children can do - my eldest son does it all the time. Earnest. Innocent. Deadly.

The thing was, although she probably didn't realise it, she had a real point. What do politicians do?

Frankly, what we do in Parliament probably isn't a million miles away from what that little girl sees in the playground every day. We jump around and shout at each other like children. But worse behaved.

I don't know how many of you have spent much time in Parliament, but I'm sure the MPs and Westminster staff here will back me up.

The place is obsessed with pointless procedures and rules that make no sense in the modern world.

Take my first committee room debate. I was new to Parliament, and I had been under the impression that outside of the big, set pieces in the main debating chamber, I could skip the "Rt Hon Member for such and such" stuff and call people by their names.
Not their first names - obviously. Just a bit of "Mr this", "Mrs that" - 1950s style. Big mistake. Ann Widdecombe, was chairing the debate. She stood up. She screeched at me...

"Please refrain immediately from calling people by their names..."

"Mr Clegg".....?

Even the cafes in Westminster have silly rules. There's a sort of coffee shop-cum-bar arrangement in the Commons where you can go if you're an MP. Or if you're a Peer that used to be an MP. But not if you're a peer that wasn't. And if you're an MP you can take three guests. But if you're an MP's spouse you can only take one.

Keeping up?

And down the corridor there's a very ordinary canteen where anyone who works in Westminster can get lunch. Except temps. Temps can't have lunch at lunchtime because they're temps. And this is the place where we legislate on workers' rights.

I could go on all night with these kind of stories - don't even get me started on who can use the lifts. But I don't just want to carp about the silliness of Westminster. Because this stuff matters - it matters a lot.

What is left of "the Mother of Parliaments" when you take away the wigs, the rods, the cat-calls and the jeers?

Not a lot. Just broken politics. We know that every time there's a vote in Parliament, it's not the argument that wins. It's the Government. Labour was elected with the support of 22% of Britain's voters. And in 11 years they have been defeated just three times.

Three times. One of which was a vote on whether or not MPs should all go home early. That's not accountability. It's not democracy. It's got to end.

This is broken politics. Westminster is home to a political class sheltered from reality and shielded from an increasingly alienated society. Its rules are designed to keep out real protest, real emotion, the hardships endured by real people.

Earlier this year I met fifty retired Gurkha soldiers who had been refused the right to live in Britain. They felt so let down, so dejected, that they surrendered their long service and distinguished conduct medals to me as a symbol of protest.

They were awarded these medals after risking their lives for this nation. Just imagine what it means to give up something so hard-won, so treasured, so meaningful.

I was ashamed of the government that day. Ashamed that any veteran of our British Army could be so mistreated he would want to return his medals. I wanted to take one of these medals into the Chamber, for the Prime Minister to see it for himself.

Because those medals convey more strongly than words ever could their sense of betrayal. But I was told it was impossible. The same rule book that concerns itself with knee breeches and silver buckles forbids anyone taking a "prop" into a debate.

You can dismiss this silly rule as trivia. You can dismiss every one of the thousands of rules. But you can't dismiss what they add up to.

When I look at that medal it has even more meaning for me now than before. It tells me you shouldn't look for freedom of expression in parliament. You should look in village halls, in kitchens, in staff rooms. Anywhere where you can have real debate.

Britain needs a real change if we're going to mend our broken politics. And you can be sure the Conservatives won't ever offer it. Because they are waiting for their "go".

David Cameron thinks that two parties take it in turns to run this country. Neither is willing to change the system because it's that very system that returns them to power every few elections.

British politics has become like a giant dance of the hokey cokey. David and Gordon skipping round in circles, hand in hand. Taking it in turns, left foot in, right foot out, left foot out, right foot in.

You see, while Labour and the Conservatives purport to be the greatest of enemies, when it comes to keeping power, they are actually the best of friends. And let's face it the Prime Minister needs all the friends he can get.

You see there are friends, there are enemies. And then there are Cabinet colleagues. And then - there are party whips.

Poor Gordon - he must know its bad - he's even been jilted by his beloved Darling.
Do you know David Cameron has already held conversations with "the security people" about measures he'll need to take "once" he's in Number 10? How's that for arrogance?

Here's a man who'll speak fondly of "hardworking families" but has no actual plans to help them. A man who - with recession looming - puts millionaires first. A man who hopes that soundbites can fix the economy.

The best George Osborne can offer is that Gordon has failed to "save for a rainy day". Apparently George would "fix the roof while the sun is shining". What is this? Just William? The Secret Seven?

If you want real solutions for Britain's economy are you really going to call this bunch of Conservative Cowboys? There's only one man who can be trusted with our economic future, and it's Vince Cable.

And there's only one party that can be trusted with our political future, and it's the Liberal Democrats. In 2001, for the first time in election history, more people stayed at home than voted for the party that took power.

The same happened in 2005. It's not right. It's up to us to change that, and I know we can. We can do things differently to make our country better.

And that's what I told that little girl in Sheffield when she asked me what politicians do. I told her that the job of a politician is to give a voice to the voiceless. Maybe it sounded a bit sentimental for an 8 year old's taste. But even if it's cheesy, it's true.

Our Government just isn't listening. It keeps the public at arms length with layers of confusing, impersonal and inefficient bureaucracy. Faceless Britain. Where form-filling and paper pushing have become a national sport.

I could at least understand it if the computerised bureaucracy replacing human face-to-face contact was doing the job properly.

But when it comes to Government IT systems, the computer can't even say no. The Department's lost the file.

Is it really a surprise that millions of people feel powerless? This sense of helplessness - of not being able to control your own life - is a blight on our society.

It breeds anger, cynicism and fear. It creates hopelessness. Frustration. It is fertile breeding ground for extremism.

This is broken politics. This is not the society that I want to live in. This is not the society I want my children - any of our children - to live in. This is not a Liberal Britain.

But we - we together - can change it. We can rock the establishment. We can shake-up the system so that Whitehall doesn't control our lives. We can put power back in the hands of those who know best.

Let's give patients, parents and pupils power.

Let's give school and hospital staff a say over the services they provide each day. Let's give communities control. Where Liberal Democrats are in power locally this is already happening. You heard it earlier tonight from Dorothy.

In Liberal Democrat controlled Kingston any 100 local people can call in any council decision. In Sheffield within days of winning power we announced new community panels to take power from the town hall down into the hands of the people who count.

Imagine that. Real control. Real accountability.

Liberal Democrats trust people.

That's why I'm announcing today that over the next nine months we'll be knocking on one million doors across the nation. Listening, connecting, and engaging with people.
I want us to reinvent community politics for a new generation. The Liberal Democrat vision is shaped by the experiences of real people. Which is why only the Liberal Democrats will bring down the faceless state.

We will protect the front line services at the heart of communities across the country. We will redirect billions of pounds of tax payers' money by making central Government accountable for every penny they spend in our name. We will protect the privacy of British individuals by scrapping the preposterous and expensive ID card scheme.

We are the only party committed to taking the price tag off power - capping donations, slashing party spending and keeping politics clean.

And - we will reform the voting system so that each and every person counts.

Only the Liberal Democrats can reunite people and politics. Because we do it up and down the country every day.

Our councillors make change happen. Our councils give power and money back to the communities they serve. Our MPs stand up for people when the system lets them down. Our MEPs are the difference between a Europe that tackles climate change and one that turns a blind eye.

Liberal Democrats - make no mistake we are already a party of power.

And this week we will set out our blueprint for a freer, fairer Britain.

** Nick Clegg is the elected leader of the LibDems.


- What do politicians do in Egypt?
* You mean apart from sending ex-police chiefs to kill ex-wives in x-countries?
When they are not busy drafting corrupt "anti-monopoly" laws which will only protect their turfs and possibly double their profits, profiteering or really racketeering from monopolized commodities?
What do politicians do in Egypt?

Politicians in Egypt come in three kinds really ... the opposition kind ... often ending up in jail, like Ayman Nour ... and the NDP unkind, which has obtained "a permit to exploit the people" from the regime ... for and on behalf of the regime itself ... the third kind ... is the harmless opposition or independent kind ... minding its own business ... often busy in interpreting dreams and singing the praises for Mubarak and his regime ...
... and that's about it ... that is what politicians do in Egypt ...

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