Thursday, October 30, 2008

Around 10,000 Workers from the Mahalla Textile Company Stage a Protest Stand Against their Administration’s Polices

Some 10,000 workers (around 15,000 workers according to other estimates) staged a protest within the massive Mahalla Textile Company on the afternoon of Thursday, October 30. This is the first act of labor unrest to take place in the company since September 2007. The Egyptian State’s security apparatuses had threatened and forced textile workers in this Nile Delta City to call of a strike which had been planned for April 6, 2008. Although the security apparatuses had managed to forcefully break this strike, they could not prevent local residents from taking to the streets in a popular uprising on that same day (the uprising lasted from April 6th to the 7th - during which security forces killed two young men, seriously wounded dozens of others, and imprisoned hundreds more.)

“Thousands of workers chanted against the negligence and failed policies implemented by (the temporary Administrative Chief of the Mahalla Textile Company) Fouad Hasaan” said Karim El Beheiri, an administrative worker at the company who had been imprisoned for several weeks after the foiled strike of April 6. El Beheiri went on to say “we chanted: Erhal erhal ya Fouad! (Resign/depart o’ Fouad!)”

“Plain-clothed security forces were present en masse within and throughout the company today,” said El Beheiri, “they locked (the leftist worker-activist) Gihad Tamman inside his office and prevented him from leaving or participating in the protest. Security forces were trailing me both inside and outside the company.”

According to a statement issued by an independent workers’ league within the company – “losses amounting to 144 million Egyptian Pounds were recently incurred” under the administration led by Fouad Hasaan. This statement also declared that the policies of the infamously unpopular (former Administrative Council President) Mahmoud El Gebali were better than those of his successor.

Numerous workers fear that Fouad Hasaan’s policies are aimed at intentionally incurring losses – so that the administration may lay off further workers (via early retirement plans) and so as to pave the wave for the eventual privatization of the company. The Mahalla Textile Company has been at the center of labor activism – which has spread to industrial enterprises across Egypt from this center – for decades. Thousands of Egyptian workers in both the public and private sectors have been influenced by the courage, strength, and unity of El Mahalla’s workers. The Mahalla Company is the largest textile enterprise in Egypt; it currently employs some 24,000 workers.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

International Solidarity Activists Sail to Gaza for Humanitarian Relief Effort - Confronting Israeli Blockade & Threats

Palestinian Solidarity from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Inside Israeli Boundaries

Palestinian News Network

Gaza / PNN - Thousands of Palestinians cheered the arrival of the SS Dignity into Gaza City’s harbor Wednesday. Scores of others, including head of the Popular Committee against the Siege and Palestinian Legislative Council member Jamal Al Khudari, were in the sea waiting for the ship.

After rains let up yesterday afternoon the 27 Palestinian, Israeli and international activists set sail from the port of Larnaca despite Israeli threats.

Activist Huwaida Araaf said, "Something had to be done."

Once back on land Al Khudari publicly welcomed the crew and passengers at a press conference in which he thanked them for bringing half a ton of medical aid and international attention to the plight of Gaza Strip residents.

The SS Dignity will remain in port for four days with some of the representatives of 13 countries staying behind when it returns to Cyprus. The Free Gaza movement entered Gaza via sea with two boats in August, both times under Israeli military threat. Signals were jammed and the Israeli administration threatened to send ships to overtake the boat if it entered Israeli waters.

When the SS Dignity leaves Gaza it will take on board 10 Palestinians in need of outside medical treatment and students.

PLC member and Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi arrived with the ship this morning after two years of being denied entry to the Strip. He described passengers on the boat as having “risked their lives in solidarity with the Palestinian people, setting sail in a boat that was not equipped for long journeys.”

Official Mohammad Awad called on the secretaries general of the Arab League and Islamic Conference, and other Arab leaders to “come across on sea and prove that they work with the Palestinian people, not words.”

Dr. Ibrahim Hamami, Palestinian writer and researcher on who arrived via sea said that solidarity was notable among Palestinians who came from inside Israeli boundaries, the West Bank and Jerusalem to break the siege on Gaza.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Working for Labor Union Freedoms & Democratic Rights in Egypt

A host of Egyptian unionists, workers, labor lawyers, and political activists have recently convened meetings at the (independent) Hisham Mubarak Legal Center to discuss the formulation of a draft trade union law - by which to amend or replace the existing Trade Union Law #35/1976. Law # 35 blatantly imposes state intervention in trade union affairs and does not allow for the existence of any independent union organization outside the strict confines of the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation (the sole union organization allowed for by law.)

The first two meetings (October 13 & 28) were attended by representatives from seven opposition parties and groupings, along with members of fourteen (independent & opposition) NGOs and movements. A committee was chosen from amongst these participants (on the 28th) to begin formulating draft amendments. This committee is due to issue its preliminary report by December 1 at the latest.

In their efforts these participants are seeking the support of parliamentarians, professional syndicates, workers, trade union committees, NGOs, the (state-appointed) Supreme Council for Human Rights, the media/press, the International Labor Organization, and the Arab Labor Organization, amongst others. In any case the People's Assembly (parliament) is dominated by businessmen from the ruling National Democratic Party, and thus the proposed provisions of this draft law are very likely to be distorted and diluted during parliamentary discussions. Nonetheless, these efforts are an important step forwards along the path towards the liberation of Egypt's trade unions.

The next meeting at the Hisham Mubarak Legal Center (regarding this effort) is scheduled for Monday November 10 - at 6pm.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Journalists on hunger strike hospitalized

Daily News Egypt

By Sarah Carr
First Published: October 22, 2008

CAIRO: Journalists continued their hunger strike Wednesday against the refusal of the Journalists’ Syndicate to grant them membership.

Three journalists, Mohamed Abdel Raouf and Abdu Zaky from El-Badeel, and Ramy Hussein from Al-Dostour are currently in hospital after collapsing as a result of the hunger strike.

El-Badeel journalist Omar Said was also taken to hospital Monday after collapsing as a result of the hunger strike but was released the following day.

There are currently 18 journalists from independent dailies Al-Dostour and El-Badeel on hunger strike, demanding that the syndicate rescind its decision to deny them membership.

The strike began on Saturday night in the syndicate headquarters where journalists have been staging a sit-in since that time.

On Wednesday afternoon El-Badeel journalists were told by syndicate General Secretary Hatem Zakaria that an emergency meeting would be convened by the syndicate head in coming days to examine striking journalists’ demands.

This follows an offer brokered by syndicate board member Gamal Fahmy according to which journalists will present appeals to a group made up of Abdel Mohsen Salama, syndicate head Makram Mohamed Ahmed and two experts on journalism, in addition to the editor-in-chief of the relevant newspaper who will examine applicants’ files.

Journalists will not be questioned by the committee.

In August 2008, applicants for syndicate membership were questioned by a committee composed of three syndicate members.

Khalil Abo Shady, a journalist with El-Badeel, explained to Daily News Egypt why journalists reject the principle of syndicate membership being linked to testing.

“Firstly, it is not provided for by law. Secondly, the committee is not suitable for this because it is made up of elected syndicate members, who are concerned about their chances in the elections. Lastly, our experience shows that connections (or wasta) are involved because there was nothing in the archives, files and answers of the people denied membership to indicate that they would be rejected,” Abo Shady said.

Abo Shady says that his membership application was rejected despite the fact that he was asked an extremely easy question by the committee.

“I was asked a very easy question about Press Law 100. I report on the Journalists’ Syndicate and so write about this law every day. It was simply ‘what do you know about Press Law 100?’ – all I had to do was describe the law,” he said.

“The committee was not neutral and did not apply any kind of standards. Why should [committee members] Gamal Abdel Rahim, Abdel Mohsen Salama and Alaa Thabet test me? They’re journalists, just like me. The only qualifications these three possess is that they are elected by the syndicate.

“I have an opinion of their work just like they have an opinion of mine. Who should test whom?” he continued.

Fahmy’s latest proposal follows a previous offer rejected by journalists according to which a follow-up committee would re-examine their files in January 2009, involving the verbal questioning of journalists.

“We think that the committee is playing with us,” Abo Shady told Daily News Egypt.
“I refuse to enter the committee again because I fulfill the conditions. They got unqualified people to test us, we answered well and they still rejected us.”

“In April, El-Badeel journalists presented syndicate membership applications and we were told that they could not be considered because El-Badeel had not been in existence for a year as required by law — this condition does not actually exist in law, the syndicate inserted it in its executive statute,” he continued.

“We then had to wait until August for the committee tests — even though technically El-Badeel had been in existence for a year by June 2008 — and then they told us we’d have to wait again until January. They keep trying to stall us.”

Abo Shady, however, cautiously welcomes the latest offer.

“We see this as a convincing solution to the crisis. But our agreement is conditional on them setting a date for the committee issuing results, and within a month of its convening at the most.”

Abo Shady alleges that syndicate membership was decided in an arbitrary manner, and that the only clear factor involved is the rejection of journalists for political reasons.

He says eight of the 10 El-Badeel journalists rejected (out of a total of 46 El-Badeel applicants) by the committee are known to have leftist political views. Ultimately however, Abo Shady alleges, the syndicate was motivated by its desire to reduce membership.

“The syndicate wants to ‘filter’ its membership because it has members who are not actually journalists — they applied because they want to benefit from the LE 500 monthly allowance paid by the syndicate to journalists.

“I think that the Journalists’ Syndicate is unable to afford paying this allowance to everyone and therefore wishes to reduce the number of members. It does this through imposing a quota, and then claims that it is rejecting applicants on the basis of their professional ability — before going on to reject journalists who have proven their ability,” he continued.

“These tests have had the effect of denying membership to journalists while failing to filter out people who are not actually journalists.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jordanian Anarchists Organize Themselves Within a Local Socialist Movement


Two Jordanian Anarchist Blogs:

This is the official website of the "Social Left" - Arabic only

AP - Official: Egypt's police kill Sudanese migrant

The Associated Press

EL-ARISH, Egypt: An Egyptian medical official says border guards have shot and killed a Sudanese migrant who tried to illegally cross into Israel.

Imad Kharboush, head of the northern Sinai ambulance department, says the body of 19-year-old Abdel-Hameed Abdel-Qader arrived Wednesday at a hospital in el-Arish with a fatal gunshot wound.

Kharboush says the man was a Sudanese migrant from the war-torn region of Darfur.
Hundreds of Africans seeking political asylum and jobs try to cross from Egypt into Israel annually.

Amnesty International has urged the Egyptian government to end the use of lethal force against migrants.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mumbai drivers want to retain old taxis, go on strike

Published on Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Delhi: The Mumbai Autorickshaw-Taximen's Union went on one-day strike on Thursday protesting the state government’s move to phase out old taxis in a bid to tackle pollution.

The daily commuter would be badly hit as about 1.5 lakh autorickshaws and over 50,000 taxis would stay off the roads during the strike.

The union said removing existing taxis, a majority of which are of the Premier Padmini make, was wrong since the emission norms prescribed were being met by the vehicles.

"The union is calling for the one day strike to protest against the Maharashtra government's decision to phase out taxis which are over 25 years old and other issues which have not been resolved," head of the union, Sharad Rao, said.

Taxi owners have demanded a permit to run old taxis from Airports, exemption from toll charges and a ban on forceful installation of meters.

The union is demanding a hike in fares, making electronic meters optional, exemptions from paying toll tax and professional tax for taxi drivers, abolition of fleet taxis and providing facilities for taxi drivers at the city's airport.

(With PTI inputs)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Egypt's Real Estate Tax Employees Organize Themselves & Establish the Nation's First Independent Trade Unions Since the 1950s

Egypt's real estate tax workers/employees have been actively and continuously organizing for their rights since last year. In October 2007 around 55,000 real estate employees across the country took part in a strike demanding parity (in wages & benefits) with their co-workers employed by the Ministry of Finance. After several months of ongoing strike action the ministry was forced to grant the real estate tax employees their demands - in December/January 2007. The wages of these striking employees rose by well over 300% as a result of their concerted efforts.

The real estate tax employees organized their labor struggles through an independent strike committee chosen from amongst their local leaderships. This strike committee has sought to organize the real estate tax employees into an independent general union/federation. Egyptian law (specifically trade union law #35/1976) does not allow for any union organization outside the ranks of the yellow, state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation (the only national trade union federation recognized by law.)

The independent real estate tax employees are challenging the repressive trade union law and are organizing free trade union committees beyond the restrictive realms of the unrepresentative ETUF. During the summer of 2008 real estate tax employees in the southern Egyptian province of Beni Suef established the first independent trade union committee since the 1950s. Most recently on (October 11/12, 2008) the real estate tax employees in the Nile Delta province of El Beheira announced their establishment of another free trade union committee in that governorate.

This is a very promising development. This is an uphill struggle for the right of the working classes to freely organize themselves in Egypt.

Freedom for Egypt's workers! Liberty and independence for Egypt's trade unions!

The Egyptian State Continues to Chip Away at Journalistic Freedoms

AFP: Egypt journalists fined for papal sheikh photo

CAIRO (AFP) — A court on Saturday fined an opposition editor and a reporter 80,000 pounds (14,600 dollars) each for publishing a doctored picture of Egypt's leading cleric wearing a papal robe, a judicial source said.

Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, head of the Islamic Al-Azhar University, had filed a defamation suit against Adel Hammuda, editor-in-chief of Al-Fajr newspaper, and reporter Mohammed al-Baz on the grounds that the picture and an accompanying article were insulting.

The article was critical of Tantawi's visit to the Vatican after Pope Benedict XVI had made comments about Islam's spread that Al-Fajr said were insulting to Muslims.

The court ordered Hammuda and Baz to pay fines of 80,000 pounds and an additional 5,000 pounds each in compensation for Tantawi, Egypt's state-run MENA news agency reported.

Hammuda criticized the ruling, saying libel laws in Egypt were being used to stifle the press.
"They're coming up with ways to restrict journalists. They should annul the laws that allow judges to jail reporters," the opposition paper's editor told AFP after sentencing.

Head of the most prestigious and oldest Islamic university in the Muslim world, Tantawi is often criticized by the Egyptian opposition for his support of President Hosni Mubarak.

VOA: Nigerian Oil Workers to Strike

By Gilbert da Costa
10 October 2008

Oil workers in Nigeria say they will embark on an indefinite strike if the government fails to reverse the sale of two state-owned oil and gas companies within two weeks. The government says privatizing the two companies will make them more efficient and profit-driven.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers described the plan to sell off the Pipeline Products Marketing Company and the National Gas Company as a mistake that needs to be corrected.

They also demanded the resignation of Irene Chigbue, the head of the Bureau of Public Enterprises - over her handling of previous privatization deals.

Bureau of Public Enterprises spokesman Aniegbo Anichebe said the sale of the oil pipelines and gas companies, scheduled for 2011, is in the best interest of the industry.

He said, "When you look at that sector, take a look at the oil marketing companies when they were not privatized and look at what is happening to them now that they are privatized. We sold some of them at 10 Naira; the highest was 20 Naira per share. Now some of them are like 200 Naira per share and at least people are getting dividends."

The Nigerian government recently announced the restructuring of the oil and gas sector to make it more independent and profit-driven.

Analysts said the sale of the two companies could lead to massive job losses. The government is yet to issue a response to the strike threat.

But an oil workers' strike could be devastating for the industry, which is struggling as results of disruptions caused by militants in the oil-producing southern region.

Last month, Nigeria's most prominent militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, declared an oil war in the region and launched strings of attacks on industry targets.

Daily oil production has been cut by about a quarter because of the attacks.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

BBC: Woman dies in Egypt police raid

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Crowds of Egyptians have attacked police with clubs and stones in a town south of Cairo after a pregnant woman died during a police raid on her home.

The woman was pushed to the ground by officers when she would not let them enter her home to look for her brother, a suspected thief, police said.

She was in the last stages of pregnancy and died of internal bleeding caused by the fall, police added.

Residents of the town, Samalout, rioted after hearing of the incident.
They threw stones at police officers, beat them with clubs and set fire to a police truck.

An officer was taken to hospital with injuries.

One report says the woman, Mervat Abdul Salam Abdul Fattah, 32, had been struck with the butt of a rifle after she obstructed the police.

Human rights groups say police brutality is widespread in Egypt. The authorities have acknowledged isolated cases, but deny it is systematic and insist all cases are prosecuted.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Anarchy - 100% Natural Order - it’s ORGANIC! Not approved by any governmental agency!

REUTERS - Greek strike grounds flights, traffic clogs Athens

ATHENS (Oct 8, 2008) : Flights from Athens airport were cancelled and traffic ground to a halt in the Greek capital on Wednesday as state-run company workers went on strike to protest government privatisation plans.

Greece's private sector umbrella union (GSEE), which represents about 2 million workers, called the 24-hour strike to protest a plan to sell off state carrier Olympic Airlines [OLY.UL].

"We demand an end to these privatisations. These moves are neither smart, nor are they reforms," GSEE vice president Alekos Kalivis told reporters.

"The government cannot continue to sell off state assets."

People started gathering in central Athens to take part in a rally and march on parliament set for midday.

"We expect a very good turnout for today's rally, people are fed up," Kalivis said.

Public transport was halted during the morning rush-hour period forcing thousands of workers to drive to work, clogging main roads and causing kilometres-long traffic jams on the city's main arteries.

State carrier Olympic cancelled 50 flights and will operate only one flight per destination, affecting domestic flights and international routes to destinations like London, Paris, Rome and Frankfurt.

Inter-city rail services and hospitals will work with emergency staff, while workers at partly privatised telecoms company OTE and state-run Public Power Corp. (PPC) will walk off the job for a few hours.

Greece launched a tender last week to sell off Olympic, which loses about 1 million euros ($1.36 million) a day. Union leaders have pledged to halt the sale despite government promises to compensate or find new public sector jobs for its workers.

The ruling conservative New Democracy party, which has fallen behind in the polls, pledged last week to push through reforms and privatisations despite fierce opposition from unions.

Monday, October 6, 2008

AFP: Brussels at virtual standstill as Belgium gripped by strike

BRUSSELS (AFP) — Brussels ground to a virtual standstill Monday with international train services halted and government offices closed as thousands of workers across Belgium protested against rising living costs.

The public sector in the seat of the main European Union institutions was the worst affected with some schools also closed alongside factories, a pattern repeated in other major Belgian cities and towns.

Belgian trade unions said employees in public services and industry were equally responsive in downing pens and tools.

"The day of action is a success," the major Christian union CSC proclaimed.

There were sporadic reports of ugly incidents at some picket lines as non-striking workers attempted to get to work while industry leaders voiced annoyance that profits would be lost at a time of financial crisis.

The trade union day of action saw nearly all public transport in Brussels grounded from late Sunday, with most tramlines paralysed and very few underground metro trains running.
In the midst of a financial storm sweeping through Europe, Eurostar trains to London and Paris as well as high-speed Thalys services to France, Germany and the Netherlands were not running.

Road traffic in the capital was also lighter than normal with many non-strikers opting to take the day off.

Rail services were also stopped in the southern region of Wallonia and were infrequent in Flanders to the north.

Only the banks made a point of opening, seeking to reassure anxious customers as the global financial crisis hits home.

In Belgium's second city of Antwerp, museums and libraries were closed while in Bruges all public offices remained closed.

Charleroi and Liege in the southern region of Wallonia were also affected.

The strike action took place the day after French bank BNP Paribas took a controlling interest in Belgium's largest banking group Fortis, which has been subject to three different bailout packages in a week.

Members of the liberal CGSLB union took to the streets outside the Brussels stock exchange distributing leaflets saying "Purchasing power, what's left? Peanuts."

"The message is clear," said the union's secretary general Philippe Vandenabeele.
"We are calling for better purchasing power for workers. There aren't the reserves left and it's time to think now of Mrs. Everywoman rather than thinking of the banks."

Thierry Bodson, general secretary of the Wallonia wing of the FGTB, one of the country's biggest trade unions, told local radio that one of the strikers' key demands was a reduction in energy costs via lower consumption tax on oil, gas and heating fuel.

While the level of protest differed from region to region, meaning the action fell short of a general strike, Bodson recalled that in June some 100,000 people had taken to the streets to protest against the steep rise in living costs.

In September, consumer price inflation in Belgium hit 5.46 percent.

ALJAZEERA.NET: Egypt blocks Gaza aid convoy

Egyptian police have blocked an opposition convoy carrying medical supplies to the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip.

Abdel Fatah Rizq, who helped co-ordinate the convoy, said police had arrested 50 activists on Monday when they tried to gather at the Journalists' Syndicate in downtown Cairo.
The convoy was preparing for a 300km journey across the Sinai desert to reach the Palestinian border.

Conflicting reports from a security official, who chose to speak on condition of anonymity, said that at least 20 protesters were arrested after they surrounded campaigners where the convoy was due to depart.

"Activists from all over the provinces were planning on joining the convoy on its way through the Sinai to Rafah crossing,'' Abdel Rizq said.

Police said three members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's main opposition group, were arrested at the Suez Canal on Sunday night while trying to reach the border.

Another 14 activists from Kefaya, another Egyptian opposition movement, had been arrested in Rafah, also on Sunday, while staging a protest.

Many Palestinians living in Gaza depend on smuggled goods siphoned through underground passages between Egypt and Gaza.

Israel has maintained that the tunnels are used to smuggle arms and explosives, having sealed off the coastal strip after Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007.

Continued closure

Campaigners included judges, independent members of parliament, Muslim Brotherhood members and other party figures who want to protest the continued closure of the Rafah crossing by Israel and Egypt.

Police have set up checkpoints on the road between Ismailiya and the town of El Arish in northern Sinai, at least 45km from Rafah where only residents are allowed to enter, a security official said.

Last month, police blocked a similar convoy headed to the Rafah crossing, Gaza's only exit to the outside world that is not under the control of Israel.

Sympathy for the Palestinians blockaded in Gaza by Egypt and Israel runs high among Egyptians.

Egypt occasionally permits people to enter and leave Gaza, but has refused to open the Rafah crossing permanently.

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, said on Monday that Egypt would not reopen the crossing as long as Hamas controls Gaza.

State media reported Mubarak as saying: "We are still committed to the 2005 agreement," referring to the agreement under which the Palestinan Authority, Israel and EU monitors supervise the Rafah crossing.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

AFP: Egypt president pardons news editor sentenced to jail

CAIRO (AFP) — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday pardoned an outspoken editor sentenced to two months in jail after his newspaper published rumours on Mubarak's health, state-run MENA news agency reported.

An appeals court's decision last month to jail Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Al-Dustour, provoked widespread criticism from media activists.

MENA said that Mubarak pardoned Eissa, who despite sentencing was not imprisoned, as part of the president's efforts to foster freedom of the press in Egypt.

Eissa welcomed the pardon but said Egypt was one of a few countries whose laws allow for reporters to be jailed.

"While I welcome this ruling, I think the issue is larger than that between one reporter and the president," he told AFP. "The issue is that of Egyptian journalism, which suffers from an arsenal
of laws that negate freedoms."

At least seven journalists were sentenced in September 2007 to up to two years in prison on charges ranging from misquoting the justice minister to spreading rumours about the 80-year-old president.

In February, an Al-Jazeera journalist who had been sentenced to six months over a film that highlighted torture in Egyptian police stations had her sentence reduced to a fine.
The harsh treatment of the Egyptian media led the United States last year to voice "deep concern" at the convictions, a criticism rejected by Egypt as "unacceptable interference" by its ally.

Eissa was accused of harming the economy after his paper's reports allegedly caused foreign investors to withdraw investments worth more than 350 million dollars from Egypt's stock exchange.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fire in El Mahalla Textile Company

An electric short circuit is said to be the source of the fire that burnt at least one factory within Egypt's largest textile company, on Saturday morning - October 4, 2008.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that three textile factories within the company were burnt down - specifically Factories # Six, Seven, and Sixteen. The administrative president of the Mahalla Textile Company announced that it was a limited fire which broke out in one factory, and that the losses amount to around only 50 thousand Egyptian pounds. Fortunately no casualties or fatalities were reported.

This fire in the Nile Delta City of El Mahalla is the latest in a series of fires which have erupted in Egypt over the past few weeks. On August 19 a major fire gutted the upper house of the Egyptian parliament - the Shoura (Consultative) Council; while on September 27 another fire burnt down a large part of the classic National Theater in downtown Cairo. These fires clearly point to negligence on the part of the Egyptian State which is responsible for administrating all these sites. The fires in the Shoura Council and the National Theater have resulted in millions of pounds worth of losses, and more for reparations.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Over 100,000 Bollywood Workers & Employees on Strike

RTE Entertainment

Thousands go on strike in Bollywood
Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Over 100,000 Bollywood and television workers have begun an indefinite strike over pay and conditions in India.

Bollywood stars including Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan and thousands of dancers, writers and technicians have rowed in behind a call for 'non-co-operation' in Mumbai, the centre of the Indian movie industry.

According to Reuters, union leader Dinesh Chaturvedi said: "All shoots are off. The producers have not stuck to the terms of the agreement they signed with us one-and-a-half years back.
"Payments have been delayed by three months, six months, a year. And producers are hiring non-members to save costs. We are not happy to call for this non-cooperation, but we are helpless."

The dispute centers around irregular pay and the hiring of non-union members.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Demo in Solidarity with Ibrahim Eissa

Around 200 journalists, freedom fighters, and activists gathered on the stairs outside the Journalists' Syndicate in Downtown Cairo on September 29th to protest the sentencing of Ibrahim Eissa to two months in prison. The protest criticized President Mubarak and his earlier pledges (announced in the Year 2004) to the effect that no more journalists were to be arrested for "publication offenses."

As if Our 80 Year Old President is Infallible & Never Falls Ill

In the Year 2004 Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced that no journalist should be sentenced to prison for “publication offenses.” Nevertheless, seven journalists and chief-editors were sentenced to two-year prison sentences in September 2007 for allegedly misquoting the Minister of Justice’s statements, and for writing about Mubarak’s health condition.

On September 28, 2008 an Appeals Court sentenced Ibrahim Eissa, the Chief-Editor of the independent Newspaper Al Doustour, to two months in prison for articles published in his paper in August 2007 indicating that President Mubarak may have fallen ill. Apparently it is now a crime to write about the president’s health condition.


Hundreds of Impoverished Slum Dwellers Feared Dead in El Doweiqa Following September 6th Rockslide