Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Traveling Blogger Journalists -

Kevin Sites In Iran; Michael Totten in Egypt

Kevin Sites has been making his way through the Middle East as a psuedo-blogger and free lance journalist. His latest stop has him in Iran. While the piece is generally a puff cultural piece that does not discuss much about politics, I recommend it as an interesting look inside the country that you might not have seen much of on your regular television. There are videos on the page as well if you have the connection and a sound card.

I think I particularly liked the interview with the heavy metal band. The lead guitarist said:

"If they're going to make us go underground, we thought, let's go really underground then."
— Amir Tehrani, Iranian rock musician

Believe me, these guys are pushing the envelope. They have a female lead singer and apparently play some serious underground concerts. I don't know why, but I find that encouraging. There were other indicators throughout society in Iran. It seemed almost like POWs who have been cut off from each other and the outside world, but always seem to figure out how to meet up or communicate with each other, like the tapping on the walls with a tin cup, but instead, they do the little defiant things like wear ever more daring colors for hijab and push the hijab back further and further, showing more hair, until the hijab actually takes on the appearance of a nifty scarf that Audrey Hepburn might have worn in the early sixties' movies.

That seems ridiculous to us, but I believe that the young people are figuring out that the Mullah's and their henchmen can't be everywhere, even if they want people to think that, so they continue to do daring things like take trams to the top of mountains for inter-gender "hiking" where the boys and girls can at least hold hands on the trip.

Another interesting note is that people at the markets are complaining about inflation and the slowdow at these same markets in their revenue, which should be an indicator to the US on how it can destabilize, without war, the Mullahcracy there.

I recommend looking around Kevin's site (no pun intended) for other pieces about his trip to Lebanon for instance that also includes video.

Another intrepid free lance report cum blogger is Michael Totten. If you haven't been reading his series on traveling to Libya and now on to Egypt, you are missing some very interesting stories and discussions that he has had with local citizens.

Like this one with a visit to Big Pharoah:

“Don’t eat anything from these guys,” Big Pharaoh said as he gestured to a man selling food spread out on a rickety outdoor table. “If you eat that, you’ll die.”

“I’ll die?” I said. “From what?”

“From a horrible disease.”

I’m sure he exaggerated, but I duly noted his warning.

Or this one:

“What do you think about Hosni Mubarak, then?” I said.

“He is a good man,” he said.

“Hmm,” I said.

“What?” he said, aware that I didn’t agree. “What do you want to say? Tell me what is in your heart.”

“He’s a dictator,” I said. And an asshole, I wanted to add.

“I understand what you mean,” he said and nodded. “In America you change presidents without fighting. Here if we change presidents we could have a war.”

“Maybe,” I said. “And maybe not. It’s awfully convenient for him if you think that.”

“Listen, my friend” he said. “If we have a president who is not from the army, we will have another war. Only the officers know how to keep us at peace.” I presumed he meant only the officers know better than to humiliate Egypt by picking another losing battle with Israel. Perhaps he’s right, but that’s setting the bar awfully low on what makes Hosni Mubarak a good man or something else. Even Syria’s Bashar Assad knows better than to go full tilt against Ariel Sharon.

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