Friday, February 11, 2011

And There was Much Rejoicing

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has finally ceded power after 18 days of protests. The doomers and the nay-sayers are still on about possible war with Israel, or the Muslim Brotherhood taking over and enforcing a Taliban-like government, chaos, anarchy, dogs and cats living together....but they just need to hold their breath for just a little while, because right now, right now the Egyptian people have done the impossible. For the first time in a few thousand years, they have peacefully overthrown a dictator by the sheer volume of their cries for justice, freedom, and rights. And that my friends, is a feat that needs to be celebrated by the world, just as we need to celebrate what happened in Tunisia.

Triumph as Mubarak quits - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Here's the tail-end of Pres. Obama's statement released today:
And above all, we saw a new generation emerge—a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations. One Egyptian put it simply: Most people have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.

This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence—not terrorism, not mindless killing—but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.

And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history—echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice.

As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.” Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.

Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.

The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people—of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world.

UPDATED 2/14/11: Had to share this cool article:

Now that President Hosni Mubarak has been swept out of office, the protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Sqaure are sweeping the city clean. Literally.

The pro-democracy protesters who have called Tahrir Square home for the past 18 days are now cleaning house: sweeping the streets, scrubbing graffiti off walls and bridges, clearing burned cars and garbage and generally trying to restore the city to order.

Volunteers repainted black and white striped street curbs around a monument by the Egyptian Museum, which had been on the front line in street battles between Mubarak's foes and supporters. Police were starting to move barricades and trying to restore vehicle traffic at Tahrir Square, where many protesters vowed to remain, CNN reported.

"We're taking care of the square, and then we'll clean up the whole country," Mohammed El Tayeb said while standing amid the volunteer cleaning crews sweeping up Tahrir Square. "This is a beautiful country. Now it's ours and we're going to take care of it."

Across the crowded square, young men walked with paper signs taped to their chests that read: "Sorry for the disturbance, we're building Egypt." After days of protests that had such names as the "Day of Rage" and "Day of Millions," today's gathering was called the "Day of Cleaning," AOL News said.

Sherif Assaf, 27, a Microsoft employee who showed up with a broom, said the massive and spontaneous clean-up effort, like the protests, had been organised by word of mouth, text messages and social networking websites, Agence France Presse reported.

"We want to prove to the world that we are a very civilised and great nation. We were protesting for political change. Now that we’ve started to change politically, the people themselves are going to change," he told AFP.

As CNN aptly noted, it’s a sign that Cairo and the rest of the country are ready to rebuild and get back to work while the country formulates a plan for governance.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Impossible is a young adult fantasy based on the folk ballad "Scarborough Fair." In this retelling, Lucy finds out she comes from a line of women cursed by the elfin king to get pregnant (in Lucy's case, the elfin king possesses the body of her prom date and rapes her) at 18, and if they can't complete the 3 impossible tasks in the ballad before the child is born, they will go insane and become the king's consort forever. The premise was interesting....but yet, it was really kind of troubling. On top of really awkward dialogue and cheesy romance, the troubling part is the handling of Lucy's pregnancy and her marriage to her boyfriend while still a high school senior. The book completely fetishizes her pregnancy--after a tiny bit of morning sickness she's this glowing madonna who never has the slightest bit of discomfort or doubt about being a teen mother. Additionally the kids' marriage is complete bliss--they never fight, never have money issues, never have studying or grade issues, they only take cat naps at night so they can watch the other person sleeping because they just can't bear to miss one single moment apart (and yet can still be able to do work and school adequately the next day and Lucy do it pregnant?). Although it throws in a very brief, things were a little hard to juggle with high school and money and everything once the baby came, it was way too little and way too unconvincing after such this grand rosy picture of teen marriage and pregnancy as perfect and blissful. Additionally, there's this really nauseating bit where her boyfriend tells her she should marry him so her baby will carry his name essentially so it won't be a bastard. I kept rereading that conversation in shock and flipping to the copyright date to make sure this book was actually just written in 2008 and not 40 years ago.
The writing itself wasn't bad, and despite my distaste, it did keep me reading. But ultimately, it was far too slow building up to things. Lucy doesn't fully find out about the curse until almost halfway through the book, even though the rape and pregnancy happen at the beginning. And then it still takes forever to get started on the three impossible tasks. So all in all, I would give this one a pass.