From 1956, 4 years after the 1952 revolution that ousted king Farouq, the last of the kings of Egypt, Nasser became president. He had been and perhaps still is the most prominent figure in Egyptian as well as Arab politics since then, and some still award him this status to date, I have seen his pictures being carried by a kid protesting on TV. But Nasser was a first class dictator, unmatched to this day too. As for human rights, well, prisons were full of political detainees or anyone else who dared speak in his days. Many of those tortured or suddenly disappearing off the face of the earth without notice. But, there was no corruption, as far as I know through reading about him well after he 'died'.
Nasser had extraordinary presence and abilities to match when addressing the people, huge Egyptian squares and adjoining streets packed with 'worshipers' to the brim when he gave a speech, he was perhaps the biggest PR machine that ever existed in the region with influence far beyond. No other president or any other Arab leader matched the persona or the charisma since. Adored by all Arabs too, he was'The' ultimate leader. Nobody out of the current leader or those recently past ever matched the persona, but, specially on internal affairs, all try to copy his way ... the reason for why things are as they are today ....
During Nasser's time, it was common place for all schools to sing the national anthem song every morning during assembly as well as being bombarded with the Egyptian broadcast corporation's airing of 'I love you Egypt, I love you Nasser' songs day and night to aid strong patriotic feelings amongst the people ... and it worked!
A few years before his death, and as was customary then, secondary schools as well as universities allowed their students out early so that they can line the streets chanting 'Egypt, Nasser' while he passed en route to wherever he was going, sometimes in his open car with a huge security entourage of shining black cars and men in black suits and dark glasses either driving or on foot circling around him and the 20 or so cars. On a few occasions, he disembarked and walked surrounded by a full circle of those men for small distances on foot to salute the crowds.
I was 13 on one of those days when my school allowed us out to attend one of those marches. I was perhaps the youngest student present as I was skipped two years of education on the orders of my parents, not very wise of them, my parents, but there you are. Of course, like the rest of the crowd, Nasser was more of a celebrity to us, specially me, than the Beatles, for example, for that's how I viewed him then ... and the president decided to take a walk for a bit near where half minded, shouting her head off, tall and lanky me. There I stood completely flushed, jumping up and down, wide eyed and screaming. As soon as Gamal was close enough, there jumps that tall child, moi, hugs the president and gives him a kiss on the cheek ... and the crowd went wild! Smiling, he shook my hand, tilting down his head with a smile, he said something which, because of the excitement, I never comprehended, then continued walking and that was that, ... till tomorrow ....
... when my picture was published in the national paper kissing the president on the cheek ... not only not the thing to do for a decent girl in those days, though I was just a tall child, but my mother had no idea I was there to start with, and, fearing she would have never approved as usual, I never did tell her! Then followed a bit of the customary discomfort from here that evening and all that "Go to your room and stay there" boring stuff, but the following day our headmistress, who was already very aware of my mischievous nature, since I was placed by her door for hours by many a teacher on many an occasion, smiling, she said "You always know how to attract attention, don't you 'Catastrophe'? You got yourself in the national paper this time, not bad!" ... and the nickname stuck with me thereafter ... 'La catastrophe' was inscribed on my sports wear, my school bag, note books, everything! ... even much later on my silver cigarette box soon as I got one, I still have that too ... and of course, this was the name I got cheered with when playing basket ball ... I was still called that at uni and way beyond too, and I still carry the name with pride, well, it is exclusive ... I don't think anyone else has ever been called that with as much affection, so it's unique, to me! :-)
Why the story? I can't even remember! ... or maybe just to say that had I been 13 still, even double, and maybe treble too, I would have definitely been on Tahrir Square now chanting the loudest, it's my kinda scene! But now? Well, La catastrophe is even older than that, but not necessarily the wiser for it still, a leopard doesn't change her skin because she's older. That said, off with his head? I don't know! The rebel in me agrees that people need to come out and shout loud if that's the only way to get themselves noticed and heard, but the fighter in me agrees with that fighter pilot right above that this current mayhem in Egypt is not the way to do it!
I have never lived under the rule of Mubarak because I was already living here before he took office. But while the children were small and year on year while they were growing up, I took them on holiday to Egypt for the August summer month to visit their grandparents without fail. Year on year, I could see marked cosmetic improvements to Cairo and elsewhere, roads being tarmacked and repaired, building, conservation and repainting, including the once very neglected ancient tourist attractions, the building of new cities around Cairo, Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh rising as world class destinations ... etc. Even the renovations of the once standing so sad and looted magnificent palaces of past eras too. And it was also Mubarak who built the tourist industry that is now a major income in hard currency too.
I know corruption was allowed to run out of control, and maybe the consequences of that lead to this current uprising, actually, I am sure it is for it it is of magnanimous proportions now in the whole of Egypt, it has created what in effect is an economy within an economy with all the handouts, bribes and the like. Favouritism played a big part of course, but I think it was also administration weakness that simply took off due to the ever exploding population and the lack of resources to cater for all. This is a problem that will face whoever comes into power next in Egypt, and I do not know how anyone on the scene now can solve that. Hence, if I were living in Egypt, I like to hear anyone intending to run for office now to let the people of Egypt know and such solutions on the table before the people are committed to a new regime. You can't have that unless the current craze settles down to allow for stability and then a clear line of thought to allow for real suitable candidates to emerge. I hope that will happen soon. If the Egyptian people can take over civic duties so quick due to the breakdown of law and order at such short notice, then they can give themselves time to democratically select their next leader too!
And Mubarak did not leave because, despite his faults and weaknesses now, he remains an Egyptian at heart. He is head of the army and it was him who said through his generals that he wouldn't fire on the protesters. The army presence was just a bluff to calm things down, because no president of Egypt would ask Egyptians to fire on Egyptians unless he's mad! First because it is against religion, then it is against the Egyptian soul, it just doesn't happen! And if any past or future president tried, he would have been torn to bits by his own army! Mubarak still cares ... unlike Bin Ali of Tunis who, fearing for his own life, took the first plane out with his wife, as rumoured, stopping by the Central Bank to pinch one and a half tons of gold on the way too ... but the old fighter who fought to wars is still there. Yes, partly for not wanting to leave in this disgraceful fashion, but also because of his sense of duty, he doesn't want to see Egypt falling on her knees too! And with the current high, this is a very valid possibility ...
This old Egyptian fighter pilot, although suffering ailing health, would never do that, I wouldn't want to see him humiliated in that manner too. Call me naive and emotional, but there you are. I heard his speech on TV today and I think that, for the sake of Egypt, voices should stop the crazy shouting and he should be allowed to stay until the next elections in September. If only to allow time for the current high tempers to calm down, then for a proper democratic plan to be put in place to allow for a fair elections to select the best and most suitable leader for Egypt. Why the terrible hurry?! Give time for Egyptian talent to shine, for in Egypt, there is plenty of that.
Leading Egypt is not a trifle matter that can be hurried or done in a day .... this is not St elsewhere, this is Egypt, mother of humanity ... or as the Egyptians lovingly call her, mother of the world ....
Hope ... and peace
Sunday, 30 January 2011
Again, I was able to speak to my mother in Cairo today, it seems that last night was mayhem around the whole city as prisoners escaped in large numbers and were intent of looting and causing destruction around all neighbourhoods. I knew this was happening through the excellent and continuous reporting of the BBC, but, as my mother told me, all young men from her little street together with those from other streets on the island organised themselves into shift groups and barricaded all entrances to the little island where they all live, with local families also arranged in shifts sending them home cooked food at all times, older children with parents in cars doing the deliveries.
Armed only with sticks and knives, those courageous youths and the generation above were able to catch a number of offenders who were then handed over to the army tanks stationed at the top and bottom of the island. Those criminals and their like caught from around the city are now placed in a military prison for 'a tough' trial at a later date as announced by the army authorities. Only, where did the police go?! There is usually a huge number of those everywhere, all but disappeared! I am told there is now a call for the trial of the minister of interior, messy! ... and, although I understand he's doing it out of being pressured, I don't like the picture of this army officer acting alone either. When an officer, you act with your own, not on your own, especially those are not doing any harm at the moment ... sad state of affairs.
Talking to my mother, I could hear army fighter planes circling the sky at the background. Indeed, the BBC is reporting the same too and that this is happening everywhere affected. Although the BBC is saying that this may cause further unrest, the word on the ground is that in the absence of the police and the escape of prisoners intent on destruction, the reality is that people are reassured by the army presence and not the other way round. So, it is not a show of force to the citizens, but is viewed as protection for those citizens from those criminals who are now on the loose when they shouldn't be, and to try and impose some order on what is a chaotic situation. I agree.
The BBC is reporting what it can see and the voices it hears, but there are also the views of those who did not come out or paticipate in riots, and those are the majority. Although discontent may still be high amongst them, they do not neccessarily believe the current way of trying to just topple the current president on uncertain terms is the right way. Of course, I understand that the BBC or other reporting agencies have no access to those, but the problem remains that the silent majority is not heard, while the vocal ones are not necessarily that politically savvy, but still the ones who chant loudest, but with no or little understanding of the consequences of their requests. Although not that political myself in general, let alone on Egyptian affairs, I too am wondering whether those out on the streets chanting "Down with Mubarak" have considered the 'then what'? Especially that everybody knows there are not many cards on the table to choose from. Of course there are many above board Egyptians who can handle the governing role, but who are they? Currently, those cards on the table I am aware of are, Amr Mousa, a well trusted moderate, El-Baradei, who lives in Vienna and yesterday said that the people want Mubarak out after 38 years, when in fact, they are 31 years, and the Muslim brotherhood who promise fair reform internally, but may not succeed on the international scene, hence, the current peace as well as trade and other connections would most likely be jeopardised thus harming future Egyptian potential and prosperity as well as western interests in the whole region, let alone it's stability ... So, who else can be president? The new vice president Omar Suleiman is one, but I've only ever heard of him yesterday so, obviously, have no right of say because I do not know.
Then there is the West's reaction to this turmoil. In light of the recent requests by the president of the USA, it seems that the Americans too are now supporting a change of regime but without considering the viability - and suitability - of the alternative/s. I find that surprising! Why aren't they asking what are those alternatives? Egypt has been an ally with the USA and the west for all the 31-ish years Mubarak has been in charge, not forgetting peace with Israel which he maintains for Egypt and for keeping the rest of the Middle East calm too. This is a huge achievement that many Egyptians do not want to sacrifice by the uncertainty of the current situation even if Mubarak is no longer in office. Then there was the British voice together with the French and the Germans, and although I commend our Prime Minster for calling on the Egyptian authorities not to attack civilians protesting peacefully, I was hoping that they would, rather than what seems to me like maybe joining the protesters call for instant change, although that has so far not been said directly, to try to calm the situation in order to keep stability in Egypt and the region by demanding the restoration of order first then a speedy repeat of the elections which allowed Mubarak to remain in power and which was perhaps the cause of this sudden uprising.
I personally can not see how Mr Mubarak would refuse this request now, since my own feelings is that what he is trying to do at the moment is to put back some law and order in place as well as calm the existing high emotions so that a dialogue on 'what next' can be started. A civilised and proper democratic repeat of the elections is the best option, and if he loses this time, surely he now knows he would have to go. This would be good effort to resolve a highly charged situation peacefully, therefore, protecting civilian lives too by restoring some sanity. Because I hate to see Egypt descending into more chaos, even into civil war if this volatile situation is allowed to spiral out of control. The current high is in nobody's interest either as there are still a loud minority who are mostly under class, but because of political ignorance as well as economic difficulties, they still believe the west is enemy while the majority wishing for peace want to maintain and improve the current status quo.
Prime Minister, please call for calm, reason, and an urgent elections in Egypt. The Brits have always had a special place in the Egyptian people's hearts and I know you can do it.
Egypt Violence: PM expresses 'Grave Concern' [click] and [Google]
Live: Egypt unrest [Click] and [Google]
Thousands of years of history down the drain?! :-(
Saturday, 29 January 2011
"When that branch began swaying ..."
Those soldiers must be hungry, "cheap bananas, sweet, like honey ya bananas"
Video of rebel in defiance, but soldier driving won't go over him, halts and nearly switches off water flow
Friday, 28 January 2011
I have just been talking to my mother on the phone in Cairo and I was able to get through at the first attempt using a landline. It seems that apart from the areas most affected by the riots in Cairo, mainly at the huge Tahrir [liberation] Square in those pictures and Giza Square west of the city but still in a central location, life goes on as normal ... my family resides on a small island with the Gamaa bridge connecting Giza with the main road 20 minutes walk away from Tahrir Square. Giza next to the bridge and all along the river is one of the most affluent areas in Cairo. However, less than 2 miles away and west of Giza Square, is one of Cairo's largest and most populated poorest areas too and this is where the rioters are protesting. As for Tahrir Square, those who protest there gather from all around the city because the Square is right in the middle of the center of Cairo where are the major government departments are.
I must say that I have been very worried since the start of this unrest, I have been phoning at least twice a day and always got through. I have also been preparing to go to Cairo at very short notice should my elderly parents need, but so far, not many people think these riots will result in any significant change, and there hasn't been any disturbance on that little island or further out ... and I'm still watching.
Ironically, Egyptians are watching the BBC for the latest news as the local media is reporting that although there is unrest in places, everything is under control. Indeed, police soldiers do not usually attack the protesters unless there is a much higher rank officer on the scene and that's when arrests and injury occur. So, all is not what they seem if you look close enough. But for many Egyptians, the most they are worried about is should there be a change of government, who would be in place.
That, I find too, is a very worrying thought!
Egypt protests escalate in Cairo, Suez and other cities [with maps of affected areas ] [click]
Riots in the Streets [click]
Obama responds to Egypt unrest [click]
Egypt violence: PM Expresses 'Grave Concern' [click] and [Google] *
Mubarak names Omar Suleiman as VP [click]
Live: Egypt unrest [Click]
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
"On the day the government’s radical reforms for the NHS were laid out in full in the Health and Social Care Bill, health secretary Andrew Lansley spoke to the audience at HSJ and LGC’s Public Health Congress about what the changes mean for the health service and the people who work in it."
Public health 'nudges' questioned [click]
Behavioural change key to fighting obesity [click]
31 January 2011: Andrew Lansley defends his health reforms with astonishing conviction [click]
Saturday, 22 January 2011
NHS shake-up: Andrew Lansley answers your questions [click]
Andrew Lansley quizzed by doctor over NHS changes [click]
Caroline Spelman denies NHS reforms are 'privatisation' [click]
Letter from Lawrence Buckman chairman of General Practitioners committee BMA [click]
... Dr Lansley’s Monster [click]
The Truth behind the Tory plans - John Healey's speech to the King’s Fund. [click]
The Myth of Free Health Care [click]
Coalition’s ‘totalitarian’ approach to NHS will lead to more deaths, says Lord Winston [click]and [Google]
Forcing GPs to run the NHS will do harm [click]
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
I watched this, but didn't learn much that was new to me.
Male presenters have a natural advantage. They learn from an early age that pissing into the wind is unwise. Better hair control in a breeze is an automatic spin off.
There are businesses out there trying to make a quid. They lobby - as advised by the awful Ms Hewitt.
Our political masters are drawn from the political and chattering classes. Few, if any, have actually held a proper job. They are all equally useless, but choose different coloured rosettes to wear. Lobbyists and other 'experts' are to politicians what a one eyed man is to the blind.
There are other vested interest groups out there, lobbying with the rest of them. Product providers, service providers, 'experts' and many others.
Where do organisations representing clinical staff sit? I presume that the BMA & RCN will be in there somewhere, but I have lost track as to whether they are simply 'trade unions' or 'professional' organisations. Are there others? Either way, they seem to have done pretty well on the lobbying front, their members having absorbed most of the (huge amounts of) cash dished out to the NHS over the past 13 years. Pity they allowed training & education to be dumbed down, but that goes for many other fields, such as engineering. Perhaps they felt they were contributing to harmonisation.
Not being religious, I don't have a problem with 'private' versus 'public'. There is good and bad in each. Surely the important thing is to have good contracts for service provision, where the customer (i.e. the taxpayer) stays in control. Isn't that where our concerns should be directed? I have seen the crazy consequences of a bad contract manifested in hospitals with dirty windows, bad cleaning, waste and so on under the existing system.
A lot of the existing NHS management just don't seem to be capable of getting a good contract result. Is this because they are a long way from the front line? Or are they simply useless too?
This video sort of says that every single person in the land is corrupt! Simply because they are running after their own interests, but don't we all, you and I included? Does that make us cons too?
You know, I can't live with that level of distrust, thinking that everybody is a vulture out to get me! Nor do I think that all those clever enough to be asked, and be paid, to advise are twisted, which is what this film is trying to make you believe.
Like Ray, I have no problem with the private sector, in fact, I wouldn't be happy working in a public sector environment where the closed culture where most of my energy would be spent attempting to fend off gangs and covering my back, instead of being relaxed enough to concentrate on doing the job and having the opportunity to better it too. However, I agree with Ray, keep the NHS in public hands, which doesn't seem to be the current thinking now. I also don't believe that can be the result of lobbying alone, but deep seated ideology.
And Ray ...
"A lot of the existing NHS management just don't seem to be capable of getting a good contract result. Is this because they are a long way from the front line? Or are they simply useless too?"
... or corrupt? :-D
Well, there you are! Everybody is talking ... and who do you believe?
I am adventurous by nature. I suppose you can even say that my whole adult life has centered around taking one risk after another. Some calculated, and some where I had no idea what I was doing. Win some and lose some ... and I am still here ...
Risk takers do not like bureaucracy and absolutely detest stagnation, and I am no different, so I can understand where Prime Minister is coming from with his cost cutting and modernisation programme, including that for the NHS. I mean, when, for example, a young doctor is afraid of showing his newly acquired achievements in case his/her elders percieve them as a threat, then there is something very wrong here. Or, if a member of staff sees an injustice and/or incompetence but fears to report same because of the gang culture's reprisal against the do gooder, then there is something very wrong here too! But that's bureaucracy and it is rife in the NHS! And it stifles innovation and kills hopes and dreams ... the very thing you need for the very nature of such an organisation who should forever be trying to improve on care and bettering lives ... I believe in "When you do a job, do it right", but then I also believe in "reward when reward is due" too ... but a stagnant gangy "praise be to the big heads" atomosphere never properly allows for that either!
So, in this regard, I am all for reform that will end bureaucracy and encourage opportunity, excellence, innovation and the right reward for same
Posted by Sam
Prime Minister and Leader of The Opposition
Secretary of State for Health
Expert academics from The London School of Economics + University of Cambridge
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
David Cameron: Public sector reform cannot be delayed [click] ******* Health chiefs issue stark warning over damaging effect of NHS reforms [click] ... NHS signs up KPMG to support GP commissioning pathfinders [click] ... Health reforms in England took NHS by surprise, MPs say [click] ... Patients miss operations as Government 'tosses grenade' into NHS [click] ... Tory free-market hurricane will blow our NHS apart [click] ... Times letter signed by 300 doctors [click] ... Lansley’s NHS hand grenade; ban on cheap booze; best cure for a hangover [click] and [Google] *******
MPs join attack on NHS shake up
Tough medicine [click] and [click]
Robert Winston: Reforms could threaten care of patients [click] and [click]
Saturday, 15 January 2011
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.
TEACHER: No, that's wrong
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.
DONALD: H I J K L M N O.
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.
TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.
GLEN: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.
TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with ' I. '
MILLIE: I is…
TEACHER: No, Millie..... Always say, 'I am.'
MILLIE: All right... 'I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.'
Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS: Because George still had the axe in his hand.
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.
CLYDE: No, sir. It's the same dog.
HAROLD: A teacher
Have a happy weekend :-)
Related: MP Graham Allen calls for early years intervention [click]
Friday, 14 January 2011
Having seen that 'report' on BBC, I have been following the Ferret's debate on the issue. One of the comments made by 'Anonymous' caught my eye, because I was thinking along the same lines:
"Their 'Health Correspondent' in an operating theatre, wearing scrubs and holding a retractor.
When she said that Consultants might "down tools" were rates lowered, she illustrated this complex issue... by putting the retractor down in the instrument tray."
Terrible! Especially when you also consider how the reporter stresses key words as they speak and the 'alarming high tone of voice, let alone that flashing 100,000 figure on the screen too ... flash, flash, very theatrical, isn't it?! It makes your blood boil those greedy surgeons are milking the system by charging for extra overtime work specially commissioned over and above their contractual duties and the free hours they give their patients on top too?! ... while providing little value for money operating to save many lives that would have otherwise had to wait with perhaps dire consequences! How can anybody bear that abuse in our times of Ausssterity? And suddenly you get that urge to scream "Do something"! But, what can that something be? You're only a viewer after all and know nothing about surgeons or theatres, after all, you were asleep when you had this op last year, though grateful you were saved, you saw nothing ... as for that BBC theatre effort, weeeell! ;-)
Then appears a young, tidy and sweet looking management consultant on the scene, never seen a drop of blood in his life except when he injured that knee playing Tennis with chums at school, for which he's grateful to the surgeon who attended to his affliction too ... and he goes on to state a fact; how much that trust spent on paying those greedy surgeons in one year ... and it's a seven figure sum! @@ ... well, now that you were already on the edge of your sofa, you probably feel like jumping in a rage! NOOOOO!
... then enters Prof Alan Maynard ... the one in the know ... le economics exxpert ... a votre sante ...
And he speaks with courtesy this time, so relaxed and at home, even I thought, well, forget about hostilities past, the man has a right to an opinion too ... speak up professor, let's know your expert opinion on this 'whole' thing ... please! ... and I was waiting, would he say that that young management consultant is most likely charging double the hourly rate of a qualified to the teeth surgeon who saves lives? Would he also say that any junior in that hospital's account department could have successfully calculated how much was paid to those doctors in total for their overtime work, thus huge amounted of money that were wasted hiring those external managers could have been saved? No! ... he doesn't say much! ... and it was what he didn't say, as an expert Health Economist, that attracted my attention.
I thought, for the sake of a balanced argument, that Prof had a duty, since the management consultant spoke about the millions spent on surgeons pay for overtime work, to also, at least, state how much this same trust spent hiring those external managers and the hourly rate they charge too? Then, as a proper economist would, comment on the value for money this trust gained from those external managers service?
... and I was left wondering too, how much did the trust make from the PCT that commissioned the service? ... must've been lots ... and lots, so the trust is actually in profit re this particular area of surgeons overtime ... right? ... and how many patients were treated? How many lives were saved? Value?
Then again, the PCT that commissioned the service to start with must have had the means to do so, or, would have gotten into deep 'Staffordshire' like trouble if it hadn't used the overtime surgeons perhaps? Hence, how much would have been spent had the services of those surgeons not been sought?! ... not forgetting the cost of compensation and complaints either ....
Since I don't know, I was just left wondering ... and I am still wondering ... surgeons save lives ... how much of that was done inside that surgical theatre V how much value was gained by how many needy patients V how much was spent on everything else, including that theatrical performance by the BBC, the management consultants, Prof Maynard's opinion ... and whether all those were value for money too?
For someone whose expert opinion has always been that " tighter NHS resource constraints may lead to nurse led primary care ", I would say "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get" Meaning, everyone has a price that corresponds to their ability level, and if that fact is ignored, you end up paying much more and get much less quality in the process too ... that's the economics I know ... I wonder how much you charge per hour Professor ... as for value, let those reading be the judge of that ....
Can I have some answers? ... please Professor Maynard
And BBC, that was biased reporting! Even bordering on propaganda too, you know!
Related: Google [click]
"After all, everybody only hears what he understands."