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Monday, March 31, 2008

Mediawatch World, Mar 31: Edward Said, Mistress Shakespeare, Kurd Deportation, Arab Blogging, Jean Nouvel

Edward Said was a longstanding friend and comrade. We first met in 1972, at a seminar in New York. Even in those turbulent times, one of the features that distinguished him from the rest of us was his immaculate dress sense: everything was meticulously chosen, down to the socks. It is almost impossible to visualize him any other way. At a conference in his honour in Beirut in 1997, Edward insisted on accompanying Elias Khoury and myself for a swim. As he walked out in his swimming trunks, I asked why the towel did not match. ‘When in Rome’, he replied, airily; but that evening, as he read an extract from the Arabic manuscript of his memoir Out of Place, his attire was faultless. It remained so till the end, throughout his long battle with leukaemia. Remembering Edward Said - Tariq Ali

When I heard that Germaine Greer was embarking on a biography I was skeptical of what seemed likely to be a tenuous enterprise. There are serious gaps in our knowledge of Shakespeare himself, and facts about the woman he married are even harder to come by. Though Greer makes no use in Shakespeare's Wife of the fictions I have mentioned, she is nevertheless much concerned with what she sees as fictions masquerading as truth in what claim to be biographical writings about Shakespeare (or the Bard, as she is all too apt to call him). Ann, she considers, has had an unjustifiably bad press at the hands of (mainly male) biographers such as Anthony Burgess, Anthony Holden, and Stephen Greenblatt, and her book offers characteristically pugnacious challenges to what she sees as received opinion. Drawing on her own research in the archives of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on the place of women in Elizabethan society, she makes use of the techniques and skills of a social historian and, to a lesser extent, a genealogist. Mistress Shakespeare By Stanley Wells

Blinded by the apparent allure of a tall, thin woman from France, Britain’s press completely ignored the forcible deportation, on Thursday, of 60 Iraqi Kurds, who were transported back to a decidedly uncertain future on a German plane from a UK airport. Each of the 60 “failed asylum seekers,” as they are officially known, was escorted by an armed Home Office guard funded by the UK taxpayer. The guards had previously seized the men from the detention centers at Campsfield and Colnbrook in what looked uncomfortably like a “dawn raid.” UK government deports 60 Iraqi Kurds; no one notices Andy Worthington

Blogging in Egypt is taking off, although it is still relatively unknown and certainly not popular among the general public. However, among journalists and the professional, globalized class, it is an emergent phenomeneon. The Egyptian blog ring claims more than 1500 blogs, with slightly less than half of those published in English ( The Egyptian Blog Review’s motto “from citizens to watchdogs” proclaims the potential for new forms of citizen media to bypass state control and self-censorship, evidence of the impact changes in global communications systems are having. These changes favor narrowcasting and transnational, sub-state media that provide a more realistic view of the world than the traditional state-run media. Rania Al Malky, a former journalist for the English-language Egypt Today, describes on her site how new media is both subversive to the state and empowering to the public: “In a country like Egypt where state control of the media has reached such epidemic proportions that self-censorship has become a worse threat than direct censorship, the empowering effect of a blog is undeniable. It was only natural that political activists would pick it up to spread their pro-reform message and coordinate demonstrations and other forms of civil action which have been slowly gaining momentum in the past two years. And they now have the tools to tell the real story of how their peaceful protests are ‘controlled’”. Blogging in the Arab World

- Courtney C. Radsch

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jean Nouvel, the French architect whose hyper-modern buildings have been acclaimed for their eclectic nature and departure from tradition, has won the 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize, it was announced Sunday. Nouvel joins Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando and I.M. Pei in receiving the top honor in the field in recognition of his high-rises, museums and performance halls around the world. "I think they understood very well that I fight for specific architecture against generic architecture," Nouvel said by phone from his office in Paris. "Every project is an adventure." French architect Nouvel wins Pritzker

Tariq Ali's concluding paragraph in Where has all the rage gone? Some, who once dreamed of a better future, have simply given up. Others espouse a bitter maxim: unless you relearn you won't earn. The French intelligentsia, which had from the Enlightenment onwards made Paris the political workshop of the world, today leads the way with retreats on every front. Renegades occupy posts in every west European government defending exploitation, wars, state terror and neocolonial occupations; others now retired from the academy specialise in producing reactionary dross on the blogosphere, displaying the same zeal with which they once excoriated factional rivals on the far left. This, too, is nothing new. More here.


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