Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lemming Tracks: Egypt, Google Exec Wael Ghonim, and Freedom of Speech

The Lemming has been posting quite a bit about Egypt lately. That's because this blog is strictly limited to stuff the Lemming thinks is interesting.

And the meltdown of a decades-old 'agree with me or disappear' regime is - interesting. To the Lemming, at any rate. Maybe you, too. If not, the Lemming will be back in a bit with something completely different.

Egypt and Google Executive Wael Ghonim: Smart Move; But a Little Late

"Reports: Egypt to Release Missing Google Exec Wael Ghonim Monday"
Sam Gustin, Epicenter, Wired (February 6, 2011)

"A Google executive who has been missing in Egypt for over a week is to be released Monday, according to family members and friends who say they've been contacted by Egyptian authorities.

"In addition to being the top Google marketing executive in the Middle East, Wael Ghonim is an internet activist who had been critical of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in the days leading up to the violence that has paralyzed Egypt.

" 'Wael is going to be released tomorrow at 4 p.m., several people from the authorities … called us to tell us,' Hazem Ghonim, Wael's brother, told The Wall Street Journal in a telephone interview from Cairo.

"Ghonim hasn't been heard from since January 27th, the night before protesters held what they called a 'Day of Rage' filled with violent clashes between police and protesters.

"Since his disappearance, Ghonim has become a symbol to internet activists who have struggled to overcome internet and cell-phone blackouts, which have accompanied widespread media repression, including violent attacks against journalists that have left at least one reporter dead...."
Good News: Wael Ghonim Doesn't Seem to be Dead
It isn't Monday, of course: and the Google boss who doesn't seem to approve of Egypt's president might 'commit suicide,' or maybe be 'shot while trying to escape.' The Lemming prefers to believe that the lot who have been running Egypt since President Mubarak's reign started in 1981 aren't quite that stupid.

It's possible that - a little late in the game - someone's talked sense into key decision-makers in Mubarak's government. This isn't the 'good old days,' when autocrats could have folks who weren't properly adoring of the president, chairman, or whatever - disappear, have accidents, or be reeducated. Not without other folks raising a fuss.

The Lemming thinks it isn't so much a matter of people around the world suddenly having a whole lot more sympathy for others. It's more likely, in the Lemming's opinion, that Information Age technology has made it possible for folks in mismanaged parts of the world to get word out - so that their neighbors know what's going on.

When the Lemming was growing up, what we'd hear from places like Egypt would - most likely - come from official sources in the Egyptian government, or from state-run news media in Egypt.

Sure, there'd be intrepid reporters and the occasional traveler with a tale to tell - but that sort of thing took time to do.

Enough! The Lemming has ranted about this before.

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