1400 GMT: Minister of Information Anas al-Fiqqi has urged private television channels to heed objectivity and avoid inflammatory coverage when reporting on the Alexandria bomb.Al-Fiqqi insisted that "nationalist dimensions" should be the focus of reports.
1000 GMT: The Belarus Prosecutor General has insisted that former Presidential candidates are not complaining about their conditions in detention.
Four other opposition candidates, including Vladimir Neklyaev and Andrei Sannikov (see separate entry for video), are still in prison.
About 150 other detainees are expected to be released after serving 15-day sentences. Around 700 people were seized during protests on Election Day on 19 December.
An amateur video captures the moment when Belarussian forces stopped the car of Presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov and his wife, journalist Iryna Khalip, taking the two to the prison of the state security service, the KGB. Khalip was speaking on Russian radio when the autombile was stopped.
Both Sannikov and Khalip are still detained.
WikiLeaks and Tunisia 2008: "President Ben Ali's Extended Family --- The Nexus of Tunisian Corruption"
In the context of the current economic protests in Tunisia, this document from WikiLeaks takes on new significance.
In June 2008, the US Embassy in Tunis takes a full and frank look at corruption in Tunisia. It "is getting worse" and it starts at the top: "President [Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali's extended family is often cited as the nexus of Tunisian corruption....Seemingly half of the Tunisian business community can claim a Ben Ali connection through marriage, and many of these relations are reported to have made the most of their lineage."
2140 GMT: Full Circle. We started today with thoughts about the regime's threat to arrest opposition leaders and the sharp response by Mehdi Karroubi, and we'll end today there as well....
Michael Theodoulou of The National considers, "Karroubi Throws Down Gauntlet to Iranian Government", with a guest appearance from EA:
Iran's most defiant opposition leader has challenged his government to try him in an open court for the momentous unrest that swept the Islamic republic after the "stolen" presidential elections in 2009.
Theodoulou also notes the curious and still murky development of President Ahmadinejad's dismissal of up to 14 advisors.
A few weeks ago a WikiLeaks cable emerged in which an Iranian source, talking to a US diplomat, said President Ahmadinejad had been slapped across the face by the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari.
Nobody paid much attention then, but in the last few days, with websites looking to fill space in the holiday season, Mahmoud's slap-down has raced around the Internet.
Only one problem: like many good tales, it may not be true.
Hypocrisy and good intentions will not stop the next massacre. Only a good hard look at ourselves and sufficient resolve to face up to the ugliness in our midst will do so.
We are to join in a chorus of condemnation. Jointly, Muslims and Christians, government and opposition, Church and Mosque, clerics and lay people -- all of us are going to stand up and with a single voice declare unequivocal denunciation of al-Qaeda, Islamist militants, and Muslim fanatics of every shade, hue and color; some of us will even go the extra mile to denounce salafi Islam, Islamic fundamentalism as a whole, and the Wahabi Islam which, presumably, is a Saudi import wholly alien to our Egyptian national culture.
And once again we’re going to declare the eternal unity of “the twin elements of the nation”, and hearken back the Revolution of 1919, with its hoisted banner showing the crescent embracing the cross, and giving symbolic expression to that unbreakable bond.
Much of it will be sheer hypocrisy; a great deal of it will be variously nuanced so as keep, just below the surface, the heaps of narrow-minded prejudice, flagrant double standard and, indeed, bigotry that holds in its grip so many of the participants in the condemnations.
All of it will be to no avail.
After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Palestinian Authority of "evading negotiations with Israel", the Authority's leader West Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that Israel and the Palestinians could reach a deal within two months, as long as Netanyahu was willing to take a new approach in the peace process.
Netanyahus response brought nothing new to the table:
I am prepared to immediately sit privately for direct, continuous negotiations with Abu Mazen [Abbas] until white smoke emerges. If Abu Mazen will agree to my suggestion to directly discuss all the core issues, we will know very quickly if it is possible to reach an agreement.
Who is refusing to discuss these "core issues"?
Thirteen videos of today's demonstrations in Cairo over the Alexandria attack and events in Tunisia....
Protestors try to get into Egyptian Radio and TV building in Maspero:
Last Wednesday, President Barak Obama appointed Robert Ford as the first U.S. ambassador to Syria since 2005. Since Ford is a recess appointment, he can serve only until the end of the next session of Congress, which will likely be in December 2011.
On Sunday, the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper reported that Washington has been in secret contact with Syrian officials in the hope for reaching a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and Damascus. Sources quoted Obama adviser Dennis Ross as saying that "Syria is ready to move away from Iran and reduce relations with Hezbollah and Hamas, and work with the United States in the fight against terrorism".
If this is true, then is the White House trying to undertake the new track as an alternative to the deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian peace process? The approach is not new --- this has been evaluated since Obama became President --- but it never reached the top of the agenda.
So the Administration may now be using Damascus to bring fresh blood to the "hopeless Middle East", amidst an analysis that a new Middle East war could emerge if Obama cannot break the deadlock between Israelis and Palestinians. But will Washington be ready to persist with the new approach?