No military attack on Syria!

Who fired the missiles? Assad or the rebels?

The West is accusing Assad and they say they have evidence. The following is a copy of Prem Shankar Jha’s blogpost, an Indian journalist, – I assume his conclusion is different! And for pretty good reasons if you ask me.

Here we go – it’s simply copy and paste from his website.

I found a collection of 59 videos that ‘livestreamed’ the Ghouta outrage. The first of them is a video uploaded by the ‘social activists’ that claims to be of the chemical rocket being fired by the Assad government. Please take a careful look at it.

You will notice the following anomalies:

  1. The Ghouta videos started appearing on the internet at 4.00 AM. So this video had to have been shot between 2.00 and 3.00 AM on Aug 21, Syria time. This means that there was someone on a balcony looking towards the launch site at this unearthly hour of the morning. This raises the following questions: why was he up at that time? Why did he have his phone with him then?
  2. Suppose he was just answering an overseas phone call that came at this unearthly hour. How was he able to switch on the phone camera and take this video quickly enough to capture the launch?
  3. As one will see, the entire launch from first small flash to the end of the big flash took no more than two seconds. Assume he had the phone in his hand, and happened to be looking at the exact spot the rocket rose from, how was he able to capture the entire three seconds on the camera?
  4. Only after I asked myself these questions did I notice that the cameraman had done more than that. He had had his camera running for four seconds BEFORE the rocket was launched.
  5. Then I noticed more: He had been pointing at the precise spot where he expected the rocket to rise from, because he found that it was slightly off center to the left, he immediately corrected the camera angle to get the flash in the center.
  6. The time the sound took to follow the flash was between six and seven seconds. That placed the camera man almost exactly a mile away from the launch site.

To sum up: a man with a phone or other camera was on a balcony that was at a perfect distance for recording a small rocket launch, with his camera running, facing the precise spot from which the rocket rose, and had begun filming a pitch black night, in which there was almost complete silence, four seconds before a chemical rocket was to rise from that spot.

Was this coincidence or design, and if design, whose design?

Chinese Mafia is taking over in Venice

(a little more detailed fotopedia story on this you find here)

The Chinese mafia has invaded Venice, bringing a “favela” modality into the city in a way which no Venetian have ever dreamt of, says Fiora Gandolfi, an old Venetian lady, the embodiment of Venice. She is ready to stand up against the mafia.
She says that the Chinese gangs are making war amongst themselves – they compete in making fast and easy money (slot machines, counterfeit Italian fashion merchandise), and they don’t care about the history and culture of Venice.

They are breaking the windows of their neighbours …and they sink boats during the night.

The Venetians say “no”.
The citizens of Venice do not want more casinos and gambling places to be open. They are proud of their casino in the beautiful Palazzo Vendramin Calergi – where Wagner lived and died. That’s enough for them! At the cities’ balconies and windows you see billboards and messages painted on bed sheets saying ‘NO to gambling rooms in San Lio! Thank you’ ‘Stop the Chinese mafia!’, ‘No Russian mafia!, ‘No Turkish mafia!’ …

The Venetians want to preserve their identity and culture in its purest form – there is no need that senseless money making tourism and short term goals dominate timeless traditions. Venice is being destroyed by the enormous amount of boats that are eroding the foundations on which our palaces are built. We need to get rid off the unscrupulous foreigners who are interested in emptying the city of its unique culture – simply to make money.

Fiora’s daughter Luna made this statement (it’s in French) on these developments. Sorry for the poor video quality; we did it via SKYPE and I was on a bad internet connection in India …

A different take on Syria

In the following videos Prem Shankar Jha, a well known journalist in India, tries to give you a different take on what is going on in Syria from what you you usually read in (Western) newspapers and see on TV. In his eyes the unrests and the destruction of the Assad regime in Syria were carefully planned by the US and its Western allies. And now – after realizing that they are de-stabilizing just another Arabic country and by doing so they are just putting even more pressure on Israel – it’s impossible for them to say: We did wrong!

I cut the entire video down in single pieces and tried to separate them by subjects.

No Arab Spring in Syria
What happened in Syria was different from Egypt and Tunisia – it had nothing to do with the so-called Arab Spring in northern Africa.

Why it was different in Syria …

How the unrests evolved and who encouraged them

Israel and Oil – The 2 major reasons for destroying Syria

The failure of journalism and the media
The lack of Western media staff on the ground and the role Al Jazeera played in the process.
The misuse of social media sources.

youtube’s role in the media circus – and how it was used by whom.

When the Americans and the British realized they were wrong
Inconvenient Facts – Not liked by Hillary Clinton

Assad’s Choices

Where will Syria go?

Women Power

During the Global Citizen Forum in London I’ve had the chance to interview three incredible women ….

The first interview I did was with Chema Gargouri, a Tunisian woman, founder and president of TAMSS (Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability). Their mission is mission is to sustainably develop poor communities through strengthening the economic and social capacities of families by establishing innovative complementary services based on leadership, training, education, and the promotion of entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise. I am sure you will be more than surprised what Chema has to say about Tunisian woman …

The second interview I did with Dr. Masuma Hasan who remained first women Ph.D. and first women Federal Secretary of Pakistan. While her husband spent many years in prison because of fighting Pakistan dictators, Masuma made it all by herself to the top and is today for many Pakistan women a role model.

And the third interview is featuring Alfaris Deena, CEO of a family business in Saudi Arabia, a very unusual job for a woman in this country!


Today we launched a new website for NATO in Brussels. It’s called WE_NATO – a wordpress blog on which NATO plans to have an eye level conversation with netizens out there in the web on various topics. It’s a new approach for NATO in the up-run to the NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012 with formats such as livestreams, videointerviews and liveblogging. We will invite various people from the Internet world to contribute and participate.

Here is a short interview we produced for the launch – besides the offical NATO statement from Dr. Stefanie Babst, Head of Public Diplomacy – to give you some insights into what the major challenges are and what to expect.

Hanging out with gangsters, talking about global governance

It was last year in September. I spent 10 days in Shanghai doing some research on global governance, social media and the open source movement. I wrote about here and here – and I did a couple of interviews – with David Li, Marc Chijs, Carsten Ullrich … This one here happened more or less by coinincidence in a bar named Ying Yang. Ying Yang is a lesser known venue in the French Concession district in Shanghai. Full of atmosphere. Posters of Chairman Mao adorning every available wall space, the musical background floats seamlessly from bossa nova to jazz, progressive psychedelic, and everything in between – as you can hear in the interview;-) – a favorite spot for both bohemian locals and expats in-the-know.

This entire “meeting” was set up via twitter and facebook. A friend of mine, Kate Ettinger, connected me with a bunch of “gangsters” – all of them members of – a worldwide network of social entrepreneurs (I would highly recommend to check them out!). Habib Belaribi, Larry Vetea Tchiou, Clément Renaud and his girl friend Qu Hongyuan (most people call her Yuan – that’s also the way she introduces herself). Over some French red wine we were chatting about Shanghai, China, makesense and global governance.

A wonderful evening.
I’ve learnt a lot.

Thank you guys! Thank you Yuan!

Hacker Culture is close to Brazilian Culture

Daniela Silva and Pedro Markun work together in the House of Digital Culture in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It’s a co-working space – lovely set-up – where many young people meet and work in the fields of transparency, open innovation, digital culture and and the culture of hacking.

I like this interview a lot, because

  • it shows so much that these 2 young people really love the work they do
  • they are deeply convinced that the topics they are working on will have an impact on Brazlian society
  • they are really good in what they do and
  • they understood that they have to start with themselves first (“be the change you want to see” 😉
  • they don’t live in a bubble
  • it gives pretty cool insights into the Brazilian Internet and hacker scene
  • as well as into Brazilian society


One of my favourite projects Daniela and Pedro are involved in, is the “Ônibus Hacker” – the Hacker Bus. The project was born from the Brazilian online community Transparência Hacker, ‘Hacker Transparency’. It was created in 2009 around a HackDay in São Paulo, and the group’s discussion list now counts over 700 members. As its name says, its focus is (h)activism in favor of public transparency and open data. Previous and ongoing projects include Otoridades, a portal where Brazilians can denunciate abuses of power, and Mapas Livres, which focuses on open mapping.

They participated in Rio de Janeiro’s Digital Culture Festival, Sao Paulo’s Campus Party was also on the agenda, as well as ConSocial. This government initiative was Brazil’s first National Conference on Transparency and Social Control. The most important part of the project will be its interaction with the general public. Hacker Transparency calls it ‘Hacker Invasions’: the group’s plan is to visit small towns, where they can have a stronger impact on local realities. It doesn’t mean they will come up with ready-made solutions; it will be a work in progress, in partnership with the local population. During one weekend, they listened to the inhabitants’ needs and helped them to develop answers with the help of to technology, from blogs to apps. In other terms, it was a local version of their HackDays.

Although these actions are local, Hacker Bus hopes to have a larger impact: thanks to webcams and 3G, anyone interested should be able to watch their progress in real time. Hacker Bus might even physically go beyond Brazil’s borders as the group has received an invitation to visit Uruguay. Quite impressive for a project which only started fundraising less than a year ago.

Cinema Jenin – Is this the end?

I am shocked while I am reading these lines

And I am not sure what shocked me more: the lousy kind of journalism – obviously DEUTSCHLANDRADIO didn’t do any qualified research on the subject – or the fact that Marcus Vetter should have said, that the situation in Jenin is too insecure to bring volunteers.

But first things first.

Right from the beginning I was a big supporter of Cinema Jenin – you can follow up here and here on various articles I’ve written and interviews I’ve done. After the opening event I’ve been 3 times to Jenin in various missions and I know some of the people there quite well.

Marcus Vetter, a German documentary film maker did this heart breaking movie “Heart of Jenin“. During the shooting the idea was born to re-build a cinema in Jenin which was closed during the intifada in 1987 (I think). He founded a “Verein”, raised a lot of money and in August 2010 there was a grand opening of Cinema Jenin screening Marcus’ film: Heart of Jenin. A very emotional moment for each and everybody who was involved. This opening should have marked a beginning. The beginning of the project Cinema Jenin – a cinema which helps the people in Jenin and which provides a space where creativity can emerge. The cinema was re-built for the local people.

So what happened?

Unfortunately here the DEUTSCHLANDRADIO article ends by saying that Fahkri, the ex-manager of Cinema Jenin is now in Germany, the situation in Jenin is too dangerous for volunteers to stay there and the cinema program is no longer running. Full stop!

Here are a few points, which a journalist should at least take into consideration when publishing such an article – very easy to do the research on …  – and believe me, I am not very happy to write the following:

  • I think Fahkri currently can’t go back to Jenin … –  according to what local people are telling me, there are still unpaid bills  from the opening. Many people mentioned that he’d used his position for his personal advantage …
  • Cinema Jenin unfortunately NEVER had a sustainable plan (I remember the discussion at the opening event how it should go on) nor funding to create something like a continuous cinema program or to establish local staff who translate Marcus’ ideas into action.
  • Most of the money which came and is still coming from our ministry of foreign affairs is needed to reduce outstanding debts – unfortunately it can’t be used to build something new! And the budget was huge – 1 million Euros according to many media sources reported.
  • I remember staying at the guest house when one room was flooded by the rain and there wasn`t any money to repair it (March 2010). Volunteers were sleeping in there … they got sick! Maybe that is one of the reasons why they left.
  • The team unfortunately failed in involving the local people – asking them what THEY wanted, supporting THEM with THEIR ideas for the theatre and building something for THEM.
  • The way it was done –  when I look back today – was very much to create a PR-story for the movie Heart of Jenin.
  • I liked very much the idea Marcus once told me to “export” the idea of Cinema Jenin in various parts of the world – but not for the purpose of writing another PR story for the next movie (Africa), but to build something for the people`s need.

I am writing this because I am NOT willing to accept that Cinema Jenin failed because of the insecure situation in Jenin. I agree, it is NOT a tea party there – but I and many of my friends never had any trouble there. People were always friendly and welcoming. I think Cinema Jenin failed because of its insuffcient – I am tempted to say selfish – management.

But there is still hope … even though it’s little.

It hasn’t closed its doors yet!

And believe me – I will be among the first to support the project again when the locals are involved and when their needs become part of it – or even better, when THEY THEMSELF run the cinema.

It does take time …

… if you are trying to build something new from the scratch – like the people in Tunisia and in Egypt do. And in Lybia.

They have the chance to build a new democracy.
A democracy the people can believe in, a democracy which includes new fresh faces, new principles such as participation, transparency, reputation, equality, sharism … where people count, not necessarily money. Where many – not to say all – benefit from.

Why aren’t we patient and give them all the time they need to re-build their country?
Why don’t we support them to think in “new” ways?
And find something new for ourselves along these processes.
The protest in the so-called “Western” world clearly show that the kind of democracy we are facing needs an overhaul as well …
Why is there this urgency in new elections? In building a “new” government?
Belgium is without a government since 2010 and is still “running”.
Can these governments be “new” after thirty or more years of dictatorship?
In a dictatorship there is no such a thing as an opposition!
The opposition is usually send to jail.

Something “new” has to evolve!
We have to disenthrall ourselves to become able to think anew!
We are talking here about a very significant change in culture, in the mindsets of people.
And this can’t be achieved in a 7 month period.
But we are demanding it!
I don’t understand why.

Just think about when the Berlin Wall fell.
How long did it take to “unify” East and West under peaceful and wealthy conditions?
Some people would argue it’s still in progress. 22 years later!
And the way it was done wasn’t very democratic. Was it?
People weren’t ask.
It was done for them.
But participation wasn’t a real option back then.

This is different today.
So what can we do? How could such a process look like?

Take Egypt as an example.

    • Analyze exactly what are/were the reasons people go/went out on the streets and protest?
    • Take these problems seriously and tackle them!
    • Go to the roots of the problems!
    • Trust the people and enable them to come up with their own solutions!
    • Let them build their own local infrastructure and support them by doing so!
    • If they build it by themselves, they will support it!
    • Let them fail! They will learn from their failures and do better in the future!
    • Invest in enabling people and NOT in military tools and infrastructure to protect them!
    • It means investing in education, investing in local, small businesses.
    • It means build upon the diversity on what Egypt has to offer and NOT was the “Western” world needs.
    • Existing “democracies” shouldn’t teach them what to do, but enable them to realize their own ideas!
    • They should teach them about the mistakes they’ve made and learn together how to do it better!
    • Form some kind of “transition committee” – based on transparency, participation and openness – which deals as contact for any kind of (foreign) aid
    • Invite other countries to participate!
    • And give them time!

I think Egypt can play more than other country in the Arab World a key role in this transition phase. Simply because of its tremendous history! It’s been a role model many times …


I  highly recommend to read David Sims‘ book “Understanding Cairo – The Logic of a City out of Control”. He analyzes in detail how the “informal” structures are working and functioning and gives many examples in housing, road construction and basic infrasstructure, smal businesses.