Category Archives: Special Reports

The Second Coming: Slouching Towards Qasr al-Qobba

TBE still carries a torch, however flickering, for Mohamed ElBaradei, but we feel the need to offer some advice on his* “campaign,” and where we see things moving from here. We originally intended to make this one long post, but decided that might be too boring for readers, so we’ve split it into two parts. Part 1 deals with the necessity of creating campaign infrastructure now, instead of waiting until the immediate pre-election period. Part 2 will deal with policy and messaging, and what we see as ElBaradei’s strengths and weaknesses in these areas, especially vis-a-vis Amr Moussa.

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Filed under Hip Hop, Politics, Special Reports

Time For A Journalism Ethics Panel?

TBE doesn’t usually engage in journalism, much less (open source) investigative journalism, but sometimes we decide not to simply pass a story on to someone else, as we usually would.

This tale begins with our catching up on some reading. We were looking at some neglected feeds on our RSS reader and came to Stephen Walt’s FP blog. Innocently scrolling down we came to a post about an Iran conference convened by the Israel Project, a US propaganda outfit that toes the “stopping settlements is “a kind of ethnic cleansing”” line, according to J Street. Not having attended the conference, we don’t know what was said. But if the materials on the group’s website are any indication, it was probably quite similar to a little ditty sung by former presidential candidate John McCain in one of his more unguarded moments. None of this is altogether shocking in a US context.

What did surprise us, however, was a panel, “How to Get Published and Write a Letter to the Editor with journalist and Reuters Editor Alan Elsner.” Why, we wondered, would an editor at Reuters, which, as far as we know, hews to US journalistic standards of objectivity, lead a panel at a conference run by a group that is almost certainly attempting to influence the coverage of the news organization for which he works? A quick google news search indicates that he is an editor at Reuters’ Washington, DC bureau. Past postings, according to his personal website, have included stints as Jerusalem correspondent (1980-85) and chief political correspondent (1994-2000).

With those facts in mind, and lacking any contact information for Mr. Elsner himself, we contacted Reuters’ public relations department. After a little back-and-forth, we received the following email:

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Filed under Journalism, Politics, Special Reports

Get Elected; or, al-Baradei Tryin’ (Omnibus)

Not no Parkay, not no margarine...

As promised, TBE is now publishing the full al-Baradei interview – straight, no chaser – in one convenient place. We’re terribly sorry that TBE doesn’t have a “print view” to facilitate reading it on your commute back to Matareyya or Grosvenor or wherever. May we suggest this brilliant application, which renders almost any texty web page printer-friendly?

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Filed under Politics, Special Reports, Translations

TBE Detained Again! Looks Forward To A Long Life Of Being Profiled At US Borders!

"Sittin here grillin people like George Foreman" -Kanye. Also TBE is considering making a film called "Must Love George Grosz," a "Must Love Dogs" for the LRB/NYRB personals set.

TBE has once again alighted (alit) in our ancestral homeland, just in time for a slew of prophet’s birthdays and new yearseses and things.  Which meant passing through JFK, which meant our first chance to see if entering the country on a fresh passport would allow us to bypass the security scrutiny that we so graciously countenanced last time we entered the homeland. (Is it just us or does that word sound better in German?)

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Filed under Conspiracy Theories, Hip Hop, Journalism, Music, Politics, Special Reports

Boursa Antiques Emporium Evicted

The courtyard area behind TIBA, once blossoming with antiques, now lies fallow.

The courtyard area behind TIBA, once blossoming with antiques, now lies fallow.

Oct. 9, 2009

TBE HQ Balcony- The Boursa’s largest outdoor antiques market has closed for business. A source at TIBA Supermarket with knowledge of the situation told TBE that the closure order came at the behest of the owner of a surrounding building. It was unclear at press time whether the owner in question was the government, the Ismailiyya Company for Real Estate Investment or some other person or entity.

The drama started last Sunday, October 4, when a large police and security contingent descended on the Boursa and ordered the shop’s immediate closure. After some verbal resistance to the order, the owner acquiesced.

The next several days witnessed trucks and workers loading myriad items, including giant doors, giant wheels, what looked like the minbar of a mosque and other detritus of Egypt’s past onto trucks, which then carted the materiel off. At one point, the situation threatened to turn explosive as workers continued to carry items out of the store to the waiting trucks during Egypt’s football match with Costa Rica, periodically interrupting café patrons’ television viewing. Cooler heads prevailed, however, and peace once again reined on the Boursa.

Lacking both a suitable place to put them and an interest in what might be termed “antiques-for-antiques’-sake,” TBE staff’s interactions with the shop were limited. Once, the store’s owner beckoned our editor to enter, perhaps mistaking him for one of the tourists that troll the Boursa’s byways on a regular basis. Although said editor politely declined, he came away from the interaction with the feeling that the owner was “pretty nice.” On the other hand, TBE’s photographer once entered the emporium, but claimed that he was treated brusquely and that the prices he was quoted were ridiculously high, particularly considering the fact that one very rarely sees customers in the store’s interior courtyard area, which is viewable from TBE’s oft-peopled balcony.

The effect of the eviction on the local economy is unclear. The fallout will undoubtedly touch those directly employed by the purveyor of antiquated objects. Nonetheless, this particular corner of the Boursa has long since moved to a café-based economy, catering to mixed-gender groups and couples, and using its comparative advantage in high-definition televisions to draw crowds from among the football-watching masses. This appears to be a winning formula, as the cafes remain popular despite charging higher than average prices and enforcing a no-hot-drinks-during-football-matches policy, which some local residents consider draconian.

For those that are in the market for giant hand-carved doors and the like, TBE can report exclusively that at least some of the goods have been transported to a building on one of the small side streets off of Sabry Abu ‘Alam, adjacent to the Boursa.

*          *          *

Because TBE’s photographer is still away on assignment, we commissioned a couple artists to render the scene. Their work can be seen after the jump.

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Filed under Downtown, Journalism, Special Reports, The Boursa

Only in Amerabia, Folks…


Special thanks to TBE Insha’ Allah correspondent Michael Slackman Juicey for alerting us to this breaking convenience-store-robbery-ternt-conversion-to-Islam story, which contains a number of awesome elements:

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Filed under Journalism, Special Reports

TBE Detained, Albeit Briefly: UPDATED

When Horace Greeley said, "Go West, Young Man," the Department of Homeland Security didn't exist.

When Horace Greeley said, "Go West, Young Man," the Department of Homeland Security didn't exist.

TBE is in America after a trying ordeal at JFK. Apparently due to the fact that our editor-in-chief’s passport is all bombed up and depleted, and furthermore contains stamps from many countries that write all in squiggly, (link may not work in Egypt and other squiggly countries) he was detained upon arrival at JFK, and sent to the room on the side to await his fate. Exclusive details after the jump.

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Filed under Politics, Special Reports



!حبك برص، يا قرية ذكية

According to informed TBE sources, boursa bigwigs have apparently succumbed to the dubious wisdom of that age-old adage, “It takes a village to raise a boursa.” It will be moving to the so-called “Smart Village” on the Alex Desert Road, which, for all its supposed tech savvy, has not yet developed a minimally navigable website. Its cafes do, however, feature “prestigious and yet comfortable sofas,” which is more than can be said for most Boursa cafes.

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Filed under Downtown, Special Reports, The Boursa

Why’s GAD Been Acting So Messed Up Towards TBE?: UPDATED


TBE is a longtime fan of GAD’s fiteer, particularly (q)ishta wa ‘asl. You can imagine our excitement at the prospect of a new GAD opening on Midan Falaki. We thought we might have recalled this prospective GAD a couple years back, in roughly the same state of limbo in which it exists today, but a peek behind the curtains showed that all or most of the kitchen and serving equipment was installed and ready to start churning out fiteer and other GADian delicacies. This led us to believe that it would be only a matter of days or a few short weeks before a very conveniently located GAD would be adorning our taste buds, far from the madding crowds (and long waits) of the 26th July location.

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Filed under Downtown, Food, Restaurants, Reviews, Special Reports

Architecture and Urban Renewal Updates

The corniche circa 1879

The corniche circa 1879.

Yesterday TBE had business in Zamalek. In the course of our circumambulations we gathered some information about the state of architecture and urban renewal schemes downtown and on the island. Later, at TBE HQ, we read with interest a recent contribution to Carnegie’s Arab Reform Bulletin by TBE acquaintance and future academic powerhouse Anne Mariel Peters, in which she writes that most of Egypt’s $5.4 fiscal stimulus package is slated for infrastructure projects. This would help explain the profusion of projects currently underway.

The updates are after the jump.

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Filed under Downtown, Home Maintenance, Oman, Special Reports