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Bahrain government buys C&W’s Batelco share out!

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This off the presses:

LONDON (AP) – Cable & Wireless PLC said Wednesday it will sell its 20 percent stake in Bahrain Telecommunications Co. BSC (Batelco) for $506.1 million to Bahrain government agencies.

The Middle Eastern monarchy will pay cash upon completion of the deal, expected in January, Cable & Wireless said in a statement.

Cable & Wireless’ stake will be bought by Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Co. BSC, General Organization for Social Insurance, and The Pension Fund Commission. All three are existing shareholders of Batelco and each will acquire a third of the Cable & Wireless stake.

“The decision to sell our stake in Batelco is in line with our strategy to dispose of assets within the international portfolio where there is little likelihood of achieving management control,” Cable & Wireless International Chief Executive Harris Jones said.

Okay then… so in a few weeks Batelco will be a full Bahraini company with the government bolstering it’s position as the biggest shareholder. Therefore, one would think, that as it will be a government entity, and as the government – obviously – wants what is best for the country, will it then break it into smaller units and really open up the competitive telecommunications market space in order for us mere mortals to be able to get proper services at reasonable (and un-fettered/un-throttled/un-bandwidth-limited) costs?

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Honey, I’m hoooome!

unblock mahmood's den order - small

We’re back!

Thanks again… to everyone, and to Dr. Yateem, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Information and the Minister for proving that they are understanding and reasonable people.

I’m not sure how many countries in the world that a citizen can go and meet such high up people, discuss issues with them in a calm and open manner, while those officials knowing full well that that person in front of them has mercilessly criticized them in writing and on several occasions (the latest of which is just this morning!) and they still do not take things personally, but keep professional and find a to diffuse such a situation as this; but there couldn’t be many.

So regardless of our differences, I am honoured to have met these gentlemen and thank them once again for their efforts, and hope that they will continue to accept criticism without taking them too personally, for the good of Bahrain. And invite them, to jump in and comment and rebut any argument and article I put forth here, and hope that I too would be good enough to accept their criticisms with the same spirit.

So that page of our story is over… I’m now looking forward to the new page, one in which we can benefit from each other’s experiences, and can discuss matters which affect our country and our countrymen with the same understanding exhibited in this situation.

The next step for us, gentlemen, is to enact those 6 points suggested by the RSF which I have submitted to you and hope that they will be put into your consideration for any new legislation concerning the internet.

I am available to continue our discussions at your convenience.

Thank you, once again, to everyone.

Onward!

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More sites to be blocked?

Bahrain - more sites to be blocked by MoI orderGood morning my friends…

It’s nice a sunny and cool day in Bahrain, slightly humid, but promises to get hotter as the day goes by, especially as far as personal freedoms and freedoms of expression are concerned.

I have received the following page from a friend, and as you can see, it is another order by the Ministry of Information to block some more sites; the common denominator it seems is that they mention the dreaded Bandargate scandal in one way or another after Oct 5th, 2006 when the gag order was issued. The ministry also claims that some of the sites blocked contain libelous material which they cannot condone, and in the interest of protecting citizens, they have taken it upon themselves to take appropriate action – in this case, blocking access to these sites from within Bahrain.

The worrying thing in there is that there is another thread of commonality in most of them: 5 our of 8 are Shi’i sites. One is an international Human Rights site, 2 are based out of Bahrain while the real humdinger is the order to block the only active liberal society (Wa’ad) which is contesting the forthcoming elections on too!

You can draw your own conclusions from my observations.

Much more importantly, it behooves all of us now to raise the bar against such intolerance which is permeating the Ministry of Information’s halls of power. They might be just an executive branch who are charged with implementing the law, but I think they have taken it upon themselves to go way beyond their mandate in being an dependent “Yes Sir” organisation with a few individuals who have taken it upon themselves to do nothing but scour the net for what they perceive to be offending material, and then make recommendations to the Minister to action a blocking order.

This situation denotes a variety of ills which must be corrected:

    1. The Ministry’s powers must be curtailed and such actions as blocking any source of information should be given, and with stringent provisos, to the judicial authorities exclusively.
    2. The Ministry’s role, if there is to be one in any case, should be limited to recommending closure of offending sites to the judicial powers which must be presented complete and with unambiguous documentary evidence to support their closure request.
    3. Before such recourse to the judiciary, the Ministry should exhaust all possible means to amicably resolve any situation with the website owners, possibly by face to face information meetings and/or sending them an initial warning email specifying what they find objectionable in the site, preferably with a link to assist the website manger in reviewing the offending material.
    4. The Ministry should adopt better, more friendly ways in communicating with website owners and moderators and work at maintaining a partnership relationship between them.
    5. The Ministry of Information should immediately establish an excellent website through which information would be easily accessible.
    6. To be part of the electronic publishing culture, the Minister himself should be encouraged to start his own blog, as well as all the top managers within the Ministry to better communicate with the public and to actually show them the value of having such a ministry in the first place.
    7. Restating the role of the Ministry of Information and moving it away from being the “information police” to that of the “information facilitator” and exert all efforts at increasing intellectual pursuits and dialogue, thus assisting the country in going forth into the knowledge age, rather than act as a seemingly continuous hindrance.

I hope that these points will be taken seriously into consideration, rather than resort to secretive machinations or resorting continuously to threats and the law to force compliance with what the Ministry deems appropriate or correct.

The sites given in this list have not been blocked yet. Although the order is issued on the 30th of last month, all of them are still available*. I strongly urge the minister to reconsider this policy and adopt and adapt some of the recommendations given above.

The new list includes:

    1. http://www.shahrakkan.org [*blocked!]
    2. http://www.hrinfo.net [*blocked!]
    3. http://www.bab-albahrain.net
    4. http://www.aldair.net
    5. http://www.alhiyak.net
    6. http://www.bintjbeil.org [*blocked!]
    7. http://www.althaqlain.com [*blocked!]
    8. http://www.aldemokrati.org [*blocked!]

The list of sites still blocked in Bahrain (please let me know should you come across more, or indeed if the situation of any of the sites listed below changes) are:

    1. National Committee of Martyrs and Victims of Torture – http://www.shaheedbh.com
    2. Bahrain forums – http://www.montadayat.org
    3. Wattani (the National ) Forums – http://www.wattani.net
    4. Tubli village forum – http://www.tubli.net
    5. Alsaheefa (the Journal) – http://www.alsaheefa.net
    6. Electronic Journal (Civilized Dialogue) – http://www.rezgar.com
    7. Ahrar Al-Bahrain – http://www.ahraralbahrain.com
    8. Bahrain times – http://www.bahraintimes.org
    9. Bahrain Center for Human Rights – http://www.bahrainrights.org
    10. Middle East news portal – http://www.Albawaba.com
    11. Mahmood’s Den – http://mahmood.tv**
    12. http://www.annaqed.com
    13. http://www.freecopts.net
    14. http://www.arabchurch.com
    15. http://www.kurdtimes.com

* – updated 1225 on 2 Nov, ’06
** – updated 1530 on 2 Nov, ’06

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One more site blocked in Bahrain

It used to be just 9 that were blocked:

and now, it appears that someone who is really shaking in his boots and deems it very necessary to protect us from ourselves and protect the country from those nefarious people hell bent on toppling the government has done the right thing™ and blocked…

Well done! I am sure the blocking of these sites will contribute greatly to the country’s standing in the Freedom of the Press index, the Human Rights index (which Bahrain actually is on that council in the UN!!) and will also assist Shaikha Haya bint Rashed Al-Khalifa in her role as the PRESIDENT of the United Nations and gain her and Bahrain even more respect and credibility to continue to be in that role.

Of course, that brainfartist probably doesn’t know that it is becoming easier every day to unblock sites, no matter what their contents are.

Welllll done!

But then one must ask the question… who’s next?

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Biting the hand that feeds you

price comparison between batelco jordan and bahrain

Doesn’t this comparison make your blood boil? Doesn’t it look like Batelco has been and will continue to take the place it calls its headquarters, the country that nourished it for a ride? Doesn’t that look like Batelco is biting the hand that feeds it? Don’t they look nothing less than vampires?

Of course it does and they don’t particularly care… after all, what’s the alternative?
BoycottBatelco.com

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Google Earth Blocked in Bahrain

Now we know why the Ministry of DISinformation is so desperate to control the Internet:

Bahrain, as viewed through Google Earth before it was blocked by the Bahraini governmentAccording to Al-Wasat this morning, the Ministry of DISinformation has instructed the Bahrain Internet Exchange to block Google Earth. Possibly because through Google Earth, the whole world, let alone the Bahraini users, can zoom in and have a good look at palaces and islands which a normal Bahraini wouldn’t even dream of one day coming close to, let alone stepping foot in, and the glaring confiscation of virtually all but 3% of beaches of the islands.

And typical of the Bahriani government, they think that by forcing people to stick their heads in the sands, they no longer will complain about the disproportionate distribution of wealth, the dirth of lands (more than 95% of the whole of the country of Bahrain is in private hands, leaving nothing for development projects and low income housing etc) and the various other top-secret nature of land ownership in this country.

This step completely shows the moronic nature of the Ministry of DISinformation, and BIX with its unconstitutional board and the typical “control” mentality that the Bahraini government seems to think is the proper management ideology to adopt to run the country.

Well, they blocked it…

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN UNBLOCK IT

.

dickheads.

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Another attempt at Big Brother coming up…

I can’t believe this, once again the Ministry of (dis)Information has taken it upon itself to protect our true Arabian and Muslim culture and ourselves from ourselves by insisting on blocking some Internet sites it deems offensive and “alien to our culture.”

Well who the hell put you as a chaperone for me and my thoughts? If I want to see porn, I’ll get porn, and no matter what the hell the Misery of Information or BIX does is going to stop me or anyone else from reaching the information we seek.

But, the thing about protecting us from porn is really just a red herring that is sold and over-sold to pea-brained individuals who probably don’t know anything about the Internet in the first place. The real reason as the following report from Al-Wasat shows, they really want to control the Internet and our access to information:

«إنترنت البحرين» تحجب المواقع الإباحية قريباً

المنامة بدالة إنترنت البحرين –
صرح المدير التنفيذي لبدالة انترنت البحرين محمد إبراهيم الذوادي أنه سيتم تفعيل قرار وزير الإعلام وزير الدولة للشئون الخارجية رقم (1) لسنة 2006 بشأن حجب المواقع الاباحية على شبكة الانترنت في القريب العاجل حال صدور تعميم من هيئة تنظيم الاتصالات بذلك.

وأضاف الذوادي أن «تفعيل قرار وزارة الإعلام يأتي التزاماً من البدالة بتنفيذ قرارات السلطة التنفيذية ممثلة في وزارة الإعلام. وستظهر صفحة تحذيرية باللغتين العربية والإنجليزية عند محاولة الدخول على المواقع المحظورة توضح أن الموقع تم إغلاقه من قبل وزارة الإعلام وذلك لاحتوائه على نشاط مخالف للقيم الاجتماعية أو السياسية أو الثقافية أو الدينية»، وأضاف أنه ستحتوي تلك الصفحة على رابط لتعبئة استمارة لطلب فتح أية مواقع مفيدة تم إغلاقها بالخطأ وبالتالي سيتم التنسيق مع وزارة الإعلام بشأن إمكان إعادة فتح تلك المواقع.

وذكر الذوادي أن مسئولية حجب المواقع الاباحية تقع على عاتق الجميع وذلك لحماية مجتمعنا المحافظ وعاداتنا وتقاليدنا العربية. ومن هذا المنطلق ستوفر بدالة انترنت البحرين عبر موقعها على شبكة الإنترنت وق.ّ ىق.ٌٌٌّّّ رابطاً لاستقبال الملاحظات أو الطلبات بإغلاق بعض المواقع المنافية للأخلاق التي لم يتم غلقها مسبقاً.

يذكر أن بدالة انترنت البحرين كيان لا يهدف إلى الربح، وتقتصر عملية تقديم خدمات الانترنت على الحاصلين على رخصة مزودي خدمة الإنترنت من هيئة تنظيم الاتصالات، والبدالة حالياً تعمل بكامل طاقتها لتقديم خدماتها للزبائن الذين بلغ عددهم 16 شركة من مزودي خدمة الانترنت، وفي الوقت الراهن تتم معظم خدمات الاتصالات الدولية عن طريق بطاقات مدفوعة الأجر عن طريق شبكة البدالة

So there you have it, as I’ve highlighted the real issue in bold above, it says that when (not if) a site is blocked, it will have a page displayed which will say that the site has been blocked due to it containing “material against the local culture, religion, politics or societal norms”.

When are these dinosaurs going to leave us alone? Every few weeks we get yet another disaster and them restricting our God-given freedoms in the guise of “protecting” our culture and ourselves from ourselves. Well, to hell with you, I know how to protect myself and I am free to get any information I want to get, and I will get it in spite of all your futile attempts at closing my mind.

Don’t these dickheads realise that this is the very recipe for raising terrorists? Block the whole world and paint our own country/culture/religion as the best in the world and not allow people to interact with other cultures? How is our critical thinking as a society ever going to develop if we continue to allow morons to control our lives?

Where the bloody hell is parliament and parliamentarians to protect our freedoms? Where is the government? Where is everyone?

We should not allow this to happen. This is against every single human right AND BAHRAIN IS A MEMBER OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL! What the hell is going on?

Can someone DO something PLEASE?

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