domingo, 6 de fevereiro de 2011

Nicholas Kristof: Militants, Women and Tahrir Square -- We Are All Egyptians

Militants, Women and Tahrir Sq.

Damon Winter/The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof
On the Ground
Nicholas Kristof is posting from Cairo on his blog whenever he has Internet access. You can also follow his updates on Facebookand Twitter.
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When Westerners watched television images of the popular uprising against President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, they winced at the government’s thuggery toward protesters. But some also flinched at the idea of a popular democracy that might give greater voice to Islamic fundamentalism.
In 1979, a grass-roots uprising in Iran led to an undemocratic regime that oppresses women and minorities and destabilizes the region. In 1989, uprisings in Eastern Europe led to the rise of stable democracies. So if Egyptian protesters overcome the government, would this be 1979 or 1989?
No one can predict with certainty. But let me try to offer a dose of reassurance.
After spending last week here on Tahrir Square, talking to protesters — even as President Mubarak’s thugs attacked our perimeter with bricks, Molotov cocktails, machetes and occasional gunfire — I emerge struck by the moderation and tolerance of most protesters.
Maybe my judgment is skewed because pro-Mubarak thugs tried to hunt down journalists, leading some of us to be stabbed, beaten and arrested — and forcing me to abandon hotel rooms and sneak with heart racing around mobs carrying clubs with nails embedded in them. The place I felt safest was Tahrir Square — “free Egypt,” in the protesters’ lexicon — where I could pull out a camera and notebook and ask anybody any question.
I constantly asked women and Coptic Christians whether a democratic Egypt might end up a more oppressive country. They invariably said no — and looked so reproachfully at me for doubting democracy that I sometimes retreated in embarrassment.
“If there is a democracy, we will not allow our rights to be taken away from us,” Sherine, a university professor, told me (I’m not using full names to protect the protesters). Like many, she said that Americans were too obsessed with the possibility of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood gaining power in elections.
“We do not worry about the Muslim Brotherhood,” Sherine said. “They might win 25 percent of the votes, but if they do not perform then they will not get votes the next time.”
Sherine has a point. Partly because of Western anxieties, fundamentalist Muslims have rarely run anything — so instead they lead the way in denouncing the corruption, incompetence and brutality of pro-Western autocrats like Mr. Mubarak. The upshot is that they win respect from many ordinary citizens, but my hunch is that they would lose support if they actually tried to administer anything.
For example, in 1990s Yemen, an Islamic party named Islah became part of a coalition government after doing well in elections. As a result, Islah was put in charge of the Education Ministry. Secular Yemenis and outsiders were aghast that fundamentalists might brainwash children, but the Islamists mostly proved that they were incompetent at governing. In the next election, their support tumbled.
It’s true that one of the most common protester slogans described Mr. Mubarak as a stooge of America, and many Egyptians chafe at what they see as a supine foreign policy. I saw one caricature of Mr. Mubarak with a Star of David on his forehead and, separately, a sign declaring: “Tell him in Hebrew, and then he might get the message!” Yet most people sounded pragmatic, favoring continued peace with Israel while also more outspoken support for Palestinians, especially those suffering in Gaza.
I asked an old friend here in Cairo, a woman with Western tastes that include an occasional glass of whiskey, whether the Muslim Brotherhood might be bad for peace. She thought for a moment and said: “Yes, possibly. But, from my point of view, in America the Republican Party is bad for peace as well.”
If democracy gains in the Middle East, there will be some demagogues, nationalists and jingoists, just as there are in America and Israel, and they may make diplomacy more complicated. But remember that it’s Mr. Mubarak’s repression, imprisonment and torture that nurtured angry extremists like Ayman al-Zawahri of Al Qaeda, the right-hand man of Osama bin Laden. It would be tragic if we let our anxieties impede our embrace of freedom and democracy in the world’s most populous Arab nation.
I’m so deeply moved by the grit that Egyptians have shown in struggling against the regime — and by the help that some provided me, at great personal risk, in protecting me from thugs dispatched by America’s ally. Let’s show some faith in the democratic ideals for which these Egyptians are risking their lives.
I think of Hamdi, a businessman who looked pained when I asked whether Egyptian democracy might lead to oppression or to upheavals with Israel or the price of oil. “The Middle East is not only for oil,” he reminded me. “We are human beings, exactly like you people.”
“We don’t hate the American people,” he added. “They are pioneers. We want to be like them. Is that a crime?”
I invite you to visit my blog, On the Ground, where I am posting from Cairo whenever I have Internet access. You can also follow my updates on Facebook and Twitter.

terça-feira, 1 de fevereiro de 2011

Embraer Legacy 600 Jet Involved in Brazil Midair Finally on U.S. Soil

Jet Involved in Brazil Midair Finally on U.S. Soil

The Embraer Legacy 600 involved in the midair with a Gol Transportes Aéreos Boeing 737 on Sept. 29, 2006, will arrive today at Cleveland (Ohio) Hopkins International Airport after a ferry flight from Eduardo Gomes International Airport in Manaus, Brazil. (See current FlightAware flight track.) The Legacy 600–now registered as N965LL–was recovered by a mobile repair team from Cleveland-based Constant Aviation, which was hired by the new owners of the Legacy to recover and repair the jet. Before arriving in Cleveland today, the Legacy flew from Manaus to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., yesterday, landing on U.S. soil at 7:23 p.m. Last month, it was flown from the military airbase in Cachimbo, where the twinjet made an emergency landing after the midair, to Manaus in northern Brazil.

The business jet had originally been purchased by charter/management firm ExcelAire of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., and was on its delivery flight from the Embraer factory in São José dos Campos when the collision occurred. According to Constant Aviation president Stephen Maiden, the insurance company declared the Legacy as a write-off and sold the jet as-is to the new owner, whom Constant would not identify. FAA records list the new owner as Cloudscape of Wilmington, Del.

In early 2007, a team from Constant Aviation visited Brazil to examine the Legacy on behalf of the insurance provider, along with personnel from Embraer, and they conducted an initial analysis of the airplane. Later, another visit was made to conduct alignment checks of the airframe and determine whether it could fly again, Maiden said. The Legacy had a damaged left elevator and the left wing was missing its winglet. “Some structural repairs had to be done to get it in a position to where we could fly it,” Maiden said, “even on a ferry permit.” This included replacing the horizontal stabilizer before the Legacy left the airbase.

The humid jungle environment in Brazil was not kind to the airplane, which sat outside for a year-and-a-half after the accident, and all of its Honeywell avionics displays had to be replaced, he said. The fuel tanks were clean and the Rolls-Royce AE3007 engines had been preserved–although they hadn't been run, they were in good shape. “We did extensive boroscoping and testing to verify the validity of the engines,” he said. The airframe wasalso free of corrosion. “We had a team of 10 people,” he said, “and we spent three weeks doing testing and analyzing all the systems to make sure it was a safe airplane to put back in the air.”

After arriving in Cleveland later this morning, the Legacy will get a new wing and a heavy (48-month) inspection. The owner will have to decide whether to buy a new wing or a used serviceable wing, Maiden said. The engines will be sent to a Rolls-Royce-authorized service center for evaluation and any necessary repairs. “We'll inspect and repair all the systems,” he said, “and do a full evaluation of the interior. The airplane is relatively new, with only 20 flight hours. [We may] refurbish the interior.”

For Constant Aviation, which recovers airplanes from all over the world, the Legacy job was one of the company's most difficult, Maiden said. “With an airplane that was this notable, it created a lot of other issues legally, which [caused] a timing issue and restrictions on how we were going to work to get the airplane out of Brazil. It's one of the most challenging we've done.”

Maiden expects the Constant Aviation team to finish the repairs and refurbishment of the Legacy in about 90 days. “We do this type of work all the time,” he said. “Airplanes are damaged and repaired. The owner is buying a brand-new Legacy for a portion of the cost, as long as it is successfully recovered and repaired. The intent is to have an airworthy airplane in like-new status.”

As a Legacy service center, Constant Aviation does about 70 percent of Legacy scheduled maintenance in the U.S., according to Maiden, and 99 percent of 48-month inspections for U.S.-registered Legacys. “We are the resident expert in that field,” he said. “We're the only MRO ever to replace a nose and wing on a Legacy or Embraer 135. That drove the insurance company to reach out to us. We jumped at the opportunity to evaluate it and work to bring this airplane back to the U.S.”