Robert Siegel

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11:07am

Mon March 23, 2015
Parallels

An Object Of Desire: Hope And Yearning For The Internet In Cuba

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 5:05 pm

The Havana studio of prominent artist Kcho is ringed by Cubans with their heads buried in screens. Users say the only other free Internet connection in Havana is at the U.S. Interests Section.
Eyder Peralta NPR

After the sun sets on Havana on weekends, G Street turns into a kind of runway.

Blocks of the promenade — which is very colonial with its big, beautiful statues and impeccable topiaries — swell with crowds of young Cubans. For the most part, they just walk up and down, greeting each other with kisses.

It's a spectacle: Everyone, it seems, is here to impress. They're perfectly coiffed, perfectly matched; they're splayed on benches, arms wrapped around each other.

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4:38pm

Thu February 26, 2015
Parallels

For One Parliamentarian, A Stronger Jordan Is Key To Fighting ISIS

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 8:42 pm

Jordan's election laws make it impossible for any one political party to build a strong bloc in Parliament. Observers say that's one reason for the country's weakness — and for the growing appeal of the messages used by militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Khalil Mazraawi AFP/Getty Images

There's a election law implemented in 2010 in Jordan known as "one person, one vote" that advocates of reform and democratization there regard, surprisingly, as a big step backward.

That's because of the strong ties Jordanians feel to family, clan and tribe, says Omar Razzaz, an economist and banker in Amman, the Jordanian capital.

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3:33pm

Wed February 25, 2015
Parallels

Jordan's Fuzzy Definition Of Free Speech

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 7:46 pm

Lina Ejeilat helped found the Jordanian online magazine 7iber (pronounced 'Hebber'). While the government encourages free expression in principle, many strict regulations remain, as noted by the satirical chart next to her.
Art Silverman NPR

Earlier this month, Jordan's Information Minister Mohammad Al-Momani told a conference that freedom of expression can contribute to stopping radicalization.

On the very same day, a military court in the capital Amman sentenced a man to 18 months in prison for a Facebook post that was seen as insulting a friendly country, the United Arab Emirates.

Momani spent years studying at Rice University in Houston, so he knows what Americans think of as free expression. But he sees it a little differently.

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3:27pm

Tue February 24, 2015
Parallels

Jordan's King Balances Threats Abroad And Critics At Home

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 7:27 am

Jordanians marched in the streets of the capital Amman on Feb. 6 to show solidarity with the family of a pilot killed by the Islamic State in Syria. Jordanians also expressed support for the king's decision to take part in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.
Muhammad Hamed Reuters/Landov

Jordan's King Abdullah has faced a delicate balancing act ever since he ascended the throne in 1999 following his father's death. His country shares borders with Iraq, Syria and Israel among others, and there always seems to be trouble in the neighborhood.

His latest challenge has been to convince Jordanians that it's in the country's interest to play a prominent role in the U.S.-led coalition against the self-declared Islamic State.

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5:01pm

Mon February 23, 2015
Parallels

Jordan's Army Preps For A Bigger Role Against ISIS

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 3:55 pm

Jordanian soldiers stand guard at the Iraq-Jordan border last year. Jordan also shares a border with Syria and has had to deal with a flood of refugees from both its neighbors over the past decade.
Jamal Nasrallah EPA/Landov

Jordan's King Abdullah was way out ahead of the people in his support of the war against the self-declared Islamic State, or ISIS. Many Jordanians used to say it was someone else's war even though it's only a 90-minute drive from the capital, Amman, north to the Syrian border.

But Jordanian opinions changed dramatically after the horrific video in which ISIS immolated a Jordanian pilot, Moaz Kassasbeh, who was captured back in December.

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