An Austin man with dual US-Egyptian citizenship has reportedly been detained in Syria, a country whose authoritarian regime has been rattled by an uprising. Syria’s state run news agency, Sana, claims a man “confessed” to selling photos and videos of protests.
The Egyptian said that he received emails from abroad inquiring about the possibility of sending photos and videos about Syria. He received an email asking if he was prepared to assist a Spanish-speaking person from Columbia who communicated with him via email in preparation for a meeting and sending photos and videos.
He said that he was selected because he lived in Syria and carries a camera-equipped mobile phone and can benefit from this opportunity.
The Egyptian said "I have a US citizenship besides the Egyptian one …I visited Israel through Jordan. I went to Jerusalem and then back to Syria."
The Associated Press later reported the man was identified by his relatives as 32-year-old Mohammed Radwan of Austin, Texas.
Radwan's cousin, Nora Shalaby, told The Associated Press that she last heard from him on Friday when he tweeted that he was at a mosque in Damascus where security forces were clashing with anti-government protesters.
Radwan was born in the United States but grew up in Saudi Arabia. His father worked at the national oil company, Saudi Aramco, said Tarek Shalaby, Radwan’s cousin and Nora’s brother. Radwan attended middle school and part of high school in Egypt before returning to Virginia and later enrolling in Texas A&M University.
UK’s Guardian Newspaper reports the Syrian government has been attempting to cover up mass killings but cell phone footage has begun to emerge of the government’s retribution against opponents of the Baathist regime.
One clip, shot on Friday, shows unarmed protesters gathering peacefully on a dusty city street when suddenly the calm is shattered by a barrage of machine gunfire so intense the individual rounds are indistinguishable for each other.
Meanwhile, back here in Austin, athletes took over downtown today for the 34th annual Capitol 10K run, the fifth largest 10 kilometer run in the country, according to organizers. You can see the route on our Google Map of street closures. The Austin American-Statesman, which sponsored the run, has this sequence of aerial photos. The Statesman also has this pretty cool video tour of the race course.
Our political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, conducted an analysis of how much Medicaid pays for certain procedures at different hospitals across Texas. Apparently, there are huge disparities.
A routine delivery at St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital costs Texas Medicaid twice as much as at Christus St. Catherine Hospital in Katy, just 50 miles away. The Laredo Medical Center bills Medicaid nearly $5,500 more for a coronary bypass than the Harlingen Medical Center, though both hospitals are along the Texas-Mexico border.
Governor Rick Perry’s wife, Anita, was riding in a World War II-era plane yesterday that caught fire while taxiing on the runway. The AP reports she was not harmed.
The aircraft had a landing gear malfunction while taxiing. When the aircraft reached the end of the runway, the front landing collapsed, causing the right engine to catch fire.
Austin’s newest venue, ACL Live, hosted political comic Bill Maher last night. Maher reportedly earned a laugh with the line: "I've always wanted to visit Texas, but instead I wind up in Austin."
This evening, legendary new wave rock band Devo takes the stage at ACL Live. Devo was supposed to headline the 2010 Fun Fun Fun Fest but guitarist Mark Mothersbaugh injured his hand and postponed the tour. The last time Devo performed in Austin was at the Austin Music Hall for SXSW 2009. Here are some YouTube videos of that performance.