Passport

The Best of Bassem Youssef

It's been an exciting month for the funniest man in Egypt. Not only was Bassem Youssef, a heart surgeon-turned-satirical television host, briefly detained for "belittling" President Mohamed Morsy and "insulting" Islam, he was also named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine (here he is giving a toast at the Time 100 gala). Bassem found himself at the center of a minor international incident as well when the U.S. Embassy in Cairo tweeted a link to the Daily Show's Jon Stewart taking Morsy to task for arresting the satirist, prompting the Egyptian president's office to accuse the American mission of spreading "negative political propaganda."

Tonight, the "Egyptian Jon Stewart" will be back with the American Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, no doubt reflecting humorously on what has turned out to be a not-so-humorous time in Egypt's history. In anticipation of his appearance, here are five obscenely funny clips from his own wildly popular show El Bernameg (The Program), which premiered in Egypt back in 2011.

Here's Bassem declaring his complete and utter support for President Morsy ... 55 percent of the time. Later in the episode, he talks about some of the challenges facing the media in Egypt, at one point quipping that every episode "can either take you toward fame" or "to Abu Zabal Prison." 

 

In the clip below, Bassem pokes fun at Islamists for claiming that the opposition is only opposed to the new constitution because they're "jealous." (He also takes a swipe at Morsy for apparently ordering his bodyguards to protect his shiny new car.)

 

Here's Bassem taking Morsy to task for claiming that the solution to all of Egypt's problems is ... love. (The president at one point ludicrously claimed that "I no longer have power over anyone, except the power of love.")

 

Bassem on the "purification" of the media...

 

"Yo, yo, yo. Ikhwan G in the house, baby." Yep, you're just going to have to watch this one yourself.

 

AFP/Getty Images

Passport

The trouble with crowdsourcing America's tragedy response

Ever since two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Americans have asked a simple question: How can I help? In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, Good Samaritans reached out to stranded runners through a Google Docs form, offering a place to stay or a free meal to the victims. Now, people across the globe have donated millions of dollars through crowdfunding websites to pay the medical bills of the hundreds injured in the attack.

Two of the biggest hubs for online donations to the Boston victims are Give Forward and GoFundMe. As of today, GoFundMe has raised $2.1 million to pay the medical bills of those affected by the Boston attacks, while Give Forward has raised $980,000.

Have such crowdfunding websites arrived as an indispensable way for directing aid, and giving citizens an outlet to contribute following a tragedy? They've got a lot of potential -- but face a couple obstacles before they reach their true potential.

One challenge is the possibility of fraud: Both Give Forward and GoFundMe allow users to set up donation pages within minutes, exposing themselves to the risk that someone could fabricate a victim of the Boston attacks, and pocket any money that flows in from sympathetic donors.

Both crowdfunding sites say they vet the people who set up accounts. The level of vetting is unclear, however, and the CEO of GoFundMe didn't quell many fears when he pointed to the self-policing nature of the Internet as an antidote to fraudsters. "If you're a bad steward on the Internet, word travels fast," he said. Sure, but a lot of damage can be done in the meantime: Just ask the Reddit users who tried to crowdsource the investigation for the bombers.

The second challenge may be even harder to solve, because it's caused by the donors themselves. While these crowdfunding sites are raising significant amounts of money, it's only going to a select few: Of the $980,000 raised by Give Forward, $680,000 has gone to one campaign to pay the medical bills of Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, photogenic young newlyweds who each lost a leg in the attack. That's about 70 percent of all the money Give Forward has raised.

It's the same story with GoFundMe. The top campaign is called "Bucks for Bauman," which has raised $645,000 for Jeff Bauman, who was the subject of a gruesome picture showing both of his legs blasted off in the aftermath of the blast, and who helped identify the perpetrators of the attack. The top three fundraising campaigns on GoFundMe have raised 73 percent of the total donations to Boston victims.

It is, of course, wonderful that Jeff Bauman, Patrick Downes, and Jessica Kensky have received such support. But for every person like them, who catches the public's imagination, there are many more like Jarrod Clowery, a self-employed, uninsured contractor/carpenter who sustained third degree burns, has shrapnel in his legs, and lost 85 percent of his hearing in the Boston attacks -- and who has raised only $1,875 on GoFundMe.

If crowdfunding sites want to truly harness the desire of Americans to help the victims of tragedy, they are going to have to find a way to spread the wealth around a little more.