Where will the Middle East go from here? Towards democracy, as many hope? Towards a more theocratic model, as some despair? Or, towards more of the same disillusioning autocracy?

On the first day of the big TED conference, Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazeera, offered a supremely optimistic take on the revolutions transforming Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and perhaps beyond. Throughout the past few weeks, many Westerners have tuned into Al Jazeera’s live English-language coverage on the web and found themselves pleasantly surprised by the balance and depth of their reporting. Now you get 17 upbeat minutes with the leader of the Qatar-based news organization …

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