This weekend the New York Times reported on the arts scene in Syria. Syrians are experiencing greater economic freedoms and are exposed to a "worldly" global culture. But as the Internet permeates Syria, the regime has cracked down on expression. Michael Kimmelman reports that "Every book, art catalog, film script and television program, big or small, still runs a gantlet of government censors." Miriam cooke, author of Dissident Syria: Making Oppositional Arts Official, finds today's censorship very similar to that of the last decade, even if the means are different. The Hafiz Asad regime sometimes facilitated the expression of anti-government sentiment by appropriating the work of artists and writers, turning works of protest into official agitprop. Syrian dissidents were forced to negotiate between the desire to genuinely criticize the authoritarian regime, the risk to their own safety and security that such criticism would invite, and the fear that their work would be co-opted as government propaganda. Now, cooke says, "the apparent openness is in fact just another way to create uncertainty about the outcome of daring writing or painting." Cooke has recently been focusing on prison writing and the remarkable change in descriptions of cell life. "Whereas under Hafiz the writing was dark and ambiguous now it is explicit, as though it is becoming possible to think what used to be unthinkable. But the outcome is the same: arbitrary censorship."