visionary

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  1. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4682659.ece

    Signs of torture on student’s body found in Cairo

     

    The body of a Cambridge University student has been found two weeks after he disappeared in Cairo on the anniversary of the 2011 revolution.

     

    Giulio Regeni, 28, a PhD student at Girton College, vanished on January 25 as the country marked five years since the uprising amid heightened security and tension. The Italian was doing research for a doctorate on the Egyptian economy and labour movements: a controversial subject in Egypt, where any anti-state sentiment is crushed


  2. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2016/02/04/3746154/flint-inmates-forced-to-drink-tap-water/

    Flint Inmates Lied To About Water Crisis, Forced To Drink Lead Water

     

    Back in October, the Genesee County Health Department declared a public health emergency, telling the residents of Flint, Michigan to stop drinking the city’s tap water due to dangerously high levels of lead. Two months later, the mayor of Flint declared a state of emergency, saying the city’s pipes were still leaching lead. The National Guard ramped up the distribution of bottled water to residents in January, one year after state officials received bottles.

     

    But while Flint residents scrambled to get bottled water and filters, one group was kept in the dark about the risks posed by the tap water: inmates doing time in Genesee County Jail. According to an exclusive report from Democracy Now!, the facility lied to inmates about the water quality and forced them to drink and bathe in the water. Inmates, including pregnant women, also ate food cooked with the tainted water.

    While inmates consumed and touched the water, jail staff avoided it altogether.

     

    “Many inmates made complaints, due to the fact that the deputies would not drink from the faucets. They all carried bottled water,” Cramer said. When he alerted his mother about what was happening, she visited the facility to find answers. A deputy told her that the jail had a filtration process in place.


  3. http://news.yahoo.com/white-cop-sue-estate-black-teen-killed-063458935.html;_ylt=AwrXoCB0rq1WhXwA_Y7QtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTByb2lvbXVuBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg--

    White cop to sue estate of black teen he killed

     

    A white police officer plans to sue the estate of a black teenager he shot dead because he was traumatized by the fact that he accidentally killed the teen's neighbor in the incident, his lawyer said.

     

    "The damage is my client feels horrible that Bettie Jones is dead because of the actions he was forced to take," attorney Joe Brodsky told AFP.

     

    "It's affected him greatly. It's a burden he's going to have to carry for the rest of his life."

     

    The December 26 shooting came as the US city was reeling from a series of incidents in which police were accused of being too ready to pull the trigger.

     

    The family of Quintonio LeGrier, 19, has repeatedly said there was no reason why police should have opened fire when responding to a domestic disturbance at their home. They have sued both the city and the officer who shot him: Robert Rialmo, 27.

     

    A wrongful death suit filed by LeGrier's father, Antonio, argues that the teen "never had possession or control of a weapon" and was not a threat to Rialmo or anyone else at any point.

     

    Rialmo was standing outside when he opened fire on LeGrier, who was inside the building, the lawsuit said. Antonio LeGrier is also suing for wrongful arrest after police made him leave his dying son in order to file a statement about the incident.

    City officials have apologized for the death of Jones, a 55-year old mother of five, but have said LeGrier's shooting was justified.

     

    The city has released few details about the incident except to say that LeGrier was brandishing a baseball bat when he was shot after his father called for help in the early hours.

     

    LeGrier, an engineering student who was struggling with mental health problems, had called 911 for help several times earlier that evening but the dispatcher did not send an officer to the house until his father called.

     

    Brodsky said that makes the incident a "double tragedy because if my client had advance knowledge he was dealing with a mentally ill person he may have handled this in a different way.

    • Like 1

  4. http://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2016/1/29/did-the-arab-spring-actually-fail

    Razan Saffour
    Did the Arab Spring actually fail?

     

    Failure appears to be the descriptor looming over one of the most defining moments in contemporary world history.

     

    So far, and by large, the Arab Spring has been examined through a material lens: the tangible achievements of each nation and the repercussions of that nation's uprisings.

     

    It has been a conscious attempt to pit revolutions against each other by polemically categorising the "successful" and the "failed'; and many irrelevant comparisons have been drawn to events in the region over the past 30 years.

     

    All attempts to contextualise the revolutions have done the exact opposite.

     

    To render the Arab Spring a failure is but a reductive assessment, undermining the extraordinary developments that have taken place - and are still ongoing - in the region. These developments are of a political, social and cultural nature - and at the very essence of each has been nothing short of a revolution of consciousness.

     

    If contextualising history meant something today, one could take the example of the Palestinian resistance movement after 1967, which, while failing to uproot the regime of colonisers settling upon its soil, remained a revolution of social structure, national liberation, and heightened consciousness.

     

    The Palestinians then knew well that relying on Arab and world powers would do little to strengthen their cause - and so took it upon themselves to organise; in absence of a state and bureaucratic framework, their organisation was popular and proved by the far the most democratic among all Arab states at the time.


  5. http://www.vox.com/2016/1/27/10845114/arab-spring-failure

    After 5 years, we’re still telling the wrong story about the Arab Spring

     

    By the time it became clear to the world that Egypt's Arab Spring had gone terribly wrong, that the seemingly Hollywood-like drama of good-guy protesters

    triumphing bad-guy dictator had turned out to be something much more disappointing, the other revolutions across the Middle East had soured as well.

     

    Today, Egypt is under a new military dictatorship; Libya, Yemen, and Syria have all collapsed into civil wars.

     

    In the years since everything went so wrong, it has become fashionable to blame the naiveté of the revolutionaries or the petty incompetence of transitional leaders. We are still trying to make this a story about the personal accomplishments or failures of individual heroes or villains, but that narrative is just as silly as it was when we first tried to apply in 2011.

     

    The truth is that this was never a story primarily about individual heroes or villains. Rather, it was about something much bigger and more abstract: the catastrophic failure of institutions. It's not a story that is particularly dramatic, and it's not easy to profile for a magazine cover. But when you look at what has happened from the Arab Spring, from its 2011 beginning through today, you see institutional failure everywhere.

     

    That story isn't as emotionally compelling as the one we told ourselves in 2011. But it's a crucially important one, if we want to understand how this went so wrong and the lessons for the world.

     

    The truth is that while the revolutionaries were in fact very brave and the dictators were in fact very bad, the real story of the Arab Spring wasn’t one about individual people being heroic or wicked. Rather, it was a less cinematic — but far more important — story about the dangers of brittle dictatorships and weak state institutions.

     

    Democratic transition, it turns out, isn’t about whom you can overthrow or whom you replace them with. It's about whether or how you can change the vast network of institutions underneath that person.

     

    If you don't make those institutions work — and often, by the dictator's deliberate design, you simply can't — then your revolution is doomed. No matter how many times you topple the dictator, no matter how pure and good your protesters are, it won't be enough. That's the real lesson of the Arab Spring — and it's important precisely because it's not as exciting or emotionally satisfying as the good-versus-evil story we prefer to tell.


  6. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/24/state-repression-egypt-worst-weve-ever-seen-activist-hossam-bahgat?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

    State repression in Egypt worst in decades, says activist

     

    The scale of state repression in Egypt is greater today than it has been for generations, one of the country’s most prominent journalists and human rights advocates has told the Guardian.

     

    Hossam Bahgat, an investigative reporter who was recently detained by Egypt’s military intelligence agency, spoke out ahead of the fifth anniversary of the start of Egypt’s revolution on Monday – the run-up to which has seen an unprecedented crackdown by security forces against opposition and dissent.

     

    “This is without doubt the worst we’ve ever seen,” said Bahgat, citing restrictions on media outlets, a spike in the number of political prisoners, forced disappearances, and alleged extrajudicial killings of Islamists by the state.

     

    “The level of repression now is significantly higher than it was under the Mubarak regime, and people from older generations say it is worse than even the worst periods of the 1950s and 1960s [under the rule of Gamal Abdel Nasser].”

     

    In an effort to ward off any protests half a decade on from the uprising that toppled the former president Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian authorities have raided thousands of homes in Cairo and installed new surveillance infrastructure around Tahrir Square.

     

    Preachers have reportedly been instructed by the state to give sermons declaring it a sin to demonstrate against the government, while cafes, cultural institutions and book publishers have all been investigated by security agencies.

     

    Under the country’s protest law, implemented by executive decree soon after the military overthrow of the former Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013, participation in any unsanctioned marches or rallies is unlawful.


  7. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/23/arab-spring-five-years-on-writers-look-back?CMP=twt_gu

    writers look back at the Arab spring five years on

     

    In January 2011, days after the first uprising in Tunisia and the protests in Tahrir Square, the Guardian invited leading writers from across the Arab world to reflect on the revolutionary fervour sweeping the region. Then, they expressed great optimism for the future. Here, they revisit their responses and ask, is there still room for hope?


  8. http://www.tap.info.tn/en/index.php/economy/32802-france-pledges-1-bln-euros-to-support-tunisia

    France pledges 1 bln euros to support Tunisia

     

    France pledged to provide 1 billion euros (2.2 billion dinar) over the next 5 years, asserted, on Friday in Paris, Prime Minister Habib Essid.

     

    Essid who is on one-day official visit in France, specified that the support plan funded by the French Development Agency (French:AFD) aims “in one of its axes to help the disadvantaged regions and youths by putting stress on employment.”

     

    He added that the agreement providing for a debt conversion in development projects of 60 million euros (i.e 133.7 millions dinars) was also signed.

     

    These development projects will be achieved in the regions including notably the building of a regional hospital in Gafsa.

     

     

    Essebsi has been consolidating power of late and pissing off a lot of former political allies along with people across Tunisia upset at corruption and nepotism.

    https://twitter.com/wheelertweets

    Tunisia's President Essebsi went on TV Friday night, not to reassure the people, but to decree a nationwide curfew
    10:09 PM

     

    Tunisia PM Essid in France to discuss security downplayed widespread riots & protests and said "the situation is now under control” (TAP)
    10:19 PM

     

    Tunisia's Mufti issued a statement Friday urging demonstrators to resist the urge to demonstrate.. He was appointed this month by Essebsi..
    10:24 PM


  9. http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/21/five-years-later-tunisians-take-to-the-streets-again/

    Five Years Later, Tunisians Take to the Streets Again

     

    This month Tunisians observed the five-year anniversary of the popular uprisings that brought down Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the country’s long-time dictator. But the citizens of this young democracy don’t seem to be in a celebratory mood. Instead, the nation is on edge after an eruption of protest against unemployment, poverty, and government indifference in several long-marginalized regions of the country.

     

    The unrest began after a young man in the impoverished town of Kasserine climbed a telephone pole and electrocuted himself in despair. He had discovered that his name had been left off a list of potential Ministry of Education employees published by the local government.

     

    If this story sounds familiar, there’s a good reason why.If this story sounds familiar, there’s a good reason why. In December 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a young street vendor, set himself ablaze after local officials harassed him for selling fruit from a cart. The incident catalyzed the public’s outrage at the social injustices and lack of opportunities in his impoverished hometown of Sidi Bouzid. The protests that began there were the spark that lit the fires of revolution.

     

    The young man who killed himself this week, Ridha Yahaoui, had also long been incensed by the lack of opportunities in his own hometown. “He was in a sit-in in 2014 with a group of other unemployed young men,” his heartbroken father told a local radio station. “Every time someone from the government visited Kasserine, he’d show up and demand employment opportunities. We heard so many promises. We expected solutions. But nothing.”

     

    “When I got to the hospital to see him, he was in a bad shape,” said Yahaoui’s father, whose name was not given. “He died a few minutes later. Today, I demand the rights of my son and everyone else in Kasserine,” he said, choking on his tears. His call has been heard. The citizens of the town soon took to the streets in support of his son and others like him, accusing the local deputy governor of manipulating the employment list and playing favors. These demands for social justice recall similar moments in December 2010 and January 2011, when tens of thousands of Tunisians demanded the right to employment, dignity and freedom.


  10. Big victory for Hezbollah in Lebanon

     

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-lebanon-idUSKCN0UW24V?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews

    Geagea reshapes Lebanese politics, backs rival Aoun

     

    Lebanese Christian politician Samir Geagea backed his rival Michel Aoun for the presidency on Monday, reshaping Lebanese politics in an apparent break with his Saudi-backed allies that aligns him with a civil war era enemy supported by Hezbollah.

     

    The surprise announcement edges 80-year-old Aoun closer to the presidency, vacant for 20 months, and marks a rare show of unity in a Christian community riven by divisions for decades.

     

    But he must still secure wider backing to secure the position reserved for a Maronite Christian in Lebanon's sectarian political system.

     

    Geagea and Aoun, who fought each other in the 1975-90 civil war, have been on opposite sides of Lebanon's political divide since Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon in 2005.

     

    Aoun is part of the March 8 alliance dominated by the Iranian-backed Shi'ite group Hezbollah. Geagea is part of the March 14 alliance led by Sunni politician Saad al-Hariri, who is in turn backed by Saudi Arabia.

     

    Sitting with Aoun at a news conference, Geagea said the move was intended to rescue Lebanon from political crisis. The government barely functions, paralyzed by rivalries exacerbated by regional conflict.

     

    Geagea said the step "carried hope of getting out of the situation we are in, to a situation that is more secure, more stable - a normal life". Lebanon was on the verge of the abyss, requiring "an unusual rescue operation, regardless of the price", said Geagea, who himself covets the presidency.

     

    The rapprochement may kill off a proposal by Hariri that nominated another Maronite, Suleiman Franjieh, for the presidency in a power-sharing proposal that would have made him prime minister. Both Geagea and Aoun opposed that initiative which was backed by both Iran and Saudi Arabia.

     

    Geagea had been the official presidential candidate of the March 14 alliance until Hariri tabled Franjieh - part of March 8 - as an alternative. Though Franjieh has close ties to Hezbollah, the group has stuck by Aoun.

     

    Geagea called on his March 14 allies to back Aoun after reading a joint declaration that called for a new parliamentary election law and an "independent foreign policy" while declaring Israel an enemy - an important consideration for Hezbollah.

     

    Aoun said the "black page" of the past was over and "must be burnt". "We must leave the past in order to build a future," he said in the conference at Geagea's home in Maarab in mountains overlooking the Christian town of Jounieh.


  11. http://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-officials-urge-un-to-condemn-iran-holocaust-cartoon-contest/

    Israeli officials urge UN to condemn Iran Holocaust cartoon contest

     

    Iran plans to hold another cartoon contest focusing on Holocaust denial, and Israeli officials have called on the United Nations to condemn the event.

     

    Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday appealed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to denounce the 11th Tehran International Cartoon Biennial.

     

    In a letter to Ban, Edelstein said that “words cannot describe the revulsion and protestation of the state of Israel and many across the world at the recurring proof that Iran continues in its policy of Holocaust denial.”

     

    The winner of the event sponsored by the Tehran municipality will receive a $50,000 cash prize.

     

    Organizers say the competition is designed to highlight the world’s double standard in defending caricatures of the Muslim prophet Mohammed, whose depiction is forbidden in Islam.

     

    The competition scheduled for June 2016 is expected to draw submissions from artists from some 50 countries, Iran’s semi-official IRNA news agency reported in December.


  12. http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/14564462/new-orleans-saints-hire-dan-campbell-joe-lombardi-aaron-glenn

    Source: Saints hire Dan Campbell, Joe Lombardi, Aaron Glenn

     

    The New Orleans Saints quickly pounced on assistant coach Dan Campbell after he was not retained as the Miami Dolphins' interim head coach.

     

    The Saints are hiring Campbell as an assistant head coach/tight ends coach, a source told ESPN.

     

    The Saints also are hiring former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and former Pro Bowl cornerback Aaron Glenn, according to the source.


  13. http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/congress-visa-waiver-iran-iraq-syria-sudan-217714

    Lawmakers move to protect Iran, Arab diaspora from new visa rules

     

    There’s bipartisan movement in Congress to roll back a recent change made to the U.S. visa program amid growing concerns that it discriminates against people based on their ethnicity.

     

    On Wednesday, Republican Rep. Justin Amash and Democratic Rep. John Conyers, both of Michigan, introduced a bill that would eliminate a provision aimed at restricting the entry of dual nationals of Iran, Syria, Sudan and Iraq. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also are expected to announce they will put forth a similar bill.

     

    The changes to the visa program passed late last year, with the backing of the Obama administration, as part of the omnibus spending package. They placed new restrictions on people from 38 mostly European countries who otherwise would be allowed to visit America without a visa. The goal was to stop would-be terrorists with Western passports from exploiting the program and reaching U.S. shores.

     

    One new restriction requires that any passport-holders from those 38 countries who have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan since March 2011 must get a visa before coming to the United States. That drew howls of protest from European aid workers, businessmen and others, while also drawing complaints from Iranian leaders who said it undermined the international nuclear deal reached with their country in mid-2015.

     

    But the change to the visa rules that particularly incensed many people, including civil liberties activists, was one that required a U.S. visa for people who are dual nationals of Iran, Syria, Iraq and Sudan. The problem, the critics said, is that because of a lack of international agreement on dual nationality laws, numerous citizens of Europe and other countries are considered dual nationals merely because of their ethnic heritage.


  14. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/13/world/middleeast/weary-of-chaos-factions-in-libya-tentatively-shift-toward-peace.html?smid=tw-nytimesworld&smtyp=cur&_r=0

    Weary of Chaos, Factions in Libya Consider Peace

     

    Four years after Libya’s revolution, the scars of war are still visible in this city — buildings pockmarked with bullet and rocket holes, graffiti on the walls remembering fallen fighters, and a war museum where rusty ammunition spills across the sidewalk in front.

     

    Misurata became famous for its resistance to an eight-month siege by troops of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi during the Arab Spring uprising of 2011. Its fighters gained a reputation as tough guys, spearheading the final assault on the capital, Tripoli, and catching and killing Colonel Qaddafi. In the aftermath, their militias fought turf wars and ran rackets.

     

    Yet now many of those same fighters are advocating peace. Weary of war and even ashamed at what they had become, some have refused orders to fight, organized their own cease-fire and accused political leaders of causing a civil war.

     

    A majority of the Misurata revolutionary brigades have signed an agreement to protect a United Nations-mediated unity government — and on Friday provided security for members of the government on their first visit to Libya to visit victims of a suicide bombing in the town of Zlitan.

     

    Yet even then, fighters from one of the groups that had signed the agreement refused passage and opened fire on the convoy, a reminder of how difficult forging a unified command in Libya remains.

     

    Despite the divisions, the shift over the last year toward peace is significant, not just because the Misurata militias have been seen as part of the problem that has been tearing the country apart, but because the change of mood could help pull Libya back from the abyss.

     

    “Looking back at the tragedies hurts,” said Ibrahim Ben Ramadan, 31, the former commander of the Liwa Nablous, a group of fighting brigades, and the youngest candidate to run for Parliament in 2014. “I do not feel regret, but you realize people have taken the revolution off its course.”

    For the last 18 months, the Misurata brigades have been embroiled in a power struggle with forces in the east led by a former army general, Khalifa Hifter. The two factions have divided the country, and men who together brought down the Qaddafi regime are now on opposite sides of a civil war.

     

    The Misurata brigades form the backbone of Libya Dawn, a powerful political-military faction allied with Islamist groups that holds the capital, Tripoli, and leads the government there.

     

    Ranged against them are anti-Islamist forces in eastern Libya, along with brigades from the western region of Zintan, assembled by General Hifter under the banner of Operation Dignity. They support the internationally recognized government that has taken refuge in the eastern city of Tobruk.

     

    Factions from the two sides have now agreed to a United Nations-brokered peace deal but have yet to put it into action. In the meantime, they have destroyed much of Libya’s second city, Benghazi, wrecked Tripoli’s airport, and in the chaos have allowed the Islamic State to gain a foothold in the country.

     

    Some of Misurata’s young revolutionaries questioned the power grab from the start. “The revolution was a spontaneous thing, there was nothing political in us, it was not an aim to rule,” Mr. Ramadan explained.

     

    In the summer of 2014, at least two brigades opposed orders to fight rival brigades from Zintan for control of Tripoli, but they risked being denounced as traitors and so took part reluctantly, according to several fighters interviewed.

     

    Dissent grew over the months since the Misurata brigades were deployed to control towns and oil terminals far from home, and ordered to pursue the Zintani brigades beyond Tripoli. Fighters began to accuse legislators in the General National Congress of using the brigades to further their political ambitions.

     

     

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/world/africa/mass-party-defections-upend-tunisia-politics.html?smid=tw-share

    Revolt in Governing Party Shakes Tunisian Politics

     

    Tunisia’s main Islamist party, Ennahda, re-emerged as the dominant faction in Parliament on Monday as mass resignations from President Béji Caïd Essebsi’s secular party continued, largely to protest his son’s position as party chief.

     

    The upheaval in the governing party, Nidaa Tounes, just over a year after it defeated Ennahda in parliamentary elections and swept Mr. Essebsi to power in a presidential vote, had been brewing for months. The splintering is not expected to bring down the coalition government that Nidaa Tounes leads — indeed, a cabinet reshuffle was confirmed Monday evening despite the resignations — but the shift in power is likely to complicate politics going forward. The lawmakers kept their seats in Parliament but are unaffiliated with a political party for now.

     

    Tunisia has been praised for its democratic progress in the five years since a popular uprising overthrew the dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, inciting the Arab Spring. But it has had five governments in five years, and many political parties have struggled to find a firm footing.

     

    The mass resignations from Nidaa Tounes began with several founding members, who complained that the party had strayed from its original goals. Among the most prominent is Mohsen Marzouk, who assumed the presidency of the party briefly last year.

     

    Twenty-eight members of Parliament from Nidaa Tounes had resigned by Monday, according to Bochra Belhaj Hmida, a prominent member who resigned. An additional 42 members of the party’s political bureau also resigned, members announced Sunday.

     

    The resignations reduce Nidaa Tounes’s seats in Parliament to 58, while Ennahda holds 69.

     

    Mr. Marzouk and many others said their resignations did not represent a withdrawal of support for the government or the president. Rather, they signaled opposition to the move by the president’s son, Hafedh Caïd Essebsi, to take over the party and try to create a dynastic transfer of power.

     

    Mr. Marzouk, a longtime left-wing political activist who spent time in prison under the dictatorship of Habib Bourguiba, is largely credited with masterminding the electoral success of Nidaa Tounes and President Essebsi.

    Mr. Marzouk told hundreds of supporters at a rally in Tunis on Sunday that he had left the party not because of personality clashes but because the party had lost sight of its vision to build a democratic, modern and secular state. Accompanied by 17 deputies who had already resigned from Nidaa Tounes, he said that he particularly opposed the coalition with Ennahda and that he would announce the formation of a new party on March 2.

     

    Mr. Marzouk said he and the deputies would not serve in the government or join the opposition.

     

    Others were more outspoken in placing blame for their departure on the assumption of power by the president’s son. “We are not against his person,” said Ben Ahmed Mustapha, a former parliamentary deputy and senior member of Nidaa Tounes, “but against the political power he acquired in an illegitimate way and against his practice of exclusion of those who have a different opinion from him.”

     

    The break came as Nidaa Tounes held its first national party congress in the town of Sousse over the weekend. At the meeting, the younger Mr. Essebsi was named national secretary in charge of the executive administration and legal representative of the party, which hands him the reins, the national daily newspaper La Presse reported. The party presidency remains unfilled.

     

     

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/01/egypt-hollow-parliament-160112071640089.html

    Egypt's hollow parliament

     

    Egypt has been without a parliament since 2012. As the drastically reconstituted legislative body convenes this week for the first time in nearly four years, the final step in the restoration of Egypt's authoritarian system of government appears to be complete.

     

    Ever since the July 2013 coup that brought to an abrupt halt the tenuous transition to democracy that followed a popular uprising to remove Hosni Mubarak from power, Egypt's state institutions have been realigned under the authority of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. To be sure, the process has been fraught with external opposition and internal discord but, through it all, Sisi has managed to tighten his grip on power and consolidate his control over the country's governing structures.

     

    Sisi's supposed "road map to democracy", which concluded with the swearing in of the new parliament on Sunday, began with the quashing of all independent political opposition following the military's takeover in 2013.

     

    Beginning with the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's long-standing social movement that took the lead in the post-Mubarak transition by winning a series of elections and referendums, Sisi demonstrated that he did not intend to allow the continuation of the opening of the political field to outsiders and challengers.

     

    The military arrested Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, banned his political party, and detained the Muslim Brotherhood's leadership on charges ranging from treason to terrorism.

     

    Security forces confronted Morsi's supporters across Egypt, leading to incidents of large-scale state violence such as the massacre of hundreds of protesters at Raba'a Square in August 2013.

     

    The judiciary did its part in the political realignment that followed by affirming the decision to ban the Muslim Brotherhood, seize its assets, and then sentencing hundreds of its members to death. While many of Egypt's other opposition groups cheered on the coup and its aftermath, the counter-revolution soon turned on them as well.

     

    Leaders of the so-called National Salvation Front which emerged in opposition to the Morsi government aimed for a stake in the post-coup political transition, but they were to be disappointed. Following a state media onslaught that questioned his loyalty to the coup, Mohamed ElBaradei was quickly isolated and retreated into another self-imposed exile.

     

    Hamdeen Sabahi dutifully performed the role of opposition candidate in the 2014 presidential election, which Sisi won with 96 percent of the vote. Egypt's liberal and leftist opposition parties were also marginalised, while revolutionary groups such as the April 6 Youth movement were subject to the coup regime's new laws banning public protests.

     

    In all, security forces have imprisoned more than 40,000 Egyptians in an unprecedented wave of repression roundly condemned by international human rights groups.

     

    Having neutralised all independent opposition within Egypt, Sisi was free to reshape the country's political landscape as he saw fit. But in the ensuing months he would discover that establishing a new authoritarian regime on the ruins of Mubarak's collapsed dictatorship would be no easy task.


  15. http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/Article.aspx?aid=3013855

    North tested its nuclear device deep in ground

     

    North Korea conducted its fourth underground nuclear test last week far deeper into a mountain than in previous tests in 2009 and 2013.

     

    According to the South Korean government, the North burrowed a tunnel 770 meters (2,526 feet) beneath the top of a peak at the Punggye-ri nuclear site, either to prevent contamination escaping the tunnel’s mouth or to prevent the weapon, which was supposed to be a powerful hydrogen bomb, from blowing out the tunnel.

     

    “The site where North Korea detonated its nuclear bomb is 770 meters beneath the highest peak [of 2,180 meters] in Punggye-ri,” said Ji Hun-cheol, director of the geological survey team at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources.

     

    For North Korea’s third nuclear test in 2013, a bomb was detonated in a tunnel burrowed 330 meters beneath the peak of another mountain, while the second test was conducted at 480 meters beneath a mountain peak.

     

    “The test this time was carried out at the location where the earth was much thicker than in previous tests,” added Ji.

     

    The state-run geoscience institute collects seismic data from 38 seismological observatories and eight sonar radars nationwide.

     

    Ji’s remarks are the first information on the depth of the detonation of the nuclear device on Jan. 6, which Pyongyang claims was a hydrogen bomb, a claim that has been met with skepticism due to a lack of evidence and the relatively small tremor caused by the test.

     

    The much deeper underground tunnel, Ji said, could have been a measure to prevent the collapse of the tunnel after a more powerful explosion, such as an H-bomb detonation.

     

    Or the tunnel was made longer to make the world think Pyongyang was worried about the size of a hydrogen bomb blast.

     

    The size of the tremor created by the test argues against the hydrogen bomb claim.

     

    According to Ji, the nuclear test generated a 4.8-magnitude tremor, which was actually smaller than the 4.9 magnitude generated by the 2013 nuclear test. Pyongyang said that test was of an atomic bomb.

     

    https://twitter.com/AP

    BREAKING: Seoul media says South Korea has fired warning shots after North Korean drone seen across border.
    1:21 AM

  16. https://twitter.com/SkyNewsBreak

    AP: Pentagon says two U.S. Navy boats are in Iranian custody but Iran has told the U.S. that the crew will be returned "promptly"
    4:05 PM

     
    https://twitter.com/GhorbaniSadegh

    Breaking: IRGC arrests "10 foreign military troops, probably American," inside Iran's territorial waters in Persian Gulf. FARS
    3:59 PM

    The American troops reportedly were sailing with 2 boats near Farsi island, which located near Iran-Saudi border & hosts an IRGC base.
    4:04 PM

  17. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-iran-warship-idUSKCN0UO00D20160111

    U.S. releases video it says shows Iranian rockets near American warships

     

    The U.S. Navy released black-and-white video on Saturday it said was taken by an American helicopter showing an Iranian Revolutionary Guards vessel firing unguided rockets on Dec. 26 near warships including the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman in the Strait of Hormuz.

     

    Iran on Dec. 31 denied that its Revolutionary Guards vessels had launched the rockets as the United States claimed, with a Revolutionary Guards spokesman saying the "false" accusation was "akin to psychological warfare."

     

    The U.S. Navy said the infrared radar footage showed an Iranian "fast inshore attack craft" launching several rockets on Dec. 26 "in close proximity" to the Truman, the guided missile destroyer USS Bulkeley, the French naval frigate FS Provence and commercial ships in the busy waterway.

     

    The dispute underscored the ongoing tensions between the United States and Iran despite last year's international agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program.

     

    The video, taken by a Seahawk helicopter, runs about 30 seconds. The Navy said the rockets were fired "within an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane" as the Truman and the other ships were passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf.

     

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/arab-league-statement-backs-saudi-arab-in-diplomatic-fight-with-iran-1452457521

    Arab League Statement Backs Saudi Arabia in Diplomatic Fight With Iran

     

    The Arab League on Sunday backed Saudi Arabia in its continuing diplomatic spat with Iran, triggered by the kingdom’s execution of a dissident Shiite cleric, condemning Tehran for failing to protect Saudi diplomatic sites in the Persian country.

    Minus Lebanon and Iraq, of course.


  18. I hope you head butted all of them and gave them concussions....

    Ha ha,  I didn't really know them, but they seemed nice.  Although I didn't need the 'non-football' fan repeatedly saying "I like that" every time the Packers had a big play in the second half.