Saturday Reads: Taking Aim and Hitting the TargetPosted: November 26, 2011
I have some juicy links for you this morning…so go get your cup of coffee, cause it’s gonna be a long post.
There is a lot going on in Egypt…Egypt new PM claims more powers than predecessor – Yahoo! News
Egypt‘s military rulers picked a prime minister from ousted leader Hosni Mubarak‘s era to head the next government in a move quickly rejected by tens of thousands of protesters, while the United States ratcheted up pressure on the generals to quickly transfer power to a civilian leadership.
Kamal el-Ganzouri, 78, served as prime minister between 1996 and 1999 and was deputy prime minister and planning minister before that. He also was a provincial governor under the late President Anwar Sadat.
In a televised statement, he said the military has given him greater powers than his predecessor and he wouldn’t have accepted the job if he believed military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi had any intention of staying in power.
“The powers given to me exceed any similar mandates,” he said, looking uncomfortable, grasping for words and repeatedly pausing as he spoke. “I will take full authority so I’m able to serve my country.”
He also spoke about not being able to form a government in time for elections that were scheduled for Monday. The US issued a statement:
“We believe that Egypt’s transition to democracy must continue, with elections proceeding expeditiously, and all necessary measures taken to ensure security and prevent intimidation,” The White House said in a statement. “Most importantly, we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible.”
The stance is significant because the Egyptian military has over the past 30 years forged close relations with successive U.S. administrations, receiving $1.3 billion annually in aid.
El-Ganzouri’s appointment was announced by state TV following a meeting late Thursday between him and Tantawi. Tantawi was Mubarak’s defense minister of 20 years and served in el-Ganzouri’s earlier government.
Almost forty people have been killed in the last five days as protest turned violent against the military’s actions regarding a formation of a government. The generals apologized for the deaths, but their choice of prime minister angered the Egyptian people whose uprising earlier in the year brought about the ouster of dictator Hosni Muburak. Many believe that Egypt’s military has hijacked the revolution…by placing a member of Mubarak’s regime in control. Protestors have vowed not to leave Tahrir Square until the military resigns and is replaced by a civilian presidential council.
But not all of Egypt is angry at the military, it seems a bit like perfect timing. Egypt’s military leaders are bringing their own show of support. Egypt Military Tries to Woo Wider Public Beyond Protesters – NYTimes.com
Some call it the silent majority. In Egypt these days, the preferred term is the Party of the Couch. And in that ill-defined constituency, sometimes more myth than reality, Egypt’s ruling military has staked its credibility as it seeks to fend off the greatest challenge yet from protesters seeking to force it from power.
Drawing on sentiments pronounced Friday in the grittier parts of Cairo, even just a few blocks from the protests in Tahrir Square, and in a defiantly nationalist rally near the Defense Ministry, the military is offering either a canny read of Egypt’s mood or yet another delusional estimation of its popularity, a mistake that has bedeviled so many autocrats. With a mix of bravado and disdain, it has hewed to a narrative first pronounced after it seized power from President Hosni Mubarak in February: It bears the mantle of Egypt’s revolution.
“Egypt is not Tahrir Square,” Maj. Gen. Mukhtar el-Mallah, a member of the 20-member military council ruling since February, said in a news conference this week. “If you take a walk on other streets in Egypt, you will find that everything is very normal.”
In much of Cairo, and elsewhere in Egypt, the military has found a receptive audience for that message in a country buckling under a stagnating economy and a lurking insecurity. Even as it promises to surrender power by June, it has deployed all the platitudes of authoritarian Arab governments: fear of foreign intervention, fear of chaos, and fear of the rabble. One doctor quipped Friday that the sole change since the revolution was an extra digit added this year to cellphone numbers.
The concern seems to fall on who will lead Egypt’s government, if not the military…then who will it be.
“They think they can fill up a square?” asked Marwan Helmy, a 65-year-old high school teacher at a boisterous pro-military rally that convened Friday in Abassiya, a few miles from the far bigger antimilitary demonstration in Tahrir Square. “We will fill all the streets of Egypt and support the military. We can’t be silent any longer, the country is unraveling. Who gave them the right to represent us? Tahrir is not Egypt!”
Thousands turned out for the Abassiya rally, waving flags, chanting slogans more visceral than meditated and crowding overpasses and the square below. In its ardor, it seemed to manifest a militant nationalism that added a new wrinkle to all the divides in Egypt pitting Islamist against secular, rich against poor, and city against countryside.
It is going to get more contentious in the coming weeks. When Mona Eltahawy writes up her experiences being arrested and assaulted by the police and Ministry of the Interior…I am sure the truth will eventually come out.
Next up are some articles about present day slavery. First is a link to an Al Jazeera video report: The Al Jazeera slavery debate – Slavery: A 21st Century Evil – Al Jazeera English
Why, hundreds of years after it was legally abolished, does slavery persist? The last episode of Slavery: A 21st Century Evil is a televised debate in which this question, among others, was posed to a panel of those who direct or seek to influence government policies on slavery across the world.
The debate was held at Decatur House on Washington’s Lafayette Square – the site of the only remaining physical evidence that African Americans were once held in bondage within sight of the White House – as an iconic venue for the debate on a trade that refuses to die.
Moderator Rageh Omaar was joined by: Luis C d’Baca from the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Kevin Bales, the president of Free the Slaves; David Batstone, the president of Not for Sale; and Joy Ezeilo, the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons.
This next link is to the State Department Blog, as it connects us to modern day slavery in a very personal way. One Million Footprints on the Path to Freedom | U.S. Department of State Blog
Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca directs the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Two months ago, the Fairtrade Fund launched Slavery Footprint, a web- and mobile-based application that allows users to understand how their lives intersect with modern slavery. Through a grant from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, the Fairtrade Fund developed this tool to help more people understand the way their lifestyles and consumption habits fuel the demand for forced labor and sex trafficking.
The app works by asking users to complete a quick survey about where they live and what they buy and eat. That information is processed in an algorithm that analyzes the 400 most common consumer items and determines the likelihood that those items were tainted by modern slavery somewhere along the supply chain.
The goal announced at the time of the launch was to register 150,000 people having taken the survey by September 22, 2012, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Twelve months to get 150,000 people engaged. What’s been revealed instead in the last two months is that people care about this issue, and aren’t going to wait on our timetable to join the modern abolitionist movement. On November 11 , only six weeks after the site launched, the millionth Slavery Footprint survey was completed. And it’s not just Americans — people from a hundred different countries have taken the quiz.
By taking the survey, they have learned that human trafficking doesn’t just affect people in faraway parts of the world. We touch this crime in the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the technology upon which we rely — and we can do something about it. Slavery Footprint and its partners like MTV have made it possible to take action by letting companies and universities know that you care about modern slavery and that you hope they do as well.
The road to freedom is long and hard, but there are now millions of footprints on that path. I encourage you to visit www.slaveryfootprint.org, take the survey yourself, and join us as we seek to deliver on the promise of Emancipation.
I took the survey and here was my results:
That figure is shocking, my numbers were higher than an average single person because I included my two kids in the survey. This really puts the issue of slavery directly on me, and how my family is connected to the modern slave trade. I urge you to take the survey, it will make you think about things from a different perspective.
Moving on from slavery to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Here is Hillary Clinton on the importance of eliminating violence against women.
Press StatementHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateWashington, DC
November 25, 2011
Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we are reminded of the horrific acts of violence against women that take place every day around the world and pledge to recommit ourselves to changing attitudes and ending all forms of violence against women and girls.
Gender-based violence is a global pandemic that cuts across all borders and impacts all peoples and societies – regardless of ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, or religion. One in three women around the world will experience some form of gender-based violence in her lifetime. The medical, security, and legal costs to countries are incalculable. It dampens economic development and tears at the fabric of societies. The health costs to women includes not only the detrimental impact on their physical well-being, such as increased susceptibility to HIV infection, but also mental health costs for both women and their children.
We need to improve our efforts to prevent and respond to this crisis. When women are afforded their rights and given the chance to pursue education, employment, and political participation, they drive social and economic progress. They lift up themselves, their families, communities, and their nations. But to build this future girls must be able to learn without fear and women must be able to make decisions about their own lives and the future of their families.
Prevention, protection and prosecution are essential to combating this violence. But we must add a fourth “P” as well – Priority. Empowering women and girls is already a priority of the United States, but we need more countries to step up and take on this challenge. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the 16 days Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence is an opportunity to renew the commitment to free women and girls from the nightmare of violence, because the future safety and security of our world depends on it.
Geez, I can’t help but think just how much better off we would all be if she was in the White House.
You probably have to go get another cup of coffee, so go ahead…there is more after the jump.
Ah, have you ever played six degrees from Kevin Bacon? Well it looks like that number will need to be revised to under five degrees: Separating You and Me? 4.74 Degrees – NYTimes.com
Adding a new chapter to the research that cemented the phrase “six degrees of separation” into the language, scientists at Facebook and the University of Milan reported on Monday that the average number of acquaintances separating any two people in the world was not six but 4.74.
The original “six degrees” finding, published in 1967 by the psychologist Stanley Milgram, was drawn from 296 volunteers who were asked to send a message by postcard, through friends and then friends of friends, to a specific person in a Boston suburb.
The new research used a slightly bigger cohort: 721 million Facebook users, more than one-tenth of the world’s population. The findings were posted on Facebook’s site Monday night.
And of course we all are connected…now with social media being what it is, we are even closer that we were before.
The experiment took one month. The researchers used a set of algorithms developed at the University of Milan to calculate the average distance between any two people by computing a vast number of sample paths among Facebook users. They found that the average number of links from one arbitrarily selected person to another was 4.74. In the United States, where more than half of people over 13 are on Facebook, it was just 4.37.
“When considering even the most distant Facebook user in the Siberian tundra or the Peruvian rain forest,” the company wrote on its blog, “a friend of your friend probably knows a friend of their friend.” The caveat there is “Facebook user” — like the Milgram study, the cohort was a self-selected group, in this case people with online access who use a particular Web site.
In other internet news, this next link give you all the background information you need when it comes to the legislation coming before congress regarding the internet. The Definitive Post On Why SOPA And Protect IP Are Bad, Bad Ideas | Techdirt
There’s been plenty of talk (and a ton of posts here on Techdirt) discussing both SOPA (originally E-PARASITE) and PROTECT IP (aka PIPA), but it seemed like it would be useful to create a single, “definitive” post to highlight why both of these bills are extremely problematic and won’t do much (if anything) to deal with the issues they’re supposed to deal with, but will have massive unintended consequences.
Give that article a read if you want to know more about SOPA and PIPA.
We all heard about the violence on Black Friday, well here are the numbers, and they should not surprise you…
Stocks closed in negative territory in thin, shortened trading Friday as investors were reluctant to go long ahead of the weekend and amid ongoing worries over the euro zone.
The Dow and S&P posted their worst Thanksgiving week since the Great Depression on a percentage basis.
Boston Boomer sent me this next link:
Deals are always part of the picture on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year was notable for an earlier opening for some retailers and possibly for the one shopper using pepper spray to make sure she could get a popular video game system.
“It seems like a lot of teenagers were the primary shoppers, maybe because of the hour, but I think net-net it’s not really going to result in an incremental positive for retailers,” Ed Yruma, senior equity analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets, said after checking out crowds at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. He said shoppers were not carrying a lot of shopping bags.
More than 120 stores at the Mall of America opened at midnight. The crowd at that point was about 15,000 people. Mall operators estimated that it was the largest crowd ever at the mall, which is big enough to hold seven Yankee Stadiums.
While eager shoppers emerged from stores around the country lugging big-screen TVs and bags full of video games and toys, it was far from certain that people will pull out their wallets for much more than the best deals this year. Shoppers with limited budgets started using layaway at chains such as Walmart as early as October.
Retail shares fell more than the overall market on Friday.
“Americans are still worried about jobs, still worried about the economy,” said Mike Thielmann, group executive vice president at J.C. Penney , who noted that shoppers were buying gifts and for themselves, and said jewelry was selling well.
That seems to be the obvious take away from the biggest shopping day of the year. People are concerned and they’re being more choosy with their money, if they are lucky enough to have some discretionary income.
This holiday is going to be a slim one for my kids, and it upsets me that we won’t be able to get them the things that they are asking for Christmas…everything just sucks!
I seemed to have wandered there a bit. This next link may be from a foreign press, but it is reporting on a police incident (a tragic death actually) that occurred in South Carolina. Police ‘killed deaf cyclist with stun gun after he failed to obey instructions to stop’ | Mail Online
A police officer killed an elderly, deaf and mentally disabled man riding his bicycle by shooting him with a Taser stun gun after he failed to obey instructions to stop.
Roger Anthony, 61, was killed as he made his way home in Scotland Neck, South Carolina, after officers responded to a 911 call about a man who had fallen off his bicycle in a car park.
The caller told dispatchers that the man appeared drunk and that it looked like he had hurt himself.
Officers said they repeatedly told Mr Anthony to get off his bike, but when he didn’t respond, they shocked him.
Of course they hit him with a taser, that is the expected police action these days…
Family members claim Mr Anthony had hearing problems and suffered from seizures. Now they’re considering whether to file a lawsuit against the town.
His brother Michael said: ‘What did they tase him for? It’s hurting me. It’s really hurting me.’
Scotland Neck Mayor James Mills said he wouldn’t blame the family for suing.
‘There has been no information that this man was a threat to anybody,’ he said.
‘If I was a family member, I’m sure I’d be thinking the same way.’
Mills said he has tried to get information from the police department about what happened to Mr Anthony, but they have turned him away.
Police Chief Joe Williams says the officer is on administrative leave while the SBI conducts its investigation.
He declined to comment further.
Horrible isn’t it? At least the mayor is not trying to cover for the cops…yet.
In other crime news, Boston Boomer sent me this link too. I had not been following these series of attacks within the Amish Community…7 arrested on hate crime charges in Amish hair cutting attacks – Crimesider – CBS News
Authorities raided the compound of a breakaway Amish group in eastern Ohio on Wednesday morning. They arrested seven men on federal hate crime charges in hair-cutting attacks against Amish men and women.
Among those arrested were the group’s leader, Sam Mullet, and three of his sons, said Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Cleveland.
Authorities have said several members of the group carried out the attacks in September and October by forcefully cutting the beards and hair of Amish men and women. Cutting the hair is a highly offensive act to the Amish, who believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry.
The attacks struck at the core of the Amish identity and tested their principles. They strongly believe that they must be forgiving in order for God to forgive them, which often means handing out their own punishment and not reporting crimes to law enforcement.
Hate crimes bring a possible sentence of ten years…all these attacks stem from a dispute between Mullet and the Amish Bishops, at the core it had to do with Mullet wanting certain members excommunicated. The bishops did not feel the members broke with any of their teachings or scripture, so they would not penalize the members.
Mullet told The Associated Press in October that he didn’t order the hair-cutting but didn’t stop his sons and others from carrying it out. He said the goal of the hair-cutting was to send a message to Amish in Holmes County that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they were treating Mullet and his community.
“They changed the rulings of our church here, and they’re trying to force their way down our throat, make us do like they want us to do, and we’re not going to do that,” Mullet said.
I don’t want to step on anyone’s faith or beliefs, but IMHO any form of organized religion will get you nothing but misery…or trouble.
Another thing that will bring you trouble…the Twitter. We’ve see what can happen to politicians dumb enough to tweet pictures of their penis bulges. Now it looks like politicians are taking the “tweet” to a new level of ridiculousness. Kansas Principal Stands Up to Governor Brownback Over Student’s Free Speech Rights [not]
Shawnee Mission East (Kansas) high school principal Karl R. Krawitz bravely stood up to the office of Governor Sam Brownback over a visiting student’s joking tweet about the Governor. Brownback’s communications office, reviewing social media scrupulously for messages related to the obviously thin-skinned governor, took great offense to high school senior Emma Sullivan’s Monday tweet from the back of a student tour group as Brownback delivered an anodyne greeting about public service and civic engagement:
“Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot”
She made no such comments at the event, of course: Emma Sullivan provided her light-hearted (and fictional) Twitter take on a typically ho-hum event featuring the right-wing governor, to her few followers. Later, speaking to a reporter, Emma Sullivan made clear their politics diverge sharply:
“We all are liberal, and we are opposed to a lot of his views,” she says. “I’m just an 18-year-old girl who knows what I believe, and I know what he believes, and we disagree. That is not going to change.”
Luckily, Emma Sullivan’s high school principal values her free-speech rights and stood up for her when contacted by Sherienne Jones-Sontag, Dear Leader’s director of communications.
“That wasn’t respectful,” responded Sherriene Jones-Sontag. “In order to really have a constructive dialogue, there has to be mutual respect.” [snip] “It was important for the organization to be aware of the comments their students were making.” Jones-Sontag says. “It’s also important for students to recognize the power of social media, how lasting it is. It is on the Internet.”
And wouldn’t you know that her principal took the side of Brownback…hmmm, does that make Principal Krawitz a “Brown Nose?”
This Kansas principal could have been a hero among educators, administrators, students, and free speech advocates across America. Student free speech is a core value of American public education, as the right move here would have reminded the governor. Instead, Krawitz is the new poster boy for craven apparatchiks everywhere who bow to the whims of unelected authority-worshipping courtiers, when they should instead educate their student charges about their civil rights versus the state’s heavy-handed reach.
Well played, gubernatorial director of communications Sherriene Jones-Sontag and Shawnee Mission East High School Principal Karl Krawitz. These two will both go far serving Dear Leader Brownback and his New Authoritarian State, the Republic of Gilead-Kansas.
Since that principal has his lips firmly planted on the Governors ass, it seems appropriate to end this post with a bit of bathroom humor…well make that bathroom video games. Men’s room in bar features urine-controlled video games | The Raw Story (And this was yet another link from Boston Boomer…Thanks woman!)
It was bound to happen.
Reuters reports that “after three years of development, the men of Britain can at last get gaming while they pee.”
The urinal-based video game system uses infrared sensors to enable users to steer down a ski slope while knocking over penguins or perform other simple actions by aiming their urine to the left, right, or center.
You know, when my son was being potty trained, I used to toss a few Fruit Loops in the bowl to make it a game for him. He would move those loops around the bowl by peeing on them…what a huge mistake that was, because now he still can’t seem to keep his aim on a direct target…inside the bowl.
According to Tech Digest, “Featuring a 12-inch LCD screen with an Atom-dual core microprocessor running Windows 7 embedded, Captive Media’s urinal game features a patented contact-less sensor unit that tracks the heat and movement of a user’s urine stream. It’s a bit like a Wii motion-sensor for wee.”
Developer Gordon MacSween told Reuters that he wasn’t certain how his brain-child would be received until “a group of American servicemen were in the bar, and I heard one of them coming out, high-fiving his mates, saying ‘Twelve!’ And his pals were saying, ‘No way, dude.’ They were going off to play and compete, and I thought, ‘This is good.’”
“Because you’ve got a minute of a guy’s time with nothing else on his mind, it’s a great time to put messages in front of them,” MacSween explained. “Sales [at the bar] have been up between 40-50%.”
This reminds me of the flies painted in the men’s urinals…you may remember this a few years back. When Humans Need a Nudge Toward Rationality – NYTimes.com
THE flies in the men’s-room urinals of the Amsterdam airport have been enshrined in the academic literature on economics and psychology. The flies — images of flies, actually — were etched in the porcelain near the urinal drains in an experiment in human behavior.
After the flies were added, “spillage” on the men’s-room floor fell by 80 percent. “Men evidently like to aim at targets,” said Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago, an irreverent pioneer in the increasingly influential field of behavioral economics.
Mr. Thaler says the flies are his favorite example of a “nudge” — a harmless bit of engineering that manages to “attract people’s attention and alter their behavior in a positive way, without actually requiring anyone to do anything at all.” What’s more, he said, “The flies are fun.”
Yup, there is nothing more fun for a guy than pissing, and hitting his target!
Well, that is it for today…you all will be eating left overs again, while I will be painting a fly on my toilet upstairs. Perhaps that will solve my son’s poor “stream” management problem for good.
So what are you all reading about today?