Thursday Reads: This and ThatPosted: August 15, 2013
This post is going to be a little bit of this and a little bit of that along with some eye candy for the classic film buffs out there–just because I’m feeling a little silly and mixed up today.
I haven’t been paying much attention to the situation in Egypt lately–except to notice out of the corner of my eye that it seems to be getting out of hand. Here are a few links on what’s happening now.
LA Times: Death toll in Egypt crackdown hits 525
CAIRO — The death toll in the violence that has engulfed Egypt climbed to 525 Thursday as the nation awoke to scenes of charred streets, battered cars, funerals and deepening divisions between Islamists and the largely secular military-backed government.
The Health Ministry reported that the dead, mostly supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, included at least 43 police officers. More than 3,700 people were also wounded in clashes that ignited Wednesday when security forces broke up two sit-ins by protesters loyal to Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood claims at least 2,000 people were killed in street battles that swept the country. Many of the deaths occurred when riot police firing tear gas and automatic weapons stormed the six-week old Islamist rally outside the Rabaa al Adawiya mosque in Cairo.
The violence stunned world leaders, and Thursday Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that the U.N. Security Council move to condemn what he characterized as a massacre by Egyptian soldiers and security forces.
“I am calling on Western countries. You remained silent in Gaza, you remained silent in Syria. … You are still silent on Egypt. So how come you talk about democracy, freedom, global values and human rights?” he told a news conference.
The van plunged off the 6th October Bridge before demonstrators attacked the wreckage yesterday. It is not known how many people were on board and how many people survived the fall, but bloodied men were seen lying around the van moments afterwards. Unconfirmed reports on Twitter claimed five were dead.
The dramatic pictures show the van being ambushed by dozens of people before crashing through a protective fence on the bridge. It then falls upside down and then rolls onto its roof as it lands. Blood can then be seen on the ground as nearby police officers pull injured men out of the crushed vehicle.
See photos at the the link.
There is a lot of criticism of the Obama administration’s handing (or non-handling) of the situation. Some samples:
Slate: Lost In Egypt
The bloody crackdown began early Wednesday morning, as Egyptian riot police and plainclothes officers began their assault on the thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members who defied the government’s warnings to end their protests in support of the ousted former president, Mohamed Morsi. Security forces showed no restraint as they stormed the two massive sit-ins: Bulldozers cleared makeshift barriers, while snipers took aim at protesters and plumes of tear gas engulfed the streets. Hospitals were quickly overrun with the dead and wounded, and eyewitness reports described hallways slick with blood and lines of corpses with gunshot wounds to the head, neck, and chest. By the end of the siege, nearly 300 people were reported dead—including women and children—and it’s likely the death toll will climb higher.
It being August, the duty of offering the Obama administration’s first reaction to the Egyptian regime’s brutal attack fell to deputy press secretary Josh Earnest. The White House condemned the violence (as if it were being committed equally by both sides), asked that the military and security forces show restraint (while corpses were being counted), promised to hold the interim government accountable (as if the interim government were anything more than a fig leaf for the military), and suggested that an “inclusive process” would be best (that must not have occurred to the snipers as they reloaded their guns). In other words, it was the same talking points the administration has produced each time Egypt has erupted in a spasm of violence this summer. It is hard to imagine a more feckless response than the Obama administration’s approach to dealing with Egypt’s generals.
When asked whether the administration might want to revise its position on whether the July 3 ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected president was a coup, Earnest replied, “It is not in the interests of the United States to make that determination.” That answer echoed State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki’s statement on July 26 that “we have determined legally that we do not need to make a determination.” In other words, we aren’t going to say and you can’t make us.
Both The Washington Post and The New York Times have printed scathing editorials that demand the U.S. suspend $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt after a military crackdown led to the deaths of more than 550 people, including two foreign journalists, on Wednesday.
“[T]he Obama administration is complicit in the new and horrifyingly bloody crackdown launched Wednesday by the de facto regime against tens of thousands of protesters who had camped out in two Cairo squares.”
“This refusal to take a firm stand against massive violations of human rights is as self-defeating for the United States as it is unconscionable.”
“President Obama must make clear his unequivocal opposition to the Egyptian military’s conduct. He can do so by immediately suspending military aid and canceling joint military exercises scheduled for September.”
“And if suspending a $1.3 billion subsidy does not do the trick, it will at least tell rank-and-file Egyptians that the United States is no longer underwriting repression.”
More examples at the link.
Things aren’t looking very good in Iraq either.
From Reuters: Baghdad bomb attacks kill at least 33
A series of car bombs in Baghdad killed at least 33 people and wounded more than 100 on Thursday, with one near the “Green Zone” diplomatic complex, fuelling a death toll that has soared since the beginning of the year to levels not seen since 2008.
Militant groups, including al Qaeda, have increased attacks in recent months in an insurgency against Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government, raising fears of a return to full-blown sectarian conflict after U.S. troops withdrew 18 months ago.
Iraqi police sources said one bomb exploded just 200-300 meters (yards) outside Baghdad’s international zone, close to Iraq’s Foreign Ministry, killing four and wounding 12 people….
Since the start of the year, attacks using multiple car bombs have become an almost daily occurrence, killing scores of people in Iraq, including during a religious holiday last weekend when bombers targeted families celebrating outside.
Each of the past four months has each been deadlier than any in the previous five years, dating back to a time when U.S. and government troops were engaged in battles with militiamen.
Back in the USA, veteran newsman Jack Germond died yesterday at age 85. From The Baltimore Sun:
Jack W. Germond, the irascible, portly columnist and commentator who was a fixture on the American political scene for nearly 50 years, including nearly 20 of them in The Baltimore Sun’s Washington bureau, died Wednesday morning of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his home in Charles Town, W.Va. He was 85.
“Jack was a truly dedicated reporter and had an old-fashioned relationship with politicians. He liked them, but that did not prevent him from being critical when they did bad things and behaved badly. That was a trademark of Jack’s,” said Jules Witcover, his longtime writing partner.
“Jack enjoyed his life and work. He personified that,” said Ernest B. “Pat” Furgurson, former chief of The Sun’s Washington bureau. “He had a positive personality, but when he was bitching about something, and in that mood, he’d suddenly say, ‘Isn’t this a great job?’”
He used to be on TV a lot, and I always liked him. He was a real old-time journalist who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind.
More news from our crumbling country: Republicans are still crazy.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a tea party senator with a long history of opposition to civil rights laws, told an audience in Louisville, Kentucky on Wednesday that there is no evidence of black voters being excluded from the franchise. According to local NPR host Phillip Bailey, Paul said that he does not believe “there is any particular evidence of polls barring African Americans from voting,” during aspeech to the non-partisan Louisville Forum.
If Paul is not aware of the evidence indicating widespread efforts to prevent African Americans from voting, then he must not be looking very hard. During the 2012 election, black and Hispanic voters waited nearly twice as long to cast a ballot as white voters. In Florida, lines of up to six hours led an estimated 201,000 people to become frustrated and leave the polls. These lines existed largely because of a voter suppression bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) which reduced early voting hours in the state. After the election, top Republicans admitted that the purpose of cutting early voting was to reduce Democratic turnout. One Republican operative conceded that early voting was cut on the Sunday proceeding Election Day because “that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves.”
Meanwhile, voter ID laws are rampant in states led by conservatives, despite the fact that these laws cannot be justified by any legitimate purpose. Although their proponents routinely claim that an ID requirement is necessary to prevent voter fraud at the polls, such fraud barely exists. According to one study, just 0.0023 percent of votes are the product of in person voter fraud. Meanwhile, even conservative estimates suggest that 2 to 3 percent of legitimate voters will turn turned away by a voter ID law — and these voters are disproportionately African American.
And Texas Republicans are beyond the pale: Rep. Stockman invites Obama rodeo clown to perform in Texas.
A conservative Texas lawmaker is inviting a rodeo clown banned from the Missouri state fair to perform in the Lone Star State instead.
Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.) says that the unidentified rodeo clown and his colleagues have been unfairly targeted by liberals “to create a climate of fear.” He invited them to come perform at a fair in his southeastern Texas district instead.
“Liberals want to bronco bust dissent. But Texans value speech, even if its speech they don’t agree with,” Stockman said in a statement issued by his office Wednesday. “From Molly Ivins to Louie Gohmert and every opinion between Texans value free and open political speech. I’m sure any rodeo in Texas would be proud to have performers.”
Missouri state and fair officials reacted swiftly over the weekend after a rodeo clown donned a mask of President Obama and asked people if they want to see the president “run down by a bull.”
The White House declined to comment on the disgusting display of racism and disrespect for the office of the President.
Hillary Clinton is getting job offers from academia, according to Politico.
Hillary Clinton is fielding offers from colleges and universities — including Harvard and her law school alma mater, Yale — to give her a formal academic role, a move that would give her a platform outside her family’s foundation….
The advantage to Clinton of an academic platform, beyond the scope of her policy interests, could be huge for someone considering a presidential run. It would provide her with a credible backdrop for speeches and events that would take her outside of a hotel ballroom or something sponsored by her family’s foundation or another outside group.
Hmmm…. I’m sure the Politico gang would much prefer to see Hillary in academia rather than the White House.
On the chance Clinton doesn’t run for president, academia would be a potential next act for her careerwise.
The schools have included the Harvard Kennedy School, Yale, New York University — where her daughter, Chelsea, has a title — and the Baruch College discussions, the sources said. One source indicated there are others as well who have approached Clinton about an academic partnership, going back to when she was still at Foggy Bottom.