UC Davis Professor Noha Radwan Beaten “Half to Death” by Mubarak’s Thugs

Yesterday, Professor Noha Radwan was interviewed by Sharif Abdel Kouddous of Democracy Now in Cairo. Here is the video:

Just after she completed the interview, Radwan was brutally beaten by thugs working for the Egyptian dictator. She told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now

“I got attacked by the mob and beaten half to death by the Mubarak thugs who were happy to snatch my necklaces off my neck and to rip my shirt open,”

There is a follow-up telephone interview with Radwan at the second link above. The call with Radwan begins around 37:19. She says that pro-Mubarak thugs asked her if she was pro- or anti-Mubarak. She didn’t want to answer and tried to walk past them. Then the thugs called to the rest of the “mob,” “She’s with them, she’s with them! Get her!”

Two large men held her by the arms while the mob ripped her shirt off, took a gold necklace that she wore during the interview, and beat her so badly that she had to get stitches in her head. She says that other people have been treated much worse than she was. Radwan says that the Egyptian government-controlled media has been “broadcasting nonstop” that “we are infiltrators, that we are foreign-paid…not actually real Eqyptians.”

Amy Goodman says that Democracy Now has been getting reports that the “pro-Mubarak” forces seem to be made up mostly of Egyptian police. The Guardian apparently reported that at least 100 police ID’s have been recovered. There is lots more in the video. If it becomes available on Youtube, I’ll post it here.

What will happen next?

At the Foreign Policy blog, Robert Springbord puts into words what I have been fearing for the past few days: Game over: The chance for democracy in Egypt is lost.

While much of American media has termed the events unfolding in Egypt today as “clashes between pro-government and opposition groups,” this is not in fact what’s happening on the street. The so-called “pro-government” forces are actually Mubarak’s cleverly orchestrated goon squads dressed up as pro-Mubarak demonstrators to attack the protesters in Midan Tahrir, with the Army appearing to be a neutral force. The opposition, largely cognizant of the dirty game being played against it, nevertheless has had little choice but to call for protection against the regime’s thugs by the regime itself, i.e., the military. And so Mubarak begins to show us just how clever and experienced he truly is. The game is, thus, more or less over.

The threat to the military’s control of the Egyptian political system is passing. Millions of demonstrators in the street have not broken the chain of command over which President Mubarak presides. Paradoxically the popular uprising has even ensured that the presidential succession will not only be engineered by the military, but that an officer will succeed Mubarak. The only possible civilian candidate, Gamal Mubarak, has been chased into exile, thereby clearing the path for the new vice president, Gen. Omar Suleiman. The military high command, which under no circumstances would submit to rule by civilians rooted in a representative system, can now breathe much more easily than a few days ago. It can neutralize any further political pressure from below by organizing Hosni Mubarak’s exile, but that may well be unnecessary.

The president and the military, have, in sum, outsmarted the opposition and, for that matter, the Obama administration. They skillfully retained the acceptability and even popularity of the Army, while instilling widespread fear and anxiety in the population and an accompanying longing for a return to normalcy.

Reactions?

This is an open thread to discuss the Egyptian protests.


Total Information Awareness* is Here

Yesterday Joseph Cannon put up a disturbing post about the American company that made it possible for Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian government to shut down the internet in Egypt, making it much more difficult for Egyptians to communicate over social media like Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to read Cannon’s post and watch the Democracy Now video that he included.

The company is Narus, located in Sunnyvale, CA. The company was purchased by Boeing last summer.

I was intrigued enough to do a little more reading about Narus, and thought I’d add a bit to what Cannon had to say.

According to Wikipedia, Narus (emphasis added)

is notable for being the creator of NarusInsight, a supercomputer system which is allegedly used by the NSA and other bodies to perform mass surveillance and monitoring of citizens’ and corporations’ Internet communications in real-time, and whose installation in AT&T’s San Francisco Internet backbone gave rise to a 2006 class action lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T, Hepting v. AT&T.

That’s the NSA spying program that supposedly targeted only foreign communications, but actually spied on all of us.

At the Electronic Frontier Foundation site, I found this report by Brian Reid, who is described as a “telecommunications expert.” He is also a former electrical engineer professor at Stanford and computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University West. Reid was asked by the EFF to examine the technology used by AT&T in the spying program. Here’s a bit of what he had to say:

NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, MD

This infrastructure is capable of monitoring all traffic passing through the AT&T facility (some of it not even from AT&T customers), whether voice or data or fax, international or domestic. The most likely use of this infrastructure is wholesale, untargeted surveillance of ordinary Americans at the behest of the NSA. NSA involvement undermines arguments that the facility is intended for use by AT&T in protecting its own network operations.

This infrastructure is not limited to, nor would it be especially efficient for, targeted surveillance, or even untargeted surveillance aimed at communications where one of the ends is located outside the United States. It is also not reasonably aimed at supporting AT&T operations and security procedures.

Reid explains that the equipment he examined “is far more powerful and expensive than that needed to do targeted surveillance or surveillance aimed only at international or one-end foreign communications.” Furthermore:

The documents describe a secret, private backbone network separate from the public network where normal AT&T customer traffic is carried transmitted. A separate backbone network would not be required for transmission of the smaller amounts of data captured via targeted surveillance. You don’t need that magnitude of transport capacity if you are doing targeted surveillance.

The bottom line is that the equipment used to provide data to the NSA for Bush’s spying program was designed to spy on ordinary American citizens–not foreign terrorists.

Read the rest of this entry »


Breaking News: Forthcoming Mubarak Statement

This is a developing post so it will change frequently.

Recent Tweet from
AJEnglish Al Jazeera English

Hosni Mubarak expected to speak to soon. Tune in to #AlJazeera to watch the coverage live: http://aje.me/ajelive#mubarak#tahrir#egypt

Al Jazeera continues to stream in English live.

A statement is also expected from the White House.
According to Diplomatic Sources via CNN:  Egypt crisis: Mubarak won’t run again; report says Obama pushed for decision

Update 9:38 p.m. Cairo, 2:38 p.m. ET] Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has decided not to seek re-election, according to a senior U.S. official involved in the Obama administration’s deliberations on Egypt. The official cited “reliable contacts in Cairo” for the news. The New York Times reported Obama pushed Mubarak into the decision via a message delivered by former Ambassador Frank Wisner, who paid a personal visit to Mubarak on Tuesday.

The LA Times is reporting that US Envoy Frank Wisner was sent to tell Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step aside.

Frank Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt who has good relations with the Mubarak regime, traveled to Cairo at President Obama’s behest to talk to the Egyptian leader about the country’s future.

Wisner delivered a direct message that Mubarak should not be part of the “transition” that the U.S. had called for, according to Middle East experts who spoke on condition of anonymity.

One expert on the region said that in his regular conversations with the Obama administration about the unrest in Egypt, he learned that Wisner’s message to Mubarak was that “he was not going to be president in the future. And this message was plainly rebuffed.”

Obama’s Message to Mubarak: Neither You Nor Your Son Should Be On the Ballot This Fall

U.S. officials tells ABC News that on Saturday, President Obama made the final authorization to send former Ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner to deliver – gently – the message to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that neither he nor his son should run for the presidency this September.

Wisner, a well-regarded Egypt hand with a longtime relationship with Mubarak, was “in the orbit,” an official says, “because he’s been talked about as a potential Holbrooke replacement” to be a Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The White House gave Wisner his talking points, the official said, and Wisner flew to Cairo Sunday to tell Mubarak that he should not run for re-election — and that his son Gamal should not run either.


Omar Suleiman and the U.S. Rendition and Torture Program

Omar Suleiman

Omar Suleiman was recently appointed Vice President of Egypt by desperate dictator Hosni Mubarak. There has also been talk that Suleiman could become Mubarak’s successor now that Mubarak’s son Gamal is seemingly out of the picture.

It will be interesting to see how the Obama administration responds to this appointment, since the U.S. has had very close relations with Suleiman. Some basic background on Suleiman from Reuters:

* He has been the director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services (EGIS) since 1993, a role in which he has played a prominent public role in diplomacy, including in Egypt’s relations with Israel and with key aid donor the United States.

* He was born on July 2, 1936 in Qena, in southern Egypt. He later enrolled in Egypt’s premier Military Academy in 1954, after which he received additional military training in the then Soviet Union at Moscow’s Frunze Military Academy.

* He also studied political science at Cairo University and Ain Shams University. In 1992 he headed the General Operations Authority in the Armed Forces and then became the director of the military intelligence unit before taking over EGIS.

* Suleiman took part in the war in Yemen in 1962 and the 1967 and 1973 wars against Israel.

* As Egypt’s intelligence chief, Suleiman was in charge of the country’s most important political security files, and was the mastermind behind the fragmentation of Islamist groups who led the uprising against the state in the 1990s.

Here is another profile from the BBC.

While he has shown little political ambition, General Suleiman has often been mentioned as a possible successor to the 82-year-old Mr Mubarak.

He would continue in the trend of military strongmen who have led Egypt since the 1952 revolution.

And perhaps more ominously, based on what you’re about to read about Suleiman’s activities,

Even if he is not the next president, even in a transitional capacity, some experts believe that Omar Suleiman is likely to be a kingmaker.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Reads Chaos in the streets….

*Update* The situation is escalating in Egypt, so here are some updated links:

US set to evacuate citizens from Egypt | euronews, world news

The United States on Sunday said it will evacuate any of its citizens who want to leave Egypt. In a statement on its website, the US embassy in Cairo said flights would depart from various locations across the country on Monday.

Egypt shuts down al-Jazeera operations | World news | The Guardian

Egypt today shut down the operations of the Arabic satellite TV channel al-Jazeera, blaming it for encouraging the country’s uprising – and demonstrating that the repressive powers of central government are still functioning.

Robert Fisk: Egypt: Death throes of a dictatorship – Robert Fisk, Commentators – The Independent

Mubarak’s allegation that these demonstrations and arson – this combination was a theme of his speech refusing to leave Egypt – were part of a “sinister plan” is clearly at the centre of his claim to continued world recognition. Indeed, Obama’s own response – about the need for reforms and an end to such violence – was an exact copy of all the lies Mubarak has been using to defend his regime for three decades. It was deeply amusing to Egyptians that Obama – in Cairo itself, after his election – had urged Arabs to grasp freedom and democracy. These aspirations disappeared entirely when he gave his tacit if uncomfortable support to the Egyptian president on Friday. The problem is the usual one: the lines of power and the lines of morality in Washington fail to intersect when US presidents have to deal with the Middle East. Moral leadership in America ceases to exist when the Arab and Israeli worlds have to be confronted.

Why is it every puzzle I do, reminds me of our pug "Cosmo"...

Good Sunday Morning, what a week it has been! So much going on in the news, so many Middle Eastern countries,  in upheaval. Egypt reportedly has over 100 dead in the protest, and Australia is urging its citizens to leave. I had to take a break from it all yesterday, so I started a new puzzle. There is something about the chaos of those puzzle pieces, you have some control and can put the pieces together. You get a sense of completion and wholeness. Well, is that a bit over the top? Then truth be told, I just enjoy to do those suckers. Although, I am not as obsessed about working puzzles as Marion Davies, they sure are fun. Anyway, on with the show…Al Jazeera English has been doing some amazing coverage on the revolt in Egypt. The first three links are from that news organization.

Pressure builds on Mubarak – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Washington told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday it was not enough simply to “reshuffle the deck” with a shake-up of his government and pressed him to make good on his promise of genuine reform.

“The Egyptian government can’t reshuffle the deck and then stand pat,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a message on Twitter.com after Mubarak fired his government but made clear he had no intention of stepping down.

Egypt not trending in China – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

China has blocked the word “Egypt” from the country’s wildly popular Twitter-like service, while coverage of the political turmoil has been tightly restricted in state media.

China’s ruling Communist Party is sensitive to any potential source of social unrest.

A search for “Egypt” on the Sina microblogging service brings up a message saying, “According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the search results are not shown”.

Egypt’s military in a quandary – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

As the revolt continues to expand and gain momentum in major Egyptian cities and protestors demand no less than the removal of his regime, it’s now the military’s choice to allow for the change to be peaceful or violent.

So far, it has opted for merely policing the streets without confronting the demonstrators, whether this will turn into a Tiananmen scenario of tough crackdown or not, will be decided in the next few hours or days.

[...]

The Egyptian military could follow the Tunisian military by refusing orders to shoot at demonstrators or impose the curfew.

The military can replace Mubarak with a temporary emergency governing council or leave it for civilian opposition groups to form government in consultation with the military.

This depends on the cost and benefits of keeping Mubarak who’s long been the military man at the helm of the regime. Appointing intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his vice president, and hence ending his son’s chances for succession, will make little difference on the long term.

There is direct correlation between continued momentum of the uprising and the need to remove Mubarak, his family and his political leadership from the helm. Also, the military will make its calculation on the basis of delicate balancing act that insures its own influence and privileges while not allowing the country to descend into chaos.

In Israel, it looks like the pressure is starting to show. Obama will go down in history as the president who lost Egypt – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as “the president who lost Iran,” which during his term went from being a major strategic ally of the United States to being the revolutionary Islamic Republic. Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who “lost” Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America’s alliances in the Middle East crumbled.

The superficial circumstances are similar. In both cases, a United States in financial crisis and after failed wars loses global influence under a leftist president whose good intentions are interpreted abroad as expressions of weakness. The results are reflected in the fall of regimes that were dependent on their relationship with Washington for survival, or in a change in their orientation, as with Ankara.

Ouch, that is some tough criticism. I honestly would be scared to death if I lived in Israel. One of the only buffers (Egypt) is going down in flames, and the other (Jordan) seems to be just heating up. I won’t get into a debate about Aluf Benn’s, the article’s author, choice of words regarding a “leftist” president.

Here is a couple more links about the response from Obama, and how the Egyptian People feel about his “stand back and wait” or should I say, let Hillary take all the heat on the Sunday Morning news shows.  (Wonk mentioned yesterday that she is going on all the Sunday talk shows.)

More Egyptian protesters demand that White House condemn Mubarak

Obama Presses Egypt for Change – NYTimes.com

If you have missed the coverage that Dakinikat has done on this crisis in Egypt, I urge you to check out her live blog post. She has really been on top of things. Wonk also posted about a young girl’s message to Mubarak. I tell you, the Sky Dancing Blog has been cooking lately. I am so proud to be part of this team.

Speaking of which, I have to give some props to Front Pagers Boston Boomer and Zaladonis and Sima. Give these links a look-see! Each of them wrote a very good blog post this weekend, you might have missed them with all the activity over in Northern Africa. Here are a few  other interesting links that might have gone unnoticed.

FT.com / Companies / Banks – Blankfein awarded $12.6m in shares – The first line of the article mentions that the US must have gotten over the big money paid to big bank executives. Yeah? I don’t know about that…most people probably don’t even know about the pay off, I mean bonus guys like Goldman Sachs’ Blankfein are getting. Check out the grin on his face in this link:  Blankfein Gets $13.2 Million for 2010 – NYTimes.com

Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report Lacks Analysis – NYTimes.com This story has really been lost in the shuffle. I guess it will at least give some time for people to review the massive report. I wonder if it will get any attention during the next news cycle.

Greg Mitchell: WikiLeaks Is Holding Me Hostage Well I don’t know about that. Grey Mitchell has a new book out, and it seems like “hostage” is a bit over the top…so the cables have been coming out a little at a time, I could make a crude connection to this and the massive “dump” at the beginning of the recent State Dept Cable leak…but I won’t.

This next link is for Dakinikat. She has joked about the fact that the recent disastrous events have not taken place in her own back yard. Well, she may very well know first hand about the emotional cost of dealing with a tragic situation. Weighing the costs of disaster

Disasters — both natural and humanmade — can strike anywhere and they often hit without warning, so they can be difficult to prepare for. But what happens afterward? How do people cope following disasters? In a new report in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, George Bonanno, Chris R. Brewin, Krzysztof Kaniasty, and Annette M. La Greca review the psychological effects of disasters and why some individuals have a harder time recovering than do others.

[...]

But why do individuals respond to disasters so differently? There may be a number of factors that influence how people react following disasters, such as age and socioeconomic status. For example, children react to disasters differently than do adults: Initially they tend to show more extreme psychological distress than do adult disaster survivors, but as with adults, such severe psychological problems are often only temporary. At the other end of the age spectrum, older adults tend to overcome disasters with fewer psychological costs than do younger adults. Economic resources may also play a role in people’s outcomes to disasters. Low socioeconomic status is consistently identified as a predictor of PTSD. Economically underdeveloped areas’ lack of infrastructure hampers the ability of emergency response teams to provide aid and death tolls tend to be larger in poorer nations than in wealthier nations following natural disasters.

From Minx’s Missing Link File: It has been 25 years since another disaster, the Challenger explosion…can you believe 25 years? I was a Sophomore in High School, we saw the explosion live. Our little group of 12 “gifted” students in Mr. Brooks class got to see it first hand. It had one effect on me, I would never watch a shuttle take off or land live again. Well, save for one time in 2003. The first time I would watch a shuttle landing since 1986, the Columbia landing. Anyway, give this link a read…I find it interesting cause it is written by a guy from my generation. Jim Noles: Twenty-Five Years Ago, We Lost More Than a Space Shuttle

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link: Appalachian History >> I won’t take a picture unless the moon is right, to say nothing of the sunlight and shadow

Born on January 15, 1864 in Grafton, WV, Frances Benjamin Johnston transcended both regional and national notions about women’s place in the 19th century to become a pioneer in American photography and photojournalism, and a crusader with her camera for the historic preservation of the Old South. Through her active encouragement of women who wised to enter her chosen profession, she helped to transform women’s sphere. The photographic record she compiled in over than fifty years as a working photographer continues to serve as a guide to the American past and to document her wide-ranging interest and achievements.

[...]

In an interview with Maud O’Bryan Ronstrom from the New Orleans ‘Times-Picayune’ in 1947, Johnston, then 83 years old, talked about her achievements. Typically, she looked ahead to her completion of works in progress (such as the restoration of her house on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter and a book on ‘The Early Architecture of the Lower Mississippi Valley’) rather than to her retirement. Johnston’s sense of humor emerges in this interview in her description of the lengths to which she sometimes had gone to capture a photograph.

This is such a cool post. Give this blog a read, it is called: Appalachian History. Living in this historic area of the US is a wonderful, even if I tend to joke about living in banjoland…with the sounds of squealing pigs in the distance.

And just one more…My Aunt called me late last night to alert me to my Cousin’s 15 minutes of fame. Seems Loren was walking his puppy Bonnie and came across a 15 foot, 200 pound Burmese Python. Dang, that could eat a small child…or at least a happy go lucky midget out for a stroll in the FLA woods…oops, I mean one of those happy go lucky “short people.” ;)

So what are you reading today? Lets have it loud and proud!