Sunday Reads: Cold Temps, Cold Tea and Warm Bed

Good Morning!

It is cold in Banjoville, we are talking low 20′s, and living near the river makes the air feel damp and harsh.  I’ve avoided the news this weekend, there is something going around…like when you have a hunch that you are coming down with a cold…but instead of dreading it, you are actually welcoming it. Why? Because it gives you a reason to sleep all day and not have to explain your crappy attitude to your family and friends.

Actually, the yesterday started very well and exciting, but when I opened the fridge and was hit with the leftover turkey fumes, it just drained all the energy out of me.

Anyway, here are some links to get you started this morning. You got your cup of Joe? Mug of tea? (My tea is already cold.) Flask of Southern Comfort? (Some may prefer whiskey or vodka, but I love me some SoCo.)

Juan Cole had an interesting post this past week, If You are 27 or younger, you’ve never lived through a colder than average month (Bump)

Paul Bump at Grist points out that The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on global temperatures in October 2012 as follows:

“The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces during October was 14.63°C (58.23°F). This is 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average and ties with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record. The record warmest October occurred in 2003 and the record coldest October occurred in 1912. This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature.”

He then did a quick calculation, and concluded that if you were born after April, 1985, i.e. if you are 27 or younger, you have never experienced a month with a global average temperature colder than the 20th-century average. (Obviously, you may have experienced a month at lower than local averages, though that would be rare, too; the point is about world averages.)

Cole links to a video from NASA:

One thing that is not cold, is the tension in Egypt. I have a few updates that you may not have read about yet:

Egypt braces for more protests

If Sunday is anything like the last several days in Egypt, it will not be quiet.

Egypt’s ElBaradei Calls on President to Rescind Near Absolute Powers

Prominent Egyptian democracy advocate Mohammed ElBaradei has called on Egypt’s president to rescind the near absolute powers he has granted himself.

ElBaradei says President Mohamed Morsi must take the action to avoid the possibility of increased turmoil in the country that has recently shed its longtime repressive government.

Nobel laureate ElBaradei addressed crowds that gathered Saturday in Cairo’s central square to protest President Morsi’s decrees that put him above judicial oversight and protect his Islamist supporters in parliament.

Egypt’s highest body of judges, the Supreme Judicial Council, also condemned President Morsi’s decree. The judges Saturday called the move “an unprecedented attack” on the independence of the judiciary. Judges in Alexandria have gone on strike, saying they will not return to work until the decree is withdrawn.

Egypt rights groups and ElBaradei denounce Mursi decree

Anti-Mursi protesters chant slogans in front of the Supreme Judicial Council building in Cairo, 24 November 2012
Critics and supporters of Mr Mursi have staged rallies since the decree was announced

More than 20 Egyptian rights groups have called on President Mohammed Mursi to withdraw the decree granting himself extensive new powers.

The 22 groups signed an open letter saying the president “has dealt a lethal blow to the Egyptian judiciary”.

Meanwhile, in another part of the Middle East:

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Middle East crisis social media

Middle East crisis social media © Peter Broelman,Australia,Middle East,Israel,Hamas,Palestine,Palestinians,war,Gaza, gaza fighting

Here is an op/ed from Robert Fisk: Netanyahu leads Israel into isolation Go ahead and give that a read.

I’ve got more news that involves two sides fighting…this time in Japan, between the right-wing Nationalist and the environmentalist: Dueling protests in Tokyo over dolphin and whale hunts

Environmentalists and nationalists held opposing rallies over the issue of Japan’s dolphin and whale hunts in a rare showdown in central Tokyo on Saturday, leading to angry scenes.

About 50 anti-whaling activists gathered at a park in the Shibuya shopping district with banners bearing slogans such as “Stop the cruel dolphin hunt!” while across the street about 30 nationalists shouted “Get out of Japan!”

The nationalists accused the environmentalists of undermining Japanese culture and traditions, saying “environmental terrorists” should be sent to slaughter houses.

I can only think of that episode of South Park…Whale Whores:

Stan and his family are spending his birthday at the Denver Aquarium where they will get to swim with the dolphins. Things turn bloody when the Japanese attack, kill all the dolphins and ruin Stan’s big day. There seems to be no end to the senseless killing. Stan takes on the cause to save the dolphins from the Japanese.

Down in Cuba, there is quite a stir about a recently elected official: Cuban transsexual elected to public office

Adela Hernandez

Adela Hernandez hailed election triumph as another milestone in gradual shift away from macho attitudes in Caribbean country. Photograph: Ramon Espinosa/AP

A Cuban transsexual has become the first known transgender person to hold public office in the country, winning election as a delegate to the municipal government of Caibarien in the central province of Villa Clara.

Adela Hernandez, 48, hailed her election in a country where gays were persecuted for decades and sent to rural work camps as another milestone in the gradual shift away from macho attitudes in the years since Fidel Castro himself expressed regret over the treatment of people perceived to be different.

Hernandez, who has lived as a female since childhood, served two years in prison in the 1980s for “dangerousness” after her own family denounced her sexuality.

“As time evolves, homophobic people – although they will always exist – are the minority,” Hernandez said by phone from her home town. Becoming a delegate “is a great triumph”, she added.

This is a big deal in Cuba:

For years after the 1959 Cuban revolution, authorities hounded people of differing sexual orientation and others considered threatening, such as priests, long-haired youths and rock ‘n’ roll enthusiasts. But there have been notable changes in attitudes toward sexuality.

“I would like to think that discrimination against homosexuals is a problem that is being overcome,” Castro told an interviewer some years ago.

Read the rest of Hernandez story at the link.

I’ve got another transgender, I guess it is more of a cross-dressing story for you. This one is about The 72-year-old Chinese grandfather who models teen-girl clothes I will just post a picture…you can click to see the rest.

18 November 2012 01:09 PM

offbeatchina.com

…and, what is more, looks pretty good doing it. Kate Moss, eat your heart out, the world’s newest superpower has a new supermodel to match. But Liu Xianping is not your average clothes horse.

Why does that image remind me of Andy Warhol?

More newsy articles after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


Mohamed ElBaradei Speaks to the Egypt (live updates)

This thread is going to contain live updates on Egypt coming on Al Jazeera English and from Twitter updates. Al Jazeera is clearly the go to place for information.

The protests were the top story on every major news outlet in the Middle East, but the day belonged to Al Jazeera. The station was the first to report that the governing party’s headquarters were set on fire. Breathless phone reports came in from Jazeera correspondents in towns across Egypt. Live footage from Cairo alternated with action shots that played again and again. Orchestral music played, conveying the sense of a long-awaited drama.

Al Jazeera kept up its coverage despite serious obstacles. The broadcaster’s separate live channel was removed from its satellite platform by the Egyptian government on Friday morning, its Cairo bureau had its telephones cut and its main news channel also faced signal interference, according to a statement released by the station. The director of the live channel issued an appeal to the Egyptian government to allow it to broadcast freely.

Other broadcasters, including CNN, said their reporters had been attacked and their cameras smashed by security forces.

Two major news items right now. Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has called for Hosni Mubarak to step down and says that Egyptian state is in collapse.  He’s asking for a unity government.

Egypt is reaching a “tipping point,” opposition campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei said in an interview with Monocle.

“People are desperate and anxious for change to happen overnight,” ElBaradei, the former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in the London-based monthly’s February edition. “I see that approaching. People say Egyptians are patient, but you go around the streets of Cairo and you’ll see that the tipping point coming.”

The West is “losing every ounce of credibility when it comes to convincing people here that it is serious about their basic values: democracy, freedom, justice, rule of law,” said ElBaradei, 68. “That fuels extremism. The West doesn’t realize that stability is not based on shortsighted security measures; stability will only come when people are empowered, when people are able to participate.”

There is looting by thugs on motorcycles and it appears to be thugs from the Mubarak’s political party. The Department of Interior’s police force appears to have melted away. There’s no visible presence of the police, only the military.  There are reports that the National Museum with its incredible collection of antiquities has experienced looting and damage.

The museum in central Cairo, which has the world’s biggest collection of Pharaonic antiquities, is adjacent to the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party that protesters had earlier set ablaze. Flames were seen still pouring out of the party headquarters early Saturday.

“I felt deeply sorry today when I came this morning to the Egyptian Museum and found that some had tried to raid the museum by force last night,” Zahi Hawass, chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said Saturday.

“Egyptian citizens tried to prevent them and were joined by the tourism police, but some (looters) managed to enter from above and they destroyed two of the mummies,” he said.

AJ also continues to update it’s live blog for the day. Here are three entries:

7:38pm Ayman Mohyeldin reports that eyewitnesses have said “party thugs” associated with the Egyptian regime’s Central Security Services – in plainclothes but bearing government-issued weapons – have been looting in Cairo. Ayman says the reports started off as isolated accounts but are now growing in number.

6:50pm As protesters continue to defy curfew, a bystander in Cairo tells Al Jazeera that there are no police left in the capital. Formerly omnipresent traffic police are nowhere to be found. Reports suggest that private property is being seized in locations throughout Egypt.

6:43pm Some of the rarest antiquities in the world are found damaged by looters at famed Cairo musuem.

There are marches on the street. People are dying and being hurt. At least 25 people have been killed in Cairo.  Suez reports 38 deaths.  Alexandria reports 36 killed.  Women are being threatened with sexual assault.   The Children’s Cancer Hospital has also been the target of looting.  Again, it appears that may of the looters are the party police in plain clothes.  AJ has been reporting that some were caught trying to loot richer areas and were found to be carrying ID cards from the State Security forces.   People are still ignoring the curfew.

Probably the most disturbing announcement is that Egypt’s Head Spy is now the VP of the country.  This is the man that has handled torture of US detainees.

In December, the Wall Street Journal’s Jerusalem correspondent pronounced Suleiman “the most likely successor … President Mubarak’s closest aide, charged with handling the country’s most sensitive issues.

“He also has close working relations with the U.S. and a lifetime of experience inside Egypt’s military and intelligence apparatus,” Charles Levinson wrote.

Likewise, the Voice of America said Friday, “Suleiman is seen by some analysts as a possible successor to the president.” “He earned international respect for his role as a mediator in Middle East affairs and for curbing Islamic extremism.”

An editorialist at Pakistan’s “International News” predicted Thursday that “Suleiman will probably scupper his boss’s plans [to install his son], even if the aspiring intelligence guru himself is as young as 75.”

Suleiman graduated from Egypt’s prestigious Military Academy but also received training in the Soviet Union. Under his guidance, Egyptian intelligence has worked hand-in-glove with the CIA’s counterterrorism programs, most notably in the 2003 rendition of an al-Qaeda suspect known as Abu Omar from Italy.

This thread will continue to update during the day.

Notable Tweets:

Category of  I know how they feel:

SultanAlQassemi Sultan Al Qassemi

Zuwail “There has been a shrinking in the middle class in Egypt while an elite group has become excessively wealthy” cc Ahmed Ezz/Gamal

SultanAlQassemi Sultan Al Qassemi

Zuwail “Education has been the issue in every household in Egypt. Science & research has reached the lowest levels, Egypt deserves better”

GREAT UPDATE!!!

What you are seeing here is very interesting.  These are Egyptian Muslims praying.  Behind them are Egyptian Christians Guarding the neighborhood so they can pray safely.

You may remember that Wonk the Vote wrote a post with a similar theme in Egypt a few weeks ago when Egyptian Muslims surrounded Christian Churches who could celebrate Christmas with out fear of suicide bombers..