Independence Day Reads

4th of July and NSA

Good Morning!!

So Egyptians staged a whole lot of protests and with the help of the army, overthrew the president they elected about a year ago. From the Boston Globe: Egypt’s army ousts Morsi, who calls it a ‘coup’

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s first democratically elected president was overthrown by the military Wednesday, ousted after just one year in office by the same kind of Arab Spring uprising that brought the Islamist leader to power.

The armed forces announced they would install a temporary civilian government to replace Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who denounced the action as a ‘‘full coup’’ by the generals. They also suspended the Islamist-drafted constitution and called for new elections.

Millions of anti-Morsi protesters around the country erupted in celebrations after the televised announcement by the army chief. Fireworks burst over crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where men and women danced, shouting, ‘‘God is great’’ and ‘‘Long live Egypt.’’

That sure sounds like coup. The army overthrows an elected leader and appoints a new one, while suspending the constitution. What else would you call it? And then there’s this:

The army took control of state media and blacked out TV stations operated by the Muslim Brotherhood. The head of the Brotherhood’s political wing was arrested.

It’s like Groundhog Day. A year from now will the whole thing happen all over again?

Morsi Dud by Jeff Darcy

From BBC News: Egypt swears in Mansour as interim leader after Morsi ousted

The top judge of Egypt’s Constitutional Court, Adly Mahmud Mansour, has been sworn in as interim leader, a day after the army ousted President Mohammed Morsi and put him under house arrest.

Mr Mansour said fresh elections were “the only way” forward, but gave no indication of when they would be held.

Mr Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, is under house arrest after what he says was a military coup.

The army said he had “failed to meet the demands of the people”.

So it’s as if the Pentagon overthrew President Obama and installed Chief Justice Roberts as temporary president, while at the same time suspending the Constitution and shutting down the media.

The Dark Side of Egyptian “Revolution”

There’s also another similarity to the previous Egyptian “revolution” an outbreak of sexual assaults and gang rapes targeting women in public. From Human Rights Watch:

Egyptian officials and political leaders across the spectrum should condemn and take immediate steps to address the horrific levels of sexual violence against women in Tahrir Square. Egyptian anti-sexual harassment groups confirmed that mobs sexually assaulted and in some cases raped at least 91 women in Tahrir Square, over four days of protests beginning on June 30, 2013, amid a climate of impunity.

“The rampant sexual attacks during the Tahrir Square protests highlight the failure of the government and all political parties to face up to the violence that women in Egypt experience on a daily basis in public spaces,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “These are serious crimes that are holding women back from participating fully in the public life of Egypt at a critical point in the country’s development.”

The Egyptian group Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault, which runs a hotline for victims of sexual assault and seeks to intervene to stop attacks, has received scores of reports of attacks on women in Tahrir Square over the past three days. The group confirmed 46 attacks on June 30, 17 on July 1, and 23 on July 2. The group’s volunteers intervened to protect and evacuate women in 31 cases of sexual assault. Four of the women needed medical assistance, including two who were evacuated by ambulance. The women’s rights group Nazra for Feminist Studies had confirmed another five attacks on June 28.

One woman required surgery after being raped with a “sharp object,” volunteers with the group said. In other cases, women were beaten with metal chains, sticks, and chairs, and attacked with knives. In some cases they were assaulted for as long as 45 minutes before they were able to escape.

Please go read the rest at Human Rights Watch.

At CNN, writer Nina Burleigh puts the sexual violence in Egypt in the historical context of male efforts to control women’s access to the public sphere.

Last week, a 22-year-old Dutch journalist was gang-raped in Tahrir Square and had to undergo surgery for severe injuries. The assault reminds us yet again of an often overlooked aspect of the Egyptian revolution.

When Egyptians overthrew their dictator in 2011, one of the first celebratory acts in Tahrir Square included the gang beating and sexual assault of American journalist Lara Logan, who, like the Dutch journalist, landed in the hospital.

The Logan rape has always been portrayed as another unfortunate byproduct of mob violence. In fact, it was much more than that. It was a warning shot fired by men whose political beliefs are founded on a common pillar: Women must stay out of the public square.

One of the hallmarks of revolutionary victory in Tahrir Square has always been rape and sexual harassment. Mobs of men routinely set upon women, isolating, stripping and groping. No one is ever arrested or held accountable, and elected officials shrug their shoulders and blame the victims….

Egyptian women are the primary victims of sexual violence, and ultimately they are the intended recipients of the message: Stay home, your input in government and politics is not wanted.

Read the rest of Burleigh’s analysis at CNN.

In other news,

Bolivian officials laughing hysterically at the media for buying their tall tale

Bolivian officials laughing hysterically at the media for buying their tall tale

We learned yesterday afternoon that the claims that Bolivian president Evo Morales’ plane was refused permission to fly over France, Italy, and Spain were totally false and that no one forced his plane to land in Austria. See this article at The Atlantic for a complete debunking of the story.

But many so-called progressives are still pushing the false narrative that President Obama somehow was responsible. I was surprised to see Taylor Marsh hyping it this morning, and there has been no correction to Kevin Drum’s nasty claim that Obama behaved like “a Chicago thug.” That was originally in Drum’s headline until commenters told him he was pushing a Tea Party meme and he moved the accusation to the end of his post.

Marsh is also claiming we didn’t know about the extent of NSA spying a year ago. Really? If you agree with her, you might want to check out this detailed article on the NSA spying programs in the Wall Street Journal–dated March 10, 2008. And of course that wasn’t the first time the corporate media covered the story either. All the progs claiming utter shock and awe over Snowden’s revelations should be ashamed of themselves.

I don’t want to completely depress you, so let’s turn to some non-political news. I found a couple interesting science stories on Google this morning.

Here’s some exciting news out of Boston (NYT): After Marrow Transplants, 2 More Patients Appear H.I.V.-Free Without Drugs.

Two H.I.V.-infected patients in Boston who had bone-marrow transplants for blood cancers have apparently been virus-free for weeks since their antiretroviral drugs were stopped, researchers at an international AIDS conference announced Wednesday.

The patients’ success echoes that of Timothy Ray Brown, the famous “Berlin patient,” who has shown no signs of resurgent virus in the five years since he got a bone-marrow transplant from a donor with a rare mutation conferring resistance to H.I.V.

The Boston cases, like Mr. Brown’s, are of no practical use to the 34 million people in the world who have H.I.V. but neither blood cancer nor access to premier cancer-treatment hospitals.

But AIDS experts still find the Boston cases exciting because they are another step in the long and so-far-fruitless search for a cure. They offer encouragement to ambitious future projects to genetically re-engineer infected patients’ cells to be infection-resistant. At least two teams are already experimenting with variants on this idea, said Dr. Steven G. Deeks, an AIDS researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.

It’s real progress, even though the treatment won’t be widely available for a long time.

From BBC News:  Active brain ‘keeps dementia at bay’

A lifetime of mental challenges leads to slower cognitive decline after factoring out dementia’s impact on the brain, US researchers say.

The study, published in Neurology, adds weight to the idea that dementia onset can be delayed by lifestyle factors….

In a US study, 294 people over the age of 55 were given tests that measured memory and thinking, every year for about six years until their deaths.

They also answered a questionnaire about whether they read books, wrote letters and took part in other activities linked to mental stimulation during childhood, adolescence, middle age, and in later life.

After death, their brains were examined for evidence of the physical signs of dementia, such as brain lesions and plaques.

The study found that after factoring out the impact of those signs, those who had a record of keeping the brain busy had a rate of cognitive decline estimated at 15% slower than those who did not.

That’s some impressive empirical evidence for something many of us have long suspected. So maybe we are helping keep our brains young through our obsession with reading and arguing about politics on the internet!

I’ll end with a recommendation that you listen to this NPR story on the history of “The Star Spangled Banner” and how it became our national anthem. It’s only about 8 minutes long. Or you can just read the article. I thought it was really interesting.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today? If you’re headed out for barbeques and family gatherings instead of surfing the net, have a wonderful time and drop in for a minute if you can.



38 Comments on “Independence Day Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Boston/Indiana news:

    The Boston Celtics shocked the sports world by hiring Brad Stevens, coach of the Butler U. Bulldogs as Boston’s new head coach.

    Humming along, day before a national holiday, late afternoon, nothing to see here—wait, holy shit, Brad Stevens just took the head coach position with the Boston Celtics. The 36-year-old Stevens had been in charge at Butler for six years, with two NCAA finals appearances, four Horizon League championships, and another tourney berth from the A-10 earlier this year.

    Stevens had already turned down a bunch of other big jobs (UCLA, most recently) and had an extension through 2021-22, so it’s a little surprising that he’d leave, but, yeah, this is the probably the kind of gig worth leaving Indianapolis for. The Celtics are rebuilding, but they’ve got money and Rajon Rondo, so they’ll be back soon enough.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    It seems to me that the issues plaguing the Middle East are fueled by “actors” whose agenda we are not quite certain of. Some of the problems faced by the masses is that they have never witnessed “democracy” as we know it.

    According to some reports, over 70% of the population is under the age of 25. Many of these young men have had a sporadic education, much of it based on reading and memorizing the Koran, Women are treated like objects and Sharia Law dominates communities where a young victim of rape can be sent to death in order to appease the “family honor”.

    Truthfully, we have very little information as to who is actually taking part in those demonstrations and why. Certainly there is a faction who is just fed up with things as they are but there is also a collection of “bad actors” out to raise the Islamic flag along with its rigid and anarchic laws that further suppress the idea of democracy as we know it.

    Each time the US is dragged into this mess with a call to arm the “rebels” (whoever they may be) without a clue as to who we are actually doing business with in the end. So far we have witnessed “elections” take place only to find the victor eventually toppled or another coup takes place thus cancelling “any good” that was expected in a democratic reform.

    Before any signs of “peace” can take place in these regions education must stand first and foremost against the tyranny and insane religious laws that act as their form of justice. There is no reasoning with those who truly believe they are carrying out the will of Allah because this is what they have been fed for most of the elementary education.

    We just don’t know who are dealing with here when these “laws” are what they live by. Matters not which country is in turmoil today since most adhere to the same vision of conquering their enemies and establishing Sharia as their touchstone,

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Well what do you know? After France got all outraged about US spying, we learn that France has its own massive spying program.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Don’t miss this–it’s hilarious!

    Fireworks Gone Wrong: A Video Guide To Pyrotechnic Fails

  5. ecocatwoman says:

    Thought ya’ll might get a kick out of this – Before the Bikini vintage beach photos: Photo 219 is of Liz Taylor. Many of the photos were taken in the UK & Australia. The street shoes worn & the “beach pajamas (?)” surprised me.

    Happy 4th all.

  6. ecocatwoman says:

    A friend shared this with me, so I’m sharing with all of you: Squee! Too cute.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    A little boy (2-1/2) visiting MA from RI lost his treasured blankie and a search ensued.

    RI Family Searches For Toddler’s Priceless Blanket In North Attleboro Area

    NORTH ATTLEBORO (CBS) – At two-and-a-half years old, Kayden Watson has been through a lot.

    He was born with Short Bowel Syndrome, which has required several surgeries. The entire time, he’s had his monkey blanket – a blanket with a stuffed monkey head – as his best friend by his side.

    On Monday though, Kayden’s monkey friend vanished at some point after the family, who lives in Cumberland, Rhode Island had lunch at Dairy Queen in North Attleboro.

    His mom, Jennifer Harkin says the monkey blanket means the world to her son. So when she realized it was missing, the family spent hours retracing their steps.

  8. Susan B. Anthony and the Fourth of July

    “From the earliest history of our country, woman has shown equal devotion with man to the cause of freedom, and has stood firmly by his side in its defence. Together, they have made this country what it is. Woman’s wealth, thought and labor have cemented the stones of every monument man has reared to liberty.” From the “Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States,” a stirring document written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage. Interrupting the all-male centennial celebration on July 4, 1876, SBA walked to the platform and read the document, to the astonishment of the audience. The day was oppressively hot but unbowed SBA in her clarion voice ended with this demand: “We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever.” The image if from a cartoon titled “The Woman Who Dared.” It was published the week before SBA’s trial for voting began in 1873.


    • ecocatwoman says:

      And 163 years later, we are still waiting to be guaranteed those civil and political rights. Even though we legally have the right to vote, impediments are still being placed in our way. I think I need bumper stickers that say: “I am fully human even though I don’t have a penis” and “I have a vagina & I vote.”

      Thanks so very much, Mona, for sharing this.

    • NW Luna says:

      “We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever.”

      Sometime this century, maybe?

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Reports of sexual assaults in Tahrir Square and at presidential palace.

  10. Fredster says:

    I had thought the Muslim Brotherhood folks were some of the “bad” muslims and we weren’t supposed to be happy when they overthrew Mubarak even though he was a bad Egyptian president, because the Brotherhood was a group of militant extremist Muslims. So in that light shouldn’t we be glad that the “bad” Muslims have been removed from power? Of course I get so terribly confused about who the bad guys and good guys are over there.

    • RalphB says:

      meh. “good” “bad” seems to change arbitrarily. can’t tell the players with a scorecard anymore.

    • NW Luna says:

      The mode of removal tells something — no election, but removed from office by the military. Leaves citizens dependent on the military to know who the bad guys area — not a comfortable thought.

      When the masses of protesting civilians in Tahir Square protest without assaulting women, then we’ll really see change.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Why would anyone go there? What would you do? Watch the grass grow?

    • NW Luna says:

      Can’t they just make all the park visitors go thru an airport screening gate instead? And check the NSA metadata on ’em for clearance?

  11. RalphB says:

    Rasmussen’s racism survey concluded that Americans believe blacks are more likely to be racist than both whites and Hispanics. Moreover, it found large percentages of Republicans and conservatives think most blacks are racist.

    Taiwanese animators…

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Smokey Robinson sings the National Anthem at Fenway Park, 1986.

  13. bostonboomer says:

    Some good news. Joseph Cannon’s beloved dog Bella is not at death’s door yet.

    • NW Luna says:

      Thanks for posting this. Must go stuff something in the tips jar there. Cannonfire and by association Bella deserve some financial support. I’ll consider it tithing for good works.