Friday, July 8, 2011
The BBC's Jon Leyne said Tahrir Square looked reminiscent of rallies during the uprising
Tens of thousands of protesters have gathered in Cairo to press for speedier reforms from the Egyptian government.
They have taken over Tahrir Square - the focus of the 18-day uprising earlier in the year - with security forces maintaining a discreet presence.
Many activists are angry at the slow pace of change since President Hosni Mubarak's fall on 11 February.
They particularly want to see Mr Mubarak and his officials put on trial more quickly.
They also accuse the military government of failing to adequately try those accused of killing and injuring protesters during the January and February uprising, and want an end to military trials of civilian protesters.
"Nothing has changed," one protester, Mohammed Abul Makarem, 18, said. "Change takes time, but there are reforms we can do now."
One opposition leader, Tarek al-Kholy went further, telling state TV: "We want the cleansing of all state institutions of former regime members, including the universities and judiciary. We want a reform of the interior ministry.
"Five months after the ouster of Mubarak, we have not achieved our goals".Riots
Protesters began arriving in Tahrir Square throughout the night to pitch their tents. A large sunshade was erected in the middle of the square to give some relief from the scorching heat of the Egyptian summer.
Civilian checkpoints were set up to prevent trouble-makers getting into the square. Protesters were helping to direct traffic as police and security forces kept to the side streets in a bid to avoid confrontation.
Opposition leaders had called for a million people to turn out for the rally they had dubbed "Friday of Accountability", which followed Muslim prayers.
Even the powerful Muslim Brotherhood opposition movement said it would attend. "The law is above everyone, and justice has to prevail on all people, young and old," the group's Mahmoud Ghozlan said.
Official figures show that at least 846 people died and 6,000 more were injured during the 18 days of protests at the start of the year.
Since then, only one policeman has been convicted in more than a dozen court cases over the crackdown on protesters, the AP news agency reports. He was tried in absentia.
On Tuesday, a Cairo court acquitted three ministers from the Mubarak regime who had been charged with squandering public funds.
The decision, also this week, to release on bail seven policemen accused of killing 17 protesters sparked riots in both Cairo and Suez.
Activists are concerned that the 83-year-old former president remains in a regular hospital, with no date yet set for a court appearance for either him, his sons or his senior officials.
But, says the BBC's Jon Leyne, other Egyptians are opposed to the continuing protests and just want a return to normality, law and order and the revival of the economy.
hostgator coupon 2011
Comet Elenin is an incoming spacecraft or intelligently controlled object according to a number of presenters at a recently completed conference hosted online by the popular whistleblower website - Project Camelot. Several presenters agreed that Elenin will approach its closest points near the Sun and Earth at a time of extraordinary planetary and societal changes coinciding with the end of the Mayan Calendar. A number of anonymous whistleblowers were cited in support of the view that Elenin was an artificially controlled object responsible for widespread planetary changes in the solar system. The conference broke important ground in uncovering some of the mystery surrounding Comet Elenin, and revealing expert opinions and whistleblower testimonies describing its artificial design and the significance of its orbit. In a surprising omission, the conference organizers did not feature ground breaking scientific literature detailing the seismic impact of Elenin on Earth. Combining insights from the overlooked scientific data and the conference proceedings points to an extraordinary conclusion - Comet Elenin is generating powerful gravity disruption technologies indicative of one or more interstellar spacecraft travelling towards Earth.
The Conference: Elenin was hosted by Kerry Cassidy and featured five presenters who discussed their research data and insights on Comet Elenin. Richard Hoagland, Dr Joseph Farrell, Keith Hunter, Dr Carl Johan Calleman, and Andy Lloyd. Hoagland began the conference with a succinct presentation on the significance of Elenin's orbit, and why this pointed to it being either an artificial object under intelligent control (an ancient spacecraft) or a natural body (a comet) that has been deliberately launched on an artificial orbit. He placed special emphasis on Elenin's perihelion (closest point to the sun) on September 11, 2011 as evidence that this was a result of artificial design to draw attention to the profound geopolitical events that occurred ten years earlier. Hoagland also pointed out that around the time Elenin would be passing by the Earth's orbit on its outbound leg, that another celestial object Asteroid 2005YU55 would pass only 200,000 miles from the Earth on November 9. This was 'coincidentally', when FEMA had scheduled a FEMA Homeland Security Test where many television and radio networks would relinquish air time for some security drill - coincidence or did national security leaders know something of major significance was about to happen?
The next presenter was Keith Hunter who claimed that planets radiate harmonic signatures that influence orbits and seismic activity. Hunter clamed that Elenin is a small mass that could do something unusual if caught up in powerful harmonic configurations. Hunter's most important contribution was to point out the relationship between seismic activity and planetary configurations. Sadly, he was not aware of the work conducted by Dr Mensur Omerbashich who had put together an exhaustive study of Elenin's alignments with a number of planetary bodies during powerful seismic events on Earth. Dr Omerbashich claims that since 2006, comet Elenin has had a measurable impact on the Earth's seismic activity. Dr Omerbashich's paper was released on April 11, 2011 and is titled "Astronomical Alignments as the cause of ~M6 + seismicity."His basic idea is that as planetary bodies align with the Earth, seismic activity increases. He provides historic data on large earthquakes, greater than magnitude 6, and how these have occurred during planetary alignments.
The Mayan Calendar according to the next conference presenter, Dr Carl Calleman, operates in 9 distinct levels or waves. The ninth wave, coinciding with the End of the Mayan Calendar, occurs on October 28, 2011. Calleman believes that the world will enter a New Age based on an expanding "unity consciousness." While the precise ending of the Mayan Calendar is disputed by others advocating a December 21, 2012 end date, Calleman has produced cogent arguments for the October 2011 end date. He noted that the date coincides with Elenin's crossing of Earth's orbit suggesting it may have far more significance than generally attributed to it.
The main conference organizer, Kerry Cassidy, revealed that a number of anonymous whistleblowers had revealed that Elenin is a piloted spacecraft, and in fact was being trailed by a fleet of spacecraft. Hoagland claims that he has been confidentially told similarly by other whistleblowers of the artificial nature of Elenin. Dr Joseph Farrell agreed and claimed that Elenin was either an artificial object (controlled spacecraft) or a natural object placed in an artificial orbit. In probably the most significant observation of the conference, Hoagland claimed that Elenin was likely an active torsion field generator.
At the end of last week, the finance ministers of the euro bloc approved the last phase of assistance for Greece. The European Union will lend the Greek government 12 billion euros, the last tranche of aid totaling 110 billion euros. The International Monetary Fund is also expected to approve further aid to Greece after Athens managed to push through an austerity plan, and after it fulfills other conditions.
Investors seem to be breathing easier, according to their reactions on the market. But holders of Greek government bonds, which are mostly banks around the world, should be worried, says Steven Major, managing director for global bond strategy at HSBC.
The aid programs for Greece are the right thing to do, he says. But they won't help private bondholders, which includes the banks. Greece is heading for default: "It's just a matter of time," he says definitively. What default will mean has yet to be seen - it could pan out in different ways. But, he points out, Greece has the lowest debt rating in the world other than Ecuador.
Default has a number of formal definitions. The relevant one for the CDS market (sovereign default insurance ) is inability to repay debt that comes due. As far as the credit rating agencies are concerned, postponing repayment of bonds is default.
The credit rating agencies have made clear that Greece is heading for selective default, Major explains, which is exactly the case in Ireland and Portugal today. The various bailout arrangements enable those two countries to replace bonds coming due with new debt that matures later.
The institutions involved in rescuing Greece, Portugal and Ireland are the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European System of Financial Supervisors. These institutions are increasing their share of Greek debt - but paradoxically, that's exactly why private bondholders should worry, he says.
Crunch time will come in 2013, Major predicts. That's when the stabilization mechanisms built into the agreements will come into force. By that time, the institutions' share of Greek debt will have reached half, and that's important. A nation can't go into default with the IMF: none ever have. The IMF and the European institutions have ways to assure that the debtors will pay up.
And that means bonds issued by these countries that were bought in recent years and held by private bondholders aren't the same bonds they hold today. The bonds they hold today are far riskier because the countries will repay the institutions first, and the institutions hold far more of the debt than before.
What the aid packages boil down to is somebody pushing ahead in the line to repayment, Major explains metaphorically.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) encouraged President Obama and his administration to "explore" the validity of using the 14th amendment to raise the debt ceiling, rather than seek Congressional approval every time.
According to the 14th amendment, section 4 (what Schumer is talking about): "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law ... shall not be questioned."
"God forbid the courts would throw it out if the president went ahead and did it," Schumer said about the possibility of the action being struck down by the judicial branch.
Republican Congressman Tim Scott (SC) says bypassing Congress on the debt ceiling is an "impeachable offense."
Real Clear Politics
Six months after the shooting in Tucson that killed six people and wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., the Obama administration has yet to move on new gun control legislation.
That could change soon.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said a special task force has been "working through these complex issues, and we expect to have some more specific announcements in the near future."
Gun control organizations such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence have pressed the Obama administration since the Giffords shooting and have been critical of what they call a lack of action.
Gun rights advocates such as the National Rifle Association have said the Giffords shooting should not be used as an excuse to infringe on the rights of legitimate gun owners.
Carney said a variety of views are being taken into account as the administration looks at efforts to prevent mass shootings.
"The president directed the attorney general to form working groups with key stakeholders to identify common-sense measures that would improve American safety and security while fully respecting Second Amendment rights," Carney said.
In a March op-ed for the Arizona Daily Star, Obama said he wanted to focus on strengthening background checks so criminals or mentally ill people could not get weapons. He wrote:
I know that every time we try to talk about guns, it can reinforce stark divides. People shout at one another, which makes it impossible to listen. We mire ourselves in stalemate, which makes it impossible to get to where we need to go as a country.
However, I believe that if common sense prevails, we can get beyond wedge issues and stale political debates to find a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place.
I'm willing to bet that responsible, law-abiding gun owners agree that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few -- dangerous criminals and fugitives, for example -- from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.
I'm willing to bet they don't think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas - that we should check someone's criminal record before he can check out at a gun seller; that an unbalanced man shouldn't be able to buy a gun so easily; that there's room for us to have reasonable laws that uphold liberty, ensure citizen safety and are fully compatible with a robust Second Amendment.
That's why our focus right now should be on sound and effective steps that will actually keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.
Admiral Mike Mullen said Iranians – with full knowledge of Iran's leadership – were providing Iraqi Shi'ite groups with hi-tech rocket-assisted weapons and shaped explosives effective at penetrating armour.
"Iran is very directly supporting extremist Shia groups which are killing our troops," said Adm Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "And there's no reason ... for me to believe that they're going to stop that as our numbers come down."
He said Iran made a conscious decision in 2008 to curb its involvement in Iraq, but had now resumed sending supplies to extremist groups, evidently positioning itself to be able to say that it had helped to drive U.S. forces from the region.
"There's no question they want to influence, and particularly in the south," Mullen said. "They are shipping hi-tech weapons in there ... which are killing our people and ... the forensics prove that."
Adm Mullen said he believed any agreement to keep US troops in Iraq beyond the end of the year "has to be done in conjunction with control of Iran in that regard."
He said Baghdad was aware of US concerns about the issue.
All US troops are scheduled to be out of Iraq by Dec. 31 under a status of forces agreement between the two countries. But discussions are under way that could allow Iraqis to retain some U.S. forces to help in areas such as air defence where they need support.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said earlier this week that the Obama administration would consider any request made by the Iraqis to retain some US troops there beyond the deadline.
He said no request had yet been made and indicated time was running out because Washington had to stay on course for withdrawal if it was to meet the December deadline for pulling out its remaining forces. Mullen said some 46,000 remain in Iraq.