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Fri, 07 Aug 2020
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Dispatches From Cairo: The Worst So Far

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© AP / Nasser Nasser
Egyptian protesters run through the streets of Cairo as they are chased by army soldiers.
We asked Lauren Unger-Geoffroy, an Arabic-speaking American who lives in Cairo, to share her perspective of life in Egypt after the revolution. In this entry, she writes about a new surge in army brutality in suppressing protest.

Foreboding and warning. Egypt should have felt it coming. This was the worst so far. Hope is gone. The people are in despair. As our imam shouted Friday at noon prayer: Will it get worse before we have cleansed the land of Satan?

Authorities are now accusing 164 people of being involved in the new violence and interrogations have begun, with even injured people being questioned in hospitals. Many of the suspects are under 19 years old. Some are children, street kids accused of throwing Molotov cocktails. Some of the doctors at Omar Makram field hospital are being detained. At least one of the detainees has died from his injuries; activists accuse the army and security forces of torturing him in the headquarters of the national Cabinet.

Yet in my neighborhood Thursday night, a time when most Egyptians still were unaware of the beginning of this catastrophe, there was a hopeful festiveness stemming from the opening of a restaurant by a famous takeout food company. Blasting Egyptian dance music through the mosque speakers till midnight, the event was like a wedding celebration, full of lights and decorations.

The spanking-new restaurant brought some prestige to our garbage-strewn and unpaved market area. Groups of cute girls, dressed up, and guys from a nicer area a few blocks away are showing up for El Shabrawy takeout.

People

People more likely to lie when texting, study finds

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© New York Times
A new paper to be published next year in the Journal of Business Ethics finds that people are more likely to lie via text compared to face-to-face communications, video conferencing or audio chat.

The paper is based on a study of 140 students that were grouped into pairs and asked to engage in a role-playing game. One student took on the role of a stockbroker, the other student played a buyer. Researchers told the "stockbroker" that the stock they had to sell would lose 50% of its value in one week. They also gave the "stockbroker" a financial incentive to sell as much of the bad stock to the "buyer" as possible.

Researchers found that the stockbrokers were most likely to engage in duplicitous behavior -- either lying about the quality of the stock, or not mentioning how bad it was -- if they conducted the buy/sell conversation via text message.

They were most likely to be honest about the quality of the stock if the conversation happened via video, which beat out both face-to-face communication and audio chat.

Family

US: Children of welfare recipients in California forced to pay for welfare debt

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© Illustrated London News (23 December 1843)
Refuge for the Destitute
Children in California are being fined for debt payments their parents incurred while on welfare. The vindictive practice has been going on for years, as California welfare agencies collect money from family members living off of government assistance, even if a family member was a minor when the debt occurred.

Many of the debts were brought on by clerical error or fraud and therefore were especially no fault of the children. A lawsuit on behalf of two girls, Irene Ayers and Jamie Hartley, has been filed by two legal organizations, the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the Public Interest Law Project.

Patti Prunhuber, a lawyer from the Public Interest Law Project, told the WSWS that state agencies are barred from collecting payment or seeking criminal charges from cases that are more than four years old. However, according to Prunhuber, the state can still seek repayment for "extremely old" overpayments by intercepting income tax rebates and garnishing wages.

Dollar

Wealth Inequality In America May Be Worse Than It Was In Ancient Rome

roman coin
© Unknown
The 99 Percent Movement effectively changed the American political debate from debt and deficits to income inequality, highlighting the fact that income inequality has increased so much in the U.S. that it is now more unequal than countries like Ivory Coast and Pakistan. While those numbers are startling, a study from two historians suggests that American wealth inequality may actually be worse than it was in Ancient Rome - a society built on slave labor, a defined class structure, and centuries of warfare and conquest.

In the United States, the top 1 percent controls roughly 40 percent of the nation's wealth. According to the study, which examined Roman ledgers, previous estimates, imperial edicts, and Biblical passages, Rome's top 1 percent controlled less than half that at the height of its economic power, as Tim De Chant notes at Per Square Mile:
Their target was the state of the economy when the empire was at its population zenith, around 150 C.E. Schiedel and Friesen estimate that the top 1 percent of Roman society controlled 16 percent of the wealth, less than half of what America's top 1 percent control.
Of course, the millions of Romans at the bottom of the empire's class structure - the conquered and enslaved, the poorest Romans, and the women who had little civic or economic empowerment - would probably disagree with the study's conclusion. Still, it serves as yet another highlight of how large the income gap in the United States has become over the last three decades.

Star of David

The Nightmare is Now Israel's Too

israeli settler violence
© Unknown
There is a hint of poetic justice in the events of the last week. It may not be politically correct to relish in this justice, but it is only natural. Extremist Israeli settlers have recently turned some of their manic wrath on their own government alongside the ever escalating violence against the Palestinians.

The two cannot be compared in terms of magnitude, but the fact that the nightmare Israel had intended solely for the purpose of running the Palestinians off their land has turned on them is an ironic twist nonetheless.

Settlers have gone on a rampage this week, mostly against Palestinians. They have burned three mosques including one in Jerusalem, cut down dozens of olive trees, burned down cars and water tanks and attacked ordinary citizens. Palestinians have unfortunately grown accustomed to the indifference of Israel's military and political establishments towards attacks on Palestinians. Palestinians know that in the best case scenario, patrolling Israeli soldiers will turn a blind eye to the settlers and in the worst case, join them in the attack.

Clock

Mexico Mayan Region Launches Apocalypse Countdown

Mayan Calander
© unknown
Only a year is left before Dec. 21, 2012, when some believe the Maya predicted the end of the world.

While some doomsday theorists may suggest putting together survival kits, people in southeastern Mexico, the heart of Maya territory, plan to throw a yearlong celebration. And to make a profit while they party.

Mexico's tourism agency expects to draw 52 million visitors over the coming year just to the five states richest in Maya heritage. Mexico as a whole is expected to lure just 22 million foreigners this year.

It is selling the date, the Winter Solstice, as a time of renewal. Most Mexican archaeological authorities say that the 2012 reference on a 1,300-year-old stone tablet only marks the end of a cycle in the Mayan calendar, not an apocalypse.

"The world will not end. It is an era," said Yeanet Zaldo, a tourism spokeswoman for the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, home to Cancun. "For us, it is a message of hope."

Heart - Black

US: 2 Charged In Attack Of New Jersey Homeless Man After Video Posted On YouTube


Police say two young men have been charged in connection with an assault of a homeless man after videos of the attacks were posted on YouTube.

The videos, which have since been taken down, show a young man walking into a wooded area in Wall Township.

The cameraman asks him what he's about to do.

"About to go beat up this bum," he says in the video.

Then in the video, a man who police later identified as homeless, is seen being tackled, punched, pushed, kicked and kneed by the young man.

Phoenix

US: Occupy Denver Camp Set Ablaze as Cops Move In

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Daniel Petty/The Denver Post/The Associated Press
Police arrested four people at the site of Occupy Denver, including two charged with arson for allegedly setting the makeshift shelters on fire as officers moved in just before midnight.

Two other people were arrested for failing to obey a police officer's order, KUSA reports.

Some of the protesters took a knee in Tim Tebow-style as the police began clearing the area near the Civic Center shortly before midnight, The Denver Post reports. The crowd of around 40 then sang God Bless America before retreating.


Che Guevara

Egypt: Mass March by Cairo Women in Protest Over Soldiers' Abuse

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© Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
Women protested against the military council violations against female demonstrators in Cairo, on Tuesday.
Thousands of women massed in Tahrir Square here on Tuesday afternoon and marched to a journalists' syndicate and back in a demonstration that grew by the minute into an extraordinary expression of anger at the treatment of women by the military police as they protested against continued military rule.

Many held posters of the most sensational image of violence over the last weekend: a group of soldiers pulling the abaya off a prone woman to reveal her blue bra as one raises a boot to kick her. The picture, circulated around the world, has become a rallying point for activists opposed to military rule, though cameras also captured soldiers pulling the clothes off other women.

The march, guarded by a cordon of male protesters, was a surprising turn. In Egypt, as in other countries swept by the revolts of the Arab Spring, women played important roles, raising hopes that broader social and political rights would emerge along with more accountable governments. But with the main popular focus on preparing for elections and protesting the military's continued hold on power, women here had grown less politically visible.

Airplane

US: 5 Killed in Small Plane Crash on New Jersey Highway


A small plane headed for Georgia crashed Tuesday on one of the New York City area's busiest highways, spiraling out of control, losing a wing, hitting the wooded median strip and exploding. Five people on board were killed.

There were no casualties on the ground from the crash on Interstate 287, State Police Lt. Stephen Jones said.

Wreckage was scattered over at least a half-mile-wide area, with a wing found lodged in a tree of a home about a quarter-mile away, near a highway entrance ramp.

Helicopter footage from CBS2 showed charred wreckage stretching across the median and the highway, a heavily used route that wraps around the northern and western edges of the New York City area. Both sides of the highway were shut down.