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Mon, 21 Sep 2020
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Hamas closes Gaza's southern border

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© Mohammed Saber/European Press Association
Rafah, Gaza's southern border with Egypt has been closed by Hamas.
Rafah border closure expected to last for several days as Israel warns of increase in weapons smuggling during unrest in Egypt

Hamas officials today closed Gaza's southern border as Israel warned that the turmoil in Egypt could result in increased smuggling of weapons into the volatile territory.

The closure of the Rafah border crossing was expected to last for several days at least, said Ghazi Hamad, the Hamas official in charge of the Gaza side of the terminal.

A Hamas delegation which was due to travel through Egypt to Syria to discuss the fate of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit postponed its trip.

Israel army radio said the military were preparing for an increase in arms smuggling to Gaza.

Cow Skull

Egyptian opposition leader ElBaradei calls for Mubarak to leave

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© unknown
Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei addressed crowds of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square Sunday, an appearance that signaled a defiant gesture against the current government and military curfew.

Wading through demonstrators shouting, "we want honor for Egypt," ElBaradei, who is positioning himself as President Hosni Mubarak's leading opposition figure, eventually made it to a podium after being carried by supporters, and he joined them in singing Egypt's national anthem.

"I came today to participate ... in the lives of Egyptians," he told cheering protesters. "Today I look into the eyes of each one of you and everyone is different. Today you are an Egyptian demanding your rights and freedom, and what we started can never be pushed back. As we said, we have one main demand: the end of the regime and to start a new phase."

Binoculars

Breaking: Al Jazeera Reports Mubarak's planning exile to Tel Aviv - The Writing on the Wall

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© Agence France-Presse
Protesters have returned to the streets of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, for the sixth consecutive day across the country staged in defiance of a curfew
Update: Al Jazeera reports Mubarak's planning exile to Tel Aviv. According to sources in the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel is making preparations to welcome Hosni Mubarak into exile after Saudi Arabia rejected overtures. Al Jazeera also reports Israeli diplomats have fled Egypt amid the unrest. CNN reports widespread rumors that Mubarak's wife and other family members have already fled Egypt.

Arab Executives Predict Regime Change in Egypt, as U.S. State Dept says reshuffling of government won't do. Demonstrations across the U.S. rally in solidarity with protesters. See also Robert Fisk's latest dispatch: Death throes of a dictatorship.

The U.S. State Dept's statement, "We strongly believe that the Egyptian Government needs to engage immediately with the Egyptian people in implementing needed economic, political, and social reforms" appears the give-away on Saturday of Mubarak's fragile hold on power.

Heart - Black

Canada: 100 Healthy Sled Dogs Killed Due to Slow Business

sled dogs
© The Canadian Press / Darryl Dyck
Sled dogs rest after returning from a tour run byOutdoor Adventures Whistler in the Soo Valley north of Whistler, B.C., on Monday January 31, 2011. The RCMP and the B.C. SPCA are investigating the slaughter of about 100 sled dogs in Whistler in an incident the SPCA called an absolute massacre.
An official of the SPCA in British Columbia says word of a slaughter of sled dogs in Whistler warrants a criminal investigation.

Marcie Moriarty, general manager of the group's cruelty investigations, says the description of the April 2010 incident is an "absolutely criminal code offence," although there is no indication a police investigation is underway.

Documents obtained by CKNW radio reveal about 100 healthy sled dogs were killed in a mass slaughter in Whistler last April 21 and 23.

According to the WorkSafe B.C. documents, an employee of Outdoor Adventures Whistler has been compensated for post-traumatic stress disorder after being ordered to shoot the animals.

Bomb

Roger Stockham Arrested With Explosives Outside Major U.S. Mosque

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© Unknown
Islamic Center of America
A 63-year-old Southern California man who was traveling with explosives in his vehicle with the intention of blowing up one of the nation's largest mosques where mourners had gathered for a funeral was arrested in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan authorities said Sunday.

Dearborn police said Roger Stockham was arraigned Wednesday on one count of making a false report or threat of terrorism and one count of possessing explosives with an unlawful intent. Stockham had a large but undisclosed quantity of class-C fireworks including M-80s, which are outlawed in Michigan, Chief Ronald Haddad said.

"I was comfortable with the fact that we had taken him off the street - he isn't going anywhere," Haddad told The Associated Press Sunday afternoon. "I think the society he wanted to impact is safe."

Haddad said Stockham was arrested Monday evening without incident in the parking lot of Islamic Center of America, while a large group was gathered inside. He said police received a 911 call from a resident.

People

Protests Spread To Saudi Arabia

While the biggest threat to the Middle East region is the possibility that the population of Saudi Arabia may try to imitate what has been happening in the area, thereby bringing total chaos to the established regional geopolitical and more importantly, energy, structure, the first protests in the Saudi Arabia city of Jeddah are already in the books. The clip below shows the peaceful demonstrations that have taken place recently, which as Fedupmontrealer explains are "taking place in front of the Municipality in protest of the severe lack of infrastructure, and corruption, that led the city to be inundated this week causing billions of dollars of damages for the second time in two years." That this is even occurring in a state where the average wealth is orders of magnitude greater than in Egypt is remarkable. On the other hand, we expect more news such as those from yeserday that Kuwait is paying its citizens $3,500 plus free food for a year to keep calm.


2 + 2 = 4

US: New York City Mayor Warns of Mass Teacher Layoffs

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© Word Press
New York City could lose $1 billion in education aid from the state, forcing the nation's largest school system to cut more than 21,000 teachers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday.

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares to unveil his first budget proposal since taking office on New Year's Day, Mr. Bloomberg and his new schools chancellor, Cathie Black, are bracing for what could be devastating cuts to city schools.

On his weekly radio show Friday, Mr. Bloomberg stressed that he has yet to receive word of a definitive budget proposal from the governor. "Scuttlebutt is that the education budget will be cut statewide, and New York City's share of that would be a billion-dollar cut," he said.

If the governor proposes a $1 billion cut and the Legislature approves it, the mayor estimated the city would be forced to cut 15,000 teachers, most of which would be accomplished through layoffs. That's on top of plans, outlined by the mayor in November, to cut 6,166 teachers in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Arrow Down

American Eulogy

The Founding Fathers described the kind of country they were shaping on July 4, 1776 with the most well known sentence in the English language:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - Declaration of Independence
In 1776, America was an idea born of noble intentions. An idea that every citizen had the opportunity to succeed, prosper and achieve based upon their hard work and abilities. The government did not provide advantages or a safety net for its citizens. People were free to succeed or fail based upon their own merits. America had a frontier spirit because it was still a frontier. Individual effort, intellect and willingness to sweat allowed you to move up the socio-economic ladder. The government provided a National Defense, and very little else. In 1794, the country had a population of 4.4 million and a GDP of $310 million. Government spending totaled $7.1 million, or 2.3% of GDP, and was split between Defense and interest on the Revolutionary War debt. Today, Federal Government spending totals $3.7 trillion, or 25% of GDP.
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James Truslow Adams in his 1931 Epic of America described the America that once existed in reality, but only exists as a phantom today:
"The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, also too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."

"The American Dream that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as a man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class." - James Truslow Adams - Epic of America

Padlock

US: Vending Machines Try Electronic Self-Defense

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© Agence France-Presse / Getty Images
Students at McLean High School in McLean, Va., purchased snacks at a vending machine on school property in 2005.
Tough economic times have spurred a rash of vending-machine thefts, prompting operators to fight back with sales-tracking devices and automated text-message alerts.

Theft rings have sprung up in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi and New York, among other states. More schools, hospitals and other big vending customers are complaining of such break-ins, especially with outdoor vending machines, according to loss consultants and machine operators.

While no one closely tracks the exact number of such thefts, these experts report a proliferation of websites and YouTube videos with instructions on how to break into the machines.

"My sense is that theft is on the rise as there are so many people in desperate times," said Mark Manney, chief executive of Loss Prevention Results Inc., a Wake Forest, N.C., vending-theft consultant.

The industry already is struggling. U.S. sales fell 10% in 2009 to $19.85 billion, the latest data available, from $22.05 billion the year before, according to Automatic Merchandiser, a trade magazine. With profit margins as thin as 1%, losses from theft have an impact.

Police rarely get involved, operators say, because each theft seldom amounts to much money. Sometimes operators call the police but they usually arrive too late.

Others like Jodi Glimpse are cracking down on their own. "I'm starting to feel like my own personal detective service," said Ms. Glimpse, owner of Camelback Vending Services LLC, which operates hundreds of vending machines in the Phoenix area.

Bizarro Earth

More Than 102 Dead and Thousands of Prisoners on the Loose in Egypt as 30,000 Stranded Britons Struggle to Leave the Country


  • Cameron and Obama hold crisis talks, both calling for 'political reform'
  • Death toll reaches 102 and at least 2,000 have been injured
  • Thousands of prisoners escape from jails as riots go into sixth day
Around 30,000 British tourists were stranded in Egypt today as army planes buzzed low over Cairo on the sixth day of uprisings.

At least 102 people have been killed, more than 2,000 are injured and there were calls for a multi-party democracy to emerge as President Hosni Mubarack's grip on power loosens.

Gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn today, helping to free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates as police vanished from the streets of Cairo and other cities.

Egypt protesters
© EPA
Show of strength: Egyptians surround an army tank during protests in central Cairo on the sixth day of action
Last night a handful Brits that managed to board flights returning back from Cairo described their relief at escaping the riot-torn country.

They told how vigilantes were protecting neighbourhoods at night after police withdrew from the streets.

Several Britons arrived home on an Egyptair flight at London's Heathrow Airport.

Brendan Keating, 49, an oil worker from Purley, Surrey, who lives in Maadi, in southern Cairo, said: 'Last night the local people organised themselves into groups to protect property because there's no police.

'This morning I had to break the curfew to get to the airport, and had to go through about a dozen roadblocks set up by these people.'

Geoff and Heather Booth, from Dronfield, Derbyshire, whose planned near two-week holiday was cut to just four days because of the chaos.

Mr Booth, 74, said: 'We weren't in the worst part but it was still quite bad. The main thing is that we are home safe.

'We were there for four days, but most of it was spent in the hotel under strict instructions not to go out.

'The holiday company has brought us home and frankly we just wanted to get back.'
Egypt looters
© Agence France-Presse / Getty Images
Looters stand outside Abu Zaabel prison in thLooters stand outside Abu Zaabel prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo after a mass breakout by convicts amid a nationwide revolt

Helicopters were yesterday hovering over Cairo and trucks appeared in a central square where protesters were gathered.

It was the latest show of military might on Sunday in an apparent effort to send protesters back to their homes before a 4pm curfew.

The warplanes flew over the city several times. At least a dozen troop trucks and extra tanks drove towards the square as more protesters gathered in defiance of the curfew.

'The planes are out there to scare the people. It's time for the curfew and no one is going home," a 45-year-old engineer who was protesting in the main Tahrir square said.

'It's clear to me that the army is here to protect Mubarak.'

Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League, said on Sunday he wanted to see a multi-party democracy emerge in Egypt but could not say how soon that might happen.

Meanwhile David Cameron and US President Barack Obama called for an 'orderly transition' to a democratic government in Egypt.

As the crisis threatening to unseat Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak escalated, the two leaders held talks and agreed that a 'comprehensive process of political reform' was needed.