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Fri, 29 Sep 2023
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Egypt's Military Eyes Constitutional Referendum

Egypt protest
© Reuters/Asmaa Waguih
Egypt's new military rulers have signalled their intention to share power with civilians and amend the constitution rapidly by popular referendum, opposition activists and a British minister said on Monday.

Wael Ghonim, a Google executive detained then released for his part in the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, said members of the military council had told him a plebiscite would be held on constitutional amendments in two months.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik had told him that he would reshuffle his cabinet in the coming week to bring opposition figures into the line-up appointed by Mubarak last month.

Earlier, the ruling Higher Military Council urged workers to return to their jobs and help restart an economy damaged by the uprising which ended Mubarak's 30-year rule but also sparked a growing wave of strikes.

In a televised address three days after Mubarak was forced to step down and hand power to the armed forces, a military spokesman appealed for national unity.

In "Communique No. 5" read out on state television, the spokesman said: "Noble Egyptians see that these strikes, at this delicate time, lead to negative results." It added that work stoppages were harming security and economic production.

Arrow Down

Housing Crash Is Hitting Cities Once Thought to Be Stable

home for sale
© New York Times
Few believed the housing market here would ever collapse. Now they wonder if it will ever stop slumping.

The rolling real estate crash that ravaged Florida and the Southwest is delivering a new wave of distress to communities once thought to be immune - economically diversified cities where the boom was relatively restrained.

In the last year, home prices in Seattle had a bigger decline than in Las Vegas. Minneapolis dropped more than Miami, and Atlanta fared worse than Phoenix.

The bubble markets, where builders, buyers and banks ran wild, began falling first, economists say, so they are close to the end of the cycle and in some cases on their way back up. Nearly everyone else still has another season of pain.

"When I go out and talk to people around town, they say, 'Wow, I thought we were going to have a 12 percent correction and call it a day,' " said Stan Humphries, chief economist for the housing site Zillow, which is based in Seattle. "But this thing just keeps on going."

Seattle is down about 31 percent from its mid-2007 peak and, according to Zillow's calculations, still has as much as 10 percent to fall.

Mr. Humphries estimates the rest of the country will drop a further 5 and 7 percent as last year's tax credits for home buyers continue to wear off.


Honduras: Small commercial plane crash kills 14

© Fernando Antonio / The Associated Press
Rescue workers remove bodies Monday from a commercial airplane that crashed in Las Mesitas, Honduras. All 14 passengers were killed.
A small Honduran commercial airliner crashed Monday near the capital, killing all 14 people aboard, including a senior government official and a top union leader, authorities said.

The Central American Airlines plane was flying to the Toncontin international airport in Tegucigalpa when it crashed Monday morning in the town of Las Mesitas, about three miles (five kilometers) south of the airport.

The cause of the crash is being investigated, but there was fog in the area at the time. Tincontin airport is considered dangerous because of its short runway and surrounding hills.

The Let L-410 Turbolet was carrying two pilots and 12 passengers, including Assistant Secretary for Public Works Rodolfo Rovelo, United Workers Federation of Honduras leader Jose Israel Salinas and former Economy Secretary Carlos Chain, said airline manager Felix Pacheco.

"I'm destroyed, in shock, because of what happened," Pacheco said, adding that it was a regularly scheduled daily flight.

The government declared three days of national mourning in honor of the government officials killed.

A pilot survived the crash but died on the way to a hospital, firefighters spokesman Jaime Silva said.

Bizarro Earth

US: Facing the Epidemic of Bullying

A recent video has surfaced that shows a young, school-aged male, being subjected to physical and verbal abuse from fellow students.


US: Report Exposes 'Gray Homicide' Epidemic, Reinforces Need for Funding Autopsies of Nursing Home Deaths, Kentucky Attorney Says

J. Marshall Hughes
© hughesandcoleman.com
J. Marshall Hughes
If legislation passes that would require nursing home deaths to be reported to county coroner offices, those coroners would need proper funding to carry out examinations, Kentucky personal injury attorney J. Marshall Hughes says.

A recently issued report on the state of autopsies in the U.S. highlights the need to require adequate funding for autopsies of Kentucky nursing home deaths, Bowling Green personal injury lawyer J. Marshall Hughes said this week.

"It's not enough to require that nursing home deaths be reported to the proper officials, which is what is currently being proposed in our legislature," Hughes said. "If we are going to do this right in Kentucky, we need to make sure those officials have the proper funding to conduct autopsies that are thorough and complete."

Hughes is a co-founding attorney of Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers, a personal injury law firm that represents Kentucky nursing home abuse and neglect victims and their families in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

He has endorsed a bill currently pending in the Kentucky General Assembly, House Bill 69, which would require a designated staff member at long-term care facilities and hospices to report all deaths to the county coroner within 24 hours. Coroners, in turn, would be required to involve police or prosecutors if they suspect mistreatment played a role in the death.

Currently, state law does not require nursing homes to report most deaths to coroners, and coroners are rarely called, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported last summer in a series of stories that discovered flaws in the system used to investigate nursing home neglect and abuse.

Hughes spoke this week in reaction to an investigative report issued by National Public Radio, PBS Frontline and ProPublica. The report revealed a trend across the country in which "underfunded and understaffed" medical examiner and coroner offices are being forced to forgo autopsies of the elderly.


Companies Raise Prices as Commodity Costs Jump

© European Pressphoto Agency
A worker prepares cotton for spinning at the Shanghai Textile mills in Shanghai.
A package of Oscar Mayer cold cuts. A pair of Nine West boots. A Whirlpool washing machine.

By the fall, people will most likely be paying more for each of them, as rising prices hit most consumer goods, say retailers, food companies and manufacturers of consumer products.

Cotton prices are near their highest level in more than a decade, after adjusting for inflation, and leather and polyester costs are jumping as well. Copper recently hit its highest level in about 40 years, and iron ore, used for steel, is fetching extremely high prices. Prices for corn, sugar, wheat, beef, pork and coffee are soaring. Labor overseas is becoming more expensive, meanwhile, and so are the utility bills to keep a factory running.

"There are cost pressures from virtually everywhere," said Wesley R. Card, the chief executive of the Jones Group, whose brands include Nine West and Anne Klein. After trying to keep retail prices flat or even lower during the recession, Jones says prices for its brands will climb 15 to 20 percent by autumn.

When commodity prices started to rise last summer, many manufacturers and retailers absorbed the costs, worried that shoppers would not pay higher prices during the competitive holiday season or while the economy was still fragile.

Heart - Black

US: Elder Abuse: Still a Silent Epidemic

elder abuse
© unknown
In spite of several high-profile elder abuse cases in the past few years, a recent study performed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed that the elderly are still vulnerable to a wide range of abuses at the hands of their caretakers. The GAO study, which examined hundreds of abuse allegations around the country, discovered a wide range of abuses happening against the elderly, including being supervised by inappropriate people, physical neglect, malnutrition, sexual abuse and more.

The study provided an overview of the problem of elder abuse in America today, finding that our aging population is being subjected to abuse at a level never-before-seen.

A Wide Range of Abuses Seen

Though the cases examined in the GAO study are egregious, they represent the types of abuses commonly seen by family members investigating suspicions of malfeasance, including:

Light Saber

Now revolution takes hold in Algeria: Hundreds arrested as '30,000' riot police try to quell democracy march inspired by downfall of Hosni Mubarak

Algerian protesters
© Reuters
Not-so-thin blue line: Riot policemen surround protesters during the demonstration. Estimates put the numbers of police at 30,000 - three times the number of protesters
  • Estimated police figures outnumber demonstrators by three to one
  • Human rights activist says more than 400 arrested
  • Government cuts food prices and promises end of state of emergency to mollify demonstrators
Thousands of riot police arrested hundreds of demonstrators in the Algerian capital today as they tried to stop a banned pro-democracy rally a day after Egypt's authoritarian leader was toppled.

Armed police blocked off streets in Algiers and set up security barricades at strategic points along the march route and outside the city to try to stop busloads of demonstrators from reaching the capital.

Armed police were also posted near newspaper headquarters.

Organisers of the march estimated some 10,000 people had flooded Algiers, where they skirmished with riot police attempting to block off streets and disperse the crowd.

Evil Rays

Dream Time on the Road to Shitville

Dog Poet Transmitting.......

© Unknown
Maybe 13 years ago or so, I saw part of one episode of MTV's Big Brother. That's been the extent of my exposure to reality TV, which joins the short list of great oxymorons, like 'military intelligence'. The last time I watched network TV with any regularity would have been before I left home; that place you can't go again and may not have had in the first place. Probably "All in the Family" was on then. I've seen regular news, like CNN, a half a dozen times since the stolen election of 2000 and Fox News for a couple of minutes on the night I check into my hotel room, at the halfway point between dreaming Italy and the apneic northern realms.

I left the mainland USA twenty years before I left the country entirely. I was going back to Maui in the winter (after I left the USA) and thinking it might be a trend, until they played games with my passport and I realized I was on a kind of a list from something like The Mikado. I've spent time with friends for a total of about two months in eight years, maybe less. I have no friends close by in Europe but I do have some too far away to drive and visit.

I get mail from all over the world and probably piss people off when I forget to answer because the page rolls up and life has moved on and I didn't mean it. I even get mail from a military attaché kind of a guy in Mongolia. I wish he would write again. I like hearing from him. I get mail from Patagonia, Iceland and by now I've gotten mail from everywhere except North Korea and Greenland, I think. My world is a planet inside my head that rotates in virtual space and includes close personal friends I may never see in this life (cue Bob Marley). I compare my life to that of an astronaut whose only social life takes place over satellite communications.

Che Guevara

Trade unions strike across Egypt

© AP
Cairo - Egypt's military rulers called for an end to strikes and protests Monday as thousands of state employees, from ambulance drivers to police and transport workers, demonstrated to demand better pay in a growing wave of labor unrest unleashed by the democracy uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak's regime.

The statement by the ruling military council that took power from Mubarak appeared to be a final warning to protest organizers in labor and professional unions before the army intervenes and imposes an outright ban on gatherings, strikes and sit-ins.

Soldiers cleared out almost all the remaining demonstrators from Cairo's Tahrir Square, the giant traffic circle that was turned into a protest camp headquarters for the 18-day revolt. During more than two weeks of round-the-clock demonstrations at the square, protesters set up tents, brought in blankets, operated medical clinics and festooned the entire plaza with giant banners demanding removal of the regime.

At the height of the uprising, hundreds of thousands packed the downtown crossroads.