Tag Archives: Egypt

10 things you need to know today: March 27, 2014

United and... unionized?

United and… unionized? (Facebook)

The Week

Northwestern football players get a chance to unionize, Egypt’s military chief quits to run for president, and more

1. Government says Northwestern players have the right to unionize
In a move that is rekindling the debate over amateurism in NCAA sports, the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday declared that Northwestern University football players on full scholarships are in essence school employees, so they have the right to unionize. The NLRB said it would supervise the vote. If the majority backs a union, athletes at other private schools could follow. [Reuters]

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2. Egyptian military chief quits to run for president
Egypt’s Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi announced on state TV that he was resigning as head of the country’s military to run for president later this year, a move that many had long expected. Field Marshal Sisi was the one who yanked Egypt’s elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, from office in July. His supporters see him as the key to ending Egypt’s turmoil, but opponents say he has presided over widespread abuses. [BBC News]

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3. The number missing in Washington’s mudslide drops to 90 
The number of people listed as missing after Washington’s massive mudslide dropped to 90 on Wednesday, from 176 the day before. Some names were believed to be duplicates. Twenty-five people have been confirmed dead, but several bodies have yet to be recovered from the mud and wreckage, which is 40 feet deep in some places. Firefighter Jan McClellan said the likelihood of finding survivors is dwindling, but that, “We live for that hope.” [CNN]

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4. Charlotte mayor resigns after his arrest on corruption charges
Mayor Patrick Cannon of Charlotte — North Carolina’s largest city — resigned Wednesday night after being arrested and accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes. The 49-year-old Democrat, who took office just four months ago, allegedly accepted a briefcase stuffed with $20,000 in his office last month, and was scheduled to meet undercover FBI agents posing as businessman for another payoff in exchange for his influence. [Charlotte Observer]

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5. Obama meets with Pope Francis
President Obama met Pope Francis for the first time on Thursday at the Vatican. The talk came after several years of tensions between the Obama administration and Catholic church leadership over the Affordable Care Act’s coverage of contraception and other issues. The White House said the meeting would focus on area’s where the two leaders agree, such as their “shared commitment to fighting poverty.” [CNN]

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6. Judge declares Oklahoma’s execution law unconstitutional
A judge in Oklahoma ruled the state’s capital punishment law unconstitutional on Wednesdaybecause it prevents death-row prisoners from knowing what drugs will be used in executions. The challenge was filed by lawyers for two convicted murderers, Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, who were scheduled to be executed this spring. The state maintained secrecy to protect suppliers, who have been running short of the drugs. [The Associated Press]

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7. Chicago train operator fell asleep before crash
The operator of commuter train that crashed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport reportedly told investigators she dozed off. “She did not awake until the train hit,” National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ted Turpin said Wednesday. Thirty people were injured when the eight-car train jumped onto the platform at the end of the track and crashed part of the way up an escalator and staircase leading into the airport on Monday. [The Associated Press]

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8. Bank of America settles mortgage bond lawsuit for $9.3 billion
Bank of America has agreed to pay $9.3 billion to settle a lawsuit filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency claiming that the bank sold faulty mortgage bonds to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The deal, announced Wednesday, ends one of the bank’s main legal problems left over from the financial crisis. The bank and its former CEO, Kenneth Lewis, also settled another suit alleging it misled investors about losses at Merrill Lynch & Co. [Reuters]

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9. Scientists find another dwarf planet far beyond Pluto
Astronomers have discovered a dwarf planet, 2012 VP113, far beyond Pluto, according to a study unveiled Wednesday in the journal Nature. The orbit of the 280-mile-wide rock — nicknamed “Biden” for its “VP” designation — comes to within 7.4 billion miles of the sun. Scientists long thought the zone was an empty wasteland, but this find, along with the 2003 discovery of another dwarf planet, Sedna, suggest it could be full of icy objects. [Los Angeles TimesCNN]

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10. Pope Francis accepts big-spending bishop’s resignation
Famously frugal Pope Francis has reportedly accepted the resignation of Germany’s Monsignor Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst — the “bishop of bling.” Tebartz-van Elst had been on leave since October pending an inquiry into the $43 million he spent on his residence complex. He busted his renovation budget with purchases such as a $20,000 bathtub, but said the site’s historical status drove up costs. [Los Angeles Times]

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10 things you need to know today: December 24, 2013

Activists from the Internet Party of Ukraine perform during a rally supporting Edward Snowden in front of the U.S. embassy in Kiev on June 27.

Activists from the Internet Party of Ukraine perform during a rally supporting Edward Snowden in front of the U.S. embassy in Kiev on June 27. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

The Week

Snowden says “mission accomplished,” Americans get an extra day to enroll for ObamaCare coverage, and more…

1. Snowden says his mission is accomplished
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told The Washington Post — in his first in-person interview since seeking asylum in Russia — that he had “already won” in his effort to expose what he felt was a surveillance system growing out of control. Since he began leaking top-secret NSA documents in April the government has come under intense pressure to curb the spying. “The mission’s already accomplished,” Snowden said. [Washington Post]
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2. ObamaCare signup extended by 24 hours after last-minute rush
The Obama administration extended the deadline to enroll for health coverage taking effect Jan. 1 by one day after people swamped HealthCare.gov in a last-minute rush to sign up. More than one million people had visited the ObamaCare website by 5 p.m., five times as many as the Monday before. The one-day grace period was the latest in a series of accommodations the administration has made to make up for the site’s disastrous Oct. 1 launch. [New York Times]
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3. Obama signs up for ObamaCare insurance in a symbolic gesture
As the deadline to enroll for ObamaCare health coverage to begin Jan. 1 arrived, President Obama signed up for a new insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act’s online exchange, the White House said Monday. Obama’s enrollment in a Bronze plan on the Washington, D.C., exchange was just symbolic, though, because he receives care from the White House Medical Unit’s military doctors. [TIME]
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4. Retailers get creative to get procrastinators into stores
Sales at brick-and-mortar stores fell by 2.1 percent last weekend compared to last year, according to data firm ShopperTrak. The dip on the final weekend of holiday shopping — the busiest of the year — followed a weak Thanksgiving weekend at the start of the season. Retailers are experimenting with new ways to lure in Christmas procrastinators, including expanding lists of items people can purchase online and pick up in stores. [Reuters]
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5. Judge refuses to delay his ruling allowing gay marriage in Utah
A judge in Utah declined to delay his own decision that gay marriages must be allowed in the state. U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled last week that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, making the state the 18th in the nation to allow same-sex couples to get married. Utah Governor Gary Herbert was trying to block the granting of marriage licenses while he appeals to a higher court. [Reuters]
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6. U.S. Marines prepare to enter South Sudan if necessary
The U.S. military has moved a force of 150 Marines to the Horn of Africa so they would be ready to enter South Sudan to help evacuate Americans and protect the U.S. Embassy if fighting between government forces and rebels gets worse, American officials said Monday. Some Americans have already been evacuated, but there are still many U.S. citizens in the world’s newest country. [CNN]
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7. Family fights to keep girl on life support
The family of California teen Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead on Dec. 12 after routine tonsil surgery, said she would probably be kept on life support through Christmas. The girl’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, won a court restraining order barring the hospital from removing Jahi, 13, from her respirator. The hospital wants the restraining order lifted, but the family is fighting to keep the girl alive, hoping she’ll recover. [ABC News]
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8. Egyptian government calls the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group
A car bombing killed 13 people and wounded 130 more at a police compound in Egypt’s Nile Delta on Tuesday. It was one of the deadliest attacks since the military ousted president Mohamed Morsi in July. The army-backed government’s cabinet responded by labeling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, without specifically blaming the now-banned pro-Morsi Islamist group for the attack. The Muslim Brotherhood condemned the bombing, too. [Reuters,Ahram Online]
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9. The father of the AK-47 dies in Russia
Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, designer of a Soviet assault rifle that became the most widely used firearm ever, died Monday in the Russian republic of Udmurtia. He was 94. Kalashnikov was born a peasant and used self-taught mechanical skills to develop the now-ubiquitous guns with trademark curved magazines. His role in the AK-47′s creation vaulted him to high positions in the Red Army and six terms on the Supreme Soviet legislative body. [New York Times]
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10. Auburn’s Malzahn named AP‘s coach of the year
Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn has been named The Associated Press national coach of the year after taking a demoralized team coming off its worst season in decades and turning it into one of the best teams in the country. Malzahn, with his aggressive offense, led the second-ranked Tigers to a Southeastern Conference championship and into a Jan. 6 national championship game against No. 1 Florida State. [Associated Press]

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10 things you need to know today: August 16, 2013

An Egyptian woman identifies the body of a family member, a supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi killed during a violent crackdown by security forces in Cairo.

The Week

Egypt braces for a “day of rage,” Hannah Anderson makes her first public appearance, and more

1. SNOWDEN DOCUMENTS SAY THE NSA VIOLATED PRIVACY RULES
The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules thousands of times every year since Congress gave it wider surveillance powers in 2008, The Washington Post reported, citing an internal audit and other secret documents provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Most of the missteps involved the unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreigners in the U.S. “We’re a human-run agency,” an NSA official said. “So at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line.” [Washington Post]
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2. EGYPT’S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD CALLS FOR “DAY OF RAGE”
Egyptians braced for more violence on Friday as the Muslim Brotherhood called for a “day of rage” to denounce an assault by security forces on supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. The crackdown left at least 638 people dead. The violence spread on Thursday, with state TV blaming pro-Morsi forces for attacking government buildings and Christian churches. President Obama canceled joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercises scheduled for next month, saying the violence “needs to stop.” [CBS News]
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3. PENTAGON ANNOUNCES ITS RESPONSE TO SEXUAL ASSAULTS
The Pentagon on Thursday unveiled its plan to combat an epidemic of sexual assault in the military by providing more support for victims and spelling out more uniform policies for going after attackers. Critics in Congress, who had been pressuring the Defense Department to act, said the measures did not go far enough. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the initiatives were “substantial, but only a step along a path toward eliminating this crime from our military ranks.” [Columbus Dispatch]
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4. DEATH TOLL RISES FROM CAR BOMB IN LEBANON
A deadly car bombing ripped through a Beirut suburb known as a stronghold of the militant Shiite movement Hezbollah Thursday night. A government official said Friday that the death toll from the blast had risen to 22, making it the deadliest bombing in Lebanon in more than eight years. The attack — and a similar bombing last month — was assumed to be payback for Hezbollah’s support for government forces in the civil war in neighboring Syria. [New York Times,ABC News]
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5. HANNAH ANDERSON ATTENDS FUNDRAISER FOR HER FAMILY
Hannah Anderson, the 16-year-old Californian who was allegedly abducted by a family friend suspected of killing her mother and brother, on Thursday made her first public appearance since her rescue Saturday, appearing at a restaurant holding a fundraiser for her family. [Washington Times]
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6. NASA SAYS KEPLER’S PLANET-HUNTING DAYS ARE OVER
NASA announced Thursday that its Kepler space telescope, disabled by a glitch in May, could not be fixed and would not be able to resume its hunt for faraway Earth-like planets. Kepler has four reaction wheels. It needs at least three to be functional to point accurately at distant stars, but two are broken. Since its 2009 launch, the spacecraft has discovered 3,548 possible planets, and scientists expect to find more as they search through the trove of data Kepler has compiled. [New York Times]
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7. EARTHQUAKE RATTLES NEW ZEALAND
A 6.5-magnitude earthquake rattled central New Zealand on Friday, destroying a bridge and sending office workers scrambling for cover in the capital city of Wellington. No injuries were reported, but several buildings were evacuated and rescuers had to free people from disabled elevators. New Zealand, part of the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire,” is prone to earthquakes. It felt a similar tremor three weeks ago, and a severe quake in 2011 killed 185 people in Christchurch. [Associated Press]
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8. NEW MAMMAL DISCOVERED
Scientists on Thursday announced the discovery of the first new carnivore found in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years — a two-pound animal that looks like a cross between a raccoon and a teddy bear and lives in the high cloud forest of the Andes mountains in Ecuador and Colombia. (See a photo here.) The animal — the olinguito — was overlooked for decades, even though a Chicago museum had a specimen for years. [Bloomberg]
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9. THAT ’70s SHOW ACTRESS DIES
Actress Lisa Robin Kelly, best known as a star of the sitcom That ’70s Show, died this week at a rehab center, her agent said Thursday. She was 43. No cause of death was immediately released. Kelly had been contending with personal troubles — her estranged husband was arrested after a disturbance at their North Carolina home in November, and she was charged with DUI in June. [CNN]
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10. BASEBALL EXPANDS INSTANT REPLAY TO FIGHT BAD CALLS
Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it planned to expand the use of instant replay in the 2014 season, implementing it on virtually every call other than balls and strikes. Managers will get three challenges per game, giving them unprecedented influence and providing a tool to reduce bad calls that can decide games. Critics argue that the change will make already-long games even longer, while still letting bad calls sneak through. [New York Daily News]

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Egypt’s bloody crackdown: What does Obama do now?

Will Obama stand by Egypt's military?

Will Obama stand by Egypt’s military?

The Week

The president faces mounting pressure to hold Egypt’s military accountable as blood runs in Cairo’s streets

After a day’s worth of bloody violence, Egypt finds itself at a crossroads — as does the administration of President Barack Obama.

The White House on Wednesday condemned the Egyptian military’s brutal crackdown on Islamist protesters demanding the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. A spokesman for Obama also criticized the interim Egyptian government for declaring a state of emergency, which gave the army unchecked power to restore order, and said the U.S. would hold Egypt accountable for keeping its promise to restore democracy.

Obama, however, faces mounting pressure to do more. The latest violence, which pitted heavily armed soldiers against rock-throwing civilians, has killed more than 230 people. There have been renewed calls for the U.S. to cut off the $1.3 billion in annual aid it sends to Egypt’s military. And Turkey, a valuable NATO ally, went so far as to call for the United Nations and Arab League to intervene to stop the violence.

It doesn’t help the U.S. that Mohamed ElBaredei, the interim government’s vice president, resigned in protest today, withdrawing crucial liberal support and cementing the impression that the oppressive tactics of the Hosni Mubarak era have returned.

There are plenty of reasons to tread carefully in Egypt. Ending America’s military aid to Egypt could remove the only leverage Obama has to steer events in the country. “The country’s military would be even harder to influence, and given its current power over the country, this is clearly a dangerous prospect,” Khairi Abaza argued this week at CNN.

But an end to the current relationship would also have a direct and deleterious impact on American interests more broadly. An end to aid would threaten the durability of Egypt’s critical peace treaty with Israel, not to mention the current agreement that guarantees the safe and reliable passage of U.S. military ships and equipment through the Suez Canal. [CNN]

That has been the consensus realpolitik stance since Morsi was ousted. But the argument sways fewer and fewer people as horrifying images stream out of Cairo and the death toll rises.

Here’s Marc Lynch at Foreign Policy:

With blood in Egypt’s streets and a return to a state of emergency, it’s time for Washington to stop pretending. Its efforts to maintain its lines of communication with the Egyptian military, quietly mediate the crisis, and help lay the groundwork for some new, democratic political process have utterly failed… As long as Egypt remains on its current path, the Obama administration should suspend all aid, keep the embassy in Cairo closed, and refrain from treating the military regime as a legitimate government. [Foreign Policy]

As Andrew Sullivan puts it at The Dish, “There is no way the U.S. can aid a government that guns down its citizens in the streets.”

Furthermore, what is the U.S. really getting from all the aid it has provided? Here’s Amy Davidson at The New Yorker:

Every side blames the United States for something—talking to Morsi, abandoning Morsi, being too involved or abdicating. But the Egyptian military is the one most responsible for staging a battle on the streets of Cairo today. It is also the one funded, in part, by a billion dollars in American aid every year. Does that money get us a hearing? And does Obama even know what, specifically, he would ask for? [The New Yorker]

Indeed, threatening to withdraw the aid may be the last card Obama has to play, particularly when you consider that Egypt has been the recipient of billions of dollars in additional funding from Sunni autocracies — like Saudi Arabia and the UAE — that are more than glad to see the Muslim Brotherhood on its heels.

Here’s The Washington Post in an editorial:

If the United States wishes to have some chance to influence a country that has been its close ally for four decades it must immediately change its policy toward the armed forces. That means the complete suspension of all aid and cooperation, coupled with the message that relations will resume when — and if — the generals end their campaign of repression and take tangible steps to restore democracy. [The Washington Post]

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10 things you need to know today: July 7, 2013

An Asiana Airlines passenger airplane lies burned on the runway after it crash landed at San Francisco International Airport July 6 in San Francisco.

An Asiana Airlines passenger airplane lies burned on the runway after it crash landed at San Francisco International Airport July 6 in San Francisco.

The Week

1. SFO RUNWAYS PARTIALLY REOPEN AFTER 777 CRASH LANDING

Two runways have reopened at San Francisco International Airport, one day after an Asiana 777 aircraft crash landed at the airport, killing two passengers. The flight, which originated in Seoul, South Korea, was carrying several high-profile tech figures including Samsung executive David Eun and was originally Facebook CFO Sheryl Sandberg’s flight back to the U.S. before she rescheduled her tickets. The two victims were teenagers from China. [USA TodayHuffington Post]

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2. DOUBTS OVER NEW EGYPTIAN PRIME MINISTER CONTINUE
As Egyptians clash in the streets of Cairo and around the country, Egypt’s new president says pro-reform leader Mohamed El Baradei has not yet been appointed as interim prime minister despite earlier reports. An earlier announcement that El Baradei, a former head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, had been chosen, caused anger among deposed former President Morsi’s supporters. According to presidential advisor Ahmed al-Muslimani, El Baradei is “the logical choice” among a list of names being considered. [BBC]

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3. DERAILED OIL TRAIN IN QUEBEC EXPLODES, KILLS ONE
A train carrying crude oil derailed Saturday in eastern Quebec, sparking several explosions and a blaze that destroyed the center of the town of Lac-Megantic (about 155 miles east of Montreal) and killed at least one person. An unspecified number of people were reported missing. The cause of the derailment was not immediately known. [TIME]

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4. MILITANTS KILL AT LEAST 30 AT NIGERIAN BOARDING SCHOOL

Islamic militants attacked a boarding school in Nigeria’s embattled northeast before dawn Saturday, dousing a dormitory in fuel and igniting it as students slept, survivors said. Authorities blamed the deadliest attack thus far on Boko Haram, a radical group whose name means “Western education is sacrilege.” The militants have been behind a wave of recent attacks on schools in the northeast. [Washington Post]

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5. SENATOR PRESCRIBES CALM RESPONSE TO EGYPT
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Sunday that America should urge “calmness” in Egypt following the ousting former Egypt President Mohammed Morsi. “I received a call from the administration, and I know they’re involved in trying to calm all sides,” the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Fox News Sunday via satellite from Afghanistan. “I think that’s what our role should be.” [Politico]

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6. NICARAGUA OFFERs ASYLYUM TO SNOWDEN
The president of Nicaragua offered to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, joining Venezuela in opening its doors to the NSA leaker. President Obama has publicly displayed a relaxed attitude toward Snowden’s movements, saying last month that he wouldn’t be “scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” but the drama surrounding the flight of Bolivian president Evo Morales, whose plane was abruptly rerouted to Vienna after apparently being denied permission to fly over France, suggests that pressure is being applied behind the scenes. [NBC News]

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7. WHOLE FOODS RECALLS LISTERIA-LINKED CHEESE PRODUCTS
Whole Foods removed Crave Brothers cheese products from its shelves after the cheese company voluntarily recalled several lots of its products with production dates of July 1, 2013, or earlier due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Listeria was recently identified as the cause of one death and four others being sickened in four states; the Listeria was linked to cheese distributed by Wisconsin-based Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company. [Forbes]

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8. DJOKOVIC AND MURRAY PLAY FOR WIMBLEDON TITLE
No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Andy Murray are battling it out in the Wimbledon final Sunday morning. Djokovic, the 2011 champion, is seeking his second Wimbledon title and seventh Grand Slam title. Murray is trying to become the first British man to win the title since Fred Perry in 1936. France’s Marion Bartoli won the women’s title on Saturday. [Sports IllustratedABC News]

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9. NBA’S HOWARD RECEIVES FLAK FOR JOINING ROCKETS
NBA star Dwight Howard chose to leave the Los Angeles Lakers for the Houston Rockets, saying that Houston gave him the best chance at winning an NBA title. Former Laker Shaquille O’Neal criticized Howard’s move, saying, “We’ve all been in L.A., and not a whole lot of people can handle being under the bright lights…I think it was a safe move for him to go to a little town like Houston. That’s right, little town. I said it.” [ESPN]

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10. CHARLES SAATCHI AND NIGELLA LAWSON TO DIVORCE
Chef Nigella Lawson’s husband announced he’s divorcing her, expressing disappointment that she failed to publicly defend him during the fallout over a public fight in which he appeared to choke his wife. Charles Saatchi, a wealthy art collector and global ad agency co-founder, and Lawson had been married since 2003. [People]

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10 things you need to know today: July 5, 2013

People dance and cheer in Tahrir Square the day after former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted from power.

People dance and cheer in Tahrir Square the day after former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted from power.

The Week

Islamists protest Morsi’s overthrow, a California fireworks accident injures 28 people, and more

1. ISLAMISTS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST MORSI’S OUSTER
Egyptian Islamists are rallying on Friday to protest the army’s overthrow of the country’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi, and the arrest of dozens of leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. The military said it had acted to “correct the path of [Egypt's] glorious revolution” and reunite a nation divided over Morsi’s pro-Islamist policies. “What kind of national reconciliation starts with arresting people?” asked the son of one Brotherhood official who was arrested. [New York Times]
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2. FIREWORKS ACCIDENT INJURES 28
At least 28 people were injured Thursday night after an explosion shot fireworks into a crowdof 10,000 people in Simi Valley, Calif., near Los Angeles. A few minutes into the Fourth of July fireworks show — after several rockets had lit up the sky — witnesses heard a boom, and fireworks began zooming and exploding along the ground. “People were screaming,” said Justice Allen, 17. “Everybody was just terrified.” [Los Angeles Times]
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3. TUTU URGES MANDELA RELATIVES TO STOP A PUBLIC FAMILY FEUD
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is pleading with relatives of Nelson Mandela to end an ugly family feud, saying it is tainting the anti-apartheid icon’s name as he lies near death in a hospital. Mandela’s oldest grandson buried the remains of three of Mandela’s children near his village to attract tourists to a visitor’s center he built. His relatives won permission from a court to rebury them in the family cemetery. Tutu said the fight is “like spitting in [Mandela's] face.” [BBC News]
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4. MORALES THREATENS TO CLOSE THE U.S. EMBASSY IN BOLIVIA
Bolivian President Evo Morales is threatening to close the U.S. embassy in his South American country in retaliation for the grounding of his plane in Europe on Tuesday over suspicions that he had fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden on board. Several other Latin American leaders have rallied to Morales’ side, calling the incident an outrage and violation of Bolivia’s sovereignty. “Without America,” Morales said, “we are better off politically and democratically.” [BBC News]
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5. SAN FRANCISCO TRANSIT WORKERS RETURN TO WORK
Commuter trains will start running again in the San Francisco Bay area Friday afternoon after transit workers agreed to end a strike they began on Monday. Their union still has not signed a contract, but “both parties have agreed and are putting good faith in the continuing negotiations,” said Marty Morgenstern, the leader of the state Labor and Workforce Development Agency. The union workers want better pay and benefits. [CNN]
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6. PAKISTAN ENDS ITS BAN ON THE DEATH PENALTY
Pakistan’s new government has ended the country’s moratorium on the death penalty in a push to discourage rampant crime and extremist militancy. The government of Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, says there are 400 people on death row, although other estimates put the number as high as 8,000. Amnesty International said the decision not to renew the ban, in effect since 2008, was “shocking and retrograde” at a time when 150 nations have abolished executions. [Reuters]
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7. VOLCANIC ERUPTION FORCES MEXICAN AIRPORTS TO CANCEL FLIGHTS
Six U.S. airlines — U.S. Airways, Delta, United, American, Spirit, and Alaska Airlines — canceled about 50 flights into and out of Mexico City and Toluca airports on Thursday, after the Popocatepetl volcano spewed out ash, steam, and glowing rocks into the sky. On clear days, the 17,886-foot volcano serves as a backdrop for Mexico City’s skyline. [USA Today]
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8. NASCAR SEIZES ILLEGAL PARTS FOUND ON 31 RACE CARS
NASCAR confiscated illegal parts from 31 race cars on Thursday after inspectors spotted them before practice runs at Daytona International Speedway. Officials said that all of the teams involved had made changes to reduce the weight of part of the roof flaps that keep cars on the ground during spins and high-speed wrecks. The teams were cleared to practice with new, unaltered roof flaps, but NASCAR is considering imposing penalties. [ESPN]
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9. U.K. OPENS INQUIRY INTO MADELEINE MCCANN’S DISAPPEARANCE
British police said Thursday they were opening a new investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, who vanished at age 3 during a family vacation in Portugal six years ago. Portuguese authorities closed their case in 2009. Scotland Yard, however, said it had “new evidence and new witnesses” suggesting that the girl might still be alive, and it is looking at 38 “persons of interest.” [Reuters]
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10. CHESTNUT SETS A RECORD TO WIN HIS SEVENTH STRAIGHT HOT DOG EATING CONTEST
Joey Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., inhaled a record 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win his seventh straight Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest championship on New York’s Coney Island. “Things came together today,” he said. “The hot dogs were really good.” Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas won the women’s competition, downing almost 39 franks. [USA Today]

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Egyptian military announces Morsi is out

Egyptian military announces Morsi is out

Salon

They have also suspended the Islamist-backed constitution and called early elections

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s military has suspended the Islamist-backed constitution and called early elections.

The military also announced that embattled President Mohammed Morsi will be replaced.

Cheers erupted among millions of protesters nationwide who were demanding Morsi’s ouster.

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Top Morsi adviser: An Egyptian military coup is underway

The Week - By Keith Wagstaff | 1:17pm EST

The army is beefing up its presence in Cairo

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is in the process of being overthrown in a military coup d’état, claims top Morsi adviser Essam al-Haddad in a new Facebook message.

“As I write these lines I am fully aware that these may be the last lines I get to post on this page,” writes al-Haddad. “For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: Military coup.”

Al-Haddad laments what he sees as a failure by opposition parties to respect the democratic process:

Let me be very clear. The protesters represent a wide spectrum of Egyptians and many of them have genuine, valid grievances. President Morsy’s approval rating is down … In a democracy, there are simple consequences for the situation we see in Egypt: the President loses the next election or his party gets penalized in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Anything else is mob rule.

Many have seen fit in these last months to lecture us on how democracy is more than just the ballot box. That may indeed be true. But what is definitely true is that there is no democracy without the ballot box. [Facebook]

Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood have remained defiant as a military-imposed deadline to strike a deal with opposition leaders passed. Critics have accused Morsi of ramming an Islamist constitution through parliament and failing to fix the economy.

Sources within the Egyptian military have stated that if no deal was reached, the military would suspend the constitution, dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood-led parliament, and hold new presidential and parliamentary elections.

The scene near Tahrir Square, packed with protesters, has been chaotic.

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10 things you need to know today: November 5, 2012

Obama arrives for a campaign rally in State Capitol Square on Nov. 4 in Concord, N.H.

The Week

The presidential campaigns come to a close, Sandy leaves behind a housing crisis, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. OBAMA, ROMNEY MAKE FINAL DASH
President Obama and his GOP rival, Mitt Romney, and their running mates are wrapping up 17 months of campaigning on Monday, with a frenzied final tour of eight critical states on the day before Election Day. A pair of polls over the final weekend of the $3 billion battle for the presidency showed Obama finishing with an uptick of momentum, regaining a narrow lead nationally. A third poll, by CNN, showed the candidates tied, each with 49 percent support. Obama, however, also is clinging to a narrow but significant edge in a handful of swing states expected to decide Tuesday’s election. Political analysts said the final round of polling suggested that Romney’s path to victory was getting narrower, although Romney aide Ed Gillespie said the GOP nominee was suddenly competitive in Pennsylvania, long presumed to be in Obama’s camp, so his electoral map had “expanded.” [Washington Post]
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2. NEW YORK FACES KATRINA-SCALE HOUSING CRISIS
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, warned on Sunday that Hurricane Sandy had left the city facing a housing crisis that could be comparable to the one New Orleans suffered after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. As many as 40,000 people lost their homes in the storms, or were at least hit with damage that would keep them from returning for months. FEMA director Craig Fugate said 86,000 households in the New York area have registered for federal disaster assistance. Some of the city’s biggest housing developments will be “out of commission for a very long time,” Bloomberg said. The sobering news came as another storm — a powerful nor’easter — headed toward parts of the country devastated by last week’s superstorm, and as temperatures in New York and New Jersey plunged and 2 million people were still without power. [Wall Street Journal]

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3. CHINA SHAKES UP MILITARY LEADERSHIP
China completed a shake-up of its top military leaders on Sunday. President Hu Jintao oversaw the promotion of generals Fan Changlong and Xu Qiliang as vice chairmen of the influential 12-member Central Military Commission. Hu is slated to step down Thursday in a once-in-a-decade power shuffle, but China experts said his selection of a second-tier of military leaders suggests he plans to keep his post as chairman of the country’s 2.3-million strong military, the world’s largest. “As long as he is the CMC chief,” says Willy Lam, a China politics expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, “he will still be the power behind the throne.” [Agence France-Presse]
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4. EGYPT’S COPTS PICK A NEW POPE
Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church selected a bishop from the Nile Delta as its 118th pope. The name of the new leader, Bishop Tawadsros, was drawn by a blindfolded altar boy from a chalice containing the names of finalists. The new pope succeeds Pope Shenouda III, who died in March after leading the Middle East’s largest Christian community for four decades. He takes over at a tense time, as Egypt’s Copts, who account for 10 percent of the country’s 82 million people, confront rising tensions with Muslims after the country’s revolution and the election of President Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the once-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. [Los Angeles Times]
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5. GREECE PUSHES NEW AUSTERITY MEASURES
The Greek government is presenting a new package of spending cuts and tax hikes on Monday in a bid to get more bailout money from Europe to avoid bankruptcy. The country’s parliament is expected to vote on the $17 billion package on Wednesday. Angry citizens have already been staging protests for a week, blaming the austerity measures imposed for the last four years for wiping out a fifth of the country’s economy and leaving a quarter of the population without jobs. [Reuters]

6. TODDLER KILLED BY ZOO ANIMALS
A 2-year-old boy was killed by a pack of African painted dogs on Sunday after he fell 11 feet into the animals’ enclosure at the Pittsburgh Zoo. The boy’s mother had placed him on a railing so he could see, and he slipped. The animals immediately attacked the child. “It was very horrific,” said Lt. Kevin Kraus of the Pittsburgh police. Zookeepers and police were able to call away all but one dog, which police had to shoot. [Associated Press]
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7. APPLE HANGS ONTO TABLET DOMINANCE
As Apple begins shipping its new iPad mini, the company is holding onto its dominance of the tablet market, according to a new IDC report. Sales of the now-iconic iPad climbed by 26 percent in the last year. Still, Apple’s share of the market slipped from 59.7 percent to 50.4 percent, as Samsung, Amazon, Azus (which makes the Google Nexus 7), and other rivals gained some ground. Samsung vaulted into second place with 18.4 percent of the market, thanks to year-to-year growth of 325 percent. [ZDNet]
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8. HSBC FACES TROUBLE OVER MONEY-LAUNDERING 
HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, warned on Monday that it could face criminal charges and has already suffered “considerable reputational damage” over charges by U.S. regulators that it let customers shift possibly illegal money from countries such as Mexico, Iran, the Cayman Islands, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. The company set aside $700 million to cover potential fines for breaching money-laundering rules in Mexico; now it says it has allocated another $800 million, but warns that the penalties might rise significantly higher than $1.5 billion. [Reuters]
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9. WRECK-IT RALPH CONQUERS THE BOX OFFICE
Disney’s latest animated film, Wreck-It Ralph, pulled in $49 million in its first weekend in movie theaters, trouncing the box-office competition in the unofficial launch of the holiday movie season. The 3D film about video-game characters was expected to generate $40 million or so in ticket sales in its debut, but industry analysts say it got a boost from nearly universal glowing reviews and “the nostalgia factor,” as parents who grew up playing video games in the ’80s and ’90s take their kids to theaters to reminisce. [USA Today]
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10. MAN WITH BIONIC LEG CLIMBS TOWER
A Seattle man who lost a leg three years ago climbed 103 floors to the top of Chicago’s Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, on Sunday. Zac Vawter, 31, made the climb as the first public test of his prosthetic right leg, which is the world’s first bionic leg controlled by impulses sent by the wearer’s brain. He made it to the top in 53 minutes 9 seconds. Vawter called the leg “a dramatic improvement over my normal prosthetic,” and said he hoped his accomplishment would “push the boundaries of what the research and the leg is capable of.” [CNN]

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Wednesday Blog Roundup 9-12-2012

Ryan Running Ads for Re-Election

Elizabeth Warren bouncing back in polls

The Latest ‘Liberal Media’ Conspiracy Twist

Romney slams Obama over Libya, Egypt attacks

Video: Learning how to be president from Barack Obama

Obama Refuses to Meet With Netanyahu, Or Maybe He’s Just Busy

Biden Invites Shanksville Firefighters to the White House for a Beer

Sloppy & Wrong: 11 Fox & FriendsCorrections, Clarifications, And Apologies

Romney ramps up campaign schedule as Obama enjoys post-convention bounce

You Didn’t Say That: How Fox Helps Romney By Distorting Obama Quotes

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