Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi Elected President of Egypt.

A man reads a local newspaper with the headline in Arabic reading, “Egypt surprises the world,” outside a polling station in Cairo, May 27, 2014. (Voice of America – public domain)

Egypt: El-Sissi Wins Election by Landslide in The New York Times (AP)

CAIRO — With nearly all the ballots counted, Egypt’s former military chief has won a crushing victory over his sole opponent with more than 92 percent of the votes, according to results announced by his campaign early Thursday.

The campaign of retired field marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said he won 23.38 million votes, with left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabahi taking 735,285. Invalid votes were 1.07 million, or nearly 350,000 more than the number of votes for the 59-year-old Sabahi.

El-Sissi’s win was never in doubt, but the career infantry officer, also 59, had hoped for a strong turnout to bestow legitimacy on his ouster last July of Egypt’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi.

Read more at The New York Times

Egypt’s ‘Couch Party’ Silent on Third Day of Polls in Voice of America

By Heather Murdock

CAIRO — As voting in Egypt’s presidential elections winds down, residents say the silent majority has spoken by not showing up to the polls.

During the 2011 revolution, activists on the streets jokingly referred to Egyptians who stayed home as the ‘Hizb al-Kanaba’ or ‘The Couch Party.’ The name stuck and it applies to most Egyptians who want to live their lives, feed their families and do not care all that much who occupies the presidential palace.

Abdelrahman Hany is the opposite of the Kanaba: a human rights worker who took to the streets in 2011, later protested military rule and he joined the crowds in 2013, demanding the resignation of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s last president.

But this week, he did not vote.

He said in this election he is proud to be a Kanaba member because he does not support either candidate. Former army chief and de facto Egyptian leader Abdul Fatah el-Sissi will surely win, he said, and challenger Hamdeen Sabahi’s campaign lends legitimacy to the election.

Read more at Voice of America

Egyptians celebrate Sisi ‘victory’ ahead of final results in Al Arabiya


Supporters hold up posters of Egypt’s former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as they celebrate at Tahrir square in Cairo May 28, 2014. (Reuters)

Supporters of Egypt’s presidential frontrunner Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi held impromptu “victory” celebrations in different parts of Cairo late Wednesday, according to the Cairo-Based ONA News Agency, as partial results showed the former army chief was headed to a major election win.

One group gathered at the One Unknown Soldier Memorial group in the Nasr City district of the capital, unfurling the largest banner ever made of Sisi, who is almost certain to win the crucial election.

Read more at Al Arabiya

Mary Edwards Walker: The Only Woman to Receive the Medal of Honor

By Daniel Arkin

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker between 1911 and 1917 (Library of Congress – public domain) via NBC News

In 1916, a high-ranking U.S. military board revoked Medals of Honor from nearly 1,000 recipients, a move that sent shockwaves across the country as former service members suddenly found themselves stripped of their hard-won awards.

A former Army surgeon who had braved some of the most harrowing years of the Civil War was among the many veterans ordered to return their honors. But the physician, who was partial to wearing the glinting Medal with a top hat and bow tie, refused to part with the prize.

It was not the first time Mary Edwards Walker refused to play by the rules.

“She wore the Medal every day of her life, from the moment she received it to the day she died,” said Sharon Harris, author of “Dr. Mary Walker: An American Radical, 1832-1919” and a professor at the University of Connecticut.

Walker — the first and only woman to receive the Medal of Honor — was a tough, tenacious iconoclast who stood firm before her foes, be they Confederate soldiers or Army bureaucrats, Harris said.

An enemy of social convention

Walker had ruffled feathers from an early age, attracting jeers and insults as she walked the streets in men’s trousers and starched collared shirts, according to Harris.

“Boys chased her and threw rocks at her,” Harris said. “She once said that nobody would ever know what she had to go through just to step out the door each morning.”

And yet Walker was relentless. She pushed her way to a degree from Syracuse Medical College, the nation’s first medical school, and later set up an independent medical practice in Rome, N.Y., with a husband she later divorced after 13 years of unhappy matrimony.

She met her greatest challenge at the outbreak of the Civil War. As the republic broke on ideological fault lines, Walker descended on Washington, D.C., and demanded a spot in the Union Army. Her bid for a commission as a medical officer was rejected, but she volunteered anyway, earning a spot as an acting assistant surgeon — the first of her kind in the U.S. Army.

Read more at NBC News

Why immigration reform has GOP leaders eating one of their own

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) speaks during a news conference with youths who are unable to serve in the military because they are in the country illegally. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

By Lisa Mascaro in the Los Angeles Times

Not only have House Republican leaders ditched a comprehensive immigration overhaul from the Senate, now they are even blocking a more modest effort from one of their own.

House GOP leaders have refused to allow a vote on legislation from Republican Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) that would provide legal status and a path to citizenship for immigrants who serve in the military.

Last week, Denham tried to attach his bill to the National Defense Authorization Act, a sweeping must-pass annual spending bill. But GOP leaders blocked a vote on the amendment. Denham has vowed to try again.

The country has a long history of naturalizing immigrants through military service. In 2002, President George W. Bush expedited citizenship for those who served after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks — including those here illegally. Since then, the Immigration Policy Center estimates, 53,000 immigrants, those with legal status and not, have obtained citizenship through military service.

Denham, a former Air Force crew chief who served in Desert Storm, argued to his GOP colleagues that he knew many immigrants during his time in the service, and that they served the nation faithfully.

Just as important to Denham, he represents a Central Valley agriculture-heavy district in California that is 40% Latino, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

But Denham is a bit of an outlier in the party. Most Republican lawmakers represent districts that have been gerrymandered into conservative strongholds, with few minority populations.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times

Thanks to the Roberts Court, Corporations Have More Constitutional Rights Than Actual People

By William Greider on May 20, 2014 – 12:00 PM ET


Members of the Supreme Court (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The big media talk a lot about stalemate in Congress, but they are missing the real story. While representative democracy is dysfunctional, the Supreme Court has taken over with its own reactionary power grab. In case after case, the court’s right-wing majority is making its own law—expanding the power of corporations and the very wealthy, while making it harder for ordinary citizens to fight back.

Worst of all, the Roberts Court is trying to permanently inhibit the federal government’s ability to help people cope with the country’s vast social and economic disorders.

This is not a theoretical complaint. Led by Chief Justice John Roberts, the conservative Republican Court is building a barbed wire fence around the federal government—creating constitutional obstacles to progressive legislation in ways that resemble the Supreme Court’s notorious Lochner decision of 1905. That case held that property rights prevail over people and the common good.

For more than thirty years, the conservative Justices used that twisted precedent to invalidate more than 200 state and federal laws on major social and economic concerns like child labor, the minimum wage, bank regulation and union organizing. New Deal reformers were stymied by Lochner at first, and they only managed to overturn it in 1937 and only then when FDR mobilized a take-no-prisoners campaign to reform the Supreme Court by weakening its unaccountable power.

The Roberts Court has so far produced a slew of precedent-smashing decisions designed to hobble left-liberal reform movements before they can gain political traction. Citizens United opened the floodgates for corporate money; McCutcheon scrapped the dollar limits on fat-cat donors. Roberts gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, implicitly endorsing the GOP’s crude campaign to block racial minorities from voting. The US Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable have won numerous victories, large and small, expanding the rights of their corporate sponsors.

The Roberts Court has so far produced a slew of precedent-smashing decisions designed to hobble left-liberal reform movements before they can gain political traction. Citizens United opened the floodgates for corporate money; McCutcheon scrapped the dollar limits on fat-cat donors. Roberts gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, implicitly endorsing the GOP’s crude campaign to block racial minorities from voting. The US Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable have won numerous victories, large and small, expanding the rights of their corporate sponsors.

Despite his genteel manner, Justice Roberts is a “smart strategist” who plants provocative phrases in his decisions that he can cite later as false precedents, according to Law Professor Gregory Magarian of Washington University in St. Louis. “Roberts tells a story that sounds like they are not making radical change,” Magarain said. “But they are still making things up, still making up social policy. And the judgments are still pointed toward the past.”

Read more at The Nation

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Clyde Snow, a Sleuth Who Read Bones From King Tut’s to Kennedy’s, Is Dead at 86

By ROBERT D. McFADDENMAY 16, 2014

Clyde Snow in 1986. Credit David Longstreet/Associated Press

With ghoulish geniality, Clyde Snow liked to say that bones made good witnesses, never lying, never forgetting, and that a skeleton, no matter how old, could sketch the tale of a human life, revealing how it had been lived, how long it had lasted, what traumas it had endured and especially how it had ended.

He was a legendary detective of forensic anthropology, the esoteric science of extracting the secrets of the dead from skeletal remains. His subjects included President John F. Kennedy, the Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, the “disappeared” who were exhumed from mass graves in Argentina, victims of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy, and even Tutankhamen, the pharaoh who lived 3,300 years ago.

Dr. Snow in 2000 in El Salvador, where his team found the skeletons of 136 infants and children killed by army squads. Credit Victor Ruiz/Associated Press

More, Dr. Snow, who testified against Saddam Hussein and other tyrants, was the father of a modern movement that has used forensic anthropology in human rights drives against genocide, war crimes and massacres in Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda, Chile and elsewhere.

He died at 86 on Friday at a hospital in Norman, Okla., where he lived. His wife, Jerry Whistler Snow, said the cause was cancer and emphysema.

Read more at The New York Times

The World Is Full of Holocaust Deniers

A new survey suggests that many Asians, Africans, Middle Easterners, young people, Muslims, and Hindus believe that facts about the genocide have been distorted.

Child survivors photographed at Auschwitz in 1945. (Wikimedia)

Only 54 percent of the world’s population has heard of the Holocaust.

54 percent.

This is the most staggering statistic in a new survey by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of more than 53,000 people in over 100 countries, conducted by First International Resources. But that figure speaks to only those who have heard of it: Only a third of the world’s population believe the genocide has been accurately described in historical accounts. Some said they thought the number of people who died has been exaggerated; others said they believe it’s a myth. Thirty percent of respondents said it’s probably true that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”

Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, two-thirds of the world’s population don’t know the Holocaust happened—or they deny it.

Read more at The Atlantic

Fools of Fascism

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

By Manash Bhattacharjee

The most crucial thing to note about fascism is that it doesn’t need thinking. That’s why, be it in Germany or India, fascist thought failed to inspire or include any brilliant mind. The only brilliant thinkers during Hitler’s regime were the suffering Jews and anti-fascist Germans. Barring Martin Heidegger’s momentary mad folly, those whom Nazism could inspire were merely henchmen in thought and practice. In India, all that Savarkar and Golwalkar did was to define India as a nation as strictly as possible, borrowing Western intellectual sources, so that Muslims could have no claim over it. Thinking in reverse, having fixed your conclusions in advance, is the martyrdom of thinking.

Read more at Truthout

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Found after 500 years, the wreck of Christopher Columbus’s flagship the Santa Maria

Archaeology correspondent David Keys reveals a remarkable discovery off the coast of Haiti

More than five centuries after Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria, was wrecked in the Caribbean, archaeological investigators think they may have discovered the vessel’s long-lost remains – lying at the bottom of the sea off the north coast of Haiti. It’s likely to be one of the world’s most important underwater archaeological discoveries.

“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria,” said the leader of a recent reconnaissance expedition to the site, one of America’s top underwater archaeological investigators, Barry Clifford.

“The Haitian government has been extremely helpful – and we now need to continue working with them to carry out a detailed archaeological excavation of the wreck,” he said.

So far, Mr. Clifford’s team has carried out purely non-invasive survey work at the site – measuring and photographing it.

Tentatively identifying the wreck as the Santa Maria has been made possible by quite separate discoveries made by other archaeologists in 2003 suggesting the probable location of Columbus’ fort relatively nearby. Armed with this new information about the location of the fort, Clifford was able to use data in Christopher Columbus’ diary to work out where the wreck should be.

Read more at The Independent

U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods

Rising Temperatures
1991-2012 average temperature compared with 1901-1960 average

The effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, scientists reported Tuesday, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects.

Such sweeping changes have been caused by an average warming of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over most land areas of the country in the past century, the scientists found. If greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane continue to escalate at a rapid pace, they said, the warming could conceivably exceed 10 degrees by the end of this century.

“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the scientists declared in a major new report assessing the situation in the United States.

“Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced,” the report continued. “Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours. People are seeing changes in the length and severity of seasonal allergies, the plant varieties that thrive in their gardens, and the kinds of birds they see in any particular month in their neighborhoods.”

The report is the latest in a series of dire warnings about how the effects of global warming that had been long foreseen by climate scientists are already affecting the planet. Its region-by-region documentation of changes occurring in the United States, and of future risks, makes clear that few places will be unscathed — and some, like northerly areas, are feeling the effects at a swifter pace than had been expected.

Alaska in particular is hard hit. Glaciers and frozen ground in that state are melting, storms are eating away at fragile coastlines no longer protected by winter sea ice, and entire communities are having to flee inland — a precursor of the large-scale changes the report foresees for the rest of the United States.

The study, known as the National Climate Assessment, was prepared by a large scientific panel overseen by the government and received final approval at a meeting Tuesday.

Read more at The New York Times

There’s no humane way to carry out the death penalty

By Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post

No one who supports the death penalty should have the slightest problem with the way Clayton Lockett died.

Lockett, a convicted murderer, spent 43 minutes in apparent agony Tuesday night as the state of Oklahoma tried to execute him by injecting an untested cocktail of drugs. Instead of quickly losing consciousness, he writhed in obvious distress and attempted to speak. Witnesses described what they saw as horrific.

Prison authorities halted the procedure — they were going to revive Lockett so they could kill him at a later date, presumably in a more aesthetically pleasing manner — but the condemned man suffered a heart attack and died.

The state postponed a second execution that had been scheduled for the same night, but I wonder why. We fool ourselves if we think there is a “humane” way to … kill someone. Sure, the second inmate, Charles Warner, probably would have suffered an equally agonizing death. But isn’t this the whole point?

When I read about the crimes Lockett committed, I wish I could support capital punishment. When I read about what Warner did, I want to strangle him with my own hands. But revenge is not the same thing as justice, and karmic retribution is not a power I trust government to exercise. The death penalty has no place in a civilized society.

Lockett raped, brutalized and murdered an 19-year-old woman who had graduated from high school just two weeks earlier, shooting her and then burying her alive. Lockett and his accomplices also beat and robbed a 23-year-old man and raped an 18-year-old woman. The crimes took place in 1999; Lockett has been awaiting execution since 2000.

Warner, the other man who was to die in the Oklahoma execution chamber Tuesday, was convicted in 1999 of raping and murdering an 11-month-old child who was the daughter of his live-in girlfriend. The baby suffered unspeakable abuse.

The question is not whether Lockett and Warner deserve to die; clearly they do, as far as I’m concerned. The question is whether our society, acting through the instrument of government, should kill them. I believe there is no way to impose capital punishment without betraying the moral standards that our justice system is theoretically designed to uphold. Put simply, when we murder we become murderers.

Perhaps the most powerful argument against the death penalty is that it is irreversible. Sometimes, judges and juries make honest mistakes and innocent people may be condemned to death. Some studies have shown an apparent racial bias in the way capital punishment is meted out, with blacks who kill whites more likely than other defendants to end up on death row.

Read more at The Washington Post