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January 17 2014

09:01

Week In The News: Bad Water, School Shooting, Net Neutrality

Poisoned water in West Virginia. Net neutrality takes a hit. Another school shooting – New Mexico. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Water buffaloes are made available to local residents in South Charleston, W.V. to fill coolers and other containers at the GeStamp Stamping Plant-South Charleston Sunday morning, Jan. 12, 2014. The ban on using water for drinking, washing and cleaning remains in effect following the chemical spill Thursday in the Elk River that has contaminated the public water supply in nine counties. (AP)

Water buffaloes are made available to local residents in South Charleston, W.V. to fill coolers and other containers at the GeStamp Stamping Plant-South Charleston Sunday morning, Jan. 12, 2014. The ban on using water for drinking, washing and cleaning remains in effect following the chemical spill Thursday in the Elk River that has contaminated the public water supply in nine counties. (AP)

Guests

John Heilemann, national affairs editor at New York Magazine and MSNBC political analyst. Co-author with Mark Halperin of “Double Down: Game Change 2012” and “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin and the Race of a Lifetime.” (@jheil)

Nancy Cordes, Congressional correspondent for CBS News.  (@nancycordes)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

CNN: ’Pay to play’ on the Web?: Net neutrality explained — “How would you like to have to pay a fee to be able to stream YouTube videos at full speed? What if you liked downloading music from, say, Last.fm or Soundcloud, but those sites suddenly became infinitely slower than bigger sites like Amazon or iTunes? Those are the kind of major changes to the Internet some folks are envisioning after a federal court ruling this week on what’s come to be called ‘net neutrality.’”

Politico: House approves bipartisan spending bill — “The House approved and sent to the Senate a landmark $1.1 trillion spending bill that fills in the blanks of December’s budget agreement and sets a new template for appropriations for the remainder of President Barack Obama’s second term. Adopted 359-67, the giant measure literally touches every corner of government. And more than any single document to date, it defines the new budget reality that faces the president and his activist agenda.”

Reuters: Pregnant women warned off West Virginia water in cleared areas — “One week after the spill into the Elk River prompted authorities to order some 300,000 people not to drink or wash with their tap water, officials have cleared more than 200,000 of them to start drinking the water again after tests showed levels below the 1 part per million level safety standard set by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But pregnant women should continue to steer clear of the water in an ‘abundance of caution’ until the chemical is completely undetectable, West Virginia American Water said.”

January 16 2014

22:51

Latest From Cairo: ‘The Vote Was About Everything But The Constitution’

Our Thursday, Jan. 16 hour on the latest constitutional referendum in Egypt tracked the progress of a country torn by protests and political instability ever since the spontaneous 2011 uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.

The constitutional referendum this week, written largely by the Egyptian military currently running the country, is said to have garnered as much as 98% percent in favor during two days of voting. McClatchy Newspaper’s Middle East bureau chief Nancy Youssef joined us from Cairo to break down the Egyptian mood, meaning and future.

She explained that the “yes” vote was a prediction even before voting finished.

“That was the presumption even before the balloting count began because the media campaign was so aggressive, urging people to vote, that voting yes was a reaffirmation of the 25 of January Revolution in 2011, a reaffirmation of what they call the second revolution on June 30th, the one that lead to Mohamed Morsi’s ouster. And frankly, there was a feeling that, those who voted no there was a fear at least that they could face arrest, and they certainly were silenced in terms of posting campaign posters and outwardly urging people to vote no. And so, the assumption has always been that this would go forward and the initial count puts the approval as high as 98 percent.”

The vote was also seen as a referendum on the powers and leadership of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, an unannounced but highly favored front-runner in the future presidential campaign in the country.

“That’s right. And also that it’s a sort of a count, and a referendum on General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Minister of Defense, the de facto leader of Egypt, the one who announced Morsi’s ouster and the suspension of the Morsi constitution. He’s the presumed front-runner for the still unannounced presidential elections here and so this vote was in a sense about everything but the constitution. About where Egypt is, the state of the military, on Sisi and for some, the sort of death knell for the Muslim Brotherhood and its vision for Egypt. “

The new constitution is a far cry from broad-based popular democracy, Youssef pointed out.

“In fact, the new constitution allows the current Minister of Defense, Sisi, to remain in office for eight years. regardless of who is elected president. And so it begs the question of what would happen if he did run, certainly it suggests that he would have a say in terms of who would become the Defense Minster if he became president and it really reaffirms the military’s grip back on the governance of this country. I think what’s confusing for so many people is this is essentially the use of a democratic process to affirm the return of a quasi police state.”

The referendum gave big numbers to the “yes” side, but it hardly a popular cause, Youssef said.

“I can tell you, Having been here for two years and having covered several elections, that anecdotal the polling stations were not as full as they once were, the ballot boxes were not as full as they once were and the process was not as transparent as it had been in the past, where we had thousands, sixteen thousand monitors in the past, we had a fraction of that number this time. It certainly felt different in the sense of a transparent, open process where there was suspense, if you will. This time, everybody went in knowing the results. And the only question was how many people would come out to vote and how big the margin would be in favor of the constitution. That said, the government position is that the turnout was higher this time than it was during the 2012 vote for the Morsi constitution, with no real independent monitors consistently at the polling stations, there’s no real way to question or validate that number”

The next round of elections still hasn’t been scheduled, but much of the political climate in the country remains on edge.

“We’re still waiting to find out, there’s been some discussion about whether there would be  parliamentary elections or presidential election first. I should note that Sisi’s remarks — [that he would run for President if the people asked him to] that you mention I think were a week ago — are very reminiscent of General Abdel Nasser’s comments, who was the first president of Egypt after the overthrow of the King, he took office in 1954 and he used that language as well. And it’s important because one of the things that Sisi has been trying to do, and the military has been trying to do is to remind Egypt of a time when the military had liberated them, had brought them freedom and an independent state. And so it’s very interesting when you go to places like Tahrir Square, you’ll see posters featuring Sisi’s picture and alongside of it is Nasser’s picture and not Mubarak’s, and so that language of that and in line with that love that many people here have for Nasser. We don’t know when elections will be. We expect an announcement in the next few weeks about that. The original announcement when the Morsi government was overthrown was that we would have elections by February. It doesn’t seem that we’re on the schedule to do that, but you never know in Egypt.”

How do you read the new constitution in Egypt? Is the troubled country finally on a path to established plural democracy? Or stuck in a military-controlled vortex?

Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Tumblr and @OnPointRadio.

07:01

Egypt, From Tahrir Square To Hard Reality

Egypt. After uprising, ousters, military takeover and a vote on a new constitution – we’ll look at dreams and hard realities in Egypt now.

Election workers look at a tablet for electric registration inside a polling station for the second day in the country's constitutional referendum at the Gamal Abdel Nasser school in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. The vote is a milestone in a military-backed political roadmap toward new elections for a president and a ballot-box test of public opinion on the coup that removed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood from power last July. (AP)

Election workers look at a tablet for electric registration inside a polling station for the second day in the country’s constitutional referendum at the Gamal Abdel Nasser school in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. The vote is a milestone in a military-backed political roadmap toward new elections for a president and a ballot-box test of public opinion on the coup that removed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood from power last July. (AP)

Guests

Nancy Youssef, Middle East bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers. (@nancyayoussef)

Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center, fellow at the Saban Center for the Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. (@shadihamid)

Karim Amer, producer of the new documentary “The Square.”  (@Karim_Amer33)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Egypt Holds Election Under Tight Security — “The violence has been fueled by the arrest of thousands of Mr. Morsi’s supporters and the killing of more than a thousand by security forces in street clashes. The government billed a “yes” vote in the constitutional referendum, which is scheduled to end Wednesday evening, as a stamp of approval for the military-backed government and its plans for a transition to democratic rule that include presidential and parliamentary elections.”

Politico Magazine: Hey General, It’s Me, Chuck. Again. — “Out of the 30 or so total calls, the U.S. government has provided 15 official readouts over six months, each with a similar set of messages to Sissi: Try to be less repressive and more inclusive. Egypt is the only country where Hagel has a regular, direct line of communication not just with the minister of defense but also the (effective) head of state, since Sissi happens to be both. With each passing month, the readouts become more surreal, with Hagel asking what has become one of the region’s more brutal, repressive regimes to be ‘democratic.’”

The Atlantic: The U.S. Is Giving Up On Middle East Democracy — And That’s A Mistake — “Today’s Middle East is a product, at least in part, of failed democratization, and one of the reasons it failed was the timid, half-hearted support of the Obama administration. That the U.S. is fundamentally limited in its ability to influence the internal politics of Arab states has been a consistent theme within the Obama administration as well as among analysts. No one denies that there are limits to what the U.S. can (or can’t) do; the question, however, is what those limits are.”

Watch A Trailer For ‘The Square’

October 24 2013

15:47

September 10 2013

11:31

Rewriting the Revolution

Shaimaa Khalil looks at the Arab Spring through the eyes of prominent writers Egypt's Sara Khorshid, Libyan author Ghazi Gheblawi, Tunisia's Samar Samir Mezghanni, Farea Al-Muslimi from Yemen and Syrian author Samar Yazbek.

August 21 2013

01:18

Aug 20, 2013 — Matthew Duss & Michael Hanna

January 20 2012

17:25

Egypt's Military Custodianship

Nearly a year after the fall of Egypt's long-time dictator, the country’s military remains in control but has promised to transfer power by July. January 18, 2012 http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2012/01/18/egypt-s-military-custodianship/8ypb

January 17 2012

17:23

Dispatch from Port Said: An Observer’s Perspective on Egypt’s Pivotal Elections | Atlantic Council

April 30 2011

06:41

February 22 2011

00:29

NPR: The Revolution Will Be Tweeted

Andy Carvin (@acarvin), senior strategist for NPR's social media desk, discusses his recent work on Twitter. He's been tweeting about protests in Egypt and Tunisia, now Libya and Bahrain. Carvin has sought multiple sources on the ground and reported on the minute-by-minute revelations. Huffduffed from http://www.npr.org/2011/02/21/133943604/The-Revolution-Will-Be-Tweeted

February 13 2011

20:19

TummelVision 52: Paul Ford asks why wasn't I consulted?

Writer Paul Ford (a.k.a., Ftrain.com) joins Kevin and Deb to talk about the Egyptian revolution, whether Arianna Huffington is a tummler, and the ultimate question of the entire Internet: Why Wasn’t I Consulted?

February 12 2011

11:04

TummelVision 52: Paul Ford asks why wasn't I consulted?

Writer Paul Ford (a.k.a., Ftrain.com) joins Kevin and Deb to talk about the Egyptian revolution, whether Arianna Huffington is a tummler, and the ultimate question of the entire Internet: Why Wasn’t I Consulted?

February 05 2011

22:18

Egypt's Military, Inc.

So far, the Egyptian military has largely sided with the protesters in the streets of Cairo. This is not only because the military supports the people; it's also because the military sells the people lots of stuff. On today's Planet Money, we look at the Egyptian military's deep business ties to everything from dishwashers to resort hotels. And we consider how those ties influence how the military responds to the crisis.

January 30 2011

17:59

President Obama responds to Egypt's unrest

Barack Obama has urged President Mubarak to deliver on his promise of reforms after the Egyptian leader defended the role of the security forces in suppressing protests which have left dozens dead. Mr Mubarak has dismissed his government but refuses to stand down. The BBC's Andrew North reports from Washington. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12314362

June 27 2010

21:35

A History of the World in 100 Objects: Rosetta Stone

Ancient Egyptian stela with text in Greek, heiroglyphs and demotic. The Rosetta Stone is one of the British Museum’s best known objects and a valuable key to the decipherment of hieroglyphs. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum tells the story of the Egypt of Ptolemy V. He also looks at the Greek kings who ruled in Alexandria and the struggle between the British and the French over the Middle East and their squabble over the stone. Historian Dorothy Thompson and the writer Ahdaf Soueif help untangle the tale. http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ahow/all

June 16 2010

15:00

The Age of Cleopatra

The real Cleopatra. A big new exhibit opens in Philadelphia. We get the inside story of Egypt’s immortalized queen.
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