Egyptian voters delivered a powerful victory to Islamists and the long-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in the first round of parliamentary elections, with hard-line Islamic parties winning around 65 percent of the vote. The news sparked widespread fears among Christians and others that Egypt could be plunged into tyranny once again while jeopardizing the security of neighboring Israel.
Official election results released on Sunday showed the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) garnering a sizeable lead with almost 37 percent of the vote. The more radical Salafi Muslim party Al Nour did far better than expected with close to 25 percent of the 10 million votes cast in the first of three rounds of elections.
The most significant secular party, the Egyptian Bloc, won less than 14 percent and came in third overall. But smaller moderate Islamic and secular parties performed poorly.
Questions are growing about what the new Egyptian government might look like after the first real elections in decades. It remains unclear whether the Brotherhood’s FJP will ally itself with the even more radical Islamist parties or form a coalition with liberal groups.
In the midst of allegations of police brutality and police aggression at the OWS protests, the U.S. Senate approved a bill that is said to “explicitly create a police state”: the National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA, passed by a vote of 93 to 7, virtually stated that all of the United States may be considered a battlefield, and therefore the American military is permitted to indefinitely detain any American perceived to be a threat.
Several amendments were proposed by both Democrats and Republican Senators, which would have deleted the dangerous provisions that would allow the indefinite detention of American citizens. While most of those amendments were overwhelming voted down, a single compromise amendment was passed that was intended to quell fears that American citizens may be imprisoned indefinitely, though skeptics remain uncomfortable with the final outcome.
An interim Prime Minister with a socialist background was selected on November 27 after U.S.-backed Yemeni “President” Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down last week. But after months of chaos and turmoil by competing factions rocked the Arabian nation, violence has still not subsided.
Hundreds of thousands of anti-regime protesters — socialists, Islamists, students, democracy advocates, and more — poured into the streets again in recent days, too. The demonstrators have refused to back down despite Saleh’s apparent departure from power.
At the top of the list of grievances: They want the tyrant and his minions to be prosecuted for corruption and the deadly crackdowns on protesters. At present, Saleh is supposed to leave power in peace — along with his assets plundered from the nation. Many of the people still demonstrating also believe the emerging "new" regime is too similar to the old U.S.-backed dictatorship.
Deadly fighting intensified over the weekend, just days after dictator Saleh signed a United Nations-backed deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreeing to completely hand over power in the coming weeks. The deal allows Saleh to officially resign once his “vice-president,” who has apparently taken charge, swears in a new government and passes legislation granting the despot and his cohorts immunity.
Republicans are amazing. It's possible they could lose the 2012 presidential election before 2011 is over. Really, they ought to rename that big river in Egypt (You know, “Duh Nile”) the Republican River. If you want to see an entire party in denial, with a few honorable and intelligent exceptions, look at virtually every Republican presidential hopeful but Ron Paul, the premier honorable and intelligent exception.
The others will talk about balancing the budget — though they believe the SuperCommittee should get that job done for them before any of them gets to the White House — but none, with the exception of Ron Paul, is in favor of cutting the military spending, euphemistically called the “defense budget.” Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania made that emphatically clear when I spoke with him in New Hampshire on Sunday. The same Rick Santorum has on op ed piece in today's New HampshireUnion Leader calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
No cuts for our worldwide military empire and no tax increases, praise God, but do pass an amendment that will tell us we must balance the budget.
What a wonderful opportunity for the Democrats to tell the country that these allegedly pro-life Republicans really love bombs more than babies — more than old folks, too, whose votes will be up for grabs in 2012.
Well, now they have done it. On Tuesday a bipartisan total of 61 Senators voted for and only 37 voted against provisions in latest Defense Authorization Act that would authorize the President of the United States to arrest and detain indefinitely, without charges or trial, people suspected of being enemies, or linked to enemies of the United States.
Most Democrats voted against the provisions but only two Republicans voted nay — despite the fact that it is the Republicans more than the Democrats who talk about the importance of abiding by the Constitution. The two Republican Senators who have both read and respected the Constitution of the United States and therefore voted against the travesty were Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
The vote is such a blatant thumbing of senatorial noses at the Constitution of the United States that it might even be called revolutionary — or counterrevolutionary, meaning that it is an attempt to at least partially overthrow the revolution against the tyranny of the British crown beginning with the Declaration of Independence in 1776. When former Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) was criticized by some of his Senate colleagues for following a line of reasoning that is “pre-911,” the Senator, who cast the lone Senate vote against the controversial Patriot Act, replied that his critics were exhibiting a manner of reasoning that might be called “pre-1776.”
“I cannot comprehend how my teenage grandson was killed by a Hellfire missile,” a grieving grandfather complained to Time magazine, “how nothing was left of him except small pieces of flesh. Why? Is America safer now that a boy was killed?”
President Obama had authorized the drone strike that killed the 16-year-old American boy in October. He had also authorized a different drone strike in Yemen that killed the boy’s father, Anwar al-Awlaki, two weeks earlier. Anwar al-Awlaki had attached himself to the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Like his son, he was a native-born American and U.S. citizen and had never been formally charged with a crime. But Obama stressed in a press conference after the drone killing of the elder Awlaki that the father had been killed because he had taken “the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans.”
In what may be a tale too bizarre to be believed by millions of Americans, the U.S. Senate appears ready to pass a bill that will designate the entire earth, including the United States and its territories, one all-encompassing “battlefield” in the global “war on terror” and authorize the detention of Americans suspected of terrorist ties indefinitely and without trial or even charges being filed that would necessitate a trial.
The bill could come to a vote as early as today, according to a bulletin issued by the American Civil Liberties Union. The legislation “goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans,” the ACLU statement said, describing the bill as having moved toward passage while most Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving and a long holiday weekend for millions of U.S. workers. “The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself,” the ACLU warned.
Labeled the National Defense Authorization Act, S. 1867 was drafted in secret by Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and approved in a closed-door committee meeting, according to the ACLU statement.
Campaigning in New Hampshire earlier this month, Mitt Romney referred to the automatic cuts in defense spending that are supposed to go into effect as a result of the failure of the so-called “Super Committee,” saying: “We cannot put America’s safety in jeopardy by virtue of the failure of this committee.” And Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), during a presidential candidates' debate in October, expressed a similar sentiment regarding military cuts: “We can’t do that to our brave men and women who are on the ground fighting for us.”
It is curious that among so many “conservatives” there is such explicit intent to preserve the size of the federal government. While it is true that the Constitution does provide authority to the legislative branch of the federal government to “provide for the common defense” of our nation, the current spending level of the Pentagon far exceeds that level necessary to carry out this constitutional mandate. Not only that, but the automatic cuts associated with the failure of the super committee are not cuts in the absolute sense, but cuts in future planned spending. Even if these cuts are made, defense spending would still increase, but not as much as otherwise.
When Congress ceded its authority to a single committee, that committee was tasked with presenting a plan to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Failure to accomplish this goal would result in a slate of “automatic cuts” in the same amount, $600 billion of which would be siphoned from future planned spending for the Department of Defense.
Outraged over a weekend U.S. and NATO attack that killed 25 Pakistani soldiers and wounded more than a dozen others, the government of Pakistan has taken prompt retaliatory action. Supply lines through the nation for the American-led coalition occupying Afghanistan were shut down immediately and, according to the Interior Minister, permanently. Pakistani officials are also demanding that U.S. air bases in the country be vacated within two weeks.
"Pakistan's sovereignty was attacked early this morning," said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani the day of the incident. "This is our Pakistan and we have to defend it." Other Pakistani officials also vented their fury over the attack and demanded swift retaliation.
Citizens were outraged, too. Headlines in national newspapers spoke of “murders” and an act of war. According to news reports, thousands of Pakistanis protested the attack as well, shouting “down with America” at U.S. diplomatic posts across the country.
"America is attacking our borders. The government should immediately break ties with it," a Pakistani housewife at an anti-American demonstration in Karachi was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency. "America wants to occupy our country but we will not let it do that."