bastille month or regime change

” He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch” ….There is little direct proof of this quote attributed to by Roosevelt on the subject of Anastasio Somoza…Some forty years later, CIA chief William Casey , discussing the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega , said, “He’s a bastard, but he’s our bastard.”

David Keyes: The Egyptian government's ruthless repression of Internet activists shows no signs of easing. On the contrary, one of Egypt's leading young bloggers attested on condition of anonymity that the regime's crackdowns have only gotten more sophisticated with every passing month. Though technology has dramatically increased dissidents' capacity to organize and protest, Princeton historian Bernard Lewis told me that it also gives modern Middle Eastern dictators the ability to "surveil, control, and repress undreamt of by Haroun al Rashid, Suliman the Magnificent, al-Hajjaj" and other autocrats of yore. In the case of Egypt, the familiar dictum that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing is far from sufficient.Evil triumphs in Cairo because supposedly good men in the West openly and unapologetically fund and arm it. America has supplied Egypt with approximately $50 billion of aid (primarily military) since Hosni Mubarak came to power three decades ago. Stability was supposedly bought at the price of liberty--a fool's bargain. Instead, Egypt remains impoverished, illiterate, autocratic, corrupt, and repressive, not exactly the conditions for lasting stability or peace. Read More: image:

“The Somoza regime was extremely crooked. With his friends and family in every important office, Somoza greed ran unchecked. The government seized profitable farms and industries and then sold them to family members at absurdly low rates. Somoza named himself director of the railway system, and then used it to move his goods and crops at no charge to himself. Those industries that they could not personally exploit, such as mining and timber, they leased to foreign (mostly U.S.) companies for a healthy share of the profits. He and his family made untold millions of dollars. His two sons continued this level of corruption, making Somoza Nicaragua one of the most crooked countries in the history of Latin America, which is really saying something.” Read More:

Roosevelt was also alleged to have said, “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”….

Karem Amer: I left the area shortly after that, feeling that the situation wasn’t safe. I felt that it had been a strange event, like somebody had been plotting something behind the scenes in advance of the large demonstrations were expected tomorrow. It was as if the regime wanted to make tomorrow’s demonstrations appear as though they were organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, to send a message to the West that the Brotherhood are the only alternative to Mubarak’s regime, and that they are the ones who are agitating in the streets. In my view, this is naive. The Muslim Brotherhood did not organize nor participate in any of the events so far.... read more:

You have to question  whether what has transpired in Tunisia and now Egypt could possibly be contagious enough to infect North America. Or for that matter, even Israel to get a whiff of the smelling salts and do an early spring cleaning of the rot that has accumulated. Could Americans take to the streets and demand regime change? Certainly the famous middle-class on which much of the model’s stability is based on has taken some serious head shots; call it a concussion.

“The protests were touched off by a rash of self-immolations. Two weeks ago, three Egyptian men publicly set themselves on fire in three separate incidents to protest government indifference to rising food prices. Recent weeks have seen massive protests throughout North Africa and the Middle East, with demonstrators demanding lower food prices and an end to government corruption and political oppression. The first wave of protests began when a Tunisian man set himself on fire, exasperated that he could not feed his family. That act inspired multiple copycat immolations in other Arab countries, and ignited the ire of citizens from Algeria to Jordan.” Read More: a

"CAIRO: A man was arrested while attempting to set himself on fire outside the Egyptian parliament in downtown Cairo on Thursday, according to a security source. Parliament’s security personnel arrested Saeed Abu Amany before he set himself on fire. He was turned over for prosecution, added the source. Egypt’s Al-Azhar University has warned those considering such an act that suicide, for any reason, is banned in Islam. At least five Egyptians have set themselves on fire in Cairo and Alexandria since Monday, protesting unemployment and living conditions in the country." Read More:

Interestingly, those who went long on oil over the past two weeks made some nice gains. A sinking price followed by a spectacular leap. With all the panic Ben Bernanke can sleep with a clear conscience that a little fear can do a lot of inflating. And the S&P 500 takes a dive after touching 1300…. and John Paulson is off the front burner. Katharine Burton: : John Paulson, whose Paulson & Co. hedge fund made $15 billion betting against subprime mortgages in 2007, earned about $5 billion last year, according to a person with knowledge of the firm.

Executives and employees hold $14.9 billion, or 42 percent, of the funds’ $35.9 billion in assets, according to a performance report sent to clients this month. Most of that belongs to Paulson, who has reinvested his gains, after taxes and personal expenses, back into the funds since opening the firm in 1994, the report said. The manager earned $3.7 billion in 2007, according to Alpha magazine… Read More: a

"# The performance last year.....paled in comparison to his 2007 returns, when Mr. Paulson made a huge wager against subprime mortgages and his funds scored gains of as much as 590%. # The hedge-fund business now is so big that some managers are hinting they'll return money to clients instead of investing it. Handling so much cash can make it hard to generate big gains in some trading strategies. # Mr. Tepper, for example, has told some investors to expect to receive some cash back in 2011. He returned $500 million to investors last year. This year, he may return several billion dollars, according to people close to the matter. ... Read More: photo:


What to make of Twitter being blocked? Mr. Keyes says it’s unusual. “Egypt is known for not blocking many Web sites,” preferring instead to block dissidents themselves by arresting them. He mentions other sites that have been blocked in addition to Twitter:, a video streaming website;, a newspaper that has dedicated a full spread to the protests; and, an opposition website headed by Ibrahim Issa.

Is it true, as some claim, that the Muslim Brotherhood is behind the protests, and that a replacement of Hosni Murbarak’s regime would likely be a radical Islamist government that would break the peace treaty with Israel and be even less free that Mubarak’s?…

Caravaggio. " She strikes once with all her strength, and then strikes again. With this, his head falls away from his body. She then rolls the headless body off the bed and pulls down the luxurious bed curtains, bundling them up so they can be carried. Pausing for a moment to gather her strength, she picks up the twitching head and takes it out to her maid, who places it in the food bag. (This bloodthirsty incident has been popular with artists. See BIBLE ART: JUDITH for about thirty paintings of Judith by some of the world's great painters.) Without arousing suspicion, the two of them pass through the camp as they have done on the previous nights, but instead of heading towards the spring they circle up the mountain towards Bethulia. Once there, they call to the guards to open the gates and let them in. Inside the safety of the walls Judith pulls out the grisly contents of the bag and shows it to the people, who are astounded by what she has done.... Read More:

Mr. Keyes says he spoke last night with Kareem Amer, an Egyptian blogger recently released after four years in prison for criticizing Mubarak on his blog and for “insulting Islam.” Mr. Amer reported, “these are regular people,” with the Egyptian Christians known as Copts among the protesters and little visible Islamist presence. Mr. Keyes echoed Mr. Amer in suggesting that the current Egyptian government regime is playing up the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood as a way of gathering support from the West. Read More:

What should President Obama do?

Mr. Keyes suggests, for starters, that he “tell Secretary of State Clinton to stop talking about how stable the Egyptian regime is,” as Mrs. Clinton did yesterday. Read More: a

Guardian: But the former UN nuclear weapons chief stopped short of calling on his supporters to take to the streets, prompting scathing criticism from opposition campaigners who believe ElBaradei is squandering a rare opportunity to bring an end to President Hosni Mubarak's three decades of autocratic rule. Today Ahmed Hashem el-Sayed, 25, from the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, died in hospital after setting himself alight on the roof of his home. It was the latest in a series of self-immolation incidents that have spread through Egypt over the past two days, after the Tunisian vegetable trader Muhammad Bouazizi's self-immolation provided the catalyst for the toppling of his country's president last more:

David Keyes: Last December, 24-year-old blogger Kareem Amer’s final appeal was rejected and he now enters his fourth year in prison for the unthinkable crimes of criticizing Egypt’s dictator and “insulting” the predominant religion. A steady parade of Western diplomats have come through Cairo in the past four years and it is fair to ask how many times Kareem’s name has come up. If ever there was a man whose struggle symbolized the values of America–it is him. He is a staunch advocate of Jeffersonian separation of religion and state and is a living exemplar of Patrick Henry’s dictum: Give me liberty or give me death. In his last blog post before his arrest, Amer, who hopes one day to open a human-rights law firm, wrote “I shall not recant, not even by an inch, from any word I have written.”…

"Flames also threatened the Egyptian National Museum, where Army units secured the building with spectacular treasures such as the death mask of the boy king Tutankhamun. Young men could be seen forming a human barricade in front of the museum to protect it. " read more: photo:

I asked one of Egypt’s leading female bloggers, who requested that I not publish her name, if the recent crackdowns increased fear in the blogging community. “No!” she responded defiantly. “The opposite always happens. When someone deprives you of something, you want it more. Kareem Amer is serving four years in jail because of blogging, but this actually increased the number of bloggers not decreased it! The more activists jailed, the more new activists appear.”…

---Everything's lovely – as long as you play my way. And with it all packed into the 12th house, the power is hidden. For example, the United States may think it holds the whip hand with this regime because of all those billions of dollars in aid, but I think the truth is the opposite. The government of Egypt really steers that relationship, which, by the way it does not consider a partnership in anyway – more, "You give me what I want and I won't scream". What's more, far from making Egypt grateful and cowed with all that cash, it has the opposite effect. The same result you get from showering a child with sweets all the time – a mixture of resentment and entitlement.--- read more:

…The primary explanation for the West’s appeasement of Egyptian autocracy is faulty priorities. Liberty is playing second fiddle to stability and thus neither has been achieved. Rather, the seeds of misery, terror, extremism, and poverty are being sown in Egypt with open acquiescence from the West. Read More:

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