Monday, January 31, 2011
Image via WikipediaEgypt's Protests; Day Seven: Anti-Mubarak Demonstrators Stay Put : The Two-Way : NPR
Thousands of protesters who want Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down are in Cairo's Tahrir Square again today, as the demonstrations that have rocked that nation are in their seventh day. As NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported for Morning Edition, the most populous Arab nation has been turned "on its head" by the crisis.
We'll keep following the news from Egypt as the day continues. To get started, here's a quick look at some of what's being reported at this hour:
— "Egyptian protesters have called for a massive demonstration on Tuesday in a bid to force out president Hosni Mubarak from power," Al Jazeera says. Organizers hope to have "more than a million people on the streets of the capital Cairo, as anti-government sentiment reaches a fever pitch."
— The Associated Press says that "the coalition of groups, dominated by youth movements but including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, said it wants the march from Tahrir, or Liberation Square, to force Mubarak to step down by Friday. Spokesmen for several of the groups said their representatives were meeting Monday afternoon to develop a unified strategy for ousting Mubarak. The committee will also discuss whether Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei will be named as a spokesman for the protesters, they said. ElBaradei, a pro-democracy advocate and former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, invigorated anti-Mubarak feeling with his return to Egypt last year."
— The BBC reports that its correspondents "say all the signs continue to suggest that the only change the protesters will settle for is Mr Mubarak's removal from office. Meanwhile, Moodys Investor Services has downgraded Egypt's bond rating and changed its outlook from stable to negative, following a similar move by Fitch Ratings last week. Both cited the political crisis."
NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Novarro said the protesters in Tahrir Square are determined to stay until Mubarak goes. But "they're not anointing anyone" as the next leader of Egypt, she told ME host Steve Inskeep.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
News Desk: Who Is Omar Suleiman? The New Egyptian Vice-President: The New Yorker
One of the “new” names being mentioned as a possible alternative to President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Omar Suleiman, is actually not so new to anyone who has followed the American policy of renditions for terror suspects. After dissolving his cabinet yesterday, Mubarak appointed Suleiman vice-president, and according to many commentators he is poised to be a potential successor, and an alternative to Mubarak’s son and intended heir until now, Gamal Mubarak. Suleiman is a well-known quantity in Washington. Suave, sophisticated, and fluent in English, he has served for years as the main conduit between the United States and Mubarak. While he has a reputation for loyalty and effectiveness, he also carries some controversial baggage from the standpoint of those looking for a clean slate on human rights. As I described in my book “The Dark Side,” since 1993 Suleiman has headed the feared Egyptian general intelligence service. In that capacity, he was the C.I.A.’s point man in Egypt for renditions—the covert program in which the C.I.A. snatched terror suspects from around the world and returned them to Egypt and elsewhere for interrogation, often under brutal circumstances.
As laid out in greater detail by Stephen Grey, in his book “Ghost Plane,” beginning in the nineteen-nineties, Suleiman negotiated directly with top Agency officials. Every rendition was greenlighted at the highest levels of both the U.S. and Egyptian intelligence agencies. Edward S. Walker, Jr., a former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, described Suleiman as “very bright, very realistic,” adding that he was cognizant that there was a downside to “some of the negative things that the Egyptians engaged in, of torture and so on. But he was not squeamish, by the way.”
Technically, U.S. law required the C.I.A. to seek “assurances” from Egypt that rendered suspects wouldn’t face torture. But under Suleiman’s reign at the intelligence service, such assurances were considered close to worthless. As Michael Scheuer, a former C.I.A. officer who helped set up the practice of rendition, later testified before Congress, even if such “assurances” were written in indelible ink, “they weren’t worth a bucket of warm spit.”
- Protesters dominate central Cairo (bbc.co.uk)
- Factbox: Omar Suleiman, new Egyptian vice-president (reuters.com)
- World pressure on Mubarak grows (bbc.co.uk)
- You: Egypt protests: Mubarak in frantic bid to cling to power (guardian.co.uk)
Image via WikipediaSouthern Sudan Votes For Secession By 99 Percent : NPR
January 30, 2011
Southern Sudan's referendum commission said Sunday that more than 99 percent of voters in the south opted to secede from the country's north in a vote held earlier this month.
The announcement drew cheers from a crowd of thousands that gathered in Juba, the dusty capital of what may become the world's newest country.
The weeklong vote, held in early January and widely praised for being peaceful and for meeting international standards, was a condition of a 2005 peace agreement that ended a north-south civil war that lasted two decades and killed 2 million people.
The head of the commission's southern bureau, Justice Chan Reec Madut, said Sunday that voter turnout in the 10 states in the south was also 99 percent. He said only some 16,000 voters in the south chose to remain united with northern Sudan, while 3.7 million chose to separate.
In northern Sudan, 58 percent of voters chose secession, said Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil, chairman of the referendum commission. He said some 60 percent of eligible voters participated.
Southern Sudanese voters in eight foreign countries overwhelmingly supported secession, he said, with 99 percent support for secession among the 97 percent of voters who participated.
In the United States, he said, more than 99 percent of the 8,500 southerners who cast votes chose secession.
"These results lead to a change of situation," said Khalil after he read the results. "That change relates only to the constitutional form of relationship between north and south. North and south are drawn together in indissoluble geographic and historic bonds."
Referendum commission officials did not announce an overall percentage total for all votes cast. The commission's website said Sunday that 98.8 percent of voters chose secession, but noted that the figure may change.
If the process stays on track, Southern Sudan will become the world's newest country in July. Border demarcation, oil rights and the status of the contested region of Abyei still have to be negotiated.
Southern Sudanese president Salva Kiir also gave remarks at the results ceremony, speaking mostly in Arabic.
"We are still moving forward," Kiir said in English. "The struggle continues."
Kiir thanked Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for his leadership and for "making peace possible."
Kiir said the south will declare independence on July 9, but not before.
"We are not going to put down the flag of Sudan until July 9," he said.
The event marked the release of the first official primary results from the self-determination vote. The results will not be finalized until February.
But Sunday's announcement did not stop people from celebrating.
"I'm very happy because today we have determined our destiny," said Anna Kaku, 42, who dressed up for the ceremony and joined the spontaneous dancing that followed Kiir's address. "We fought for so many years, and now we have done this peacefully."
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Protesters carry corpse through streets of Cairo - A group of protesters carry what appears to be a deceased member of their group through the streets of Cairo, Egypt, while continuing to demand the removal of President Mubarak. CNBC's Yousef Gamal El-Din reports.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Image via WikipediaMubarak Orders Ministers to Resign but Backs Armed Response to Egypt Protests - NYTimes.com
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and ALAN COWELL
CAIRO — President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt appeared on television early Saturday morning and ordered his government to resign, but backed his security forces’ attempts to contain the surging unrest around the country that has shaken his three-decade-long authoritarian rule.
He did not offer to step down himself and spent much of his speech explaining the need for stability, saying that while he was “on the side of freedom,” his job was to protect the nation from chaos.
In Washington, President Obama held a news conference to say he had spoken to Mr. Mubarak immediately after his televised comments and pressed the Egyptian president to live up to his promise to guard both security and freedom for the Egyptian people. “He has a responsibility to give meaning to those words,” Mr. Obama said, adding that his administration has stressed that Mr. Mubarak must enact political reforms.
In a short, but strongly worded speech, Mr. Obama also called on Egypt to cease blocking access to the Internet and urged protesters to refrain from violence. Earlier in the day, his spokesman said America’s $1.5 billion aid package for Egypt would be reviewed if demonstrators were dealt with harshly.
After hours of intensifying protests Friday, Mr. Mubarak ordered the military into the streets to reinforce police struggling to contain the riots by tens of thousands of Egyptians calling for him to step down.
He also imposed an overnight curfew nationwide, but demonstrators defied the order, remaining in the streets of the capital, setting fire to police cars and burning the ruling party headquarters to the ground. As smoke from the fires blanketed one of the city’s main streets along the Nile, crowds rushed the Interior Ministry and state television headquarters, but the military moved into the buildings to establish control. Protesters also tried to attack the American Embassy.
Senior Egyptian military commanders cut short a previously scheduled visit to the Pentagon to rush home to Cairo, American military officials said.
The demonstrations, on what protesters called a “day of wrath,” were on a scale far beyond anything in the memory of most residents and struck several cities besides the capital, including Suez, Alexandria and Port Said. At least six people died, according to news reports, and the Interior Ministry said nearly 900 were injured in the Cairo area alone.
The unrest in Egypt — fueled by frustrations over government corruption, economic stagnation and a decided lack of political freedom — came after weeks of turmoil across the Arab world that toppled one leader in Tunisia and encouraged protesters to overcome deep-rooted fears of their authoritarian leaders and take to the streets. But Egypt is a special case: a heavyweight in Middle East diplomacy, in part because of its peace treaty with Israel, and a key ally of the United States.
The country, often the fulcrum on which currents in the region turn, also has one of the largest and most sophisticated security forces in the Middle East.
Calling out the military is a signal of how dramatically the situation had spiraled out of control after four days of demonstrations. The army, one of the country’s most powerful and respected institutions, prefers to remain behind the scenes and has not been sent into the streets since 1986.
But the police, a much reviled force prone to violent retribution against anyone who publicly defies the state, appeared unable to quell the unrest despite a heavy-handed response that included beatings of protesters and the firing of a water cannon at Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei. In several cases in the capital and elsewhere, the police were forced to back down by throngs of protesters.
In one of the most arresting scenes of the day, in Alexandria, protesters snatched batons, shields and helmets from the police. Honking cars drove up and down a main street, holding police riot shields and truncheons out the windows as trophies.
In both Cairo and Alexandria, some army patrols were greeted with applause and waves from the crowds — a seemingly incongruous response from demonstrators who say they want to bring down the president. But many people support the army for its success in shocking the Israeli Army with a surprise attack in 1973 and for its perceived reluctance, at least in the past, to get involved in politics.
As the chaos continued, it appeared some Egyptians might be taking steps on their own to stop any destruction. An Al Jazeera correspondent, who had spoken by phone to eye witnesses at the National Museum, said that thousands of protesters had formed a “human shield” around the museum to defend from possible looting of antiquities, though there were no confirmed reports that such looting had begun.
In Suez, east of Cairo and the site of some of the most violent clashes, Reuters reported that protesters were carrying a man’s body through the streets as one demonstrator shouted, “They have killed my brother.” Details of his death were not immediately clear. Jazeera reported that at least three buildings were on fire in the city late in the day, including a liquor store and a building belonging to a particularly unpopular member of the ruling party.
According to the Associated Press, Egyptian security officials said they had placed Mr. ElBaradei, the country’s most prominent opposition figure, under house arrest, but that could not be independently confirmed and reports throughout the day had been contradictory.
After being doused by the water cannon, Mr. ElBaradei took shelter in a nearby mosque. “This is an indication of a barbaric regime,” said Mr. ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. “By doing this they are ensuring their destruction is at hand.”
Early in the day in Cairo, protesters set fire to a police truck as police lobbed tear gas to try to block to a key bridge across the Nile from the island of Zamalek, After battling for hours, protesters succeeding in driving the police from the bridge.
Television images showed plainclothes security policemen beating protesters, and dramatic video footage on Al Jazeera showed a crowd pushing what they identified as a burning police car off a bridge.
At Al Azhar in old Cairo, thousands of people poured from one of the most iconic mosques of Sunni Islam, chanting “The people want to bring down the regime.” The police fired tear gas and protesters hurled rocks as they sought to break though police lines. From balconies above the street, residents threw water and lemons to protesters whose eyes were streaming from tear gas.
In a stunning turn of events during the day in Alexandria, one pitched battle ended with protesters and police shaking hands and sharing water bottles on the same street corner where minutes before they were exchanging hails of stones and tear-gas canisters were arcing through the sky. Thousands stood on the six-lane coastal road then sank to their knees and prayed.
Internet and cellphone connections have been disrupted or restricted in Cairo, Alexandria and other places, cutting off social-media Web sites that had been used to organize protests and complicating efforts by the news media to report on events on the ground. Some reports said journalists had been singled out by police who used batons to beat and charge protesters.
One cellphone operator, Vodafone, said on Friday that Egypt had told all mobile operators to suspend services in selected areas of the country. Vodafone, a British company, said it would comply with the order, Reuters reported.
In Alexandria, as soon as Friday prayers ended, a crowd of protesters streamed out of one mosque, chanting “Wake up, wake up son of my country. Come down Egyptians.”
Police there closed on the crowd, firing tear gas as the demonstrators pelted them with stones. A stone struck the officer firing the gas from the top of the truck and the truck pulled back, but reinforcements quickly arrived and officers marshaled a new offensive.
The protest in Alexandria turned into a block-by-block battle. The riot police managed to push the demonstrators one block back from the mosque, sealing it off from both sides and slowly advancing behind the tear-gas truck.
Several women shouted “dirty government,” leaning from the balconies of their high-rise apartments to hurl bottles down on the police. Officers pounded their clear shields with their billy clubs and chanted in unison.
“We wanted this to be a peaceful demonstration, but we are all Egyptians,” said Ahmed Mohammed Saleh, 26, a protester in Alexandria who had been struck by a rubber bullet.
In Cairo, too, an eerie silence fell in one section of the city at midafternoon, as hundreds of protesters began a prayer session in the middle of the street, according to live images from Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite channel. Protesters bowed their heads as smoke billowed into the air behind them from the skirmishes between demonstrators and riot police.
Despite predictions otherwise, there were only sporadic protests elsewhere in the region. The Yemeni capital of Sana, where thousands had gathered a day before, was quiet Friday. In Jordan, thousands also took to the streets after Friday prayers but the demonstrations were peaceful. Across the Middle East, attention seemed focused on Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country. Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, the most influential Arab satellite channels, broadcast nonstop coverage of the demonstrations in Cairo.
“It has blown up in Egypt,” read the front page of Al Akhbar, an influential leftist daily newspaper in Beirut. “Today all eyes are focused on the mosques in the land of Egypt, where the protests are expected to reach their peak.”
The protests across Egypt have underscored the blistering pace of events that have transformed the Arab world, particularly among regimes that have traditionally enjoyed the support of successive administrations in Washington.
Earlier this month, entrenched autocracies seemed confident of their ability to ride out the protests. But, just two weeks ago, on Jan. 14, President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia fled abruptly into exile after weeks of protest, and his departure emboldened demonstrators to take to the streets in other countries.
Images of the lowly challenging the mighty have been relayed from one capital to the next, partly through the aggressive coverage of Al Jazeera. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have given the protesters a potent weapon, enabling them to elude the traditional police measures to monitor and curb dissent. But various regimes have fallen back on a more traditional playbook, relying on security forces to face angry demonstrators on the streets.
On Thursday, the Muslim Brotherhood, which had remained formally aloof from the earlier protests, seemed to be seeking to align itself with the youthful and apparently secular demonstrators, saying it would support Friday’s protests. But it was unclear what role the Brotherhood had played in Friday’s protests, which seemed to be spearheaded by angry young people and to include a cross-section of Egyptians. Even some of the capital’s wealthiest neighborhoods such as Zamalek and Maddi were caught up in the turmoil.
David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Cairo and Alan Cowell from Paris. Reporting was contributed by Kareem Fahim, Mona El-Naggar, Liam Stack, Dawlat Magdy and Stephen Farrell in Cairo; Nicholas Kulish and Souad Mekhennet in Alexandria, Egypt; Anthony Shadid and Nada Bakri in Beirut, Lebanon; J. David Goodman, Maria Newman and Christine Hauser in New York; and Mark Landler, Elisabeth Bumiller and Andrew W. Lehren in Washington.
- Egyptian president asks Cabinet to resign (ajc.com)
- Echo of Egyptian anger in London (bbc.co.uk)
- Thousands on streets in biggest Egypt protests yet (guardian.co.uk)
Protesters, police clash in Egypt - Protesters in Cairo are calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down as unrest continues to spread. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Image via WikipediaBBC News - Egypt unrest: Alert as mass protests loom
Egyptian security forces are on high alert, with thousands of people expected to join anti-government rallies after Friday prayers.
The government says it is open to dialogue but also warned of "decisive measures" as the fourth day of violent protests loomed.
Widespread disruption has been reported to the internet and mobile phone messaging services.
There are also reports of arrests of opposition figures overnight.
The reported crackdown on the largest opposition movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, came after it said it would back the Friday protests.
On Thursday, Egyptian opposition figure and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei returned to Cairo, promising to join the street protests.
At least seven people have died since the protests began on Tuesday. They follow the so-called "Jasmine Revolution" in Tunisia, which saw President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali flee into exile.
Friday's rallies in Egypt are expected to be the biggest so far, with people being urged via internet sites to join the protests after attending prayers.
The protest organisers have called on people to come out in force, stressing that the religion of protesters is not relevant.
Late on Thursday, the Facebook and Twitter social websites had been disrupted along with mobile phone messaging, followed by loss of many internet services.
One internet user in Cairo, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the BBC the 3G was not working and SMS messages were not being received.
He said: "Tomorrow's protest may exceed Tuesday's numbers, and I think tension will be high. People are trying to stay safe and are moving around in groups."
Associated Press news agency reported that the elite special operations counterterrorism force, which is rarely seen on the streets, had been deployed to key locations in Cairo, including Tahrir Square, where earlier protests have been held.
Egypt's interior ministry has warned it will take "decisive measures" against the protesters.
Reuters news agency reported that a number of people associated with the Muslim Brotherhood were detained overnight.
It quoted a security source as confirming the authorities had ordered a crackdown. The source was quoted as saying: "We have orders for security sweeps of the Brotherhood."
Despite an official ban, the Muslim Brotherhood remains Egypt's largest and most organised opposition movement.
BBC Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, in Cairo, says political sources are saying that President Hosni Mubarak's security chiefs are telling him they can handle any trouble.
Mr Mubarak, 82, has not been seen in public since the protests began on Tuesday.
The Egyptian government tolerates little dissent and opposition demonstrations are routinely outlawed.
On Thursday, Mr Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party said it was ready for dialogue, but did not offer any concessions.
Safwat el-Sherif, the party's secretary general, said: "The NDP is ready for a dialogue with the public, youth and legal parties. But democracy has its rules and process. The minority does not force its will on the majority."
He also warned protesters to remain peaceful.
"I hope that all preachers at Friday prayers tomorrow are calling people to be peaceful in a clear, ritual way that never plays upon people's feelings to achieve an undesirable target."
On Thursday, Mr ElBaradei arrived in Cairo and said he would join the protests.
"I wish we did not have to go out on the streets to press the regime to act," he said.
Mr ElBaradei called on the government to "listen quickly, not use violence and understand that change has to come. There's no other option."
The US government, which counts Egypt as one of its most important allies in the Arab world, has so far been cautious in expressing support for either side.
President Barack Obama described the protests as the result of "pent-up frustrations", saying he had frequently pressed Mr Mubarak to enact reforms.
He urged both sides not to resort to violence.
On Thursday there were protests in Cairo, Suez and Ismailiya, while in the Sinai region, a young Bedouin man was shot dead by security forces.
Up to 1,000 people have been arrested.
In Suez, police fired rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and water cannon, witnesses said. A fire station was set alight by demonstrators.
One protester in the city told Reuters: "This is a revolution. Everyday we're coming back here."
Image by Getty Images via @daylifeCourt Allows Emanuel on Ballot for Chicago Mayor - NYTimes.com
CHICAGO — Rahm Emanuel’s bid to become mayor of this city may proceed, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, ending a week that had turned this city’s politics upside down, then back again.
The unanimous decision brought a close to months of legal debate over whether Mr. Emanuel qualified for the ballot, specifically whether his time in Washington as President Obama’s chief of staff meant that he had given up his residency status in Chicago, where he was born.
By Illinois state code, candidates for mayor are required to have resided in Chicago for at least one year before Election Day. Mr. Emanuel left the White House in October, and the election is Feb. 22, but Mr. Emanuel argued that he was still a Chicago resident because he owned a house here, paid taxes here, voted here, and left his most cherished possessions in the basement of his house here.
Moments after the ruling was issued late Thursday, Mr. Emanuel was shaking hands with voters at a downtown “L” train stop,, where many had yet to hear the outcome, and asked what had happened.
Mr. Emanuel, who appeared cheery as a mob of cameras rolled, said that he had no control over what had occurred but was pleased that the voters now had some sense of certainty for the election ahead.
“We stayed focused on the concerns of the voters,” Mr. Emanuel said of a week that had, however briefly, sent voters, election workers and other candidates into a tangle of confusion. The word “resident,” Mr. Emanuel advised, would no longer be permitted in his family’s regular Scrabble games. Then he was off to a televised debate of the candidates.
Legal experts said the State Supreme Court’s decision was probably a final answer to Mr. Emanuel’s situation, which has left this city puzzled and reeling, even as early voting is to start on Monday.
“This is the end of the road,” said Burt Odelson, a lawyer who represented two Chicago residents who had challenged Mr. Emanuel’s status, driven, in part, by a notion, that if city workers are required to live within city limits, a candidate for mayor should, too.
Throughout the challenges to Mr. Emanuel’s candidacy, he had confidently asserted that he would be allowed to run, and had proceeded with routine campaign events as if there was no crisis.
The decision is certain to come as a disappointment to the campaigns of other candidates — especially Gery Chico, a former mayoral chief of staff, and Carol Moseley Braun, a former United States senator — who would have benefited enormously from Mr. Emanuel’s removal from the ballot, and had seemed to have entirely new prospects of becoming mayor.
Not surprisingly, though, the other candidates were quick to play down the significance of the entire episode, insisting that they were pleased to at last move on with a real debate over Chicago’s crucial issues.
“Emanuel’s residency drama has made this election into a circus instead of a serious debate about the future of Chicago,” Mr. Chico said in a statement issued within moments of the decision. “With less than 30 days to go until Election Day, there is no time to waste. Game on.”
Miguel del Valle, the city clerk and another candidate, sounded a similar note: “As I have said throughout my campaign, this has served as a real distraction that has kept people from focusing on the issues that are of concern to the neighborhoods of the city of Chicago — our neighborhood schools, public safety, and fixing our budget deficit.”
Ever since Mayor Richard M. Daley, this city’s longest-serving mayor, announced in September that he would retire, Mr. Emanuel has been viewed as something of a front-runner. A wide array of would-be candidates has shrunk to six, and Mr. Emanuel has held significant leads in polling and fund-raising.
The election is nonpartisan, but all the major candidates are Democrats.
Before this past week of fast-shifting announcements — that he was off, then back on the ballot — some voters had begun to wonder not if Mr. Emanuel would win, but when. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote on Feb. 22, the top two vote-getters will move on to a runoff election on April 5.
In recent months, challenges to Mr. Emanuel’s candidacy were dismissed by a local election board, then by a trial judge. But on Monday, a panel of the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that Mr. Emanuel did not qualify to run, saying he had to physically live in the city — not just own property and pay taxes here — to run.
Mr. Emanuel’s lawyers balked at the interpretation, and appealed their case to the State Supreme Court, even as elections officials struggled with which ballot to print.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court’s seven justices overturned the ruling of the appeals panel, though two of the justices issued their own reasoning for allowing Mr. Emanuel to run. In the majority’s opinion, which was written by Justice Robert R. Thomas, a Republican, the justices raised sharp questions about what the appellate court had concluded, suggesting that such questions of residency had essentially been settled in this state for 150 years — until this week.
“Things changed, however, when the appellate court below issued its decision and announced that it was no longer bound by any of the law cited above,” Justice Thomas wrote, continuing later, “but was instead free to craft its own original standard for determining a candidate’s residency.”
The opinion repeatedly cited a case from 1867, in which an Illinois resident had been appointed as a judge, but had been challenged for not meeting a five-year residency requirement because his family had lived in Tennessee for eight months. That long-ago ruling — in the judge’s favor — focused on his intent (he refused to sell his Illinois law books, for instance), not on his physical location, the justices found. The same principles, the justice wrote, control Mr. Emanuel’s case, “plain and simple.”
Under the appellate court’s decision, the justices said, all sorts of circumstances would now come into question: Where does a member of Congress who spends several days a week in Washington reside legally? What about a state legislator?
“Under the appellate court’s test, considerable doubt would arise as to whether any of these people could meet a residency test that requires one year of ‘actually living’ or “actually residing’ in the municipality,” the majority wrote.
Two of the justices, Anne M. Burke and Charles E. Freeman, concurred with the overall outcome, but wrote that they did not consider the case “as clear-cut as the majority makes it out” to be. “Suffice it to say, therefore, that this court has not always spoken clearly on what is meant by residency, and the majority should acknowledge this fact,” the two wrote. They construed the case more narrowly, finding that the fact that Mr. Emanuel had rented out his Chicago home (still occupied by renters) did not mean he had given up his “permanent abode.”
Richard L. Hasen, an expert on election law who is a visiting professor at the University of California, Irvine, law school, said, “The decision puts the matter back where it belongs — in the hands of the voters.”
For election officials the ruling was a relief — not particularly for its content but for its finality. They started the week printing hundreds of thousands of ballots without Mr. Emanuel’s name (as the appellate court had ordered), but by Thursday night were about halfway through printing two million more, this time with his name (as the Supreme Court ordered when it agreed to consider the case).
Emma Graves Fitzsimmons contributed reporting from Chicago, and John Schwartz from New York.
- Emanuel booted off Chicago mayoral ballot (politico.com)
- Court rules Emanuel stays on ballot (politico.com)
- Court: Emanuel should be removed from mayoral ballot - chicagotribune.com (armwoodnews.com)
Image via WikipediaEgypt: More Protests Expected; Stock Market Plunges; Movement 'Growing' : The Two-Way : NPR
Some of the latest developments in Egypt, where a third day of anti-government protests is expected to get going any minute now:
— From Cairo, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson just told Morning Edition host Renee Montagne that "it's quiet for the moment, but it probably won't be for long." The pattern, Soraya said, is that "in the afternoon a lot of young people go into the streets ... [and] this movement seems to be growing."
— The BBC reports that its correspondent in Cairo, Jon Leyne, "says that while the protesters are still only a minority of Egyptians, they show no sign of fading away and there is a chance that many more people will join once the working week finishes on Thursday. The government appears to have no answer to the anger and disappointment being expressed on the streets, our correspondent adds — its only response so far has been to crack down on demonstrators and increase security."
— According to CNN, "Egyptian Nobel prize laureate and opposition leader Mohamed El Baradei is Thursday returning to the country, which has been convulsed by unprecedented protests for the past two days, his brother [says]. El Baradei will participate in protests himself on Friday, his brother Ali said."
— Share prices are dropping hard on Egypt's stock exchange, which suspended trading for a short time earlier today. Reuters writes that the exchange's "benchmark index," the EGX30, is down close to 10 percent.
— Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton weighed in yesterday, saying that "we are particularly hopeful that the Egyptian government will take this opportunity to implement political, economic and social reforms that will answer the legitimate interests of the Egyptian people."
Will these protests spark a government downfall, as happened earlier this month in Tunisia? Soraya said this morning that the Egyptian government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is "far stronger" than Tunisia's was, and "the feeling is that this is not going to be a sudden change. This is not likely to be another Tunisia where the first family flees."
(For more on Tunisia, see today's Morning Edition report by Eleanor Beardsley — "In Tunisia, Women Play An Equal Role In Revolution.")
Meanwhile, the Associated Press writes that "tens of thousands of people are calling for the Yemeni president's ouster in protests across the capital inspired by the popular revolt in Tunisia."
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Image via WikipediaIllinois Supreme Court Orders Emanuel’s Name Back on Ballot - NYTimes.com
CHICAGO —The Illinois Supreme Court puffed life back into Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign on Tuesday when it restored his name to the city’s ballots, at least for now, and agreed to decide whether he should be allowed to run for mayor.
The decisions arrived at a dizzying pace, only a day after a panel of the Illinois Appellate Court had ordered Mr. Emanuel’s name stricken from the ballot, saying his time in Washington as White House chief of staff meant that he failed to meet a requirement of residing in Chicago for a year before the Feb. 22 election.
The Supreme Court’s orders were seen as a positive sign for Mr. Emanuel (the court could have chosen to skip the case altogether), but the justices still have to consider the merits of the case itself, and so Chicago — already suffering from political whiplash — will have to wait a bit more.
The Supreme Court will study briefs already submitted to the lower court, rather than wait for new ones, and will entertain no oral arguments. It is uncertain exactly how quickly a decision will emerge, but deadlines are looming; early voting, for instance, begins Monday.
While Mr. Emanuel seemed to defiantly march on Tuesday with a local Teamsters’ endorsement, a fund-raising event, a meeting with teachers, as if nothing much was going on, his five opponents were left trying to sort out whether the top polling candidate was in or out, and just who, then, to criticize.
City elections officials, too, found themselves trapped in the tangle of the legal fight. With absentee ballots due to be mailed out as early as Friday, the officials had begun printing ballots — without Mr. Emanuel’s name, per the appellate court’s Monday ruling — at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
By noon, with 300,000 ballots done, the Supreme Court said no ballots should be printed without Mr. Emanuel’s name. “We absolutely called the printers and said, ‘Stop the presses,’ ” Jim Allen, a spokesman for Chicago’s Board of Election Commissioners, recounted not long after.
And by 2 p.m., election officials started all over, this time printing ballots with all the names. Presuming no new order arrives in the interim, two million of those were to be completed, and the 300,000 shorter ballots were placed in what officials described as a location that was “segregated and secured.” (Depending on the final ruling in this case, they may yet be of value.)
Legal experts cautioned against reading too much into the State Supreme Court’s decision to bar printing of ballots without Mr. Emanuel’s name even before it decides the case. In cases of someone seeking a stay, courts often take into account the possibility of irreparable harm.
“In this case, Emanuel would suffer great harm in the event that his name was left off the ballot and the State Supreme Court reverses” later in the process, said Richard L. Hasen, a visiting professor of law at the University of California, Irvine.
For months, even as Mr. Emanuel became the clear front-runner in the race to replace Mayor Richard M. Daley, who will retire this spring, challenges have been simmering over whether he lived here long enough to qualify for the ballot. Such challenges fit into a broader landscape strewn, experts said, with narrow readings of statutory language and broad principles of election law.
In essence, in finding on Monday that Mr. Emanuel did not qualify to run for mayor, the appellate panel relied on a distinction in Illinois’s code between the residency qualifications to cast a vote and the requirements for those running for office. Running for local office, the appellate judges said, actually required a person to physically live in a given city, not just to own property there or pay taxes there, as Mr. Emanuel always had.
In their appeal to the Supreme Court, Mr. Emanuel’s lawyers argued that such a distinction “has never been endorsed by this court or by any other appellate court.” And a dissenting member of the appellate panel (the ruling against Mr. Emanuel was 2-1), Bertina E. Lampkin, scoffed that such a distinction was “not based on established law but, rather, on the whims of two judges,” and “should not be allowed to stand.”
Other legal experts pointed to a broader concern in the realm of such election questions.
“In a circumstance where there is uncertainty” about the interpretation of an election statute, Mark D. Rosen, a professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law said, “basic democratic principles would suggest you would construe the uncertain statute to expand voter choices rather than contract them.”
Professor Rosen pointed, for example, to the circumstances in 2010 of Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, who ran for re-election as a write-in candidate and for whom election officials allowed poorly spelled versions of her name.
Still, residency has tripped up candidates before. In 1974, Charles Ravenel was heavily favored to win a race for governor of South Carolina, but was knocked out by a lawsuit that cited a State Constitution requirement that candidates have lived in the state for five years.
Chicago voters, meanwhile, were reeling. At lunch spots downtown on Tuesday, they had questions: Was Mr. Emanuel in? Was he out? Could he ultimately launch a write-in campaign? (Perhaps, though that would likely create new challenges.) Would the election be stopped altogether?
Langdon D. Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, seemed to empathize, even encouraging voters with lingering questions to consider waiting beyond the start of early voting — to see what happens to all of this — before casting their ballots.
“There are no do-overs,” Mr. Neal cautioned. “Once you vote, that’s it.”
Mr. Emanuel’s top opponents — Carol Moseley Braun, a former United States senator, and Gery Chico, a former mayoral chief of staff to Mr. Daley — seemed uncertain about how best to proceed as well. In the past, most of Mr. Emanuel’s opponents have focused squarely on him, but on Tuesday Ms. Braun issued a news release condemning Mr. Chico’s stance (misunderstood, Mr. Chico’s aides say) on whether city workers should live within the city limits.
Still, the effort seemed to draw little notice. And efforts to woo away Mr. Emanuel’s supporters and donors had not worked so far, some from his campaign said; campaign donations have not dropped off.
And while nearly everyone — including the local Teamsters who decided to endorse Mr. Emanuel on Tuesday morning in part because they were angry at the prospect that he might be removed from the ballot — debated his fate, Mr. Emanuel himself seemed intent on talking about anything but.
Inside a fruit warehouse on the Southwest Side, he grinned and high-fived members of the Teamsters and spoke of the city’s struggling economy. He talked about safety on the streets, his tax plan, a comprehensive wellness plan for city workers and the minimum wage.
Finally, pressed by reporters to discuss his ballot woes, he said he intended to go full force ahead. Perhaps he would double up now, he said, adding even more campaign stops, more handshaking visits to trains, more sojourns to bowling alleys.
Monica Davey reported from Chicago and John Schwartz from New York. Emma Graves Fitzsimmons contributed reporting from Chicago.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Image via WikipediaCourt: Emanuel should be removed from mayoral ballot - chicagotribune.com
Rahm Emanuel should not appear on the Feb. 22 Chicago mayoral ballot, according to a ruling issued by the state appellate court this morning.
Two of the three judges on the panel said Emanuel does not meet the residency requirement. The judges reversed an earlier decision by the Chicago Board of Elections that determined Emanuel was eligible. (Read the ruling here.)
Challengers have argued that Emanuel, who moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff before coming back to run for mayor, does not meet the requirement that candidates must have lived in the city for a year prior to the election.
Emanuel, who rented out his North Side home, has responded he never abandoned his residence because he continued to own the home, paid property taxes on it and voted as a Chicago resident.
Blast Strikes Main Moscow Airport - NYTimes.com
By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ and J. DAVID GOODMAN
MOSCOW — An explosion rocked an international terminal of Moscow’s busiest airport on Monday afternoon in what Russian officials described as an apparent terrorist attack. The Health Ministry reported that at least 30 people had been killed and 130 injured, according to Russian state media.
Russian news agencies, citing witnesses, said the airport’s halls were filled with so much smoke that it was difficult to count the dead. A video posted online showed bodies and luggage strewn across the smooth airport floor, barely visible under the clouds of thick smoke.
The blast occurred in the arrivals hall of Domodedovo airport, according to a spokeswoman. Investigators said the explosion occurred at 4:32 p.m. local time.
Sergei Lavochkin, who was at the airport meeting a friend, said he was 100 feet away when the bomb detonated. “I heard a loud bang, and some tiles fell from the ceiling,” Mr. Lavochkin told Rossiya-24, a cable news service. “I saw carts, the ones you use to move luggage. They were transporting people on them.”
An eyewitness who gave his name as Yuri said the intense blast sent roughly 200 people scrambling for safety.
“There were many people; if I were two meters to the side I would have been badly hurt,” he told the news channel Pervy Kanal. “There was a bang, and all I remember is that the shock wave pushed me to the floor. My hat flew away, and I put my jacket over my head. Five seconds later, when the smoke cleared, I saw people running out.”
Irina Tsvei, who was at the airport for a flight to Geneva, told the news channel that she saw the wounded being carried out of the airport and that the surrounding roads were jammed with ambulances and fire trucks.
In televised remarks, the Russian president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, said: “At Domodedovo an explosion has occurred, and according to preliminary information it was a terrorist attack. There are dead and there are wounded.”
He admonished officials for their failure to prevent the attack, and ordered the police to boost security at all airports and on public transportation.
International arrivals were being diverted to nearby airports, according to local news media reports.
The airport, southeast of the capital, is Russia’s largest airline hub, with more than 20 million passengers passing through last year.
If investigators find that the explosion was the result of terrorism, it would be the first such attack to hit Moscow since March, when two suicide bombers detonated explosives on the city’s subway during rush hour. More than 40 people were killed in that attack, which was traced to two women from Dagestan who had ridden buses into the capital.
The rebel leader Doku Umarov took responsibility for the March attack. In 2009, Mr. Umarov revived a suicide battalion linked to the most notorious attacks of the last decade. In a video apparently made hours after the blast, Mr. Umarov said “the war will come to your streets, and you will feel it in your own lives and on your own skin.”
In August 2004, two Chechen suicide bombers boarded separate planes at Domodedovo airport before killing themselves and 88 others in midair. The attack exposed holes in security at the airport: the two bombers, both women, had been detained shortly before boarding, but were released by a police supervisor. The authorities have since worked to improve procedures at Domodedovo.
Michael Schwirtz reported from Moscow, and J. David Goodman from New York. Ellen Barry contributed reporting from Moscow.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Image by afagen via FlickrKeith Olbermann Ends Contract With MSNBC
Keith Olbermann and MSNBC have ended their contract, according to a statement from MSNBC. The last episode of "Countdown" will air this evening, Friday, January 21.
Lawrence O'Donnell's show will be moved to 8 PM; while "The Ed Show" with Ed Schultz will air at 10 PM.
MSNBC's statement reads as follows:
MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
F.B.I. and Police Arrest TK in Massive Mob Crackdown - NYTimes.com
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM
In a blanket assault against seven mob families in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, the F.B.I. and local authorities began arresting more than 100 people on Thursday on charges including murder, racketeering and extortion, people briefed on the arrests said.
The sweep began before dawn and the targets ranged from small-time book makers and crime-family functionaries to a number of senior mob figures and several corrupt union officials, according to several people briefed on the arrests. Among those arrested or sought, some of the people said, were more than two dozen made members of New York’s five crime families and the families in New Jersey and New England, along with dozens of their associates.
Several of of the men arrested, the people who had been briefed said, were charged with murders — some dating back to the 1980s and 1990s. Others were charged with selections from a full menu of mob crimes: racketeering, extortion, loan-sharking and gambling, as well as labor-racketeering crimes in two sectors that officials say remain under the mob’s sway: the construction industry and the waterfront.
The arrests were based on more than a dozen unrelated indictments handed up in federal courts in four jurisdictions, several of the people said. Taken together, the arrests appeared to be the largest such sweep of organized crime figures ever conducted by federal authorities.
The charges were expected to be announced by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. at a news conference Thursday morning in Brooklyn, where the charges against many of defendants were lodged, the people briefed on the arrests said.
Those who talked about the case did so on the condition of anonymity because the official announcement had not yet been made and because some court papers remained sealed. Most of the arrests were completed by 8 a.m. — a mammoth undertaking involving the F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies, along with the United States attorneys’ offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Newark and Providence, R.I.
The cases were also investigated by the New York Police Department, the New Jersey State Police, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States. Labor Department’s Office of Labor Racketeering, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor and several other agencies.
The decision to announce the arrests in Brooklyn and Mr. Holder’s planned presence at the news conference would seem to underscore the importance of the case to the Justice Department.
The arrests came at a time when several federal, state and local law enforcement officials have expressed some concern about a resurgence of organized crime’s influence in some quarters after two decades of decline.
An impressive string of victories over the mob began in 1991 with the defection of the Luchese family’s acting boss, Alphonse D’Arco, who proved to be a devastating witness. Later that year, Salvatore Gravano, the Gambino family underboss, defected, and his testimony secured the conviction of John J. Gotti.
With the cooperation of those two men, a trickle of significant defections grew into a torrent, weakening the culture of omertà, the Mafia’s code of silence, and thus the foundation of organized crime itself.
The subsequent loosening of the mob’s grip on several industries and unions led to proclamations about the mob’s decline and some refocusing of law enforcement resources. Those resources directed at organized crime were further reduced after the 9/11 attacks.
Prosecutors in Brooklyn and the F.B.I. nonetheless waged a campaigbn over the last decade that decimated the Bonanno crime family . But the relative health of crime families tends to run in cycles, with some ascendant and some on the decline.
The more-powerful Genovese family, for example, which has found its strength in labor racketeering and construction and some more-sophisticated schemes, remains powerful, as do the Gambino and Luchese families, law enforcement officials have said. .
And in recent years, after the period of some declining focus, officials and union monitors say the mob remains stubbornly entrenched in a number of major construction unions — including locals representing carpenters, concrete workers and operating engineers — as well as on the waterfront.
- Murdering for a Mob Family, Then Decimating It in Court (nytimes.com)