Friday, August 30, 2013

Having it Your Way


With each passing moment we get closer to having television the way we want it and when we want it. Each day the world opens up to us and we are offered some of the really great television that is produced in other countries.

Soon we will be able to kiss our cable and satellite providers goodbye and take Internet only, where we can pick the cream of the crop. And believe me there is a lot of cream out there, it just takes some digging to find it.

Here is a great article French Television which writes about a series Spiral which I watched on Netflix recently. I forget where I originally heard about it, but I am glad that I did. I've also stumbled onto some great Swedish dramas recently. So it is nice to know that Crab and Lobster Hoarders aren't the only television series I have to watch.

Seriously though technology is here where we really can pick and choose what we want to see. The era of 400 channels in Plan B offered from the local cable company, of which you really watch fewer than ten, is going to be a thing of the past.

Goggle has this dongle-like device for around $35 and AppleTV is available for around $100. This of course is just the beginning. Makes me want to scream from the mountain top "I want my Maypol".

Maybe the next break through will be eliminating those annoying commercials before a video plays. I swear they are robbing me of a lifetime at 15 seconds a pop. I am boycotting them 99% of the time.


What America Does Best


"We are not good at anything else anymore... can't build a decent car or a television, can't give good education to the kids or health care to the old, but we can bomb the shit of out any country..."
– the late George Carlin


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vermont Yankee - Safe, Clean, Reliable???


Vermont Yankee to close. It has been a long, hard battle and our thanks go out to all of those that worked so hard and refused to give up.
"In a huge victory for the grass-roots movement for a green-powered earth, Entergy has announced it will shut its Vermont Yankee reactor by the end of next year." -  Harvey Wasserman

Read the full story here Vermont Yankee joins the tsunami of US reactor shut downs

Currently the NRC reports the following power reactor sites undergoing decommissioning:

NameLocation
Dresden – Unit 1Dresden, IL
Fermi – Unit 1Newport, MI
Humboldt BayEureka, CA
Indian Point – Unit 1Buchanan, NY
LaCrosse Boiling Water ReactorGenoa, WI
Millstone – Unit 1Waterford, CT
Nuclear Ship SavannahBaltimore, MD
Peach Bottom – Unit 1Delta, PA
San Onofre – Unit 1San Clemente, CA
Three Mile Island – Unit 2Middletown, PA
Vallecitos Boiling Water Reactor (VBWR)Sunol, CA
Zion – Units 1 & 2Zion, IL


Power Reactors in the Decommissioning Process

Current updates of all power reactor sites undergoing decommissioning are available at: http://www.nrc.gov/info-finder/decommissioning/power-reactor/.

Crystal River - Unit 3

Crystal River 3, in Crystal River, Fla., entered an extended shutdown in 2009 when cracks were discovered in the wall of its containment structure. In February 2013, Duke Energy decided not to attempt costly repairs and certified to the NRC that the plant had permanently ceased operations and that the fuel had been permanently removed from the reactor.

Dresden - Unit 1

The plant, near Morris, Ill., shut down in October 1978 and is currently in SAFSTOR. The decommissioning plan (DP) was approved in September 1993. No significant dismantlement activities are underway. Isolation of Unit 1 from Units 2 and 3 is complete. All spent fuel from Unit 1 that was previously stored in the Unit 1 spent fuel pool (SFP), the Unit 1 fuel transfer pool, and the Unit 2 SFP has now been transferred to the on-site independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI). Currently, 108 spent fuel assemblies and one fuel rod basket from Unit 1 are stored in the Dresden Unit 3 SFP. The licensee plans to have decontamination and dismantlement of Unit 1 take place from 2029 through 2031 when Units 2 and 3 are nearing the end of their life. Following decontamination and dismantlement of Units 2 and 3, site restoration will be conducted in 2035 and 2036, with final site surveys to be performed in late 2036.

Fermi - Unit 1

The plant, in Monroe County, Mich., was shut down in September 1972 and is currently in SAFSTOR. The spent fuel, reactor vessel, piping, bulk sodium and liquid waste tanks have been removed from the site. The licensee is performing occupational safety enhancement activities, concentrating in non-radioactive areas, such as asbestos removal. The PSDAR public meeting was held on April 22, 1998.

GE- VBWR (Vallecitos Boiling Water Reactor)

The plant, in Alameda County, Calif., was shut down in December 1963 and issued a possession-only license in 1965. The plant is in SAFSTOR and plans to remain in SAFSTOR until ongoing nuclear activities at the site are terminated and the entire site can be decommissioned. All nuclear fuel has been removed from the site.

Humboldt Bay - Unit 3

The plant, near Eureka, Calif., was shut down in July 1976. A Decommissioning Plan (DP) was approved in July 1988 – currently called a Defueled Safety Analysis Report, it is updated every two years. A post-shutdown activities report (PSDAR) was issued by the licensee in February 1998. The transfer of spent fuel from the fuel storage pool to the ISFSI was completed in December 2008 and limited decontamination and dismantlement of HBPP Unit 3 decommissioning commenced. In 2010, the construction of a new fossil-fueled generation station on site was completed. The licensee has completed demolition of the non-nuclear Unit 1 and Unit 2. A license termination plan was submitted in May 2013.

Indian Point - Unit 1

The plant, in Buchanan, N.Y., was shut down in October 1974. Currently, there is no significant dismantlement underway. The owner plans to decommission Unit 1 concurrently with Unit 2, which remains in operation. The PSDAR public meeting was held on Jan. 20, 1999.

La Crosse

The plant, in La Crosse, Wis., was shut down on April 30, 1987. The SAFSTOR DP was approved Aug. 7, 1991. The DP is considered the PSDAR. The PSDAR public meeting was held on May 13, 1998. The licensee has been conducting limited dismantlement and decommissioning activities and completed transferring spent fuel to an ISFSI in September 2012.

Millstone - Unit 1

Unit 1, near Waterford, Conn., was shut down Nov. 4, 1995, and transfer of the spent fuel to the SFP was completed Nov. 19, 1995. On July 21, 1998, the licensee certified to the NRC that, as of July 17, 1998, Millstone Unit 1 had permanently ceased operations and that fuel had been permanently removed from the reactor vessel. The owner’s current plan is to leave the plant in SAFSTOR until the Unit 2 license expires, which is currently scheduled for July 31, 2015. The owner submitted its required PSDAR on June 14, 1999, and has chosen a combination of the DECON and SAFSTOR options.
Safety-related structures, systems, and components (SSCs) remaining at Millstone Unit 1 are associated with the SFP “island” where the Millstone Unit 1 spent fuel is stored. Other than non-essential systems supporting the balance of plant facilities, the remaining plant equipment has been disabled and abandoned in place or removed from the unit and can no longer be used for power generation.

NS Savannah

The ship was removed from service in 1970 and its fuel removed in October 1971. The reactor is currently in SAFSTOR. The Nuclear Ship (NS) Savannah was removed from the Maritime Administration Reserve Fleet in the James River, Va. In May 2008, the NS Savannah was relocated from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia to Baltimore, Md. The Department of Transportation plans to complete decommissioning and terminate the license by 2031.

Peach Bottom - Unit 1

The plant, in York County, Pa., was shut down in October 1974 and is in SAFSTOR with no significant dismantlement underway. Active decommissioning of Unit 1 is not expected until 2034, when Units 2 and 3 are scheduled to shut down. The PSDAR public meeting was held on June 29, 1998. The spent fuel has been removed from the site and is stored at the Idaho National Laboratory.

San Onofre - Unit 1

Southern California Edison (SCE) shut down the reactor, located near San Clemente, in November 1992 and placed it in SAFSTOR until the planned shutdown of Units 2 and 3 in 2022. In 1998, following a change in NRC decommissioning regulations, SCE submitted a PSDAR for San Onofre Unit 1 to commence DECON in 2000. Since that time, the fuel has been placed in an ISFSI. SCE has removed all structures down to the -8’ building level. In late 2008, the licensee completed Phase 2 of the planned ISFSI expansion by locating it on the former containment building site. In 2010, NRC approved SCE’s request for a partial site release of the off-shore cooling pipes. The Part 50 license remaining is for the reactor pressure vessel in storage and the ISFSI.

Three Mile Island - Unit 2

The operating accident at this reactor, near Middletown, Pa., occurred in March 1979. Plant de-fueling was completed in April 1990. Post de-fueling monitored storage was approved in 1993. There is no significant dismantlement underway. The plant shares equipment with the other operating unit, which was sold to Amergen (now Exelon) in 1999. GPU Nuclear, which is owned by FirstEnergy, retains the license for Three Mile Island Unit 2 and contracts to Exelon for maintenance and surveillance activities. Both units are currently expected to be decommissioned together when Unit 1 ceases operation. The U.S. Department of Energy has taken title and possession of the spent fuel (except for some debris in the primary systems), which is currently in storage at the Idaho National Laboratory.

Zion - Units 1 And 2

Zion Units 1 and 2, near Zion, Ill., were permanently shut down on Feb.13, 1998. The fuel was transferred to the spent fuel pool, and the owner submitted the certification of fuel transfer on March 9, 1998. The licensee is maintaining the turbine-generators as synchronous condensers to support grid stability and has isolated the spent fuel pool within a fuel building “nuclear island.” The owner submitted the PSDAR, site-specific cost estimate, and fuel management plan on Feb. 14, 2000. On Sept. 1, 2010, the facility license was transferred from Exelon to ZionSolutions for the express purpose of expediting decommissioning. ZionSolutions intends to use a “rip and ship” process that will reduce the labor-intensive separation of contaminated materials and transport the materials in bulk to the EnergySolutions disposal site in Utah. Completion of the spent fuel transfer to the ISFSI is scheduled for 2014. Submittal of the LTP is scheduled for 2015 and license termination in 2020.
May 2013
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, July 10, 2013
It is good to remember and think about the fact that while a nuclear facility may be shut down the process of permanent storage of spent fuel is just beginning. Read the details of the above sites, then watch the documentary Into Eternity and then take a very deep breath and think!



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Onkalo

Shhhhh.....quietly now, we must not disturb anything. In fact we should not even be here.


Here if you dare is your glimpse into our future. The place is called Onkalo - The Hiding Place. And it is very real. Click here to begin your trip Into Eternity. But you have been warned.

This links to an additional interview with Michael Madsen director of Into Eternity.

A review and reminder that nukes are forever.

Hat tip to Keith for the heads up on this one.




Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Another Mess Brewing

There are times when my friends just take the words right out of my mouth. Here is my friend Keith's blog post on Syria - no sense repeating what he says so well on this subject.

You can find more of his opinions at The Worlds

Thanks for letting me share your post, Keith.



August 27, 2013

Kerry's little Syria chat

I found it difficult to watch John Kerry emote yesterday on the subject of Syria.

The whole bit stank. See, you can't assume the high ground when you're not standing on it. His words could just as easily apply to things the US has done repeatedly:
"What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear. The indiscriminate torture of random suspects, the launching of a pre-emptive war against the wrong country, the use of drones to attack people who may or may not be terrorists, and the consequent drone attacks on those who come to help the afflicted after such drone attacks, indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by waterboarding, drone attack chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable."
Sorry, John. The US doesn't get to talk like that anymore. Tell you what, why don't you just go sit in a back room and listen in on some American conversations? Maybe it's best to let, you know, the other countries handle this one.

America's decline has real-life consequences. The US no longer has the right to pontificate to other countries. So get off the high horse, John. You can't ride it anymore.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fukushima Threat Warning is Increased



"The deepening crisis at the Fukushima plant will be upgraded from a level 1 "anomaly" to a level 3 "serious incident" on an international scale for radiological releases, a spokesman for Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said." - Source: Al Jazeera and Reuters

My daughter's family recently had friends visiting from Japan. She could not let the evening pass without asking them how things were going at the Fukushima plant. As soon as she asked the question she could see their faces fill with great sadness as they told her things were very bad. They went on to explain that much of the area evacuated will never be able to be inhabited again.

We don't get a lot of information here on what exactly is happening, but those of us that follow the story and poke our nose into the business to find out what is going on are getting more and more disturbed at the news we do find.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has posted this statement on their website:


The IAEA today issued the following statement on the situation at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 
"The IAEA is aware of media reports that Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) intends to rate leaks of radioactive water at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station at level 3 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). 
"Japanese authorities continue to provide the Agency with information on the situation at the plant, and Agency experts are following the issue closely. 
"The IAEA views this matter seriously and remains ready to provide assistance on request."

It is worthwhile to point out that Level 3 is the highest stage than can still be termed an "incident." Level 4 and above are classified as an "emergency". A level 3 incident is where radiation exposure is greater then ten times the normal level for workers.

TEPCO seems to be over its head in handling this emergency and to not be open and forthright only compounds the problems. The world needs to know the truth about what the situation is so that everything that possibly can be done will be done to protect the citizens that could be harmed worldwide by fallouts from the Fukushima disaster.


Monday, August 19, 2013

States Mulling Execution Methods


Several states are considering new methods for carrying out the death penalty. The old three-drug-cocktail mix of sodium thiopental - pancuronium bromide - potassium chloride was the drug choice combo to provide a quick and painless execution. This method was favored over the more barbaric use of the electric chair, gas chamber or firing squad.

Now that some of these drugs are in short supply or even unable to be sold in the U.S. states are looking to using other drug combinations.  Just this past Wednesday the Missouri Supreme Court allowed for the use of the drug propofol, the state had been  considering bringing back the electric chair.

Ironically the hang up on finding a suitable means of execution seems to be being able to provide a quick and painless method. If there is one thing you can say about the death penalty people is that they are a very kind and considerate lot.

I don't have a vote but maybe it is time to bring back the spectacle of the guillotine in the town square. It seems as though almost everyone in attendance in those days enjoyed themselves.



Additional information on this subject can be found here:
Link to The New York Times article - Death Row Improvises, Lacking Lethal Mix




Saturday, August 17, 2013

Egypt and the United States



The more I read the more it appears that the U.S. is taking its direction concerning Egypt from Israel. It is very important to Israel that the U.S. not stop military aid to Egypt. If the United States recognizes the ouster of the Egyptian President as a coup then all military aid to Egypt must ceased.
"The United States looks to Egypt as an ally in the region and considers it critical to Israel's security by closing smuggling tunnels to the Gaza Strip and monitoring the border with Israel. The 1979 US-brokered peace treaty between Israel and Egypt is contingent on continuing aid to both countries, a factor that makes cutting off money to either one particularly tricky."  ~ Source: Al Jazeera News
Then there is the added incentive that Egypt provides a very convenient portal to the United States war efforts in the Middle East.
“We need them for the Suez Canal, we need them for the peace treaty with Israel, we need them for the overflights, and we need them for the continued fight against violent extremists who are as much of a threat to Egypt’s transition to democracy as they are to American interests,” said Gen. James N. Mattis, who retired this year as head of the military’s Central Command. ~ Source: The New York Times
It would be nice if President Obama would just tell us the truth when he talks to us. No more lies, no more beating around the bush. We know you are walking a tightrope here, but don't forget who is manning the safety net you are about to fall into.

Friday, August 16, 2013

This Best Describes All Things Nuclear Today



First the news out of Japan regarding the leaks into the ocean from the Fukushima plant is nothing but bad news. Since day one of the disaster the seriousness about what is going on has been downplayed and lied about. 

"Some 16 months after three of the six reactors exploded at the Fukushima Daichi site, nobody can offer a definitive explanation of what is happening there or how to deal with it." ~ Harvey Wasserman, NukeFree.org
This is Harvey Wasserman's thoughts on this subject:





Current news is really not good. Here is a snippet from Beyond Nuclear:

"With Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority admitting that the stricken Fukushima Daiichi reactors have been leaking radioactive water into the sea since the disaster began on March 11, 2011, the crisis now appears orders of magnitude worse. Why? With monitoring sporadic and reporting dishonest, it is open to speculation, but water leaking from the stricken plant is said to be at least 40 times more radioactive than before. As much as 300 tons per day of this radioactive water is flowing into the sea. The water has breached, circumnavigated and flowed over the top of the frozen ground dam wall constructed to stop the leaking." 


~

Here at home discussions begin on whether to re-open the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility. I don't know if Yucca is the solution but I do know we have to decide soon what is to be done with the increasing supply of waste that is building up.

I don't think the answer is to move waste into interim facilities. Transporting nuclear waste is at best risky business and doing it twice just makes no sense. And maybe taking waste from the east coast and moving it all the way to Nevada is not the answer as well.

In the early days the DOE had plans to have a facility located somewhere in the east to supplement the facility at Yucca Mountain. Nobody wants this stuff in their backyards, but it is going to have to find a permanent home in someone's yard. Will the ultimate answer be to require each and every current nuclear power plant to provide permanent storage for the waste they produce?

This approach doesn't appear to be working.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Very interesting, but not very funny..."



Interesting little tidbit from The Washington Post ~

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top secret documents.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that result in unintended interception of U.S. emails and telephone calls.

The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 

Asked about this information, the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court told The Washington Post that the court lacks the tools to independently verify how often government surveillance breaks the court's rules that aim to protect the privacy of Americans. Without drastic steps, it also cannot check the veracity of government claims that all the violations its staff reports are unintentional mistakes, the judge said. 

Read more at: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-broke-privacy-rules-thousands-of-times-per-year-audit-finds/2013/08/15/3310e554-05ca-11e3-a07f-49ddc7417125_story.html 

US Drone Market Growing


Hundreds of companies in Washington show off their wares in world’s fastest growing aerospace market.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

State of Emergency Yet Again

Outside Giza - May 2013
Photo by A. Pick


Breaking News - August 14, 2013
"By evening, the Egyptian Health Ministry said 235 civilians and nearly 40 police officers had been killed in violence across the country, and said about 900 had been injured. But the large number of dead and critically injured Egyptians whom reporters for The New York Times saw moving through various makeshift field hospitals in Cairo indicated that the final death toll would climb much higher." ~ New York Times

The United States is not acknowleding that it was a coup that ousted Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi and now the U.S. opposes Egypt's  "state of emergency". Am I the only one curious about the United States underlying motives? I feel maybe there is a little too much silent support of the Muslim Brotherhood showing here.



The Truth About Spys



It looks like the truth about Snowden and his leaks is that it tipped the hand that the U.S. Government was spying on its allies, specifically Germany and Spain. Seems that countries get grouped into categories of spying importance.

The "high" list includes countries like: China, Russia, Iran and Afghanistan. Then there is a "middle" list which includes countries like: Spain, Germany, France, Italy and Japan.

In way it is a bit funny because all countries spy on one another all the time to greater and lesser degrees depending on current situations. But when spying specifics like country names get outed it can be a little embarrassing. A bit like getting caught reading your daughter's diary.

Now Germany wants to negotiate a 'no spy' agreement with the United States. What a colossal waste of time, countries will continue to spy on one another and signing a piece of paper will not change that. Time would better be spent in trying to curtail the United States carte blanche spying on its own citizens. Like that will happen.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gibraltar in the News Today

Photo by A. Pick ~ May 2013

There is a little bit of news coming from Gibraltar that has to do with building tensions between Britain and Spain over this contested British Overseas Territory. Gibraltar is located on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea.

  View of Northern Africa from the Gibraltar Rock
Photo by A. Pick ~ May 2013

The northern border of this territory is Province of Câdiz in Andalusia, Spain. Many people cross over this northern border each day as tourists, workers or as residents who have a second home in Spain.
Of course disputes have been going on for eons. The history of Gibraltar makes for an interesting read and here is a nice little piece that summarizes both views What are the competing claims over Gibraltar?

Photo by A. Pick ~ May 2013

I must confess that I came to see Gibraltar more for it's famous Barbary Apes than I did to explore it's long and contested history. But it is a beautiful spot from the top of the famous and rugged Rock down to the shoreline and it's quaint and charming city.

One of the famous Barbary Apes of Gibraltar
Photo by A. Pick ~ May 2013

The influence is definitely British, so much so I got the biggest craving for a lunch of Fish & Chips when I ended my morning tour of the local sights. I asked our driver for a recommendation and I was not disappointed.

This is Roy's Wife
Photo by J. Moore ~ May 2013

I will let Prime Minister David Cameron and his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy work their détente magic, just don't take away my favorite Fish & Chips place.

 Cheers and Salud
Photo by A. Pick ~ May 2013 

Monday, August 12, 2013

On a Breaking Bad High

 Photo by A. Pick - May 2013


Ozymandias

I met a traveler from an antique land 
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone 
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, 
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, 
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, 
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read 
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, 
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; 
And on the pedestal these words appear: 
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: 
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” 
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare 
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

~


~ Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 -1822)









Friday, August 9, 2013

'Yesterday' Near Yemen


Seems like yesterday we were cruising the calm waters of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. If you recall the Gulf of Aden was where we kept our eyes out for Somali pirates. Coming to theaters this fall will be a new movie Captain Phillips which stars Tom Hanks as the Somali captured captain.

 Mariner of the Seas cruisers watching the transfer of "security items" to our ship
from this helpful boat prior to entering the area known for Somali pirates.

I just read the news that a U.S. Drone attack killed three more suspected al Qaeda militants in an area of eastern Yemen. Whew, I'm glad this all happened after our ship had moved out of the area. Not sure which is the lesser of two evils; drones or pirates.




It's Gonna Be a Great Day!

I know, my little blog readers, you get tired of my gloom and doom don't you? Well I have been up half the night scouring pages and pages of newsprint to try and find some good news for you. Some little tidbit that will make you sprint out your front door and click your heels as you head to the bus stop.

I think I have found it! And I can't wait to share it with all of you... drum roll please, Anton...

Coach Barbie Doll

The idol of every little girl and the secret desire of every little boy, Mattel's one and only Barbie and this time she come with her very own Coach handbag. Pre-order now but you will have to hurry only 13,000 available in this limited edition doll. And you can have her for a mere $95 - Barbie and Bag together.

Yes indeed, "It's gonna be a great day" - I just hope my check doesn't bounce.





Tuesday, August 6, 2013

68 Years Pass - When Will We Ever Learn

See the book Hiroshima Nagasaki by Paul Ham

August 6, 1945

"About 140,000 were killed in the days following the August 6, 1945 U.S. bombing of Hiroshima. Three days later, U.S. planes dropped a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki, killing about 70,000 more." ~ from Voice of America Japan Marks Hiroshima Bombing Anniversary


War is the result of political conflict between states and the price of that conflict is paid for with the lives of ordinary people, often women and children. 

The United States justified its action sixty-eight years ago when it dropped its first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6 and three days later dropped a second bomb on the city of Nagasaki. I'm not sure the U.S. would let any other country get away with this type of action today, whatever the justification. 

This act of extreme violence haunts me still today. We must learn to find other ways to settle conflicts, the acts of war is simply too barbaric.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Who is the Egyptian Military?

This is an interesting piece from the Voice Of American English News. It is reprinted here in complete content. You can link to the article here.


August 03, 2013

Egyptian Military's Sissi Denounces US

by VOA News

Egyptian military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has strongly criticized the United States for refusing to explicitly endorse his ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last month.

In a rare interview granted to a foreign news organization, an angry Sissi told The Washington Post that the Obama administration  "turned (its) back on the Egyptians, and they won't forget that."

The comments, published Saturday, were made as Washington attempted to remain neutral in Egypt's political crisis between the Sissi-backed interim government and the Islamist supporters of the ousted president.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement also has criticized the Obama administration, accusing it of acquiescing to a coup against the former president, whom the military forced from power on July 3.

Washington has declined to call the ouster a "coup" as doing so would force it to cut an estimated $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt, a key U.S. military ally.

In the interview, Sissi, who also serves as defense minister, urged the United States to press Egyptian Islamists to end a month-long series of protests and sit-ins against the ouster of Morsi.

Meetings
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met with allies of Morsi and held separate talks with interim Egyptian leaders in Cairo on Saturday as part of Western efforts to mediate between the two sides. EU special envoy Bernardino Leon also joined the meetings. They marked the second visit by Burns to Egypt in recent weeks.

The Pentagon said Sissi assured U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a phone call that Egypt's interim government is "working toward a process of national reconciliation."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said the government has "no desire" to use force to clear two protest camps occupied by tens of thousands of Morsi supporters in Cairo.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Fahmy said all political groups are invited to take part in implementing the government's road map for restoring democracy, if those groups renounce violence.

"We cannot truly achieve reconciliation, no matter how hard we try, if there is a continuation of incitement of violence or a continuation of violence out on the street, and that will obviously lead to a reaction," he said.

In a separate nationally televised address, interior ministry spokesman Hany Abdel-Latif promised the protesters "safe passage" if they leave the camps.

But, he also accused Islamist protest organizers of brainwashing the demonstrators and being involved in murders, torture and abductions.

The Egyptian government said Friday it plans to set up barriers around the two sit-ins as part of a strategy to shut them down.

Political violence involving Morsi supporters and opponents has killed almost 300 people since his removal from power, many of them Islamists shot and killed by security forces.

Signs of possible compromises
Morsi allies showed some willingness to compromise on Saturday.

Brotherhood representative Amr Darag told the Associated Press that the group would consider entering talks with the government in return for confidence-building steps. He said they include the release of detained Islamist leaders, the unfreezing of Brotherhood assets, and the lifting of a ban on the group's TV stations.

Another spokesman for the pro-Morsi camp told Reuters that it wants to "respect all political desires" of the Egyptian people, a reference to secular and liberal groups who opposed the Islamist president and backed his overthrow.

But, Tarek el-Malt also demanded the restoration of the Islamist-drafted constitution that was suspended by the military and rejected any political leadership role for Sissi.

Previously, the Muslim Brotherhood movement has focused on its demand for the reinstatement of Morsi as president.

In an interview on VOA's Press Conference USA, William Lawrence, the former head of the International Crisis Group's North Africa Project, said the Muslim Brotherhood has continued to receive broad support because it is viewed as credible.

"The Brothers are seen as less corrupt and less corruptible," he said. "The idea is that you are going to get good governance from the Brothers, because as independent political actors, they were less corrupt and so they had a certain popular legitimacy — moral legitimacy."

Sissi told The Washington Post that he does not aspire to authority, but he also did not explicitly rule out running for president in the future.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Human from: Mother Earth
August 04, 2013 1:17 AM
The truth in most simple words:
* Revolution against Mobarak’s regime was launched and carried out mainly by democrats and laic people. During that decisive period, the Brothers showed much reluctance and much neutrality towards the Egyptain’s uprise. They stayed out, until they noticed the real success of the revolution and the imminent overthrowing of Mobarak’s regime. Then, they seized the opportunity. They rode the wave of the Egyptian spring on a twofold surf: Egyptians being Muslims in their greatest majority and Islam as a doctrine which actually condemns any sort of corruption, including conspiracy against the Palestinian people, especially against Hamas.
* When they came to power, the Brothers under the ruling of Morsi underestimated the pressure of Isral and the western world to preserve and promote their shared interests and dominance over the Middle East. The Egyptian Military on the other hand have always been aware of that pressure and of the dangerous consequences a resistance to those shared interests can actually have on the security of Egypt in general.
* Morsi and his supporters set up a constitution that fortifies their position and guarantees the continuity of their regime in the future, while many of the true revolutionary powers who were actually behind the fall of Mobarak were marginalized and made desperate.
* Thus, they found themselves facing enemies from inside (opposition and Military) and from outside Egypt (Israel and the west, especially USA and its allies). The opposition provided what all the other enemies needed so badly; those enemies backed and seized the opposition movement and rode the anti-Morsi wave, just like the brothers had ridden the anti-Mobarak wave.
Any solution?
Two solutions: a short-term and a long term solution.
1. Short-term solution: a compromise between the two Egyptian parties, involving an impartial revision of the Egyptian constitution. This is not a durable solution however.
2. Long-term solution: the imperial powers, namely Israel and its supporters should make up their mind by calling for deeper insights into the exigencies of the present and future world. Our world, now and more than ever before, is like a masterpiece of mosaic; globalization and modern technology has made it as such. All the parts of our composite globe do need each other, and the anomaly of one part can bring about the collapse of the whole mosaic. Israel does not fit in the masterpiece; it should be tailored to fit with its surrounding parts. We need a global religion on the basis of an international scale: on the basis of universal equality, global democracy and constructive cooperation. Our local religions, if any, should be kept to only give color to the different parts of the mosaic, not to constitute the essence of it. This requires higher-order brains and hearts. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Say What?


This is what the U. S. had to say about Egypt before the recent coup:

State and USAID: Egypt has undergone profound change since its January 2011 revolution. Smart, catalytic engagement by the U.S. Government can accelerate progress towards a more stable, secure, open, democratic and prosperous Egypt. U.S. assistance will support the Egyptian people as they strive to develop a legitimate democratic government that represents all Egyptians, promotes political freedoms, and creates economic opportunities. As part of the continued partnership, the United States will encourage Egyptian efforts to expand civil liberties; introduce transparency, accountability, and the rule of law; and foster democratic institutions, including the criminal justice sector. Assistance also supports economic rejuvenation and modernization and provides vital investments in health and education, including a landmark higher education initiative. The Egyptian Government is a vital partner in countering regional security threats, and the United States will assist the Egyptian Government in modernizing its defense forces and improving its antiterrorism capabilities. The United States will continue to encourage Egypt’s efforts to combat terrorism in the region. U.S. assistance supports U.S. efforts to support Egypt’s continued implementation of its peace treaty with Israel. (Source: Congressional Budget Justification FY 2014)  Source: ForeignAssistance.gov

For a detailed look at where the dollars do go check out  http://foreignassistance.gov/OU.aspx?OUID=165&FY=2013&AgencyID=0&budTab=tab_Bud_Overview


This is what the U. S. has to say now:


Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 27, 2013


I spoke this morning with Interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, Interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, and European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton and expressed our deep concern about the bloodshed and violence in Cairo and Alexandria over the past 24 hours that has claimed the lives of scores of Egyptian demonstrators and injured more than 1,000 people.

I want to convey our deepest sympathies to the families of those who lost their lives as well as those who were injured.

This is a pivotal moment for Egypt.

Over two years ago, a revolution began. Its final verdict is not yet decided, but it will be forever impacted by what happens right now.

In this extremely volatile environment, Egyptian authorities have a moral and legal obligation to respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Both are essential components of the inclusive democratic process they have publicly embraced.

Violence not only further sets back the process of reconciliation and democratization in Egypt, but it will negatively impact regional stability.

At this critical juncture, it is essential that the security forces and the interim government respect the right of peaceful protest, including the ongoing sit-in demonstrations.

The United States urges an independent and impartial inquiry into the events of the last day, and calls on all of Egypt’s leaders across the political spectrum to act immediately to help their country take a step back from the brink.

An inclusive political process is needed that achieves as soon as possible a freely and fairly elected government committed to pluralism and tolerance.

The Egyptians who poured into Tahrir Square in 2011 and 2013 themselves called for this outcome for their country’s future and for their aspirations.

A meaningful political dialogue, for which interim government officials have themselves called, requires participants who represent all the political parts of Egyptian society.

To enable such a dialogue, the United States reiterates our call for an end to politicized detentions and the release of political leaders consistent with the law.

PRN: 2013/0932


From NY Times Egypt WarnsPro-Morsi Protesters To Leave Sit-In
"In his first visit to Cairo last month, Burns [Deputy Secretary of State William Burns] signaled that while Washington was calling for an inclusive transition, it had moved on from Morsi and his Brotherhood group. But he also stressed that Egypt's "second chance" at democracy could not happen without the Brotherhood's participation."

My Comments:

I was under the impression that Mohamed Morsi was a democratically elected president of Egypt and when he appointed many members of the Muslim Brotherhood to his cabinet/inner circle was when the people of Egypt began to take exception to Morsi's rule. The Brotherhood is not liked by a vast number of the population of Egypt, especially the female population. The United States is getting itself in an interesting position on this in more ways than one.

If the recent events and the ouster of Morsi was indeed a military coup, then all monetary aid to Egypt must by United States law be ceased.  The U. S. is reluctant to stop funding many of its programs to Egypt and therefore does not want to recognize this as a coup.

Stressing that Egypt's democracy cannot happen without the participation of the Brotherhood is not going to make many friends in the population-general in Egypt. But then this will not be the first time that we find ourselves sleeping with the devil. We seem to do it a lot in that area of the world.