Brotherhood Taking Total Control of Egypt

Has anyone, anyone at all, gone back and asked the wizards of smart what they make of their sacred “Arab Spring” now?

I’ve been publishing a lot of articles regarding the middle east and in particular, Egypt. There’s a reason for it. Egypt has always been a major player in the middle east. As Egypt goes, so goes the region, so goes Israel and so goes our vital interests in that part of the world. It’s not just Iran and certainly not Syria folks.

While the world persists in looking for signs of pragmatism in the Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi is quietly taking over all the power bases in the country.

Having gotten rid of the army old guard, he replaced them with his own men – officers belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood or known sympathizers. Then he turned his attention to the media, replacing 50 editors working for the government’s extensive and influential press empire – including Al- Ahram, Al-Akhbar, Al-Gomhuria. He is now busy appointing new governors to the 27 regions of the country.

Hosni Mubarak used to choose retired generals he could depend on for these sensitive posts; Morsi is hand picking party faithful. At the same time upper echelons in government ministries and economic and cultural organizations are methodically being replaced. The Muslim Brotherhood is fast assuming total control. For many observers, the deployment of army units in Sinai is more about proclaiming Egyptian sovereignty in the face of Israel than actually fighting Islamic terrorism.

Drafting the new constitution is their next objective. Brothers and Salafis make up an absolute majority in the Constituent Assembly. Liberal and secular forces are boycotting its sessions, and the Supreme Constitutional Court is examining a request to have it dissolved since it does not conform to the constitution because of its overly Islamic composition; a decision is expected in September.

The assembly, however, is not waiting. According to various leaks, it is putting the final touch to a constitution where all laws have to conform to the Shariah and special committees will supervise the media and forbid any criticism of Islam and of the Prophet. In the wings, is the creation of a Committee of Islamic Sages supervising the law-making process and in effect voiding of substance the parliament elected by the people, though it is not clear yet if, when and how it will work. What is clear is that a parliament made of flesh and blood individuals is against the very nature of the Shariah, where all laws are based on the Koran and the hadiths. This is a far cry from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Morsi has been careful to speak about creating “a civil society”; it is now obvious that what he meant was a society not ruled by the army, and not a secular society. Indeed he had promised to appoint a woman and a Copt as vice presidents, but chose Mohamed Maki, a Sunni known for his sympathy for the Brotherhood and incidentally or not, the brother of the new minister of justice, Prof. Ahmed Maki, known for his independent stands and opposition to Mubarak, but who had carefully concealed his support for the Brothers.

It is worth stressing that the Brotherhood is still operating under conditions of utmost secrecy, as it had been doing during the decades of persecution. How it is getting its funds, who are its members and how they are recruited is not known, nor is its decision-making process. The movement has no legal existence since Gamal Abdel Nasser officially disbanded it in 1954.

That state of affairs was not changed while the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ruled the country, since apparently the movement did not apply for recognition, fearing perhaps it would have to reveal some of its secrets. Now that it has created its own political party, that the members of that party make up nearly 50 percent of the parliament and that one of their own has been elected president, can the movement remain in the shadows?

Morsi did announce that he was resigning from the Brotherhood, but there is no doubt that he will remain true to the tenets and the commands of its leaders. This is making people increasingly uneasy. They had other expectations of the revolution.

Opposition to an Islamic regime is growing, though it is far from being united. The three small liberal parties that had had very little success in the parliamentary elections have now set up a new front, The Third Way, to fight the Brotherhood’s takeover. Hamdeen Sabahi, leader of the nationalistic Karama (Dignity) Party, who had garnered 18% of the votes in the first round of the presidential election, has launched “The Popular Current” promoting the old Nasserist pan-Arab ideology.

Some of the nongovernmental media are vocal in their criticism of Morsi, though it can be costly: Private television station Al- Pharaein – “the Pharaohs” – was shut down after it called to get rid of Morsi; its owner, Tawfik Okasha, well known for his hostility to the Brothers (and to Israel) and who called for a massive demonstration this Friday, was put under house arrest, as was the editor of the daily Al-Dostour that had criticized the president. The editors of two other dailies – Al-Fajer and Saut el-Umma – were questioned. Other papers such as Al-Akhbar stopped publishing opinion pieces from their regular collaborators known for their opposition to the Brothers; well-known publicists left their page blank in a gesture of solidarity for their colleagues.

Morsi knows that his takeover will strengthen the opposition. He has not forgotten that he barely mustered 25% of the votes in the first round of the presidential election – down from the nearly 50% who voted for his party’s candidates in the parliamentary elections. He also knows that the people are no longer afraid to take to the streets to protest – and that it is now said that a new dictatorship is replacing the old – the only difference being that the new ruler has a beard….

However, for now he is devoting all his energy to his fight with the judiciary, long known for its independent stands. The Supreme Constitutional Court is being asked to rule the Brotherhood Movement illegal, and therefore to proclaim that the Liberty and Justice party it created – and which won 50% of the seats in the parliament – is illegal as well, and therefore to invalidate the election of Morsi, candidate of a movement and a party that are both illegal. Morsi sent his new justice minister to browbeat the court, but the judges refused to back down. The president is now working to limit the prerogatives of the court in the new constitution and will start “retiring” senior justices appointed by Mubarak.

Friday’s demonstration will be the first real test for the Brotherhood. It is taking no chances and security forces will be deployed around its institutions throughout the country. A cleric at Al-Azhar issued a fatwa calling for the killing of whoever protests against the rule of the Brotherhood; the resulting uproar was such that he was disavowed by some of the leaders of the movement. However, whatever happens Friday will not deter them from their goal – a thoroughly Islamist Egypt.

Attribution: ZVI MAZEL (former ambassador to Egypt), Jerusalem Post

They’re Just Doodles

If you think the following images are photos, think again. They are in fact probably the world’s most intricate doodles.

It may be hard to believe but the pictures below are created using standard ballpoint pens bought from places like Staples, eBay, Amazon and, the artist says, any good office supply store.

They’re drawn by Portugal-based attorney Samuel Silva, who describes his art as a hobby. However, this is no ordinary hobby – sometimes he works on a piece for up to 50 hours.

Silva has drawn images of wildlife, recreated masterpieces like Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and copied iconic photos so accurately they’re almost indistinguishable from the original.

For his Redhead Girl, based on a photograph by Russian photographer Kristina Taraina, the 29-year-old attorney used six different colored ballpoint pens which took some 30 hours to finish.

To create such vibrant colors, Silva ‘cross hatches’ in layers to give off the illusion of additional hues and depth

For Silva, ballpoint pens are just one of the many mediums he is attempting to master. However, he writes on his DeviantArt page: ‘I’m just a lawyer, art is just a hobby for me, although it takes from five to 50 hours to finish each drawing.’

Silva, who started sketching when he was two, said: ‘I started developing my own style of ballpoint pen drawing back when I was in school, in simple classroom sketches in the back of my exercise books.

‘I never imagined there were so many brilliantly masterful ballpoint artists out there. Ballpoint pen is not my only medium, it’s just the one I’m currently trying to master.

‘At this point in my life I’m proficient with chalk, pencil, color pencil, pastels, oils and acrylics. Maybe one day I’ll create an account just to share those.

‘I’m just glad to be here, I want to learn a lot, see a lot, and enjoy to its fullest what other fellow artists have to share.’

‘It takes me forever to do my works. The only thing that makes me keep going is my love for what I do and the ambition to go further and further.

‘Ballpoint pens are as underestimated as they are a powerful medium.’

Speaking about his picture of a Sumatran tiger, which took around 20 hours to finish, Silva said: ‘I always wanted to draw a tiger, I love felines and decided to draw my first tiger ever, I hope you like it.

‘This one is wild, that’s why I love it. Big felines are not meant for zoos.’

Enjoy:

Silva’s first drawing

Attribution: Daily Mail

Joke of the Day

A police officer sees a man driving around with a pickup truck full of penguins.

He pulls the guy over and says, “You can’t drive around with penguins in this town! Take them to the zoo immediately.”

The guy says okay, and drives away. The next day, the officer sees the guy still driving around with the truck full of penguins — and they’re all wearing sunglasses.

He pulls the guy over and demands, “I thought I told you to take these penguins to the zoo yesterday?”

The guy replies, “I did. Today I’m taking them to the beach!”

Occupy Communism

by: the Common Constitutionalist

Diverse: of various kinds or forms; multiform (definition)

Tolerate: to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit. (definition)

The left and the progressives all claim to love diversity. They have the biggest tent and will welcome all comers for they are the most tolerant. Just witness the Occupy movement.

 All colors of the rainbow are welcomed into the lefts tent. Black, white, red, yellow.

Ones sexual orientation matters not to left. Whether they be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, multisexual, asexueal, transexual, trisexual (did I miss any? I’m truly sorry if I did. I don’t intend to discriminate).

All  true and legitimate forms of thought are tolerated embraced by the ever tolerant and diversity oriented left. Come on into the tent. It’s ok to be different. It doesn’t matter. You can be a communist, a marxist, a Maoist, a black separatist, an anarchist, a radical islamist or just a poor misguided liberal.

Of course, what will not be tolerated is the intolerant right and their hate speech. Their ought to be a law against that.

That well-known anti-American radical, Ted Nugent must be spoken to. He needs to get his mind right (or left). Rush Limbaugh must be dealt with. His sponsors must abandon him immediately. Glenn Beck must be driven from the airwaves for his constant racist hate speech. The ex-marine must be detained (without being read his rights), whisked away to a nearby psychiatric hospital for evaluation and dealt with for his anti-government facebook posts. These folks are all threats to our national security. And because they are such serious security threats, it’s ok to be intolrant of their radical views.

However, those with the same middleclass values as the rest of us should be celebrated for their views, such as the New Black Panthers. So they claim on several occasions to want to kill all the cracker babies. What’s so offensive about that?  That sort of diversity should be celebrated. And how about that apple pie and chevrolet, middle american group, the Muslim Brotherhood. So their charter includes the destruction of the west and rule under Shariah. If those aren’t true american values, I’ll eat my hat.

They should never be questioned, for as everyone knows, conservatives are the only subversives. The left would never conceive of such a thing as subvertion. Certainly not this guy:

Nothing to See Here

According to Western intelligence officials, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave the order to the elite Quds Force unit following a recent emergency meeting of Iran’s National Security Council in Tehran held to discuss a specially-commissioned report into the implications for Iran of the Assad regime’s overthrow.

Syria is Iran’s most important regional ally, and the survival of the Assad regime is regarded as vital to sustaining the Iranian-backed Hizbollah militia which controls southern Lebanon.

The report, which was personally commissioned by  Khamenei, concluded that Iran’s national interests were being threatened by a combination of the U.N. sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear program and the West’s continuing support for Syrian opposition groups attempting to overthrow the government.

Intelligence officials say the report concludes that Iran “cannot be passive” to the new threats posed to its national security, and warns that Western support for Syrian opposition groups was placing Iran’s “resistance alliance” in jeopardy, and could seriously disrupt Iran’s access to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

It advised that the Iranian regime should demonstrate to the West that there were “red lines” over what it would accept in Syria, and that a warning should be sent to “America, the Zionists, Britain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others that they cannot act with impunity in Syria and elsewhere in the region.”

Khamenei responded by issuing a directive to Qassem Suleimani, the Quds Force commander, to intensify attacks against the West and its allies around the world.

The Quds Force has recently been implicated in a series of terror attacks against Western targets. Last year U.S. officials implicated the organization in a failed assassination attempt against the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington. It was also implicated in three bomb attacks against Israeli diplomats in February, planning to attack the Eurovision song contest in Azerbaijan while two Iranians were arrested in Kenya last month for possessing explosives.

Intelligence officials believe the recent spate of Iranian attacks has been carried out by the Quds Force’s Unit 400, which runs special overseas operations.

“Unit 400 seems to have been involved in all the recent Iranian terrorist operations,” said a senior Western intelligence official. “The Iranian regime now seems determined to retaliate for what they regard as the West’s attempts to influence the outcome of the Syrian unrest.”

Iran has been actively supporting the Assad regime’s attempts to suppress the wave of anti-government protests that erupted in March last year. Iranian opposition groups claim teams of experienced Revolutionary Guard officers have been flying to Damascus on specially-chartered Iranian aircraft on a weekly basis to advise the Assad regime.

The extent of Iran’s support for the Assad regime was exposed earlier this month when 48 Iranians were captured and taken hostage by Syrian opposition fighters. The Iranians, who are said to include senior Revolutionary Guard officers, claimed they were conducting “reconnaissance missions”, and their capture by Syrian opposition fighters was deeply embarrassing for Tehran, which is demanding their immediate safe return to Iran. Syrian rebels have threatened to kill the hostages unless Iran ends its support for the Assad regime.

Attribution: UK Telegraph

Sunbathing Sharks

Sharks who spend too much time in the sun get a tan, researchers have discovered.

However, they do not appear to suffer from skin disease, raising hopes that shark skin could hold the key to beating skin cancer.

‘As far as I’m aware, sharks appear very robust to skin damage and disease,’ said Michael Sweet, a researcher in the School of Biology at Newcastle University’s Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability.

‘I don’t know what makes shark skin so special, but it definitely needs to be studied.

‘There have been a lot of attempts to induce melanomas in sharks to no affect.’

Researchers hope that if they can find the secret of how shark skin protects itself, it could be used to create a ‘shark lotion’ to protect human skin.

Another recent study, undertaken by the California State University Shark Lab, also looked at tanning in sharks.

Hammerhead shark pups held in a shallow clear seawater pond at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology darkened after several weeks, where UV levels are 600 times greater than those in their regular habitat of Kaneohe Bay.

An opaque filter was placed over the pectoral fins of untanned sharks to cut out UV light, to determine whether the darkening was due to solar radiation.

‘Areas of skin from under the opaque filter were untanned, whereas all other skin exposed to direct sunlight was considerably darker, resulting in distinct ‘tan lines’, the researchers said.

Our experiments demonstrated that the sharks were truly sun-tanning and that the response was, in fact, induced by the increase in solar radiation, particularly UV.

‘These sharks increased the melanin content in their skin by 14 percent over 21 days, and up to 28 percent over 215 days.’

The researchers said the only other animals known to suntan are mammals.

Attribution: Medical Daily, Mail Online

Post-Constitutional America

“Issues” or America?

by: Thomas Sowell (my hero)

There are some very serious issues at stake in this year’s election — so many that some people may not be able to see the forest for the trees. Individual issues are the trees, but the forest is the future of America as we have known it.

The America that has flourished for more than two centuries is being quietly but steadily dismantled by the Obama administration, during the process of dealing with particular issues.

For example, the merits or demerits of President Obama’s recent executive order, suspending legal liability for young people who are here illegally, presumably as a result of being brought here as children by their parents, can be debated pro and con. But such a debate overlooks the much more fundamental undermining of the whole American system of Constitutional government.

The separation of powers into legislative, executive and judicial branches of government is at the heart of the Constitution of the United States — and the Constitution is at the heart of freedom for Americans.

No President of the United States is authorized to repeal parts of legislation passed by Congress. He may veto the whole legislation, but then Congress can override his veto if they have enough votes. Nevertheless, every President takes an oath to faithfully execute the laws that have been passed and sustained — not just the ones he happens to agree with. [emphasis added]

If laws passed by the elected representatives of the people can be simply over-ruled unilaterally by whoever is in the White House, then we are no longer a free people, choosing what laws we want to live under.

When a President can ignore the plain language of duly passed laws, and substitute his own executive orders, then we no longer have “a government of laws, and not of men” but a President ruling by decree, like the dictator in some banana republic.

When we confine our debates to the merits or demerits of particular executive orders, we are tacitly accepting arbitrary rule. The Constitution of the United States cannot protect us unless we protect the Constitution. But, if we allow ourselves to get bogged down in the details of particular policies imposed by executive orders, and vote solely on that basis, then we have failed to protect the Constitution — and ourselves.

Whatever the merits or demerits of the No Child Left Behind Act, it is the law until Congress either repeals it or amends it. But for Barack Obama to unilaterally waive whatever provisions he doesn’t like in that law undermines the fundamental nature of American government.

President Obama has likewise unilaterally repealed the legal requirement that welfare recipients must work, by simply redefining “work” to include other things like going to classes on weight control. If we think the bipartisan welfare reform legislation from the Clinton administration should be repealed or amended, that is something for the legislative branch of government to consider.

There have been many wise warnings that freedom is seldom lost all at once. It is usually eroded away, bit by bit, until it is all gone. You may not notice a gradual erosion while it is going on, but you may eventually be shocked to discover one day that it is all gone, that we have been reduced from citizens to subjects, and the Constitution has become just a meaningless bunch of paper.

ObamaCare imposes huge costs on some institutions, while the President’s arbitrary waivers exempt other institutions from having to pay those same costs. That is hardly the “equal protection of the laws,” promised by the 14th Amendment.

John Stuart Mill explained the dangers in that kind of government long ago: “A government with all this mass of favours to give or to withhold, however free in name, wields a power of bribery scarcely surpassed by an avowed autocracy, rendering it master of the elections in almost any circumstances but those of rare and extraordinary public excitement.”

If Obama gets reelected, he knows that he need no longer worry about what the voters think about anything he does. Never having to face them again, he can take his arbitrary rule by decree as far as he wants. He may be challenged in the courts but, if he gets just one more Supreme Court appointment, he can pick someone who will rubber stamp anything he does and give him a 5 to 4 majority.

Fast Commute

These pictures show possibly the fastest commute between New Jersey and New York in history as a Formula 1 car travels at 190mph and takes less than 30 seconds to travel through New York’s Lincoln Tunnel.

Motoring his 900 horse-powered vehicle under the Hudson River, former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard raced from New Jersey to Manhattan and completed a journey that would take three minutes at the legal speed limit if there was zero traffic – which is rare.

The 1.5 mile long Lincoln Tunnel, which carries 120,000 cars a day, was closed in the early hours of Wednesday morning to allow Coulthard and the British-based Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team to play out every New Yorker’s fantasy.

‘The test drive is meant to bring the world’s attention to New Jersey and New Jersey’s attention to Formula 1 racing,’ said Tony Burrows, Red Bull Racing’s Support Team Manager.

This is the second summer in succession that the Red Bull team have visited Weehawken and West New York to test out and promote the proposed track of the ‘Grand Prix of America.’

Designed as a street circuit with the Manhattan skyline as the backdrop, the race would take place in New Jersey.

David Coulthard, the winner of 13 Grand Prix’s, took the Red Bull RB7 championship-winning car through Liberty State Park, the Lincoln Tunnel and parts of the race course.

Scottish Coulthard also took a tour of the 3.1 mile course in a road car, performing ‘donuts’, which is when a driver spins around on the spot burning the rubber of their tires to create circles on the road.

‘We were wondering about the cracks and everything in the roads, but I don’t think they’re an issue,’ said Coulthard to The Jersey Journal.

‘I think people are excited to see what we can do out there.’

Filming the Lincoln Tunnel drive from the air and the ground, Red Bull are hoping to keep enthusiasm going for the Formula 1 race in a country which is known to be ambivalent to the global race-fest.

‘The Grand Prix next June is not an official race yet,’ said Leo Parente, a former Formula 1 racer covering the event for Youtube’s Drive channel.

‘Generally, Formula 1 races are not official until the beginning of the year because local business or politics may interfere with planned races.

‘Events like this are a way to build excitement for the race and keep it from being canceled.’

The ‘Grand Prix of America’ is scheduled to be raced in June of 2013 and has the backing of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

‘It’s incredible. This is going to be an economic boom for this whole region,’ said the outspoken politician.

The circuit of the grand prix has already been compared to the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, the world’s premier and most glamorous street circuit.

The expected New Jersey race would come over 30 years since the sport’s boss, Bernie Ecclestone’s last serious attempt to set up an event in the Garden State.

It is part of his quest to strengthen Formula One in the U.S., where its popularity comes a distant third to NASCAR and IndyCar.

But with IndyCar seemingly in decline, which started with its split from CART in 1994 and has seen dwindling viewing figures and raceday fan numbers in the past 10 years, it could be the perfect time for Formula One to expand into America and take on NASCAR.

‘There is a lot of excitement about Formula One coming to America,’ said David Coulthard.

‘Red Bull have done more than anyone to promote the fact that we’re going to have not one, but two grands prix in the States.

‘This is a big enough country, a sophisticated audience that gets the technology of Formula One and at the moment, we are delivering good racing.’

The area is not foreign to motorsports, though it has been for a while.

The Meadowlands Grand Prix was a CART IndyCar race held in East Rutherford from 1984-1991.

It was the first major race in the New York City metropolitan area since 1937, and the course twisted and turned around the original Giants Stadium.

And to celebrate the fact that Red Bull are heavily promoting the ‘Grand Prix of America’, their engineering wizards got their car to perform the Star Spangled Banner.

Using computers to rev the engine in time to the U.S. national anthem, the Red Bull team’s car performed a seamless rendition.

Attribution: Mail Online