Daily Archives: December 27, 2011

On This Day…

In 1979, Soviet forces seized control of Afghanistan. President Hafizullah Amin, who was overthrown and executed, was replaced by Babrak Karmal.

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Egyptian Military Targets Female Protesters

Egyptian security forces and military are targeting female protesters, subjecting them to torture, sexual assault, and threats of rape.  The practices are similar to those employed pre-revolution, say various international and Egyptian human rights organizations.

Photo courtesy of Jezebel

Since January, it has appeared that the military was protecting protesters during a revolutionary process that ended in the overthrow of long-time president Hosni Mubarak.  With the power of the government now in the hands of the military critics say that they have resorted to the same sorts of brutality used by the former regime.

A viral video shows Egyptian soldiers beating and disrobing a female protester.  Three men expose her midriff and bra as they stomp on her stomach and batter her head with batons.  The video has drawn international scorn, including a condemnation of the “systematic degradation” of Egyptian women by U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

In response to this beating, thousands of Egyptian women took to the streets in protest.  It was the largest all-female protest since Egypt’s independence.

The Egyptian government released an apology via Facebook and expressed “great regret to the great women of Egypt for the violations that took place” and promising “all legal measures have been taken to hold accountable all those responsible for these violations.”

There is skepticism about seeing change come from the government’s response.

Violence against female protesters has a purpose.  Egypt is a patriarchal society.  Women are not supposed to express themselves publicly.  The violence is likely meant to punish those who violate this norm and deter those who might consider doing so in the future.

Via Impunity Watch.

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Obama Will Ask Congress to Raise the Debt Ceiling

Seal of the United States Department of the Tr...

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The Obama administration will formally ask Congress later this week to raise the nation’s debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion, a Treasury Department official told CNN.

The request is the third authorized by the debt ceiling agreement reached last August. It’s expected to come on December 30, the day the debt will fall within $100 billion of the $15.194 trillion ceiling. The request asks that the ceiling be raised to $16.39 trillion.

According to the terms of the debt ceiling agreement, Congress has fifteen days to pass a joint resolution disapproving of an increase, which President Obama can veto.

The new debt ceiling will satisfy U.S. debts until the end of next year, according to the Treasury Department official.

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2011 Ticket Sales Down, Even with Higher Prices

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

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With just a few days left in 2011, ticket sales in North America are running about $500 million behind last year, despite higher prices.

 

Analysts say that 2010 benefited from holdover sales for “Avatar,” which was released late in 2009. Over all, North American ticket revenue for 2011 is projected to be about $10.1 billion.

 

That is only a 4.5% falloff from 2010, but studio executives are alarmed by the downturn, in part because the real picture is worse than the raw revenue numbers suggest.

 

Revenue, for instance, has been propped up by a glut of 3-D films, which cost $3 to $5 more per ticket. Studios made forty pictures in 3-D in the last twelve months, up from twenty-four last year, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. Theaters have also continued to increase prices; moviegoers pay an average of $7.89 each, up 1% over last year.

 

Attendance for 2011 is expected to drop 5.3%, to 1.27 billion, continuing a slide. Attendance declined 6% in 2010.

 

Hopes that a group of releases would supercharge the Christmas box office fizzled. “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” was a solid number one, taking in $26.5 million in its second weekend for a total of $59 million. “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” was second, with $17.8 million in ticket sales, lifting its total to $76.6 million.

 

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” struggled in third place, taking in $13.3 million for a total of $50.3 million. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” was fourth, taking in $13 million for the weekend and $21.4 million since opening last Wednesday. Steven Spielberg’s “Adventures of Tintin” was fifth with about $9.1 million ($22.3 million since opening last Wednesday). “We Bought a Zoo” came in sixth, taking in $7.8 million in its opening weekend.

 

Young people, defined by studios as teenagers and people in their twenties, powered some of the biggest movies of 2011, including “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the year’s number one release with $381 million in domestic ticket sales. “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” was second with more than $352 million, and “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” was third with more than $269 million.

 

 

 

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White Supremacists Throw Support to Ron Paul

Ron Paul, member of the United States House of...

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The American Free Press, which markets books like The Invention of the Jewish People and March of the Titans: A History of the White Race is urging its subscribers to send copies of Ron Paul’s collected speeches to voters in New Hampshire.

Don Black, director of the white nationalist Website Stormfront, said that his members were volunteering for Mr. Paul’s presidential campaign, and a site forum titled “Why is Ron Paul such a favorite here?” has more than twenty pages of comments. “I understand he wins many fans because his monetary policy would hurt Jews,” read one.

Far-right groups like the Militia of Montana say they are rooting for Mr. Paul as a stalwart against government tyranny.

Mr. Paul’s surge in polls is creating excitement within a part of his political base that has been behind him for decades.

The white supremacists, survivalists, and anti-Zionists who have rallied behind his candidacy have not exactly been welcomed, but they certainly have not been refused. “I wouldn’t be happy with that,” Mr. Paul said in an interview Friday when asked about getting help from volunteers with anti-Jewish or antiblack views. However, he added, “If they want to endorse me, they’re endorsing what I do or say — it has nothing to do with endorsing what they say.”

The libertarian movement has two distinct strains. One, backed by wealthy interests, is focused on economic freedom and dedicated to reducing taxes and regulation. The other is more focused on personal liberty and constraints on government built into the Constitution, which has helped fuel militant antigovernment sentiment.

Mr. Paul has operated at the nexus of the two, espousing positions at odds with the Republican Party but assembling a following attracted by his libertarian principles.

Mr. Paul’s calls for the end of the Federal Reserve, a cessation of aid to Israel, and a diminishment of government power have natural appeal among far-right groups.

Mr. Paul and his allies either wittingly or unwittingly court disaffected white voters with extreme views as they seek to forge a movement from the nether region of American politics, where the far right and the far left converge.

In May, Mr. Paul reiterated that he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawing segregation. He said that he supported its intent, but that parts of it violated his belief that government should not dictate how property owners behave. He has been featured in videos of the John Birch Society, which campaigned against the Civil Rights Act.

In the mid-1990s, between his stints as a Texas congressman, Mr. Paul produced a newsletter called The Ron Paul Survival Report, which only months before the Oklahoma City bombings encouraged militias to seek out and expel federal agents.

Another newsletter he produced, The Ron Paul Political Report, concluded that the need for citizens to arm themselves was only natural, given carjackings by “urban youth who play whites like pianos.” The report said: “I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self-defense. For the animals are coming.”

Via The New York Times.

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Chinese Lawyer Imprisoned fo Violating Probation

Chinese officials have announced that rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has been missing for two years, will serve three years in prison for violating the terms of his probation.

Photo Courtesy of the Shanghaiist

Mr. Gao was arrested and sentenced to probation in 2006 for defending practitioners of Falun Gong, a banned religion in China. After being sentenced, Mr. Gao disappeared three times. Between his disappearances, he informed reporters that he was tortured.

He reported that he was beaten with electric batons and handguns. He also said that he was forced to sit still for sixteen hours with a hood over his head while being threatened.

Although he was missing for twenty months, the Chinese government maintained that Gao Zhisheng was free on probation since 2006. Some believe that the recent revocation indicates that the lawyer has secretly been in state custody.

Chinese authorities have not identified what probation violations Mr. Gao committed, but his five-year probation would have expired this week, prompting some to believe that the government re-imprisoned him to prevent him from being freed.

Western nations and the United Nations have pressured Chinese authorities to release Mr. Gao but have refused to do so.

In response to international concern, an official for the Chinese Foreign Ministry has stated that other nations do not have the right to interfere in China’s internal affairs.

 

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