Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Environment minister to export crocodiles for hard currency

Mada Masr
Egypt’s environment minister proposes breeding crocodiles for export to boost economy

Wednesday November 30, 2016

Jano Charbel

Amid the dollar crisis and a shortage of hard currency, Egypt’s environment minister proposed the creation of crocodile farms on Lake Nasser in the country’s far south to breed the reptiles for export, estimating each crocodile could fetch up to $US400.

Khaled Fahmy’s proposal followed calls from parliamentarians, including the head of the parliamentary committee for energy and the environment Talaat al-Swedy, for tighter regulation of the illegal hunting and trade of crocodiles in Egypt.

The Nile crocodile was previously endangered, and categorized as an Appendix 1 animal, meaning it could not be legally traded, Fahmy explained in a televised interview with the privately owned Al-Hayah satellite channel on Sunday. But, in 2010 this was lifted, categorizing Nile crocodiles as a threatened species that can be bred and traded with permission from authorities, in keeping with the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which Egypt is a signatory, Fahmy added.

In order for Egypt to obtain permission and an export quota from CITES for the trade, farms for the breeding of Nile crocodiles must be established and approved.

A timeline for developing the farms and commercial export plans are to be established in coordination with an unnamed “national company,” which Fahmy said is due to present to CITES representatives soon. The ministry is also planning to bring in experts from Zambia and South Africa to act as supervisors for the initiative.

Egypt does not require parliamentary approval for the export of crocodiles, according to the minister, as regulations are included within the CITES protocol, which Egypt ratified in 1978. If approval is not given from convention officials, however, the trade is considered illegal.

A representative from the Environment Ministry, Loay Sayed, told the privately owned Youm7 news portal on Sunday there are currently around 3,000 crocodiles in Lake Nasser.

After news spread that the Nile crocodile is no longer classified as an endangered species, a number of fishermen began to illegally hunt them in Lake Nasser, selling them for around US$8. If breeding is regulated, they are likely to have higher quality skins that could fetch significantly more, Fahmy speculated.

The minister informed the parliamentary environment committee that he plans to have the crocodile farms ready for global exports within four years.

The first stage of the initiative will involve breeding the reptiles, Sayed said. After that, by 2018, the eggs will be transferred from the nurseries, before the crocodiles are exported, around 2020.

The Nile crocodile is the second largest living reptile on earth, after the saltwater crocodile. On average, adult Nile crocodiles measure between three and five meters long, and can weigh between 200 to 750 kilos.

Although they are mostly found in Lake Nasser, there have been individual crocodiles sighted in the Nile as far north as Cairo.

In the 1950s the species was almost extinct, but after the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s, and their subsequent isolation in Lake Nasser, Nile crocodiles started to make a comeback.

The Nile crocodile was revered in ancient Egypt, depicted in images of the crocodile-headed deity Sobek.

Al Jazeera documentary on conscription in Egypt sparks uproar in mainstream media

Mada Masr
Monday November 28, 2016

The Doha-based Al Jazeera television channel and the Qatari government continue to face rebuke in Egypt following Sunday night’s broadcast of a documentary on the conditions of conscripts in Egypt’s Armed Forces.

While Egyptian media have been the principal figures leading the response, nationalist hashtags supporting the military surfaced on social media and members of Egypt’s Parliament called for an end to diplomatic relations with Qatar.

Anger toward the film, titled The Soldiers: Story of conscription in the Egyptian Armed Forces, began on Friday with the release of its trailer, which includes reenactment footage of soldiers crawling through a field in their undergarments.

The film consists of the testimonies of former military conscripts regarding the abuse they faced while enlisted. Many said that the training they received was futile and did not prepare them for combat.

Some of the media coverage became more incendiary on Monday, following the broadcast. The privately owned al-Bawaba newspaper’s Managing Editor Mohamed al-Baz wrote an article titled “A look at our mentally ill Qatari brother,” contending that Qatar’s jealousy of Egypt’s size and significance prompted it to betray its fellow Arab country to conspire with their common enemies.

In the same issue, Al-Bawaba columnist Nashat al-Deihy wrote an opinion article that begins with the sentence, “The prince is gay and his mother is a prostitute.” He proceeds to call Qatar, “The island of gays and prostitutes.”

Several daily newspapers also published accounts on Monday of reporters who were allowed to visit military training camps, using phrasing such as “the den of lions” and “the factory of saviors” for what the Al Jazeera documentary portrayed as places of abuse.

The privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper published a cartoon on Monday depicting Qatari nationals watching the film and asking one another, “What is a military?” a reference to the country’s smaller military. This follows a cartoon in Sunday’s issue featuring an Egyptian struggling to point out where Qatar is on the map due to its small size.

However, these gestures are only the most recent in a series of comments issued by a broad range of figures across Egyptian society in the days leading up to the broadcast.

During a telephone interview on Youssef al-Husseini’s “Sada al-Muhtaramon” (Respectable Gentlemen) on Sunday, Foreign Minister spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid stated that it was clear that the film aimed to destabilize public confidence in the Armed Forces, a goal he asserted it would not accomplish. While Egypt’s media could address the claims advanced by the documentary, the Egyptian government, he continued, would not respond to a news channel.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawky Allam also affirmed support for Egypt’s military, saying it stands like a “proud mountain” and would not be affected by the slander propagated by partisan media platforms.
Amr Adib took to the air on Sunday night, saying that Qatar’s military is dependent on foreign elements and that the country does not understand the structure of Egypt’s Armed Forces. “Al-Ashera Masa’an” (10 pm) host Wael al-Ebrashy argued that outsiders “may not understand that compulsory military service in Egypt is a national and humanitarian duty.”

Lamis al-Hadidy, the host of “Huna al-'Asema” (Here’s the Capital) appealed to how conscription unifies Egyptians from every class, religion and race in the service of a nationalist endeavor. “Our military is a great national army. It is not a mercenary army. It is an army whose members come from every household in Egypt. Sacrifice, self-denial and glory are the slogans of the Egyptian solider.”

Regime supporters rallied around the hashtag “We will beat Tamim with a shoe” ahead of the screening on Sunday, a reference to the Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Ahmed Moussa is reported to have promoted use of the hashtag on his show “‘Ala Mas'ouliti” (My Responsibility.)

A photo depicting a military boot over Tamim’s head and bearing the caption, “Al Jazeera is under the boot of the Egyptian military” was widely circulated on social media. Another hashtag called on users to “Tweet in support of the Egyptian Armed Forces.”

A lawsuit was reportedly filed against Emad Eldin al-Sayed, the documentary’s director and an Egyptian national, on Sunday, claiming that he had defamed Egypt’s Armed Forces. Other media outlets reported that Sayed is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and an agent of Qatar. The director has denied these claims.

In an interview with the Huffington Post Arabic, Sayed explained that he is not attempting to tarnish the image of Egypt’s military. To the contrary, he told the Qatari-funded site that the “film is biased in favor of the Armed Forces,” adding that he is not opposed to military conscription.

“The film does not reject conscription. Rather, it discusses frequently-occurring incidents and accounts that are known to the Egyptian populace, including the punishment that conscripts face while enlisted, along with the exploitation of conscripted soldiers in labor markets outside the scope of military service.”

Sayed also told the Qatari-funded SasaPost news outlet that much of the documentary draws from footage either filmed by hidden cameras or leaked by conscripts who had captured it while on duty. However, other scenes feature reenactments based on testimony and archival documents.

Using the hashtag “These are Egyptian soldiers,” Armed Forces spokesperson Brigadier General Mohamed Samir disseminated footage that emphasized the dignity of soldiers during Armed Forces training exercises.

Security forces raided Al Jazeera’s offices in Egypt during the June 30 revolution. The channel’s employees have been banned from operating in Egypt, with the last affiliate channel, “Mubasher Misr” (Live from Egypt), being shut down in December 2014.

Egyptian police arrested and jailed four members of the Al Jazeera English channel, claiming that the four used rooms in the Marriott Hotel in Cairo to meet with Muslim Brotherhood members. They were charged with broadcasting news that could harm national security and disseminating false information. The ensuing legal proceedings against Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed became known as the “Marriott Cell” case. Greste, an Australian national, was deported in February 2015, and Fahmy, the Egyptian-Canadian bureau chief, and Mohamed, an Egyptian correspondent, were released from jail in September of the same year.

Al Jazeera, which is funded by the Qatari government, is widely perceived in Egypt to serve as the mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Two Al Jazeera Arabic reporters – Abdallah al-Shamy and Mohamed Badr – were arrested on August 14, 2013 during the violent dispersal of the Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in, which resulted in the deaths of several hundreds of supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Military conscription in Egypt lasts between one and three years, depending on level of education.

Conscription is limited to able-bodied males between the ages of 18 and 30 years old and is pursuant to the completion of formal education. Conscripts with little or no formal education are often drafted into the Central Security Forces and typically serve for three years under the auspices of the Interior Ministry rather than the Armed Forces.

11/11 protests fail to take off in Cairo, scores arrested nationwide

Mada Masr
11/11 protests fail to take off in Cairo, scores arrested nationwide

Friday November 11, 2016 

Mass demonstrations planned for November 11, promoted as the“Revolution of the Poor,” largely failed to materialize in Cairo on Friday. Some minor protests, marches and clashes took place in other governorates including Giza, Alexandria and Beheira, among others.

Dozens of protesters were reportedly arrested on Friday, with mainstream media outlets reporting that nearly all those arrested were associated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group. The Reuters-affiliated Aswat Masriya reported that security forces arrested 45 protesters nationwide on Friday, although the total number of detainees may actually be higher.

The state-owned Al-Akhbar news portal reported that 33 protesters were arrested while taking part in three protest marches in the town of Kafr al-Dawwar in Beheira. Those arrested were described as “elements of the terrorist Brotherhood” by Al-Akhbar, which also reported that police officers fired tear gas canisters to disperse demonstrations.

Four protesters were also arrested in Tahrir Square on Friday, according to the state-owned Al-Ahram news portal. Another four were reportedly arrested in the governorate of Minya, also said to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Five people were detained in Beni Suef, and another 10 were reported to have been arrested in Suez City.

The so-called 11/11 demonstrations were planned to protest ongoing austerity measures, including price hikes and subsidy cuts. The government implemented economic reforms to meet the conditions of a deal brokered with the International Monetary Fund for a US$12 billion loan, which is expected to be finalized on Friday.

The identities of those behind the calls for the demonstrations remain unknown with little indication as to who the organizers are. The Muslim Brotherhood endorsed the protests, and announced that they would be attending. Egypt’s state-owned Nile News channel reported on Friday that security forces were placed on high alert amid “the calls for chaos issued by the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood.”

Tahrir Square was sealed off by the police and the Armed Forces on Friday, and the Ministry of Interior ordered authorities to shut down the Sadat Metro station, which leads up to the square, until further notice.
Photos of small protests and marches were circulated on social media platforms, particularly those in the city of Balteem in Kafr al-Sheikh. These demonstrations, along with those which took place in Suez, became a trending topic on Twitter.

Other notable protests were reported to have taken place in the town of Nahiya, in Giza, and in Alexandria around Al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque where police are reported to have fired tear gas canisters to disperse the demonstrations.

Armed police units were deployed across Egypt’s towns and cities late Thursday night, and patrols and checkpoints were also established.

A correspondent told Mada Masr that there is “a very heavy security presence” in Cairo’s populous working class neighborhood of Matareya, stating “officers and troops are out in force in Matareya Square, and they are preventing anybody from taking photos, even those attempting to do so using their cellphones.”

The pro-regime, partisan Al-Wafd news portal reported on Friday that the “Revolution of the Poor” can only be found in Google searches, not in Egypt’s streets.

The top trending social media hashtags in Egypt on Friday were #محدش_نزل  (“Nobody took to the streets”) along with #افتحوا_الميادين (“Open up the public squares”.)

A photograph of a young man holding up a poster of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in one hand and waving an Egyptian flag with the other, was widely circulated on social media.

*Photo courtesy of Reuters

Sweet lord have mercy upon the world!

The very worst of this bloody world!

Together we will ruin everything

 Oh' Ye Fuckers!

Further devolution of the American state & voter

"Representative democracy" with only 2 parties + an electoral college =
Trump in White House 

Sisi is a "Predator of Press Freedom" - RSF

Mada Masr
Reporters Without Borders labels Sisi a ‘press freedom predator’

November 2, 2016

The Paris-based international organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has included Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on a list of “predators of press freedom.” The list is a roundup of 35 presidents, political and religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations which censor, imprison, torture and murder journalists around the world.

RSF published the list to commemorate the United Nations’ International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, observed on November 2.

The register of global leaders is presented in gallery form, with satirical “hunting permits” issued for each of the so-called “press predators.” The data comes from RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom index in which Egypt ranked 159th place out of 180 states.

While Egypt ranked low on the index prior to the Arab Spring, the organization claims that it has fallen even further since Sisi assumed power. It states “under General Sisi’s leadership, the current authorities are orchestrating a ‘Sisification’ of the media and a witch-hunt against the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.”

The “hunting permit” for Sisi reads, “fans of mass round-ups and arbitrary detention include Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was elected president in 2014 after leading the military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood government in July 2013.” It also includes a “kill tally” of six journalists since July 2013, adding that he has jailed at least 27 journalists and media personnel during his time in office.

RSF states that “the regime hounds journalists with any kind of link to the Muslim Brotherhood,” likening Sisi’s government to Thailand’s military junta, adding that journalists in Egypt are often subject to mass arrests at the hands of state security.

The organization also comments on the state’s use of prolonged pretrial detention and long jail sentences,  and criticizes Egypt’s 2015 anti-terrorism law, which requires journalists to report official accounts of bombings and other attacks to preserve ‘national security.’ The report also adds that “many foreign journalists have been deported.”

According to the RSF’s World Press Freedom Index “the situation of media freedom in Egypt is extremely worrying. Successive governments have tried to control the media, and have not hesitated to impose measures restricting journalists’ freedom.”

The RSF concludes that Sisi’s modus operandi is “complete denial.” It cited his interview with CNN in September 2015, when he stated “I do not want to exaggerate, but we have unprecedented freedom of expression in Egypt. No one in Egypt can bar anyone working in media or journalism or on TV from expressing their views.”

Accompanying Sisi on the list of “press predators” are Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Zimbabwe’s longtime President Robert Mugabe, Sudanese ruler Omar Bashir, South Sudan’s Salva Kiir, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korean absolute ruler Kim Jong-un, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, along with the Taliban and Islamic State groups.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also commented on press freedoms in Egypt, listing it as the world’s second worst jailer of journalists in 2015, behind China. The CPJ wrote “perhaps nowhere has the climate for the press deteriorated more rapidly than in Egypt.”