The Reads You Need: Protests in Egypt
Thousands gathered in Cairo's Tahrir square on Thursday, the sixth straight day of protests against Egypt's military leaders.
November 24th, 2011
05:17 PM ET

The Reads You Need: Protests in Egypt

Editor's note: Each day, we'll bring you some of the diverse voices from our site and across the Web on the stories causing ripples throughout the news sphere.

[Updated at 8:51 a.m. ET Friday] Cairo has seen days of protests and violence as demonstrators voice opposition to what they perceive as Egypt's too-slow transition from military rule. Parliamentary elections are due to begin Monday - part of a long electoral process that may lead to a presidential election months from now - but demonstrators have been upset with the transition's pace and are demanding that the military rulers step down.

A military council took charge of Egypt after protesters ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February. The military promised that eventually a civilian government would be elected and take over. But demonstrators say they are concerned that the military, which would continue to be Egypt's top authority until a president is in place, wants to keep a grip on the country. Many also have voiced anger about a proposed constitutional principle that would shield the military's budget from scrutiny by civilian powers.

Relative calm prevailed Thursday over Cairo's Tahrir Square, where protesters have been since Saturday, but Friday brought more plans for street activity. And clashes in the country between demonstrators and security forces killed 38 people by Wednesday, including 33 in Cairo; another 3,250 were wounded, the country's health ministry said.

Today, we'll take a look at what some commentators are saying about Egypt's future, the United States' leverage in the region, and why, if history is any lesson, a slow transition from military rule shouldn't be a surprise.

Why Egypt needs a second revolution

Emad El-Din Shahin, associate professor of religion, conflict and peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, says that since it took control of the post-Mubarak transition, the military "has been following a three-sided strategy to contain and even frustrate the persistent demands for handing over power to a civilian authority and establishing an effective democratic system."

"To many protesters, what Egypt is witnessing is "phase two" of the January revolution. One cannot ignore the striking similarities between the two phases, particularly the snail-paced responses of the military council and Mubarak and the unjustifiable use of force against unarmed civilians.

...

The military council also repeats another fatal mistake by responding too late with too little, leading protesters to raise the ceiling of their demands. What started as protests calling for protecting democracy and a timetable for transferring power under the management of the military council has become firm demands for ending the rule of the council and the military generals.

Despite this revolutionary situation, and perhaps because of it, Egypt has great hopes in transitioning to democracy. Several steps need to be taken.

The military council needs to bring to justice those responsible for the death and injury of peaceful protesters, including the immediate dismissal of the minister of interior and his aides. A new national salvation government has to be formed of credible public figures to manage the transitional process - writing a new constitution, restoring order and reviving the country's economy.

Read the full story here.

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Filed under: Egypt • The Reads You Need
November 24th, 2011
03:24 PM ET

Iraqi police: 19 killed in Basra blasts

At least 19 people were killed and 67 others were wounded Thursday in three explosions in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, two police officials said.

A roadside bomb and a motorcycle exploded in quick succession in a busy commercial district that includes shops and restaurants, the officials said.

When curious onlookers and Iraqi security forces arrived to the scene to investigate, another motorcycle rigged with explosives detonated, causing most of the casualties, police said. A number of Iraqi police and army security officers were among the dead, the officials said.

The oil-rich, predominantly Shiite city of Basra is about 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of Baghdad.

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Overheard on CNN.com: Bachmann deserved an apology
NBC apologized to Rep. Michele Bachmann for a song that was played during her appearance on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."
November 24th, 2011
03:01 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Bachmann deserved an apology

Editor's note: Readers have a lot to say about stories, and we're listening. Overheard on CNN.com is a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Comment of the day:

“Did NBC [also] email the apology to both of Fallon's viewers?”
- Max17

Bad song choice

When Rep. Michele Bachmann recently appeared on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” she probably didn’t expect the band to play Fishbone’s “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” as she walked out. But that’s exactly what happened. And now, NBC has sent the congresswoman an apology letter, and host Jimmy Fallon has apologized to her over the phone and via Twitter.

CNN.com readers said the band’s song choice was clearly inappropriate at best.

MiketheMike said, “No matter what anyone thinks of Bachmann, she was invited to the show as a guest and should have been treated as such. It's really sad that the concept of civility is being sacrificed by many for the sake of political animosity.”

Guest said, “I don't know all that much about Bachmann but her point is well taken. Had the recipient of this ‘humor’ been Michelle Obama there would have been hell to pay.”

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November 24th, 2011
02:48 PM ET

Egyptian army: Former prime minister to take post again

Former Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri has agreed to become Egypt's new prime minister and will form a new government, an Egyptian army spokesman said Thursday.

This development - announced by Lt. Col. Amr Imam - comes days after former Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his government quit en masse. And it was revealed shortly before Monday's parliamentary elections, which Egypt's military rulers vowed Thursday would go on despite ongoing violence and unrest.

Ganzouri was Egypt's prime minister in the late 1990s under President Hosni Mubarak. He accepted an offer Thursday after meeting with Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, field marshal of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who has been Egypt's dominant force since Mubarak's ouster in February, according to the state-run MENA news agency.

According to Aly Hassan, a judicial consultant, Ganzouri would remain prime minister until January 10, when results of the parliamentary elections are announced. After then, Parliament would have to back Ganzouri for him to remain in the position.

The move comes as protesters remain massed in Cairo's Tahrir Square, angry at the political transition and military rulers.

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Overheard on CNN.com: Black Friday is for suckers
This year's Black Friday is expected to be a big one.
November 24th, 2011
02:14 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Black Friday is for suckers

Editor's note: Readers have a lot to say about stories, and we're listening. Overheard on CNN.com is a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Comments of the morning:
“How sad. I wish people would boycott this absurdity. Next year are we going to have ‘Black Wednesday’?”
- wordswords

“Let's hope it is a big Friday for shopping. The market could use the boost.”
- bdyftns

Shoppers ready for Black Friday

Despite a struggling economy, it seems Americans are still in the mood to dole out dollars to ensure a merry Christmas. According to a recent report from the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group, an estimated 152 million people will shop over Black Friday weekend, up 10% from last year. And thanks to some stores opening Thanksgiving evening, that number may be even higher.

But most CNN.com commenters said they would be skipping Black Friday for various reasons.

Fallowt was among those who were critical of stores opening on Thanksgiving and for people wasting their time camping out for bargains.

"’Black Friday’ should be called ‘slave-driver’ Friday. Retailers now won't even let their employees have that one freakin’ day to enjoy with their families. It sucks, it's wrong and it needs to stop. I can't have any respect for someone who feels that they need to camp out in front of a store for a bargain. Those actions just speak volumes about the state of our society. Laziness, materialism and just plain low-class. I hope somebody steals your damn tents while you’re busting down Best Buys’ doors.”

But SmartIrish responded, “Did you not ever care to think that these people come from low income backgrounds and they never had an amazing Christmas? So if sleeping overnight might just let them splurge enough to make this Christmas special so be it. I hope someone steals your car while you sleep in!”

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November 24th, 2011
11:55 AM ET

At least 20 bodies found in western Mexico

Authorities found more than 20 bodies inside three abandoned vehicles in Guadalajara, Mexico, Thursday, state media reported.

The vehicles were discovered near a monument on one of the city's main avenues, the state-run Notimex news agency said, citing police sources.

Officials did not release the exact number of bodies found Thursday morning.

Jalisco state Attorney General Tomas Coronado Olmos told CNN affiliate TV Azteca that a message was found with the bodies, but he did not disclose what it said.

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Filed under: Mexico
November 24th, 2011
11:00 AM ET

Defectors killed in clashes with Syrian army, activists say

At least 11 Syrian military defectors were shot dead Thursday during clashes with regular Syrian army units on the western outskirts of the city of Homs, an activist group said.

Four other defectors were wounded in the violence, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Another opposition human rights group, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, said Syrian army units backed by armored vehicles stormed farms to the west of Homs, leading to 15 deaths.

A campaign of raids and arrests is also taking place in the Damascus suburb of Domeir, Qalet Mudeeq in Hama, and Baniyas, the LCC said.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Syria
NBC apologizes to Bachmann over song
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, appeared on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" on Monday.
November 24th, 2011
10:15 AM ET

NBC apologizes to Bachmann over song

NBC has joined Jimmy Fallon in apologizing to Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, the network reported on its "TODAY" show Thursday.

Fallon had apologized on Twitter after Bachmann appeared Monday on his "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" show, walking on stage to the song "Lyin' Ass Bitch" by Fishbone.

"I'm honored that @michelebachmann was on our show yesterday and I'm so sorry about the intro mess. I really hope she comes back," Fallon tweeted on Tuesday.

The candidate admitted being oblivious to the slight at the time, but insisted in an interview Wednesday on Fox News that the incident amounted to "sexism."

It "wouldn't be tolerated if it was Michelle Obama and shouldn't be tolerated for a conservative woman, either," Bachmann said in calling for NBC to also apologize.

The network did so, according to the "TODAY" show report on Thanksgiving Day.

It appears the song choice was intentional. Prior to Bachmann's arrival on stage, the band's drummer, Questlove, tweeted during the show: "Aight late night walkon song devotees: you love it when we snark: this next one takes the cake. ask around cause i aint tweeting title."

On Tuesday, the Fallon show's band issued a statement saying "the performance was a tongue-in-cheek and spur-of-the-moment decision."

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Filed under: Politics
November 24th, 2011
07:59 AM ET

3 U.S. students expect to be freed in Egypt

[Updated at 4 p.m. ET] Three American college students arrested on suspicion of throwing Molotov cocktails during a protest in Cairo were ordered released Thursday, but it was not immediately clear when that would happen. Late in the day, they remained in custody.

"We handed the release order to the police and it's in their hands now," said Adel Saeed, the official spokesman of the general prosecutor.

The prosecutor's office told CNN earlier Thursday that the students had already been released. But late in the day, a friend of the students said they could remain in custody for a few more days.

Drew Harper, a 22-year-old film student from New York who has been in Cairo for three months, said the students said they were in good spirits and cited a bureaucratic slowdown for their continuing detention.

The erroneous news that they had already been freed was embraced by Joy Sweeney, whose son Derrik is one of the three students. "We are just so blessed and so grateful right now," she told CNN. "I can't wait to give him a big hug."

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Parade balloons ready to fly
Floats for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade are prepared Wednesday in New York.
November 24th, 2011
07:18 AM ET

Parade balloons ready to fly

A tangled web of hoses covered the streets around the Museum of Natural History in New York as 15 giant helium balloons were inflated late Wednesday afternoon. They're the premier attraction in the 85th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people to the route as the holiday season is ushered in.

(Click the audio player to hear more on this story from CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum)

Crews were extra careful to ensure that the balloons were well secured as wind gusts and the occasional light rain shower pushed them around. But the wind is expected to die down by morning, and Macy's officials do not anticipate any problems flying the balloons in the parade.

"Everyone has seen this parade. You've grown up with it," said Jimmy Artle, a member of the production team. This is the 31st straight year that he's worked on the parade. "The parade has been here long before me. It's going to go on long after I'm gone. It's like being a caretaker. It's an amazing feeling."

About five new balloons will be featured, including Julius, the Paul Frank monkey. And a balloon making its return after an 18-year absence will be Sonic the Hedgehog. Eleven marching bands, dozens of floats and hundreds of clowns will join them as they make their way to Herald Square, the site of Macy's flagship store.

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American Samoa, one of soccer's worst teams, scores first ever win
American Samoa are bottom of FIFA's world football rankings.
November 24th, 2011
03:25 AM ET

American Samoa, one of soccer's worst teams, scores first ever win

Talk about something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

The American Samoa soccer team, ranked dead last in the FIFA rankings, made history this week when it won its first ever international game.

That's cause for celebration for a team that for 16 years had never savored victory.

A team that played 30 games since 1994, losing all 30.

One that set a record for the largest loss in international soccer history, when Australia trounced it 30-1 in 2001.

But all that changed Tuesday when it beat Tonga 2-1 in a pre-qualifying game for the 2014 World Cup.

I hope that we can now improve our standing in the FIFA rankings and get into the hundreds," said coach Thomas Rongen to the country's football federation. "We are 204 at the moment and this win will have helped."

Rongen, who until May coached the U.S. Under-20 team, was hired just three weeks ago.

He told the Football Federation he wasn't even sure where the tiny U.S. protectorate in the South Pacific was when he was approached for the job.

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November 24th, 2011
01:25 AM ET

No sign of survivors after plane crashes in Arizona mountain

As many as six people, three of them children, are feared dead after their plane crashed into a rugged mountain east of Phoenix during a Thanksgiving trip Wednesday, officials said.

The aircraft, a Rockwell AC 69, crashed about 6:30 p.m. in the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction, said Pinal County Sheriff's spokesman Elias Johnson.

It had flown from Safford to Mesa where it picked up the children for the Thanksgiving holiday, said Sheriff Paul Babeu.

Rescue crews searching for survivors in jagged terrain found the body of a child. There may have been as many as six people on board, including two other children, Babeu said.

"We hope there are survivors, but it does not look promising," he said.

The children ranged in age from 5 to 9, authorities said.

A man who said he witnessed the impact told CNN that a mushroom cloud of flames lit up the evening sky.

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November 24th, 2011
01:17 AM ET

Egypt apologizes for deaths of protesters

Egypt's military leaders apologized Thursday for the deaths of protesters during the recent clashes, vowed to prosecute offenders and pay the medical bills of those injured.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces posted the apology on its Facebook page.

"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces presents its regrets and deep apologies for the deaths of martyrs among Egypt's loyal sons during the recent events in Tahrir Square," the message said. "The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces confirms that it is making every sincere effort to prevent such events from happening again."

The message comes as a relative calm fell over Tahrir Square after days of deadly clashes. Soldiers erected barbed wire barricades to separate protesters and police early Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Ahram Online website - part of the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper group - reported that the country's major political parties are considering asking the Supreme Council to postpone the first round of parliamentary elections for two weeks. Those elections are scheduled for Monday.

The website attributed the information to unnamed sources close to the discussions. On Tuesday, the liberal Wafd Party floated a similar suggestion in a public statement, the website said.

Late Wednesday, prominent American-Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy tweed that she had been detained.

"Beaten arrested in interior ministry," the post read.

The U.S. State Department called the arrest "very concerning" and said embassy officials were trying to get information from Egyptian authorities.

Also arrested were three American college students accused of tossing Molotov cocktails during the protests.

 

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Filed under: Egypt • World