All COVID Newscasts Underserving America


If one only receives their news via the evening broadcasts from the three main networks it is most likely there is no awareness about a long list of international events that are shaping regions of the world.  I am clearly aware of the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the many tentacles it has on all parts of the nation.  I am also aware of the need to report and juggle events within the roughly 22 minutes allotted for the nightly broadcasts.  But it also goes without saying that news programming needs to adapt during this time of pandemic so the events from Poland to Hong Kong also get covered.

If everyone read a morning newspaper there would be less reason to find concern about the absence from ABC, CBS, or NBC about events that not only impact large swaths of the world but also impact international policy decisions our nation is then required to make.  A well-informed citizenry aids in shaping our national discussion on the issues which our leaders will then be offering a response.

I wrote about the actions nations like China, North Korea, and Iran have been undertaking over the past months, as they hoped a pandemic and the lack of ability from our president would allow them to get away with their long-held desires.  In April I summed up a post entry with these two paragraphs.

There is  no doubt that international players are watching the United States very closely as this pandemic takes hold of the country.  They are most conscious about the lack of leadership exhibited from this White House.  It is troubling to see so many rogue players and confrontational nations seeming to wish to take moves that run counter to international norms.

While there is a lack of credible leadership in the White House there will be those who take advantage of the existing circumstances. At the fringes that is what we are seeing play out on the world stage. It is not something we can dismiss, and it is not something that the television news media in this nation should fail to report.  We need to be aware of international events, even during a pandemic.

A most draconian national security law imposed by Beijing has left Hong Kong in a most perilous position.  Those living in the city can now be jailed for life for vaguely defined laws.  What China deems “subversive” can mean not only a citizen of the city can be forced to the mainland for trial but jailed for decades over the most bizarre of reasons.

A truly important election is taking place this weekend in Poland, where the outcome could signal the beginning of the end of right-wing and illiberal democratic governments in Eastern Europe. (Illiberal democracy is a topic of importance on CP)  Those who follow the trend lines over the past years can attest to the dangerous outcomes for democracy when the press is vilified, courts turn out rulings dictated by oppressive rulers, and human rights are tossed aside like old bread.  Warsaw Mayor Trzaskowski is seeking to remove the right-wing incumbent President Duda.   The outcome is vital to the international tide of democracy that needs restoration.

If a news story on a major network started out with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, when completed, being nearly twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty and as wide as the Brooklyn Bridge is long or that the reservoir behind it is roughly the size of London, viewers would pay attention. Once operating the dam will be the largest hydro-electric project in Africa.  It will produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity, but a massive dispute with Egypt and Ethiopia and Sudan has prompted threats of war and concerns about a future conflict over water resources under pressure because of climate change.

The world is filled with these types of news stories that we need to know about and with newspapers and newsmagazines, many people are better informed.  But there is a huge swath of the public who rely upon television network news for their source of information.  And that demographic is not prone to tune in to PBS’ NewsHour.  So it is incumbent that the three main networks find a better use of the time allotted to them in the evening.

Increasing the length of their national newscast is not an option due to the importance of local advertisers to affiliates around the nation.  Going without advertisers on the national broadcast would add about 8 minutes of content.  If there would be just a cold opening without a playlist of upcoming stories, and also jettisoning the ‘feel good’ story at the end of each broadcast would add at least 3 minutes of airtime for actual news content.

There must be a better way to inform those who tune in to the evening broadcasts and rely on it for most of their knowledge about the world. The recent past underscores why there needs to be a better-informed citizenry, which then allows for a better performing electorate.

And so it goes.

Sadness As Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Dies–First Democratically Elected Leader In Nation


I am saddened to learn of the death of Mohamed Morsi, former president of Egypt.  I was hopeful for his leadership, and mindful for why he was important to the people who elected him to office.

Today Morsi, the country’s first democratically-elected leader died.  He had been in court, where he had been granted a request to make a statement.  Once the court adjourned, he fainted and passed away.

I had hoped with his election progress in Egypt could have taken a similar path to that of Turkey which was able to construct a nation that is western looking while rooted in traditional ways.  (Though the authoritarian moves over the past several years deeply troubles me.)  The people of Egypt desperately wanted a better life.  I had hoped Morsi was the start of a new era.

I was a proud supporter of the Arab Spring, which brought Morsi to power.  I was also a loud critic of the coup by the military which ended the term of the duly elected president.  Traditionally, the army has been the one institution Egyptians trusted to guarantee stability.   The fact they are now also known in the history books as taking down an elected official will long tar their narrative.

In 2012 I wrote the following about Morsi.

There is a need to re-calibrate our relations with the Middle East.  The fact that American money was used to buy autocratic leaders over the decades has not allowed for the best interests of the people who live there to be realized.  If there is contempt for the United States in the way we conducted our foreign policy card we can only look in the mirror to see who should be blamed.

No matter if one views Morsi as good or bad, there is no way to escape the fact he has to be respected for standing up on behalf of a nation that for too long was taken advantage of for our strategic needs.

While America has legitimate reasons to be engaged in the Middle East, and there are countless reasons our foreign aid dollars are meaningful and required, it is also a fact that our interests are not the primary ones.

The people who live in the Middle East come first.

And Egypt’s President, Mohamed Morsi, is reminding us of that fact.

Yes, he deserves our respect.

It is easy to see why there continues to be utter fascination with this historic land.


Egypt Takes Military Goodies From North Korea

In April 2015 I wrote the following on this blog.

So it should come as no surprise that I am troubled by the news that the United States will resume suspended military aid to Egypt.  The Obama administration said it would continue to request the annual $1.3 billion in military financing the United States has provided in the past to Egypt.  That makes such funding the second-largest recipient of U.S. military support after Israel.

While I strongly support foreign aid overall , and also support the military moves Egypt along with other regional powers are taking against radical elements in Yemen, I am opposed to the military support we are providing for Sisi.

Today comes reporting from the Washington Post of what happens when we support tyrants such as Egypt’s President Sisi.  We always end up being duped.

Last August, a secret message was passed from Washington to Cairo warning about a mysterious vessel steaming toward the Suez Canal. The bulk freighter named Jie Shun was flying Cambodian colors but had sailed from North Korea, the warning said, with a North Korean crew and an unknown cargo shrouded by heavy tarps.

Armed with this tip, customs agents were waiting when the ship entered Egyptian waters. They swarmed the vessel and discovered, concealed under bins of iron ore, a cache of more than 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades. It was, as a United Nations report later concluded, the “largest seizure of ammunition in the history of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

But who were the rockets for? The Jie Shun’s final secret would take months to resolve and would yield perhaps the biggest surprise of all: The buyers were the Egyptians themselves.

A U.N. investigation uncovered a complex arrangement in which Egyptian business executives ordered millions of dollars worth of North Korean rockets for the country’s military while also taking pains to keep the transaction hidden, according to U.S. officials and Western diplomats familiar with the findings. The incident, many details of which were never publicly revealed, prompted the latest in a series of intense, if private, U.S. complaints over Egyptian efforts to obtain banned military hardware from Pyongyang, the officials said.

Most Intriguing Story You Probably Missed This Week

If I were a history teacher this story is one I would include no matter what region of the world or time period we were studying.   This story did not receive the play I wish it had given how intriguing it is to those who love to ponder the unknowns about King Tut.

Where is Queen Nefertiti buried? It’s one of the biggest mysteries in Egyptology, and today, archaeologists might be one step closer to an answer.

Researchers have been radar-scanning the walls of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Luxor’s Valley of the Kings in search of hidden chambers.

Now, NPR’s Leila Fadel tells our Newscast unit that analysis of scans conducted in November shows there are two empty spaces behind the walls. And those spaces may contain organic or metallic material.

The presence of organic or metal objects would certainly add weight to the theory that the tomb contains hidden chambers — but, as Leila reports, more advanced scans are required before authorities can say for sure.

“And if there are chambers, then Egypt will decide how and when to get into those chambers and see whether this is the burial site of [Tut’s relative] Queen Nefertiti,” Leila says.

At a press conference today, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh el-Damaty “declined to comment on whether royal treasure or mummies could be inside,” The Associated Press reported.

But he didn’t mince words about what this discovery could mean.

“For Egypt it is a very big discovery — it could be the discovery of the century. … It is very important for Egyptian history and for all of the world,” Damaty said, according to the wire service.


Some of the treasures inside the tomb of King Tut in Luxor, Egypt, in 1923.

Some of the treasures inside the tomb of King Tut in Luxor, Egypt, in 1923.





Mohamed Morsi To Die, Egyptain President al-Sisi To Sleep With One Eye Open

There will be a day of reckoning for Egyptian Presdient al-Sisi.

Following the death sentence handed down today for ousted president Mohamed Morsi there is no reason to think at some point down the road the Muslim Brotherhood will not seek revenge.    And who can blame the Brotherhood for feeling this way?

The outrages that have occurred in Egypt under the leadership of Sisi have been numerous and the blind eye and hands-off approach that too many western leaders have used in their dealings with him is most concerning.

From the time the coup took place and Morsi was toppled from power the political aim was to discredit and demonize him.  There is no way to overstate the way Sisi’s regime has used the judiciary as a tool to oppress the Brotherhood.  That is why it was logical today for Amnesty International to denounce the death sentence as “a charade based on null and void procedures”.

Let us not forget that Morsi was elected fair and square–international observers said so–with 52% of the vote.  With the coup and now the death sentence Sisi is turning his back on common sense, decency, and the world who will find this ruling outrageous.

We Should Be Concerned About Military Aid To Egypt

Not for the first time do I register my concern with Egypt’s President Sisi.

There is absolutely no doubt Sisi rules in a most repressive manner.  Far more so than did Hosni Mubarak. Human Rights Watch reports that under the regime of Sisi  hundreds of protesters have been killed.  In addition tens of thousands are jailed, and most of those are from members of the political opposition.   And always of deep concern to me are the members of the press who are censored and imprisoned.

So it should come as no surprise that I am troubled by the news that the United States will resume suspended military aid to Egypt.  The Obama administration said it would continue to request the annual $1.3 billion in military financing the United States has provided in the past to Egypt.  That makes such funding the second-largest recipient of U.S. military support after Israel.

While I strongly support foreign aid overall , and also support the military moves Egypt along with other regional powers are taking against radical elements in Yemen, I am opposed to the military support we are providing for Sisi.

I strongly felt that the democratic vote of Egypt should have been supported that placed Morsi in power.  It is the process of democracy that needed to have played out which would have allowed for that nation to have become stronger and more aware of the importance of the political power unleashed from elections.   But instead what happened was nothing less than a military coup which allowed Sisi to be ‘elected’.

As such America needs to ponder larger truths about our role in the such cases.   While it is true that our foreign policy interests always need to be asserted, and one can make a strong case for the military aid we are providing, it is also true that I can paint a historical perspective as to why such support for these types of leaders cause real problems.

We always seek out more representative governments than the ones they replaced, but never backtrack when that newer government rules as repressively as the predecessor.  We never seen to sense the outrage or the radicalization of the populace in time and then so work to temper the regime that is to blame.  We just keep playing ball with the tyrants. Then we act with surprise that the people are angry and start blowing things up.

Major Muslim Cleric Calling For Educational Reform

This is the type of movement and expression that needs to happen to counter those who wish to perpetuate a bastardized version of Islam.   While I welcome the words and tone from Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb I am not at all impressed with the words from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.  It is after all Saudi rulers who have cozied up with Wahhabism which has produced such dreadful outcomes for not only Islam but the political dynamics of much of the Middle East.   Stop sponsoring the anti-intellectual madrassas form of education and then we can start to listen without gagging over what Saudi rulers have to say.

The head of Sunni Islam’s most esteemed center of learning made one of the most sweeping calls yet for educational reform in the Muslim world to combat the escalation of extremist violence.

Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar in Cairo, blamed “corrupt interpretations” of the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad for the rise of Middle East-based terrorism. He issued his appeal in Mecca, Saudi Arabia—Islam’s holiest city—at a gathering of some 700 moderate Muslim clerics from various countries.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman also expressed concern that extremists posed a threat to Muslims everywhere because their actions had tarnished the image of Islam among non-Muslims.

In a speech read to the conference by the governor of Mecca, the king said Muslims are now seen as “culprits and as a source of fear and concern,” resulting in strained ties between Muslim countries and the rest of the world.

Mr. al-Tayeb deplored what he described as the stigmatizing of moderate Muslims by their more radical brethren in schools and universities.

The only way for more mainstream Muslims to reassert their control was to “tackle this tendency [of extremists] to accuse [other] Muslims of being unbelievers,” he told the gathering convened by Saudi-financed Muslim World League.

The rise of terrorism stemmed from “historical accumulations of tendencies of extremism in our heritage, which originated from corrupt interpretations of some of the texts of the Quran and the Sunnah,” he said, referring to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

Earlier this month, Mr. al-Tayeb said Islamic State fighters who burned a Jordanian air force pilot to death deserved the Quranic punishments of death or crucifixion for being enemies of God and the prophet.

Mr. al-Tayeb didn’t mention the Sunni radical group Islamic State by name but clearly alluded to the group by criticizing “extremist violent groups” that spread fear and panic through “beheadings and burning innocents alive.”

Keep Your Eye On The Sinai

There are more balls to watch in the air then ever–or so it seems.

Over the months reports of Egyptian forces making attempts to bring rouge parts of the Sinai under control have caught my attention.    In the past roughly year-and-a-half since the military ousted President Morsi (which I viewed as a mistake since a proper election was conducted and all should want to allow for democratic processes to play out) the Sinai has become the center of a campaign of retaliatory attacks on Egyptian security forces.  There may be huge economic hurdles for newly installed Predient Sisi to deal with but let me be clear in stating there is no more significant challenge facing this military-booted ruler than the Sinai.   Places like the Sinai may seem a great deal of miles away, and hardly worth thinking about–given the gravity of under inflated footballs for Americans to worry about–but this is one area of the world that never can be taken for granted.

Yesterday the ongoing tensions made for bolder headlines.

Assailants armed with rocket-propelled grenades, car bombs and mortar rounds attacked police stations and military installations in the restive Sinai Peninsula on Thursday night, killing at least 20 people, the Egyptian military and state media said.

The coordinated attacks, which wounded dozens, were reportedly still in progress early Friday morning in Egypt, hours after they began. The Associated Press reported at least 26 people were killed.

Egypt’s military spokesman blamed the Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood. But Twitter statements by the extremist movement Islamic State’s offshoot in Sinai claimed responsibility and offered details on targets and weapons used.

The Islamic State offshoot in Sinai, formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis or Supporters of Jerusalem, said it had attacked nine military and police sites in the northern Sinai towns of Rafah, El Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, according to tweets.