Thursday, November 29, 2012

Missouri, Arizona announce locations of winning Powerball tickets

In an odd coincidence, several of the winning Powerball numbers matched the jersey numbers of baseball players in the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame: Mark Gubicza, Dan Quisenberry and Dennis Leonard to name a few. NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

By Elizabeth Chuck and Vignesh Ramachandran, NBC News

Updated at 7:50 p.m. ET: The search for the two big winners of Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing is narrowing.

Missouri lottery officials announced Thursday that one of the Powerball tickets worth $293.7 million was sold at a Trex Mart in Dearborn, Mo. And Arizona officials said the other winning ticket in the $587.5 million jackpot was sold at the 4 Sons Food Store in Fountain Hills, Ariz.

Missouri lottery officials said they will announce the state's winner at a press conference Friday. Officials have not yet identified the Arizona winner.

The Arizona store that sold the ticket will receive a $25,000 bonus incentive, while the Missouri store will get $50,000.

Lottery officials have not said whether the winning numbers of Wednesday night's record drawing -- 05 - 16 - 22 - 23 - 29 and Powerball 06 -- were picked by individuals or groups.

"It is so exciting to sell one of these Powerball tickets," Missouri Lottery executive director May Scheve Reardon said in a press release Thursday. "In addition, we sold two tickets that matched all five white balls, which means they each win $1 million. Three millionaires in one night is a wonderful night!"

Reardon advised all winners to be sure to sign the back of their tickets and seek legal and financial advice. Missouri winners have 180 days to claim their prize.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
NBC's Kerry Sanders has more on the record jackpot and looks at how the winner may have chosen their numbers.

In addition to the jackpot winners, Powerball officials said eight people won $2 million prizes and 58 other ticket holders won $1 million.

The jackpot had rolled over 16 consecutive times without a winner since Oct. 6, prompting Americans to go on a ticket-buying spree in the run-up to the drawing. At one point, tickets were selling at a rate of 130,000 a minute nationwide — about six times the volume from a week ago.

The Missouri and Arizona jackpot winners will share an estimated $385 million before taxes if they take the prize as a lump sum, or the $587.5 million can be paid out as annuities over three decades, the Multi-State Lottery Association told Reuters.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
As lottery official Sue Dooley notes, tickets matching all five of the white balls in the record $580 million Powerball drawing, can be cashed in for $1 million in prize money.

Although this Powerball jackpot was a big one, it's not the largest lottery prize ever. That mark is held by the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot that was split by three ticket buyers earlier this year. The previous biggest Powerball prize was $365 million in 2006, shared by several ConAgra Foods workers in Lincoln, Neb.

Advice for the lucky people who won the huge Powerball jackpot
11 things more likely to happen than winning the Powerball jackpot

Powerball is played across 42 states, plus Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands. All but five states -- Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota and Ohio -- require the lottery to release the winning names to anyone who asks, according to the Powerball site.

The next Powerball drawing has been reset back to $40 million.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The record $580 million Powerball jackpot will be split by the owners of tickets sold in Missouri and Arizona, according to lottery officials. NBC's Stephanie Gosk reports.

Electrician facing foreclosure collects $1M Powerball prize

Hoosier Lottery
Larry Chandler, 34, was one of the first people through the door at the Indiana lottery headquarters Thursday morning.
By Michelle Relerford and Marcus Riley,

A Powerball winner has 180 days to pick up their prize, but a Highland, Ind., man didn't bother to waste a single day after winning $1 million in Wednesday's Powerball.

Larry Chandler, 34, was one of the first people through the door at the Indianapolis lottery headquarters Thursday morning after discovering he was one of the big winners in the $587.5 million drawing.

But the union electrician says he'll be back at work on Monday -- after he hires a tax adviser and a financial planner.
Chandler's girlfriend's daughter tells NBC 5 that he had been living with them because his own home was in foreclosure. His immediate plans for the money include helping out his mom, starting a college fund for his daughter and taking his girlfriend to Red Lobster -- which should buy plenty of cheddar biscuits.
Chandler says he played his own numbers and matched every one except the Powerball.

The winning ticket was purchased at the Highland Citgo on Kennedy Avenue.

"It's really great that one of my customers has had good fortune," Citgo employee Keith Barnes said.

A second million-dollar ticket was purchased in Vincennes, IN, but it has yet to be claimed, and two other million-dollar tickets were purchased in Central Illinois.

Two tickets, purchased in Arizona and Missouri, matched all six numbers and the winners will split the more than half a billion-dollar jackpot.

UN Nuclear Chief Urges More Cooperation From Iran

By By ALI AKBAR DAREINI Associated Press
VIENNA November 28, 2012 (AP)
The head of the U.N. nuclear agency says he cannot provide a "credible assurance" for Tehran's claims that all of its atomic activities are peaceful.

Speaking Thursday at a board meeting of the 35-country International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano also expressed concern over Iran's "activities" at Parchin, southeast of Tehran.

His experts want to visit the site amid suspicions that it was used for secret tests related to nuclear weapons developments. His language is diplomatic shorthand for an alleged cleanup at the site.

Iran denies any interest in nuclear weapons and says it never tried to develop them. It dismisses concerns that it is enriching uranium for possible use as the core of a warhead, saying it wants only to produce reactor fuel.

Chart Of The Day: The Fiscal Cliff For The Rest Of Us

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 
11/14/2012 09:27 -0500
Budget Deficit 

We have discussed the fiscal cliff from many angles: timeline, the potential impact, the scenarios, whether its impact is priced in, why a bounce on success is unlikely, the endgame 'solution', and the long-term fiscal probity of the USA. As it appears everyone is becoming more aware of this pending reality, we note USA Today's great one-stop-shop infographic which simplifies the fiscal cliff impact for the rest of us: A raft of tax and spending changes scheduled to take effect in January will sharply reduce the federal budget deficit, but will also send the economy back into recession if they all happen at once.

Morsi’s Moment

Nov. 28, 2012


The most important man in the Middle East started 2012 as much a stranger to the people he now rules as he was to the rest of the world. Although Mohamed Morsi had long been part of the core leadership of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, he was viewed as a back-room operator, largely unnoticed among the Islamic party’s more charismatic political and religious figures. Not many outside of a handful of State Department Arabists in Washington had even heard his name.

And yet the year’s end finds Morsi instantly identifiable worldwide, even as his intentions in Egypt and the region remain very much unclear. In recent weeks, he has been hailed as a peacemaker by the U.S. and Israel, a savior by the Palestinians, a statesman by much of the Arab world—and branded a tyrant by the tens of thousands who have jammed Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square since Nov. 22 to denounce him. Whether you think him a hero or a villain, the short, stocky Islamist with the professional air is navigating some of the world’s trickiest political waters.

(MORE: An Interview with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi: ‘We’re Learning How to Be Free’)

Morsi doesn’t pretend his tenure has been perfect and argues it can’t be. Speaking with TIME in his first interview with the international media since the Gaza crisis, he points out that his government is Egypt’s first experience of real democracy. “So what do you expect. Things to go very smooth? No. It has to be rough, at least,” he says. But he also gives the impression of a man having a year to remember. “2012 is the best year for the Egyptians in their lives, in their history,” he says. “We’re suffering, but always a new birth is not easy, especially if it’s the birth of a nation.”

When the interview was scheduled, Morsi was riding high. His successful brokering of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas had given him widening international and domestic support, a feat unmatched by any other Arab leader in the modern era, and offered the prospect that Egypt might again lead the region as it did under Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s. Morsi had already displayed unexpectedly nimble political skills to pry executive power away from the Egyptian military. For a moment, there was even the possibility that Morsi had amassed just the right proportion of international credibility and domestic political capital to start delivering on the promise of the Arab Spring. But then he overreached. Instead of consolidating the power he had amassed in service of his country’s emerging democracy, he grabbed for more.

(MORE: Washington’s Two Opinions of Egypt’s Islamist President)

As Morsi spoke with TIME at the presidential palace in Cairo’s Heliopolis suburb, most of Egypt’s major cities were again ringing with the chant that had been the Arab Spring’s rallying cry: “The people want the fall of the regime.” The slogan that helped bring down Hosni Mubarak is now being hurled at the country’s first democratically elected civilian President by both cronies of Mubarak and the revolutionaries who toppled him. In Tahrir Square, judges appointed by the old dictator, many of whom enabled his decades-long repression of political dissent, joined their voices with liberal and secular activists. The most popular joke in Egypt these days is that Morsi has done the impossible: he has united the opposition.

Morsi achieved that by issuing an emergency decree on Nov. 22 appropriating for himself sweeping new powers, including immunity for his decisions from judicial challenge. The President insists his decree is a temporary measure designed to prevent politically motivated judges from undermining the process of creating a new constitution. But to critics, one particular provision, giving him “power to take all necessary measures” against threats to national security and to last year’s revolution, smells of dictatorship. Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace laureate and liberal politician, dubbed Morsi the new pharaoh.

For the rest of the world, however, and especially the U.S., the stakes are even higher. Whether Morsi proves to be a reformer or an autocrat will play an outsize role in the prospects for continued peace with Israel, the fate of democracy in the Middle East and the balance of power in the world’s most unstable region. “We will soon learn what kind of leader he is,” says a White House official, “because this current episode is very much a test of his capacity to work effectively with all the various interests in Egypt.”

POLL: Should Mohamed Morsi Be TIME’s Person of the Year 2012?

To the Top via Los Angeles
Morsi’s path to the presidency is unique, not only for Egypt but also for a region where leaders tend to come from royalty or the military. Born into modest means in a village north of Cairo, Morsi escaped the dreary fate of millions of his impoverished countrymen by excelling at academics. An engineering degree in Cairo was followed by a seven-year stint in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, when he got a Ph.D. in materials science at the University of Southern California and then worked as an assistant professor at California State University at Northridge. His California years left Morsi with an abiding fondness for the Trojans, USC’s football team, and the nickname Mo, an old friend said. Two of his five children were born in the U.S. and are American citizens; he laughs at the suggestion that they will one day be qualified to run for the U.S. presidency.

When he returned to Egypt in 1985, he became active in the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group known for its strong anti-American positions. But Morsi retains a warm nostalgia for his former home. “I don’t like it when people in my country say, ‘America is against us,’ because I know [the situation] is different,” he says, citing the friendliness he encountered in California.

Back in Egypt, while teaching at an Egyptian university, Morsi rose swiftly in the ranks of the Brotherhood: he would serve in parliament, then become something of a political enforcer within the group. After Mubarak’s fall last year made the prospect of a President from the Brotherhood almost inevitable, Morsi’s name was rarely mentioned. When he emerged this year as the candidate of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, Morsi was mocked by rivals as “the spare tire,” an unsubtle allusion to the fact that he was not his party’s preferred standard bearer. But the party’s first choice, Khairat al-Shater, a millionaire businessman and Morsi’s mentor, was disqualified because of a criminal record stemming from charges, likely fabricated, during the Mubarak years. When attempts to reinstate al-Shater failed, Morsi filed his nomination papers on the last possible day.

(PHOTOS: Thousands in Cairo Protest Morsi’s Decree)

Although he is avuncular up close, Morsi proved a colorless campaigner: his stump speeches were dull, he skipped the sole televised debate, and even his own commercials seemed designed to hide him from view. He won less than a quarter of the vote in May’s first round of balloting, and it was only the Brotherhood’s disciplined political organization that allowed him to squeak through the runoff election on June 16 and 17 with 51.7%.

Lacking a ringing mandate, much discernible charisma or experience in political combat, Morsi seemed poorly equipped to take on either the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the cabal of generals that had run the country since Mubarak’s ouster, or the judiciary made up mostly of judges appointed by the former dictator. After the runoff vote but before the results were announced, the Constitutional Court declared Egypt’s first free parliamentary elections illegal, empowering SCAF to dissolve the body where Morsi’s party had a plurality of seats. The generals also announced an interim decree that insulated the military from civilian control and effectively gave the generals veto rights over any new constitution. If SCAF was determined to undermine Morsi’s authority, he was unlikely to get any help from liberal and secular parties, which have long feared the Brotherhood’s Islamist agenda. Morsi looked like a lame duck even before he had been sworn in. “My expectations from him could not have been lower,” says Heba Morayef, Egypt director of Human Rights Watch. “His hands seemed completely tied.”

But they were not. On assuming the presidency, he displayed a previously hidden talent for deft public stagecraft: during his inaugural speech in Tahrir Square, he opened his jacket to reveal that he, unlike Mubarak, didn’t need a bulletproof vest, suggesting he was a man of the people, Then, less than two months after his swearing-in, he astonished both his allies and his critics by replacing several top generals and making himself SCAF’s chairman. How he pulled this off remains something of a mystery: some Egyptians suspect Morsi made a Faustian pact with the top brass. Others speculate he found some incriminating evidence against them. It’s more likely he did an end run around the old guard and appealed to the second-tier officers who were weary of waiting for their turn to rule.

MORE: Egypt’s Morsi: Has He Started Something He Can’t Finish?

Still, the worst fears of Egyptian liberals and some American observers seemed to have come to pass: an Islamist now had practically absolute legislative power in the most populous Arab nation. There was a chorus of “told you so”s when an American-made anti-Islam video on YouTube led to an angry mob bursting into the grounds of the U.S. embassy in Cairo—and Morsi took two days to condemn the attack. His first few foreign trips, to China and Iran, were quickly interpreted as an effort to pull Egypt out of the American orbit.

But Morsi has shown restraint. He has so far declined to adopt the harshest interpretations of Shari‘a law, has not imposed dress codes on women and tourists, and whatever his rhetoric has not torn up Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel or flung open the border with Gaza to take pressure off Hamas. His trip to China was not, it turned out, about finding an alternative patron to the U.S., and the Obama Administration was delighted when Morsi gave a speech in Tehran condemning Iran’s ally, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. (The Iranians struggled to control their embarrassment.) Although Morsi failed in his effort, with Turkey and Qatar, to broker an end to the Assad regime’s slaughter of civilians, the attempt showed that Egypt’s goal in Syria was complementary, not contradictory, to that of other nations. Then came Gaza.

Peace—and Then Protests
Maybe it was inevitable that Morsi’s presidential credentials would be tested in the tiny enclave on the Egyptian border that is home to 1.6 million Palestinians. The Muslim Brotherhood has deep ties to Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, and Morsi has a history of anti-Israel rhetoric. Although he had preserved the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty, he was never going to look the other way, as Mubarak was wont to do, when Israel battled Hamas.

(MORE: How the Gaza Truce Makes Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood a Peace Player)

When Israel launched its military campaign against Hamas on Nov. 14, Morsi condemned the attack in robust terms, but didn’t go nearly as far as Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who described Israel as a “terrorist state.” He withdrew Egypt’s ambassador to Israel but kept open channels of communication between Egyptian and Israeli intelligence agencies. To show solidarity with Hamas, he sent his Prime Minister to Gaza during the thick of the bombardment but didn’t unseal the border to allow the militants an escape route—or an open resupply line.

Meanwhile, Morsi spoke six times over several days with President Obama. Events in Gaza moved the two men closer: when they had spoken on the phone in the wake of the attack on the U.S. embassy in October, Obama had been reproachful of Morsi’s inaction. Now their conversations grew more personal: Morsi called Obama at 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 20, apologizing for the lateness of the hour. Obama responded by encouraging Morsi to call whenever he needed, regardless of the time. A few hours later, when Morsi called again, Obama offered his condolences to Morsi, whose sister had died the day before, after a long battle with cancer. Obama told Morsi he knew firsthand the difficulty of dealing with personal setbacks under the public glare. “Obama,” Morsi says, “has been very helpful, very helpful.”

Although the cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas were moderated by Egyptian intelligence officials, Morsi was the whip hand. He spent 75 minutes with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton going over the terms of the proposed cease-fire, reading it out loud in English and offering his opinion on each issue, where he agreed and where he felt edits were needed, a U.S. official reported. His national security adviser took notes as Morsi and Clinton worked out the details. “Our intelligence people were talking to Israel and Hamas during the Mubarak years, but that didn’t help,” says Amr Darrag, who heads the Freedom and Justice Party’s foreign-relations committee. “What was different this time is that you had Morsi, who has genuine legitimacy as an elected leader and real credibility with Hamas.” If there was some grumbling from Islamists at home that Morsi hadn’t helped Hamas enough—by opening the border, for one—it was silenced when Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal declared, “Egypt did not sell out the resistance.”

The applause hadn’t died down when Egypt announced another big win: a preliminary deal with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.8 billion loan, a crucial shot in the arm for an economy that was already slowing when Mubarak was ousted and has only gone downhill since. Analysts said the IMF deal, predicated on Egypt’s commitment to reduce its budget deficit, would reassure private interests that the nation was a safe bet for investors. That, in turn, would help to start paring down unemployment, the root of so much of the discontent displayed in Tahrir Square over the past two years.

MORE: After the Power Play in Egypt: Morsi and the Islamists vs. Everyone Else

But the very next day, Morsi gave Egyptians a new reason to protest. He and his aides insist the Nov. 22 emergency decree putting his decisions beyond legal challenge was not a power grab, just a desperate attempt to preserve the democratic process. Their argument: the Mubarak-appointed judges of the Constitutional Court, having already declared the elected parliament illegitimate, were about to do the same with the Constituent Assembly. (The court had dissolved the first Constituent Assembly in April.) Far from seeking absolute power, say Morsi aides, the President is seeking to swiftly empower the legislative branch of government: a new constitution and elections for parliament will allow him to hand off authority. “If he was a new pharaoh, he wouldn’t be so keen on a new constitution and parliament,” says Darrag, who is also secretary general of the Constituent Assembly. “You can’t call a man a dictator when he’s trying to give up power.”

Darrag allows that the announcement of the emergency decree could have been more skillfully handled. “[Morsi] could have communicated his motivations better,” he says. “He made it too easy for his enemies to turn this into a weapon against him.” But he maintains that the new powers will be strictly temporary, expiring when the Constituent Assembly produces a constitution and a new parliament is elected.

The trouble with that argument is that the constitution-drafting process Morsi claims to be trying to save is, in the eyes of many liberals and religious minorities, not worth saving. Already more than 20 members of the Constituent Assembly— including those representing the Coptic churches and several liberal, secular parties—have resigned, most citing disagreements over the extent to which Islamic law should guide legislation. Many liberals would rather scrap the process and start again.

(MORE: The Document That May Define the New Egypt: Why the Constitution Matters)

And then there’s the darker possibility. Some Western experts believe Morsi’s power grab shows that he is playing a longer game with the ultimate goal of a rigid Islamic state no longer open to democratic freedoms or aligned with Western interests. “He’s not, and never has been, a moderate,” says Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who interviewed Morsi repeatedly as an academic starting in 2010. “His function inside the Muslim Brotherhood was that of an enforcer [who] would weed out anyone who didn’t agree with [its] strict doctrine or tactics.”

Even the Cairo street seems a bit unsure of Morsi’s ultimate direction. In some pockets of Tahrir Square, it is hard to tell the protesters from the casual pedestrians. Vendors hawk roasted corn and yams, popcorn and Egyptian candy. On one corner, riot police toss tear gas at gangs of young men wearing handkerchiefs over their faces, and spectators look on with no sense of fear. In other sections, the anger at Morsi is palpable. “This is a blatant attempt to get himself the powers of Mubarak, and we won’t agree to it,” says Shaadi Mohammed, 23, who described himself as a “former fan” of the new President. “We united to kick Mubarak out. If Morsi isn’t careful, we will do the same to him.”

Which Way Next?
In his conversation with TIME, Morsi didn’t seem concerned by the street protests. “Egyptians are free. They are raising their voices when they are opposing the President,” he said. “We have a new Egypt now.” But do they? After the first spasm of outrage at the decree, some aides hinted that he would announce a compromise. That hasn’t happened. Once Tahrir Square filled up, it made a retraction harder: it might make him look weak. The other way out is to be true to his word and use the emergency powers to quickly deliver a new constitution, one that distributes power more evenly among the presidency, legislature and judiciary. This will first require him to bring back to the assembly the members who quit. Not easy, but not impossible for a man who persuaded Egypt’s top generals to walk away from power.

Yet with crowds back in the streets and the unpredictable forces of change at work once again, even Morsi may no longer know where he is leading his new country.

—with reporting by Ashraf Khalil And Karl Vick / Cairo And Jay Newton-Small / Washington

VIDEO: Egyptians Gather Together (but Not United) in Tahrir Square

Briefly President, Now Pharaoh
By Cam McGrath

A protester rests during a day of clashes after President Mursi expands his powers. Credit: Cam McGrath/IPS.

CAIRO, Nov 24 2012 (IPS) - When Mohamed Mursi was sworn in as president in June there were concerns that the first democratically elected president in Egyptian history would be subservient to the military council that had ruled the country since dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled in early 2011.

But by August, Mursi had pulled off a political coup, issuing a decree that purged the military of its leadership and left him in sole control of the government, with full executive and legislative authority. A decree issued Thursday expanded Mursi’s power even further, putting his decisions beyond dispute and neutralising the judiciary that was one of the last institutions challenging his Islamist government.

“Not since the days of the pharaohs has an Egyptian leader amassed so much power,” says Ahmed Hamid, an activist protesting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. “Even Mubarak never dared to go this far, and you saw what happened to him.”

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Nobel Peace Prize winner and head of the opposition, Mohamed El Baradei with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi (Photo: AP)
Nobel Peace Prize winner and head of the opposition, Mohamed El Baradei with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi (Photo: AP) 

Mursi’s decision to expand his own powers set off a political firestorm, exposing deep rifts between his supporters – predominantly members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other conservative Islamic groups – and the liberal and secular Egyptians who are his main opponents. Clashes erupted as the rival camps held demonstrations in cities across Egypt on Friday.

In a seven-article declaration, Mursi sacked the Mubarak-era prosecutor general and ordered new investigations and trials of all those accused of killing or injuring protesters since the start of last year’s uprising – a decision that could see Mubarak retried.

More contentiously, he declared the upper house of parliament and the constituent assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution immune from dissolution by any court. The move appears aimed at pre-empting the verdicts of ongoing legal challenges that could see either body declared unconstitutional.

Mursi gave the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly an extra two months to draft a new constitution to replace the one suspended after Mubarak’s ouster. He ordered work to continue despite resignations by almost all of the assembly’s secular and Christian representatives, which have cost it much of its legitimacy.

Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali announced on national television that Mursi’s expanded powers were necessary to “protect the revolution’s gains” and end the stalemate with the judiciary that has stalled Egypt’s democratic transition. He said the presidential decree was aimed at “cleansing state institutions” and “destroying the infrastructure of the former regime.”

Egyptians who fought to bring down Mubarak’s authoritarian regime were particularly alarmed by a clause in the decree that states the president’s decisions cannot be suspended or revoked by any authority. Banners carried by protesters warned that Mursi had become “the new pharaoh.”

“The decree effectively renders presidential decisions final and not subject to the review of judicial authorities, which may mark the return to Mubarak-style presidency, without even the legal cosmetics that the previous regime employed to justify its authoritarian ways,” journalist Hesham Sallam wrote in an op-ed piece.

Mursi also granted himself the authority to take “any measures he sees fit in order to preserve and safeguard the revolution, national unity or national security.”

The clause assigns the president broad and only vaguely defined powers. Some activists drew comparisons to emergency laws under Mubarak that allowed security forces to arbitrarily arrest, torture and imprison political dissidents with impunity.

“Protesting here today against Mursi could be viewed as a ‘threat’ to the revolution or national unity,” says protester Mustafa Abbas, a primary school teacher. “This is a dangerous article that opens the door for witch hunts of the president’s opponents.”

Mursi’s declaration evoked strong reactions across Egypt, filling squares with demonstrators and reviving the spirit and slogans of the uprising last year that toppled Mubarak.

“The people want the downfall of the regime,” protesters chanted in Cairo.

And in a scene reminiscent of the heady days of the revolution, television stations used split screens to cover Friday’s pro- and anti-government rallies. As riot police rained tear gas down on his critics in Tahrir Square, Mursi triumphantly took the stage at a rally organised by the Muslim Brotherhood, claiming the mantle of the revolution.
“I never sought legislative authority and I would never use it to settle scores, but if my people, my nation, or Egypt’s revolution are in danger then I must,” he said.

Hoping to assuage fears, Mursi promised to relinquish his supplementary powers once a new constitution is adopted and a new parliament elected.

Nathan J. Brown, an expert on Egyptian law and politics at George Washington University, interpreted the underlying message: “I, Mursi, am all powerful. And in my first act as being all powerful, I declare myself more powerful still. But don’t worry – it’s just for a little while.” (END)

New Egypt Pharaoh After President Mohamed Mursi Seizes New Powers
Posted: November 23, 2012

Cairo, Egypt – Egypt might have a new pharaoh if reports about Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi seizing new powers are to be believed. President Mohamed Mursi recently issued a decree exempting all of his decisions from legal challenge until a new parliament is elected. This caused fury among his political opponents, who are accusing him of being the new Mubarak who is hijacking the Arab Spring revolution. This Mursi ”coup” caused protesters to gather in Tahrir Square, prompting violent clashes between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and those demanding Mursi step down. 

On Thursday, according to Reuters Mursi ordered that an Islamist-dominated assembly could not be dissolved by legal challenges while it is struggling to write the new Egyptian constitution. Pharaoh Mursi, a Muslim with backing from the Muslim Brotherhood party, also “gave himself sweeping powers that allowed him to sack the unpopular general prosecutor and opened the door for a retrial for Mubarak and his aides.”

This action did not sit well with the people of Egypt, who now believe they had traded one dictator for a new Egypt pharaoh.

“The people want to bring down the regime,” shouted protesters in Tahrir, echoing a chant used in the uprising that forced Mubarak to step down. “Get out, Mursi,” they chanted, along with “Mubarak tell Mursi, jail comes after the throne.”

The reaction from the rest of the world to Mursi seizing more power has not been very much better.

“We are very concerned about the possible huge ramifications of this declaration on human rights and the rule of law in Egypt,” Rupert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, said at the United Nations in Geneva.

In Alexandria, protesters ransacked an office of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, burning books and throwing office chairs in the street. Supporters of Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood clashed with opponents elsewhere in the city, leaving 12 injured. At least 18 people were reported injured in fighting in Tahrir Square in Cairo, where many of the protests that led to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak were held.

“The decree is basically a coup on state institutions and the rule of law that is likely to undermine the revolution and the transition to democracy,” Mervat Ahmed, an independent activist in Tahrir protesting against the decree, said. “I worry Mursi will be another dictator like the one before him.”

Before seizing these new powers, President Mohamed “Pharaoh” Mursi had called on Egypt and Muslims in all Arab capitals to strive for a “Day of Rage” against Israel last Friday. Egypt can now be counted alongside Iran, since it was one of the few nations in the world to support Hamas during the Gaza attacks leading up to the ground war and the eventual cease-fire agreement. The new Egypt Pharaoh came to power supported by the Muslim Brotherhood after what President Obama called the “Arab Spring.”