TIME Egypt

Mubarak Court Ruling Another Blow to the Spirit of Egypt’s Revolution

Seen as major setback for what's left of Arab Spring movement

An Egyptian court cleared Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday of charges related to corruption and the killing of demonstrators during the 2011 uprising that ejected him from power.

The ruling dealt a blow to many Egyptians who took part in the revolution and who demanded Mubarak be held accountable for 30 years of repressive rule and for the deaths of at least 846 protesters who were killed during the uprising.

“The failure to hold Mubarak accountable for the deaths of hundreds of protesters, while Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds of Egyptians for merely participating in demonstrations, is emblematic of the glaring miscarriages of justice doled out by Egypt’s judiciary,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch. “This is a fresh slap in the face to every Egyptian who believed that their revolution would bring fairness into their lives.”

The removal of the charges was seen as another setback for what is left of the driving spirit of the Arab Spring’s most significant revolution. Many of the institutional changes engendered by the uprising have been reversed.

Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist President elected in 2012, was removed by the military last year following a separate wave of protests. The current President, former military chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, has presided over a sweeping campaign on Islamists and other political dissidents.

Mubarak was acquitted in Saturday’s ruling, issued by a three-judge panel in the morning hours, of corruption charges related to the sale of natural gas to Israel at below-market prices. The head judge on the panel, Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidi, announced that the charges of involvement in the deaths of protesters had been ruled inadmissible on a technicality.

Mubarak is currently serving a prison sentence in a separate corruption case and did not immediately go free. Sitting in the courtroom wearing sunglasses, the former autocrat showed little emotion in the televised hearing.

By late afternoon, several hundred anti-government protesters gathered outside Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the central site of the protests that forced Mubarak out in 2011. Security forces had sealed the entrances to the square. Demonstrators faced off with armored personnel carriers across a barbed wire fence dragged into place by soldiers.

“The people demand the fall of the regime!” the crowd chanted in a reprise of an iconic chant of the revolution. “Down with military rule!” Though nowhere near the size of previous Tahrir demonstrations the rally was a rare display in a country where the resurgent regime has criminalized unauthorized protest.

“I want to ask a question: How did they [the protesters] die?” said a demonstrator named Karim Abdel Wahab, standing in the crowd. “Was it Photoshop? Did they kill themselves?” He held a handwritten cardboard sign reading, “Where is justice?” As he spoke, the demonstration swelled. Later, police scattered the crowd using gunfire and teargas. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that it dispersed the protesters after Muslim Brotherhood members began fighting with other protesters.

The court’s decision was the latest episode in a lengthy and complex legal saga that is likely to continue as Egypt’s chief prosecutor announced Saturday that he plans to appeal the decision to drop the case over the protesters’ deaths. Mubarak had initially been sentenced to life in prison in June 2012 after being convicted of failing to prevent the deaths of demonstrators, but a court ordered a retrial on procedural grounds in January 2013.

The ruling was part of the complex interplay between Egypt’s judiciary and the government; at times the judiciary can appear like an arm of the government and at others as an independent state institution. Egyptian judges espouse a diverse set of philosophies and fiercely proclaim their independence from the executive. Some judges criticized Mubarak’s excesses while others supported the system that he oversaw. Many of those same judges have issued harsh sentences rulings against the dissidents and journalists under the crackdown under el-Sisi.

“This is absolutely a triumph for the old regime and for what has come to be called the ‘deep state.’ And the context for the trial has been political from the beginning,” said Nathan Brown, a political scientist and expert on Egypt’s judiciary at George Washington University.

Brown also said the politicized nature of the trial did not mean that the ruling was legally illegitimate, citing procedural and conceptual flaws with the investigation and trial. “A true prosecution of Mubarak — if the impetus had been based on criminal law and not just politics — would have required full cooperation of the security apparatus. The verdict is likely justified by the evidence presented to the court. But a true investigation of the Mubarak presidency did not occur.”

TIME India

Modi Drops From Lead in TIME’s Person of the Year Poll

Ferguson protestors surged ahead this week of the leader of the world's largest democracy

Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi has fallen to second in TIME’s Person of the Year poll with seven days to go in the voting.

A wave of unrest in Ferguson and around the country focused attention back on the United States this week, lifting Ferguson protestors into first place in the TIME reader polls with 10.7% of the vote. Modi slid into second with 10% of the vote.

Modi, the newly elected Indian prime minister–and leader of the largest democracy in the world–has raised high hopes among Indians that he can invigorate the country’s economy and cut bureaucratic red tape that has slowed development in India.

A grand jury’s decision in Ferguson on Monday not to indict a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man has caused an outcry across the United States, as thousands of protesters marched in solidarity with the family of victim Michael Brown. Demonstrations at the end of the week disrupted Black Friday shopping in San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Seattle.

Since 1927, TIME has named a person who, for better or worse, has most influenced the news and our lives in the past year.

The Person of the Year is selected by TIME’s editors, but readers are asked to weigh in by commenting on any TIME Facebook post that includes #TIMEPOY, tweeting your vote using #TIMEPOY, or by heading over to TIME.com’s Person of the Year voting hub, where Pinnion’s technology is recording, visualizing and analyzing results as they are received. Votes from Twitter, Facebook and TIME.com’s voting hub are pooled together to create the totals displayed on the site.

You can see the results of the poll and vote on your choice for person of the year here.

Who should be TIME’s Person of the Year? Vote Below for #TIMEPOY

TIME space

Astronauts on the International Space Station Can Now Enjoy Espresso

Espresso in Space
Lavazza/AP A prototype of Lavazza's and Argotec's "ISSpresso" machine. The final version of the coffee machine will be the first real Italian espresso machine on The International Space Station, and will coincide with a six-month mission by Italy’s first Italian female astronaut, Samantha Cristoforetti.

The Italian engineered 'ISSpresso' can be sipped through a straw

If the only thing keeping you from joining the space program was a lack of decent coffee outside Earth’s orbit, you no longer have that excuse.

This week Italy sent astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to the International Space Station with a specially designed espresso machine that works in zero-gravity.

Designed by Turin-based Lavazzo and engineering firm Argotec, the ISSpresso, pumps water under high pressure through the machine into a pouch, where it can be sipped through a straw.

Part of an international crew that arrived on the Russian Soyuz craft, Cristoforetti, 37, also a captain in the Italian air force, “will be not only the first female astronaut from Italy to go into space, but also the very first astronaut in the history of the conquest of space to savor an authentic Italian espresso in orbit,” the companies said in a statement.
If slurping hot coffee through a straw sounds less than ideal, more innovations are on the horizon, thanks to researchers in Portland, where coffee obsession rivals that in Italy.

On Monday a team at Portland State University presented a paper, The Capillary Fluidics of Espresso, detailing a way to enjoy espresso in space in a manner similar to the one on Earth – which is to say in a cup – by replacing the role of gravity with the forces of surface tension.

Espresso, noted the team, which included a member of NASA and also a high school student, “is distinguished by a complex low density colloid of emulsified oils. Due to gravity, these oils rise to the surface forming a foam lid called the crema …. To some, the texture and aromatics of the crema play a critical role in the overall espresso experience. We show how in the low-g environment this may not be possible. We also suggest alternate methods for enjoying espresso aboard spacecraft.”

Of equal importance, these impressive innovations mean that, should the ISS ever encounter life on other planets, aliens’ first experience of coffee will not be adulterated with pumpkin spice.

This article originally appeared at PEOPLE.com

TIME Companies

Malaysia Airlines Apologizes for Insensitive Twitter Promotions

MALAYSIA-AUSTRALIA-CHINA-AVIATION-SEARCH
Manan Vatsyana—AFP/Getty Images Airport groundstaff walk past Malaysia Airlines planes parked on the tarmac at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on June 17, 2014.

“Want to go somewhere but don’t know where?”

Malaysia Airlines posted an unfortunate tweet as part of its year-end promotion.

“Want to go somewhere but don’t know where?” read the post on Twitter, part of a promotion of special deals by the national carrier, Yahoo News reports.

Twitter users criticized the national carrier for the tone-deaf tweet, sent out after two major calamities for the company this year: the disappearance of MH370 over the south Indian Ocean and the deadly destruction of MH17 in Ukrainian air space by rebel separatists.

Bookings have dropped due to the two disasters, in which a total of 537 were killed.

Another seemingly oblivious Malaysia Airlines ticket sale promotion asked passengers what places were on their “Bucket List.”

The airline apologized for the tweet on Saturday.

TIME Venezuela

Now There’s a Ballet About Hugo Chávez

Venezuela Chavez Ballet
Ariana Cubillos—AP John Lobo, 29, performing as Venezuela's late president Hugo Chavez in the star role of the "Ballet of the Spider-Seller to Liberator", at the Teresa Carreno Theater in Caracas, Nov. 27, 2014.

"From Spider-Seller to Liberator" celebrates the life of the late Venezuelan president. Critics call it propaganda

Political biographies just got a little more on pointe.

A state-sponsored ballet in Venezuela on Saturday will celebrate the late Hugo Chavez’s life from infancy to his reign as the country’s president and loudly vocal challenger to the United States.

The piece, From Spider-Seller to Liberator, leads the viewer from Chávez’s humble origins in the state of Barinas to his transformation into “the guide of the fights of the Venezuelan people’s struggles,” the Guardian reports.

Cuban journalists gathered the late president’s personal recollections from his speeches and his weekly television show as a basis for the piece. It begins with a recording of Chávez’s voice saying: “I was like a seed which fell on hard ground.”

Critics say the show is a propaganda piece to sustain the myth of Chavez’s life, who died last year of cancer.

[The Guardian]

TIME India

Tigers Are Dying in Record Numbers in India

Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
De Agostini/Getty Images A Bengal tiger at Ranthambore National Park, India, on March 3, 2014

Some 274 tigers have died over the past four years, most of them because of poaching

A record number of tigers died in India over the most recent census period, a total of 274 deceased in the past four years.

Only 82 of those tigers died because of natural causes, while more than 70% of tiger deaths were due to poaching or for undetermined reasons, Indian science-and-environment magazine Down to Earth reports.

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar released the figures in response to a question in the Parliament on Nov. 26.

India had approximately 1,706 tigers, according to the 2010 census. The overall population of tigers may not suffer when India’s official tiger-population census for 2014 gets released next month.

“Here, we are not taking tiger births into account,” said S.P. Yadav, deputy inspector general with the National Tiger Conservation Authority. “An adult tigress can give birth to younger ones every 90 days. If, of four-five litters that a tigress gives birth to, even one-two survive, these numbers can be compensated.”

[Down to Earth]

TIME Ferguson

Ferguson Protesters Take Lead in TIME’s Person of the Year Poll

The protests over the grand jury decision this week have captivated international attention

Ferguson protestors have gained the lead in TIME’s Person of the Year poll, with seven days to go in the voting.

Unrest in Ferguson and around the country focused attention on race and policing, helping to lift Ferguson protestors into first place in the TIME reader poll with 10.7% of the vote. Thousands of demonstrators marched in solidarity with the family of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man who was shot by the police, disrupting Black Friday shopping in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Seattle and other cities.

Protests cropped up all across the United States in the wake of a grand jury’s decision in Ferguson Monday not to indict the white police officer who fatally shot Brown.

Narendra Modi, the newly elected Indian prime minister, stands at 10% in the polls. As the leader of the largest democracy in the world, Modi has raised high hopes among Indians that he can invigorate the country’s economy and cut bureaucratic red tape that has slowed development in India.

Should the Ferguson Protestors Be TIME’s Person of the Year? Vote Below for #TIMEPOY

Since 1927, TIME has named a person who for better or worse has most influenced the news and our lives in the past year.

The Person of the Year is selected by TIME’s editors, but readers are asked to weigh in by commenting on any TIME Facebook post that includes #TIMEPOY, tweeting your vote using #TIMEPOY, or by heading over to TIME.com’s Person of the Year voting hub, where Pinnion’s technology is recording, visualizing and analyzing results as they are received. Votes from Twitter, Facebook and TIME.com’s voting hub are pooled together to create the totals displayed on the site. You can see the results of the poll and vote on your choice for person of the year here.

TIME Egypt

Egyptian Court Drops Murder Charges Against Hosni Mubarak

Some 800 people died in battles between security forces and protestors at the end of Mubarak's reign in 2011

An Egyptian court dropped charges on Saturday against 86-year-old former President Hosni Mubarak for the killing of 239 protestors during the 2011 uprising against his regime.

Charges were also dropped against seven of Mubarak’s senior officials, who, like the former president, had been convicted of conspiracy to kill and were sentenced to life in prison in June 2012, the BBC reports. A retrial was ordered last year on a technicality.

The decision dismayed human rights advocates, who demanded harsh punishment for the bloody end to Mubarak’s autocratic, 30-year reign.

As many as 800 people are estimated to have been killed during the Arab Spring protests before Mubarak finally resigned in February 2011.

Many legal experts said the charges against Mubarak were flawed from the beginning, and were rushed to court to appease public demands for reprisal, the New York Times reports.

Outside the courtroom, the former general who led the ouster of Egypt’s democratically elected Islamist government, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has surrounded himself with former Mubarak ministers and advisors.

The decision, Judge Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidi declared on Saturday, “has nothing to do with politics.”

[BBC]

TIME Mexico

How Mexico’s President Plans to Fix Police Corruption

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has unveiled a sweeping plan to overhaul the way the nation conducts local law enforcement, in the face of public anger over police corruption.

The reform, which requires the approval of the country’s legislators, would centralize much of the nation’s police units and provide for more uniform training.

Much of the Mexican law enforcement apparatus has long been considered corrupt, but protests have been reignited in recent months after the disappearance of 43 students, allegedly kidnapped my local police officials.

TIME United Nations

U.N. Panel Sharply Criticizes Police Brutality in U.S.

Ferguson
John Amis—AP Atlanta Police in riot gear form a line on Williams Streets as protesters make their way down it in Atlanta, Ga. on Nov. 25, 2014,

Michael Brown's parents testified before the committee

A United Nations panel criticized the United States for police brutality, military interrogations and excessive use of force by law enforcement in a report released Friday.

“There are numerous areas in which certain things should be changed for the United States to comply fully with the convention,” said Alessio Bruni, a member of the United Nations Committee Against Torture, referring to U.N. agreements on torture.

The panel released their report just days after violence erupted in Ferguson, Mo., following the announcement of a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

While the latest U.N. report did not mention Ferguson explicitly, Brown’s parents testified before the committee in Geneva earlier this month. And the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights who oversees the committee on torture, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, raised concerns over “institutionalized discrimination in the U.S.” and added that he was unsure about whether the Ferguson grand jury’s decision complies with international human rights law.

“It is clear that, at least among some sectors of the population, there is a deep and festering lack of confidence in the fairness of the justice and law enforcement systems,” the commissioner said in a statement.

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