Egypt’s President Mursi “retires” 70 generals

Seventy generals in the Egyptian armed forces are to be retired, the government has announced.

The move comes weeks after President Mohammed Mursi replaced the defence minister and the chief of staff…However, six of the generals will keep their positions on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Some analysts say Mr Mursi is asserting his authority over the army. There has so far been little adverse reaction from the military establishment.

Defence Minister Gen Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who was appointed in President Mursi’s military reshuffle last month, announced the changes…

In July, SCAF formally handed over power to Mr Mursi, Egypt’s first ever democratically elected president.

At the same time as the reshuffle, Mr Mursi issued a decree voiding an interim constitutional declaration from June that gave SCAF broad executive and legislative powers…

It’s a beginning. Not unusual – except in that it succeeded. The act speaks well for President Mursi and, hopefully, it speaks well for the generals who appear to have cooperated with the decision.

Nothing cynical about recognizing the number of times nations reaching out for democracy and liberty have been frustrated by generals who officially cooperate – and then takeover via military coup.

No hands, no sex crime — in Italy

Phone sex is all talk and doesn’t constitute an act of prostitution, an Italian court has ruled.

The Italian supreme court Friday overturned a lower court conviction of a Milan man who had paid a woman to talk dirty to him over the telephone.

The man had been convicted of sexual exploitation, but the high court ruled no crime had been committed since the man and the woman had no physical contact.

“Verbally servicing an interlocutor for the purpose of sexual excitement does not constitute a sexual service, if it does not involve the bodily erogenous zones of the person who is getting paid for such a service,” the criminal court ruled.

Italy’s ANSA news service said the court reminded the parties there is a fine line in the case and Italian law says prostitution “may well be carried out via telephone or Internet Web chats” if the customer requests the vendor to perform a specific sex act.

Must be slow season for lawyers and prosecutors. Or they’re just practicing wasting taxpayer euros.

Mitt Romney’s wealth up front in tax probe of Bain Capital


NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
Getty Images

The source of Mitt Romney’s personal wealth continues to generate awkward headlines after it emerged that regulators have subpoenaed Bain Capital, the private equity firm he once headed, during an investigation into its tax arrangements.

New York’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, is seeking internal documents that will establish whether Bain – along with 11 other firms – has been forgoing management fees in favour of investments in the funds which they manage. Investments are taxed at a far lower rate than ordinary income.

The practice falls into a legal grey area. Some lawyers consider it an aggressive but legitimate means of tax avoidance; others believe it strays beyond the bounds of legality. Bain Capital is believed to have used it to avoid paying around $220 million in taxes, according to The New York Times, which broke news of the subpoena at the weekend.

Mr Romney left Bain over a decade ago, but continues to profit handsomely from his ties to the firm, and in the past two years earned roughly $13 million from his share of its profits…

Consistency truly stalks these creeps – stuck into defending their avoidance of responsibility in America’s class-based economy.

Our nation long ago established a system of fair and progressive taxation and the means and methods arranged by tax lawyers, lobbyists and corrupt politicians to subvert that system stinks on ice.

Second growth, Prairie feathergrass

Prairie feathergrass, second growth
Click to enlarge

From this morning’s first walk – at dawn. The sun is rising over our back meadow, just reaching down to the bottom of the hill by the bosque. After the erratic monsoon rains in August, the prairie feathergrass is putting out the second growth of the summer season. The grass stalks already average about two-and-a-half feet high.

Desmond Tutu: Bush and Blair should face trial at the Hague

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu called Sunday for Tony Blair and George Bush to face prosecution at the International Criminal Court for their role in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq

Tutu, the retired Anglican Church’s archbishop of South Africa, wrote in an op-ed piece for The Observer newspaper that the ex-leaders of Britain and the United States should be made to “answer for their actions.”

The Iraq war “has destabilized and polarized the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history,” wrote Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel prize in 1984.

“Those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague,” he added…

Tutu has long been a staunch critic of the Iraq war, while others opposed to the conflict — including playwright Harold Pinter — have previously called for Bush and Blair to face prosecution at the Hague.

The then-leaders of the U.S. and U.K. fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand — with the specter of Syria and Iran before us,” said Tutu…

Overdue.

Chocolate may lower men’s stroke risk

Men may be able to reduce their risk of having a stroke by about one-sixth, simply by eating one chocolate bar per week.

[This must mean I cut my risk by about five/sixths]

That’s the appetizing conclusion of a large new study from Sweden, the first in a long line of recent studies on the potential heart and vascular benefits of chocolate to look specifically at men.

Researchers at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute followed more than 37,000 men between the ages of 45 and 79 for about 10 years. Compared to those who ate little or no chocolate, men who ate the most — about 2.2 ounces per week — had a 17% lower risk of having a stroke during that timespan.

To bolster these findings, the researchers pooled their data with that from four previous studies, including a near-identical 2011 study they conducted in women. A re-analysis of the combined data produced similar results: Men and women who ate the most chocolate had a 19% lower risk of stroke, compared to those who ate the least…

The study, which was funded by a Swedish research council and published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, adds to the growing evidence that chocolate, or rather cocoa, has some heart-healthy properties.

Cocoa contains flavonoids, compounds that have been shown to lower blood pressure, increase “good” cholesterol (HDL) and improve the function of arteries.

Flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, also may thin the blood and prevent clotting, which could help stave off heart attacks and strokes.

The authors note, however, other substances in chocolate may also explain the results of their study. Or that the lifestyle and attitude of chocolate lovers leads to a longer life. All I know is that I get to do one of these posts pretty much every week! 🙂

I joke that if I was starting out all over again I’d probably center my career on computational analysis in science in general – or medicine specifically. If I was guaranteed a career investigating chocolate – I might even consider coming out of retirement, tomorrow.