Politics

Chatter: Egypt can't agree what comes next

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NEED TO KNOW

Egypt's question of timing. The interim leaders nominally in charge of an increasingly fraught Egypt have announced a timetable for rewriting the constitution and holding new elections; the Muslim Brotherhood has rejected it.

The Brotherhood says the decree, which stands to erase many of the gains the Islamist movement has made since coming to power post-revolution, is "illegitimate." Starting the process again would bring Egypt "back to square one," its officials complain. With more than 50 people shot dead in the streets of Cairo yesterday, square one might be the safest place to be.

Beirut blast. There are reports of a "huge" explosion in the Lebanese capital today, where news channels are showing pictures of flaming cars and a swathe of black smoke. Dozens of people are feared injured or worse, though details are still unclear.

What's thought to have been a car bomb went off in the southern suburb of Dahiyeh, an area known as a stronghold of Hezbollah. The Shia militant group has made its fair share of enemies in its time — and most recently in Syria, where its fighters have been swelling the ranks of President Bashar al-Assad's forces as they battle anti-government rebels. Early speculation says this attack is retribution for Hezbollah's activities across the border.

WANT TO KNOW

How one Pakistani traffic cop could have changed history. A leaked report by the committee charged with investigating how Osama bin Laden managed to remain in Pakistan, seemingly undisturbed, for almost a decade has accused local security forces of "collective incompetence and negligence, at the very least." Exhibit A: in 2003, police stopped a speeding car that the world's most-wanted man was riding in — and let it go again.

Eight years later, US special forces would raid bin Laden's hide-out without Pakistan's knowledge or consent, an act the investigators describe as a "humiliation" for their country. Their leaked conclusion is that the whole thing reeks of "culpable negligence and incompetence at almost all levels of government."

Brazil bites back. Brazil isn't exactly thrilled to find itself a member of what might the world's least exclusive club: countries the US government has spied on. President Dilma Rouseff has demanded an explanation for reports that American intelligence bods not only collected data on millions of Brazilian phone calls and internet communications, but even set up a secret spying station in Brasilia to collect data via satellite.

And this is in a country that's friendly toward the US (though, if you'll permit us a metaphor, recent revelations have demonstrated that friendship bracelets from Washington often come with tiny hidden cameras inside). It's not like the US has its pick of Latin American chums, not with Bolivian President Evo Morales leading the charge against US interference. Can President Barack Obama afford to ignore the axis of Evo?

STRANGE BUT TRUE

Survival tip no. 942: Don't annoy a tiger. Things that annoy tigers might include: saying a lion would beat them in a fight; telling them no one wears stripes anymore; and, oh, we don't know, perhaps kidnapping their cubs. 

We wish these men in Indonesia had heeded our advice. We really do. That way, they might have been spared the experience of being stuck up a tree for five days surrounded by angry tigers and even, in one poor guy's case, being mauled to death by one of the beasts. If you wouldn't say boo to a goose, make darn sure you don't say it to a big cat.