Chatter: Egypt in turmoil




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Need to know:
Egypt is still reeling from the ruling that its parliament was elected in illegitimate polls, and must be dissolved.

The Egyptian Supreme Court delivered its bombshell yesterday. The judges – appointed under deposed president Hosni Mubarak – said last year's vote was unconstitutional and ordered a re-run. They also upheld the right of Mubarak's prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, to run for president.

The ruling was met by angry protests, not least from the Muslim Brotherhood – which until yesterday held almost half of all seats in parliament. The party has warned that all the gains made in Egypt's revolution could be wiped out, predicting that the country was headed for "very difficult days that might be more dangerous than the last days of Mubarak's rule."

Egypt holds the second round of its presidential election, which pits Shafiq against the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, this weekend.

Want to know:
Russia has denied sending attack helicopters to Syria, rebutting American accusations that Moscow was helping equip Bashar al-Assad's government to kill its own people.

Russia has acknowledged carrying out scheduled repairs on helicopters it sold to Syria years ago, but says it's not delivering new ones. The US State Department says the concern remains that the newly refurbished helicopters "will be used for the exact same purpose that the current helicopters in Syria are being used, and that is to kill civilians."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says there have nonetheless been "constructive" talks with Russian officials. France, meanwhile, has indicated that Russia is ready to consider a future without Assad, whom French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius claims Russia sees as "a tyrant and a murderer."

Dull but important:
Greece is entering the final hours of campaigning ahead of its repeat parliamentary election on Sunday.

It will be the country's second attempt in six weeks to elect a government; the first, on May 6, failed to produce either a majority or a working coalition. 

Voters are faced with a stark choice: back the establishment parties that put Greece in its current austerity straitjacket, or take a risk on one of the anti-bailout upstarts – and face the danger of an unprecedented and potentially disastrous exit from the euro zone.

The latest unofficial polls suggest support for bailout opponents is dropping; Europe will be watching closely to see if that's the case. 

Just because:
China will send its first female astronaut into space this weekend, the country's space agency has confirmed.

Two women were shortlisted to take part in the Shenzhou-9 mission, which is expected to launch tomorrow. Just one of them has been selected: Major Liu Yang, 33, who's described as a "hero pilot" for making an emergency landing after a birdstrike on her plane. 

She'll be accompanied by two other "taikonauts," both men, as they manually dock the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft with China's orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab.

Strange but true:
What do you get for the army that has everything? Why, a tank made of cupcakes, of course.

To celebrate the US Army's 237th birthday, some genius had the idea of making it an enormous, heavy-weapon-themed dessert. It's constructed of 5,000 cupcakes – camouflaged, natch – and weighs 2,500 pounds.

The best part: it even has an air cannon that fires cupcakes. Enemies of America, you have been warned.