19-Jan-14 World View -- Egypt's Constitution Approved with 98.1% of Referendum Voters

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com
  • Egypt's constitution approved by 98.1% of referendum voters
  • Rio's giant 'Christ the Redeemer' statue struck by lightning
  • Smog-shrouded China shows live sunrise on giant TV screens

Egypt's constitution approved by 98.1% of referendum voters

In a referendum that was held on Tuesday and Wednesday on whether to approve a proposed new constitution, a spectacular 98.1% of those voting said "yes," though voter turnout was only 38.6% of registered voters. This has given rise to questions of ballot-stuffing, but there have no reports of this happening.

However, the army-led government left nothing to chance in the referendum. There were expensive ad campaigns telling people to vote "yes" in the referendum, but anyone campaigning against the constitution could be arrested. Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members have been arrested or killed since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, so the climate of fear was such that any serious opposition to the referendum was unlikely to surface. The low voter turnout is being ascribed to a boycott by Muslim Brotherhood members.

When Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi was elected president in June 2012, his election was hailed as the first free democratic election of an Egyptian leader in the millennia of the nation's history. However, once in office, Morsi stunned Egypt and the world by taking a series of steps to make himself the "new Pharaoh" of Egypt, a virtual dictator. He issued decrees giving himself dictatorial powers, he fired other government officials and replaced with the Muslim Brotherhood officials, and having his Muslim Brotherhood supporters unilaterally rewrite the constitution according to the Brotherhood's strict version of Shariah law.

A referendum on Morsi's new constitution was conducted in December, 2012. It received an overwhelming 64% "YES" vote, but only 33% of registered voters actually voted. So an army coup ousted Morsi on July 3 of last year, and now a new referendum has been held on a new constitution. The "yes" vote was 98.1%, and the turnout was 38.6%. Officials in the army-led government are pointing to the slightly higher turnout figure as an indication of the huge victory in the referendum.

Now that the referendum is over, elections must be held within six months. All eyes are on army chief Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, who is considered to be a hero by many for freeing Egypt of Morsi's dictatorship, while Morsi supporters consider him guilty of crimes against humanity. Al-Sisi is a very charming 59 year old man, and extremely popular with women, despite having a wife and four children. It's believed that al-Sisi is considering becoming a civilian and running for president. Al-Ahram and McClatchy and AFP

Rio's giant 'Christ the Redeemer' statue struck by lightning

Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue struck by lightning (AFP)
Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue struck by lightning (AFP)

Spectacular pictures were produced when the Christ 130 foot tall Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was struck by lightning on Thursday. The statue was originally built in 1931, and underwent a $3 million renovation in 2010. Thursday's lightning strike damaged the right thumb of the statue, and the local archdiocese said that the thumb would be repaired. Metro (London)

Smog-shrouded China shows live sunrise on giant TV screens

Beijing's smog level reached highly dangerous levels on Thursday afternoon, forcing almost everyone to remain indoors. The air had an acrid odor, and anyone venturing out wore an industrial strength face masks. In some places, you couldn't see the buildings across the street. Some Chinese newscaster must have had a sense of humor, because they started televising the sunrise in real time, and displaying them on the giant outdoor electronic screens that normally provide advertisements. The pollution level reached as high as 671 micrograms on Thursday at 4 am, 26 times as high as considered safe by the World Health Organization.

Coal burning and car emissions are major sources of China's pollution. Many Chinese businesses are government owned, so there is little or no incentive for these businesses to reduce pollution. China's government has been trying to use regulations to reduce pollution for years, but these programs have been an almost total failure, as have large government programs in a number of nations in the world. Daily Mail

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