Egypt

  • The FT’s Richard McGregor reports on how detainees at Guantánamo Bay are growing old in limbo.
  • Algeria’s mostly French-bred football team highlights the failure of homegrown African football.
  • The Kurdish forces are unlikely to lose a war to Isis should it choose to launch a full-scale attack, but the fight could be costlier than its leaders let on.
  • In Jordan, officials fear that Isis is gaining support in poor communities such as Ma’an, or in the teeming northern refugee camps and border towns where many of those who have fled from Syria live.
  • The US State Department began investigating the security contractor Blackwater’s operations in Iraq in 2007, but the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq”. Weeks later, the firm’s guards killed 17 civilians.
  • One of Egypt’s leading novelists, Ahdaf Soueif, has accused Egypt’s military-backed authorities of “waging a war on the young”.
  • Buzzfeed looks into the Russian collective that calls itself the Anonymous International: “Completely unknown just months ago, the group has become the talk of Moscow political circles after posting leaked documents detailing elements of Russia’s annexation of Crimea; covert operations in eastern Ukraine; the inner workings.”
  • The flawed response in Saudi Arabia to an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome could have contributed to its spread.
  • In the Netherlands, sandcastles are being used to educate schoolchildren the dangers of rising sea levels.

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Lebanon on the brink: political gridlock, economic torpor and the machinations of pro-Syrian Hizbollah have once more pushed the crossroads of the Middle East to the edge of collapse.

• In Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is coasting towards victory in presidential elections, keeping policy vague and democracy off the agenda.

• A plan by Pope Francis to celebrate mass in a Jerusalem room believed by Christians to have hosted the Last Supper has brought criticism, controversy and conspiracy theories worthy of a Dan Brown novel.

• While the public interest case against Pfizer’s takeover of the UK’s AstraZeneca is weak, the tax case for it is compelling, says Tony Jackson.

• The New York Times tells the tale of the plight of those left behind after the elopement of Afghanistan’s Romeo and JulietRead more

  • The languishing economy in northern Nigeria has driven recruitment into the brutal insurgency campaign.
  • Martin Wolf argues that to eliminate excess capacity and raise inflation to 2 per cent, the ECB needs to do “whatever it takes” again or the crisis might yet return.
  • In March, the Fed stated that interest rates may stay abnormally low even when unemployment and inflation are back to normal, but Janet Yellen has given no detailed explanation of why. Several of the possible explanations, says the FT’s Robin Harding, are either so tenuous or so gloomy that it is easy to see why a Fed chair might be reluctant to talk about them.
  • If Ukraine loses its southeast region, it could cut off half the economy and push the debt-to-GDP ratio to a dangerously high level.
  • Author Alaa al-Aswany argues for an Egyptian society when Egyptians who enjoy belly dancing don’t frown upon the women who dance, but appreciate the art form and the value of its performers.

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  • In the US the Libyan city of Benghazi has gone from being shorthand for the furore over the 2012 attack on the US embassy to a political weapon for the Republican party, says the FT’s Geoff Dyer.
  • Jeffrey Frankel, professor of economics at the Harvard Kennedy School, argues that the US is still the worlds largest economy by some distance: “the fact that rice and clothes are cheap in rural China does not make the Chinese economy larger. What matters for size in the world economy is how much a yuan can buy on world markets.”
  • Egypt is begging tourists to visit despite politicial turmoil as livelihoods dwindle and nest eggs disappear.
  • Boko haram doesn’t literally mean “Western education is a sin”. A more subtle translation of the name reveals that the group actually has a rather domestic focus.
  • As monarchic dynamics shift in the Arab Gulf, the disputes of the Kuwaiti royal family are shifting into public view.

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  • Gideon Rachman argues that India needs a jolt and Narendra Modi is the man to provide it.
  • When the political class tries its hand at populism it radiates inauthenticity, says Janan Ganesh.
  • The FT explores the looming crisis in the US infrastructure network.
  • A new and bloody front has been opened in eastern Syria as the country’s two most powerful jihadist groups battle for control of the region’s oilfields.
  • Judge Saed Youssef, nicknamed “the Butcher”, has gained notoriety in Egypt: he has sentenced 1,212 people to their deaths in the past five weeks.
  • The latest US sanctions don’t affect Putin’s personal fortune, they threaten Putin’s actual pressure point: the oil that is Russia’s lifeblood.

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  • Martin Wolf thinks private banks should be stripped of their power to create money.
  • Voting in Mumbai has been a tale of two cities as the most downtrodden residents of India’s financial capital have turned out to vote in large numbers.
  • The Naples tailoring industry has adapted to the 21st Century better than the city in which it resides.
  • Despite concerns over its reliance on the GCC, Egypt is now well placed to engage and negotiate some favourable terms from the IMF.
  • Emerging economies such as Mexico are the fastest-growing source of demand for many of the big food and drinks companies, but intensifying pressure from health authorities in developed markets could deprive them of growth opportunities.

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• The peace deal struck in Geneva means little in Ukraine’s easternmost province where hard core activists are refusing to end their occupation of government buildings.

Russia seeks economic self-reliance. Faced with the threat of more sanctions over Ukraine, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says the country must reduce its dependency on imports and strenghthen from within.

• Thousands of government opponents in Egypt have disappeared into secret jails, which critics warn are radicalising a new generation of jihadis.

• David Moyes’s sacking, after just 10 months as Manchester United’s manager, is above all a story of image.

• The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction. New York Times analysis shows that across lower-and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have won considerably larger salary increases over the last three decades. Read more

♦ In the new cold war, Russia could hit the US where it hurts – in Iran.

Vladimir Putin has confounded three US presidents as they tried to figure him out.

♦ The decision in Egypt to hand the death sentence to 528 Muslim Brotherhood members was widely condemned, but Egyptian TV told a different story.

♦ The US is losing its edge as an employment powerhouse after its labour participation rate fell behind the UK’s.

♦ Russia’s actions in Crimea have sent a chill through its former Soviet neighbours in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

♦ American economist Hyman Minsky is back in vogue as his ideas offer a plausible account of why the 2007-08 financial crisis happened.

♦ A report on how former Tunisian president Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali changed the rules of business underlines the challenges still facing the country. Read more

♦ Many Iranians see basij– the ideologically-driven volunteer forces of the Revolutionary Guards – as stick-wielding thugs, but they show a softer side as they sip cappuccino and discuss art at Café Kerase.

♦ Although demographic and other factors are against the US Republicans, the Grand Old Party is seeing a strange revival.

♦ It’s not a good time for Japan to put its tax rates up, which is why the government is allowing retailers to act like they haven’t.

♦ Much has changed in Sarajevo since the day in 1914 when Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot, providing the spark that lit the flames of the first world war, yet much has remained the same.

♦ The Egyptian army’s gift of land for homes has prompted speculation over a closely guarded secret: the size of the army’s stake in the economy.

♦ A property boom across Germany‘s biggest cities has been dubbed a betongold – literally concrete gold – rush. Read more

♦ As the Ukraine crisis escalates with Russian troops taking hold of Crimea, Barack Obama faces his sternest challenge – or as Edward Luce puts it, his chicken Kiev moment.

♦ Western military experts suspect Russia of plotting its action in Crimea for weeks.

♦ Politico suggests that Russia no longer fears the west , and outlines why.

♦ The New Yorker reports on the strange world of the Muslim Brotherhood court cases in Egypt. Read more

  • Economix does its take on the Transpacific Partnership and free trade.
  • The Archdiocese of Newark doesn’t have enough money to keep a school open, but it does have funds to build a palatial vacation home.
  • Roy Isacowitz criticises Benjamin Netanyahu’s definition of boycott supporters as anti-semites.
  • Delphine Minoui sees in Egypt a current, real-life version of “Rhinoceros,” the 1959 play by Eugène Ionesco.
  • Soviet cuisine is making a comeback.
  • David Gardner on how efforts to pressure the Assad regime in Syria have backfired.
  • The suspension of Nigeria’s central bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, is likely to cost the country dearly.
  • The trial of Wu Guijun, who was accused of disrupting public order during a labour protest in Guangdong, could mark the end of a period of relative tolerance enjoyed by China’s worker movement.

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  • Glenn Greenwald has lunch with the FT and discusses his abrasive manner and new online venture.
  • Rahm Emanuel has reinvented Chicago’s political machine: the FT’s Edward Luce looks at whether he’s now aiming for the White House.
  • A divide has opened up among Britain’s high earners: the über-middle, made up of doctors and London finance workers, emerge as big winners, while millions of “cling-on” professions struggle to sustain a middle class lifestyle.
  • Students from as far afield as Mongolia, Guinea and Namibia are heading to study in northern Cyprus, where universities have become the leading sector of the economy.
  • Nicholas Shaxson talks about his work on tax havens and compares the dominance of the financial sector in London to the resource curse on countries in Africa.
  • Jihadi life is no longer the lap of luxury with the odd battle thrown in.
  • The Egyptian government’s heavy-handed crackdown on opposition is widening the generation gap.
  • A different generation game is being played in Tunisia, where there is a battle to keep young people occupied and away from extremism.

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  • Banks that cheat people pay fines, but people who cheat banks do time: Gary Silverman profiles Carl Cole, who helped turn Bakersfield into one of the home foreclosure capitals of the US.
  • Egypt’s government is letting exiled billionaires and convicted Mubarak cronies buy their way back into the country.
  • The fallow period is over for Russia – after a decade without any top-level women’s figure skaters, it now has more than it can use and one of them, Julia Lipnitskaia, is stealing the show at Sochi.
  • Vegas Tenold recounts his journey to Sochi in a Niva, “an automotive version of the Russian soul”.

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By Toby Luckhurst

  • The USA can no longer rely on Egypt as a bulwark of stability in the Middle East, as jihadists return to the country to fight the military authorities.
  • Oligarchs in eastern Ukraine are abandoning President Yanukovich’s regime.
  • Iranian hardliners blocked the broadcast of a live interview with President Rouhani, exposing the political battle developing in the Islamic Republic.
  • Critics question whether Narendra Modi can do for India what he has done for Gujarat if he wins the upcoming general election.
  • Hugh Roberts in the London Review of Books questions the orthodox view of Hosni Mubarak’s deposition as a revolution.

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By Toby Luckhurst

  • The Sochi Olympics will only temporarily distract from Russia’s increasing economic problems, writes Kathrin Hille.
  • Figure skater Johnny Weir talks about the Russian obsession with skating and their attitudes towards homosexuality.
  • Journalists are arriving in Sochi for the start of the Winter Olympics to find their accommodation is still being built.
  • A New York Times interactive map series on the spread of violence in the Caucasus.
  • Egyptian actress Soheir al-Babli has called for “a man as strong as Hitler” to assert authority over the turbulent country.
  • Dr Hisham A Hellyer salutes the journalists in Egypt who are trying to hold power to account in a country that is increasingly hostile to their work.
  • Fatima Khan is determined to learn the facts behind the death of her son, Dr Abbas Khan, in a Syrian prison.
  • A UN report released on Monday details the abuses children are enduring in the ongoing conflict in Syria.
  • Vanity Fair examines the relationship between Wendi Deng, ex-wife of Rupert Murdoch, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

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By Toby Luckhurst

  • The middle class customer base is shrinking in the US, as the top 5 per cent of earners drives consumption.
  • Women have discovered an entrepreneurial streak in Spain in the face of high unemployment and a sluggish economic recovery.
  • Sarah Carr writes on the Egyptian military’s efforts to stifle dissenting voices in the wake of the coup against Mohamed Morsi.
  • US productivity is suffering in the wake of the global recession, to such an extent that Silicon Valley-based Blueseed plans to launch a cruise ship into international waters to allow immigrants to start new businesses without seeking residency.
  • Norwegians praise Iraqi Farouk Al-Kasim for creating their “oil fund”, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, and avoiding the resource curse.
  • Scarlett Johansson’s decision to side with SodaStream in the West Bank controversy foreshadows Israel’s own need to decide on the future of its settlements on the occupied land.

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By Toby Luckhurst

  • Scottish Nationalists seek to emulate Nordic social democracies.
  • The Sochi Winter Olympics is inspiring a resurgence of Circassian nationalism.
  • The lionisation of the Egyptian military creates the myth of an all-powerful institution capable of bringing the country under control.
  • Hindsight does not always provide the clearest picture and the way we view the revolutionaries who toppled Hosni Mubarak in Egypt is an example of skewed perspective.
  • US Secretary of State John Kerry is attempting the improbable with an Israel-Palestine peace deal that is already being slammed by far right Israeli politicians who refuse to discuss a withdrawal from the occupied territories.
  • A New York Times profile of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who yesterday was found dead in his Manhattan apartment, aged 46.
  • Janet Yellen, new chief of the US Federal Reserve, lets her work speak for itself in a male-dominated field.
  • Foreign Policy looks at the Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure – a Pentagon compilation of Department of Defence overspending, dishonesty, and immoral conduct.

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By Toby Luckhurst

  • John Kay’s open letter to Bill Gates restates his argument that the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.
  • Scarlett Johansson is at the centre of a growing storm surrounding a Soda Stream manufacturing plant in the occupied West Bank.
  • Borzou Daragahi reports on Egyptians’ zealous show of support for the military.
  • Syria’s Islamist rebels have gained control of the country’s oil and are selling fuel to the Assad regime in exchange for protection from air strikes.
  • Jan Cienski reports from Lviv – home to stalwarts of anti-Yanukovich sentiment and Ukrainian nationalism.
  • Upbeat duck accepts premature lameness, writes Edward Luce on Obama’s State of the Union speech.
  • Football stadia are at the forefront of the Chinese push for economic and political influence in Africa.

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By Toby Luckhurst

  • New “blockbuster” drugs provide hope for a cure to Hepatitis C – an illness which now kills more in the UK than HIV.
  • Neil Buckley explores the tent city that has sprung up in Kiev’s Independence Square to house, feed, and protect the anti-government protesters.
  • Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah Elshamy has begun a hunger strike to protest his detention without charge at the hands of Egypt’s military regime.
  • The New York Times reports on life without government in Lebanon.
  • Syrian government officials are facing anger from Syrians in Switzerland – the first time the regime has engaged with those directly suffering from the conflict.

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