Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NBC Reports the Egyptian Protests

By John Ballard

TahrirTonight's NBC report from Tahrir had this intresting glimpse behind the scenes. 

The reporting crew on the scene took a side street away from Tahrir Square and found something unexpected. A disciplined line of regular Egyptian Army  was standing in a living wall, blocking angry protesters who were trying to get at a group of police on the other side of the line.

It was clear that the army, much better trained and disciplined, was in this case attempting to cool a really explosive situation. According to the report they ultimately failed in that attempt and the result of multiple casualties on all sides, police and protesters alike. 

And when the injured were taken to the makeshift medical facilities near Tahrir they were greeted as heroes. This four-minute video (after a 30-second ad) gets to the interesting part about a minute in. 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

>> reporter: minutes later protesters started throwing stones. up went the riot shields, but the army held fire. then more stones. police in black fired volley after volley of tear gas right over the soldiers' heads.
we heard soldiers telling the police to stop.
everyone started to choke. so soldiers helped the demonstrators. with a gas mask on we jumped into an ambulance. a policeman was gagging on the gas he fired, so was a woman, a demonstrator. the ambulance streamed into tahrir square with the injured.
they were greeted like heroes. and the crowd's demand to topple the military only grew stronger. later this week could be decisive. they're planning another million person demonstration after friday prayer.


The report ended with what can only be called a piece of agitprop, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood which has the same effect on the majority of viewers as the oft-repeated specter of a nuclear conflict with Iran. Up to that point NBC was on to something important and instructive. 

I'm still waiting for the media to report the real reasons so many Egyptians want to do away with military rule, namely the resumption of arbitrary arrests, beatings and intimidation of bloggers and others pushing the case for real democracy. Military trials of civilians, inappropriately harsh sentences and detentions that are a transparent attempt on the part of the military to silence or intimidate outspoken voices are creating exactly the wrong results. 

Another group that very likely has a role in the demonstrations is a group we once called "super patriots," a militant segment of the population who are like extreme sports fans, mostly looking to kick some ass.
I have come across the term ultras to describe them. From the context of that word they appear to have little or no appreciation of anything other than they hate Jews, Christians and anyone else that ain't a Real Egyptian. Something like our own group of ersatz-Conservative crazies that have captured the GOP -- same mentality but more violent. 

Check this column by Ali Ibrahim, Asharq Al-Awsat's Deputy Editor-in-Chief, based in London 

Most of the traditional Egyptian political forces lost out in the bloody battle to recover Tahrir Square, which has become the source of legitimacy in Egypt ever since the 25th January. However, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis may in fact be the biggest losers, after their million man march which they called for last Friday, in a foolish display of power that seems to have provoked the very forces that carried the flame of the January 25th revolution.

The political incompetence evident in the Egyptian transitional period encompasses all traditional political powers, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis who appear to be exploiting the erosion of confidence between the masses and the military council, the organization presently governing the interim period. The same goes for the ruling authority which has handled the situation with utter idiocy, having used force to break up several hundred protesters following the end of the Brotherhood and Salafi million (or half-a-million) man march last Friday. This led to the tragic situation with dozens of casualties falling, plus numerous attacks in Tahrir Square and the surrounding streets, not to mention the intensified demands for an immediate power transfer.

[Much more at the link...]


  1. I don't think the "ultras" are LIKE "extreme sport fans," they ARE soccer fanatics/hooligans. So their hyper-nationalism is on display mostly connected with football matches - I don't think their "philosophy" extends much beyond that sort of noisy flag-waving mixed with occasional match-day rioting. I wouldn't analogize them to US hard-right T-party or right-wing militia types. Football-mad skinheads is probably closer to the type.
    AFAIK they weren't politicized as a group last Jan/Feb. But one of their own got killed by security forces fairly recently, which got them both riled and better organized. I assume there are other sources of bad blood with the police, and they've probably also had pals caught up in the recent huge increase of military court trials you mentioned.
    Anyhow, when the CSF made a ham-fisted, violent attempt to clear Tahrir after last Friday's demos, the "ultras" were among the first to rush down to Tahrir. Ever since, they've been consistently on the front lines, esp in Mohamed Mahmoud street. They seem to have been the main source of fireworks used by protesters to try to keep the police from advancing close to Tahrir itself. Also probably part of the crowd that was dropping stuff from the AUC library building last night.

  2. Re my prior comment, I've just come across this nice report (video) on the "ultras" from BBC.

  3. Thank you for what is clearly first-hand information. The BBC link is especially interesting, with video almost the same as that of NBC but a much better informed description of events. Toward the end of the report it was mentioned that the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood had gone there last week and had been attacked by these same hoodlums. I stand corrected about my description. I like your comparison with skinheads better than what I wrote. I tend to forget there are groups of people in this country even more primitive than right-wing political types.