Egypt's deadly problem
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Another deadly attack strikes Egypt's Sinai region
The attack followed an all-too-familiar pattern. First a bomb blast — designed as much to scatter worshippers at the mosque as to kill. Then came the four-by-fours filled with heavily armed masked men. By the time the shooting stopped in the town of Bir-al-Abd in Egypt's Sinai region today, at least 235 people were dead and more than 200 wounded. It is the deadliest insurgent attack in the country's history.
Egypt's internal struggles haven't received as much attention as the turmoil in places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But the fight in the Sinai will soon enter its eighth year and has been consistently destructive and deadly. Here are just a few examples:
A bomb and shooting attack last July on an army checkpoint in the town of El Barth, near the border with Israel, killed 23 Egyptian soldiers, including a high-ranking special forces officer.
Two bomb attacks against Coptic churches on Palm Sunday in April — the first in Tanta, 100 kilometres north of Cairo, and the other a few hours later in Alexandria. The blasts killed 44 and injured more than 70.
Militants stole a garbage truck, packed it with explosives and detonated it at a military roadblock in the town of El-Arish in January 2017, killing at least 13 and injuring 22 others.
The downing of Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 over the Sinai in October 2015, killing 224.
The violence began in early 2011, as Bedouin tribes in the Sinai sought to fill the power vacuum created by the fall of Hosni Mubarak's rule. The lawless province became a favourite transit point for drug smugglers, human traffickers and weapons dealers importing arms from Libya.
The Egyptian military tried to stamp the insurgency out with campaigns in 2011 and 2012 and ramped up to mass arrests in 2013, but the attacks only intensified.
One of the Sinai's deadliest groups, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Supporters of Jerusalem), pledged its allegiance to ISIS in the fall of 2014. But it's far from clear that radical Islamists are the only force behind the violence in the province.
Historical grievances — dating back to Israel's post-1967 War control of the Sinai — and choices made the Egyptian government after peace was struck in 1979 are very much in play. Most specifically the 81,000 hectares of prime agricultural land that was taken from the Bedouin and given to wealthy Egyptian businessmen who have built luxury hotels and resorts on the Red Sea.
A solution — either military or negotiated — remains a long way off.
But the fighting has more of a toll than the dead and wounded. Egypt's economy is suffering, too. The Red Sea resorts were transformed to ghost towns following the Metrojet downing. And overall, tourist visits to the country have plummeted -- from 14.7 million in 2015 to just 5.4 million last year.
No more running
When Oscar Pistorius was celebrating his 31st birthday on Wednesday, he could anticipate being a free man by the time he turned 35.
Today, he learned he will serve a decade more than he thought in prison.
"Shockingly lenient" was the phrase that South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal used in overturning the six-year sentence the Paralympic champion had been handed for the Valentine's Day 2013 murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
And as such, the court more than doubled the penalty, adding 13 years and five months, to bring the punishment in line with South Africa's 15-year minimum for homicide.
Pistorius and his lawyers are now stuck in a losing streak. The judge at his highly publicized trial in 2014 bought the double-amputee sprinter's claim that the killing of Steenkamp — he fired four pistol shots through a locked bathroom door — was an error.
The Blade Runner's story was that he mistook his lover for a burglar, although witness accounts told of a loud argument between the couple that night. The judge gave him five years.
But the initial manslaughter verdict was upgraded to murder upon appeal in 2015, and a year was added to his sentence. Now, with today's decision, the punishment fits the crime.
Pistorius, one of the great good news stories of the 2012 London Games when he became the first amputee to compete in track and field at the Olympics, will regain his freedom and his life at 45.
Reeva Steenkamp was 29.
A 105-year-old party
Attending a Grey Cup should be on the bucket list of every Canadian sports fan.
It's not like a Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup finals or the Olympics — all slick, monied, corporate events.
Grey Cup festivities are more intimate, the athletes more accessible and even when the game is held in the country's biggest cities, there's a charming, do-it-yourself feeling to the whole thing. A few, often freezing, late fall days punctuated by pancake breakfasts, marching bands and rowdy beer tents.
Here's The National's look back at some past celebrations.
The hoopla around this year's game in Ottawa, which will be played Sunday evening between the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders, is holding true to form.
(Although CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie's reluctance to accept that there is a scientific link between football head injuries and brain damage — something accepted as fact by the NFL — might put a bit of a damper on the party.)
Toronto Mayor John Tory and his Calgary counterpart, Naheed Nenshi, have entered into perhaps the most earnest wager in civic sports history, both pledging to donate $5 per point scored by the winning team to a food bank in the champion city.
If you're in Ottawa tonight, you can go see an "alternative" concert featuring Sloan. Or wait for "classic rock" night Saturday, with Cancon warhorses Trooper and April Wine.
The forecast for game day is brisk — a high of –4 C with flurries — but if you have $150 to spare there's a VIP tailgate event at Landsdowne Park, indoors, with drinks included and live music from the CFL Hall of Fame Flutie Brothers Band.
The best Grey Cup tradition, of course, remains the Calgary Stampeders Grey Cup Committee riding a horse through a hotel lobby. It started as a prank at Toronto's Royal York in 1948.
The last time the Stamps matched up against the Argos for the championship, at the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto in 2012, the swank old hotel — now owned by Fairmont — at first declined to let the horse in.
So last year, when the game returned to Hogtown, Calgary boosters found a more willing venue — the downtown Holiday Inn.
And CFL history was made anew:
Before the horse checks into the hotel, bagpipers play to commemorate the moment. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/sentencesIneverthoughtIdwrite?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#sentencesIneverthoughtIdwrite</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GreyCup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GreyCup</a> <a href="https://t.co/Tzb2Ssx7K7">pic.twitter.com/Tzb2Ssx7K7</a>—@olearychris
A horse! Indoors! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cfl?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#cfl</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/greycup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#greycup</a> <a href="https://t.co/G4wXQkzwx0">pic.twitter.com/G4wXQkzwx0</a>—@olearychris
Quote of the moment
"We learned from Europe that appeasement doesn't work. We don't want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East."
- Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman invokes Godwin's law while talking about Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in an interview with the New York Times.
What The National is reading
- Japanese politician brings baby to work to highlight plight of working moms. Colleagues prove her point. (Guardian)
- University of Lethbridge professor accused of anti-Semitic views reinstated. (CBC)
- Cops try to shut down coca plantations, poor Colombian farmers resist. (LA Times)
- Deal signed to return Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, but UNHCR says it's still not safe. (Daily Star)
- Sobey's to lay off 800 workers across Canada. (CBC)
- Kids soccer ref blows whistle on "entitled and despicable" Beverly Hills parents (LA Weekly)
This weekend in history
Nov. 25, 1948: Marshall McLuhan decries poor grammar among 1940s youth.
Those "hep cats" and their infernal "zoot suits."