As the Fur Flies

Our guest columnist this morning is marking time while we wait for the latest news to break.

Most early evidence of cat domestication comes from ancient Egypt. Some experts believe that the Egyptians may have tamed and bred felines to produce a distinct species by the 20th or 19th century B.C.

Cats are frequently represented in Egyptian mythology in the form of the feline goddesses Bastet, Sekhmet, and other deities. Cat art and mummified remains are known from as far back as 4,000 years ago.

But researchers have also stumbled across hints that cats were domesticated much earlier. Experts have found 10,000-year-old engravings and pottery that depict cats dating to the Neolithic period (late Stone Age), [French archaeologist Jean-Denis] Vigne said. He notes such finds provide evidence that, even then, cats had a spiritual significance.

Oldest Known Pet Cat? 9,500-Year-Old Burial Found on Cyprus [National Geographic, 2004]

Image: Mask from a Cat Mummy, Roman Period, 1st Century AD [Solar Navigator]


If cat psychology hasn’t changed in 10000 years, I’m pretty sure the first human domesticated was also allergic to them.

Wonderful creatures! They’re high on my list of consolations to think of when grief or despair is threatening, up there with friends, flowers, books, walks in the woods.

I imagine Neolithic cats tore up the furniture, coughed up hairballs and turned up noses at the same food they gobbled down yesterday just like modern cats. It’s a good thing they’re either so lovable or so able to control puny human minds.

who besides me is sick of hearing that we cant call out Mubarak because it will make all our other puppet dictators around the world nervous.

@lynnlightfoot: I used to have a cat that would join me and the dog when we went for walks. She wouldn’t go far, mind you. More like she escorted us to the end of the neighboring property, then turned back – but that was still easily a quarter of a mile.

Colbert’s “interview” with Christiane Aman-Purr last night was pretty damn spot on in terms of cat psychology.

ADD: And how drugged was Aman-purr?

@SanFranLefty: A cat sitting still in front of a crowd of cheering people? Dark magic, as the very least.

And: Dry food? Not nearly tempting enough for immediate action.

@nojo: When the cat ignored the laser, it confirmed that it was heavily sedated. Any other cat would have jumped off the desk as soon as Colbert put it up there.

AJ correspondent reporting gunshots. But I didn’t catch the beginning of the phoner, so I’m not sure which city he’s in.

@nojo: Kristof’s twitter says that the police/Mubarak thugs are systematically rounding up and arresting all of the journalists on Tahrir Square.

Egyptian television playing Suleiman talk…

Mentions “outside forces” creating “rift among the people of Egypt”…

Says Jan25 movement was “movement of demands”…

“Infiltration of suspicious operatives”…

Demands were “legitimate”, Hosni “responding to lawful demands”…

200 days until election…

(Presentation is Q&A with state TV reporter.)

Speaks of time needed for constitutional reforms…

Blah blah blah… Trying to buy time…

Omar looks like Jeffrey Tambor…

Once six-year president elected, more time for substantial constitutional reforms…

Meeting with “representative of the youth” who “sparked” protest…

Those responsible for violence will be “held accountable and penalized”…

Muslim Brotherhood is “hesitant” to attend talks…

(No talk yet of changing immediate conditions, such as emergency laws.)

Dialogue to be concluded “next week at a maximum”…

“State had no hand” in violence…

Blah blah blah… We will get to the bottom of those hooligans who rode in on horseback and camelback simultaneously…

Foreign elements taking advantage of “enthusiasm of youth” to push their own agendas…

“To continue the demonstration is nothing but furthering the paralysis of the state”…

One million tourists left Egypt in nine days…

Q: Will state commit to reforms? How can we trust you?

A: Mubarak is “an honest man”…

To continue demonstrations will not be because state is untrustworthy, but because of other agendas…

Mubarak stepping down is “alien to the philosophy of the people”… “We all respect the father, the leader”…

Gamal not running for election…

“To step down would be a call to chaos”… “We cannot tolerate this”…

“I blame friendly states who are hosting non-friendly TV stations” who are egging on protests… Hello, Al Jazeera!

“Police had instructions not to fire live ammunition toward demonstrators”…

Prison breaks were “pre-planned” and “well-organized”…

Youth should “continue to love the country and go back home”…

“All the youth arrested during these incidents, unless they committed a crime, will be released”…

Message to youth for Friday: “I thank you for what you did. You were the spark that ignited reform.”… State needs time to implement reforms… Don’t fall prey to satellite TV stations… Let the state protect your families… “Please, disperse and end the demonstrations. Your demands have been responded to and answered.”

(And… scene! 45 minutes.)


aj says

egyptian attorney general freezes assets of several Mubarak supporters and announces they will be stopped from leaving the country.

Where ya got grain, ya got mice, where ya got mice, ya got cats.

@SanFranLefty: Two WaPo journalists (Cairo bureau chief and a photographer) have already been arrested.


seems like he is trying to sound reasonable enough to save his personal bacon. you will pardon the expression.

it might work.

@Capt Howdy: All he really did was fill in details from Mubarak’s two statements. No immediate changes announced. Trust the State.

Firesign Theatre: “Trust in the System.”

@SanFranLefty: I haven’t turned on the TV, but AJ doesn’t have live cameras any more, just reporters with phones.

Per the Committee to Protect Journalists as of last night/early today:

* Ahmed Bajano, an Al-Arabiya correspondent in Cairo, was beaten while covering a pro-Mubarak demonstration, according to news reports. Bajano and his camera crew were attacked in Mustafa Mahmoud Square by men in plainclothes. He suffered a concussion and was taken to a nearby hospital. Another Al-Arabiya journalist who spoke on the air via telephone but did not identify herself by name also reported that she had been beaten by plainclothes police or government-hired thugs. Al-Arabiya’s Cairo office was attacked and its windows broken, the satellite station reported. Another network reporter said on the air that her colleague Ahmad Abdel Hadi was seized by what appeared to be pro-Mubarak supporters near Tahrir Square, forced in a car, and driven away. The reporter added that she has not been able to get through to Abdel Hadi on his mobile phone since.

* A group of men described as “plainclothes police” attacked the headquarters of the independent daily Al-Shorouk in Cairo today, the paper reported. Reporter Mohamed Khayal and photographer Magdi Ibrahim were injured. Ibrahim’s camera was smashed. The editorial team of another independent daily, Al-Masry al-Youm, decided to evacuate its headquarters in downtown Cairo after hearing about the attack on Al-Shorouk, according to the paper’s website. The website also reported that army officers confiscated a press card and a memory card from one of its reporters on the street today.

* Men in plainclothes surrounded the office of Sawsan Abu Hussein, deputy editor of the Egyptian magazine October after she called in to a television program to report on violence against protesters, Abu Hussein said on Al-Jazeera. The magazine’s editor-in chief, Magdi al-Daqaq, a long time Mubarak supporter, was with the men, Abu Hussein told Al-Jazeera’s anchor on the air.

* Police arrested four Israeli journalists for allegedly violating the curfew in Cairo and for entering the country on tourist visas, according to news reports. Three of the journalists reportedly work for Israel’s Channel 2, while the fourth reports for an unnamed Israel-based Arabic news website, according to news reports. But Channel 2 told CPJ that the station does not employ the three journalists. The names and correct affiliation of the arrested reporters remain unclear.

* Belgian journalist Maurice Sarfatti, who writes under the name Serge Dumont and works as a Middle East correspondent for the Brussels-based Le Soir, Geneva-based Le Temps, and French newspaper La Voix du Nord, was beaten and arrested today while he was on assignment in the Shubra neighborhood in central Cairo, according a statement from Le Soir. Sarfatti sent the following to Le Soir from his mobile phone: “It was violent. I received a stream of blows to the face. They claimed that I was pro-Baradei. Then I was taken to a military barracks on the outskirts of town.” Mohamed ElBaradei is a prominent opposition figure. He added, “I am under the care of 2 soldiers with Kalashnikov rifles and bayonets. They say I’ll be taken to the secret services. They accuse me of being a spy.”

* CNN’s Anderson Cooper and his crew were attacked by pro-Mubarak supporters in Tahrir Square. “We were set upon by pro-Mubarak supporters punching us in the head, attacking my producer Marianne Fox and my cameraman as well as trying to grab his camera, trying to break his camera,” Cooper said on the air. “They didn’t want any pictures taken,” he added.

* Two unnamed Associated Press correspondents were roughed up while covering a pro-Mubarak gathering, AP reported.

* Danish media reported that Danish senior Middle East Correspondent Steffen Jensen was beaten today by pro-Mubarak supporters with clubs while reporting live on the phone to Danish TV2 News from Cairo. The attackers demanded his phone and passport. Jensen said he is currently being held by soldiers in Tahrir Square. He said he does not know if the soldiers are holding him for safety reasons or if he is being officially detained. He has no serious injuries.

* The BBC reported that its correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes’ car was forced off the road in Cairo “by a group of angry men.” He has detained by the men, who handed him off to secret police agents who handcuffed and blindfolded him and an unnamed colleague and took them to an interrogation room. They were released after three hours.

* Jon Bjorgvinsson, a correspondent for RUV, Iceland’s national broadcaster, but on assignment for Swiss television in Cairo, was attacked on Tuesday as he and a crew were filming. The journalist and his team were apparently accused of being foreign spies, according to Icelandic news website Ice News. Bjorgvinsson was “knocked to the ground, his camera was broken, and his clothes were ripped.” Ice News reported that, according to RUV, police arrested the television station’s other cameraman, which the site did not name.

* Al-Jazeera continues to face pressure from the government-owned Nilesat satellite provider. The network reported that it will take legal actions against Nilesat’s management and that the station will demand compensation for the blockage of its signal. The Qatar-based station also reported that Jordanian Media City, a private media hub, informed Al-Jazeera that it is facing pressure from Nilesat management to remove the station from the media bundle it provides to viewers.

AJ commentator: “Suleiman invoked every cliche in the book.” Compares it to American dog whistles.

Bottom line: Friday’s gonna be ugly.

@nojo: I have something completely off topic to post if we need a little change of pace around here.

@SanFranLefty: When the cat ignored the laser, it confirmed that it was heavily sedated.
Not necessarily. One of mine routinely ignores the laser. The two boys will be chasing it like it’s the most delicious prey of all time, and she just looks bored.

tj/Already hit by record freezing temps, widespread gas shortages in New Mexico as rolling blackouts affect deliveries to the state. Rural communities facing lows of -20 declaring emergencies. Santa Fe not hit yet.

@SanFranLefty: Top of the hour? I think we’ve had our Egypt news for the moment.

still I could see the army (who will ultimately decide) would find him acceptable for a transition period.

after all he is Bidens BFF.

@Capt Howdy: Certainly the Army wouldn’t have a problem with Mr. Extraordinary Rendition. But the Army as such doesn’t have a problem with Mubarak. This isn’t a palace revolution.

The reaction from the crowd after Mubarak’s second speech was telling: If change doesn’t happen now, they’re not buying it. They don’t trust the government to keep its promises.

Omar was merely reiterating those promises, with more detail. Constitutional reform will take time. Elections will take time. And meanwhile? Nothing. Egypt remains under decades-old emergency rule.

Omar was also pointedly playing the “outside agitator” card. Anybody protesting Friday clearly doesn’t have the country’s best interests at heart, since the government has already responded to demands. He’s spinning a narrative that provides the government an excuse to start shooting.

@SanFranLefty: WND is staking the outer edge — Mooslims! Mooslims! — but I haven’t bothered to reference them yet.

@nojo: The Guardian reports that Egypt state TV is claiming that “Israeli spies” are disguising themselves as Western journalists in order to make people distrust or attack reporters.

@Mistress Cynica: On the other hand, last I heard, the Internet’s back up. So it depends on how many Egyptians are watching Fox News Cairo.

I dont disagree. just think that once we have the Mubarak thing settled we may have to do another round to get this guy out too.
I guess it took until today to say his son wasnt running either.
my producers sister has been in frequent contact. they agree with me that it will be over sooner rather than later.

@Tommmcatt: Perhaps he and Daddy O could enjoy a game of multi-dimensional chess. That would be so civilized and appropriate since neither of them are tethered to reality.

The non-feline Christiane Aman-purr had interviewed Mubarak, who claims “he’s fed up with being president and would like to leave office now, but cannot, he says, for fear that the country would sink into chaos. . . . [he] told Obama: ‘you don’t understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now’.”
Meanwhile, an ABC camera crew was carjacked and threatened with beheading.

Swampsow’s saying Strong Empty Words right now…

/tj – panic buying in Northern New Mexico due to natural gas supply shutdown. Space heaters are all gone, reports of runs on water and price gouging on gasoline. Unconfirmed stories have Santa Fe being hit tonight.

We’re set with water, cash, gasoline, firewood, oil lamps and food. Got Mrs RML some Bailey’s on my emergency run. I could use another can of Coleman fuel for the camping stove, but even that has a full tank and I think there’s a can or two in the shed now that I think about it . . .

@redmanlaw: Why are they shutting down the natural gas? Most of Texas is getting to experience rolling blackouts of electricity.

@SanFranLefty: apparently the gas delivery system requires electricity to run. So if our gas comes from TX, it’s stuck until they get power to the pumps.

Heat cut off to state buildings to make more gas available. State workers sent home. Gov. Martinez declared a state of emergency this afternoon.

Things will be back to normal by the weekend or early next week, I bet.

ADD: “The problem, officials say, is an inability to get gas into New Mexico, partly because of electricity blackouts in Texas and partly because of large-scale regional demand. The problem is that the nationwide cold snap has simply overwhelmed the natural gas system, said Mike Hightower, a Sandia Labs researcher who studies national energy infrastructure.”

I just got word that an Egyptian friend who lives in Sharm al Sheik and who I used to play suicide with got his internet back a couple days ago and is IM’ing a mutual friend. Yay!

You know it’s slow when Al Jazeera returns to regular programming.

@nojo: AJE’s man in Cairo, Dan Nolan, tweeted: “the Aljazeera live shot of Tahrir Sq had to be pulled as it was putting our lives at risk. Will be back up as soon as its safe to do so”
Not so much nothing happening as journalists facing serious threats and unable to get video out. Greek reporter was stabbed today, and Coop’s car was attacked and had its windows broken out.

@Mistress Cynica: Here in Santa Fe, they would cut out the catalytic converter to sell for the metal, or snatch his GPS.

@redmanlaw: I was interviewed on Al Jazeera English once about some environmental issue. The reporter who interviewed me was Jewish.

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