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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

by Jailan Zayan, AFP

CAIRO (AFP) – Supporters and opponents of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi gathered for rival demonstrations on Friday, raising fears of fresh violence after one activist was killed overnight.

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies massed outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo’s Nasr district to demonstrate their backing for Morsi in his rejection of opposition calls to step down just a year into his term of office.

They gathered under the slogan “legitimacy is a red line”, in reference to Morsi’s insistence that he won a free and fair election and has a popular mandate.

Opponents of the president gathered outside Cairo’s Al-Azhar — Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning — for a march to Tahrir Square, the iconic epicenter of the protest movement that ousted veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Hundreds of Morsi opponents have been holding a sit-in in Tahrir since Tuesday.

Their protest was called by the Tamarod movement (Arabic for rebellion) which says it has collected more than 15 million signatures to a petition demanding Morsi’s resignation and a snap election.

The mainly secular opposition charges that the president has reneged on his promise to rule for all Egyptians and has failed to deliver on the uprising’s aspirations for freedom and social justice.

The overnight violence erupted in the eastern part of the Nile Delta, north of the capital, Morsi’s own home province.

Rival demonstrators clashed outside offices of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, on whose platform the president won last year’s election.

The FJP said on its website that one of its supporters was killed. Thirty people were also wounded, the health ministry said.

Germany warned that Egypt faced a “moment of truth” for its fledgling democracy and urged the Islamist president to implement reforms.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that demonstrators had a right to peaceful assembly but urged both sides to refrain from bloodshed.

Westerwelle “is deeply concerned about the current escalation in political tensions in Egypt,” his spokesman Andreas Peschke told reporters.

“This is in his view a key moment of truth for political change in Egypt.”

Morsi himself warned in a televised speech on Wednesday that the growing polarization between his fans and foes threatens to “paralyze” the country.

He pledged to consider constitutional reforms and appealed to the opposition to join talks.

It was his latest attempt to strike up a dialogue between political factions in a country deeply split between his Islamist allies and an opposition of leftists, liberals, Christians and some Muslim groups.

But late on Thursday, the opposition National Salvation Front coalition rejected his offer of talks and renewed its call for a snap election to replace him.

Since taking office a year ago, Morsi has squared off against the judiciary, media, police and even artists.

However, he has admitted to failings and has vowed to correct them.

“I have made many mistakes, there is no question. Mistakes can happen, but they need to be corrected,” he said.

He warned the media against abusing the freedoms they won from the 2011 uprising.

Judges imposed a ban on foreign travel on Thursday on the owner of a private television channel that hosts a popular satire show.

CBC owner Mohammed al-Amin faces charges of tax evasion, and Morsi singled him out by name in Wednesday’s speech.

The army, which oversaw the transition from Mubarak’s autocratic rule but has been on the sidelines since Morsi’s election, warned it would intervene if violence breaks out.

It has brought in reinforcements to key cities, security officials said.

In Cairo, residents were withdrawing cash and stocking up on food, and many companies have said they will close on Sunday, the first day of the working week in Egypt.

Fuel shortages have seen drivers queuing outside petrol stations through the night, bringing parts of the capital to a standstill.

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]