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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Egypt is a giant, chaotic, deplorable mess. The death toll, as of this writing, has risen to 525, reports the New York Times. President Obama has canceled next month’s planned joint military exercise just so everyone knows his administration is really, really, really serious about just how strongly it condemns recent events in Egypt. The Times has more on the president’s remarks. Secretary of State John Kerry also remarked away; here is the full text of his comments at the State Department’s press briefing.

The Wall Street Journal discusses U.S. influence—or lack thereof—in the Middle East. The Washington Post has this liveblog of events in Cairo; the latest is that Morsi’s supporters are calling for protest marches.

Bessma Momani of Georgetown University cautions against the “marriages of convenience” Egypt’s young people have chosen between the military and the new government. And Marc Lynch of George Washington University argues in Foreign Policy that the Obama administration should take a hard-line approach: “As long as Egypt remains on its current path, the Obama administration should suspend all aid, keep the embassy in Cairo closed, and refrain from treating the military regime as a legitimate government.” Good luck with that.

The Times “Room for Debate” feature poses the following question: “With a state of emergency declared in Egypt, continued unrest in Bahrain, democracy under threat in Tunisia, Libya, and possibly even Turkey, and an all-out civil war in Syria, is there any hope left for the anti-authoritarian movement that swept through the Middle East?”

Since Jane wished Pakistan a happy birthday yesterday , it seems only fair to wish my natal shores a rousing, “Happy Independence Day, India!” today. Despite the dual festivities, tensions remain pretty high between India and Pakistan right now over recent clashes along the Kashmir border. Reuters says that firing continued during the celebrations. BBC reports that in his Independence Day speech, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (no relation) said that the killing of five Indian soldiers earlier this month was “dastardly.” He also asked Pakistan to do more to prevent its territory from being used by Islamic militants, according to the Associated Press.

Al Qaeda, on the other hand, sees no problem with Pakistan’s continuing to give it and its friends basing rights. McClatchy tells us that the Pakistani government, which is planning to execute three convicted members of Lakshar-e-Jhangvi this week, was threatened with more violence in an open letter from Al Qaeda.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (remember him?) has postponed a visit to Washington. Julian Pequet of the Hill has the story.

Another day, another fight over Yemenis at Guantanamo Bay: Jeremy Herb of the Hill reports on the calls from Republicans to block detainee transfers now that trouble is brewing in Yemen.

Two Kazakh friends of Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s who allegedly disposed of evidence from the Boston bombing suspect’s dorm room (bad move) have pleaded not guilty to charges of obstructing justice. Here are the Times and CBS News with more.

CNN has recreated, using the testimonies of dozens of people, what happened the day Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire at Ft. Hood in 2009:

As Jane mentioned in yesterday’s roundup, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International is in town—protesters of drones, supporters of Snowden, and everyone in between. John Reed of Foreign Policy has highlights from the floor. Ben returned with this picture, noting that “since drones are the new black helicopters, this thing combines the new with the old.”

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Bradley Manning publicly apologized yesterday for “hurt[ing] the United States.” The Guardian has his full statement, and National Public Radio has details of his day in court, as does NBC. WikiLeaks released a statement saying Manning was “extracted by force.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that President Obama should consult with Congress in forming his task force to review the NSA’s surveillance programs, which he announced at his press conference last Friday. So says Josh Gerstein of Politico.

Walter Pincus of the Post argues that intelligence officials need to have their side of the surveillance debate heard—and covered by the media.

Edward Snowden spoke to his father through an encrypted Internet chat room, despite the fact that the lawyers for both sides disapproved, according to the Journal.

Perhaps the Snowdens’ decision to have their conversation was made easier by knowing that the owner of this frilly protest vehicle stands in solidarity with them. Thanks to our intern, Clara Spera, for snapping a photo of Today’s Moment of Zen:

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