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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Tuesday, November 19, 2013.

OND is a regular community feature on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary.  Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

Creation and early water-bearing of the OND concept came from our very own Magnifico - proper respect is due.

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This diary is named for its "Hump Point" video: "C Jam Blues" by Ella Fitzgerald

News below Aunt Flossie's hairdo . . .

Please feel free to browse and add your own links, content or thoughts in the Comments section.

Any timestamps shown are relative to each publication.

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Top News
Indonesia officially downgrades its relationship with Australia

By Oliver Laughland
. . .

Jakarta-based paper Media Indonesia reported that the foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, said on Tuesday that bilateral relations had been officially downgraded.

"We will continue to downgrade our relationship with Australia," Natalagewa said. “Downgrading includes reviewing all bilateral co-operation between the two countries – not only information and intelligence exchange. It's no longer business as usual.

. . .

On Tuesday the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, held high-level talks with a number of Indonesian ministers after voicing his outrage on Twitter at the phone-tapping revelations published by Guardian Australia and the ABC. He said he was not happy with the response so far offered from Canberra.

Study: Airline Pilots Lean on Automation Too Much, Have Trouble Manually Flying

By Tiffany Kaiser  
A recent study commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shows that pilots depend on automation much more than they should, and many don't know what to do when they must manually take over.

 According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, an international panel of air-safety experts comprising of industry, labor, academic and government officials have determined that pilots rely on automation to the point of not knowing what to do when issues arise.

. . .

 The 277-page study concluded that many pilots have poor manual flying skills and fail to master the latest changes in cockpit technology. In fact, the study found that two-thirds of the pilots either had trouble manually flying planes or made mistakes using flight computers.

. . .

 The report gave 18 recommendations to the FAA, and the agency has already taken some sort of action on each one through new rules, research and guidance material. Some of the changes include more focus on manual flying skills and improved pilot certification standards.

Supreme Court vote upholds Texas abortion law

By David G. Savage
The Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for Texas to enforce a strict new abortion regulation that opponents say prevents a third of the state's clinics from performing the procedure.

The court, in a 5-4 vote, split along ideological lines in turning down an appeal to block the law that abortion rights advocates challenged as unconstitutional.

. . .

The Texas law is one of several recent state measures adopted by Republican-controlled legislatures that seek to regulate or restrict abortion without banning it. The laws are drafted in a manner that they are expected to be upheld by the Supreme Court's conservative-leaning majority that includes Kennedy. In the past, he has voted to uphold abortion regulations, but has refused to strike down Roe vs. Wade and the right to legal abortion.

. . .

But abortion rights advocates said that many hospitals, fearing local criticism, were reluctant to grant admitting privileges to doctors who performed abortions. Moreover, they said hospitals admit patients needing emergency care without regard to whether the patient's doctor has admitting privileges, making the law irrelevant.

. . .

The judges agreed with Texas state lawyers, who argued that pregnant women in the Rio Grande Valley could drive to abortion clinics about 100 miles away. "An increase in travel distance of less than 150 miles for some women is not an undue burden on abortion rights," Judge Priscilla Owen wrote for the 5th Circuit.

International
Cairo puts its faith in ragpickers to manage the city's waste problem

By Marion Guénard
. . .

The Zabaleen are a Christian community who migrated from Upper Egypt to the outskirts of Cairo in the 1940s. Extremely poor, they earned a living as the city's ragpickers before turning to recycling in the early 1980s. With the help of NGOs, including APE, they have facilities for recycling plastic, paper and metal; they feed organic waste to the pigs they keep in their backyards. Animal excrement is sent to a compost plant in a Cairo suburb where it is processed and sold to farmers.

. . .

Iskandar has reversed the policy of previous governments, which tried to marginalise the work of this Christian, mainly Coptic, minority. In 2003, Hosni Mubarak's economically liberalising regime asked multinational corporations to handle waste disposal. "That model is not suited to Cairo, where residents are used to dustbins being emptied on each individual floor of a building. People couldn't get used to taking down their garbage and putting it into special skips, which were later raided by thieves," said Greiss. "As a result most people continued to pay the Zabaleen to come up and get their garbage unofficially, and then complained because they also had to pay for the foreign service company."

. . .

Now the Egyptian government is aiming to give official status to the Zabaleen's role in Cairo's waste processing. Under the joint management of the ministry of the environment and the Zabaleen union, 44 local waste disposal companies, using a labour force of 1,000 families, have been officially registered. They will take over waste disposal responsibilities in the south of the city from a subsidiary of Arab Constructors, an Egyptian company.

The environment ministry is also launching a public awareness campaign to get people to sort organic and non-organic waste on the doorstep. "Of course that will take time," said Iskandar, who admitted that she still did not have the few hundred thousand dollars required for that project. "In the first six months we want to provide a free service, because people here are fed up with paying for nothing over the past year."

China officially abandons its pursuit of “growth at all costs”

By John Upton
How did China grow its GPD by 10 percent every year for more than three decades, from a virtual standing start, rising to become the world’s second-largest economy?

Through a simple, horrendous policy: growth at all costs.

In other words, forget about public health, screw happiness, trample justice, and fuck the environment. Just go out there and make as much damned money as you can.

. . .

. . .

With public anger mounting over a series of scandals involving hazardous smog, contaminated soil and toxic water supplies, China has identified the environment as one of the biggest potential sources of instability. …

The new policy document said China would “correct the bias towards assessing (officials) on the speed of economic growth and increase the weight placed on other indicators such as resource use, environmental damage, ecological benefits, industrial overcapacity, scientific innovation, work safety and newly-added debt.”

Rebuilding in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan could cost $5.8 billion: Official

By Samantha Stainburn
More than a week after Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Philippines, officials are coming to grips with the international humanitarian mission to provide relief to survivors.

The typhoon, one of the strongest on record, left more than 5,000 people dead or missing and displaced an estimated 4 million Filipinos.

The government said on Tuesday that 24,770 rescue and relief workers, 1,306 vehicles, 104 ships and boats and 163 aircraft have been mobilized. Some 88 medical teams – 43 foreign and 45 local – are now providing relief across the Philippines.

. . .

The military commander of the Visayas, Lieutenant General Roy Deveraturda, said that the government plans to ask countries to focus on providing aid to specific regions of the Philippines, rather than the country as a whole.

Poorest families 'need more help over debt'

By (BBC)
. . .

The Centre for Social Justice, which helped shape the 2010 Tory manifesto, says the average UK household has debts of £54,000, including mortgages - nearly twice the level of a decade ago.

It says the poorest 10% of households have average debts that are more than four times their income.

. . .

The Maxed Out report, led by former Labour work and pensions minister Chris Pond, says the average debt repayments of people in that group were nearly half of their gross monthly income,

But the authors say they have avoided the easy assumption of blaming individual responsibility.

Venezuela president granted sweeping powers

By (Al Jazeera)
Tuesday’s vote over the Enabling Law is the latest move by the elected Venezuelan leader, a protégé of the late President Hugo Chavez, to strengthen his hand as he faces an important political test in municipal elections next month.

. . .

The socialist president says he needs greater personal power to stamp out opponents who are waging "economic warfare against his government" as the country struggles with soaring inflation and shortages of basic goods.

. . .

On Tuesday, the Venezuelan unit of General Motors was fined the equivalent of $85,000 for allegedly overcharging and practising "usury" in the sale of car parts to local concessionaires.

The government also asked Twitter to take down accounts of users posting the illegal black market exchange rate for the country's bolivar currency, which is trading at about one-tenth of the official value.

These measures have rallied Maduro's working-class base and even won approval from some government opponents who have joined the long lines outside appliance stores nationwide for the past 10 days in search of deep discounts on TV sets and refrigerators.

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
Why Health Plan Cancellations Do Not Mean Failure for ACA

By Michael K. Gusmano
. . .

The “patient protection” dimension of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is reflected in provisions that ban the use of pre-existing conditions to deny health insurance coverage and limit the circumstances under which health insurers can rescind policies. But it also includes the creation of minimum coverage standards that do not allow insurers to sell inexpensive plans that fail to offer adequate protection against the costs of health care. However, the law temporarily grandfathered in many substandard plans that were in place at the time the law was passed, and many of those plans expired in 2013.  Because there is so much turnover in the individual and small group health insurance market,  many of the plans that would have been cancelled by the ACA were issued more recently and, at the time they were sold, insurers knew could not continue beyond 2013.

Much of the uproar over the cancellation of these plans reflects a distortion of the facts, but just beneath the veneer of the overheated political rhetoric is opposition to the values that animate the law. In that spirit, the cancellation of health insurance plans that do not meet the law’s minimum standards for coverage is evidence that the law is working, not that it is failing to do so. Although it does so by creating a “patchwork on a patchwork,” meaning “a patchwork of reforms that builds upon the existing patchwork system of American health insurance,” the ACA tries to move the U.S. closer to a social insurance model for health insurance and away from a commercial model in which the price of health care is based on its actuarial value.

. . .

If the point of insurance is to spread risk over a larger group, healthier people will pay more than what might be considered “actuarially fair.” Those who adopt a social insurance perspective place great value on spreading risks as broadly as possible. Those who adopt a commercial insurance approach want to limit this and segment the market to protect healthier people against subsidizing the care of people who are sick.

 The choice between these models is driven by values. The more value we assign to broad coverage, the more sense it makes to define the population, the risk pool, very broadly. So, beyond the attempts to score partisan political points, this is really a fight about whether health insurance in the U.S. should be based on social insurance principles – and that is the issue that should receive greater public attention.

US serial killer Joseph Franklin granted stay of execution

By (BBC)
A US federal judge has granted a stay of execution to a white supremacist serial killer amid legal challenges over the use of a new drug in the execution process.

. . .

Franklin, 63, was sentenced to death for killing one man and wounding two others outside a synagogue in 1977.

. . .

The BBC's Aidan Lewis in Washington says that in the past two years US and European drug manufacturers have sought to distance themselves from executions - cutting off supplies and leaving US states that use the death penalty scrambling for alternatives.

Missouri announced it would instead use pentobarbital, sourced not from a pharmaceutical company but from a compounding pharmacy that makes small batches of drugs on demand for specific clients.

Watchdog: Grover Norquist's Group Misled IRS About Its 2012 Political Spending

By Andy Kroll
Americans for Tax Reform, the conservative advocacy group run by activist Grover Norquist, plunged headlong into federal elections in 2012, urging voters in California, Colorado, and Ohio to oust Democratic lawmakers. In all, ATR told the Federal Election Commission that it spent nearly $16 million last year on independent expenditures—political ads urging voters to support or defeat a particular candidate that aren't coordinated with any candidates or parties.

. . .

ATR may have had reason to low-ball the political spending figures it reported to the IRS. Norquist's group is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, also known as a social welfare organization. Under the tax law, 501(c)(4) nonprofits such as ATR—which do not have to disclose their donors—can wade into campaigns and elections but cannot spend a majority of their money on political activities. From only reading ATR's 2012 tax filing, the group appears to abide by that restriction: ATR reported spending a total of $30 million in 2012, only $9.8 million of which went toward politicking. No issue there.

But if ATR in fact spent nearly $16 million of its $30 million budget on politicking, as CREW claims it did, then that's a different story. "ATR's own IRS and FEC filings provide incontrovertible evidence that ATR is breaking the law," CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said in a statement. "If Al Capone could be nailed for tax violations, so can Grover Norquist."

Welcome to the "Hump Point" of this OND.

News can be sobering and engrossing - at this point in the diary, an offering of brief escapism:

Random notes related to this video:
. . .

Yes, the categorists have had a tough time with Fitzgerald ever since she began singing professionally in the 1930s. She doesn’t fit the mold of the suffering jazz artist, and her work has none of the dark power associated with tragic heroines like Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith or Dinah Washington. Her sunny style doesn’t allow for irony, or drama, or ambiguity in her interpretation of a lyric. It’s notable that Holiday hated pop songs and recorded them only when she had to. Ella embraced them willingly, even making a foray into rock covers in the 1960s.

Fitzgerald may not have a gift for finding the meaning in a song, but in the area of rhythm, she has no peer. Jazz isn’t jazz without swing—the elusive momentum that balances tension and relaxation. And Ella swings, joyously. She scats; she hops over large intervals; she weaves clever quotations into her improvisations. Even on pop recordings like “Paper Moon,” she glides through the lumbering accompaniment with the grace of a ballerina. Whether or not you call them jazz, her Songbooks—collections of standards by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter—are among American music’s great vocal achievements.

So who cares about categories?

. . .

What do you think of critics who try to classify you as a jazz or a pop singer?

I don’t know what I am. I don’t care whether people call me jazz or pop. I just love to sing, and I try to sing whatever I think people want to hear. Songs that fit my style.

. . .

Are you happy with the way your career has progressed?

I’m grateful to be as popular as I am, and happy to have been popular for so many years. Who wouldn’t be?

Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
Want a climate deal? Rich nations will have to pay up to help poor ones

By Ben Adler
It’s helpful to understand game theory if you want to know why it’s so difficult to reach an international deal to reduce climate emissions. Everyone will be better off if everyone does their part, but if one country gets away with doing nothing while the others reduce their emissions, that country would be the biggest winner of all, enjoying the benefits of averted catastrophe without any of the costs. That calculation could lead to a lot of countries bailing out. No one wants to be the sucker who cuts emissions but still doesn’t prevent catastrophic climate change because no one else participated.

. . .

Sure enough, at the ongoing climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, we’re finding that any commitment from developing countries to reduce emissions is contingent on the Green Climate Fund being fully funded. Daily Climate reported on Friday, “The failure of rich countries to fulfill a $100 billion promise to help poorer countries adapt to climate change has become a major block at the halfway mark of the United Nations talks now underway in Poland.”

Paying into the Green Climate Fund should be a no-brainer. It’s both a matter of social justice and a wise investment in protecting our own coastlines and communities from more extreme damage in the decades ahead. (The U.S. government is spending $60 billion on Hurricane Sandy recovery alone.)

. . .

Following a devastating typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines, a routine international climate change conference here turned into an emotional forum, with developing countries demanding compensation from the worst polluting countries for damage they say they are already suffering.

Coal industry tries to crash Warsaw climate talks, gets spanked

By Ben Jervey
The masters of the black-rock industry gathered at the International Coal & Climate Summit in Warsaw this week — strategically hosted just a stone’s throw from the U.N. climate conference (COP19) — and they would like you to believe that coal has a place in a climate-friendly future.

. . .

It’s a claim oft-repeated this week in Warsaw: High-efficiency coal is a climate solution.

Except it isn’t, says a group of 27 scientists from around the world who together released a report on Monday on how coal is absolutely incompatible with current internationally agreed-upon climate goals.

“Nations have agreed to limit temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees Celsius,” said Bert Metz, a fellow with the European Climate Foundation and former co-chair of the IPCC’s Mitigation Working Group (or, a guy who knows what he’s talking about). “And to do that there is simply no room to build unabated coal plants.”

Science and Health
Evidence of Ancient Human History Encoded in Music's Complex Patterns

By (ScienceDaily)
In the same way that fragments of ancient pottery and bones offer valuable information about human history, music can also reveal previously hidden clues about the past, according to new research from an international team led by McMaster University psychologist Steven Brown.

. . .

The researchers analyzed the structures of 220 Taiwanese choral songs recorded since the 1940s. They compared the results with DNA samples taken from 1,050 subjects from different parts of the island and found that the musical results shared significant similarities to the genetic results when it came to tracking changes over thousands of years.

The findings prove that music can be a repository of scientific information about the people who make it, says Brown, who is director of the NeuroArts Lab in McMaster's Department of Psychology.

"Languages and genes change slowly over time, but music can change much more quickly," Brown says. "I think people thought that music was too transient to carry evidence of what happened thousands of years ago. Our results support the idea that music actually has elements in it that are ancient. In addition to being able to evolve quickly, it can also retain traces of ancient population movements."

Five Takeaways: Why Doctors Stay Mum About Mistakes Their Colleagues Make

By Marshall Allen
As I wrote this earlier month, doctors often know when a patient has been the victim of a medical error – sometimes before the patient does.

But too often they don’t say anything about the mistakes, according to a recent report in The New England Journal of Medicine. Feedback to the post was so thoughtful that ProPublica decided to host a Google + hangout about the topic. We invited four experts to join us – two doctors and two patient advocates.

. . .

Gallagher said that doctors who suspect a colleague has made a mistake may be uncertain about what happened. They worry about having an awkward conversation with a peer, or about causing a lawsuit or losing a business relationship. Dr. Brant Mittler, a cardiologist and attorney who also represents doctors, said the way doctors review one another’s work is often political. Doctors who have complaints filed against them may be unfairly treated during peer reviews, he said. “The threat of professional ruin is enough to keep doctors from confronting their colleagues,” he said.

Staying silent often means that patients have a hard time getting the care they need after they’ve been the victim of a medical error, said patient advocate Helen Haskell, whose son also died because of a medical error. “When there’s been harm, patients are bounced from one doctor to another trying to find care,” Haskell said.

. . .

Skolnik said patients have a right to hear the truth from their doctors. Patients understand that doctors sometimes make mistakes, but they need to be told what happened and what’s being done to keep it from happening again. There’s no wiggle room for doctors, she said.

The engineer who fixed his own heart and others too

By Smitha Mundasad
. . .

From an early age Mr Golesworthy was fully aware he was living with the risk his aorta could one day stretch so much it would burst. And during a regular check-up in 2000 he was told the time had come to consider pre-emptive surgery.

. . .

He says: "If the hose-pipe is bulging, I must get some insulation tape and wrap it round the outside of the hose-pipe to stop it bulging.

. . .

The process took a growing team, three years to perfect. The result would be a personalised sleeve that is stitched snugly around the enlarged vessel, providing structural support and preventing it from growing any bigger.

The team hypothesised by putting the sleeve on the outside - rather than the inside - of the aorta they would reduce the complexity of the surgery needed, there would be no need for anti-clotting drugs and there would be less time under the knife.

. . .

"All of a sudden my aorta is now fixed, I began to breathe easy and sleep well and relax in a way that I hadn't done for years and years before," he says.

Many children 'slower runners than their parents were'

By Michelle Roberts
Experts say the work - being presented at the American Heart Association's annual meeting - suggests children's fitness levels may be declining.

. . .

If a young person is generally unfit now, then they are more likely to develop conditions like heart disease later in life”

. . .

The problem is largely one of Western countries, but some parts of Asia like South Korea, mainland China and Hong Kong are also seeing this phenomenon.

Dr Tomkinson said children needed to be inspired and encouraged to do more vigorous exercise.

Technology
Someday Your EV Charger May Be the Roadway Itself

By Martin LaMonica
One way to extend the range of electric vehicles may be to provide power wirelessly through coils placed under the surface of a road. But charging moving vehicles with high-power wireless chargers below them is complex.

. . .

Precisely controlling when the roadway coils produce a magnetic field is important for safety reasons; if the field misses the car’s receiving coils, it could attach to parts of the car or attract stray objects. “Somehow we have to channel or contain the magnetic field produced by the transmitter to always be right below the receiver. We cannot just beam out a strong field into the environment,” he says. Some designs have a series of coils that are always energized, but that approach is not energy-efficient, Lukic says.

. . .

Commercial interest in wireless charging systems for moving vehicles is growing. Qualcomm is working on a “dynamic” charging system that builds off its current stationary wireless EV charger. The University of Utah has tested a wireless charging infrastructure for city buses and has spun out a company called Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification to build commercial products. With the Utah system a bus could charge from coils placed under the road surface where passengers load or at traffic lights. Dynamic wireless power transfer could also be used for robots.

Holistic Cell Design Leads to High-Performance, Long Cycle-Life Li/S Battery

By (ScienceDaily)
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have demonstrated in the laboratory a lithium-sulfur (Li/S) battery that has more than twice the specific energy of lithium-ion batteries, and that lasts for more than 1,500 cycles of charge-discharge with minimal decay of the battery's capacity. This is the longest cycle life reported so far for any lithium-sulfur battery.

. . .

"Our cells may provide a substantial opportunity for the development of zero-emission vehicles with a driving range similar to that of gasoline vehicles," says Elton Cairns, of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) at Berkeley Lab.

. . .

The team is now seeking support for the continuing development of the Li/S cell, including higher sulfur utilization, operation under extreme conditions, and scale-up. Partnerships with industry are being sought. The next steps in the development are to further increase the cell energy density, improve cell performance under extreme conditions, and scale up to larger cells.

Google Agrees to $17 Million Fine Over Unauthorized Tracking

By Shane McGlaun
Search giant Google has agreed to pay $17 million to settle allegations brought by 37 states and the District of Columbia over unauthorized browser tracking. Google will pay the fine to settle allegations that it placed unauthorized tracking cookies on web browsers in 2011 and 2012.

 The $17 million fine comes months after Google agreed to pay $22.5 million to the FTC for the same practice of placing unauthorized tracking cookies.

. . .

 Unsurprisingly, Google hasn't admitted any wrongdoing while agreeing to pay the fine. A Google spokesperson said that the company took steps to remove the tracking cookies and noted that the cookies collected no personal information from the Apple browser.

Data visualization shows US isolation in pushing for brutal Trans-Pacific Partnership

By Cory Doctorow
Gabriel Michael, a PhD candidate at George Washington University, subjected the IP Chapter of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership, leaked by Wikileaks last week to statistical analysis. The leaked draft has extensive footnotes indicating each country's negotiating positions. By analyzing the frequency with which the US appears as the sole objector to other nations' positions, and when the US is the sole proponent of clauses to which other nations object, Michael was able to show that TPP really is an American-run show pushing an American agenda, not a multilateral trade deal being negotiated to everyone's mutual benefit. Though Canada is also one of the main belligerents, with even more unilateral positions than the USA.
map1
. . .

 The United States and Japan are still relatively isolated, but we can also see that they’ve made numerous sole-country proposals, perhaps related to their relative isolation. Though Canada has the highest number of sole-country proposals, it also has strong connections to many other countries. Singapore, Peru, Malaysia, and Brunei have so few sole-country proposals that their loops are barely visible.

Cultural
Vancouver Is Banning Doorknobs on New Buildings

By Ashley Feinberg
Look at any door in your immediate vicinity; there's a good chance it's bearing a classic doorknob beloved by utilitarians and highly specific enthusiasts alike. In Vancouver, they're about to become a dying breed. This past September, the city's council amended its building code—the only city-specific building code in all of Canada—to mandate lever handles and lever faucets only.

Don't kiss your knobs goodbye just yet, though. While all new construction projects will be required to follow the no-knob mandate, all buildings currently standing will be have their knobs grandfathered in. But this pro-lever movement isn't about mere aesthetics; there's something more important at play—a developing concept known as universal design.

. . .

Basically, the idea is that you try to make environments that are as universally usable by any part of the population. The old model was adaptation, or adapted design. You took a space and you adapted for use of the person with a disability. What universal design says is let's turn it around and let's just build everything so it is as usable by the largest segments of the population as possible.

. . .

In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act's (ADA) guidelines for small businesses explicitly emphasizes the problems with inaccessible door hardware and goes on to recommend the most universally accessible option: the lever.

India PM Singh opens bank for women

By (BBC)
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has inaugurated the country's first ever state-owned bank for women in the western city for Mumbai.

The Bharatiya Mahila Bank, which begins with seven branches, will employ women, accept deposits from and lend mostly to women.

The bank plans to open 500 branches all over India by 2017.

. . .

Correspondents say many Indian women typically give their earnings to their husbands - when in fact women are seen as more astute savers than men and it would make sense for them to have a bank account of their own.

. . .

There are only around 100,000 bank branches in India and a large number of the country's more than 650,000 villages do not have a single bank.

Egypt: Are there really three million atheists?

By (BBC)
The al-Sabah newspaper claims a significant proportion of Egypt's 84m population have no religion, citing an unnamed US survey. It says extremist preachers are "frightening people away from any heavenly religion". The newspaper says that while numbers rose during the Muslim Brotherhood's rule, swelling ranks of atheists will have no effect on the influence of Islam or Christianity in the country. . .

Precise numbers of atheists are hard to come by as irreligion remains a taboo subject in a country where citizens are loathe to express their lack of faith in public. . . Islam remains by far the most widespread religion in Egypt, and there is a sizeable Christian minority. Egyptian law allows for a six-year prison term for offending religion in any form. A university student in Ismailia was placed under investigation in October for creating a Facebook page promoting atheism.

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