Egypt Elects New Prime Minister Amid Protests in Cairo

Kamal Ganzouri, who once served as prime minister under President Hosni Mubarak, regained the post Friday as competing protests drew tens of thousands of demonstrators in the capital.

Gazouri

“We are here to serve our nation,” said Ganzouri, who also served as Mubarak’s defense minister for 20 years. (CNN) Ganzouri told reporters that Hussein Tantawi, field marshal of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Egypt’s dominant force since Mubarak’s ouster in February, “made it clear to me he is no longer willing to stay in power. If he told me otherwise, I’d not have accepted to take this role.” (CNN) Ganzouri said he had asked for time to form a Cabinet “that will be accepted by everyone.” (CNN) Ganzouri took the job after Egypt’s military rulers asked him to form a government of “national salvation.” (CNN)

In a televised statement, he said the military has given him greater powers than his predecessor and he wouldn’t have accepted the job if he believed military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi had any intention of staying in power. “The powers given to me exceed any similar mandates,” he said, looking uncomfortable, grasping for words and repeatedly pausing as he spoke. “I will take full authority so I’m able to serve my country.” (CBC) He also said he won’t be able to form a government before parliamentary elections start on Monday.

The development came days after Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his government quit en masse and days before parliamentary elections, scheduled to begin Monday. The high military council decided Friday to extend voting to two days for each stage of the election, which will take several months, according to state-run Egypt TV.

“Of course, the new government cannot be formed before Monday’s parliamentary elections,” Ganzouri said. (CNN)

Ganzouri, who was Egypt’s prime minister from 1996 to 1999, is to remain prime minister until at least January 10, when results of the parliamentary elections are finalized, said Aly Hassan, a judicial consultant. After that, Parliament would have to back Ganzouri for him to retain the position.

Russia Responds

Russian’s special representative for Africa, Mikhail Margelov, had said any new prime minister would likely play a technical role, one that will require he not only run the government but also “ensure the relevant political climate ahead of the elections,” the Russian news service Interfax said.

Criticisms

The Alliance of the Revolutionaries of Egypt had proposed Mohamed ElBaradei, a 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner and a frontrunner for the presidency of Egypt, to take over as prime minister, said coalition member Musad Ibrahim. He criticized the choice of Ganzouri, saying that he is 81 years old and asserting that “all his projects (in government) were failures… The security council wants someone they can control, and Ganzouri is their man,” Ibrahim said. (CNN)

Ganzouri takes the helm at a time of tremendous change, which he acknowledged in his news conference, saying that his new responsibilities “are a lot more than I ever had ever before.” (CNN)

Washington Responds

In Washington, the White House issued a statement saying that the new government “must be empowered with real authority immediately” and that the country’s transition to democracy “must continue, with elections proceeding expeditiously, and all necessary measures taken to ensure security and prevent intimidation.” (CNN) The White House said power in Egypt should be transferred to civilians “as soon as possible… The United States strongly believes that the new Egyptian government must be empowered with real authority immediately,” the statement said. (BBC)

Protests

Ganzouri’s appointment was not well received by some demonstrators, hundreds of whom blocked the entrance to the Cabinet headquarters in protest, according to Dr. Karim El Kholy, a dentist who had flown from Michigan to join the protests. In Alexandria, thousands of protesters clashed with security forces around the security directorate, according to Huda El Sadi, an activist. “Protesters and a lot of thugs are currently throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at the security forces, who are responding with tear gas and firing rubber and birdshot,” he said. “Dozens have been injured.” (CNN)

Fourteen people were hurt in the protests, said Dr. Hisham Shiha, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health.

Demonstrations in Egypt could test whether the nation besieged by recent violent protests can remain peaceful after days of clashes. By Friday, the death toll from the clashes during the prior six days stood at 41, including 33 in Cairo. An additional 3,250 have been wounded, Shiha said. He told CNN that many of the casualties had been shot by “live ammunition, rubber bullets and birdshot.” (CNN)

Friday’s protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square have been dubbed “last chance.” (CNN) Tens of thousands of people massed there Friday. Among them was ElBaradei, according to his Facebook page. The alliance of protesters in the square “rejects the appointment of Ganzouri,” a Nile TV reporter said. “They want a new name, a true national salvation government that doesn’t include any old guard from the despot regime, and that the new cabinet has ministers who can represent them, their ages, their ambitions.” (CNN) Demonstrators in the square have called for the interim military rulers to step down. The square was the epicenter of the movement that led to Mubarak’s ouster as president nine months ago.

“Illegitimate, illegitimate!” the crowds in the downtown square chanted on hearing the news. (CBC)

Swelling crowds chanted, “leave, leave” and “the people want to bring down the field marshal”, in reference to Tantawi, who took over the reins of power from Mubarak. (CBC)

“Not only was he prime minister under Mubarak, but also part of the old regime for a total of 18 years,” said protester Mohammed el-Fayoumi, 29. “Why did we have a revolution then?” (CBC)

“For the second time, we are going to depend upon the old guard of Mubarak’s regime. Why do we not give chance for the young, instead of those people who are 80 years old?” one man in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Suhir Nadim, told Reuters news agency. “Appointing Ganzouri is a crisis for the revolution. We must remain in Tahrir,” another protester, a 44-year-old Hossam Amer, told Reuters.

“El-Ganzouri is a new Sharaf. He’s old regime,” said Nayer Mustafa, 62. “The revolution was hijacked once. We won’t let it happen again.” (CBC)

The BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Tahrir Square says the carnival atmosphere returned to the demonstrations after a truce was agreed to end the violence seen earlier in the week. People are letting off fireworks and shouting “Down with the military regime,” she says. (BBC)

Victory to Jerusalem

Also Friday, the Muslim Brotherhood was holding a “Victory to Jerusalem” demonstration, and a pro-military march started Friday afternoon in the upscale neighborhood of Abbasiya Square. There, supporters of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces gathered in numbers smaller than those in Tahrir Square. Some held a banner that said, “To the defenders of the nation, we say Thank you.” State-run Nile TV showed the crowd chanting, “The people and the military are ONE hand!” “Whoever loves Egypt doesn’t destroy Egypt!” and “Enough! Enough! Let the people live!” (CNN) “Down with Tahrir” and “Yes to the military council,” they chanted. (BBC)

Military Responds

Egypt’s military leaders apologized Thursday for the deaths of protesters, vowing to prosecute offenders and pay the medical bills of the wounded. “The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces presents its regrets and deep apologies for the deaths of martyrs among Egypt’s loyal sons during the recent events in Tahrir Square,” said the message, which was posted on the council’s Facebook page. “The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces confirms that it is making every sincere effort to prevent such events from happening again.” (CNN)

Noujaim Released

Meanwhile, Jehane Noujaim, an Egyptian-American documentary film producer who was arrested Wednesday, has been released, her lawyer, Ragia Omram, said Friday. Three American college students detained this week for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails have been ordered released, but it was not clear when that order would be carried out.


11-08-11: Italy’s Prime Minister Offers Conditional Resignation

Everywhere Tristan went, people were looking at televisions, phones, or computers. As Tristan walked through the busy streets of Rome, he wondered if this had been a good idea. He’d taken a two-hour flight from Athens to Rome so that he could be here for the revealing of the meeting over the debt crisis, in which it would be revealed whether Prime Minister Berlusconi would stand up to the challenge of the European debt crisis or if he would stand down and let Italy choose a new Prime Minister.

Tristan had been on the phone with Josh in Ontario all morning. It had been difficult getting up early after spending such an amazing night with Adonai, but he’d forced himself to be up for the 8:45 flight so he could arrive in Rome at 10:00.

Weaving through the crowd at the Leonardo da Vinci airport, Tristan reached for his own phone and dialed Josh’s number. He hailed a taxi and asked to be taken to the parliament building as he waited for Josh to answer his phone. The call went to voicemail, though, so Tristan left a message saying that he was in Rome and was on his way to the Parliament.

On the way to the Parliament, Tristan talked with the cab driver about the situation with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. It seemed like the consensus was that people didn’t trust the prime minister, and most of them wanted him to step down.

They arrived at the parliament building and Tristan paid the cab driver before getting out of the cab. Tristan adjusted his laptop bag around his shoulder and headed for the press area in front of the building where all the journalists were gathering. Tristan held up his pass for the security guard and joined the group waiting for the press secretary to come out and give his speech.

“Non è da Italia,” a reporter beside him observed and Tristan shook his head. He knew a bit of Italian but not enough to have a full conversation. His Spanish was better, so he could decipher that the man had observed that he wasn’t from Italy.

“Parli inglese?” Tristan asked.

“A little,” the reporter nodded. “Where you from?”

“Canada,” Tristan answered simply, “but I live in Greece.”

“What prefecture?”

“I live in an apartment in Lasithi,” Tristan smiled. His cell phone rang then and Tristan held it up to see that Josh was returning his call. He excused himself from the reporter and held the phone to his ear, pressing Talk. “Hey!”

“How are things in Italy?”

“Busy,” Tristan replied, keeping his eyes peeled on the front doors of the parliament building. “We’re just waiting for the press secretary to come out and tell us what’s going on.”

“Perfect. Dan is getting on me for information about Berlusconi.”

“You’ll know when I know, Bro.” The doors opened and the press secretary stepped out with two aides at his sides. “Josh, I’ve gotta go. We’re about to find out the scoop here.”
“Keep me posted,” Josh requested and Tristan hung up the phone.

The secretary spoke in Italian but one aide translated in Spanish and the other in English. Tristan activated the recorder app on his iPhone and listened carefully as the translator spoke.

“Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has offered a conditional resignation on Tuesday, agreeing to step down but only after Parliament passes an austerity package demanded by the European Union. Mr. Berlusconi failed to reach a parliamentary majority in the vote today, which has led to conditional resignation. Once he formally steps down, the president will begin talks with various parliamentary leaders to decide whether to go to elections or try to form a new government with the existing political party.”

There were cheers around Tristan and he raised his hand asking, “Is there a timetable for Mr. Berlusconi’s conditional resignation offer?”

“No,” the secretary answered. The additional measures Italy has pledged to the European Union have not been presented to parliament yet, though Mr. Berlusconi has said in the past that they would arrive in the Senate by mid-November.”

“Would Berlusconi be able or desire to present himself as his party’s lead candidate in the future elections?” a reporter beside Tristan asked in Spanish.

“He could, but the outcome is looking more unlikely with Italy’s borrowing costs spiking to record highs. The European Leaders increasingly see him as a liability for Italy.”

More questions were answered, but the reporter beside Tristan turned to him and asked if he at least spoke Spanish. When Tristan nodded, the reporter told him, “Earlier today, the prime minister won a budget vote in Parliament but the tally showed that he no longer had the support of the majority. While the opposition leader called on him to resign, Mr. Berlusconi wrote his options on a piece of paper captured by another news agency photographer.”

“What were the options?” Tristan asked, intrigued.

“‘Resignation’ was one. He also wrote ‘eight traitors’ about the lawmakers who didn’t support him.”

“Wow,” Tristan shook his head in response.

As the press conference ended, Tristan continued to talk to others around him about their reactions to the story. Apparently Mr. Berlusconi’s coalition received 308 votes in favour of passing the budget bill, but 321 lawmakers didn’t vote, showing that Berlusconi no longer had the majority.

Most people Tristan talked to were concerned about the economic future of Italy. One man said that Italy ran the risk of not being able to access the financial markets in the next few days. Someone else informed Tristan that a delegation from the European Commission was due in Rome tomorrow to step up surveillance of Italy’s reform program. There were fears that debt-wrecked Greece would pass on the disease of their own financial crisis onto Italy.

Tristan found lunch at a Hard Rock Cafe and then took a taxi back to the airport. There was no point staying for more than a day; he had enough information to write up an article and send it back to Josh. The plane wasn’t due to leave until 1400 hours, so Tristan spent the next couple of hours working on his laptop. He sent a text to Josh saying that he was writing up the story and then would send it to him before he got on the plane.

With the article finished and his laptop bag around his shoulder, Tristan boarded the plane and watched the view as he traveled back to Greece. This was the life – he got to fly to exotic cities, talk to people from all over the world, and share the truth about what was really happening from the locations being affected by those stories. Plus, as if all that wasn’t enough, he had the beautiful Adonai waiting at home for him. Life couldn’t get any better.


11/07/11: New Focus in Europe as Italy’s Debt Crisis Takes Center Stage

Tristan Cooper looked around the small apartment that looked out over the harbour of Lasithi, in the town of Crete. He had been living in Greece for the past month now and it was starting to feel like home. His landlord was a little old woman who lived in an apartment on the first floor. He lived on the second floor in a one-bedroom apartment with a balcony outside where he often sat to write his articles. He was a consultant for Winston Press in Ontario, Canada. He’d been following the debt crisis in Europe and had moved here to get to know the people, the culture, and the lay of the land so he could understand the background of the area better. The apartment was within walking distance to the beach and the harbour, where cafés, taverns and village shops lined the streets. Even though he was there on business, he felt like he was on vacation.

The sun was setting in Greece, which meant it was one o’clock in Ontario. Tristan reached for the phone and dialed the number of Winston Press. He’d been in contact with Josh Canyon throughout his stay there, working with him on the articles each day. Josh answered on the first ring.

“Canyon.”

“Hey man, it’s Tristan. Any snow there yet?” He was so grateful to be avoiding the threat of Canadian winters. If he was being honest with himself, he half hoped he’d have a reason to stay in Greece throughout December and maybe even January if he was lucky.

“Ha ha,” Josh laughed sarcastically. “It’s a gorgeous day here actually. I know, it’s nothing compared to your beach house.”

“Beach apartment,” Tristan corrected him with a laugh, “but yeah, it’s pretty nice here. I’ve got information for you, partner.”

“Great, give it to me!”

“First things first,” Tristan lounged back in the recliner with his laptop resting in his lap. “How are things with you and Amy? Are you a couple yet?”

“You’ll be getting an invite to the wedding in about six to eight months.”

“Seriously?”

“I’m kidding, Tristan,” Josh laughed again. “We are dating though.”

“Congratulations! I had a pretty great time with Adonia last night.”

“You’ve been there for a month and you already have a girlfriend? What’d she say when you told her how far away you’re from?”

“The Greeks have a saying, my friend. Time has turns, and the year has weeks.” Rita, his landlord, had told him that one last night as she’d hosted him for dinner.

“What?”

“It means that one should have patience and to not let time go by faster than it has to. Enjoy things in the moment, you know?”

“Yeah, I get it,” Josh replied. “So talk to me about Berlusconi. I guess that whole thing is overshadowing what’s happening in Greece, huh?”

“Well yeah, the Italian government is borrowing way more than its done in the last ten years,” Tristan read from his screen. “The yield on Italian 10-year bonds rose from 6.37% to a euro-era high of 6.64% before retreating to 6.5%. Italy is probably going to become the next victim of this debt crisis, Josh.”

“They’re the eurozone’s third biggest economy too,” Josh pointed out. “If Europe can’t handle their huge bailout needs, that could drag down the global economy, right?”

“Yes,” Tristan replied. “It could break up the 17-nation eurozone. People want Berlusconi to stand down so they can get a new leader in there to fix things.”

“So what does that mean? Early elections?”

“It could. Or they might name a government of tecnocrats rather than politicians. The guy people are talking about most to lead that group is Mario Monti. He was the former European Union competition commissioner who once blocked General Electric’s takeover of Honeywell.”

“These rumors about Berlusconi are pretty crazy too.”

“They’re talking sex scandals, criminal prosecutions, and even legislative priorities that the opposition thinks are aimed at protecting Berlusconi’s own business interests instead of those of the country.” Tristan shifted gears and asked, “Have you heard about Greece’s prime minister standing down?”

“He did, eh? I guess we saw that coming. It’s not like he’s very well-thought of there either.”

“He sealed a deal with the opposition to form a new coalition government to approve an EU-IMF bailout package. Once the vote has been passed, it will open the way for Greece to receive the next 8 billion euro tranche of bailout loans.”

“Sounds like things are moving along, at least,” Josh commented. “There’s a big meeting tomorrow, right?”

“Yep. Fiance ministers from the EU are meeting. They’ve agreed in principle to boost the European Financial Stability Facility from its current 440 billion euros to 1 trillion euros, in order to tackle the debt problems in Italy and Spain. Last week the world leaders from the G20 countries agreed to boot the resources available to the International Monetary Fund, but gave no detail on plans for the eurozone.”

“Sounds good,” Josh replied. “Keep me posted tomorrow, okay? It should be an interesting day.”

“Yeah, no kidding. Good to talk to you as always!” Tristan sat forward. “I’ll email you the rest of the stuff I have here so you can have some more info. Most of its on Greece but there’s some from Italy as well. Adonia’s grandfather lives in Rome so he’s been a wealth of information.”

“You really do know how to meet the right people for the job, don’t you?” Josh laughed.

“It’s all about connections in this business!” Tristan smiled, thinking of the beautiful woman he was about to see in less than an hour. They had plans to walk around the harbour and enjoy the moonlight shining on the water. Tristan had to believe that this was one of the most romantic places on earth.

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow then,” Josh said at length. “Don’t forget to get some sleep tonight.”

“Yes mom,” Tristan joked and when Josh laughed they hung up the phone.

Tristan carried his laptop back inside the apartment and went to his room to change for the evening. He couldn’t wait to dance under the stars again with a woman whom had already captured his heart.


November 4, 2011

Israel’s navy boarded two small protest boats trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip on Friday and towed them to an Israeli port just north of the Palestinian territory, officials said. The military said no one was hurt. Troops boarded the boats without incident after repeated calls for them to turn around were ignored, the military said. Pro-Palestinian activists have mounted numerous attempts to reach the impoverished coastal strip by boat to draw attention to the 5-year-old blockade, which they say amounts to the collective punishment of Gaza’s residents. Israel says its naval blockade is vital in preventing weapons from reaching violent groups like Hamas, the Iranian-backed militant group that rules the Gaza Strip. 

Amy saw an instant message window pop up in the bottom of her screen. It was from Josh, and she took a deep breath before opening it. In the window she read: “How you doin’?”

Typing back, Amy wrote: “I’m okay… Writing an article about Israel. What are you writing about?”

Seconds later a new instant message popped up: “Three guesses.”

Amy laughed and typed back, “Greece?”

“Give the lady a prize,” Josh wrote back.

It felt good to laugh with him again. Things had been so awkward until they’d talked yesterday. After talking about how neither of them had expected the kiss the other day, Amy had admitted that she’d been having feelings for him lately, and he’d agreed that things had been confusing lately. They both decided to take some time and think about what they wanted to do. They didn’t want to make any quick decisions before exploring the idea a bit more. Amy was excited that they’d at least opened the door to talk about it.

Looking up, she saw that Josh had gone back to writing his article so she did too. Closing the window, she continued to type:

Once the two small vessels reach the port of Ashdod, the activists will be detained and asked to leave the country voluntarily from the airport near Tel Aviv. If they rescue, they can have access to a lawyer to appeal being sent home. There were 27 activists from nine countries, including the U.S. and Ireland, aboard the boats from a group called Freedom Waves to Gaza. Israel sees the attempts to break the sea blockade as provocations and publicity stunts. It says the amount of aid in the small boats used by activists is insignificant, as Israel transfers 6,000 tons of aid to Gaza daily. 

The IM window popped up again and she opened it to read: “You want to get together tonight?”

“It is Friday night… That’d make it our first date, wouldn’t it?” she wrote back, smiling at him as he watched her reaction to his question.

Josh winked back as he typed: “You in? I can let you go home and then pick you up so it’ll be like a real date?”

Amy laughed, typing back: “I’m in. What time should I be ready?”

“How about I pick you up around six and we’ll go for dinner somewhere?”

“Sounds great. I should finish this article. You know where I live?”

“Give me some credit,” Josh typed back and Amy raised an eyebrow toward him. “I know where you live,” he typed.

“I won’t ask how. I’m going to finish this article and send it off to Dan. Can’t wait until tonight.”

“We still haven’t made any decisions, right? I can’t call you my girl yet, can I?”

Amy shook her head, smiling, and answered: “We’ll talk about it more tonight. Stop stalling.”

“It’s just, I feel like I’ve been reporting the same thing over and over again with this story…”

“Well, that’s the hazards of the job, Josh. Finish the article then you won’t have to think about Greece until Monday morning.”

“Yes ma’am,” he wrote back and she closed the window as she wrote the conclusion of her article:

The Israeli military issued a short video clip showing a naval official calling on the ships to turn around. “The Gaza area and coastal region are closed to maritime traffic as part of a blockade imposed for security purposes,” the unidentified officer said. “Your attempt to enter the Gaza Strip by sea is a violation of international law. We remind you that humanitarian supplies can be delivered to the Gaza Strip by land, and you are welcome to enter Ashdod port and deliver supplies through land crossings.” When asked what the boats were carrying, an activist replies “we have no cargo.” (Washington Post)

On Thursday, the Obama administration warned U.S. citizens on the boats that they may face legal action for violating Israeli and American law. The U.S., like Israel and the European Union, considers Hamas a terrorist organization. 



Greek Prime Minister ‘Ready to Drop’ Bailout Referendum

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has said he is ready to drop a proposed referendum on the country’s eurozone bailout deal. He said he had started talks to secure opposition support in parliament which would make the vote unnecessary. His announcement of a referendum angered European leaders and sent shockwaves through its markets. Facing calls for his resignation, Mr. Papandreou called for unity in ruling party ranks ahead of a confidence vote on Friday. He has a thin majority. But Finance Minster Evangelos Venizelos, addressing the Socialist Party (Pasok) MP’s immediately after the prime minister, said Greece must say it was not holding a referendum. He said Greece must do everything it can to reassure its international partners it will immediately implement the Eurozone bailout deal. 

 

Josh looked up from the screen and found himself being watched. He looked away quickly, so as not to meet Amy’s gaze. He knew they had to talk but right now he had to finish this article. It had been awkward enough when he’d arrived back to the office that morning and she’d cornered him, wondering why he’d really stayed home yesterday. He didn’t have the courage to tell her the truth yet and wanted to have more time to prepare what he was going to say to her. The kiss had awakened the feelings he’d been denying for the past few weeks and it had scared the heck out of him. He knew things could never be as they were before the kiss, but how did he really want them to be? Josh shook his head, telling himself to focus…

 

European Union leaders say Greece cannot get bailout cash until it agrees the deal. Responding to the recent developments in Greece, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that after talks with Mr. Papandreou on Wednesday there was more of a sense of urgency in the country. The opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras called for a caretaker government and snap elections within six weeks, and for Mr. Papandreou to stand down. The EU bailout, agreed last month, would give the heavily indebted Greek government 130 billion euros ($178 billion) and it imposes a 50% write-off on private holders of Greek debts, in return for deeply unpopular austerity measures. 

 

“Can we talk?” Amy’s voice made Josh look up from the screen. She was hovering beside him and he swallowed nervously. This was it.

“I’m almost done this article… Can we talk in a bit?”

“We can’t avoid this forever,” she insisted, as if he needed to be reminded.

“I know. Just… give me ten minutes, okay? I’ll meet you in the conference room down the hall.” When she intensified her expression it gave him chills and Josh reached over to put a hand on her forearm. “I promise,” he assured.

“Okay,” Amy nodded, apparently pleased with that answer. She stayed there for a few seconds before turning and walking back to her desk. Josh took a deep breath and turned back to his screen.

 

Mr. Papandreou said the referendum deal was an end in itself, and there were two other choices – an election, which he said would bankrupt the country, or a consensus in parliament. But he also said that he was not afraid of asking the Greek people for a referendum if necessary. 

 

Josh sat back, looking at the article. It looked like the Greece Prime Minister was stuck between a rock and a hard place. When he’d saved the article and sent it to Dan, he stood to go meet Amy in the conference room. I know how you feel, Prime Minister, Josh thought as he walked down the hall.


Tuesday, November 2

WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange has lost a court battle to stay in the United Kingdom Wednesday and will be extradited to Sweden to face questioning over sex charges, a court ruled. Assange’s defence team had tried to fight the extradition with four separate arguments, all of which were rejected. 

Assange has been under house arrest for nearly a year while waiting to find out the results, and now that those results have been released, he is able to focus on his next steps… 

The phone rang and Adam glared at the interruption. It was already a busy day with Josh home sick and Amy being so unfocused. He picked up the phone and said, “Princeton.”

“Hey man, it’s Josh.”

Adam leaned forward, suddenly interested. “It’s funny, you don’t sound sick.”

“Yeah, I’m not really,” Josh admitted. “Listen man, I need some advice and I didn’t want to ask in person ‘cause well she’s there and…”

“Dude, slow down,” Adam interrupted. “She?”

“You can’t tell me you haven’t noticed something going on between me and Amy.”

Adam took a deep breath and thought about it. They’d been friendly and he guessed they’d been a little more physical than normal, but they were friends… good friends, the three of them. That was expected, wasn’t it?

“Adam?” Josh brought him back to the present.

“Let me get this straight,” Adam hesitated, looking over at Amy who was also on the phone. “You’re staying home… ‘sick’… because you don’t want to face your best friend who you’re falling in love with?”

“Yeah, that sounds about right.”

“Josh, you don’t need to be talking to me. You need to talk to her. I’m going back to work.”

“But-” Josh started as Adam hung up the phone. He wasn’t going to get in the middle of this. He had his own female problems to deal with; like getting a ring and proposing to his girlfriend of two years.

Looking back at his computer, Adam continued to type:

Assange is accused of sexually assaulting two women in Sweden in August 2010. Although he has not been charged with a crime, Swedish prosecutors want to question him with the allegations. The court comprehensively rejected his defence against being sent there to face prosecution, and was particularly scathing about a dispute with one of the women over whether she had consented to have sex with him. 

“Was that Josh?” Amy’s voice made him jump, and Adam looked up at her. She was hovering; he hated when she did that.

“Was who Josh?” Adam tried to act confused.

“On the phone. He’s avoiding me, isn’t he?”

“Amy…”

“No, tell me. He didn’t want to see me and have things be awkward, right?”

“I thought you guys were just friends,” Adam lied.

“That’s not how it seemed when he kissed me after work yesterday.”

“What?!” Adam exclaimed, genuinely surprised.

It was at that moment when their boss walked into the office. “Is something going on?” Dan asked, looking between them.

“No Sir,” they both said at once.

When Dan left with a satisfied nod, Adam took out his blackberry and sent a BBM to Amy: “I’m not getting in the middle of this.”

He saw her reach for hers and held eye contact as she typed back: “You’re already in the middle of this. We’re both asking you for advice.”

Adam shook his head in response and set the cell phone aside. Looking purposefully back to his screen he focused on finishing his article…

Assange drew cheers from the crowd as he left the court. A “Free Assange” rally was planned for Wednesday outside the Royal Courts of Justice.

The case is not linked to his work as founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, which has put him on the wrong side of the U.S. authorities. His organization, which facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information, has published some 250,000 confidential U.S. diplomatic cables in the past year, causing embarrassment to the government and others. It has also published hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents relating to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. 


October 31, 2011

Halloween had finally arrived. Amy had been dreading this day all week and it would all be over in less than twenty-four hours. The stores would change from Halloween costumes, candy and decorations to Christmas lights, trees and wrapping paper. The music would change too, playing the carols from Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey and Frank Sinatra. She wondered if it was too soon to get out her own Christmas music.

 

Amy usually looked forward to Christmas, but this year was going to be exceptionally difficult. Her grandpa had passed away this past August, and they’d just begun forming a closer relationship. Being apart of a big family (there would soon be about seventy of them when they all got together), seeing each other this year was going to be an emotional time for all of them. Grandpa had always been the spiritual rock of the family, the one who prayed before the big meal two weeks before Christmas. Now, Grandma was going through treatments for thyroid cancer. It was going to be hard enough without him there; they needed Grandma to be there this year especially.

 

Wiping away the tears, Amy tried to focus on the article she was writing. There had been a huge snowstorm in the States, and even some heavy snow in Newfoundland. She guessed the snow had made her think of Christmas… They kind of went together when you were a Canadian. Tons of people were without power for Trick-or-Treating tonight in the States, but it didn’t seem to matter to Amy.

 

Josh came over and put a hand on her shoulder. She looked up, smiling through the tears. He was always there when she needed him. She reached up and put a hand on his. “Thanks,” she managed.

 

“Thinking about your grandpa?” he asked, intertwining his fingers with hers.

 

“Yeah. All this snow in the States is making me think of Christmas, and how he’s not gonna be there.”

 

“Remembrance Day is going to be even harder,” Josh sympathized.

 

“I got a poppy this weekend,” Amy nodded. In the months before he died, she had been working with Grandpa on his memoirs from WW2. “I usually call him on November 11 and talk about the services he participated in. I guess I’ll be spending the day reading his memoirs and calling Grandma.”

 

“Everything okay?” Adam looked up from his desk, after hanging up the phone.

 

“Yeah,” Amy squeezed Josh’s hand before letting go. “Just writing about the storm in the States.”

“I am so not ready for winter,” Adam shook his head. “I was just talking to my cousin in London. There are still protests going on in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The dean of the church resigned today.”

 

“Wow, these Occupy protests are getting out of hand,” Josh noted as he walked back to his desk. “I’m still working on an article about Australia’s Qantas Airways resuming flights. Over 100,000 passengers were impacted this weekend because of a union battle.”

 

“I’m just happy to be writing a weather-related story today,” Amy put in. “After writing about Libya for so long, it’s nice to have a change of focus.”

 

“NATO ended their mission today, right?” Josh clarified.

 

“You bet,” Amy smiled back at him.

 

As they turned their focus back to their work, Amy couldn’t help but look over at Josh now and then. It was nice having a friend she could rely on for this time of year. It wasn’t going to be easy but at least she had friends and family supporting her and being there for her. God would get them through this time of year no matter how vivid the memories were. They had a lot to be thankful for and there would be a lot to celebrate. Her cousins were adding to the number of family members, and it would be great to see how all the little ones had changed since she’d seen them in the summer. Amy felt so blessed to be apart of such a wonderful family.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.