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Vodafone confirms role in Egypt’s cellular, Internet blackout

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An executive at London-based Vodafone Group PLC explained Friday morning that it did indeed have a role in the phone and Internet blackout affecting Egypt since Thursday night, confirming speculation that the firm had cooperated with the regime to close off protesters’ communications.

Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao said that because the order by Egyptian authorities appeared to be in line with the nation’s laws, the company was “obligated” to comply.

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Egypt, which has been under a declared state of “emergency” for decades, long ago passed a series of security provisions that were later mirrored in post-9/11 powers assumed by leaders in the US. Egypt’s provisions, however, went much further.

The Egyptian government’s order to shut down applied to all mobile phone operators and Internet service providers in the country. A graphic depicting Internet traffic to and from the country showed a dramatic and almost complete drop-off starting Thursday morning.

Some land-line service, however, was reportedly still functioning by late Friday. Sporadic reports of working DSL connections surfaced by late Friday as well, and a French Internet service provider had begun offering free dial-up access to Egyptians.

Rumors that neighboring Syria had cut off its Internet access as well surfaced on Friday morning, but follow-up reports found no evidence this was the case.

Vodafone was for years the Egyptian government’s partner in building and maintaining the regime’s official website and network infrastructure.

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Protesters on Friday destroyed Vodafone stores in Cairo, among other locations tied to the ruling regime, according to reports by Al Jazeera English.

In the wake of Iran’s “green revolution,” the relationship between Western technology providers and the country’s oppressive regime became painfully apparent when The Wall Street Journal revealed that Siemens AG and Nokia Corp. aided the development of a digital censorship apparatus.

“If you sell networks, you also, intrinsically, sell the capability to intercept any communication that runs over them,” a spokesman for the two firms’ joint venture told the paper. He suggested the regime’s “monitoring center,” which even allowed deep-packet inspection and information tampering through Internet back-doors, was a standard part of a larger telecom contract with Iran.

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It was unclear whether Vodafone’s government-sponsored network worked similarly in Egypt.

Raw Story’s requests for comment sent to Vodafone’s corporate relations arm did not trigger a reply.

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Vodafone Group PLC owns a 45 percent stake in US communications provider Verizon Wireless.


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Lawmakers need to step up and stop Trump from ‘killing Americans’ with his ‘incompetence’: Ex-prosecutor

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On Saturday, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner excoriated President Donald Trump's mismanagement of the national health care system on Twitter — and called on elected leaders to "stop letting Trump kill Americans."

Trump’s mixture of incompetence and exploitation for political purposes of our national health emergency is costing lives. The most pressing question at this moment is: at what point do our elected politicians stop letting Trump kill Americans?

— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) April 4, 2020

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How a general strike might play out in the United States

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The idea that pandemic-related economic insecurity might spur a general strike has been trending among pundits and the public in the past week. Such a labor action, which would imply a complete shutdown of all industries as all workers cease showing up to work, would be historically unprecedented, a prominent historian told Salon.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Spain reports second consecutive drop in daily coronavirus deaths

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The daily pace of new coronavirus infections and deaths in Spain slowed again on Saturday as Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was expected to announce a new extension to lockdown measures that have confined most Spaniards to their homes for three weeks.

The total death toll rose to 11,744 - the world's second highest - on Saturday from 10,935 the day before, the Health Ministry said, representing a 7% increase in total deaths after a 9% rise on Friday. That is less than half the pace of the around 20% increase registered a week ago.

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