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Monday, March 31, 2014

Egyptian Presidential Campaign Launched on a Bike

In a throwback to the Mubarak era, Egyptian bloggers on Monday once again found themselves parsing images of the nation’s most powerful man, released to bolster his popularity, ahead of a presidential election in which the result seems to be a foregone conclusion.

As the state-owned Egyptian news site Ahram Online reports, Egypt’s former defense minister, Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, was photographed on the campaign trail for the first time since he resigned from the military last week to run for the presidency â€" astride a mountain bike, in a tracksuit, chatting with the public.

While the former general’s fans gleefully shared the images of Mr. Sisi in sporting trim among the people, supporters of the 2011 revolution who had hoped for competitive elections and a check on the power of the military cast a more skeptical eye over the self-presentation of the man widely expected to win in a landslide.

One of the skeptics, the blogger and journalist Wael Eskandar, wrote in a comment on Facebook, “As a bicycle rider, I should have been happy to see this,” before asking what it might mean that Mr. Sisi’s bike, emblazoned with the Peugeot brand name, appeared to be “a Chinese rip off,” rather than one of the manufacturer’s genuine models. “Is everything this man endorses going to be fake?” Mr. Eskandar asked.

Mr. Eskandar’s readers later pointed out that the bicycle Mr. Sisi was pictured on â€" it looked like either a Wave-XXL or a Wave-XL â€" could have been purchased from the Cairene bike shop Bescletta or on the website Dubizzle.com.

A representative of Bescletta told The Lede by telephone that the Wave-XXL model is made in China, but it is a high-quality frame and comes with a two-year warranty. (Since Peugeot now manufactures many of its products in China and recently sold part of the company to a state-owned Chinese firm, the difference between a real and a fake Peugeot bicycle might not be as clear as it once was.)

Another blogger, from the cadre of hipster cycling advocates among Cairo’s activist community, Mostafa Hussein, dug out archival photographs of Anwar Sadat on a bike and Hosni Mubarak in the gym, reminding readers that the Sisi campaign seemed to be using a familiar playbook.

David Kirkpatrick contributed reporting from Cairo.

Video of Police Shooting Prompts Protests in Albuquerque

Video of the police using tear gas to disperse demonstrators in Albuquerque from the The New Mexico Daily Lobo, a student-run newspaper at the University of New Mexico, and the Howl, an online weekly newscast.

The police in Albuquerque used tear gas Sunday night to disperse hundreds of demonstrators who marched downtown to protest police shootings, including the shooting of a mentally ill homeless man whose death was captured on video by a camera attached to a police officer’s helmet.

The protest was prompted by the March 16 shooting of the homeless man, James Boyd, 38, who was camping in the Sandia foothills when he died in a standoff with the police. In a graphic video that was released by the police department and has gone viral, Mr. Boyd appears to be turning away when he is shot. The police said he was brandishing two knives. Six live rounds were fired.

Graphic video from an officer’s helmet camera of the Albuquerque police shooting a mentally ill homeless man.

The mayor, Richard Berry, called the shooting of Mr. Boyd “horrific.” He asked the United States Justice Department to investigate, and he dismissed the police chief’s description of the shooting as “justified” under the law.

Since last year, the Justice Department has been investigating the Albuquerque Police Department for possible civil rights violations and excessive use of force. In the last four years, police officers have been involved in nearly two dozen fatal shootings.

Anonymous, the hacking collective, urged people to take to the streets on Sunday to demonstrate over the shooting of Mr. Boyd and against what it described as the police department’s excessive use of force. In addition to hundreds of demonstrators on the street, police officials acknowledged, their website was taken down by a cyberattack for several hours on Sunday.

The protest began peacefully around noon on Sunday, The Albuquerque Journal reported.

Then it went beyond a “normal protest,” Mayor Berry said. He praised the police response. The police, including officers on horseback, used more than two dozen canisters of tear gas on Sunday night. At least five people were arrested.

A reporter, Caleb James of KOB-TV, posted live updates from the scene, even as he was hit with tear gas.

Roberto E. Rosales, a photojournalist and a former photo editor at The Albuquerque Journal, posted several photos from the protest on Twitter.

Anonymous posted a video on YouTube from the protest.

Video posted by Anonymous of the protest in Albuquerque

Gordon Eden, Albuquerque’s police chief, said that officers “acted with a tremendous amount of restraint” to the protests.

Reaction to Far Right’s National Front Wins in French Vote

A promotional video by the National Front Party on March 27 in which Marine Le Pen appeals to her supporters via the Internet after the first round of municipal elections, commending their patriotism and calling on them to mobilize for the second round.

PARIS - News that France’s far-right National Front party was set to take control of 11 towns across France following municipal elections on Sunday was greeted with a mix of nationalist triumphalism and more than a little fear.

The party, which rails against the European Union, immigration and untrammeled capitalism, attained its best result in municipal elections since the late 1990s when it ruled four towns.

Its relative triumph â€" and the success of the rightist parties in general â€" was seen as a harsh rebuke of the country’s Socialist president, François Hollande. Once nicknamed for a brand of wobbly caramel pudding, his perceived weak leadership and stewardship of a faltering economy have alienated many French.

The National Front’s leader, Marine Le Pen, in contrast, has sought to portray herself as a strong and modern-day Marianne, the female symbol of the French Republic, and her potent cocktail of feel good nationalism and immigrant baiting has appealed to voters.

Heralding a new era in French politics, she told French television Sunday that the National Front had finally broken the stranglehold of the two main political parties. “We have moved on to a new level,” she said. “There is now a third major political force in our country.”