Egypt's Future

Egypt held a presidential election this week. The official results will be announced on Monday. Spoiler alert: incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will be declared the winner.


Sisi has solved the near-term problem of how to hold onto power. Imprison thousands of potential troublemakers. Handpick your election opponent. Drive all credible challengers out of the race. To ensure turnout, pay people to vote and threaten fines on those who don’t. Count the votes. Declare victory.

But this won’t solve the longer-term problems facing Egypt, for which Sisi will now be held responsible. Nearly a third of the country’s 90 million people lives in poverty, a percentage that has grown over the past 20 years. More than half that population is under twenty-five.

In November 2016, to try to get its financial house in order, the government devalued Egypt’s currency and cut fuel subsidies. Angry protests followed. This time last year, bread riots erupted in many Egyptian cities following news that the state had reduced the number of subsidized bread loaves it allows each family to buy.

Egypt’s population is projected to reach 120 million by 2030, and 150 million by 2050. Population growth creates urban sprawl, which leaves less land for agriculture, exacerbating already serious shortages of food and water. Unless Sisi decides he cares as much about his country as he does about political control, this is the shape of things to come.

On the latest episode of Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Ken Burns explores the opportunity to come out of this moment as better versions of ourselves — and reveals whether a film about this year is in the cards.

Listen to the new episode here.

The twin explosions at Beirut's port on Tuesday were so powerful that the aftershocks reverberated as far as the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. The specter of fire and smoke was such that many suggested on social media that Beirut had experienced a nuclear blast.

In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon's government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

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Former Spanish King Juan Carlos I's decision to leave the country after being investigated for corruption has reignited the debate over the future of the monarchy in Spain. Opinions are divided between mostly older Spaniards who defend the institution's role as a symbol of national unity, and the younger generations and nationalist regions who want Spain to become a republic. More than three quarters of the world's countries are now republics, but 44 still have a king or queen as their head of state — among them the 16 Commonwealth countries officially ruled by British Queen Elizabeth II and 5 countries where the sovereign is all-powerful. We take a look at which countries remain monarchies today, and those that sent their royals packing in the post-World War II waves of decolonization and republicanism.

Modi riles up his base: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday set the first stone for a new Hindu temple to be built over the remains of a Mughal-era mosque in Uttar Pradesh state. The site, in the town of Ayodhya, has been disputed for decades by Hindus and Muslims, but the Supreme Court last November ruled, based on archeological findings, that construction of the temple could begin. The ruling dismayed many of India's 180 million Muslims, who worry that Modi — who was accompanied at the ceremony by Mohan Bhagwat, an ultranationalist Hindu activist whose followers helped to destroy the old mosque amid a wave of sectarian violence in 1992 — wants to replace India's secular foundations with his more explicitly Hindu vision of the country's identity. Although months ago Modi saw sizable protests over a controversial new citizenship law that discriminated against Muslims, he has so far proven to be extremely resilient and remains widely popular in India.

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280 million: Democratic candidate Joe Biden plans to spend $280 million on campaign ads in his battle against US President Donald Trump. Although Trump trails the former vice president by 7 points in an average of national polls, the incumbent has set aside less than half that amount for ads of his own.

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