Boeing and Egypt

Grind for October 20th
“When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of 12 people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.”
– Norm Crosby

Cause and Effect

The Headline

Boeing CEO loses his chairman position

The Grind

Boeing’s Board of Directors this week voted to oust its chairman, Dennis Muilenburg, so that he can focus on his job as CEO.

The unexpected decision comes about seven months after aviation authorities grounded Boeing 737 MAX airplanes after two fatal crashes.

The crashes, which resulted in 346 deaths, were both caused by a system malfunction that sent the planes into a nosedive.

The Details

Boeing’s chairman position will be filled by David Calhoun, a senior Blackstone Group executive who had served as the Board’s lead director.

Muilenburg says he supports the Board’s decision and is focused on ensuring the grounded planes’ safe return to service.

“[The Board has] full confidence in Dennis as CEO and believes this division of labor will enable maximum focus on running the business with the Board playing an active oversight role,” says Calhoun.

In April, shareholders voted 66% to 34% against the idea of bringing on an independent chairman. At the time, Muilenburg avoided answering questions about whether he had considered resigning.

Muilenburg will testify before a House committee later this month as lawmakers consider oversight charges for Boeing.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

The Headline

Egypt: US citizen caught in crackdown, detained for four days

The Grind

US citizen Aaron Boehm, 22, was stopped at a police checkpoint in Cairo on September 27th.

Boehm had recently arrived in Egypt as part of a study abroad program for the University of Edinburgh, where he is majoring in Arabic.

Authorities took Boehm’s cell phone and saw that he had sent text messages to his friends about the recent protests in Egypt. He was immediately blindfolded and taken to a detention facility, where he was accused of being a spy.

The Details

Boehm was placed in a cell with four other people, receiving two pieces of bread a day and little water. Officials regularly teased him about electricity and torture. When Boehm asked to call his family, they offered him cigarettes.

“We saw blood, sticks with blood on them, in interrogation rooms,” says Boehm. “You’d hear screams.”

Boehm met with a US Embassy official two days later and was deported by plane to the UK on September 30th.

The Background

Authorities have arrested some 3,000 people since September 20th, when protests began in response to accusations that President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was using public funds to build luxury palaces.

To deter protests, police have set up checkpoints to inspect residents’ phones for signs of dissent (this is what happened to Boehm).

“This protest, it was something that no one really expected,” says Hussein Baoumi, Egypt researcher for Amnesty International. “Egyptian authorities have been focusing for the most part on critics – politicians, political activists and so on. But this protest did not come from any of these groups, but they actually have shown some amount of anger that many in Egypt have toward the current government and President el-Sissi.

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