Late Night: A Little Levity

By CarlosLatuff:

(Cartoon) #Mubarak got the chair, Egyptian people got the POWER! #Jan25 #Egypt

This is from Jon Stewart last week, but since we’re living a Groundhog’s day nightmare with both Mubarak and Fox News, this is still entirely applicable to today (H/T Minkoff Minx):

And, because I still prefer Stephen Colbert over Stewart (sorry Jon)… another clip from last week, again not all that much has changed:

This is a late night open thread. Do your thing in the comments!


Mubarak’s “I am not Crook Speech”: He’s not going anywhere

Well, this is interesting.  It seems that Al Ariabia got it right and every one else–including the Public face of our

Not going anywhere, not gonna do it, wouldn't be prudent at this juncture

CIA–was wrong. Mubarak says he’s going to be a figurehead and the Torture VP is going to do the official duties.

Live Blog from UK GUARDIAN here:

9.02pm GMT: No one in Tahrir Square is listening to the rest of the Mubarak speech. The chant is: “Get out, get out.”

“We will be dignified until the very end, may God preserve Egypt, may peace be upon you,” is Mubarak’s final remark.

No sign he’s leaving. The “I have been ignoring international pressure” line suggests this was a “I fight on” speech by Mubarak.

9pm GMT: Mubarak’s not stepping down, that much seems clear, although exactly what that means with his previous statements about the army implementing change isn’t clear.

Tahrir Square is going nuts, based on the live footage.

8.58pm GMT: “I have spent most of my life in defence of our homeland,” says Mubarak. “I have never succumbed to any international pressure…. I have my dignity intact.”

So he’s not stepping down, it seems.

8.53pm GMT: Mubarak says he’s asked for the amendment of articles 76, 77, 88, 93 and 181 of the constitution, and abolishing the controversial article 179.

Article 179 is the emergency law that has been a huge issue and a major demand of the protesters. The rest involve the powers and terms of the presidency but we’ll get more details later.

8.51pm GMT: Mentions that the reforms will be “implemented by our armed forces,” and on-going dialogue.

Talking about a “national dialogue” and a “road map that is very clear on a specific timetable … until September,” but follows this by talking about the various committees he has had set up.

I’m not sure more committees are going to cut it right now in Tahrir Square.

8.50pm GMT: Mubarak speaking: talking of a “smooth transition of powers” but not much detail yet.

8.49pm GMT: Mubarak reaffirms that he’s not standing for election as president and that power will be transfered to “whoever the electorate chooses in the new fair and square elections”.

8.48pm GMT: Mubarak speaking: mistakes were made, he says.

I can tell you that I as the president of the Republic I have to respond to your calls but I am also embarrassed, and I will not accept or listen to any foreign interventions.

8.46pm GMT Mubarak now speaking on state television.

I can tell you before anything else that the blood of your martyrs will not be wasted and that I will not be easy on punishing people who committed these crimes.

Says he will “respond to your demands and your voices” and carry our promises.

Is this an appeal to Egyptian people watching him from their sofas in their living rooms?  He still seems to think that the protesters are still foreign agents and upset young people.  What does he see as the difference between ‘delegating’ power and remaining in power?

President Hosni Mubarak addressed an expectant Egypt on Thursday, saying that he had delegated his powers to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, but would not leave the country,  according to NBC News translation.

Saying he was addressing Egypt’s youth and people in Tahrir Square and the nation, he said he believed in the honesty of the demands of the protesters and their intentions.

“I am addressing from the heart,” he said. “The blood of the martyrs and injured will not go in vain … My heart aches for your heartache.”


White House Pushing Bogus Meme about Egyptian “Transition”

Barack Obama and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt

Today multiple news sources are suddenly reporting practically word for word a new meme on the Egyptian “transition” that is obviously coming from the Obama administration. And the message has been coordinated with Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman. Mubarak is being gradually edged out, and the U.S. needs to make sure they stay in control of the situation. Obama must make sure to prevent real democracy from taking hold in Egypt.

So the new meme is that Mubarak will be kept around as a powerless figurehead, but first he needs to make some changes in the constitutional rules of succession so that Suleiman can legally be in charge of the “transition” government. Why Suleiman? Supposedly because the guy who is supposed to succeed Mubarak, Ahmad Fathi Sorour, is “much worse” than even Suleiman the torturer. Yet there is never any credible explanation for why Solour is so terrible that it’s better to have a torturer in control of the lead-up to US-controlled “free and fair” elections

From the Village organ: What Mubarak must do before he resigns.

If today Mubarak were no longer available to fulfill his role as president, the interim president would be one of two candidates. If he chooses to leave the country, say for “medical reasons,” the interim president would be Omar Suleiman, the former intelligence chief who was recently made vice president. Egyptians, particularly those of us calling for an end to Mubarak’s three-decade rule, see Suleiman as Mubarak II, especially after the lengthy interview he gave to state television Feb. 3 in which he accused the demonstrators in Tahrir Square of implementing foreign agendas. He did not even bother to veil his threats of retaliation against protesters.

On the other hand, if Mubarak is pushed to resign immediately we would have an even worse interim president: Fathi Surur, who has been speaker of the People’s Assembly since 1990.

Ahmad Fathi Sorour

And he would be worse because?

Surur has long employed his legal expertise to maintain and add to the arsenal of abusive laws that Mubarak’s regime has used against the Egyptian people. Since neither Suleiman nor Surur would be able to amend the constitution during the interim tenure, the next presidential election would be conducted under the notoriously restrictive election rules Mubarak introduced in 2007. That would effectively guarantee that no credible candidate would be able to run against the interim president.

So before Mubarak resigns he must sign a presidential decree delegating all of his authorities to his vice president until their current terms end in September.

But Suleiman “has long employed his [military and intelligence] expertise” to cooperate with U.S. rendition and torture policies. Why is he better? Why should anyone believe that Suleiman will push for real democracy? Give me a break! The U.S. wants Suleiman in charge because he is their guy.

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BREAKING: Egypt’s ‘Day of Departure’ for Hosni Mubarak (Live blog)

This post will update periodically with breaking tweets, links, and news overnight. Scroll down to the end for Al Jazeera Live feed (embedded within this post for your convenience).

Click Image to go to Al Jazeera Live Blog on Egypt for Feb. 4th

BBC News: Egypt set for ‘Day of Departure’

4 February 2011 Last updated at 00:24 ET

Protesters in the Egyptian capital Cairo are preparing to stage a “Day of Departure” for President Hosni Mubarak.

Photo above: Anti-government protesters in Egypt are staging another mass rally billed as a “day of departure”, as their efforts to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak continue for an 11th day. (AFP)

Al Jazeera Live Blog on Egypt for Feb 4

Latest Updates on Day 11 of Egypt Protests from NYT’s The Lede.

(Photo Credit: Ed Ou for the NYT, via Feb. 3 NYT Lens Photo of the Day.)

February 3rd: pro-Mubarak and anti-Mubarak clash in Tahrir square (Ed Ou for the NYT via NYT Lens Pictures of the Day, click image for more)

Yesterday Mona Eltahawy tweeted: My heart, my sould, my memories, what most excites me about Egypt, is there at Tahrir. Only thing keeping me optimistic re Egypt is youth” and “am torn between staying here NYC and continuing my media uprising to amplify Egypt voices and returning to Cairo for revolution.”

Mona’s tweets reminded of the title of a Rumi poem. From the Coleman Barks translation:

In Baghdad, Dreaming of Cairo: In Cairo, Dreaming of Baghdad — by Rumi

excerpt: It may be the satisfaction I need
depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone
and come back, I’ll find it at home

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Egyptian people and to all the Egyptians and Arabs watching the revolution from outside the region. Our hearts break with yours as we watch the aftermath of the ugly state crackdown that has taken place over the last two days.

Special Note: Mona Eltahawy will be on Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO, Friday, 10 pm EST).

Click for HQ version. The protesters have been crowding into Cairo's Tahrir Square - the epicentre of the demonstrations. (AFP)

UPDATES

(in reverse chronological order so the latest is first)

Largely Peaceful, with reports of small incidents

around 7:30 am CST (2:30 in the afternoon in Cairo):  Another report that people keep coming in and “the protests are gaining momentum.” I’m hearing mostly peaceful stuff on the AJE feed, but there have been some reports here and there of small confrontations.

Reporter who said that she’s hearing about the upward momentum also says that she hears high profile Egyptians are getting together and trying to plan and structure the voice and face of the movement, but there is no one name or face for a leader of the movement. She says she’s hearing ElBaradei (and another name I didn’t catch) are not acceptable to the protesters.

Egyptians gathered to enter Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday morning. (Hannibal Hanschke/European Pressphoto Agency)

A mood of defiance

7 am CST: Still peaceful.

NYT headline — “Egyptians Defy Crackdown With New Mass Protests.”

Note, at 7:08 am CST– Al Jazeera reporter saying there is a developing situation at the October 6th bridge with a small group of Pro-Mubarak supporters yelling “Where is Al Jazeera now? We’re the real people of Egypt” or something to that effect. Concentration of tanks and riot gear at bridge appears to have been in place in preparation for something like this.

Chants of “peacefully, peacefully”

6 am CST: AJE correspondent says one of the chants that the Day of Departure protesters are saying is “peacefully, peacefully.” Another correspondent checking in to report that the scene is a “mirror image” of the peaceful protests from Tuesday. She also says there are no signs of any of the pro-Mubarak thugs, the streets are quiet, as has been reported by multiple correspondents during the past several hours. Switch to another reporter who says there is a bit of tension outside of the barriers but there is largely a return to the celebratory mood of the protest before the bloodshed on Wednesday and Thursday.

The concerns that things would get violent after Friday prayers have *so far* not been born out. Here is hoping things continue this way.

Yet another reporter describing the crowd as “rejuvenated.”

Interview with al-Ghad party’s Ayman Nour: more than 1 million people. Still concerns about police-instigated violence. Says “president must be removed from political scene.”

“Day of Departure” protesters want Mubarak to leave but do NOT want Suleiman either

around 5 to 5:30 am CST and onward: AJE anchor estimates that there are a million people at Tahrir. Someone at the scene describes a poster from the protests with American presidents (if I heard correctly, from Carter to Obama) on one side and Hosni Mubarak on the other. Protesters want Hosni Mubarak to leave but are chanting against Omar Suleiman as his replacement as well. AJE anchor says reports are coming in that there are *upwards* of one million people in attendance. Correspondent now saying that safety in numbers is the strategy — there is a feeling that perhaps letting the numbers dwindle in the middle of the week made it easier for the crackdown/massacre over the earlier 48 hours. Another correspondent reports “an atmosphere of euphoria,” with people erupting into cheers (I think when news plays on a screen there)…he’s also having the camera feed zoom in to the main entry point (bridge) and pointing out the makeshift barrier that has been made.

Midday prayers over; the “Day of Departure” protests begin

around 4:30 am CST and onward: The protesters are chanting very loudly, among other things, “he must leave, he must leave” and “invalid, invalid” in reference to Hosni Mubarak. I believe someone in the square reporting via phone on AJE just referred to the sound of the chanting there as “deafening.”

The Egyptian National Anthem is now being chanted–more like roared. Wow. This is incredible to watch/listen to via feed, I can only imagine what it’s like to experience this in person in Tahrir square.

Cutaway to Alexandria–the scene there is very much like the scene at Tahrir, with a chanting, roaring crowd. The AJE anchor says things appear to be getting a bit more unruly than the peaceful sense there was in the morning.

“The calm before the storm”

Click for HQ version... Friday prayers were held at the square and speeches and chanting have followed. (AFP)

Screengrab from my AJE feed at 2-4-2011, 3:59 am CST (Midday in Egypt)

Midday in Egypt/4:20 am CST: for the past 20 minutes or so, AJE has been characterizing this as the calm before the storm and there is great concern that abuses will be carried out later in the day. Midday prayers are about to take place. I’ve added a screengrab that I took at the top of the hour. Mablue2 has also embedded some pictures in the Sky Dancing comments: see here.

Some good news if true — seems army is intervening on behalf of the people:

tweeted at about 3 am CST: RT @Anony_Ops: REPORT: army has taken over 6th Oct bridge & issued a warning they’ll shoot if thugs come back. Finally! #Jan25 #Egypt (via @Warchadi)

CNN’s reporting is along similar lines: Troops in riot gear patrol Cairo as demonstrators plan mass protests…Demonstrators have built a barbed-wire barricade and stacked piles of rocks throughout Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where a large number of protesters had already gathered Friday morning to demand President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. Military forces surrounded the square, and anti-government protesters manned their own security checkpoints, which included numerous blockades. ‘We’ve been here for more than 10 days, and change is coming,’ a group of protesters chanted inside the square.

Earlier

AJELive, around 2:10 am CST: “Our producer:All calm in #tahrir after a calm night.MOST hoping today will be a re-run of tues peaceful demos.

http://twitpic.com/3wbnmn: Image grab of Tahrir on AJA, timestamped Feb 4, 2011 at 7:36 am GMT

Recommended Reading and Links

Mubarak’s day of departure?“: Brian Whitaker’s latest take at his personal al-bab blog, with observations on the constitutionality of Suleiman taking over and on the attacks on journalists

Robert Fisk, via Democracy Now: “Obama Administration Has Been Gutless and Cowardly in Dealing with the Mubarak Regime

Killed in Egypt: a user list on google updating with the names, ages, and other info of lives lost in the protests.

From mablue2 –Washington’s hopes for the ‘day of departure’(Mark Mardell’s BBC blog) : “At a prayer breakfast today President Obama said, ‘The presidency has a funny way of making a person feel the need to pray. Abe Lincoln said, I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.’

Mr Mubarak’s defiance may have Mr Obama on his knees in prayer, but certainly not in submission. The White House is preparing, in great detail, for a world after Hosni Mubarak.”

Also from mablue2 — The art of counter-revolution (Arabist.net): “I have not been to Tahrir since the mob attacks on the protesters began. But what I’m seeing and hearing is amazing. People have braved gunfire and molotov cocktails. They have set up makeshift barricades and organized hospitals. Lifelong activists who once dismissed Egyptian youth as flighty and apathetic are coming away from Tahrir with their jaws agape at the persistance and ingenuity of this new generation.

But, when you wander the square or watch the protests on Jazeera, it’s easy to forget that there are still millions of Egyptians who haven’t been among the protesters, who distrust Arab satellite stations, and who derive their political narrative from state TV. Maybe they live in the countryside, and know their local NDP deputy (or NDP ‘independent’) well, and have a well-connected family patriarch to vouch for them before the police.”

Forced confessions and Torture

Bostonboomer heard on Rachel Maddow yesterday that the Egyptian government is airing forced confessions on state tv. She and I both have tried to look for any links on this but haven’t been able to find any yet. We’ll keep looking for information on this, but in the meantime, Bostonboomer did find these articles on the routine use of torture on ordinary Egyptian citizens:

Wael Abbas Documented Abuses on the Web, Now Says He’s on the Run (ABC News)

Egypt violence exposes secret tools of state repression (BBC News)

US embassy cables: Police brutality in Egypt (The Guardian)

A journalist’s account

another from mablue2, Personal account: Attacked by thugs in the streets of Cairo: “As the Cairo mob turns against journalists, Yonathan Kellerman, 32, a Montreal photographer and documentary writer now living in Paris, details how he found himself under attack by thugs.”

For Live Tweets: Blogs of War

For Al Jazeera English LIVE feed:

If the feed above doesn’t work for you or crashes your browser: AJE Live on Youtube

Here is a link I noticed on twitter to a bunch of internet feeds from various news outlets — TVNewsRadio — Egypt: Watch Live Streaming. A partial list from the link:

Egypt Live Streaming Online: Al Jazeera TV | Al Arabiya | Bambuser | BBC Live | CNN Live | Euronews Live | France24 Live | Manar TV Live Lebanon | MSNBC Live | Press TV Iran Live

Social Media: Twitter #Egypt | YouTube Egypt | YouTube – Citizentube


BREAKING: US Negotiating Resignation of Mubarak

Latest: White House, Egypt Discuss Plan for Mubarak’s Exit

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately, turning over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military, administration officials and Arab diplomats said Thursday.

President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, and State Department spokesman PJ Crowly all took time on TV today to express American concern for use of overt use of violence, suppression, and intimidation of reporters, legitimate protest, and human rights groups.  Reporters have been beaten and ‘disappeared’.  Green Vans belonging to the State Police were caught speeding up, then running over protesters on their way to the Square. (WARNING: Video below shows this.)There is increasing evidence that the pro-Mubarak protesters are themselves state police and paid thugs.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday that the violence was carried out by “elements close to the government or ruling party.”

“I don’t think we have a sense of how far up the chain it went,” he noted.

There are no images coming out of journalists in Egypt.  Nile TV–the government propaganda channel–has been blaming foreign forces for the protests which is leading to attacks on nonEgyptians all over Egypt.  Nile TV journalist Shahira Amin has quit.  She’s joined the protesters.

There are increasing calls from the International Community to the Government of Egypt for restraint.  Here’s a link to an article from, of all places, China.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd on Thursday condemned the violence, saying attacks on peaceful demonstrators are unacceptable and must stop.

“We call upon the government of Egypt to take steps to ensure that its citizens are free to demonstrate safely,” Rudd said in a statement.

“The disturbing events in Tahrir Square underline the urgent need for a negotiated and peaceful solution to this political crisis.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who was on a visit to Britain, Wednesday urged all sides to show restraint during the unprecedented nine-day-old movement.

“I am deeply concerned by the continuing violence in Egypt. I once again urge restraint to all the sides,” Ban said after a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Ban also said that any attack on peaceful demonstrators in Egypt was unacceptable and that he strongly condemns it.

In Athens, Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas called on Egyptians to exercise restraint.

Egyptian protesters continue to pour onto the streets.  Friday protests are being characterized as a “final” Friday indicating the hope that  Friday will be the day Mubarak will quit.

One man, a 30-year-old lawyer named Tareq Hussein Ali, whose sweatshirt was so bloodied it looked like a red-brown bib, ventured his analysis. “Egypt will never be as it used to be,” he said.

“Last night showed that the government is at the last of their options,” Ali said Thursday afternoon, sitting on a grass patch in the middle of Tahrir – which means “liberation” – where dozens of protesters were resting under anti-government banners.

Tahrir on Thursday resembled a bustling open-air triage center. With businesses locked up long ago, young women in head scarves served water to demonstrators from inside a Hardee’s while weary-looking men sporting bandages dozed on the doorsteps of travel agencies, too many to count.

At every entrance to the square, protesters had set up security cordons backed up by neatly arranged lines of stones, in case of another attack. As in previous days, the Egyptian army presence was thin, just a few dozen soldiers looking on, and no uniformed police were in sight.

In a back alley, volunteers set up an emergency medical clinic, where doctors in dirtied white coats re-dressed wounds from the previous night. Hussein Dawood, a physician, said that more than 3,000 people had been injured, a figure that far exceeded the government’s count.

“We want the whole world to know that the Egyptian president organized an operation against his own people,” Ali said, “as if he was in a war.”

When Ali left his Cairo home Jan. 25 to join the first day of the protests, he told his parents: “I will come home victorious, or you will receive my dead body.” Late Wednesday night, after nearly 10 hours of running battles in and around the square, he was on the front lines near the museum alongside scores of young male demonstrators.

After days of watching the coverage I think I can safely say that there are very few people left standing that support Mubarak with the exception of Fox News, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and others representing the extremely right wing element in the US.  It’s pretty obvious that instead of looking for communists under the bed that we are now to look for stylized, extremist  ‘Islamists’.  In fact, we’re now seeing some weirdish melting of Islam, Shari’a, socialism, leftists and communism.  How desperately deluded to you have to be to push that one?

“Any honest assessment on 9/11 this year, ten years after the attack, I think will have to conclude that we’re slowly losing the war,” Gingrich said. “We’re losing the war because there are madrassahs around the planet teaching hatred. We’re losing the war because the network of terrorists is bigger, not smaller.”

Gingrich pointed to the unrest in Egypt as posing a potential new threat to American security.

“There’s a real possibility in a few weeks, if we’re unfortunate, that Egypt will join Iran, and join Lebanon, and join Gaza, and join the things that are happening that are extraordinarily dangerous to us,” Gingrich said.

The right wing buzz word of the day is “Muslim Brotherhood” which is now seen to have tentacles that reach–according to professional wacko Glenn Beck–to some unknown place in US Democratic Circles. Here is an example from right wing extremist Frank Gaffney on Sean Hannity, professional bully.

The Muslim Brotherhood is often a target of right-wing pundits like anti-sharia crusader Frank Gaffney, who last month claimed the group had infiltrated CPAC. And as the single largest organized opposition group in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as a target for the right as the protests continue.

On Hannity last night, Gaffney argued that “the Obama Administration’s policies are being viewed through, and actually articulated and implemented through influence operations that the Muslim Brotherhood itself is running in our own country.”

“You cannot possibly get your strategy right, you cannot execute it effectively if you don’t know that the enemy is actually giving you advice on how to proceed,” he said.

I mentioned this earlier, but I’m personally having to de-friend people on Facebook from people perpetuating this obvious right wing paranoia and hatred.  I’m not sure how any one could be following the coverage these last days and not realize that Mubarak’s behavior is unacceptable and that these are legitimate calls for democratic change from widespread and mainstream elements in Egypt.  I have to admit that most of these people have also been serious Sarah Palin apologists also.  We had removed blogs links from these people earlier this month for some of that behavior.  I’ve had to completely remove contact with them after the posting of some really hateful right wing posts to FaceBook.

There are legitimate concerns about the treatment of women by all fundamentalist religions.  However, it is becoming increasingly clear to most of us that these groups have jumped the shark and are motivated by ignorance and bigotry.  The complaints and shout outs I have seen recently for the Beck idea that some “caliphate” takeover is happening is clearly rooted in racism and extremist views of Islam.  Many of these are aimed not only at Egyptians but the President of the United States.  This does not reflect well for the values traditionally held by this country.  I personally find it deeply disturbing and frightening that these people are supporting a military dictatorship that is disappearing and brutalizing US journalists (more than 70), human rights activists, diplomats,  and–as BB pointed out today–US academics.

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