Sunday Reads Chaos in the streets….

*Update* The situation is escalating in Egypt, so here are some updated links:

US set to evacuate citizens from Egypt | euronews, world news

The United States on Sunday said it will evacuate any of its citizens who want to leave Egypt. In a statement on its website, the US embassy in Cairo said flights would depart from various locations across the country on Monday.

Egypt shuts down al-Jazeera operations | World news | The Guardian

Egypt today shut down the operations of the Arabic satellite TV channel al-Jazeera, blaming it for encouraging the country’s uprising – and demonstrating that the repressive powers of central government are still functioning.

Robert Fisk: Egypt: Death throes of a dictatorship – Robert Fisk, Commentators – The Independent

Mubarak’s allegation that these demonstrations and arson – this combination was a theme of his speech refusing to leave Egypt – were part of a “sinister plan” is clearly at the centre of his claim to continued world recognition. Indeed, Obama’s own response – about the need for reforms and an end to such violence – was an exact copy of all the lies Mubarak has been using to defend his regime for three decades. It was deeply amusing to Egyptians that Obama – in Cairo itself, after his election – had urged Arabs to grasp freedom and democracy. These aspirations disappeared entirely when he gave his tacit if uncomfortable support to the Egyptian president on Friday. The problem is the usual one: the lines of power and the lines of morality in Washington fail to intersect when US presidents have to deal with the Middle East. Moral leadership in America ceases to exist when the Arab and Israeli worlds have to be confronted.

Why is it every puzzle I do, reminds me of our pug "Cosmo"...

Good Sunday Morning, what a week it has been! So much going on in the news, so many Middle Eastern countries,  in upheaval. Egypt reportedly has over 100 dead in the protest, and Australia is urging its citizens to leave. I had to take a break from it all yesterday, so I started a new puzzle. There is something about the chaos of those puzzle pieces, you have some control and can put the pieces together. You get a sense of completion and wholeness. Well, is that a bit over the top? Then truth be told, I just enjoy to do those suckers. Although, I am not as obsessed about working puzzles as Marion Davies, they sure are fun. Anyway, on with the show…Al Jazeera English has been doing some amazing coverage on the revolt in Egypt. The first three links are from that news organization.

Pressure builds on Mubarak – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Washington told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday it was not enough simply to “reshuffle the deck” with a shake-up of his government and pressed him to make good on his promise of genuine reform.

“The Egyptian government can’t reshuffle the deck and then stand pat,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a message on Twitter.com after Mubarak fired his government but made clear he had no intention of stepping down.

Egypt not trending in China – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

China has blocked the word “Egypt” from the country’s wildly popular Twitter-like service, while coverage of the political turmoil has been tightly restricted in state media.

China’s ruling Communist Party is sensitive to any potential source of social unrest.

A search for “Egypt” on the Sina microblogging service brings up a message saying, “According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the search results are not shown”.

Egypt’s military in a quandary – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

As the revolt continues to expand and gain momentum in major Egyptian cities and protestors demand no less than the removal of his regime, it’s now the military’s choice to allow for the change to be peaceful or violent.

So far, it has opted for merely policing the streets without confronting the demonstrators, whether this will turn into a Tiananmen scenario of tough crackdown or not, will be decided in the next few hours or days.

[...]

The Egyptian military could follow the Tunisian military by refusing orders to shoot at demonstrators or impose the curfew.

The military can replace Mubarak with a temporary emergency governing council or leave it for civilian opposition groups to form government in consultation with the military.

This depends on the cost and benefits of keeping Mubarak who’s long been the military man at the helm of the regime. Appointing intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his vice president, and hence ending his son’s chances for succession, will make little difference on the long term.

There is direct correlation between continued momentum of the uprising and the need to remove Mubarak, his family and his political leadership from the helm. Also, the military will make its calculation on the basis of delicate balancing act that insures its own influence and privileges while not allowing the country to descend into chaos.

In Israel, it looks like the pressure is starting to show. Obama will go down in history as the president who lost Egypt – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as “the president who lost Iran,” which during his term went from being a major strategic ally of the United States to being the revolutionary Islamic Republic. Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who “lost” Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America’s alliances in the Middle East crumbled.

The superficial circumstances are similar. In both cases, a United States in financial crisis and after failed wars loses global influence under a leftist president whose good intentions are interpreted abroad as expressions of weakness. The results are reflected in the fall of regimes that were dependent on their relationship with Washington for survival, or in a change in their orientation, as with Ankara.

Ouch, that is some tough criticism. I honestly would be scared to death if I lived in Israel. One of the only buffers (Egypt) is going down in flames, and the other (Jordan) seems to be just heating up. I won’t get into a debate about Aluf Benn’s, the article’s author, choice of words regarding a “leftist” president.

Here is a couple more links about the response from Obama, and how the Egyptian People feel about his “stand back and wait” or should I say, let Hillary take all the heat on the Sunday Morning news shows.  (Wonk mentioned yesterday that she is going on all the Sunday talk shows.)

More Egyptian protesters demand that White House condemn Mubarak

Obama Presses Egypt for Change – NYTimes.com

If you have missed the coverage that Dakinikat has done on this crisis in Egypt, I urge you to check out her live blog post. She has really been on top of things. Wonk also posted about a young girl’s message to Mubarak. I tell you, the Sky Dancing Blog has been cooking lately. I am so proud to be part of this team.

Speaking of which, I have to give some props to Front Pagers Boston Boomer and Zaladonis and Sima. Give these links a look-see! Each of them wrote a very good blog post this weekend, you might have missed them with all the activity over in Northern Africa. Here are a few  other interesting links that might have gone unnoticed.

FT.com / Companies / Banks – Blankfein awarded $12.6m in shares – The first line of the article mentions that the US must have gotten over the big money paid to big bank executives. Yeah? I don’t know about that…most people probably don’t even know about the pay off, I mean bonus guys like Goldman Sachs’ Blankfein are getting. Check out the grin on his face in this link:  Blankfein Gets $13.2 Million for 2010 – NYTimes.com

Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report Lacks Analysis – NYTimes.com This story has really been lost in the shuffle. I guess it will at least give some time for people to review the massive report. I wonder if it will get any attention during the next news cycle.

Greg Mitchell: WikiLeaks Is Holding Me Hostage Well I don’t know about that. Grey Mitchell has a new book out, and it seems like “hostage” is a bit over the top…so the cables have been coming out a little at a time, I could make a crude connection to this and the massive “dump” at the beginning of the recent State Dept Cable leak…but I won’t.

This next link is for Dakinikat. She has joked about the fact that the recent disastrous events have not taken place in her own back yard. Well, she may very well know first hand about the emotional cost of dealing with a tragic situation. Weighing the costs of disaster

Disasters — both natural and humanmade — can strike anywhere and they often hit without warning, so they can be difficult to prepare for. But what happens afterward? How do people cope following disasters? In a new report in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, George Bonanno, Chris R. Brewin, Krzysztof Kaniasty, and Annette M. La Greca review the psychological effects of disasters and why some individuals have a harder time recovering than do others.

[...]

But why do individuals respond to disasters so differently? There may be a number of factors that influence how people react following disasters, such as age and socioeconomic status. For example, children react to disasters differently than do adults: Initially they tend to show more extreme psychological distress than do adult disaster survivors, but as with adults, such severe psychological problems are often only temporary. At the other end of the age spectrum, older adults tend to overcome disasters with fewer psychological costs than do younger adults. Economic resources may also play a role in people’s outcomes to disasters. Low socioeconomic status is consistently identified as a predictor of PTSD. Economically underdeveloped areas’ lack of infrastructure hampers the ability of emergency response teams to provide aid and death tolls tend to be larger in poorer nations than in wealthier nations following natural disasters.

From Minx’s Missing Link File: It has been 25 years since another disaster, the Challenger explosion…can you believe 25 years? I was a Sophomore in High School, we saw the explosion live. Our little group of 12 “gifted” students in Mr. Brooks class got to see it first hand. It had one effect on me, I would never watch a shuttle take off or land live again. Well, save for one time in 2003. The first time I would watch a shuttle landing since 1986, the Columbia landing. Anyway, give this link a read…I find it interesting cause it is written by a guy from my generation. Jim Noles: Twenty-Five Years Ago, We Lost More Than a Space Shuttle

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link: Appalachian History >> I won’t take a picture unless the moon is right, to say nothing of the sunlight and shadow

Born on January 15, 1864 in Grafton, WV, Frances Benjamin Johnston transcended both regional and national notions about women’s place in the 19th century to become a pioneer in American photography and photojournalism, and a crusader with her camera for the historic preservation of the Old South. Through her active encouragement of women who wised to enter her chosen profession, she helped to transform women’s sphere. The photographic record she compiled in over than fifty years as a working photographer continues to serve as a guide to the American past and to document her wide-ranging interest and achievements.

[...]

In an interview with Maud O’Bryan Ronstrom from the New Orleans ‘Times-Picayune’ in 1947, Johnston, then 83 years old, talked about her achievements. Typically, she looked ahead to her completion of works in progress (such as the restoration of her house on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter and a book on ‘The Early Architecture of the Lower Mississippi Valley’) rather than to her retirement. Johnston’s sense of humor emerges in this interview in her description of the lengths to which she sometimes had gone to capture a photograph.

This is such a cool post. Give this blog a read, it is called: Appalachian History. Living in this historic area of the US is a wonderful, even if I tend to joke about living in banjoland…with the sounds of squealing pigs in the distance.

And just one more…My Aunt called me late last night to alert me to my Cousin’s 15 minutes of fame. Seems Loren was walking his puppy Bonnie and came across a 15 foot, 200 pound Burmese Python. Dang, that could eat a small child…or at least a happy go lucky midget out for a stroll in the FLA woods…oops, I mean one of those happy go lucky “short people.” ;)

So what are you reading today? Lets have it loud and proud!


“This is the Arab World’s Berlin Moment”

From the Egypt Live Blog at the UK Guardian:

Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern politics and international relations at the London School of Economics

This is the Arab world’s Berlin moment. The authoritarian wall has fallen – and that’s regardless of whether Mubarak survives or not. It goes beyond Mubarak. The barrier of fear has been removed. It is really the beginning of the end of the status quo in the region. The introduction of the military speaks volumes about the failure of the police to suppress the protesters. The military has stepped in and will likely seal any vacuum of authority in the next few weeks. Mubarak is deeply wounded. He is bleeding terribly. We are witnessing the beginning of a new era.

From Al Jazeera:

11:06pm Cairo neighborhoods are being policed by local residents wielding kitchen knives and hunting rifles, after the military called for civilians to protect their own property.

From their main story:

The looting has prompted residents in some neighbourhoods, including the upscale Zamalek district in central Cairo, to set up vigilante groups to protect private property. Outside some apartment blocks, guards armed with machine guns had taken up posts.

In the Maadi area south of Cairo, neighbourhood mosques called on young men over loudspeakers to come down to the entrances of building and homes to ward off looters.

Naglaa Mahmoud, a Maadi resident, told the Associated Press that thugs were breaking cars and threatening to get into homes. She said even the ambulance service in the neighbourhood had abandoned their offices and accused the regime of planning the chaos by pulling out all of its police forces.

“All this seems to be prearranged. They are punishing us for asking for this change,” she said.

“What a shame he [Mubarak] doesn’t care for the people or anything. This is a corrupt regime.”

The military also urged local residents throughout the country to defend themselves from looters.

The Lede Blog at the NYT has more on ElBaradei’s early call for Mubarak to resign including a video of his interview. There are also some interesting quotes from Egyptian bloggers.  This particular outcry to CNN changed their frame of the protests and the protesters.  Propaganda any one?

Less than an hour after Mona Eltahway, an Egyptian blogger and journalist, appealed to CNN to stop focusing on looting and security problems in Egypt following the government’s decision to withdraw the police from the streets, the broadcaster has changed its onscreen headline from “CHAOS IN EGYPT” to “UPRISING IN EGYPT.”

Less happily for Egyptians who want to oust the Mubarak regime, and are tired of the argument that his government is a necessary bulwark against Islamist extremism, the network just aired a report that asked the question “What Happens if Mubrak falls?” that featured video of Ayman al-Zawahri, the Egyptian militant who is now Al Qaeda’s second in command.

You’re beginning to see this icon next to many names on twitter in response to the obvious framing of the Egyptian situation by the network.

Mohamed ElBaradei writes A Manifesto for Change in Egypt at The Daily Beast.

Then, as protests built in the streets of Egypt following the overthrow of Tunisia’s Idictator, I heard Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assessment that the government in Egypt is “stable” and “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people”. I was flabbergasted—and I was puzzled. What did she mean by stable, and at what price? Is it the stability of 29 years of “emergency” laws, a president with imperial power for 30 years, a parliament that is almost a mockery, a judiciary that is not independent? Is that what you call stability? I am sure not. And I am positive that it is not the standard you apply to other countries. What we see in Egypt is pseudo-stability, because real stability only comes with a democratically elected government.
f you would like to know why the United States does not have credibility in the Middle East, that is precisely the answer. People were absolutely disappointed in the way you reacted to Egypt’s last election. You reaffirmed their belief that you are applying a double standard for your friends, and siding with an authoritarian regime just because you think it represents your interests. We are staring at social disintegration, economic stagnation, political repression, and we do not hear anything from you, the Americans, or for that matter from the Europeans.

So when you say the Egyptian government is looking for ways to respond to the needs of the Egyptian people, I feel like saying, “Well, it’s too late!” This isn’t even good realpolitik. We have seen what happened in Tunisia, and before that in Iran. That should teach people there is no stability except when you have government freely chosen by its own people.

Breaking news: 19 private planes have just arrived in Dubai. These are businessmen fleeing Egypt. (4:30 pm cst) These are tycoons that have played an important role propping up Mubarak and his party and have profited from his iron fist rule. This might be another sign that the ruling class is seeing the end.

SultanAlQassemi

Al Jazeera: Amongst the business tycoons who have fled are Hussein Salem, a huge NDP thug industrial investor in Sharm El Sheikh (corrected)

SultanAlQassemi

Al Jazeera: Also reports that (now) former NDP part thug & Gamal Mubarak confidant Ahmed Ezz has fled Egypt in a private jet.

This is kewl … do you suppose we can get Jeffrey Immelt out of the country to Dubai, some how too?

NPR has put up ‘A primer on Following Egyptian Protests on Twitter’.
The relevant hash tags are #egypt and #jan25.

Also, to get the Department’s latest take follow PJCrowley. He hasn’t sent out tweets for about 8 hours so maybe things are shifting again.
Notable tweets

Under the category ask me why I hate the MSM:

weeddude Weed Dude
by teddysanfran

MT @OmarWaraich: Wolf Blitzer’s first Q: to Peter Bergen: “Where does al-Qaeda fit in all of this?” Bergen replied, “Not at all.” #Egypt

No wonder every one was so easily suckered on Iraq.


Mohamed ElBaradei Speaks to the Egypt (live updates)

This thread is going to contain live updates on Egypt coming on Al Jazeera English and from Twitter updates. Al Jazeera is clearly the go to place for information.

The protests were the top story on every major news outlet in the Middle East, but the day belonged to Al Jazeera. The station was the first to report that the governing party’s headquarters were set on fire. Breathless phone reports came in from Jazeera correspondents in towns across Egypt. Live footage from Cairo alternated with action shots that played again and again. Orchestral music played, conveying the sense of a long-awaited drama.

Al Jazeera kept up its coverage despite serious obstacles. The broadcaster’s separate live channel was removed from its satellite platform by the Egyptian government on Friday morning, its Cairo bureau had its telephones cut and its main news channel also faced signal interference, according to a statement released by the station. The director of the live channel issued an appeal to the Egyptian government to allow it to broadcast freely.

Other broadcasters, including CNN, said their reporters had been attacked and their cameras smashed by security forces.

Two major news items right now. Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has called for Hosni Mubarak to step down and says that Egyptian state is in collapse.  He’s asking for a unity government.

Egypt is reaching a “tipping point,” opposition campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei said in an interview with Monocle.

“People are desperate and anxious for change to happen overnight,” ElBaradei, the former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in the London-based monthly’s February edition. “I see that approaching. People say Egyptians are patient, but you go around the streets of Cairo and you’ll see that the tipping point coming.”

The West is “losing every ounce of credibility when it comes to convincing people here that it is serious about their basic values: democracy, freedom, justice, rule of law,” said ElBaradei, 68. “That fuels extremism. The West doesn’t realize that stability is not based on shortsighted security measures; stability will only come when people are empowered, when people are able to participate.”

There is looting by thugs on motorcycles and it appears to be thugs from the Mubarak’s political party. The Department of Interior’s police force appears to have melted away. There’s no visible presence of the police, only the military.  There are reports that the National Museum with its incredible collection of antiquities has experienced looting and damage.

The museum in central Cairo, which has the world’s biggest collection of Pharaonic antiquities, is adjacent to the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party that protesters had earlier set ablaze. Flames were seen still pouring out of the party headquarters early Saturday.

“I felt deeply sorry today when I came this morning to the Egyptian Museum and found that some had tried to raid the museum by force last night,” Zahi Hawass, chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said Saturday.

“Egyptian citizens tried to prevent them and were joined by the tourism police, but some (looters) managed to enter from above and they destroyed two of the mummies,” he said.

AJ also continues to update it’s live blog for the day. Here are three entries:

7:38pm Ayman Mohyeldin reports that eyewitnesses have said “party thugs” associated with the Egyptian regime’s Central Security Services – in plainclothes but bearing government-issued weapons – have been looting in Cairo. Ayman says the reports started off as isolated accounts but are now growing in number.

6:50pm As protesters continue to defy curfew, a bystander in Cairo tells Al Jazeera that there are no police left in the capital. Formerly omnipresent traffic police are nowhere to be found. Reports suggest that private property is being seized in locations throughout Egypt.

6:43pm Some of the rarest antiquities in the world are found damaged by looters at famed Cairo musuem.

There are marches on the street. People are dying and being hurt. At least 25 people have been killed in Cairo.  Suez reports 38 deaths.  Alexandria reports 36 killed.  Women are being threatened with sexual assault.   The Children’s Cancer Hospital has also been the target of looting.  Again, it appears that may of the looters are the party police in plain clothes.  AJ has been reporting that some were caught trying to loot richer areas and were found to be carrying ID cards from the State Security forces.   People are still ignoring the curfew.

Probably the most disturbing announcement is that Egypt’s Head Spy is now the VP of the country.  This is the man that has handled torture of US detainees.

In December, the Wall Street Journal’s Jerusalem correspondent pronounced Suleiman “the most likely successor … President Mubarak’s closest aide, charged with handling the country’s most sensitive issues.

“He also has close working relations with the U.S. and a lifetime of experience inside Egypt’s military and intelligence apparatus,” Charles Levinson wrote.

Likewise, the Voice of America said Friday, “Suleiman is seen by some analysts as a possible successor to the president.” “He earned international respect for his role as a mediator in Middle East affairs and for curbing Islamic extremism.”

An editorialist at Pakistan’s “International News” predicted Thursday that “Suleiman will probably scupper his boss’s plans [to install his son], even if the aspiring intelligence guru himself is as young as 75.”

Suleiman graduated from Egypt’s prestigious Military Academy but also received training in the Soviet Union. Under his guidance, Egyptian intelligence has worked hand-in-glove with the CIA’s counterterrorism programs, most notably in the 2003 rendition of an al-Qaeda suspect known as Abu Omar from Italy.

This thread will continue to update during the day.

Notable Tweets:

Category of  I know how they feel:

SultanAlQassemi Sultan Al Qassemi

Zuwail “There has been a shrinking in the middle class in Egypt while an elite group has become excessively wealthy” cc Ahmed Ezz/Gamal

SultanAlQassemi Sultan Al Qassemi

Zuwail “Education has been the issue in every household in Egypt. Science & research has reached the lowest levels, Egypt deserves better”

GREAT UPDATE!!!

What you are seeing here is very interesting.  These are Egyptian Muslims praying.  Behind them are Egyptian Christians Guarding the neighborhood so they can pray safely.

You may remember that Wonk the Vote wrote a post with a similar theme in Egypt a few weeks ago when Egyptian Muslims surrounded Christian Churches who could celebrate Christmas with out fear of suicide bombers..



Egyptians Take the Streets, Mubarak Fires Ministers, Obama Speaks (live blog)

US President Barack Obama is preparing for a press conference and statement following Egyptian President’s Hosni Mubarak’s earlier TV appearance on Nile Television.   No questions for Mubarak.  How about Obama?

markknoller Mark Knoller

Pres. Obama willl be making his statement with the famous portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the wall behind him.

Other US reactions:

Equity Markets fall while Oil Prices rise.

Crude oil prices spiked Friday as anti-government protests in Egypt sparked concerns over regional stability.

Prices settled just shy of $90 a barrel, for an increase of more than 4%.

Clinton Urges Egypt to Seize Moment `Immediately’ for Reforms

The Obama administration is ramping up pressure on President Hosni Mubarak to address the grievances of the Egyptian people and said the government’s response to protests may affect U.S. aid.

“The people of Egypt are watching the government’s actions, they have for quite some time, and their grievances have reached a boiling point and they have to be addressed,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters in Washington. The U.S. will be looking at its “assistance posture” toward Egypt, Gibbs said.

Starting with an early afternoon statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the U.S. today toughened its criticism of Mubarak’s methods in suppressing protests that pose the biggest challenge to his 30-year rule over the Arab world’s most populous country.

“For the U.S., any effort on our part to provide support for Mubarak is going to be read in Egypt as support for a crackdown and support for an undemocratic regime,” said Steven Cook, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. “We need to be forward looking for this.”

More than 80 percent of U.S. aid to Egypt, or $1.3 billion, is in the form of military assistance, according to data supplied by the U.S. State Department. With President Barack Obama in power, military aid has stayed unchanged and economic assistance has been cut to $250 million from $411 million in 2008 with the phasing out of democracy-linked programs.

The amount of money Egypt receives from the U.S. is exceeded only by Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel, based on the State Department’s budget request for the current fiscal year.

Senator John Kerry is talking on AJ right now.  He’s encouraging Mubarak to make changes.  He’s also saying it’s not constructive right now to focus on negatives but positives.  He’s saying Mubarak has opportunities.  Wonder if this will be what Obama says …

ON NOW … 6:31  EST.  It’s on CNN, etc.

UPDATE:  President Obama’s statement via MSNBC.

AJ has a front row seat to this via a bureau there.  BTW, take a look at how many silly Americans are leaving best wishes comments to Egyptians on this media outlet that is headquartered in Doha, Qatar and run/owned by folks from there. Such a geography #FAIL.  On top of that, Egypt can’t get access to the internet right now.  (Palm meet forehead!)

Live blog from Al Jazeera

Live Streaming Al Jazeera