Thursday Reads

The view from my front door

Good Morning!! Isn’t it fun to look out your window and see a coating of ice all over everything? Especially when you already have mountains of snow out there. I plan to spend much of the day throwing ice pellets around and trying to chip the pile of ice that a snowplow left at the end of my driveway. Oh joy!

So what’s in the news this morning? Let me see….. I thought I’d post some video of Noam Chomsky discussing the Egyptian protests on Democracy Now.

NOTE: There are more parts to the Chomsky interview that you can watch at Democracy Now.

That’s the view from a real leftist. Have you heard what Tony Blair had to say about the situation?

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair explained Tuesday that the embattled Egyptian president was “immensely courageous and a force for good.”

Appearing on CNN, Blair praised Mubarak’s role in brokering peace between Israel and Palestine. The former prime minister is now an envoy to the peace process….

…where you stand on him depends on whether you’ve worked with him from the outside or on the inside,” Blair replied. “And for those of us who worked with him over the — particularly now I worked with him on the Middle East peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians, so this is somebody I’m constantly in contact with and working with.”

George Soros expressed his ideas about Egypt in today’s Washington Post.

President Obama personally and the United States as a country have much to gain by moving out in front and siding with the public demand for dignity and democracy. This would help rebuild America’s leadership and remove a lingering structural weakness in our alliances that comes from being associated with unpopular and repressive regimes. Most important, doing so would open the way to peaceful progress in the region. The Muslim Brotherhood’s cooperation with Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate who is seeking to run for president, is a hopeful sign that it intends to play a constructive role in a democratic political system. As regards contagion, it is more likely to endanger the enemies of the United States – Syria and Iran – than our allies, provided that they are willing to move out ahead of the avalanche.

The main stumbling block is Israel. In reality, Israel has as much to gain from the spread of democracy in the Middle East as the United States has. But Israel is unlikely to recognize its own best interests because the change is too sudden and carries too many risks. And some U.S. supporters of Israel are more rigid and ideological than Israelis themselves. Fortunately, Obama is not beholden to the religious right, which has carried on a veritable vendetta against him. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is no longer monolithic or the sole representative of the Jewish community. The main danger is that the Obama administration will not adjust its policies quickly enough to the suddenly changed reality.

I am, as a general rule, wary of revolutions. But in the case of Egypt, I see a good chance of success. As a committed advocate of democracy and open society, I cannot help but share in the enthusiasm that is sweeping across the Middle East. I hope President Obama will expeditiously support the people of Egypt.

Here’s an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal about why both the U.S. and Egyptian government were unprepared for the Egyptian uprising.

A close look at how Egypt’s seemingly stable surface cracked in so short a time shows how Egypt’s rulers and their Western allies were caught almost completely off guard as the revolution unfolded, despite deep concerns about where Egypt’s authoritarian government was leading the country.

From the moment demonstrators began pouring into the street, those leaders have been scrambling to keep up, often responding in ways that have accelerated the crisis.

[….]

…last week, tens of thousands of Egyptians began taking to the streets, flooding into the central Tahrir Square after pitched battles with thousands of riot police. It became the largest popular protest in Egypt since the so-called Bread Riots against rising prices in 1977.

Mr. Mubarak’s regime was stunned. “No one expected those numbers that showed up to Tahrir square,” said Ali Shamseddin, a senior official with the National Democratic Party in Cairo.

In faraway Washington, the demonstrations were only starting to register. Last Tuesday’s State of the Union address, delivered the day the protests started, had only a short section on foreign policy. President Barack Obama planned to nod to the democratic movement that swept away the ruler of Tunisia, a place “where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator,” the speech read.

After that, it’s kind of embarrassing that Obama is clearly more concerned about “stability” (oil?) in Egypt than the “will of the people.”

Trees uprooted by Cyclone Yasi

We had a gigantic storm here in the U.S., but the one in Australia might have been worse. From the Daily Telegraph: Cyclone Yasi: Queensland wakes to widespread devastation

As the winds dropped on the coast and locals emerged from cyclone bunkers and evacuation centres, they found widespread damage, especially in the coastal communities of Tully, Mission Beach and Cardwell.

Driving winds of 180mph had uprooted trees and torn roofs and walls from homes and businesses.

During the morning, dangerous storm surges were causing flooding in low-lying urban areas in the cities of Cairns and Townsville and the authorities urged residents to stay indoors.

[….]

In total, 170,000 properties were without power and thousands of people were likely to be left homeless after their homes were severely damaged by the worst cylone to hit Australia since 1918. Storm surges and flooding were also rolling into low-lying areas and inundating homes throughout the morning. Compounding the crisis, saltwater crocodiles had been spotted in floodwater.

Yikes! At least my power didn’t go out, and there aren’t any crocodiles out there.

That’s all I’ve got. What are you reading and blogging about this morning?