Mr. Mubarak has disgraced the twilight of his presidency. His government appears to have unleashed a brutal crackdown — hunting down human rights activists, journalists and, of course, demonstrators themselves, all while trying to block citizens from Tahrir Square. As I arrived near the square in the morning, I encountered a line of Mr. Mubarak’s goons carrying wooden clubs with nails embedded in them. That did not seem an opportune place to step out of a taxi, so I found a back way in.
Forget "Red" or "Blue" Virginia, How About "Brown" Virginia?
New Census data is out for Virginia, and the results are fascinating both demographically and (by implication) politically. For instance, "[a]t the current rate, Virginia will be a majority-minority state by the 2030 census. Much quicker than was expected." And, "Over 60% of Virginians under the age of 18 are non-white according to the 2010 census." Watch out Bob McDonnell, Ken Kookinelli, Corey Stewart, etc. -- your party's time is rapidly drawing to an end.
Experts say the wealth of the Mubarak family was built largely from military contracts during his days as an air force officer. He eventually diversified his investments through his family when he became president in 1981. The family's net worth ranges from $40 billion to $70 billion, by some estimates.
Amaney Jamal, a political science professor at Princeton, said those estimates are comparable with the vast wealth of leaders in other Gulf countries.
"The business ventures from his military and government service accumulated to his personal wealth. There was a lot of corruption in this regime and stifling of public resources for personal gain," Ms. Jamal was quoted as saying.
Ms. Jamal said that Mr. Mubarak's assets are most likely in banks outside of Egypt, possibly in the U.K. and Switzerland.
"This is the pattern of other Middle Eastern dictators so their wealth will not be taken during a transition. These leaders plan on this," she said.
"Last fall, a bipartisan group of senators led a months-long drive to pass a resolution calling for greater freedom and democracy in Egypt. The resolution died last December due to a fatal mix of divided loyalties, lobbying influence, and secret Senate holds.
"Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) led the effort to press Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to move toward more free and fair elections via a Senate resolution (PDF) which called for "supporting democracy, human rights, and civil liberties in Egypt." First introduced last July, the resolution quickly gained the support of a range of senators, including Al Franken (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Sam Brownback (R-KS).
"According to three senior Senate aides who worked on the issue, the two senators who were most active behind the scenes to prevent the resolution from moving forward were Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS). Feinstein, as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had concerns about the resolution's effect on the U.S. relationship with the Mubarak regime and worried that it would jeopardize U.S.-Egyptian cooperation on a range of sensitive national security issues.
"Wicker, these three Senate aides said, worked against the resolution's passage in part due to his long-standing relationship with a top Washington lobbyist, Wicker's former House colleague Bob Livingston, whose firm was being paid by the government of Egypt under a years-long lobbying contract.
"Livingston's firm makes up one-third of the entity known as the PLM Group, a lobbying entity created to advocate on behalf of the Mubarak regime. The firm also includes Tony Podesta and former Democratic Congressman Toby Moffett. According to the Washington Post and disclosure filings, Mubarak has paid PLM over $4 million since 2007.
It's true that during the lame-duck session, when a pared-down version of the resolution was being circulated for the third and final time, neither Wicker nor Feinstein formally objected to it. But they didn't have to. In November, two unnamed Democratic senators placed secret holds on the resolution, preventing it from being brought up by unanimous consent and effectively killing its chances of moving forward."
--I'd kind of like to know who those two Democratic senators were.
Kristoff tweets about the round-up of journalists Human rights workers
Earlier today Nick Kristof of the New York Times tweeted:
NickKristof @ NickKristof : Govt is trying to round up journalists. I worry about what it is they're planning that they don't want us to see. #Egypt.
Today 1:59 PM Anderson Cooper Attacked Again
CNN's Anderson Cooper has been attacked in Egypt for the second straight day. This time a car he was in was attacked. Read the details here.
Today 2:30 PM Human Rights Watch Researcher Detained
Human Rights Watch sends this dispatch on their colleague detained in Cairo:
Human Rights Watch researcher Daniel Williams was detained by Egyptian security forces in Cairo today. Williams was one of several international and Egyptian human rights activists picked up in a raid on the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, including a researcher for Amnesty International. Human Rights Watch is endeavoring to contact Williams in custody and secure his release.Williams' detention is part of a clear campaign against independent eyewitnesses of the violence in Egypt,
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, the body that oversees American foreign aid, warned Egypt on Wednesday that unless President Mubarak steps down and the violence stops, Egypt will lose its financial assistance from the United States. In an interview on MSNBC, Leahy told Cenk Uygur:
"Time has run out, and the options that might have been available to President Mubarak three or four years ago are not there now. It is unrealistic to think he can wait until elections in September. It also does not help his position to have people -- actually thugs -- in the street that appear to be government sponsored."
The senator said aid will be discontinued sooner rather than later. "We have a lot of aid in the pipeline now," he explained. "That pipeline will be turned off. There is nobody -- Republican or Democratic -- in the Senate or I suspect in the House that is going to vote for an aid package for Egypt under these circumstances."
And am I the only one just plain chuffed that Cenk Uygur is doing this interview, that MSNBC has given him a chair.
Way to go Cenk, you are one the most trusted names in my news media universe.
Wellbeing in Egypt and Tunisia decreased significantly over the past few years, even as GDP increased. In Egypt, where demonstrations have prompted President Hosni Mubarak to give up power after elections this fall, the percentage of people "thriving" fell by 18 percentage points since 2005. In Tunisia, where mass protests toppled the country's government last month, the percentage of people Gallup classifies as thriving fell 10 points since 2008.
The data underscore how traditional economic metrics can paint an incomplete picture of life in a given country. Over the same period that wellbeing decreased in Egypt and Tunisia, GDP increased. This is particularly noteworthy because previous Gallup research, by Angus Deaton, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, and Gallup researchers, has found wellbeing to be highly correlated with GDP per capita.
A leading member of the road lobby said motorists would be "sick to the stomach" and declared that Shell – and a tax-taking Treasury – were "laughing all the way to the bank".
The oil group never gives details of its British forecourt sales but it confirmed today that global profits from all sides of the business rocketed to $5.7bn (£3.5bn) in the last three months of 2010 compared with $1.2bn a year ago.
Full year profits reached $18.6bn – almost double the figure for 2009 – and chief executive, Peter Voser, boasted "there is more to come from Shell."
Profit rate well over 4 times last years lovely profits. Move along, nothing to see here. Time for a little video gaming, a walk, time to ask your union to stop being so hard on employers. Unions are driving prices up, these figures prove that completely.
Food costs at record levels, likely to go higher
MANILA/MILAN (Reuters) - World food prices hit a record in January and recent catastrophic weather around the globe could put yet more pressure on the cost of food, an issue that has already helped spark protests across the Middle East.
Up for the seventh month in a row, the closely watched Food and Agriculture Oganisation Food Price Index on Thursday touched its highest since records began in 1990, and topped the peak of 224.1 in June 2008, during the food crisis of 2007/08.
"The new figures clearly show that the upward pressure on world food prices is not abating. These high prices are likely to persist in the months to come," FAO economist and grains expert Abdolreza Abbassian said in a statement.
More Teachers Being Replaced By Technology
The neoliberal wetdream coming to fruition. From Fast Company:
Districts all over are experimenting with teacher-less computer labs and green-lighting entire classrooms of adult-supervised children exploring the Internet--an Android powered tablet designed specifically for students. Teachers' unions' protests notwithstanding, the cybernetic takeover might mean a redefinition of "teacher" as a research assistant or intellectual coach, since subject-matter lecturers are no match for access to the entirety of human knowledge.