Saturday, February 05, 2011



"There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen."

--V. I. Lenin (1870-1924)

"Victory is accomplished through the perseverance of the last hour."

--Prophet Muhammad (570-632 AD)


Marcha en contra de las guerras: en casa y en el exterior

Ellos son el gobierno y las corporaciones que financian las guerras, destruyen el medio ambiente, la economía y pisotean nuestras libertades y derechos democráticos.

Nosotros, somos la gran mayoría de la humanidad y queremos paz. Un planeta saludable y una sociedad que priorice en las necesidades humanas, la democracia y las libertades civiles para todos.

Nosotros, demandamos que las tropas militares, los mercenarios y los contratistas de guerra que enviaron a Irak, Afganistán, y Paquistán sean traídas de regreso a los Estados Unidos ¡Ahora! Que paren con las sanciones y las amenazas de guerra en contra de los pueblos de Irán, Corea del Norte y Yemen; y que los Estados Unidos deje de colaborar con Israel en la invasión y acoso a Palestina y Gaza. No al saqueo de los pueblos de América Latina, el Caribe y África; que paren la persecución racista que amenaza las comunidades musulmanas y que paren el terror policiaco en contra de las comunidades negras y latinas; derechos totales y legalización para los emigrantes.

Nosotros, demandamos que el FBI pare de inmediato la persecución a los luchadores por la justicia social y la solidaridad internacional; como también pongan un alto a todos los esfuerzos que reprimen y castigan a los contribuidores y fundadores de Wikileaks.

Nosotros, demandamos trillones de dólares para trabajos, educación y servicios sociales; que cesen todos los embargos de viviendas y desalojos; un programa de salud gratuito y de calidad para todos; un programa energético de conversión masiva que salve al planeta y buen el sistema de transporte público. Y reparaciones para las víctimas del terror de estados unidos aquí en casa y en el exterior.


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:





Protest and march to stand in solidarity with the people of Egypt, Tunisia, and other countries in the region as they struggle against repressive governments.
Saturday, February 5th, 2011, 1 pm.
U.N. Plaza, Market and 8th, San Francisco, CA

Join thousands of community members from the Egyptian, Tunisian, and Arab communities in the U.S., and all those in solidarity with popular movements for justice and liberation.


On January 28th, Egypt's Day of Anger, Egyptian activist groups issued a call for international solidarity, stating that: "We need your solidarity to support the demands and aspirations of Egyptians." It is in response to this call that we are holding the February 5th international day of solidarity.

Today, February 1st, millions of Egyptians marched in Cairo, Alexandria, Mansoura, Mahalla, Suez, and other Egyptian cities to put an end to 30 years of dictatorship, poverty, unemployment, and torture. The dictator responded by declaring that he would finish his term and not seek re-election! The people of Tunisia continue to make history, struggling to defend their victory and demand a real end to Ben Ali's regime. Massive protests against dictatorships and misery are erupting in Jordan, Yemen, Libya, and other Arab countries.

This Saturday, thousands of community members from the San Francisco Bay Area will stand in solidarity with Egyptians, Tunisians, and all the people in the Arab world fighting for freedom and dignity. Nationwide, US residents are joining in solidarity with Arab popular struggles to voice dissent against the propping up of oppressive regimes globally by the US government. Egypt's Mubarak-led regime, the second largest global recipient of US military aid, has utilized this funding to suppress free speech and political dissent for many years.

The International Solidarity Day events in San Francisco will include live interviews with journalists on the ground in Egypt, and a march to call upon the American government to take a firm stance in support of the Egyptian people's just demands

Endorsers (List in Formation): Al-Awda, Palestine Right to Return Coalition, ANSWER Coalition, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Berkeley Egyptian Students Association, Berkeley Muslim Students Association, Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine, Cafe Intifada, CODEPINK Women for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace - Bay Area, Middle East Children's Alliance, San Jose Peace & Justice Center, South Bay Mobilization, Stanford Says No War, Stanford Students Confronting Apartheid, US Palestinian Community Network

Inquiries: Yasmine Samy, 510.379.8911,



Saturday, February 5 - 2:00 pm
Rivertown Resource Center
301 W 10th Street, #16, Antioch

* Hear people's attorney Jerry Goldberg tell about how they've been fighting foreclosures in Detroit.

Jerry is a founder of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions & Utility Shutoffs.

* Community speak-out - Come and share your ideas on how to fight back and protect our homes.

Today the vast majority of home loans are owned or backed up by the federal government. This means when your home is foreclosed, the government pays off the bank for the full value of the inflated loan, evicts you from your home, and then sells off your home to some investor for peanuts. This is a silent bail-out of the banks.

Instead of evicting us from our homes, the government should declare a moratorium on foreclosures - just like they did in 25 states during the 1930's. Then people could stay in their homes with affordable payments, based on the real value of their property.

Sponsored by Bail Out the People Movement, Moratorium NOW! Coalition, and Nuestra Casa Community Services, with many thanks to Bishop Ernest L. Jackson and the Grace Tabernacle Community Church. For information call 415-738-4739 or 925-597-0008

Let People Stay in their Homes - Housing is a Human Right!

Bail Out the People, Not the Banks!

Demand a National Moratorium to Stop All Foreclosures and Evictions!


United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC) Steering Committee Meeting to Build April 10!
All Bay Area UNAC members invited.
Tuesday, February 8, 7:00 P.M.
474 Valencia Street (Between 15th and 16th Streets -- in the childcare center)




World Trade Unions Mobilising for Democracy in Egypt: 8 February Action Day

Brussels, 4 February 2011 (ITUC OnLine): Trade unions around the world will join a Day of Action for Democracy in Egypt on 8 February, following a decision by the ITUC General Council meeting in Brussels today. Unions will organise demonstrations at Egyptian embassies, and continue to press their governments to demand democratic transition in Egypt and to ensure that those responsible for the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations are brought to justice.

“We will continue to push the international community to put pressure on the regime of Hosni Mubarak to respect the wishes of the Egyptian people. Our support for Egypt’s independent trade unions and the other forces for democracy is unwavering, and we are determined that there shall be no impunity for the people responsible for the killings, assaults and intimidation of innocent people,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Click here to see videos from union leaders around the world in solidarity with the Egyptian people

Click here to see model protest letters to Egyptian embassies:

Click here to see the ITUC General Council Resolution on Egypt:

The ITUC represents 176 million workers in 301 affiliated national organisations from 151 countries and territories. Website: and

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 621 018


West Coast Organizing Conference to End Political Repression
Come hear from 4 of the 23 activists targeted by the FBI
Saturday, February 12th, 11:00 AM-4:00 PM
Humanist Hall 390 27th Street (between Telegraph and Broadway)
Oakland, California

West Coast Organizing Conference organized by the Bay Area Committee to End FBI Repression*

Participants will discuss ways organize and strengthen our movement to fight back against government repression. Local activists are encouraged to participate in this regional organizing conference to push back against the government repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists.

The conference will feature a panel including Hatem Abudayyeh of the Arab American Action Network, Anh Pham and Thistle Parker-Hartog of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee, Tom Burke of the Columbian Action Network, whose homes were raided and/or were subpoenaed by a Federal Grand Jury in Chicago charged with investigating "material support for terrorism."

In addition Bruce Nestor of the National Lawyers Guild and other speakers from the Palestinian, American Muslim, and other communities who either individually or as a community have faced government repression.

* Opposing War and Occupation is not a Crime!
* Resist FBI and Grand Jury Repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists!

For more information, see:,
To find out how to join the committee, contact:

Phone: Bay Area region: (415) 793-1794 (408) 987-8370 or (408) 849-7977
Los Angeles region: (626) 532-7164
Seattle region: (206) 499-1220

Forward widely. Thank you for your support!


Cephus Johnson invited you · Share · Public Event


Saturday, February 12 · 10:00am - 3:00pm

Location EOYDC East Oakland Youth Development Center

8200 international Blvd

Oakland, CA

Created By

Cephus Johnson, Beatrice X Dale

More Info The Oscar Grant Foundation

Brings to East Oakland Young Men ages 16 yrs to 34 yrs Old


`Empowering Our Communities'

Opportunities To:

Expunge Your Criminal Record;

Speak with Representatives from the Cypress Mandela Certification Program;

Laney College Workforce Development Program;

Mental Health Counseling;

Drug Treatment Program;

Men Of Valor Employment Training Program; and Much More

Join Us for Breakfast: 9:00am - 11:00am

Grits, Eggs, Toast, Pancakes, Potatoes, Coffee, Juice

Partial List of Participants:

Project Think 1st;

Cypress Training Institute;

Alameda County Probation Department;

Oakland Housing Authority;

Laney College;

Merritt College;

East Bay Community Law Center;

Private Industry Council;

City of Oakland Re-Entry Specialist;

Volunteers Of America;

Alameda County Mental Health.


Bay Area Supporters of International Friends of the Leon Trotsky Museum invite you to:

"Honoring Revolutionary Continuity: An Afternoon Public Forum & Fundraiser for the Leon Trotsky Museum in Mexico City"

Sunday, February 13 @ 2:30 p.m.
Alameda Public Library
1550 Oak Street (@ Lincoln Ave.)
Alameda, Calif.


Presentation by ESTEBAN VOLKOV, Leon Trotsky's grandson and president of the Leon Trotsky Museum Foundation, and

Preview of "A Planet Without A Visa: The Movie" -- a film by DAVID WEISS, with presentations by LINDY LAUB, director of the documentary film, and SUZI WEISSMAN, historian of the revolutionary and socialist movements

Also: Honoring founding members of the American Trotskyist movement ESTAR BAUR, ERWIN BAUR & RUTH HARER

Sliding Scale $10 to $20

For more information, call Frank Fried at 510-459-0328

[If you are not able to make the event but would like to make a tax-deductible donation to International Friends of the Leon Trotsky Museum, please send your check, payable to Global Exchange (our fiscal sponsor), to International Friends, PO Box 40009, San Francisco, CA 94140.]


US President Barack Obama may soon announce plans to expand Afghan security forces by roughly 70,000 over current targets by year's end. The plan is expensive: It would cost the United States another $6 billion next year -- nearly twice as much as previously planned.

The United States needs JOBS and a full-employment economy. NOT MORE WARS OR MILITARY SPENDING!

Please join us in demonstrating for Peace on February 18 at 2 PM., corner of University at Acton. Wheelchair accessible.

Strawberry Creek Tenants Association
Fran Rachael

Phone: (510)548-9696 FAX: (510)548-9697


Next Meeting of United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC) Steering Committee Meeting to Build April 10!
All BAy Area antiwar and peace and justice activists invited.
Sunday, February 20, 1:00 P.M.
Centro del Pueblo
474 Valencia Street (Between 15th and 16th Streets -- second floor, in the rear.)


MEDIA RELEASE from Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists (BFUU)

A Benefit Evening to Support Bradley Manning

Thursday, Feb 24, 2011 7 - 9 pm

Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists

Fellowship Hall address: 1924 Cedar Street , Berkeley CA 94709

Sponsored by: Courage To Resist, Social Justice Committee of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists & Code Pink Golden Gate

Wheelchair Accessible. Suggested Donation is $5 - 10. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Dr. Caroline Knowles of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists will give the welcoming remarks.

Daniel Ellsberg will speak. As the "Pentagon Papers" whistle-blower of the Vietnam War era, he is in a unique position to put the the current issues into historical context.

Senator Mike Gravel has been referencing the damage to a democratic society that excessive secrecy and media manipulation has had on the ability of citizens to exercise informed judgment. All the while the government has passed more repressive laws since the 9/11 attacks that intrude on citizen privacy and rights.

Jeff Patterson of "Courage To Resist" will provide an overview of the issues and the history of Bradley Manning's case.

Cynthia Papermaster of Code Pink Golden Gate chapter will MC. She will offer views on the treatment of Bradley Manning and will report on her recent experience at the demonstration on MLK DAY at Fort Quantico Prison where Bradley Manning is being held in solitary confinement.

Details of the event can be found at BFUU Upcoming Events Webpage.
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists

Fellowship Hall address: 1924 Cedar Street , Berkeley CA 94709
Phone: 510-841-4824

Submitted by
Shirley Adams
404-245-7977 (cell)
BFUU Membership Team
The only gift is a portion of thyself.- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Saturday, March 19, 2011:
Day of Action to Resist the War Machine!
8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq
Scores of organizations coming together for worldwide protests

In San Francisco, the theme of the March 19 march and rally will be "No to War & Colonial Occupation - Fund Jobs, Healthcare & Education - Solidarity with SF Hotel Workers!" 12,000 SF hotel workers, members of UNITE-HERE Local 2, have been fighting for a new contract that protects their healthcare, wages and working conditions. The SF action will include a march to boycotted hotels in solidarity with the Lo. 2 workers. The first organizing meeting for the SF March 19 march and rally will be on Sunday, Jan. 16 at 2pm at the Local 2 union hall, 209 Golden Gate Ave.

In Los Angeles, the March 19 rally and march will gather at 12 noon at Hollywood and Vine.

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Click this link to endorse the March 19, 2011, Call to Action:

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-265-1948
Boston: 857-334-5084 | New York City: 212-694-8720 | Chicago: 773-463-0311
San Francisco: 415-821-6545| Los Angeles: 213-251-1025 | Albuquerque: 505-268-2488


Are you joining us on April 8 at the Pentagon in a climate chaos protest codenamed "Operation Disarmageddon?" It has been decided that affinity groups will engage in nonviolent autonomous actions. Do you have an affinity group? Do you have an idea for an action?

So far these are some of the suggested actions:

Send a letter to Sec. of War Robert Gates demanding a meeting to disclose the Pentagon's role in destroying the planet. He will ignore the letter, so a delegation would then go to the Metro Entrance to demand a meeting.

Use crime tape around some area of the Pentagon. The idea of crime/danger taping off the building could be done just outside the main Pentagon reservation entrance (intersection of Army/Navy) making the Alexandria PD the arresting authority (if needed) and where there is no ban on photography. Hazmat suits, a 'converted' truck (or other vehicle) could be part of the street theater. The area where I am thinking is also almost directly below I-95 and there is a bridge over the intersection - making a banner drop possible. Perhaps with the hazmat/street closure at ground level with a banner from above. If possible a coordinated action could be done at other Pentagon entrances and / or other war making institutions.

A procession onto the Pentagon reservation, without reservations, and set up a camp on one of the lawns surrounding The Pentagon. This contingent would reclaim the space in the name of peace and Mother Earth. This contingent would plan to stay there until The Pentagon is turned into a 100% green building using sustainable energy employing people who work for peace and the abolishment of war and life-affirming endeavors.

Bring a potted tree to be placed on the Pentagon's property to symbolize the need to radically reduce its environmental destructiveness.

Since the Pentagon is failing to return to the taxpayers the money it has misappropriated, "Foreclose on the Pentagon."

Banner hanging from a bridge.

Hand out copies of David Swanson's book WAR IS A LIE. Try to deliver a copy to Secretary of War Robert Gates.

Have short speeches in park between Pentagon and river; nice photo with Pentagon in background.

Die-in and chalk or paint outlines of victim's bodies everywhere that remain after the arrest to point to where real crimes are really being committed.

Establish command center, Peacecom? Paxcom? Put several people in white shirts and ties plus a few generals directing their armies for "Operation Disarmageddon."

Make the linkage between the tax dollars going to the Pentagon and war tax resistance. Use the WRL pie chart and carry banners "foreclose on war" and "money for green jobs not war jobs."

Hold a rally with representative speakers before going to the Pentagon Reservation. This would be an opportunity to speak out against warmongering and the Pentagon's role in destroying the environment.

As part of "Operation Disarmageddon," we will take a tree and plant it on the reservation. Our sign reads, "Plant trees not landmines."

Use crime tape on Army/Navy Drive to declare the Pentagon a crime scene. Do street theater there as well. Other affinity groups could go to selected entrances.

Establish a Peace Command Center at the Pentagon. Hold solidarity actions at federal buildings and corporate offices.

What groups have you contacted to suggest joining us at the Pentagon? See below for those who plan to be at the Pentagon on April 8 and for what groups have been contacted.



April 8, 2011 participants

Beth Adams
Ellen Barfield
Tim Chadwick
Joy First
Jeffrey Halperin
Malachy Kilbride
Max Obuszewski
David Swanson

April 8 Outreach

Beth Adams -- Earth First, Puppet Underground, Emma's Revolution, Joe Gerson-AFSC Cambridge, Code Pink(national via Lisa Savage in Maine), Vets for Peace, FOR, UCC Justice & Witness Ministries, Traprock, Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order, (National-INt'l) Vets for Peace and WILPF, Pace e Bene, Christian Peace Witness & UCC Justice & Witness (Cleveland).

Tim Chadwick -- Brandywine, Lepoco, Witness against Torture, Vets for Peace (Thomas Paine Chapter Lehigh Valley PA), and Witness for Peace DC.

Jeffrey Halperin -- peace groups in Saratoga Spring, NY

Jack Lombardo - UNAC will add April 8 2011 to the Future Actions page on our blog, and make note in upcoming E-bulletins, but would appreciate a bit of descriptive text from the organizers and contact point to include when we do - so please advise ASAP! Also, we'll want to have such an announcement for our next print newsletter, which will be coming out in mid-December.

Max Obuszewski - Jonah House & Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore

Bonnie Urfer notified 351 individuals and groups on the Nukewatch list


Endorse the call to action from the United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC)

Bring the Troops Home Now!

March and Rally

Sunday, April 10th* in San Francisco, assemble at Dolores Park (18th and Dolores Streets) at 11:00 A.M.

*This date was changed because of the Annual Cesar Chavez Parade scheduled in San Francisco April 9. This is a huge community event that we can't conflict with.

Saturday, April 9th New York City (Union Sq. at noon)

--Bring U.S. Troops Now: Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan! End the sanctions and stop the threats of war against the people of Iran, North Korea and Yemen. No to war and plunder of the people of Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa! End U.S. Aid to Israel! End U.S. Support to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the Siege of Gaza!

--Trillions for jobs, education, social services, an end to all foreclosures, quality single-payer healthcare for all, a massive conversion to sustainable and planet-saving energy systems and public transportation and reparations to the victims of U.S. terror at home and abroad.

--End FBI raids on antiwar, social justice, and international solidarity activists, an end to the racist persecution and prosecutions that ravage Muslim communities, an end to police terror in Black and Latino communities, full rights and legality for immigrants and an end to all efforts to repress and punish Wikileaks and its contributors and founders.
--Immediate end to torture, rendition, secret trials, drone bombings and death squads

To add your group's name to the endorser list, local, state or national, please contact:

United National Antiwar Committee
P.O. Box 123 Delmar, New York 12054

email you endorsement to: and cc:

Initial List of Endorsers (List in formation)
* = For Identification only

United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC)
Center for Constitutional Rights
Muslim Peace Coalition, USA
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Veterans for Peace
International Action Center
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Black Agenda Report
Code Pink
National Assembly to End U.S. Wars and Occupations
World Can't Wait
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
Project Salam
Canadian Peace Alliance
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Office of the Americas
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
Middle East Children's Alliance
Tariq Ali
Dr. Margaret Flowers PNHP *
Ramsey Clark
Ambassador Syed Ahsani, Former Ambassador from Pakistan
Ahmed Shawki, editor, International Socialist Review
Ali Abunimah, Palestinian American Journalist
Alice Sturn Sutter, Washington Heights Women in Black *
Al-Awda NY: the Palestine Right to Return Coalition
American Iranian Friendship Committee
American Muslim Task Force, Dallas/Ft. Worth
Ana Edwards, Chair, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project - Richmond, Va.
Anthony Arnove, Author, "Iraq: The logic of Withdrawal"
Andy Griggs, Co-chair, California Teachers Association, Peace and Justice Caucus/UTLA-retired*
B. Ross Ashley, NDP Socialist Caucus, Canada *
Bail Out the People Movement
Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Barrio Unido, San Francisco
Bashir Abu-Manneh
Baltimore Job Is a Right Campaign
Baltimore-Washington Area Peace Council, US Peace Council Chapter
Battered Mother's Custody Conference
Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace
Blanca Misse, Student Worker Action Team/UC Berkeley, Academic Workers for Democratic Union - UAW 2865 *
Blauvelt Dominican sisters Social Justice Ministry
Bob Hernandez, Chapter President, SEIU Local 1021*
Bonnie Weinstein - Bay Area United Against Wars Newsletter
Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights
Boston UNAC
Boston University Anti-War Coalition
Café Intifada - Los Angeles
Camilo E. Mejia, Iraq war veteran and resister
Campaign for a Mass Party of Labor
Carole Seligman - Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal *
Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War
Chesapeake Citizens
Howard Terry Adcock, Colombia Support Network, Austin (TX) , Center for Peace and Justice *
Coalition for Justice - Blacksburg, Va.
Colombian Front for Socialism (FECOPES)
Columbus Campaign for Arms Control
Committee for Justice to Defend the Los Angeles 8
Dave Welsh, Delegate, San Francisco Labor Council
David Swanson,
David Keil - Metro West Peace Action (MWPA) *
Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality - Virginia
Derrick O'Keefe, Co-chair (Vancouver)
Detroit Committee to Stop FBI/Grand Jury Repression.
Doug Bullock, Albany County Legislator
Dr. Andy Coates PNHP *
DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving) - New York
Elaine Brower - national steering committee of World Can't Wait and anti-war military mom
Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST)
Freedom Road Socialist Organization
Freedom Socialist Party
Gilbert Achcar - Lebanese academic and writer
Guilderland Neighbors for Peace
Haiti Action Committee
Haiti Liberte
Hands off Venezuela
Howie Hawkins, Co-Chair, Green Party of New York State *
IIan Pappe, Director Exeter University, European Centre for Palestine Studies
International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
International Socialist Organization
International support Haiti Network (ISHN)
Iraq Peace Action Coalition - Minneapolis
Italo-American Progressive Fraternal Society
Janata Dal (United), India
Jersey City Peace Movement
Jimmy Massey, Founding member of IVAW
John Pilger, Journalist and Documentary film maker
Journal Square Homeless Coalition
Justice for Fallujah Project
Karen Schieve, United Educators of San Francisco *
Kim Nguyen, Metrowest Peace Action (MWPA)*
Kwame Binta, The November Coalition
Larry Pinkvey, Black Activist Writers Guild
Lillie "Ms. K" Branch-Kennedy - Director, Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged (R.I.H.D.), Virginia
Lisa Savage, CODEPINK Maine, Bring Our War $$ Home Coalition *
Los Angeles - Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee
Maggie Zhou - ClimateSOS *
Maine Veterans for Peace
Malu Aina, Hawaii
Maria Cristina Gutierrez, Exec. Director, Companeros del Barrio
Mark Roman, Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice
Marlena Santoyo, Germantown Friends Meeting, Philadelphia, PA
Mary Flanagan, United Teachers of Richmond *
Masjid As-Salam Mosque, Albany, NY
Mazin Qumsiyeh
Michigan Emergency Committee Against Wars and Injustice
Mike Alewitz, Central Ct. State University *
Middle East Crisis Committee
Mobilization Against War and Occupation - Vancouver, Canada
Mobilization to Free Mumia
Moratorium NOW Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs
Muslim Solidarity Committee
Nancy Murray, Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights*
Nancy Parten, Witness For Peace *
Nellie Bailey, Harlem Tenants Council *
New Abolitionist Movement
New England United
New Jersey Labor Against War
New Socialist Project
New York City Labor Against the War
New York Collective of Radical Educators
No More Victims
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development
Northeast Peace and Justice Action Coalition
Northern California Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
Northwest Greens
Nuestro Norte Es El Sur ((NUNO-SUR) Our North is the South
Omar Barghouti, Human rights activist (Palestine)
Pakistan USA Freedom Forum
Pakistani Trade Union Defense Campaign
Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People
Peace Action Maine
Peace Action Montgomery
Peacemakers of Schoharie County, New York
Peace and Freedom Party
People of Faith, Connecticut
Peninsula Peace & Justice, Blue Hill, Maine
Peninsula Peace and Justice Center - Palo Alto, Ca.
Peoples Video Network
Phil Wilayto, Editor, The Virginia Defender
Philadelphia Against War
Progressive Peace Coalition, Columbus Ohio
Queen Zakia Shabazz - Director, United Parents Against Lead National, Inc.
Radio Free Maine
Ralph Poynter, Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Revolutionary Workers Group
Rhode Island Mobilization Committee
Roland Sheppard, Retired Business Agent Painters Local #4, San Francisco *
Rochester Against War
Ron Jacobs, writer
Saladin Muhammad - Founding Member, Black Workers for Justice
Sarah Roche-Mahdi, Code Pink Boston*
Saratoga Peace Alliance
Senior Action Network
Seth Farber, PhD., Institute of Mind and Behavior *
Sherry Wolf - International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Author Sexuality and Socialism
Siege Busters Working Group
Socialist Action
Socialist Organizer
Socialist Viewpoint
Solidarity Committee of the Capital District
Staten Island Council for Peace & Justice
Steve Scher, Breen Party of NYC 26 AD *
Stewart Robinson, Stop Targeting Ohio Poor *
Stop the Wars Coalition, Boston
Tarak Kauff, Veterans for Peace
The Campaign Against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran
The Thomas Merton Center Antiwar Committee
Twin Cities Peace Campaign
Upper Hudson Peace Action
Virginia Defender
West Hartford Citizens for Peace and Justice
WESPAC Foundation
Women against Military Madness
Women in Black, Westchester
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Pittsburgh
Workers International League
Workers World Party
Youth for International Socialism

To add yourself to the UNAC listserv, please send an email to:


[Some of these videos are embeded on the BAUAW website: or]


WikiLeaks Mirrors

Wikileaks is currently under heavy attack.

In order to make it impossible to ever fully remove Wikileaks from the Internet, you will find below a list of mirrors of Wikileaks website and CableGate pages.

Go to


Streaming TV from Egypt

Mr. ElBaradei, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work as the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Friday: "The Egyptian people will take care of themselves. The Egyptian people will be the ones who will make the change. We are not waiting for help or assistance from the outside world, but what I expect from the outside world is to practice what you preach, is to defend the rights of the Egyptian to their universal values."


Labor Beat: Labor Stands with Subpoenaed Activists Against FBI Raids and Grand Jury Investigation of antiwar and social justice activists.
"If trouble is not at your door. It's on it's way, or it just left."
"Investigate the Billionaires...Full investigation into Wall Street..." Jesse Sharkey, Vice President, Chicago Teachers Union


Michelle Alexander | January 7, 2011
The New Jim Crow/ The Drug War/ Mass Incarceration of Blacks


Georgia Man Fined $5000 for Growing Too Many Vegetables

kiss my taxed ass! Georgia Man Fined $5000 for Growing Vegetables


Oil Spill Commission Final Report: Catfish Responds


New antiwar song that's bound to be a classic:


by tommi avicolli mecca
(c) 2009
Credits are:
Tommi Avicolli Mecca, guitar/vocals
John Radogno, lead guitar
Diana Hartman, vocals, kazoo
Chris Weir, upright bass
Produced and recorded by Khalil Sullivan

I'm the recruiter and if truth be told/ I can lure the young and old

what I do you won't see/ til your kid's in JROTC

CHO ooh, put them in a box drape it with a flag and send them off to mom and dad

send them with a card from good ol' uncle sam, gee it's really just so sad

I'm the general and what I do/ is to teach them to be true

to god and country flag and oil/ by shedding their blood on foreign soil


I'm the corporate boss and well I know/ war is lots of dough dough dough

you won't find me over there/ they just ship the money right back here


last of all it's me the holy priest/ my part is not the least

I assure them it's god's will/ to go on out and kill kill kill


it's really just so sad


You might enjoy a bit of history:

William Buckley Show with Socialist Workers Party Presidential Candidates

William Buckley Show with Socialist Workers Party Presidential Candidates from asi somburu on Vimeo.


'CIA-created Frankenstein': US turns blind eye on terrorist?


Cathie Black Meets With Downtown Parents

Solution to Crowded Schools? How About Birth Control?
January 14, 2011, 4:55 pm


Wall Street Fat-Cats Flip Public Service Workers the Bird


Free Bradley Manning

Song for Bradley Manning


Supermax Prison Cell Extraction - Maine

Warning, this is an extremely brutal video. What do you think? Is this torture?


Rachel Maddow- New GOP scapegoat- public workers


Did You Know?


These videos refer to what happened at the G-20 Summit in Toronto June 26-27 of this year. The importance of this is that police were caught on tape and later confirmed that they sent police into the demonstration dressed as "rioting" protesters. One cop was caught with a large rock in his hand. Clearly, this is proof of police acting as agent provocatours. And we should expect this to continue and escalate. That's why everyone should be aware of these

police accused of attempting to incite violence at G20 summ
Protestors at Montebello are accusing police of trying to incite violence. Video on YouTube shows union officials confronting three men that were police officers dressing up as demonstrators. The union is demanding to know if the Prime Minister's Office was involved in trying to discredit the demonstrators.

quebec police admit going undercover at montebello protests


The Wars in "Vietnamistan!" (The name Daniel Ellsberg gave to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as quoted from the
Veterans for Peace White House Civil Disobedience to End War


John Pilger: Global Support for WikiLeaks is "Rebellion" Against U.S. Militarism, Secrecy
December 15, 2010


WikiLeaks founder concern for Manning


Newsnight: Bailed Julian Assange live interview (16Dec10)


Julian Assange: 'ongoing attempts to extradite me'


Published on Thursday, December 16, 2010 by Countdown With Keith Olbermann
Quantico, the New Gitmo


Domestic Espionage Alert - Houston PD to use surveillance drone in America!


15 year old Tells Establishment to Stick-it.




Julian Assange: Why the world needs WikiLeaks




Coal Ash: One Valley's Tale


Flashmob: Cape Town Opera say NO


Video of massive French protest -- inspiring!


"Don't F*** With Our Activists" - Mobilizing Against FBI Raid




MECA Middle East Children's Alliance
Howard & Roslyn Zinn Presente! Honor Their Legacy By Providing Clean Water for Children in Gaza

Howard Zinn supported the work of the Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) from the beginning. Over the years, he lent his name and his time countless times to support our work. Howard and Roz were both personal friends of mine and Howard helped MECA raise funds for our projects for children in Palestine by coming to the Bay Area and doing events for us.

On the first anniversary of Howard's passing, I hope you will join MECA in celebrating these two extraordinary individuals.

- Barbara Lubin, Executive Director
YES! I want to help MECA build a water purification and desalination unit at the Khan Younis Co-ed Elementary School for 1,400 students in Gaza in honor of Howard & Roslyn Zinn.


Lucasville Hunger Strike Ended, Some Demands Met
From: Freedom Archives
Denis O'Hearn 4:33pm Jan 15
Facebook Questions and comments may be sent to

Folks, I have a short report on today's rally at OSP in support of the three men on hunger strike. But, first, I can now report to you the wonderful news that all three have resumed eating because they achieved a victory. The prison authorities have provided, in writing, a set of conditions that virtually meets the demands set out by Bomani Shakur in his letter to Warden Bobby, provided elsewhere on this site.

The hunger strikers send you all thanks for your support and state that they couldn‚t have won their demands without support from people from around the world. But they add to their statement the following: this time they were fighting about their conditions of confinement but now they begin the fight for their lives. They were wrongfully convicted of complicity in 1993 murders in Lucasville prison and have faced retribution because they refused to provide snitch testimony against others who actually committed those murders. Now, because of Ohio's (and other states') application of the death penalty, they still face execution at a future date. Ohio is today exceeded only by Texas in its enthusiasm for applying the death penalty. We need to take some of this energy that was created around the hunger strike to help these men fight for their lives.

So, we may celebrate a great victory for now. Common sense has prevailed in a dark place where there appeared to be no light. But watch this space for further news on their ongoing campaign.

I hope to share a copy of the Ohio prison authorities' written statement that ended this hunger strike in a short time.

As Bomani has told me many times,
It ain't over...

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977 Questions and comments may be sent to


Call for EMERGENCY RESPONSE Action if Assange Indicted,

Dear Friends:

We write in haste, trying to reach as many of you as possible although the holiday break has begun.......This plan for an urgent "The Day After" demonstration is one we hope you and many, many more organizations will take up as your own, and mobilize for. World Can't Wait asks you to do all you can to spread it through list serves, Facebook, twitter, holiday gatherings.

Our proposal is very very simple, and you can use the following announcement to mobilize - or write your own....


An emergency public demonstration THE DAY AFTER any U.S. criminal indictment is announced against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Spread the word and call people to come out, across the whole range of movements and groups: anti-war, human rights, freedom of information/freedom of the press, peace, anti-torture, environmental, students and youth, radicals and revolutionaries, religious, civil liberties, teachers and educators, journalists, anti-imperialists, anti-censorship, anti-police state......

At the Federal Building in San Francisco, we'll form ourselves into a human chain "surrounding" the government that meets the Wikileaked truth with repression and wants to imprison and silence leakers, whistleblowers and truthtellers - when, in fact, these people are heroes. We'll say:


New Federal Building, 7th and Mission, San Francisco (nearest BART: Civic Center)
4:00-6:00 PM on The Day FOLLOWING U.S. indictment of Assange

Bring all your friends - signs and banners - bullhorns.

Those who dare at great risk to themselves to put the truth in the hands of the people - and others who might at this moment be thinking about doing more of this themselves -- need to see how much they are supported, and that despite harsh repression from the government and total spin by the mainstream media, the people do want the truth told.

Brad Manning's Christmas Eve statement was just released by his lawyer: "Pvt. Bradley Manning, the lone soldier who stands accused of stealing millions of pages secret US government documents and handing them over to secrets outlet WikiLeaks, wants his supporters to know that they've meant a lot to him. 'I greatly appreciate everyone's support and well wishes during this time,' he said in a Christmas Eve statement released by his lawyer...." Read more here:

Demonstrations defending Wikileaks and Assange, and Brad Manning, have already been flowering around the world. Make it happen here too.
Especially here . . .

To join into this action plan, or with questions, contact World Can't Wait or whichever organization or listserve you received this message from.

World Can't Wait, SF Bay


Email received from Lynne Stewart:
12/19/10; 12:03pm

Dear Folks:
Some nuts and bolts and trivia,

1. New Address
Lynne Stewart #53504 - 054
Unit 2N
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TEXAS 76127

2. Visiting is very liberal but first I have to get people on my visiting list Wait til I or the lawyers let you know. The visits are FRI, SAT, SUN AND MON for 4 hours and on weekends 8 to 3. Bring clear plastic change purse with lots of change to buy from the machines. Brief Kiss upon arrival and departure, no touching or holding during visit (!!) On visiting forms it may be required that you knew me before I came to prison. Not a problem for most of you.

3. One hour time difference

4. Commissary Money is always welcome It is how I pay for the phone and for email. Also need it for a lot that prison doesn't supply in terms of food and "sundries" (pens!) A very big list that includes Raisins, Salad Dressing , ankle sox, mozzarella (definitely not from Antonys--more like a white cheddar, Sanitas Corn Chips but no Salsa etc. To add money, you do this by using Western Union and a credit card by phone or you can send a USPO money order or Business or Govt Check. The negotiable instruments (PAPER!) need to be sent to Federal Bureau of Prisons , 53504-054, Lynne Stewart, PO Box 474701, Des Moines Iowa 50947-001 (Payable to Lynne Stewart, 53504-054) They hold the mo or checks for 15 days. Western Union costs $10 but is within 2 hours. If you mail, your return address must be on the envelope. Unnecessarily complicated ? Of course, it's the BOP !)

5. Food is vastly improved. Just had Sunday Brunch real scrambled eggs, PORK sausage, Baked or home fried potatoes, Butter(sweet whipped M'God !!) Grapefruit juice Toast , orange. I will probably regain the weight I lost at MCC! Weighing against that is the fact that to eat we need to walk to another building (about at far as from my house to the F Train) Also included is 3 flights of stairs up and down. May try to get an elevator pass and try NOT to use it.

6. In a room with 4 bunks(small) about two tiers of rooms with same with "atrium" in middle with tv sets and tables and chairs. Estimate about 500 on Unit 2N and there are 4 units. Population Black, Mexicano and other spanish speaking (all of whom iron their underwear, Marta), White, Native Americans (few), no orientals or foreign speaking caucasians--lots are doing long bits, victims of drugs (meth etc) and boyfriends. We wear army style (khaki) pants with pockets tee shirts and dress shirts long sleeved and short sleeved. When one of the women heard that I hadn't ironed in 40 years, they offered to do the shirts for me. (This is typical of the help I get--escorted to meals and every other protection, explanations, supplies, etc. Mostly from white women.) One drawback is not having a bathroom in the room---have to go about 75 yards at all hours of the day and night --clean though.

7. Final Note--the sunsets and sunrises are gorgeous, the place is very open and outdoors there are pecan trees and birds galore (I need books for trees and birds (west) The full moon last night gladdened my heart as I realized it was shining on all of you I hold dear.

Love Struggle

The address of her Defense Committee is:

Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
1070 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York 11216
For further information:
718-789-0558 or 917-853-9759

Please make a generous contribution to her defense.


Help end the inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning!

Bradley Manning Support Network. December 22, 2010

The Marine Brig at Quantico, Virginia is using "injury prevention" as a vehicle to inflict extreme pre-trial punishment on accused Wikileaks whistleblower Army PFC Bradley Manning (photo right). These "maximum conditions" are not unheard-of during an inmate's first week at a military confinement facility, but when applied continuously for months and with no end in sight they amount to a form of torture. Bradley, who just turned 23-years-old last week, has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest in late May. We're now turning to Bradley's supporters worldwide to directly protest, and help bring a halt to, the extremely punitive conditions of Bradley's pre-trial detention.

We need your help in pressing the following demands:

End the inhumane, degrading conditions of pre-trial confinement and respect Bradley's human rights. Specifically, lift the "Prevention of Injury (POI) watch order". This would allow Bradley meaningful physical exercise, uninterrupted sleep during the night, and a release from isolation. We are not asking for "special treatment". In fact, we are demanding an immediate end to the special treatment.

Quantico Base Commander
Colonel Daniel Choike
3250 Catlin Ave, Quantico VA 22134
+1-703-784-2707 (phone)

Quantico Brig Commanding Officer
CWO4 James Averhart
3247 Elrod Ave, Quantico VA 22134
+1-703-784-4242 (fax)


In the wake of an investigative report last week by Glenn Greenwald of giving evidence that Bradley Manning was subject to "detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries", Bradley's attorney, David Coombs, published an article at his website on Saturday entitled "A Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning". Mr. Coombs details the maximum custody conditions that Bradley is subject to at the Quantico Confinement Facility and highlights an additional set of restrictions imposed upon him under a Prevention of Injury (POI) watch order.

Usually enforced only through a detainee's first week at a confinement facility, or in cases of violent and/or suicidal inmates, the standing POI order has severely limited Manning's access to exercise, daylight and human contact for the past five months. The military's own psychologists assigned to Quantico have recommended that the POI order and the extra restrictions imposed on Bradley be lifted.

Despite not having been convicted of any crime or even yet formally indicted, the confinement regime Bradley lives under includes pronounced social isolation and a complete lack of opportunities for meaningful exercise. Additionally, Bradley's sleep is regularly interrupted. Coombs writes: "The guards are required to check on Manning every five minutes [...] At night, if the guards cannot see PFC Manning clearly, because he has a blanket over his head or is curled up towards the wall, they will wake him in order to ensure he is okay."

Denver Nicks writes in The Daily Beast that "[Bradley Manning's] attorney [...] says the extended isolation - now more than seven months of solitary confinement - is weighing on his client's psyche. [...] Both Coombs and Manning's psychologist, Coombs says, are sure Manning is mentally healthy, that there is no evidence he's a threat to himself, and shouldn't be held in such severe conditions under the artifice of his own protection."

In an article to be published at later today, David House, a friend of Bradley's who visits him regularly at Quantico, says that Bradley "has not been outside or into the brig yard for either recreation or exercise in four full weeks. He related that visits to the outdoors have been infrequent and sporadic for the past several months."

In an average military court martial situation, a defense attorney would be able to bring these issues of pre-trial punishment to the military judge assigned to the case (known as an Article 13 hearing). However, the military is unlikely to assign a judge to Bradley's case until the pre-trial Article 32 hearing is held (similar to an arraignment in civilian court), and that is not expected until February, March, or later-followed by the actual court martial trial months after that. In short, you are Bradley's best and most immediate hope.

What can you do?

Contact the Marine Corps officers above and respectfully, but firmly, ask that they lift the extreme pre-trial confinement conditions against Army PFC Bradley Manning.
Forward this urgent appeal for action widely.
Sign the "Stand with Brad" public petition and letter campaign at - Sign online, and we'll mail out two letters on your behalf to Army officials.

Donate to Bradley's defense fund at

"The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention", by Glenn Greenwald for, 15 December 2010

"A Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning", by attorney David E. Coombs, 18 December 2010

"Bradley Manning's Life Behind Bars", by Denver Nicks for the Daily Beast, 17 December 2010

Bradley Manning Support Network

Courage To Resist
484 Lake Park Ave. #41
Oakland, CA 94610


KOREA: Emergency Response Actions Needed

The United National Antiwar Committee urges the antiwar movement to begin to plan now for Emergency 5pm Day-of or Day-after demonstrations, should fighting break out on the Korean Peninsula or its surrounding waters.

As in past war crisis and U.S. attacks we propose:
NYC -- Times Square, Washington, D.C. -- the White House
In Many Cities - Federal Buildings

Many tens of thousands of U.S., Japanese and South Korean troops are mobilized on land and on hundreds of warships and aircraft carriers. The danger of a general war in Asia is acute.

China and Russia have made it clear that the scheduled military maneuvers and live-fire war "exercises" from an island right off the coast of north Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) by South Korea are very dangerous. The DPRK has made it clear that they consider these live-fire war exercises to be an act of war and they will again respond if they are again fired on.

The U.S. deployment of thousands of troops, ships, and aircraft in the area while South Korea is firing thousands of rounds of live ammunition and missiles is an enormously dangerous provocation, not only to the DPRK but to China. The Yellow Sea also borders China. The island and the waters where the war maneuvers are taking place are north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone and only eight miles from the coast of the DPRK.

On Sunday, December 19 in a day-long emergency session, the U.S. blocked in the UN Security Council any actions to resolve the crisis.

UNAC action program passed in Albany at the United National Antiwar Conference, July 2010 of over 800 antiwar, social justice and community organizations included the following Resolution on Korea:

15. In solidarity with the antiwar movements of Japan and Korea, each calling for U.S. Troops to Get Out Now, and given the great increase in U.S. military preparations against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, National Peace Conference participants will organize immediate protests following any attack by the U.S. on Korea. U.S. war preparations include stockpiling hundreds of bunker-busters and conducting major war games near the territorial waters of China and Korea. In keeping with our stand for the right of self-determination and our demand of Out Now, the National Peace Conference calls for Bringing All U.S. Troops Home Now!

UNAC urges the whole antiwar movement to begin to circulate messages alerts now in preparation. Together let's join together and demand: Bring all U.S. Troops Home Now! Stop the Wars and the Threats of War.

The United National Antiwar Committee,


In earnest support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange:

We here undersigned express our support for the work and integrity of Julian Assange. We express concern that the charges against the WikiLeaks founder appear too convenient both in terms of timing and the novelty of their nature.

We call for this modern media innovator, and fighter for human rights extraordinaire, to be afforded the same rights to defend himself before Swedish justice that all others similarly charged might expect, and that his liberty not be compromised as a courtesy to those governments whose truths he has revealed have embarrassed.


GAP Inc: End Your Relationship with Supplier that Allows Workers to be Burned Alive



A handful of East Bay organizations have put together an open letter to the strikers. If your organization would like to become a signatory, you can email me to put you on it you and can do so here.

A Letter to the Prisoners on Strike in Georgia,

We, as members of activist and community organizations in the Bay Area of California, send our support for your strike against the terrible conditions you face in Georgia's prisons. We salute you for making history as your strike has become the largest prison strike in the history of this nation. As steadfast defenders of human and civil rights, we recognize the potential that your action has to improve the lives of millions subject to inhumane treatment in correctional facilities across this country.

Every single day, prisoners face the same deplorable and unnecessarily punitive conditions that you have courageously decided to stand up against. For too long, this nation has chosen silence in the face of the gross injustices that our brothers and sisters in prison are subjected to. Your fight against these injustices is a necessary and righteous struggle that must be carried out to victory.

We have heard about the brutal acts that Georgia Department of Corrections officers have been resorting to as a means of breaking your protest and we denounce them. In order to put a stop to the violence to which you have been subjected, we are in the process of contacting personnel at the different prison facilities and circulating petitions addressed to the governor and the Georgia DOC. We will continue to expose the DOC's shameless physical attacks on you and use our influence to call for an immediate end to the violence.

Here, in the Bay Area, we are all too familiar with the violence that this system is known to unleash upon our people. Recently, our community erupted in protest over the killing of an unarmed innocent black man named Oscar Grant by transit police in Oakland. We forced the authorities to arrest and convict the police officer responsible for Grant's murder by building up a mass movement. We intend to win justice with you and stop the violent repression of your peaceful protest in the same way-by appealing to the power and influence of the masses.

We fully support all of your demands. We strongly identify with your demand for expanded educational opportunities. In recent years, our state government has been initiating a series of massive cuts to our system of public education that continue to endanger our right to a quality, affordable education; in response, students all across our state have stood up and fought back just as you are doing now. In fact, students and workers across the globe have begun to organize and fight back against austerity measures and the corresponding violence of the state. Just in the past few weeks in Greece, Ireland, Spain, England, Italy, Haiti, Puerto Rico - tens and hundreds of thousands of students and workers have taken to the streets. We, as a movement, are gaining momentum and we do so even more as our struggles are unified and seen as interdependent. At times we are discouraged; it may seem insurmountable, but in the words of Malcolm X, "Power in defense of freedom is greater than power on behalf of tyranny and oppression."

You have inspired us. News of your strike, from day one, has served to inspire and invigorate hundreds of students and community organizers here in Berkeley and Oakland alone. We are especially inspired by your ability to organize across color lines and are interested in hearing an account from the inside of how this process developed and was accomplished. You have also encouraged us to take more direct actions toward radical prison reform in our own communities, namely Santa Rita County Jail and San Quentin Prison. We are now beginning the process of developing a similar set of demands regarding expediting processing (can take 20-30 hours to get a bed, they call it "bullpen therapy"), nutrition, visiting and phone calls, educational services, legal support, compensation for labor and humane treatment in general. We will also seek to unify the education and prison justice movements by collaborating with existing organizations that have been engaging in this work.

We echo your call: No more Slavery! Injustice to one is injustice to all!

In us, students, activists, the community members and people of the Bay Area, you have an ally. We will continue to spread the news about your cause all over the Bay Area and California, the country and world. We pledge to do everything in our power to make sure your demands are met.

In solidarity,
UC-Berkeley Student Worker Action Team (SWAT) _ Community Action Project (CAP) _ La Voz de los Trabajadores _ Laney College Student Unity & Power (SUP) _ Laney College Black Student Union (BSU)


In Solidarity
By Kevin Cooper

On Thursday, December 9, 2010, the inmates in the state of Georgia sat down in unity and peace in order to stand up for their human rights.

African American, White, and Latino inmates put aside their differences, if they had any, and came together as a 'People' fighting for their humanity in a system that dehumanizes all of them.

For this they have my utmost respect and appreciation and support. I am in true solidarity with them all!

For further information about Kevin Cooper:

Reasonable doubts about executing Kevin Cooper
Chronicle Editorial
Monday, December 13, 2010

Death penalty -- Kevin Cooper is Innocent! Help save his life from San Quentin's death row!
- From Amnesty International USA
17 December 2010
Click here to take action online:

To learn about recent Urgent Action successes and updates, go to

For a print-friendly version of this Urgent Action (PDF):

Kevin Cooper, who has been on death row in California for 25 years, is asking the outgoing state governor to commute his death sentence before leaving office on 2 January 2011. Kevin Cooper has consistently maintained his innocence of the four murders for which he was sentenced to death. Since 2004, a dozen federal appellate judges have indicated their doubts about his guilt.

On the night of 4 June 1983, Douglas and Peggy Ryen were hacked and stabbed to death in their home in Chino Hills, California, along with their 10-year-old daughter Jessica and 11-year-old houseguest Christopher Hughes. The couple's eight-year-old son, Joshua Ryen, was seriously wounded, but survived. He told investigators that the attackers were three or four white men. In hospital, he saw a picture of Kevin Cooper on television and said that Cooper, who is black, was not the attacker. However, the boy's later testimony - that he only saw one attacker - was introduced at the 1985 trial. The case has many other troubling aspects which call into question the reliability of the state's case and its conduct in obtaining this conviction (see

Kevin Cooper was less than eight hours from execution in 2004 when the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted a stay and sent the case back to the District Court for testing on blood and hair evidence, including to establish if the police had planted evidence. The District Court ruled in 2005 that the testing had not proved Kevin Cooper's innocence - his lawyers (and five Ninth Circuit judges) maintain that it did not do the testing as ordered. Nevertheless, in 2007, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit upheld the District Court's ruling. One of the judges described the result as "wholly discomforting" because of evidence tampering and destruction, but noted that she was constrained by US law, which places substantial obstacles in the way of successful appeals.

In 2009, the Ninth Circuit refused to have the whole court rehear the case. Eleven of its judges dissented. One of the dissenting opinions, running to more than 80 pages and signed by five judges, warned that "the State of California may be about to execute an innocent man". On the question of the evidence testing, they said: "There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing and...imposed unreasonable conditions on the testing" ordered by the Ninth Circuit. They pointed to a test result that, if valid, indicated that evidence had been planted, and they asserted that the district court had blocked further scrutiny of this issue.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had already denied clemency in 2004 when the Ninth Circuit issued its stay. At the time, he had said that the "courts have reviewed this case for more than eighteen years. Evidence establishing his guilt is overwhelming". Clearly, a notable number of federal judges disagree. The five judges in the Ninth Circuit's lengthy dissent in 2009 stated that the evidence of Kevin Cooper's guilt at his trial was "quite weak" and concluded that he "is probably innocent of the crimes for which the State of California is about to execute him".

On 2 June 1983, two days before the Chino Hills murders, Kevin Cooper had escaped from a minimum security prison, where he was serving a four-year term for burglary, and had hidden in an empty house near the Ryen home for two nights. After his arrest, he became the focus of public hatred. Outside the venue of his preliminary hearing, for example, people hung an effigy of a monkey in a noose with a sign reading "Hang the Nigger!!" At the time of the trial, jurors were confronted by graffiti declaring "Die Kevin Cooper" and "Kevin Cooper Must Be Hanged". Kevin Cooper pleaded not guilty - the jury deliberated for seven days before convicting him - and he has maintained his innocence since then. Since Governor Schwarzenegger denied clemency in 2004, more evidence supporting Kevin Cooper's claim of innocence has emerged, including for example, testimony from three witnesses who say they saw three white men near the crime scene on the night of the murders with blood on them.

In 2007, Judge Margaret McKeown was the member of the Ninth Circuit's three-judge panel who indicated that she was upholding the District Court's 2005 ruling despite her serious concerns. She wrote: "Significant evidence bearing on Cooper's guilt has been lost, destroyed or left unpursued, including, for example, blood-covered coveralls belonging to a potential suspect who was a convicted murderer, and a bloody t-shirt, discovered alongside the road near the crime scene. The managing criminologist in charge of the evidence used to establish Cooper's guilt at trial was, as it turns out, a heroin addict, and was fired for stealing drugs seized by the police. Countless other alleged problems with the handling and disclosure of evidence and the integrity of the forensic testing and investigation undermine confidence in the evidence". She continued that "despite the presence of serious questions as to the integrity of the investigation and evidence supporting the conviction, we are constrained by the requirements of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA)". Judge McKeown wrote that "the habeas process does not account for lingering doubt or new evidence that cannot leap the clear and convincing hurdle of AEDPA. Instead, we are left with a situation in which confidence in the blood sample is murky at best, and lost, destroyed or tampered evidence cannot be factored into the final analysis of doubt. The result is wholly discomforting, but one that the law demands".

Even if it is correct that the AEDPA demands this result, the power of executive clemency is not so confined. Last September, for example, the governor of Ohio commuted Kevin Keith's death sentence because of doubts about his guilt even though his death sentence had been upheld on appeal (see Governor Ted Strickland said that despite circumstantial evidence linking the condemned man to the crime, "many legitimate questions have been raised regarding the evidence in support of the conviction and the investigation which led to it. In particular, Mr Keith's conviction relied upon the linking of certain eyewitness testimony with certain forensic evidence about which important questions have been raised. I also find the absence of a full investigation of other credible suspects troubling." The same could be said in the case of Kevin Cooper, whose lawyer is asking Governor Schwarzenegger to commute the death sentence before he leaves office on 2 January 2011. While Kevin Cooper does not yet have an execution date, it is likely that one will be set, perhaps early in 2011.

More than 130 people have been released from death rows on grounds of innocence in the USA since 1976. At the original trial in each case, the defendant had been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is clear beyond any dispute that the USA's criminal justice system is capable of making mistakes. International safeguards require that the death penalty not be imposed if guilt is not "based upon clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts". Amnesty International opposes all executions regardless of the seriousness of the crime or the guilt or innocence of the condemned.

California has the largest death row in the USA, with more than 700 prisoners under sentence of death out of a national total of some 3,200. California accounts for 13 of the 1,234 executions in the USA since judicial killing resumed there in 1977. There have been 46 executions in the USA this year. The last execution in California was in January 2006.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:
- Acknowledging the seriousness of the crime for which Kevin Cooper was sentenced to death;
- Urging Governor Schwarzenegger to take account of the continuing doubts about Kevin Cooper's guilt, including as expressed by more than 10 federal judges since 2004, when executive clemency was last requested;
- Urging the Governor to commute Kevin Cooper's death sentence.


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814, USA
Fax: 1 916-558-3160
Email: or via
Salutation : Dear Governor

Check with the AIUSA Urgent Action office if sending appeals after 2 January 2011.

Tip of the Month:
Write as soon as you can. Try to write as close as possible to the date a case is issued.

Within the United States:
$0.28 - Postcards
$0.44 - Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
To Canada:
$0.75 - Postcards
$0.75 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
To Mexico:
$0.79 - Postcards
$0.79 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
To all other destination countries:
$0.98 - Postcards
$0.98 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)

Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement that promotes and defends human rights.

This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including contact information and stop action date (if applicable). Thank you for your help with this appeal.

Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Ave SE 5th fl
Washington DC 20003
Phone: 202.509.8193
Fax: 202.675.8566


Free the Children of Palestine!
Sign Petition:

Published by Al-Awda, Palestine Right to Return Coalition on Dec 16, 2010
Category: Children's Rights
Region: GLOBAL
Target: President Obama
Web site:

Background (Preamble):

According to Israeli police, 1200 Palestinian children have been arrested, interrogated and imprisoned in the occupied city of Jerusalem alone this year. The youngest of these children was seven-years old.

Children and teen-agers were often dragged out of their beds in the middle of the night, taken in handcuffs for questioning, threatened, humiliated and many were subjected to physical violence while under arrest as part of an ongoing campaign against the children of Palestine. Since the year 2000, more than 8000 have been arrested by Israel, and reports of mistreatment are commonplace.

Further, based on sworn affidavits collected in 2009 from 100 of these children, lawyers working in the occupied West Bank with Defense Children International, a Geneva-based non governmental organization, found that 69% were beaten and kicked, 49% were threatened, 14% were held in solitary confinement, 12% were threatened with sexual assault, including rape, and 32% were forced to sign confessions written in Hebrew, a language they do not understand.

Minors were often asked to give names and incriminate friends and relatives as a condition of their release. Such institutionalized and systematic mistreatment of Palestinian children by the state of Israel is a violation international law and specifically contravenes the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Israel is supposedly a signatory.


We, the undersigned call on US President Obama to direct Israel to

1. Stop all the night raids and arrests of Palestinian Children forthwith.

2. Immediately release all Palestinian children detained in its prisons and detention centers.

3. End all forms of systematic and institutionalized abuse against all Palestinian children.

4. Implement the full restoration of Palestinian children's rights in accordance with international law including, but not limited to, their right to return to their homes of origin, to education, to medical and psychological care, and to freedom of movement and expression.

The US government, which supports Israel to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars a year while most ordinary Americans are suffering in a very bad economy, is bound by its laws and international conventions to cut off all aid to Israel until it ends all of its violations of human rights and basic freedoms in a verifiable manner.


"Secret diplomacy is a necessary tool for a propertied minority, which is compelled to deceive the majority in order to subject it to its interests."..."Publishing State Secrets" By Leon Trotsky
Documents on Soviet Policy, Trotsky, iii, 2 p. 64
November 22, 1917


To understand how much a trillion dollars is, consider looking at it in terms of time:

A million seconds would be about eleven-and-one-half days; a billion seconds would be 31 years; and a trillion seconds would be 31,000 years!

From the novel "A Dark Tide," by Andrew Gross

Now think of it in terms of U.S. war dollars and bankster bailouts!


Your Year-End Gift for the Children
Double your impact with this matching gift opportunity!

Dear Friend of the Children,

You may have recently received a letter from me via regular mail with a review of the important things you helped MECA accomplish for the children in 2010, along with a special Maia Project decal.

My letter to you also included an announcement of MECA's first ever matching gift offer. One of our most generous supporters will match all gifts received by December 31. 2010 to a total of $35,000.

So, whether you are a long time supporter, or giving for the first-time... Whether you can give $10 or $1,000... This is a unique opportunity to double the impact of your year-end gift!
Your contribution will be matched dollar for dollar, making it go twice as far so that MECA can:

* Install twenty more permanent drinking water units in Gaza schools though our Maia Project
* Continue our work with Playgrounds for Palestine to complete a community park in the besieged East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, where violent Israeli settlers attack children and adults, Israeli police arrest the victims, and the city conducts "administrative demolitions" of Palestinian homes.
* Send a large medical aid shipment to Gaza.
* Renew support for "Let the Children Play and Heal," a program in Gaza to help children cope with trauma and grief through arts programs, referrals to therapists, educational materials for families and training for mothers.

Your support for the Middle East Children's Alliance's delivers real, often life-saving, help. And it does more than that. It sends a message of hope and solidarity to Palestine-showing the people that we are standing beside them as they struggle to bring about a better life for their children.

With warm regards,
Barbara Lubin
Founder and Director

P.S. Please give as much as you possible can, and please make your contribution now, so it will be doubled. Thank you so much.

P.S.S. If you didn't receive a MAIA Project decal in the mail or if you would like another one, please send an email message to with "MAIA Project decal" in the subject line when you make your contribution.

To make a gift by mail send to:
MECA, 1101 8th Street, Berkley, CA 94710

To make a gift by phone, please call MECA's off at: 510-548-0542

To "GO PAPERLESS" and receive all your MECA communications by email, send a message to with "Paperless" in the subject line.


For Immediate Release
Antiwar movement supports Wikileaks and calls for and independent, international investigation of the crimes that have been exposed. We call for the release of Bradley Manning and the end to the harassment of Julian Assange.
For more information: Joe Lombardo, 518-281-1968,,

Antiwar movement supports Wikileaks and calls for and independent, international investigation of the crimes that have been exposed. We call for the release of Bradley Manning and the end to the harassment of Julian Assange.

The United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC) calls for the release of Bradley Manning who is awaiting trial accused of leaking the material to Wikileaks that has been released over the past several months. We also call for an end to the harassment of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks and we call for an independent, international investigation of the illegal activity exposed through the material released by Wikileaks.

Before sending the material to Wikileaks, Bradley Manning tried to get his superiors in the military to do something about what he understood to be clear violations of international law. His superiors told him to keep quiet so Manning did the right thing; he exposed the illegal activity to the world.

The Afghan material leaked earlier shows military higher-ups telling soldiers to kill enemy combatants who were trying to surrender. The Iraq Wikileaks video from 2007 shows the US military killing civilians and news reporters from a helicopter while laughing about it. The widespread corruption among U.S. allies has been exposed by the most recent leaks of diplomatic cables. Yet, instead of calling for change in these policies, we hear only a call to suppress further leaks.

At the national antiwar conference held in Albany in July, 2010, at which UNAC was founded, we heard from Ethan McCord, one of the soldiers on the ground during the helicopter attack on the civilians in Iraq exposed by Wikileaks (see: ). He talked about removing wounded children from a civilian vehicle that the US military had shot up. It affected him so powerfully that he and another soldier who witnessed the massacre wrote a letter of apology to the families of the civilians who were killed.

We ask why this material was classified in the first place. There were no state secrets in the material, only evidence of illegal and immoral activity by the US military, the US government and its allies. To try to cover this up by classifying the material is a violation of our right to know the truth about these wars. In this respect, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange should be held up as heroes, not hounded for exposing the truth.

UNAC calls for an end to the illegal and immoral policies exposed by Wikileaks and an immediate end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an end to threats against Iran and North Korea.


Courage to Resist needs your support
By Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist.

It's been quite a ride the last four months since we took up the defense of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning. Since then, we helped form the Bradley Manning Support Network, established a defense fund, and have already paid over half of Bradley's total $100,000 in estimated legal expenses.

Now, I'm asking for your support of Courage to Resist so that we can continue to support not only Bradley, but the scores of other troops who are coming into conflict with military authorities due to reasons of conscience.

Please donate today:

"Soldiers sworn oath is to defend and support the Constitution. Bradley Manning has been defending and supporting our Constitution."
-Dan Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistle-blower

Iraq War over? Afghanistan occupation winding down? Not from what we see. Please take a look at, "Soldier Jeff Hanks refuses deployment, seeks PTSD help" in our December newsletter. Jeff's situation is not isolated. Actually, his story is only unique in that he has chosen to share it with us in the hopes that it may result in some change. Jeff's case also illustrates the importance of Iraq Veterans Against the War's new "Operation Recovery" campaign which calls for an end to the deployment of traumatized troops.

Most of the folks who call us for help continue to be effected by Stoploss, a program that involuntarily extends enlistments (despite Army promises of its demise), or the Individual Ready Reserve which recalls thousands of former Soldiers and Marines quarterly from civilian life.

Another example of our efforts is Kyle Wesolowski. After returning from Iraq, Kyle submitted an application for a conscientious objector discharge based on his Buddhist faith. Kyle explains, "My experience of physical threats, religious persecution, and general abuse seems to speak of a system that appears to be broken.... It appears that I have no other recourse but to now refuse all duties that prepare myself for war or aid in any way shape or form to other soldiers in conditioning them to go to war." We believe he shouldn't have to walk this path alone.

Jeff Paterson
Project Director, Courage to Resist
First US military service member to refuse to fight in Iraq
Please donate today.

P.S. I'm asking that you consider a contribution of $50 or more, or possibly becoming a sustainer at $15 a month. Of course, now is also a perfect time to make a end of year tax-deductible donation. Thanks again for your support!

Please click here to forward this to a friend who might
also be interested in supporting GI resisters.


Add your name! We stand with Bradley Manning.

"We stand for truth, for government transparency, and for an end to our tax-dollars funding endless occupation abroad... We stand with accused whistle-blower US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning."

Dear All,

The Bradley Manning Support Network and Courage to Resist are launching a new campaign, and we wanted to give you a chance to be among the first to add your name to this international effort. If you sign the letter online, we'll print out and mail two letters to Army officials on your behalf. With your permission, we may also use your name on the online petition and in upcoming media ads.

Read the complete public letter and add your name at:

Courage to Resist (
on behalf of the Bradley Manning Support Network (
484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610


Committee to Stop FBI Repression
P.O. Box 14183
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Dear Friend,

On Friday, September 24th, the FBI raided homes in Chicago and Minneapolis, and turned the Anti-War Committee office upside down. We were shocked. Our response was strong however and we jumped into action holding emergency protests. When the FBI seized activists' personal computers, cell phones, and papers claiming they were investigating "material support for terrorism", they had no idea there would be such an outpouring of support from the anti-war movement across this country! Over 61 cities protested, with crowds of 500 in Minneapolis and Chicago. Activists distributed 12,000 leaflets at the One Nation Rally in Washington D.C. Supporters made thousands of calls to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. Solidarity statements from community organizations, unions, and other groups come in every day. By organizing against the attacks, the movement grows stronger.

At the same time, trusted lawyers stepped up to form a legal team and mount a defense. All fourteen activists signed letters refusing to testify. So Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox withdrew the subpoenas, but this is far from over. In fact, the repression is just starting. The FBI continues to question activists at their homes and work places. The U.S. government is trying to put people in jail for anti-war and international solidarity activism and there is no indication they are backing off. The U.S. Attorney has many options and a lot of power-he may re-issue subpoenas, attempt to force people to testify under threat of imprisonment, or make arrests.

To be successful in pushing back this attack, we need your donation. We need you to make substantial contributions like $1000, $500, and $200. We understand many of you are like us, and can only afford $50, $20, or $10, but we ask you to dig deep. The legal bills can easily run into the hundreds of thousands. We are all united to defend a movement for peace and justice that seeks friendship with people in other countries. These fourteen anti-war activists have done nothing wrong, yet their freedom is at stake.

It is essential that we defend our sisters and brothers who are facing FBI repression and the Grand Jury process. With each of your contributions, the movement grows stronger.

Please make a donation today at (PayPal) on the right side of your screen. Also you can write to:
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
P.O. Box 14183
Minneapolis, MN 55414

This is a critical time for us to stand together, defend free speech, and defend those who help to organize for peace and justice, both at home and abroad!

Thank you for your generosity! Tom Burke


Please sign the petition to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal and
and forward it to all your lists.

"Mumia Abu-Jamal and The Global Abolition of the Death Penalty"

(A Life In the Balance - The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, at 34, Amnesty Int'l, 2000; www.

[Note: This petition is approved by Mumia Abu-Jamal and his lead attorney, Robert R. Bryan, San Francisco (E-mail:; Website:]

Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 2012
New York, NY 10159-2012


Short Video About Al-Awda's Work
The following link is to a short video which provides an overview of Al-Awda's work since the founding of our organization in 2000. This video was first shown on Saturday May 23, 2009 at the fundraising banquet of the 7th Annual Int'l Al-Awda Convention in Anaheim California. It was produced from footage collected over the past nine years.
Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, depends on your financial support to carry out its work.

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!


Support the troops who refuse to fight!


D. ARTICLES IN FULL (Unless otherwise noted)


1) E.P.A. Plans Limits on Toxic Chemicals in Water
February 2, 2011

2) Jobs and Age Reign as Risk Factors for Mideast Uprisings
" 'Not every country with an employment rate above a certain figure will necessarily face a revolution as each society has its own dynamics, but there are shared and distinct factors driving the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia,' said Tristan Cooper, head analyst of Middle East Sovereigns for Moody's Investors Services. 'Contagion into the wider region is more likely in countries that have large numbers of frustrated, unemployed citizens who are eager for political change.' Algeria, Jordan and Morocco, countries with high jobless rates and growing young populations, are among the most vulnerable, according to the Standard and Poor's ratings agency."
February 2, 2011

3) Sudanese Start Protest Movement
February 2, 2011

4) The FBI Has Been Violating Your Liberties in Ways That May Shock You
By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, AlterNet
February 3, 2011

5) United National Antiwar Committee Emergency Appeal:
Mobilize to Stop US-Backed Attacks
on Egyptian Masses!
For more information:,

6) Watching Thugs With Razors and Clubs at Tahrir Sq.
February 2, 2011

7) Crackdown in Egypt Widens to Foreign Observers
February 3, 2011

8) Dueling Protests in Yemen Unfold Peacefully
February 3, 2011

9) Street Battle Over the Arab Future
"'The street is not afraid of governments anymore,' said Shawki al-Qadi, an opposition lawmaker in Yemen, itself roiled by change. 'It is the opposite. Governments and their security forces are afraid of the people now. The new generation, the generation of the Internet, is fearless. They want their full rights, and they want life, a dignified life.'"
February 2, 2011

10) Panel Votes to Close 10 City High Schools
February 1, 2011

11) Union Membership Rate Lowest in 15 Years
February 3, 2011, 12:29 pm

12) UPDATED: Tahrir Square Burns as VP Suleiman Gives Speech Filled with 'Threats'
February 3, 2011
Stream Al Jazeera live here:

13) Egyptian Government Figures Join Protests
February 4, 2011

14) We Are All Egyptians
"Innaharda, ehna kullina Misryeen! Today, we are all Egyptians!"
February 3, 2011

15) Unrest Rises in Jordan, but Few Expect Revolt
"Buffeted by the forces at play across the region - rising prices, a bulging underemployed youth population, the rapid spread of information and resentment, an unaccountable autocracy - Jordan is on edge. All eyes are on the king, to see if he will carry out the reforms promised this week when he fired his cabinet, and whether such steps will in any case be enough to calm the rising tide of frustration."
February 4, 2011

16) More Attacks and Detentions for Journalists in Cairo
February 4, 2011

17) In Yemen, Protesters Face Off in Peace
February 3, 2011

18) In a Shift, Cubans Savor Working for Themselves
February 3, 2011

19) Food Prices Worldwide Hit Record Levels, Fueled by Uncertainty, U.N. Says
February 3, 2011

20) Smaller New Orleans After Katrina, Census Shows
"Now there finally are some numbers, and they show that the city is 29 percent smaller than a decade ago."
February 3, 2011

21) Among Little Egypt's Young, a Sudden Awareness of Politics and Identity
February 4, 2011

22) Strangest Part of the Jobs Report
February 4, 2011, 4:23 pm

23) Bewitched by the Numbers
February 4, 2011

24) The Siege of Planned Parenthood
February 4, 2011

25) Obama Backs Suleiman-Led Transition
February 5, 2011

26) 2 Detained Reporters Saw Secret Police's Methods Firsthand
February 4, 2011

27) Discontented Within Egypt Face Power of Old Elites
"'The people are stubborn now,' said Nasser el-Sherif, a 24-year-old student, sitting near a grandmother, Um Ibrahim Abdel-Mohsin, who had ferried rocks to the barricades for two days. 'You want to beat us up? We'll kick you out, and it's our right. We're not compromising our freedom anymore,' Mr. Sherif added. Near him was scrawled graffiti. 'Victory is with the patient,' it said."
February 4, 2011

28) Preapproved: Well, It Sounded Good
February 5, 2011

29) With Egypt in Turmoil, Oil and Food Prices Climb
February 5, 2011

30) U.S. Says Farmers May Grow Engineered Sugar Beets
February 4, 2011


1) E.P.A. Plans Limits on Toxic Chemicals in Water
February 2, 2011

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration said Wednesday that it would impose limits on permissible levels of a new set of toxic chemicals in drinking water, including the first standards for perchlorate, a dangerous compound found in rocket fuel and fireworks that contaminates water supplies in 26 states.

The move, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, is a major step toward updating the nation's clean water laws, which have lagged far behind environmental and health science.

Numerous studies have found that hundreds of industrial and agricultural chemicals, including several known carcinogens, are present in municipal water systems around the country. The nation's laws and enforcement programs have not kept pace with spreading contamination, posing significant health risks to millions.

Wednesday's decision to regulate perchlorate reversed a 2008 finding by the George W. Bush administration that a nationwide standard for the chemical was unnecessary and would do little to reduce risks to human health.

Ms. Jackson announced her intent to review the nation's drinking water standards a year ago, ordering an extensive review of the health effects of perchlorate and other toxic substances found in city water supplies. She announced on Wednesday that the E.P.A. would set standards for as many as 16 other toxic and carcinogenic chemicals.

The agency said it would take three or four years to finalize the regulations.

"While we've put in place standards to address more than 90 drinking water contaminants," Ms. Jackson said in testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday, "there are many more contaminants of emerging concern, which science has only recently allowed us to detect at very low levels."

"We need to keep pace with the increasing knowledge and potential public health implications from the growing number of chemicals that may be present in our products, our water and our bodies," she said.

Perchlorate can occur naturally, but high concentrations have been found near military installations where it was used rocket testing and around facilities where fireworks, flares and solid propellants are made. Health researchers have found that the chemical may impair the normal functioning of the thyroid, potentially stunting normal growth of fetuses, infants and children.

The military and defense contractors who use the chemical have balked at tighter regulation, saying that substitutes are more expensive. But environmentalists and officials of some municipal water services have been calling for years for tighter rules on perchlorate and a number of carcinogenic chemicals, including industrial and dry cleaning solvents.

The E.P.A. has found measurable amounts of perchlorate in 26 states and two United States territories that it says could contaminate the drinking water of anywhere from 5 million to 17 million Americans. The Food and Drug Administration found the substance in more than half the foods it tested, and health researchers have found traces of it in samples of breast milk.

The agency did not establish an actual limit on the amount of perchlorate allowable in drinking water, but set in motion a rulemaking process to set a standard.

Senator Barbara Boxer of California, chairman of the environment committee, and some environmental advocates welcomed the announcement as a strong step for public health and welfare.

But Rena Steinzor, a law professor at the University of Maryland and president of the Center for Progressive Reform, was critical of the E.P.A. for taking so long to decide to regulate perchlorate and for what she called a "leisurely" timetable for issuing a final rule. The agency said it would publish a proposed regulation within two years and issue a final rule 18 months after that.

"Regulating perchlorate should not be seen as a long-term, we'll get-around-to-it goal, but an urgent public health priority," she wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. "I can find no excuse for the long trajectory of behind-the-scenes consultations and hand-writing that sets the stage for such long delay on this crucial issue."

The environmental agency also said on Wednesday it would develop a single rule governing a group of volatile organic compounds used as solvents, including trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene, and a number of other unregulated contaminants. By grouping them together, the E.P.A. can move more quickly and provide simpler guidance to officials responsible for overseeing water supplies, agency officials said.


2) Jobs and Age Reign as Risk Factors for Mideast Uprisings
" 'Not every country with an employment rate above a certain figure will necessarily face a revolution as each society has its own dynamics, but there are shared and distinct factors driving the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia,' said Tristan Cooper, head analyst of Middle East Sovereigns for Moody's Investors Services. 'Contagion into the wider region is more likely in countries that have large numbers of frustrated, unemployed citizens who are eager for political change.' Algeria, Jordan and Morocco, countries with high jobless rates and growing young populations, are among the most vulnerable, according to the Standard and Poor's ratings agency."
February 2, 2011

DUBAI - As demands for regime change sweep the Middle East and North Africa, leaving diplomats and geopolitical analysts struggling to keep abreast, financial analysts are turning to economic indicators to guide their bets on which countries will be most susceptible to contagion.

"Not every country with an employment rate above a certain figure will necessarily face a revolution as each society has its own dynamics, but there are shared and distinct factors driving the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia," said Tristan Cooper, head analyst of Middle East Sovereigns for Moody's Investors Services. "Contagion into the wider region is more likely in countries that have large numbers of frustrated, unemployed citizens who are eager for political change."

Algeria, Jordan and Morocco, countries with high jobless rates and growing young populations, are among the most vulnerable, according to the Standard and Poor's ratings agency.

A young population and very high unemployment rates - particularly among the young - are common characteristics of economies in a region where countries, on average, have 60 percent of their populations under the age of 30, according to data from S.&P. and the International Monetary Fund. In some countries, the figures are even more striking; in Jordan, nearly two-thirds of the population is under 30 years old. That compares with an average of one-third of the population under 30 in the developed industrial countries of the Group of Seven - the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada.

While regional economies have grown in tandem with their populations, they have failed to generate sufficient overall employment to absorb a growing labor force, or enough demand for skilled labor to absorb the flow of educated graduates, according to an S.&P. report released last week that outlines how these structural problems have lead to the popular discontent witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt.

"It has been difficult to create jobs at a pace that can keep up with the growth of the labor force, and youth unemployment is thought to be nearly twice as high as official rates," said Kai Stukenbrock, director of S.&P.'s Middle East sovereign team, who co-authored the report. "The protests are driven by the young population, they are the first ones to go into the streets."

While regional employment statistics are often patchy or outdated, data from the I.M.F and S.&P. show that Tunisia had unemployment rates that ranged from 13.3 percent to 15.4 percent annually during the past two years. Egypt had a 9.4 percent jobless rate last year.

Mr. Stukenbrock believes that uprisings could take place in other countries with similar profiles, namely Algeria, Jordan and Morocco. Algeria, although it has ratcheted down unemployment from a high of 31 percent in 2003, still had a 12.5 percent unemployment level in 2009 and 10.2 percent in 2010. Jordan, with one of the highest unemployment rates in the region, had 12.6 percent of its labor force out of work in 2009 - a figure which rose to 12.9 percent last year.

On top of all this, the I.M.F. estimates that more than 100 million jobs will need to be created in the region by 2020.

"There is also a tendency to have underdeveloped private sectors to the benefit of sprawling public sectors," said Philippe Dauba-Pantanacce, senior economist covering the regional markets for Standard Chartered Bank, based in Dubai. "Add to this a mismatch between the education system and job market needs, and the main objective for aspiring graduates is that of a career as a civil servant."

Between high unemployment and low incomes, people have also struggled with rising food and fuel prices - historically a source of rioting in the region.

After a spike in commodities prices in 2007 and 2008, followed by a period of stabilization, food prices have been rising rapidly again since mid-2010, driven by rising demand from developing economies and supply constraints. Food prices rose more than 30 percent between June and December last year, to reach their highest level ever, Mr. Stukenbrock noted in the report.

John Sfakianakis - chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi, part of the Crédit Agricole group - said by telephone from Saudi Arabia that food inflation was particularly troubling in countries like Egypt, where nearly half of a typical income goes to food.

"There are nearly 40 percent of people below or barely above the poverty line in Egypt, living off of $2 a day, and if you add high double digit food inflation to that - it obviously doesn't bode well," said Mr. Sfakianakis, who taught Middle East economics at Harvard University for five years, with a special focus on business in Egypt.

"If people are unfed, unemployed, and see blatant corruption for 10 years, it leads to a dangerous combination," he said. "People are fed up and they don't have many options left."

In response to the rising prices of basic goods and growing discontent - particularly following the events in Tunisia and Egypt - governments in Jordan, Libya and Morocco have introduced measures aimed at lowering the prices of staple foods and fuels, according to Mr. Stukenbrock. Jordan also resumed public sector hiring in the middle of last month to stimulate job creation, ending a freeze introduced in December 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Yet, despite those measures, central Amman was roiled by rioters protesting against high prices for five days in the second half of January. And, in the long term, the measures will put an additional strain on public finances, particularly for countries that can not rely on oil exports like Jordan and Morocco.

"There is a tradeoff," Mr. Sfakianakis said. "Either you try to make people happy in the short term by subsidizing basic goods - which won't last and will ruin the fiscal situation - or you apply fiscal discipline, which is what the I.M.F. encourages, but won't exactly win people's hearts."

The uprisings - and underlying economic structural problems - meanwhile, are already hurting the credit quality of countries in the region. S.&P. lowered its rating for Tunisian long-term local currency debt to BBB+ from A- following the revolution, reflecting the potentially adverse impact on economic growth and public finances. It also placed the reduced rating on CreditWatch with negative implications - a warning of possible further downgrades in the pipeline - reflecting the continuing risk of a disorderly and disruptive transition, accompanied by lower economic growth and weaker liquidity, according to the note.

In the case of Egypt, the agency this week lowered its foreign currency long-term rating to BB from BB+, and the local currency long-term and short-term ratings to BB+/B from BBB-/A-3, saying that ongoing political instability and unrest would hamper Egypt's economic growth and adversely affect its public finances. Egypt has also been placed on CreditWatch negative, and other rating agencies are following suit.

The rise in political risk in Egypt prompted Moody's Investors Service to downgrade Egypt's debt to Ba2 from Ba1 with a negative outlook. Moody's also reduced the local and foreign currency of Tunisia's government bond ratings to Baa3 from Baa2, as well as changing the outlook to negative from stable.

Capital markets across the region have meanwhile shown varying degrees of nervousness. Last week, the Saudi equity market lost all the gains that it had accumulated since October, Mr. Dauba-Pantanacce of Standard Chartered Bank, noted. Most other stock markets in the Middle East also fell.

"Equity markets have been reacting negatively as investors reassess their judgment and find that the risk-reward profile has suddenly tilted toward the downside," he said. "Oil prices have also been pushed higher, especially with the Suez Canal identified as one of the 'seven choking points' on oil routes, as identified by the International Energy Agency."

He added that affected countries may see their credit ratings cut, while the cost of credit default swaps - the financial market instruments that offer insurance against sovereign debt default - has edged up to their highest point in 18 months for many of North African countries.

"Should the situation continue to prove unstable, a reduction of foreign capital flows will ensue," he warned.

Still, analysts are optimistic that regimes will find ways to manage orderly change, if only because it has become unavoidable. "The sustainability of growth of Middle East economies, its status quo, is now being challenged and we can no longer take at face value the fact that populations will remain docile, silent and unwilling to go out in the streets and die," Mr. Sfakianakis said.

"It's clear that the region will not remain the same. It is bound to change."


3) Sudanese Start Protest Movement
February 2, 2011

NAIROBI, Kenya - The messages starting going up on Facebook about two weeks ago, to any Sudanese who cared.

"The people of Sudan will not remain silent anymore," said a Facebook group called Youth for Change. "It is about time we demand our rights and take what's ours in a peaceful demonstration that will not involve any acts of sabotage."

"It is about time we show what we're really made of," the group said. "Our brothers in Tunisia did it and so did our brothers in Egypt. It is about time for us."

In the past week, in an unusual show of boldness, thousands of young Sudanese, many responding to the Facebook call, have braved beatings and arrests to protest against their government. The parallels to Egypt and Tunisia are obvious - Sudan is a notoriously repressive Arab country, ruled by the same strongman for more than 21 years, historically and culturally close to its big brother just up the Nile, Egypt. And it was already seething with economic and political discontent even before demonstrators started taking to the streets of Cairo.

Though the protests are often small - a few dozen to a few hundred young people - they seem to be well organized and widespread across northern Sudan, from Khartoum, the capital, to Omdurman and El Obeid to Kosti, a relatively quiet city on the banks of the Nile.

The grievances tend to be focused on Sudan's wounded economy and practical things, like the rapidly rising prices of sugar and fuel, though protesters have also shouted out against political repression. The police have cracked down hard, arresting dozens and beating countless others with batons and sticks. One student died this week from injuries that other protesters said had been caused by the police.

Still, many Sudanese students seem fired up, even if the masses have yet to fall in line behind them.

"There is a rising conscience in the region," said Issraa El-Kogali, 29, an amateur filmmaker who joined a recent protest in Khartoum. "So why not go for it?"

Despite its reputation as a tightly controlled police state, Sudan actually has a history of successful protests. Street-level uprisings brought down the government in 1964 and 1985. Those moments unfolded similarly to what is happening in Egypt, with people taking to the streets with specific economic and political complaints, the government initially trying to crack down and then the security services joining the masses and the government eventually caving to their demands. But most seasoned analysts doubt that this Sudanese government will buckle any time soon. The military is not simply loyal to the government - it is the government. Sudan's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, took power in a military coup in 1989 and has ruled ever since. The upper ranks of the military are said to be firmly behind him.

On top of that, the political opposition is weak, divided and widely discredited.

"There is certainly discontent with the regime, but it's unclear if enough of the right factors are present to complete the equation in Khartoum," said Zach Vertin, a Sudan analyst for the International Crisis Group. "Years of subjugation at the hands of the NCP," the ruling party, "have yielded both political apathy and a weak opposition. Likewise, the heavy and willing hand of security services and corresponding fears among the population act to inhibit such an uprising."

In sum, Mr. Vertin said, "Protests undertaken thus far have not taken root with a broad section of the population, but given what we've seen in Egypt, nothing can be ruled out."

Sudan is about to wade into a whirlpool of problems. The oil-producing southern third of the country, which has been the economic engine for the somewhat impressive growth in Khartoum, is preparing to split off. Last month southern Sudanese voters opted for secession by more than 99 percent in a long-awaited independence referendum and some northern Sudanese blame the government for this.

The economy is already beginning to reflect the strains and worries of the coming split, scheduled for July. The value of the Sudanese pound has plunged. The government recently started cutting back on food and fuel subsides, which set the first protests in motion. But the government is trying to project confidence.

"The situation in Egypt is different than the situation of Sudan," said Rabie A. Atti, a government spokesman. "We don't have one small group that controls everything. Wealth is distributed equally. We've given power to the states."

Many Sudanese, especially those in the war-torn and marginalized Darfur region, would probably argue with that. But few want to tangle with the police, who sometimes wear ski masks and commando-style uniforms and often smash civilians in the face with impunity.

"The Sudanese street is not yet prepared," said Mouysar Hassan, 22, a student who took part in a recent protest. "Many are scared."

Isma'il Kushkush contributed reporting from Khartoum, Sudan.


4) The FBI Has Been Violating Your Liberties in Ways That May Shock You
By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, AlterNet
February 3, 2011

Last week, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT, introduced legislation to extend the Patriot Act past its February 28 expiration date to December 2013. Though the extension once again saves some of the most nefarious, First-Amendment trampling provisions of the act -- roving wiretaps, secret access to third-party records, the hunting of targets unafilliated with foreign powers -- Leahy released a statement assuring us that the new extension will increase citizen protections.

"It will promote transparency and expand privacy and civil liberties safeguards in current law," he said in a statement. "It increases judicial oversight of government surveillance powers that capture information on Americans. This is a package of reforms that all Americans should support." The expanded bill would require the Department of Justice to issue public reports and generally expand oversight.

But will token rights-preserving provisions matter if the FBI refuses to comply?

Over the last decade, the FBI has been found to violate the Constitution countless times under the guise of the Patriot Act, including a 2007 scandal that led FBI head Robert Mueller to publicly apologize for the preponderance of security abuses, misconduct and violation of civil liberties on his watch. We've known since its enactment in 2001 that the Patriot Act, with its gross expansion of law enforcement power and murky reporting requirements, was just a rulebook waiting to be spoiled.

But according to a new report released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the FBI's violations go far beyond what has been reported.

Since July 2009, EFF has been involved in litigation with seven different federal agencies for ignoring EFF's requests for information submitted in 2008. In December 2009, the CIA, NSA, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Department of State were ordered by the Court to comply with EFF's requests under the Freedom of Information Act, though it did not receive the complete papers from the FBI until October 2010.

The resulting 2,500-page document consists of FBI reports to the citizen-run Intelligence Oversight Board during the years 2001-2008. Consistently, documents released from the IOB reveal investigations of abuse that often have not been reported to Congress or the Department of Justice as required. But EFF's analysis, pored over for several months, illuminates exactly how, when and why these investigations happened, and the results are shocking.

First, the numbers: EFF found that, since 9/11, the FBI has been responsible for up to 40,000 violations. Most often, said violations included bucking guidelines for internal oversight, abusing the National Security Letters and trampling on the Fourth Amendment. This, in tandem with the IOB's weakened capacity for oversight under President George W. Bush, has resulted in nothing short of disaster. In 2008, Bush revoked the IOB's right to refer violations to the Attorney General, and eliminated the agency's requirement to report quarterly to the IOB. As EFF found, "The FBI's disregard for its own internal oversight requirements and the Bureau's failure to timely report violations to the IOB undermined the safeguards established to protect civil liberties violations from occurring." While the Obama administration restored a few of those changes, it still has not provided the proper transparency needed for a true citizen-protective oversight board or fully disclosed its makeup.

Some of the more egregious abuses, according to EFF's report:

* Private entities such as phone companies, banks and Internet providers assisted the FBI's National Security Letters abuse with alarming frequency, turning over information without valid legal justification in more than half of all case.
* Between 2001-2008, the average time between when a violation was committed, and when it was reported to the IOB, was 2.5 years.
* During that same time frame, the FBI was found to have submitted false or inaccurate documents to courts, used "improper evidence" to obtain subpoenas, and accessed password-protected documents without a warrant.

This is government spying, in no uncertain terms.

In his bill to renew the Patriot Act, Senator Leahy called for "a higher standard" from the government, including "a statement of facts showing reasonable grounds to believe the tangible things are relevant to an authorized investigation and pertain to (a) an agent of a foreign power, (b) the activities of a suspected agent, or (c) an individual in contact with or known to a suspected agent of foreign power."

Lip service is mighty, but without true reform to the articles like Lone Wolf, It's likely the FBI won't stop stampeding our rights anytime soon.

Read the full report at the EFF:


5) United National Antiwar Committee Emergency Appeal:
Mobilize to Stop US-Backed Attacks
on Egyptian Masses!
For more information:,

On January 28th we issued an appeal for all UNAC affiliates and supporters to turn out to last weekend's demonstrations in support of the masses marching in Egypt for democracy and justice. Today we write in a follow-up emergency appeal for renewed mobilization to stop the murderous attacks going on today, February 2nd and likely to escalate in coming days.

On February 1st, two million marched in Cairo, a million or more in Alexandria, and hundreds of thousands more in towns and cities around Egypt. The response of Mubarak, after consultation with Obama, was to refuse to step down and to ignore ALL the demands of protesters.

Obama, in a speech two hours later, approved Mubarak's stance, with duplicitous encouragement that he take some (unspecified) steps before the September elections, in which he pledged not to run.

As soon as the words left Mubarak's lips, the millions in Cairo's Tahrir Square, in Alexandria and elsewhere shouted their rejection of his speech.

Mubarak's words were a clear indication that repression was imminent, and sure enough, almost immediately plainclothes police thugs began attacking protesters in Alexandria. This morning, February 2nd, the expected broader attack was launched in Cairo, as thousands more plainclothes police thugs attacked the masses in Tahrir Square.

Police mounted on horses and camels, armed with whips, began riding into the crowds. Other cops threw Molotov cocktails, rocks, stones and chairs from the roofs of buildings. Gunshots were heard in several locations. New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof reported that "mobs arrived in buses, armed with machetes, straight-razors and clubs."

Cops began beating protesters mercilessly, and thousands were wounded.
Meanwhile the US media began featuring interviews with rich Cairenes characterizing antiregime protesters as lazy, ungrateful workers who should go back to work and stop complaining about the price of bread!

So far the army has not moved into action, neither heeding the calls of protesters for protection against the cops, nor yet dispersing the protesters. But the head of the army has told people to go home, that after Mubarak's speech the time for protest is over.

Needless to say Obama bears prime responsibility for this situation, as he clearly coordinated his speech with that of Mubarak - that is, Mubarak would say he wouldn't run, then Obama would give back-handed blessing to that approach by calling for "faster" change but with no demands for release of prisoners, lifting of laws against assembly, free press, revocation of stolen election results, etc., etc.

Israeli officials have said they are rethinking their "security needs" in light of the possibility that a new government would reject collaboration with Israel's policies.
But the people of Egypt are standing fast. They have pledged an even more massive march this Friday after mid-day prayers.

The Egyptian people have come too far to give up passively -- which increases the likelihood that the regime will try to launch a massacre.

More solidarity protests are coming up this weekend. In New York alone there are protests today, Friday and Saturday. And a call has been issued for protests around the world on Saturday, February 5th.


What's more, as the revolution in Egypt and throughout the Arab world is clearly going to continue, we encourage affiliates to begin planning teach-ins on these events, and to work with local and national Arab groups in the US to discuss joint events up to and including the national marches on April 9th.


* Call the White House and State Department to demand complete withdrawal of all US forces in and around Egypt! [202-456-1111]

In mid-January, Connecticut newspapers reported that that state's National Guard was sending an aviation unit to the Sinai Peninsula, supposedly as part of a regular rotation of about 1,000 US soldiers who are part of the Multinational Force and Observers stationed on the border between Egypt and Israel. Meanwhile Israel for the first time since 1979 "allowed" the Egyptian army to deploy 800 soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula. Needless to say, in the current situation this dramatically increases the likelihood that soldiers from any or all of the three militaries could be used against protesters.

* Demand an End to Sale of Tear Gas to Egypt's Army and Police!
Protesters in Egypt have exposed before the world media the made-in-USA tear gas canisters fired on them. Protests have already taken place at the tear gas supplier, Combined Tactical Systems of Jamestown, Pennsylvania, as well as at the private equity firm which bankrolls them, Point Lookout Capital Partners of New York City. (This is the same firm that supplies the tear gas canisters which have wounded and killed Palestinian protesters.)

* Recall Obama's "special envoy" to Egypt!

Obama sent a newly-appointed envoy, Frank Wisner, to Egypt to coordinate the content of their speeches on February 1st. Wisner works for corporate law firm Patton Boggs, which boasts of its connections to Egypt's top corporations. The choice of Wisner was no accident - especially as Mubarak's dictatorship has served first and foremost over his decades in power to impose austerity demanded by Western corporations and banks and the IMF and World Bank.

(see details at ment-and-leading-commercial-families-in-egypt/ )

Call or fax Wisner's office at Patton Boggs and demand he get out of Egypt! T: 646-557-5151 F: 646-557-5101


For more information:,


6) Watching Thugs With Razors and Clubs at Tahrir Sq.
February 2, 2011


Pro-government thugs at Tahrir Square used clubs, machetes, swords and straight razors on Wednesday to try to crush Egypt's democracy movement, but, for me, the most memorable moment of a sickening day was one of inspiration: watching two women stand up to a mob.

I was on Tahrir Square, watching armed young men pour in to scream in support of President Hosni Mubarak and to battle the pro-democracy protesters. Everybody, me included, tried to give them a wide berth, and the bodies of the injured being carried away added to the tension. Then along came two middle-age sisters, Amal and Minna, walking toward the square to join the pro-democracy movement. They had their heads covered in the conservative Muslim style, and they looked timid and frail as thugs surrounded them, jostled them, shouted at them.

Yet side by side with the ugliest of humanity, you find the best. The two sisters stood their ground. They explained calmly to the mob why they favored democratic reform and listened patiently to the screams of the pro-Mubarak mob. When the women refused to be cowed, the men lost interest and began to move on - and the two women continued to walk to the center of Tahrir Square.

I approached the women and told them I was awed by their courage. I jotted down their names and asked why they had risked the mob's wrath to come to Tahrir Square. "We need democracy in Egypt," Amal told me, looking quite composed. "We just want what you have."

But when I tried to interview them on video, thugs swarmed us again. I appeased the members of the mob by interviewing them (as one polished his razor), and the two sisters managed again to slip away and continue toward the center of Tahrir Square, also known as Liberation Square, to do their part for Egyptian democracy.

Thuggery and courage coexisted all day in Tahrir Square, just like that. The events were sometimes presented by the news media as "clashes" between rival factions, but that's a bit misleading. This was an organized government crackdown, but it relied on armed hoodlums, not on police or army troops.

The pro-Mubarak forces arrived in busloads that mysteriously were waved past checkpoints. These forces emerged at the same time in both Alexandria and Cairo, and they seemed to have been briefed to carry the same kinds of signs and scream the same slogans. They singled out foreign journalists, especially camera crews, presumably because they didn't want their brutality covered. A number of journalists were beaten up, although far and away it was Egyptians who suffered the most.

Until the arrival of these thugs, Tahrir Square had been remarkably peaceful, partly because pro-democracy volunteers checked I.D.'s and frisked everyone entering. One man, a suspected police infiltrator, was caught with a gun on Tuesday quite close to me, and I was impressed with the way volunteers disarmed him and dragged him to an army unit - all while forming a protective cordon around him to keep him from being harmed.

In contrast, the pro-Mubarak mobs were picking fights. At first, the army kept them away from the pro-democracy crowds, but then the pro-Mubarak thugs charged into the square and began attacking.

There is no reliable way of knowing right now how many have been killed and injured in Egypt's turmoil. Before Wednesday's violence, Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, said the death toll could be as many as 300, but she acknowledged that she was basing that on "unconfirmed" reports. There are some who are missing, including a senior Google official, Wael Ghonim, who supported the democracy activists. On Wednesday, the government said that three more had died and many hundreds were injured; I saw some people who were unmoving and looked severely injured at the least. These figures compare with perhaps more than 100 killed when Iran crushed its pro-democracy movement in 2009 and perhaps 400 to 800 killed in Beijing in 1989.

Chinese and Iranian leaders were widely condemned for those atrocities, so shouldn't Mr. Mubarak merit the same broad condemnation? Come on, President Obama. You owe the democracy protesters being attacked here, and our own history and values, a much more forceful statement deploring this crackdown.

It should be increasingly evident that Mr. Mubarak is not the remedy for the instability in Egypt; he is its cause. The road to stability in Egypt requires Mr. Mubarak's departure, immediately.

But for me, when I remember this sickening and bloody day, I'll conjure not only the brutality that Mr. Mubarak seems to have sponsored but also the courage and grace of those Egyptians who risked their lives as they sought to reclaim their country. And incredibly, the democracy protesters held their ground all day at Tahrir Square despite this armed onslaught. Above all, I'll be inspired by those two sisters standing up to Mr. Mubarak's hoodlums. If they, armed only with their principles, can stand up to Mr. Mubarak's thuggery, can't we all do the same?


7) Crackdown in Egypt Widens to Foreign Observers
February 3, 2011

CAIRO - The Egyptian government broadened its crackdown on Thursday to the international news media and human rights workers, in an apparent effort to remove witnesses to the battle with antigovernment protesters.

With fighting between pro- and antigovernment forces escalating throughout the day, armed supporters of President Hosni Mubarak attacked foreign journalists, punching them and smashing their equipment. Men who protesters said were plainclothes police officers shut down news media outlets that had been operating in buildings overlooking Tahrir Square.

An informal center set up by human rights workers in the square was seized, and a group of journalists was stopped in their car near the square by a gang of men with knives and briefly turned over to the military police, ostensibly for their protection. Two reporters working for The New York Times were released on Thursday after being detained overnight in Cairo.

Two Washington Post staffers were among two dozen journalists detained by the Interior Ministry on Thursday morning, the paper reported. The moves appeared to be part of a systematic effort by government security agencies to round up foreign journalists, seize their equipment and stop their reporting.

The White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, condemned the Mubarak government's harassment of journalists, calling it "completely and totally unacceptable." Speaking to reporters traveling with President Obama, Mr. Gibbs said that "any journalist that has been detained should be released immediately."

The concerted effort to remove journalists lent a sense of foreboding to events in the square, where battles continued between the protesters and the Mubarak supporters, who human rights workers and protesters say were being paid and organized by the government. People bringing food, water and medicine to the protesters in the square were being stopped by Mubarak supporters, who confiscated what they had and threw some of it into the Nile.

In the afternoon, the fighting spread beyond the square to the October 6th Bridge, which rises above the Egyptian Museum. Shots were heard, and a surgeon assisting the antigovernment protesters said three people were killed. "It was the police or the army, we don't know," said the surgeon, Mohamed Ezz. "Only they have guns."

After the shots were fired, the army moved in to separate the combatants, witnesses reported.

That followed a night of gunfire and a day of mayhem Wednesday that left at least five dead and more than 800 wounded in a battle for the Middle East's most populous nation. With the violence rising, the United Nations ordered the evacuation of much of its staff on Thursday, while more than 4,000 passengers made their escape through Cairo airport, The Associated Press reported.

The government offered a series of conciliatory gestures in an effort to blunt international condemnation of the bloody crackdown in Tahrir Square on Wednesday. The newly appointed prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, apologized on Thursday for the violence and vowed to investigate who had instigated it "I offer my apology for everything that happened yesterday because it's neither logical nor rational," he said.

The vice president, Omar Suleiman, said on state television that neither he nor the president's son, Gamal, who some thought was being groomed to succeed his father, would be a candidate for the presidency next September.

Egypt's public prosecutor issued a travel ban on former government ministers and an official of the National Democratic Party on suspicion of theft of public money, profiteering and fraud, state television reported. Among the four was the hated former interior minister, Habib al-Adly, who commanded a secret police force that was widely despised for its corruption and routine use of torture.

A government spokesman, Magdy Rady, denied that the authorities had been involved in the violence. "To accuse the government of mobilizing this is a real fiction. That would defeat our object of restoring the calm," Mr. Rady told Reuters. "We were surprised with all these actions."

Officials in Mr. Mubarak's National Democratic Party were at pains Thursday to absolve the president of any role in the violent crackdown Wednesday on antigovernment protesters. Speaking with one voice they blamed the violence on thugs hired by a group of rich businessmen eager to support the government.

But opposition leaders dismissed that explanation as a smoke screen, saying it was highly unlikely that anyone would take such a fateful action without the approval of the president himself.

The outcome of the widening unrest is pivotal in a region where uprising and unrest have spread from Tunisia to many other lands, including Jordan and Yemen, forcing their leaders into sudden concessions to their suddenly vocal foes and stretching American diplomacy.

In Sana, the Yemeni capital, on Thursday, thousands of protesters assembled, some for and some against President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The demonstrations were peaceful, in marked contrast to the chaos that ruled in Cairo on Wednesday when Mr. Mubarak struck back at his opponents, unleashing waves of supporters armed with clubs, rocks, knives and firebombs in a concerted assault on thousands of antigovernment protesters in Tahrir Square. Calls for new protests in a number of Middle East countries were circulating on Twitter, including: Algeria, Feb. 12; Bahrain, Feb. 14; and Libya, Feb. 17.

In the clashes on Wednesday, the Egyptian military did nothing to intervene. But on Thursday for the first time, a thin line of soldiers backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers appeared to have taken up positions between the combatants and to be urging Mr. Mubarak's supporters, numbering in the hundreds, to avoid confrontation.

For their part, several thousand antigovernment protesters, far fewer than in previous days, called for peaceful protest. "An Egyptian will not attack another," some chanted from behind makeshift barricades thrown up to seal access to the square. "No bloodshed."

When one man shouted an insult at a Mubarak supporter around 100 yards away, another, Mahmoud Haqiqi, told him: "Don't say that. Stay quiet. Tell them we are here for their sake."

After hours of bloody clashes starting on Wednesday with rocks, iron bars and firebombs into the night, the confrontation seemed to escalate early Thursday morning when the staccato rattle of automatic gunfire rang out over Cairo.

It was unclear whether the shots came from the pro-government demonstrators or from the military forces stationed in the square.

Two people were killed by the gunfire and 45 people were wounded, said a doctor at a nearby emergency clinic set up by the antigovernment demonstrators. After the initial volleys, soldiers fired into the air, temporarily scattering most of the people in the square.

More than 150 people have died in the uprising, human rights groups say.

By midmorning on Thursday, as the protesters' numbers again began to swell, the antigovernment side held its ground in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square - the focus of the clashes - milling around and chanting slogans on the 10th day of the campaign to oust Mr. Mubarak.

Volunteers arrived carrying water, yogurt, bananas and medical supplies for the makeshift clinics that sprung up to tend the wounded. In the absence of any municipal services or authority, others tried to sweep the square of debris, using brooms, shovels and sheets of cardboard.

The violence on Wednesday and Thursday seemed to have hardened the protesters' demands, going far beyond the ouster of Mr. Mubarak. "The people want the execution of the president," some chanted. "Mubarak is a war criminal."

Some low-level clashes continued, but nothing on the scale of the volleys of rocks and Molotov cocktails of the earlier fighting.

Early Thursday, the square was littered with rocks and makeshift barricades, with smoke drifting overhead. Troops guarded the Egyptian Museum, Cairo's great storehouse of priceless antiquities dating to the time of the Pharaohs and a huge emblem of national pride.

As the fear of further clashes gripped Cairo, foreigners, including many Americans, continued their exodus.

In a statement, the American Embassy, which has ordered the compulsory evacuation of some diplomats and their families, said that more than 1,900 American citizens had been flown out of Egypt since Monday and more would leave on Thursday.

There was no indication that the antigovernment side was in a mood for retreat. On Thursday, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood - the biggest organized opposition group - again rejected a government offer to negotiate once the protesters had left Tahrir Square.

Essam el-Erian, a senior leader of the Islamist organization, told Reuters the movement was calling for the removal of "the regime, not the state."

"This regime's legitimacy is finished, with its president, with his deputy, its ministers, its party, its Parliament. We said this clearly. We refuse to negotiate with it because it has lost its legitimacy," he said.

Only two days after the military pledged not to fire on protesters, it was unclear where the army stood. Many protesters contended that Mr. Mubarak was provoking a confrontation in order to prompt a military crackdown.

Mohamed ElBaradei, who was designated to negotiate with the government on behalf of the opposition, demanded on Wednesday that the army move in and protect the protesters. The deployment of plainclothes forces paid by Mr. Mubarak's ruling party - men known here as baltageya - has been a hallmark of the Mubarak government, and there were many signs that the violence was carefully choreographed.

The preparations for a confrontation began Wednesday morning, a day after Mr. Mubarak pledged to step down in September while insisting that he would die on Egyptian soil. The president's supporters waved flags as though they were headed to a protest, but armed themselves as though they were itching for a fight. Several wore hard hats, one had a meat cleaver, and two others grabbed the raw materials to make firebombs from their car.

Some of the Mubarak supporters arrived in buses. When they spoke with one another, they referred to the antigovernment protesters as foreigners or traitors, and to Mr. Mubarak as Egypt's "father."

Several people interviewed independently said that ruling party operatives had offered them 50 Egyptian pounds, less than $10, if they agreed to demonstrate in the square on Mr. Mubarak's behalf. "Fifty pounds for my country!" said Yasmina Salah, 29.

David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Cairo, and Alan Cowell from Paris. Reporting was contributed by Kareem Fahim, Liam Stack, Mona El-Naggar and Anthony Shadid from Cairo, Michael Slackman from Berlin, and J. David Goodman from New York.


8) Dueling Protests in Yemen Unfold Peacefully
February 3, 2011

SANA, Yemen - Thousands of pro- and antigovernment demonstrators held peaceful protests in this impoverished capital on Thursday, playing out themes that have rocked nations across the Arab world as autocratic leaders struggle to press back the roaring demands of movements hungry for democracy, accountability and rule of law.

Yemen's tribal culture and its heavily armed population raised fears of violence as events here seemed to unfold at a consolidated pace, with all sides trying to draw lessons from popular uprisings in Tunisia and then Egypt. But the events in the city appeared to end peacefully one day after the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, went on television to offer his own concession to increasingly large oppositions protests. He promised that he would not run - and that his son would also not run - when his term expires in 2013.

He also saw to it that the capital was full of supporters when the opposition arrived.

"I came here today to take part in the rally against extremism and to promote democracy, " said Sadiq al Qadoos, a pro-government demonstrator joined by thousands who were camped in Sana's Tahrir, or Liberation, Square for the last two days. "And to show I am against chaos."

The events in Yemen, a sliver of a nation at the foot of the Arabian Peninsula, were among the many fires racing across a region that has long been a bastion of autocratic rule. The flames licked across the landscape of Algeria, too, a North African former French colony ruled by a clique of the elite, a president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the military, businessmen and a bureaucracy. The president announced plans to lift a state of emergency imposed in 1992, initially to combat terrorism but often used, critics argue, to silence political opposition. He did not say when it would be lifted but in a meeting with cabinet ministers he also called for state-controlled television to give more of a voice to all political parties.

His announcement came ahead of a major opposition demonstration planned for the middle of the month.

The day's events were both driven by - and helped propel - a popular movement for change that drew its inspiration from the revolt in Tunisia that forced the president to flee into exile. Nationwide, crowds of protesters turned to the streets in seven provinces and while most were peaceful, one person was killed and seven wounded in clashes between demonstrators and the police in the southern port city of Aden.

Opposition protesters wore pink bandanas in Sana, referring to what has become known as the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia. The opposition crowd, riled up and sensing momentum, had hoped to demonstrate in Tahrir Square but instead had to move to the campus of Sana University. Still, the excited crowds chanted, "The people want to topple the regime."

"We need real reforms, otherwise, there will be a revolution," said Watha Thaha, 23, a student at Sana University who was wearing a pink bandana and a scarf with the Palestinian flag.

The day's events in Yemen suggested that all sides had carefully watched and tried to learn from the vicious battle taking place in Egypt to control the course of change there, the Arab world's most populous country. Yemen's opposition tried to pick up momentum, calling for a "Day of Rage" and pressing for nationwide participation, while the president and his supporters sought to avoid what they may have perceived as the missteps of Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, and his ruling party. The pro-government supporters came into central Sana in droves from outside the city, encouraged by their tribal chiefs and the president, in what proved an effective hedge against the opposition call for protests.

"In an attempt to avoid the mistakes made by Mubarak by responding too little too late, the Yemeni government sought to try to get out ahead of the opposition," said Christopher Boucek, a Middle East associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

But as Mr. Boucek pointed out, events are so fluid, reactions so unpredictable and societies so different, it appeared that Mr. Saleh's effort may have backfired by emboldening the opposition. "While Saleh's announcement was an effort to reduce tensions in advance of Thursday's scheduled protests, it appears to have had the opposite effect," he said noting the size and energy of the opposition crowd.

But what many feared would explode in violence tapered off on a peaceful note around lunch time and both sides kept away from each other for the most part. Opposition protesters went on their way promising to return every Thursday until their demands were met.

"This requires the opposition to be prepared to continue with its demands and political rallies," said Yayha Al Shami, a member of the political bureau of the opposition Socialist Party.

The peaceful if heated events followed the announcement on Wednesday by Mr. Saleh that he would not run again and that he would suspend his campaign for constitutional changes that would have allowed him to remain president for life.

"No extension, no inheritance, no resetting the clock," Mr. Saleh said Wednesday during a legislative session that was boycotted by the opposition. "I present these concessions in the interests of the country. The interests of the country come before our personal interests."

He ordered the creation of a fund to employ university graduates and to extend social security coverage, increase wages and reduce income taxes and offered to resume a political dialogue that collapsed last October over elections. In answer to opposition complaints that voter records are rife with fraud, he said he would delay the April parliamentary elections until better records could be compiled.

"The president's address was brave, balanced and it meets a great deal of the opposition's demands," said Ali Al-Mamari, a member of parliament from the president's party, the General People's Congress. "But what is required now is practical steps to translate the words into actions on the ground."

As with President Bouteflika in Algeria, while the promise was well received skepticism remained. Some wondered if Mr. Saleh's statement was strategic, intended to siphon vigor from the antigovernment protests. A week earlier the opposition staged the largest protests against Mr. Saleh, who has ruled for 32 years. He promised in 2005 not to run again, but then reneged and secured another term.

"The president didn't say anything new," said Muhammad al-Qutabi, a spokesman for the opposition. "What he offered today didn't even meet the opposition's old demands."

"He's been making promises for 32 years and never kept one," said one, Shawki al-Qadi. "When he promised to fight poverty, we got poorer. When he promised to leave office, he made amendments to stay forever."

Yemen's stability has been of increasing concern to the United States, which has provided $250 million in military aid in the past five years. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on a visit to Sana in January, urged Mr. Saleh to establish a new dialogue with the opposition, saying it would help to stabilize the country.

Mr. Saleh has been seeking to stave off unrest, recently promising to raise salaries for civil servants and the military in a country where many people live on less than $2 a day.

On Tuesday the state news agency reported that the president had ordered retailers to stop charging the military and security forces for food and gasoline.

The opposition has not demanded Mr. Saleh's ouster thus far, but rather reforms and a smooth transition of power through elections. Fears of violence run high in the country, where the potential for strife is difficult to overstate.

The poorest of Arab countries, Yemen is troubled by a rebellion in the north and a struggle for secession in the formerly independent south. In recent years an affiliate of Al Qaeda has turned parts of the country into a refuge beyond the state's reach from where it has launched terrorist attacks against the West. A remarkably high proportion of citizens are armed.

"It is still possible to make changes peacefully because the opposition is still leading the Yemeni street," said Mr. Qadi, the opposition lawmaker. "Once it starts leading itself, then the situation will be very difficult."

Laura Kasinof reported from Sana and Michael Slackman from Berlin; Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon, and Muhammad al-Ahmadi from Sana.


9) Street Battle Over the Arab Future
"'The street is not afraid of governments anymore,' said Shawki al-Qadi, an opposition lawmaker in Yemen, itself roiled by change. 'It is the opposite. Governments and their security forces are afraid of the people now. The new generation, the generation of the Internet, is fearless. They want their full rights, and they want life, a dignified life.'"
February 2, 2011

CAIRO - The future of the Arab world, perched between revolt and the contempt of a crumbling order, was fought for in the streets of downtown Cairo on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of protesters who have reimagined the very notion of citizenship in a tumultuous week of defiance proclaimed with sticks, home-made bombs and a shower of rocks that they would not surrender their revolution to the full brunt of an authoritarian government that answered their calls for change with violence.

The Arab world watched a moment that suggested it would never be the same again - and waited to see whether protest or crackdown would win the day. Words like "uprising" and "revolution" only hint at the scale of events in Egypt, which have already reverberated across Yemen, Jordan, Syria and even Saudi Arabia, offering a new template for change in a region that long reeled from its own sense of stagnation. "Every Egyptian understands now," said Magdi al-Sayyid, one of the protesters.

The protesters have spoken for themselves to a government that, like many across the Middle East, treated them as a nuisance. For years, pundits have predicted that Islamists would be the force that toppled governments across the Arab world. But so far, they have been submerged in an outpouring of popular dissent that speaks to a unity of message, however fleeting - itself a sea change in the region's political landscape. In the vast panorama of Tahrir Square on Wednesday, Egyptians were stationed at makeshift barricades, belying pat dismissals of the power of the Arab street.

"The street is not afraid of governments anymore," said Shawki al-Qadi, an opposition lawmaker in Yemen, itself roiled by change. "It is the opposite. Governments and their security forces are afraid of the people now. The new generation, the generation of the Internet, is fearless. They want their full rights, and they want life, a dignified life."

The power of Wednesday's stand was that it turned those abstractions into reality.

The battle was waged by Mohammed Gamil, a dentist in a blue tie who ran toward the barricades of Tahrir Square. It was joined by Fayeqa Hussein, a veiled mother of seven who filled a Styrofoam container with rocks. Magdi Abdel-Rahman, a 60-year-old grandfather, kissed the ground before throwing himself against crowds mobilized by a state bent on driving them from the square. And the charge was led by Yasser Hamdi, who said his 2-year-old daughter would live a life better than the one he endured.

"Aren't you men?" he shouted. "Let's go!"

As the crowd pushed back the government's men, down a street of airline offices, banks and a bookstore called L'Orientaliste, Mr. Abdel-Rahman made the stakes clear. "They want to take our revolution from us," he declared.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition force, has entered the fray. In a poignant moment, its followers knelt in prayer at dusk, their faces lighted by the soft glow of burning fires a stone's throw away. But Mr. Abdel-Rahman's description of the uprising as a revolution suggested that the events of the past week had overwhelmed even the Brotherhood, long considered the sole agent of change here.

"Dignity" was a word often used Wednesday, and its emphasis underlined the breadth of a movement that is, so far, leaderless. Neither the Brotherhood nor a handful of opposition leaders - men like Mohammed ElBaradei or Ayman Nour - have managed to articulate hopelessness, the humiliations at the hands of the police and the outrage at having too little money to marry, echoed in the streets of Palestinian camps in Jordan and in the urban misery of Baghdad's Sadr City. For many, the Brotherhood itself is a vestige of an older order that has failed to deliver.

"The problem is that for 30 years, Mubarak didn't let us build an alternative," said Adel Wehba, as he watched the tumult in the square. "No alternative for anything."

The lack of an alternative may have led to the uprising, making the street the last option for not only the young and dispossessed but also virtually every element of Egypt's population - turbaned clerics, businessmen from wealthy suburbs, film directors and well-to-do engineers. Months ago, despair at the prospect of change in the Arab world was commonplace. Protesters on Wednesday acted as though they were making a last stand at what they had won, in an uprising that is distinctly nationalist.

"He won't go," President Hosni Mubarak's supporters chanted on the other side. "He will go," went the reply. "We're not going to go."

The word "traitor" rang out Wednesday. The insult was directed at Mr. Mubarak, and it echoed the sentiment heard in so many parts of the Arab world these days - governments of an American-backed order in most of the region have lost their legitimacy, built on the idea that people would surrender their rights for the prospect of security and stability. In the square on Wednesday, protesters offered an alternative, their empowerment standing as possibly the most remarkable legacy of a people who often lamented their apathy.

Everyone seemed joined in the moment, fists, batons and rocks banging any piece of metal to rally themselves. A man stood on a tank turret, urging protesters forward. Another cried as he shouted at Mr. Mubarak's men. "Come here!" he said. "Here is where's right." Men and women ferried rocks in bags, cartons and boxes to the barricades. Bassem Yusuf, a heart surgeon, heard news of the clashes on television and headed to the square at dusk, stitching wounds at a makeshift clinic run by volunteers.

"We're not going to destroy our country," said Mohammed Kamil, a 48-year-old, surging with the crowd. "We're not going to let this dog make us do that."

From minute-by-minute coverage on Arabic channels to conversations from Iraq to Morocco, the Middle East watched breathlessly at a moment as compelling as any in the Arab world in a lifetime. For the first time in a generation, Arabs seem to be looking again to Egypt for leadership, and that sense of destiny was voiced throughout the day.

"I tell the Arab world to stand with us until we win our freedom," said Khaled Yusuf, a cleric from Al Azhar, a once esteemed institution of religious scholarship now beholden to the government. "Once we do, we're going to free the Arab world."

For decades, the Arab world has waited for a savior - be it Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the charismatic Egyptian president, or even, for a time, Saddam Hussein. No one was waiting for a savior on Wednesday. Before nearly three decades of accumulated authority - the power of a state that can mobilize thousands to heed its whims - people had themselves.

"I'm fighting for my freedom," Noha al-Ustaz said as she broke bricks on the curb. "For my right to express myself. For an end to oppression. For an end to injustice."

"Go forward," the cries rang out, and she did, disappearing into a sea of men.

Nada Bakri contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon.


10) Panel Votes to Close 10 City High Schools
February 1, 2011

After six hours of public testimony, the Panel for Educational Policy voted early on Wednesday to close 10 city high schools and open a new charter school in the heart of the Upper West Side.

The panel's 13 members were deeply divided, and their decisions came after heated debate, punctuated by catcalls and jeers from the audience. In the end, though, the panel did exactly as the Bloomberg administration had expected. With that, it delivered another victory to the city's efforts to rid the system of failing schools while expanding the size and reach of charter schools, which are publicly financed but privately run.

The votes capped a meeting that drew nearly 2,000 people to the Brooklyn Technical High School auditorium and included statements from some 300 speakers. Some of them screamed and taunted Schools Chancellor Cathleen P. Black, until she could not take it any longer.

"I cannot speak if you are shouting," Ms. Black said after a member of the panel asked her a question and the crowd booed as one of her deputies offered to respond.

"We have studied these very difficult proposals for the better part of two years," she said. "It has been a very difficult process."

Throughout the meeting, Ms. Black occupied the center seat on the stage, sipped from a can of Coke and stared as one by one, teachers, parents, union leaders and elected officials took to the microphone to plead their case.

One man broke into song: "They think kids are high-stakes tests, they don't care about all the rest." When he was done, a woman in the audience chanted, "Charter schools are public schools."

It was not Ms. Black's first public meeting, but it was by far the angriest, loudest crowd she had faced since taking the job on Jan. 3, and certainly more intense than the subdued meetings she was used to in her many years as a publishing executive.

The panel had voted to close some of the same high schools last year, but the teachers' union and other groups successfully sued to stop the closings. A judge ruled that the city had not fully informed the public about the ramifications of the closings.

Since the mayor took control of the system in 2002, more than 90 schools have been closed, many of them large, persistently struggling high schools that the city deemed unable to quickly turn around. The old buildings eventually became home to small schools and charters that, in many cases, do better than their predecessors. But studies have shown that the most difficult students have tended to gravitate to other large high schools, which then were marked for closing themselves, including Columbus High School in the Bronx, whose fate will be voted on at a panel meeting on Thursday.

Teachers at closing schools can keep their salaries, but they often wind up wandering the school system as "absent teacher reserves," doing substitute work or teaching in subjects they are not accustomed to.

Frustrations with the process have festered. As the panel cast its first votes around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, one man shouted, "It's a puppet show." When the voting was over, the audience chanted, "Fraud, fraud."

The panel voted to close two high schools in Brooklyn and four each in the Bronx and Manhattan, as well as to expand two charter schools in Harlem and to open a new small high school in the Bronx. A vote on one Queens school had to be postponed because the public hearing that must precede it was canceled because of snow; a vote on a second Queens school, Intermediate School 231, was postponed because the Department of Education decided to hold a second public hearing on the school.

The charter school on the Upper West Side, to be named Upper West Success Academy, is set to open in the Louis D. Brandeis High School campus on West 84th Street, which has four new small high schools.

A group that represents parent associations in all of the district's schools organized several rallies in advance of the meeting and enlisted the help of several elected officials, including the city's public advocate, Bill de Blasio, who wrote to Ms. Black on Monday, asking her to delay the vote, to no avail.

The charter schools' operator, Success Charter Network, brought hundreds of people in buses to counter the opposition. They crowded the orchestra and gallery in the Brooklyn Tech auditorium, wearing green and blue T-shirts that read "better choices, brighter futures" and "charter schools = public schools."

Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer, the third speaker of the night, stepped to the microphone to oppose the opening of Upper West Success and had to scream over boos, jeers and chants of "we want change" that came from the crowd.

The panel, which has the final word on school closings, was set up as a check on mayoral authority, but in practical terms, it has been mostly a rubber-stamping body for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's and the chancellor's plans.


11) Union Membership Rate Lowest in 15 Years
February 3, 2011, 12:29 pm

New York and New Jersey may have stopped shedding jobs in 2010, but their labor unions have not, a report released Thursday by the federal Department of Labor shows.

The two states are longtime strongholds of organized labor, but union membership in each fell to its lowest level in at least 15 years in 2010, the report (see also below) shows. All told, the number of union members in the two states declined by almost 145,000, while the total number of jobs in the two states was nearly flat at about 11.8 million, the report shows.

In New York, the share of all workers who are members of unions fell to 24.2 percent, from 25.2 percent in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has compiled comparable data since 1995. In New Jersey, the drop was more pronounced: union membership fell to 17.1 percent, from 19.3 percent in 2009.

That decline translated to a loss of almost 85,000 union jobs in New Jersey, where state and local governments have been laying off workers. New York lost about 60,000 union jobs last year, the bureau reported.

Workers were still much more likely to be members of unions in the two states than in most others. The national rate of union membership in 2010 was 11.9 percent.

Despite the drop, New York remains the most highly unionized state in the nation. New Jersey is ranked sixth, also behind Alaska, Hawaii, Washington and California. California, where union membership rose to 17.5 percent from 17.2 percent in 2009, moved above New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan and Rhode Island last year.


12) UPDATED: Tahrir Square Burns as VP Suleiman Gives Speech Filled with 'Threats'
February 3, 2011
Stream Al Jazeera live here:

UPDATE: Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman has just given an interview on Egyptian television dropping all sorts of propaganda, including saying Mubarak wants to implement reform but can't because of a lack of 'time,' and accusing the protests of being 'infiltrated' by foreign agendas. 'I blame some sister countries which have unfriendly TV stations which incite the youth. Egypt won't accept foreign meddling,' he said, which Al-Jazeera interpreted as a swipe against it. Both pundits and activists interviewed on that station after his speech have decried his statements as 'coded lies' and 'full of threats' and 'a standard dictator speech.' Robert Baer on why Suleiman was appointed VP: 'Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak appointed his intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as Vice President not because Suleiman had any sway with the Egyptian street but rather because the new Veep knows the military better than anyone.'

(Baer, it should be noted, is the former CIA operative/Middle East expert who once said of terrorism suspects, 'If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear-never to see them again-you send them to Egypt.')

The protests are getting worse and worse, as the military continues to 'separate' the pro-democracy protesters from Mubarak's dispatched thugs. Just an hour ago, Al-Jazeera reported that people were 'hurling petrol bombs down at the crowds below' in Tahrir Square. 'It's difficult to determine who is who and which supporters belong to which group. We were also hearing a string of gunshots and seeing flares fired into the air - we assume by the military.'

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has released an internal memo saying that it's concerned for its missing/detained journalists in Egypt,

And yesterday, Vodafone was forced by the Egyptian government to send pro-Mubarak to its subscribers, with no control over the content of its message. The company, which is based in the UK, released a statement condemning the practice:

Statement - Vodafone Egypt Thursday 3 February 2011

Under the emergency powers provisions of the Telecoms Act, the Egyptian authorities can instruct the mobile networks of Mobinil, Etisalat and Vodafone to send messages to the people of Egypt. They have used this since the start of the protests. These messages are not scripted by any of the mobile network operators and we do not have the ability to respond to the authorities on their content.

Vodafone Group has protested to the authorities that the current situation regarding these messages is unacceptable. We have made clear that all messages should be transparent and clearly attributable to the originator.

All day yesterday, Mubarak's thug flunkies provoked violence in the streets of Cairo, creating chaos with gunshots and molotov cocktails that Al-Jazeera described as 'medieval.' The fighting went through the night. But at around 11:50 PM, according to Al-Jazeera's liveblog, a group of pro-democracy protesters gained ground and shoved out the sudden influx of violent Mubarak supporters:

The pro-Mubarak crowd suddenly retreated, and the pro-democracy protesters advanced a moveable wall of metal shields to a new front line much further up.

A side battle erupted down a street behind the pro-Mubarak lines, with rock throwing and molotov cocktails.

An armored personnel carrier opened fire into the air, shooting red tracers up over Cairo, in an apparent effort to disperse/frighten the pro-Mubarak crowd, who contracted again.

The pro-democracy protesters are now advancing their line of staggered metal shields farther and farther and seem to have gained decisive momentum.

As of now, pro-democracy protesters have overtaken the 6th of October bridge; the military had blocked it by tanks in order to prevent more violence, but they have driven off.

Meanwhile, the state continues its suppression of journalists and has moved on to human rights activists. Forces have ordered all journalists -- who continue to be attacked on the ground in Cairo -- to leave Tahir Square, including their hotels. Employees at human rights groups Hisham Mubarak and the Egyptian center for social and economic rights have been detained or arrested, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.


13) Egyptian Government Figures Join Protests
February 4, 2011

CAIRO - Cracks in the Egyptian establishment's support for President Hosni Mubarak began to appear Friday as jubilant crowds of hundreds of thousands packed the capital's central Tahrir Square to call for his ouster, this time unmolested by either security police or uniformed Mubarak loyalists.

While ousting Mr. Mubarak remained the principal objective of the throngs in the square, leaders of the protest movement began grappling with the question of what might come next, hoping to avoid repeating history and handing power to another military-backed president for life.

In Washington, President Obama and his aides were in discussions with Egyptian officials about a plan for passing power from Mr. Mubarak to a provisional government headed by the current vice president, Omar Suleiman. But it was not clear how they were going to induce the stubborn and prideful 82-year-old president to step down.

In an appearance on Friday, Mr. Obama said he was encouraged by the restraint exercised in Tahrir Square and reiterated that "there needs to be a transition now" to a new government. He said the details of that transition remained to be worked out by the Egyptians, and that it was his understanding that "some discussions have begun."

After signs of a looming crackdown Thursday, Mr. Mubarak's forces appeared to pull back Friday, and on the 11th day of the atmosphere in Tahrir Square reverted from embattled to jubilant once again. Protesters have remained in uncontested control of the square since about 5:00 a.m. Thursday, when they won a 14-hour war of stones and Molotov cocktails against gangs of Mubarak loyalists.

On Friday they abandoned their makeshift barriers to chant, pray and sing the national anthem around the center of the square, where newcomers carried in bags of bread and water. Tens of thousands of others demonstrated in Alexandria and Suez.

Enthusiastic cheers rose up several times at the appearance of Amr Moussa, easily the most popular politician in Egypt and a major figure in its political establishment. He became famous as a straight-talking and charismatic foreign minister, until Mr. Mubarak moved him to the less threatening position of head of the Arab League.

Mr. Moussa never broke publicly with the president, but an aide confirmed that Mr. Moussa's decision to walk into the square was a tacit endorsement of the revolt, and in a television interview he opened the door to serving in a new government. "We want you, we want you," crowds chanted.

Throughout the day demonstrators pulled out cellphone cameras to snap photos of well known actors, musicians and Islamic religious authorities who came to join them. Mohamed Rafah Tahtawy, the public spokesman for Al Azhar - the center of Sunni Muslim learning and Egypt's highest, state-run religious authority - said he was resigning to join the revolt.

"My position is a position of support to the revolution all the way," he said. "I am part of it till the last drop of my blood."

The jubilant feeling in the square was in stark contrast to the dark sense of foreboding that had pervaded the capital yesterday, as foreign journalists and human rights workers were beaten and harassed by Mubarak supporters and apparently rounded up by security forces - seemingly in preparation for an all-out assault on the square by Mubarak supporters.

As of Friday about 30 human rights workers remained missing after they were taken from the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre. Some had been working on compiling public list of those detained in the protests and organizing for their legal defense. Among the missing was a prominent American rights advocate, Dan Williams of Human Rights Watch.

Mohamed Elbaradei, the former United Nations diplomat who opposition groups have selected as their front man, said nine were abducted leaving a meeting at his home. There were many reports of missing journalists.

Wael Ghonim, a top Google executive in the Middle East and a leader of the young Internet activists who started the revolt, has been missing since he was detained 10 days ago during an earlier round of protests.

In the opening stages of what promises to be a protracted round of negotiations on the future of Egypt, Mr. ElBaradei said in a news conference at his home near Cairo that the opposition was calling for Mr. Mubarak to turn over power to a council of two to five members who would run the country until elections within a year.

Only one member would come from the military, Mr. ElBaradei said, adding that the armed forces' most important task now is to "protect Egypt's transition period in a smooth manner."

"We have no interest in retribution," he said. "Mubarak must leave in dignity and save his country."

Mohamed Beltagui, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the outlawed Islamist group that had been the major opposition in Egypt until the secular youth revolt, said that the organization would not run a candidate in any election to succeed Mr. Mubarak as president.

He said his members wanted to rebut Mr. Mubarak's argument to the West that his iron-fisted rule was a crucial bulwark against Islamic extremism. "It is not a retreat," he said in an interview at the group's informal headquarters in the square. "It is to take away the scare tactics that Hosni Mubarak uses to deceive the people here and abroad that he should stay in power."

Mr. Beltagui, who represents the brotherhood on an opposition committee to negotiate a transitional government, said the group wanted a "civil state," not a religious one. "We are standing for a real democracy, with general freedom and a real sense of social justice."

Like many others in the square, Mr. Beltagui said he was not worried that the military might back a new dictator to succeed Mr. Mubarak. He said the determination of the protesters would forestall that, and noted that a religious leader who appeared to back away from some of the protesters democratic demands was booed from a makeshift stage in Tahrir Square.

Nor was he worried about new violence from Mubarak supporters. "They would be crazy," he said.

The military, the crucial force in controlling the Egyptian streets since the protesters routed the police, continued to seek neutral ground in the standoff between the president and the protesters. But there were small signs of shifts in its positions. The battle for Tahrir Square finally ended before dawn Thursday when the military intervened by firing into the air and the ground, scattering the Mubarak supporters, and they fired their guns later in the afternoon to break up new skirmishes.

Then Friday morning the military for the first time began screening people entering the square for weapons, a role previously filled by the protesters themselves. Military paratroopers, an elite force, rolled concertina wire across a main road leading to the square, and lines of protesters waiting to enter through military security snaked for hundreds of yards through the day.

The defense minister, Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, appeared in the square - the first member of the ruling government elite to do so - to inspect the troops stationed around the Egyptian museum. Protesters, grateful that the military has not joined the security police or pro-Mubarak gangs in attempting to crush them, cheered.

They quickly formed a hand-holding barrier around the area of the square where Mr. Tantawi was walking to ensure that no Mubarak-supporting provocateurs tried to incite violence to provoke a backlash.

Mr. Mubarak, meanwhile, showed no sign of stepping down. Rumors swirled that Egyptian intellectuals were devising a plan for Mr. Mubarak to ease toward retirement by delegating all of his authority until the end of his term to his vice president, Omar Suleiman.

But in a television interview, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, a Mubarak loyalist, ruled out any such plan. "Having Mubarak as president is a source of security for the country," he said. "I rule out accepting the proposal of having the president authorize his vice-president."

. Liam Stack, Kareem Fahim and Mona El-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo.


14) We Are All Egyptians
"Innaharda, ehna kullina Misryeen! Today, we are all Egyptians!"
February 3, 2011


Inside Tahrir Square on Thursday, I met a carpenter named Mahmood whose left arm was in a sling, whose leg was in a cast and whose head was being bandaged in a small field hospital set up by the democracy movement. This was the seventh time in 24 hours that he had needed medical treatment for injuries suffered at the hands of government-backed mobs. But as soon as Mahmood was bandaged, he tottered off once again to the front lines.

"I'll fight as long as I can," he told me. I was awestruck. That seemed to be an example of determination that could never be surpassed, but as I snapped Mahmood's picture I backed into Amr's wheelchair. It turned out that Amr had lost his legs many years ago in a train accident, but he rolled his wheelchair into Tahrir Square to show support for democracy, hurling rocks back at the mobs that President Hosni Mubarak apparently sent to besiege the square.

Amr (I'm not using some last names to reduce the risks to people I quote) was being treated for a wound from a flying rock. I asked him as politely as I could what a double-amputee in a wheelchair was doing in a pitched battle involving Molotov cocktails, clubs, machetes, bricks and straight razors.

"I still have my hands," he said firmly. "God willing, I will keep fighting."

That was Tahrir Square on Thursday: pure determination, astounding grit, and, at times, heartbreaking suffering.

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.

So did many, many others. At Tahrir Square's field hospital (a mosque in normal times), 150 doctors have volunteered their services, despite the risk to themselves. Maged, a 64-year-old doctor who relies upon a cane to walk, told me that he hadn't been previously involved in the protests, but that when he heard about the government's assault on peaceful pro-democracy protesters, something snapped.

So early Thursday morning, he prepared a will and then drove 125 miles to Tahrir Square to volunteer to treat the injured. "I don't care if I don't go back," he told me. "I decided I had to be part of this."

"If I die," he added, "this is for my country."

In the center of Tahrir Square, also known as Liberation Square, I bumped into one of my heroes, Dr. Nawal El Saadawi, a leading Arab feminist who for decades has fought female genital mutilation. Dr. Saadawi, who turns 80 this year, is white-haired and frail and full of fiery passion.

"I feel I am born again," she said, adding that she intended to sleep with the protesters on Tahrir Square. She also suggested that instead of being sent into comfortable exile, Mr. Mubarak should be put on trial as a criminal; that's a theme I've heard increasingly often among pro-democracy activists.

There's a small jail in Tahrir Square for pro-Mubarak thugs who are captured, and their I.D. cards indicate that many are working for the police or the ruling party. Mr. Mubarak may claim that he's unhappy about the violence in Cairo, but he caused it - and the only way to restore order in Egypt and revive the economy is for him to step down immediately. I'm encouraged that the Obama administration is reportedly discussing with Egyptian officials ways to make that happen.

Countless Egyptians here tell me that they are willing to sacrifice their lives for democracy. They mean it. But I've heard similar talk in many other countries in the throes of democracy movements. Unfortunately, usually what determines the fate of such movements is not the courage of the democracy activists but the willingness of the government to massacre its citizens. In that case, the survivors usually retreat in sullen silence, and the movement is finished for a time.

Whatever Mr. Mubarak is planning, it does feel as if something has changed, as if the Egyptian people have awoken. When I needed to leave Tahrir Square today, several Egyptians guided me out for almost an hour through a special route so that I would not be arrested or assaulted - despite considerable risk to themselves. One of my guides was a young woman, Leila, who told me: "We are all afraid, inside of us. But now we have broken that fear."

The lion-hearted Egyptians I met on Tahrir Square are risking their lives to stand up for democracy and liberty, and they deserve our strongest support - and, frankly, they should inspire us as well. A quick lesson in colloquial Egyptian Arabic: Innaharda, ehna kullina Misryeen! Today, we are all Egyptians!

David Brooks is off today. His column will appear on Sunday.


15) Unrest Rises in Jordan, but Few Expect Revolt
"Buffeted by the forces at play across the region - rising prices, a bulging underemployed youth population, the rapid spread of information and resentment, an unaccountable autocracy - Jordan is on edge. All eyes are on the king, to see if he will carry out the reforms promised this week when he fired his cabinet, and whether such steps will in any case be enough to calm the rising tide of frustration."
February 4, 2011

MAFRAQ, Jordan - The tribal elders sat in their gowns and keffiyehs, fingering worry beads and smoking cigarettes, an immense woven image of King Abdullah II on a wall above their heads.

The conversation at a private home, by request, was about politics. What did these Bedouins of the Zubeidi clan, a backbone of Jordan's monarchy, think about the current instability in light of events in Egypt and Tunisia?

The answers began as scripted recitals: "We have absolute loyalty to the Hashemites," referring to the royal family; "We will never allow instability"; "No Jordanian will ever negotiate against this regime." But once lunch appeared - huge platters of rice and lamb, eaten by hand, standing - everything changed.

"We are living a big lie," one sheik whispered. "This king is hopeless," said another. "The security police called us up and told us not to meet with you," said a third. "But we have tongues and we will speak."

Buffeted by the forces at play across the region - rising prices, a bulging underemployed youth population, the rapid spread of information and resentment, an unaccountable autocracy - Jordan is on edge. All eyes are on the king, to see if he will carry out the reforms promised this week when he fired his cabinet, and whether such steps will in any case be enough to calm the rising tide of frustration.

What is most striking right now in Jordan is that the very system of the monarchy seems open to question. This is partly because of what is happening elsewhere in the region but also because of growing discontent with King Abdullah and his wife, Queen Rania.

King Abdullah's father, King Hussein, who ruled for 46 years, enjoyed near adoration of his people.

"The king and queen are under severe attack, which used to be completely taboo," said Labib Kamhawi, a political analyst and human rights advocate. "I don't see imminent danger here like in Egypt and Tunisia. But all the symptoms are there."

The reason few expect any sudden widespread revolt is that the concerns and complaints of the different constituents are not only distinct, they are often contradictory. The monarchy therefore faces little risk of opponents coalescing into the kind of mass movements seen in Tunisia and Egypt.

In addition, the king maintains his distance from the complaints by allowing blame to fall on government ministers, whom he replaces at will.

For weeks several thousand demonstrators turned out on Fridays calling for a new prime minister. After one was appointed this week, rally organizers were divided on how to respond. Some thought he should be given a chance. Friday's demonstrations included only several hundred people, mostly followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, who turned out in pouring rain.

The country's main constituencies are the so-called East Bankers or tribes, and the Palestinians who constitute a majority of the nation's six million people. East Bankers, the country's original inhabitants, dominate the civil service, especially the security forces, while the Palestinians rule in the private sector.

Economic reform to bring Jordan in line with the global marketplace has tended to benefit the Palestinians, while the East Bankers - the core of the monarchy's support - rely on the government payroll.

Last year, 82 percent of the government's budget went to civil service salaries and military pensions, meaning that the room to maneuver to increase such payments is negligible. But that is what the tribes have been demanding, along with promises that the Palestinian population not be permitted to grow.

Last month, to calm the tribes, King Abdullah promised tens of millions of dollars that he did not have to improve their situations.

Meanwhile, the king and the new prime minister, Marouf al-Bakhit, have been casting a wide net, talking with Islamists, teachers' unions and leftists and promising accountability. The new election law, they say, will be fairer, the new public gatherings law will abolish the requirement for prior permission and the fight against corruption will get serious.

In a palace statement on Thursday, the king acknowledged that previous efforts at reform had "stumbled." Some seemed pleased with the promises and say that King Abdullah is acting in time to save Jordan and himself. Others say he is simply picking low-hanging fruit and the moves will prove to be superficial.

Much of the anger against the king and his wife focus on accusations of extravagant lifestyles and tolerance of corruption.

Queen Rania, who is of Palestinian origin and is viewed as glamorous, sophisticated, and widely admired abroad, has come in for particular criticism. She is accused of controlling court appointments and funneling business to her family. But mostly she is said to be insensitive to her subjects.

Last summer the queen turned 40 and threw herself a party in the hauntingly beautiful area of southern Jordan known as Wadi Rum. She invited 600 people, paying the way for many from abroad. The pink granite hills of Wadi Rum were electrically lighted with the number 40 - in a poor area where some people live without electricity. Water, a precious commodity there, was used by the truckload.

"It looked to many people like the party that the shah of Iran threw at Persepolis for the country's birthday," said Randa Habib, a writer and analyst in Jordan's capital, Amman. "Perhaps it was blown out of proportion, but it created a storm."

The king, who just turned 49, has absolute power here and advocates of reform increasingly say they want him to become a constitutional monarch, a symbol of the state but not in charge of it. The prime minister would be elected, not appointed. While it is hard to gauge how widespread this view is, it is heard across a range of political positions, from left to right, from both Palestinians and East Bankers.

Zaki Bani Rsheid, leader of the political bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood's Islamic Action Front, said in an interview that the goal was to turn King Abdullah into a figure "like the queen of England or the president of Israel - as an umbrella for stability."

So far that seems a long way off and Jordan looks quite stable, with little appetite for civilian revolt, as Friday's small demonstrations showed. But analysts feel that something significant has changed in recent weeks and say the streets may soon enough fill up again.

"The power in the street is a new social power," said Nabil Ghishan, a columnist for Al-Arab al-Youm newspaper. "People are worried about identity and the political system and are trying to shake the regime and say, 'wake up.' Much is changing. The problem is that the opposition is deeply divided. We have no clear vision for what happens the day after the Hashemites."


16) More Attacks and Detentions for Journalists in Cairo
February 4, 2011

Reporters in Cairo faced a second day of violent intimidation and government detention on Friday even as dozens of foreign journalists and rights advocates were still being detained, suggesting that the effort to stifle the flow of news out of Egypt had slowed but not ended.

The Committee to Protect Journalists documented eight new detentions and nearly a dozen new attacks, and also reported on Friday the first case of a reporter killed while covering the unrest in Egypt.

The reporter, Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud, worked for a state-owned newspaper, Al-Ta'awun, and was hit by sniper fire on Jan. 28 while filming near Tahrir Square in Cairo, according to the group. He died from his wounds on Friday.

The new attacks on journalists did not appear as widespread on Friday as they were a day before, when a coordinated campaign of media intimidation hit its peak. But several newsrooms were forced to shut down and, in the case of Al Jazeera Arabic's Cairo office, set on fire.

The Muslim Brotherhood said Friday that security forces had raided the office of its official news Web site and arrested several journalists, according to Muhammad Abdel Qodous, a member of the group and a free speech advocate.

Al Hurra, an American-financed television station, said a group of men stormed its Cairo office and threatened to kill to on-air journalists if they did not flee, according to an e-mail sent by the station to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Al Jazeera said in a statement that one of its offices had been "burned along with the equipment inside it" by a "gang of thugs."

But the attack would not stop the network from broadcasting, said Mostefa Souag, the director of news for Al Jazeera Arabic, because the channel has been operating from other locations since early this week when police officials began preventing employees from entering the bureau. A nearby office for Al Jazeera English, the sister channel, was not affected.

Indeed, as over 100,000 protesters surged into Tahrir Square, the epicenter of antigovernment demonstrations that began last week, broadcasters trained their live cameras on the gathering throngs after having been largely prevented from doing so on Thursday.

Egyptian state television also began showing footage of the peaceful antigovernment protests in Tahrir Square for the first time. The images, shot from a distance, obscured much of the crowd and the on-air commentator at one point significantly undercounted the crowd, saying only a few thousand protesters, both for and against President Hosni Mubarak, had shown up.

Al Arabiya, whose journalists were chased from their Cairo office by pro-Mubarak demonstrators on Thursday, reported that the Egyptian Army had been told Friday to step in to protect foreign journalists. Even so, there were scattered reports of journalists being harassed and threatened on the street by groups of men. One reported being robbed at knifepoint by a group of men.

"There were some incidents today, but certainly nothing like we've seen," said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. Most of the large groups who roamed the streets on Thursday attacking journalists, human rights activists and other foreigners seemed to have disappeared on Friday, he said. "It's the clearest evidence yet that the violence we saw yesterday was an orchestrated event by pro-Mubarak supporters."

Several researchers for Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and two journalists, who were detained after security police raided the Hisham Mubarak Law Center in Cairo on Thursday, were released late on Friday, Amnesty International said. But as many as two dozen Egyptians, including some of the country's most prominent human rights advocates, were still being held by the government.

"We've now got firm information as to where they're being detained," said Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International's Middle East program, but "no official confirmation of their arrest."

On Thursday, it seemed that no news organization was exempt from the widespread campaign of media intimidation. Whether from Western or Arab media, television networks or wire services, newspapers or photo syndicates, journalists were chased through the streets and had their equipment stolen or smashed. Some were beaten so badly that they required hospital treatment.

Arab reporters, lacking some of the protections provided by Western media organizations, are especially vulnerable to violence. In addition to the Egyptian reporter who was killed by gunfire, a reporter for Al Arabiya was beaten by a group of pro-Mubarak demonstrators on Wednesday. His injuries were significant enough that he remained in the hospital, though his condition was not critical, said Nakhle el-Hage, the network's director of news.

The intimidation and violence against reporters were condemned at the highest levels of the United States government. The White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, rebuked the Mubarak government and its supporters, calling the harassment "completely and totally unacceptable." Speaking to reporters traveling with President Obama, he said that "any journalist that has been detained should be released immediately."

David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting from Cairo, Jeremy W. Peters from New York and Brian Stelter from Doha, Qatar.


17) In Yemen, Protesters Face Off in Peace
February 3, 2011

SANA, Yemen - Thousands of pro- and anti-government demonstrators held peaceful protests in this impoverished capital on Thursday, playing out themes that have rocked nations across the Arab world as autocratic leaders struggle to press back the roaring demands of movements hungry for democracy, accountability and the rule of law.

Yemen's tribal culture and its heavily armed population raised fears of violence as events here seemed to unfold at a consolidated pace, with all sides trying to draw lessons from popular uprisings in Tunisia and then Egypt. But the events in the city appeared to end peacefully one day after the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, went on television to offer his own concession to large opposition protests. He promised that he would not run - and that his son would also not run - when his term expired in 2013.

He also saw to it that the capital was full of supporters when the opposition arrived. "I came here today to take part in the rally against extremism and to promote democracy," said Sadiq al-Qadoos, a pro-government demonstrator joined by thousands who were camped in Sana's Tahrir Square, or Liberation Square, for the last two days. "And to show I am against chaos."

The events in Yemen, a sliver of a nation at the foot of the Arabian Peninsula, were among the many fires racing across a region that has long been a bastion of autocratic rule. The flames licked across the landscape of Algeria, too, a former French colony in North Africa ruled by a clique of the elite: a president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the military, businessmen and a bureaucracy. The president announced plans to lift a state of emergency imposed in 1992, initially to combat terrorism but often used, critics contend, to silence political opposition. He did not say when it would be lifted, but in a meeting with cabinet ministers he also called for state-controlled television to give more of a voice to all political parties.

His announcement came with a major opposition demonstration planned for the middle of the month.

The day's events were both driven by - and helped propel - a popular movement for change that drew its inspiration from the revolt in Tunisia that forced the president to flee into exile. Nationwide, crowds of protesters turned to the streets in seven provinces, and while most were peaceful, one person was killed and seven were wounded in clashes between demonstrators and the police in the southern port city of Aden.

Opposition protesters wore pink bandannas in Sana, a sign of what has become known as the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia. The opposition had hoped to demonstrate in Tahrir Square but had to move to the campus of Sana University. Still, the excited crowds chanted, "The people want to topple the regime."

"We need real reforms, otherwise there will be a revolution," said Watha Thaha, 23, a student at Sana University who was wearing a pink bandanna and a scarf with the Palestinian flag.

The day's events in Yemen suggested that all sides had carefully watched and tried to learn from the vicious battle taking place in Egypt to control the course of change. Yemen's opposition tried to pick up momentum, calling for a "day of rage" and pressing for nationwide participation, while the president and his supporters sought to avoid what they might have perceived as the missteps of Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, and his ruling party. The government supporters came into central Sana in droves from outside the city, encouraged by their tribal chiefs and the president, in what proved an effective hedge against the opposition call for protests.

"In an attempt to avoid the mistakes made by Mubarak by responding too little too late, the Yemeni government sought to try to get out ahead of the opposition," said Christopher Boucek, a Middle East associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

But as Mr. Boucek pointed out, events are so fluid, reactions so unpredictable and societies so different, it appeared that Mr. Saleh's effort might have backfired by emboldening the opposition. "While Saleh's announcement was an effort to reduce tensions in advance of Thursday's scheduled protests, it appears to have had the opposite effect," he said, noting the size and energy of the opposition crowd.

But a demonstration that many feared would explode into violence tapered off on a peaceful note around lunchtime. Opposition protesters went on their way promising to return every Thursday until their demands were met.

"This requires the opposition to be prepared to continue with its demands and political rallies," said Yayha al-Shami, a member of the political bureau of the opposition Socialist Party.

As with President Bouteflika in Algeria, while Mr. Saleh's promise was well received, skepticism remained. Some wondered if his statement was strategic, intended to siphon vigor from the anti-government protests. A week earlier the opposition staged the largest protests against Mr. Saleh, who has ruled for 32 years. He promised in 2005 not to run again, but then reneged and secured another term.

Laura Kasinof reported from Sana, and Michael Slackman from Berlin. Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut, Lebanon, and Muhammad al-Ahmadi from Sana.


18) In a Shift, Cubans Savor Working for Themselves
February 3, 2011

BAUTA, Cuba - Marisela Álvarez spends much of the day bent over a single electric burner in her small outdoor kitchen. Her knees are killing her. Her red hair smells of cooking oil.

She hasn't felt this fortunate in years.

"I feel useful; I'm independent," said Ms. Álvarez, who opened a small cafe in November at her home in this scruffy town 25 miles from the capital, Havana. "When you sit down at the end of the day and look at how much you have made, you feel satisfied."

Eagerly, warily, Cubans are taking up the government's offer to work for themselves, selling coffee in their front yards, renting out houses, making rattan furniture and hawking everything from bootleg DVDs to Silly Bandz and homemade wine.

Hoping to resuscitate Cuba's crippled economy, President Raúl Castro opened the door to a new, if limited, generation of entrepreneurs last year, after warning that the state's "inflated" payrolls could end up "jeopardizing the very survival of the Revolution."

The Cuban labor federation said the government would lay off half a million of about 4.3 million state workers by March and issue hundreds of thousands of new licenses to people wanting to join Cuba's tiny private sector, in what could be the biggest remodeling of the state-run economy since Fidel Castro nationalized all enterprise in 1968.

By the end of 2010, the government had awarded 75,000 new licenses, according to Granma, the Communist Party's official newspaper, swelling the official ranks of the self-employed by 50 percent.

That is still a long way from the amount needed to create alternatives for all the workers who will eventually be laid off, and there is no guarantee that the market will support hundreds of thousands of freelancers. But licenses have been granted quickly, and the government has been encouraging the bureaucracy to keep them flowing.

Streets once devoid of commerce in towns like this and in Havana are gradually coming to life as people hang painted signs and bright awnings outside their houses and mount roadside stalls. An electronics engineer, who for years operated in the shadows, now publishes leaflets that claim he can mend every appliance under the sun. A practitioner of Santería sells beaded necklaces, ground sardines and toasted corn used in ceremonies at the tin-roofed shop in her yard.

Ms. Álvarez and her husband, Ivan Barroso, took out a license for the cafe and another to sell meat and fish. Now the couple does a brisk business serving soft white rolls filled with garlicky pork and fresh tuna for 60 cents at a wooden counter in the gateway of their house. Ms. Álvarez, a former school librarian who gave up work several years ago, runs the cafe with her stepson. Mr. Barroso goes fishing, culls pigs and delivers produce to clients in Havana.

"If you have the ability, the dedication to achieve something, you should enjoy it," said Mr. Barroso, who until November sold fish and pork without a license to a close circle of friends and clients.

About 85 percent of all Cubans with jobs are employed by the state, earning about $20 per month in exchange for free access to services like health and education, and a ration of subsidized goods.

Fidel Castro grudgingly allowed the private sector to take root in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union brought the Cuban economy to its knees. Over the years, however, the government stopped issuing new licenses and suffocated many businesses with taxes and prohibitions.

This time Raúl Castro, who took over from his brother Fidel in 2006, says things have changed. In a speech to the National Assembly in December, he urged members of the government and the Communist Party to help the private sector, not "demonize" it.

"It is essential that we change the negative feelings that no small number of us harbor toward this kind of private labor," Mr. Castro said.

Many remain skeptical. Juan Carlos Montes ran a private restaurant on the patio of his Havana home for five years but became worn down by nit-picking inspectors and closed it in 2000. Now he is reluctant to try again.

"When someone who has made the same argument for more than 40 years suddenly changes their tune, you have to have a lot of faith to believe them," he said.

His wife, Yodania Sánchez, has been trying to change his mind. She has a license to rent two rooms in their higgledy-piggledy house and pays about $243 in taxes every month, whether the rooms are occupied or not.

"The changes are really positive; there are new opportunities," she said on a recent morning as she cleaned their tiny kitchen. "People want Cuba to become Switzerland overnight, and that's not possible."

But Mr. Montes swears he will not open a new restaurant until there is a wholesale market.

"People can't get what they need to run a business," he said. "The carpenter has no wood. The electrician has no cable. The plumber has no pipes. Right now, there is no flour in the shops. So what are all the pizzerias doing? They have to buy stuff that is stolen from bakeries."

The government says it will set up a wholesale market - though it might take years - and this year will import $130 million worth of goods and equipment for the private sector. It is also planning microloans and business cooperatives and mulling allowing people to buy and sell cars and houses, measures that some analysts speculate might be announced ahead of the Communist Party Congress in April.

For now, carpenters like Pedro José Chávez are allowed only to do repairs, rather than make things, because there is no legal market for wood. His workshop, perched on a rooftop in the Vedado area of Havana, is filled with crude machines made of salvaged parts because proper tools are too expensive.

"It's absurd that they will give you a license to work but they won't give you access to materials," Mr. Chávez said. "Cuba is falling apart," he added, gesturing to the crumbling buildings nearby. "We could help rebuild it."

For the private sector to thrive, the government should vastly expand the list of occupations open to the self-employed to include mainstream professions like engineering or law, said Ted Henken, an expert on the Cuban private sector at Baruch College.

The list of 178 jobs currently open to self-employed Cubans - among them, fixing parasols and mending bed frames - is highly specific and seems intended mainly to legalize and tax people working on the black market.

"There is a lot more to be done for the state to get out of the way and for people to produce and employ," Professor Henken said.

The government will also need to confront the question of civil and political rights that will emerge with the growth of a commercial class, including potentially divisive issues like growing disparities in wealth.

"There's no end to the chaos and demands of a private economy," Professor Henken said.

In the meantime, Ms. Álvarez and Mr. Barroso are relishing life on the almost-free market. Mr. Barroso pores daily over an exercise book where he calculates profit margins. Total sales for the two businesses are around $270 a week, he said. He and his wife each pay about $37 a month in taxes, plus 10 percent on profits at the end of the year.

Ms. Álvarez vies for customers with a couple of cafes that have opened within two blocks of hers. On a recent morning, all three had more clients than the bleak state-run bar on the same street, whose offerings included omelet sandwiches, hand-rolled cigars and condoms.

"I think the government has realized that state business doesn't function," Mr. Barroso said. "It's the private sector that generates competition. We have a habit of doing things poorly in Cuba, but competition is going to put this straight."


19) Food Prices Worldwide Hit Record Levels, Fueled by Uncertainty, U.N. Says
February 3, 2011

UNITED NATIONS - Global food prices are moving ever higher, hitting record levels last month as a jittery market reacted to unpredictable weather and tight supplies, according to a United Nations report released Thursday.

It was the seventh month in a row of food price increases, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which put out the report. And with some basic food stocks low, prices will probably continue reaching new heights, at least until the results of the harvest next summer are known, analysts said.

"Uncertainty itself is a new factor in the market that pushes up prices and will not push them down," said Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist and the grain expert at F.A.O. "People don't trust anyone to tell them about the harvest and the weather, so it has to await harvest time."

Scattered bright spots in the report led experts to suggest that a repeat of the 2008 food riots stemming from similar sharp price increases might not be imminent. Rice was slightly cheaper and meat prices stable, they noted. But the overall uncertainty and inflation could eventually make the situation worse than three years ago, they said.

Riots and demonstrations erupting across the Middle East are not directly inspired by rising food prices alone, experts noted, but that is one factor fueling the anger directed toward governments in the region. Egypt was among more than a dozen countries that experienced food riots in 2008.

The F.A.O. price index, which tracks 55 food commodities for export, rose 3.4 percent in January, hitting its highest level since tracking began in 1990, the report said. Countries not dependent on food imports are less affected by global volatility. Still, food prices are expected to rise 2 percent to 3 percent in the United States this year.

Four main factors are seen as driving prices higher: weather, higher demand, smaller yields and crops diverted to biofuels. Volatile weather patterns often attributed to climate change are wreaking havoc with some harvests. Heavy rains in Australia damaged wheat to the extent that much of its usually high-quality crop has been downgraded to feed, experts noted.

This has pushed the demand and prices for American wheat much higher, with the best grades selling at 100 percent more than they were a year ago, Mr. Abbassian said. The autumn soybean harvest in the United States was poor, so strong demand means stocks are at their lowest level in 50 years, he said.

Brokers are waiting to see how acreage in the United States will be divided between soybeans, corn and cotton, with cotton fetching record prices, Mr. Abbassian said.

Sugar prices are also at a 30-year high, he said. Prices for cereals are rising but still below their April 2008 peak. Oils and fats are up and close to their 2008 level, and dairy is higher but still below its 2007 peak, the report said. Even positive news, like good rains in Argentina and a strong harvest in Africa, has failed to keep prices from rising.

"Food prices are not only rising, but they are also volatile and will continue this way into the future," said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the World Bank managing director.

Changing diets around the world stemming from higher incomes, especially in places like China and India, mean a greater demand for meat and better grains. Although it takes time for that to translate into higher prices globally, it does buoy demand, the experts said.

In 2009, the richest nations pledged more than $20 billion to aid agriculture in developing countries, including $6 billion for a food security fund housed at the World Bank. Just $925 million of those pledges has been paid, Ms. Okonjo-Iweala noted, because of financial problems in the donor countries. That will bring consequences, she said, as one billion people already go without sufficient food daily.

Derek Headey, an economist with the International Food Policy Research Institute, noted that in 2007 and 2008 many African countries were hit hard by soaring import bills, as were nations spread across the world, like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Ecuador.

But some of the world's largest and poorest countries experienced rapid economic growth and only modest food inflation, so the number of people facing food insecurity in nations like China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam actually went down at that time, he said.

"This time around there is still strong economic growth in these countries, but inflation is much more of a problem," he said. "So it is possible that the impact could be worse in 2011, especially if food prices stay high."

It will take some months for those figures to emerge, he added.


20) Smaller New Orleans After Katrina, Census Shows
"Now there finally are some numbers, and they show that the city is 29 percent smaller than a decade ago."
February 3, 2011

NEW ORLEANS - When Hurricane Katrina hit and the murky waters rushed through levee breaches, even the facts were drowned.

Official documents were destroyed, years of photographs were ruined, and a city's ability to know itself was lost. Answers to basic questions like how many people lived here, where they lived and who they were could not be easily answered.

Now there finally are some numbers, and they show that the city is 29 percent smaller than a decade ago.

The Census Bureau reported on Thursday that 343,829 people were living in the city of New Orleans on April 1, 2010, four years and seven months after it was virtually emptied by the floodwaters that followed the hurricane.

The numbers portray a significantly smaller city than in the previous census, in 2000, though it should be said that New Orleans had been steadily shrinking even then. In 1990, it was the 24th-biggest city in the country, in 2000, the 31st, and now it has surely dropped from the top 50.

The latest figure is lower than estimates cited widely by many here in recent months. It is lower, by roughly 10,000, than the official census estimate in the summer of 2009.

"It's not an unqualified good thing to have big numbers," said Mark VanLandingham, a professor at Tulane University who has expressed frustration with frequent calls from local officials, sometimes successful, for the Census Bureau to raise the city's population estimate. "It made it very difficult to figure out what was actually going on."

The census findings reveal some other changes in the population, as well.

According to Andrew A. Beveridge, a Queens College sociologist who analyzed the census results for The New York Times, the city has roughly 24,000 fewer white residents than it did 10 years ago, though the proportion of the white population has grown to 30 percent.

The city has 118,000 fewer black residents. New Orleans, once more than two-thirds black, is now less than 60 percent black.

There are 56,193 fewer children, a drop of nearly 44 percent.

The movements in the region can be seen with some clarity as well. St. Tammany Parish, a suburban refuge for many New Orleanians after the storm, grew by nearly a quarter. St. Bernard Parish, which is downriver from the city and was almost completely overwhelmed by the floodwaters, shrank by nearly half.

The Hispanic population of neighboring Jefferson Parish, home to many of those who came to fill the city's ravenous appetite for construction labor, jumped by 65 percent.

Some may yet challenge these figures, arguing that the count overlooked people living in abandoned houses or moving in with one relative after another as they wait for rents to come down or houses to be rebuilt. There is no question such people exist in New Orleans; whether they were all counted is another matter.

Emily Arata, the deputy mayor for external affairs , said the city was not planning to challenge the numbers, in part because such challenges do not traditionally succeed but also because it was satisfied that the figure fell within 3 percent of the 2009 estimate.

The numbers have consequences, of course. Many of them will play out in the heated political battle to come in March when the State Legislature meets to discuss redistricting.

Louisiana has lost a Congressional seat, something that was possible even without the storm, given the state's anemic population growth in the first five years of the decade. But while the loss itself may not be a result of the floodwaters, its effect will be.

With such a significant drop in New Orleans's black population, will the state's majority-minority Congressional district remain centered in the city? Will it snake upward from New Orleans, along the Mississippi to East Baton Rouge, now the largest parish in the state?

"The one thing that people need to realize about these numbers is that everything is on the table," said Norby Chabert, a Democratic state senator from Houma, south of New Orleans. "The political assumptions that have been bedrock for however many years now are out the window."

Far more is at stake than political representation.

Certain to be a contentious topic at the legislative session in March are the scores, if not hundreds, of laws on the Louisiana books that exempt New Orleans from a variety of state rules. These exemptions, which go back decades, coyly apply to any city in the state of more than 400,000 people, a description that no longer applies to New Orleans.

"There will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth," predicted Emile Bruneau, a former legislator who represented a district in New Orleans.

In an e-mail, James Perry, a former mayoral candidate and the executive director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, called the city's population figure "likely devastating," and raised concerns that it could lead to drops in federal financing for housing, infrastructure and public health efforts, as the city is still steadily pushing forward in recovery.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu acknowledged the issue in a statement, saying that "accurate census estimates in future years will ensure that city government and local nonprofit organizations will have the federal funds necessary to provide our growing population with important services."

But he and officials like Ms. Arata emphasized that the city's recovery should not be judged by census data but by the reforms under way now, many of which are addressing problems that have plagued the city for years. The mayor, in his statement, mentioned the overhaul of the city's schools and the broad and ongoing redesign of its troubled criminal justice system. Indeed, as the census numbers were trickling out, the City Council was voting to build a new, and smaller, jail.

There are some who say it is premature, even wrong, to focus only on the 343,829 people who are here (compared with 484,674 in 2000). "I think it does point to that we have a problem with a large percentage of displaced people," said Lance Hill, the executive director of the Southern Institute for Education and Research, which is based at Tulane.

Dr. Hill described shortcomings in housing programs, particularly in initiatives meant to restore the city's rentals, that disproportionately affected black residents. Such failings may have been a reason why so many former residents have not returned.

The 2010 census tracked people's current locations, not their past homes nor future intentions. And indeed, it is difficult if not impossible to know how many of the New Orleanians of 2000 who are not here still want to return. It is not even known where they are. But nonprofit rebuilding groups say their waiting lists are long.

Matthew Ericson contributed reporting from New York.


21) Among Little Egypt's Young, a Sudden Awareness of Politics and Identity
February 4, 2011

For Esmaeel El Sayed, the 16-year-old son of immigrants in Astoria, Queens, the hierarchy of life had always been clear: Madonna trumped Naguib Mahfouz, Big Macs were to be savored over baba ghanouj, and being American overshadowed being Egyptian, Arab and Muslim.

But as tens of thousands of young Egyptians have taken to the streets of Cairo over the past two weeks, Esmaeel, the soft-spoken son of a chef from Alexandria who now runs a restaurant in what is known as Little Egypt, said he was undergoing a political transformation. Last week, he attended his first demonstration, reluctantly screaming out slogans against the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. He has since been disseminating images of the Cairo protests on his Facebook page. Now, he is thinking of signing up for classes to learn to speak Arabic.

"When my father first suggested we go to a demonstration to show support for Egypt, my first reaction was: 'This is a school night. I have homework. This isn't my fight,' " said Esmaeel, a high school junior who likes to paint and play guitar. "But when I got there and saw all the anger and passion, I saw that I can't be selfish. I felt like Egypt is my country, and I suddenly felt proud."

For the younger generation of Egyptian-Americans in Astoria, the heart of the Egyptian community in New York, the uprising 5,600 miles away has provided a political education, a cultural awakening and a reckoning with a forgotten land. In recent days, some of the 20-somethings gathered at the Layali El Helmeya Café on Steinway Street have been pleading with their fathers to let them fly to Egypt to join the antigovernment demonstrations. But the fathers, many of whom came to America to save their children from such agitation, appear unmoved.

"The older generation thinks and the younger generation acts because they don't have anything to worry about," said Ali El Sayed, Esmaeel's father, the jovial self-professed mayor of Little Egypt, who opened its first Arabic establishment, Kabab Cafe, in 1987. "If Esmaeel said he wanted to go to Egypt to fight, I would tell him, 'I don't believe in dead heroes.' "

Mr. El Sayed said he was happy that the events in Egypt were giving him an opportunity to offer history lessons to his Guns N' Roses-loving son. But he was equally thankful that Esmaeel was supporting the revolution from the confines of his bedroom in Astoria. Esmaeel, for his part, said the Internet had allowed him to feel as if he had taken to the streets of Cairo - without having to leave the borough.

Michael Wahid Hanna, 37, an Egypt expert at the Century Foundation, which is based in New York, said events in the Middle East were galvanizing a generation that had already begun to feel more conscious of its Muslim identity in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"For a lot of Egyptian-Americans, it is the first time they are looking at Egypt and seeing something heroic and brave," said Mr. Hanna, who himself is the son of doctors who immigrated from Cairo. "Peaceful protesters calling for universal rights like freedom being besieged by thugs is having an effect on the collective consciousness of how Egyptian-Americans see themselves, especially among young people."

Esmaeel, whose mother is Argentine and Catholic, said he learned about his Egyptian and Arabic heritage in his father's restaurant kitchen, where he grew up inhaling a steady diet of humanist philosophy, along with delicacies like lamb with pomegranate and Pharaoh's harvest goose. Che Guevara was invoked more often than the Prophet Muhammad by Mr. El Sayed, who took part in student protests in Alexandria in the 1960s. There were few visits to mosques and a lone trip to Egypt when Esmaeel was 2 years old.

"Esmaeel is an American boy, and that makes me happy," Mr. El Sayed said. "When he was a kid he loved going to McDonald's because he wanted a free toy. So I thought of introducing a falafel toy at the restaurant."

Esmaeel said the attacks on the World Trade Center had made him "more aware of my Muslim identity," and the consciousness had grown when he enrolled three years ago at the Baccalaureate School for Global Education, where his name made him stand out. "If I said I am Egyptian, people would say: 'You're a Muslim. You're an Arab.' It bothered me," he explained. "My name is Esmaeel and it rhymes with Israel, and before that some people would mistake me for Jewish. But after Sept. 11, that changed."

Indeed, members of both the older and the young generation in Little Egypt said that anti-Muslim sentiment after Sept. 11, even in its generally muted and subtle state in New York, had made them cleave more strongly to their ethnic identities, even as they felt deeply American.

After the uprising in Cairo last month, Samy El Sharkawy, 58, a limousine driver who came to Queens from Alexandria in 1990, said his 18-year-old son, Tarek, had been begging to go to Egypt to join the protests. Mr. El Sharkawy refused, but was privately pleased. He noted that while he himself seldom set foot in a mosque, his son, who was aggrieved by what he saw as the demonization of Islam in the West, prays five times a day - and with renewed vigor in recent days.

"It is very hard to hold on to your Egyptian identity in America," Mr. El Sharkawy said, sucking on a hookah pipe at the Layali El Helmeya Café. "But my son prays all the time in the mosque. It was my luck that he turned to the Koran instead of drugs and sex."

For others, the mass protests in Egypt - led by thousands of young people - have laid bare the generation gap in Cairo as in New York.

"I don't think my father's generation knew the meaning of democracy," complained Iman, a 35-year-old doctor from Alexandria, who declined to give his last name out of concern for relatives in Egypt. "They grew up in a police state and clung to the past, long after they arrived in America.

"Just look at this cafe: it is frozen in time," he added, pointing to a wall adorned with photographs of 1960s Egyptian icons, including Gamal Abdel Nasser, the former president; the singer Umm Kulthum; and the Nobel Prize-winning writer Naguib Mafouz.

But the El Sayeds said the events in Egypt were also uniting some fathers and sons, suddenly interested in the same news and sharing the same political goals. "Now finally we won't be known for Pharaoh and slavery," Esmaeel said.

"Yes," his father added. "Let my people go!"


22) Strangest Part of the Jobs Report
February 4, 2011, 4:23 pm

The unemployment rate has declined more in the last two months than in any two months since 1958.

The rate had been 9.8 percent in November, and it was 9 percent in January. Since the Labor Department began keeping these statistics, only four other two-month periods have seen a larger decline.

They are: December 1949 (when the rate had 1.3 percentage points in the previous two months, to 6.6. percent); August 1950 (0.9 percentage point decline, to 4.5 percent); February 1951 (0.9 percentage point decline, to 3.4 percent); and November 1958 (0.9 percentage point decline, to 6.2 percent).

As I said before, the job market is neither healthy nor seems to be improving very rapidly. But the unemployment rate is dropping at an historically rapid rate. It's very odd.


23) Bewitched by the Numbers
February 4, 2011

The data zealots have utterly discombobulated themselves.

They were expecting something on the order of 150,000 new jobs to have been created in January. That would have been a lousy number, but they were fully prepared to spin it as being pretty good. They thought the official jobless rate might hop up a tick to 9.5 percent.

Instead, the economy created just 36,000 jobs in January, an absolutely dreadful number. But the unemployment rate fell like a stone from 9.4 percent to 9.0 percent.

The crunchers stared at the numbers in disbelief. They moved them this way and that. No matter how they arranged them, they made no sense. Nothing even close to enough jobs were being created to bring the unemployment rate down, but for two successive months it had dropped sharply. (It dived from 9.8 percent to 9.4 in December.)

A baffled commentator on CNBC said, "I think there is an improvement in the economy, though you can't see it in today's payroll survey."

Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics, who is frequently very good at this stuff, said: "I think these numbers are meaningless. I don't think they mean anything."

What data zealots need to do is leave their hermetically sealed rooms and step outside, take a walk among the millions of Americans who are hurting to the bone. They should talk with families that are suffering, losing their homes, doubling up, checking into homeless shelters.

We behave as though the numbers are an end in themselves - just get the G.D.P. up or the jobless rate down - and we'll be on our way to fat city. But the numbers are just tools, abstractions to help guide us, orient us. They aren't the be-all and end-all. They don't tell us squat about the flesh-and-blood reality of the mom or dad lying awake in the dark of night, worrying about the repo man coming for the family van or the foreclosure notice that's sure to materialize any day now.

The policy makers who rely on the data zealots are just as detached from the real world of real people. They're always promising in the most earnest tones imaginable to do something about employment, to ease the awful squeeze on the middle class (policy makers never talk about the poor), to reform education, and so on.

They say those things because they have to. But they are far more obsessed with the numbers than they are with the struggles and suffering of real people. You won't hear policy makers acknowledging that the unemployment numbers would be much worse if not for the millions of people who have left the work force over the past few years. What happened to those folks? How are they and their families faring?

The policy makers don't tell us that most of the new jobs being created in such meager numbers are, in fact, poor ones, with lousy pay and few or no benefits. What we hear is what the data zealots pump out week after week, that the market is up, retail sales are strong, Wall Street salaries and bonuses are streaking, as always, to the moon, and that businesses are sitting on mountains of cash. So all must be right with the world.

Jobs? Well, the less said the better.

What's really happening, of course, is the same thing that's been happening in this country for the longest time - the folks at the top are doing fabulously well and they are not interested in the least in spreading the wealth around.

The people running the country - the ones with the real clout, whether Democrats or Republicans - are all part of this power elite. Ordinary people may be struggling, but both the Obama administration and the Republican Party leadership are down on their knees slavishly kissing the rings of the financial and corporate kingpins.

I love when the wackos call President Obama a socialist. Wasn't it his budget director, Peter Orszag, who moved effortlessly from his job in the administration to a hotshot post at Citigroup, beneficiary of tons of government largess? And didn't the president's new chief of staff, William Daley, arrive in his powerful new post fresh from the executive suite of JPMorgan Chase? And isn't the incoming chairman of Mr. Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness very conveniently the chairman and chief executive of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt?

You might ask: Who represents working people? The answer, as Tevye would say with grave emphasis in "Fiddler on the Roof," is, "I don't know."

Maybe the data zealots have stumbled on a solution. They've created a model in which a radically insufficient number of jobs has resulted in a sharp decline in the official gauge of unemployment. If that trend can be sustained, we'll eventually get the jobless rate down to zero. People will still be suffering, but full employment will have finally been achieved.


24) The Siege of Planned Parenthood
February 4, 2011

As if we didn't have enough wars, the House of Representatives has declared one against Planned Parenthood.

Maybe it's all part of a grand theme. Last month, they voted to repeal the health care law. This month, they're going after an organization that provides millions of women with both family-planning services and basic health medical care, like pap smears and screening for diabetes, breast cancer, cervical cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

Our legislative slogan for 2011: Let Them Use Leeches.

"What is more fiscally responsible than denying any and all funding to Planned Parenthood of America?" demanded Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the chief sponsor of a bill to bar the government from directing any money to any organization that provides abortion services.

Planned Parenthood doesn't use government money to provide abortions; Congress already prohibits that, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. (Another anti-abortion bill that's coming up for hearing originally proposed changing the wording to "forcible rape," presumably under the theory that there was a problem with volunteer rape victims. On that matter at least, cooler heads prevailed.)

Planned Parenthood does pay for its own abortion services, though, and that's what makes them a target. Pence has 154 co-sponsors for his bill. He was helped this week by an anti-abortion group called Live Action, which conducted a sting operation at 12 Planned Parenthood clinics in six states, in an effort to connect the clinic staff to child prostitution.

"Planned Parenthood aids and abets the sexual abuse and prostitution of minors," announced Lila Rose, the beautiful anti-abortion activist who led the project. The right wing is currently chock-full of stunning women who want to end their gender's right to control their own bodies. Homely middle-aged men are just going to have to find another sex to push around.

Live Action hired an actor who posed as a pimp and told Planned Parenthood counselors that he might have contracted a sexually transmitted disease from "one of the girls I manage." He followed up with questions about how to obtain contraceptives and abortions, while indicating that some of his "girls" were under age and illegally in the country.

One counselor, shockingly, gave the "pimp" advice on how to game the system and was summarily fired when the video came out. But the others seem to have answered his questions accurately and flatly. Planned Parenthood says that after the man left, all the counselors - including the one who was fired - reported the conversation to their supervisors, who called the authorities. (One Arizona police department, the organization said, refused to file a report.)

Still, there is no way to look good while providing useful information to a self-proclaimed child molester, even if the cops get called. That, presumably, is why Live Action chose the scenario.

"We have a zero tolerance of nonreporting anything that would endanger a minor," said Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood. "We do the same thing public hospitals do and public clinics do."

But here's the most notable thing about this whole debate: The people trying to put Planned Parenthood out of business do not seem concerned about what would happen to the 1.85 million low-income women who get family-planning help and medical care at the clinics each year. It just doesn't come up. There's not even a vague contingency plan.

"I haven't seen that they want to propose an alternative," said Richards.

There are tens of millions Americans who oppose abortion because of deeply held moral principles. But they're attached to a political movement that sometimes seems to have come unmoored from any concern for life after birth.

There is no comparable organization to Planned Parenthood, providing the same kind of services on a national basis. If there were, most of the women eligible for Medicaid-financed family-planning assistance wouldn't have to go without it. In Texas, which has one of the highest teenage birthrates in the country, only about 20 percent of low-income women get that kind of help. Yet Planned Parenthood is under attack, and the State Legislature has diverted some of its funding to crisis pregnancy centers, which provide no medical care and tend to be staffed by volunteers dedicated to dissuading women from having abortions.

In Washington, the new Republican majority that promised to do great things about jobs, jobs, jobs is preparing for hearings on a bill to make it economically impossible for insurance companies to offer policies that cover abortions. And in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry, faced with an epic budget crisis that's left the state's schools and health care services in crisis, has brought out emergency legislation - requiring mandatory sonograms for women considering abortion.


25) Obama Backs Suleiman-Led Transition
February 5, 2011

MUNICH - The Obama administration on Saturday formally threw its weight behind a gradual transition in Egypt, backing attempts by the country's vice president, Gen. Omar Suleiman, to broker a compromise with opposition groups and prepare for new elections in September.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking to a conference here, said it was important to support Mr. Suleiman as he seeks to defuse street protests and promises to reach out to opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Administration officials said earlier that Mr. Suleiman and other military-backed leaders in Egypt are also considering ways to provide President Hosni Mubarak with a graceful exit from power.

"That takes some time," Mrs. Clinton said. "There are certain things that have to be done in order to prepare."

Her message, echoed by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, was a notable shift in tone from the past week, when President Obama, faced with violent clashes in Cairo, demanded that Mr. Mubarak make swift, dramatic changes.

Now, the United States and other Western powers appear to have concluded that the best path for Egypt - and certainly the safest one, to avoid further chaos - is a gradual transition, managed by Mr. Suleiman, a pillar of Egypt's existing establishment, and backed by the military.

Whether such a process is acceptable to the crowds on the streets of Cairo is far from clear: there is little evidence that Mr. Suleiman, a former head of Egyptian intelligence and trusted confidant of Mr. Mubarak, would be seen as an acceptable choice, even temporarily. Opposition groups have refused to speak to him, saying that Mr. Mubarak must leave first.

But Mrs. Clinton suggested that the United States was not insisting on the immediate departure of Mr. Mubarak, and that such an abrupt shift of power may not be necessary or prudent. She said Mr. Mubarak, having taken himself and his son, Gamal, out of the September elections, was already effectively sidelined. She emphasized the need for Egypt to begin building peaceful political parties and to reform its constitution to make a vote credible.

"That is what the government has said it is trying to do," she said. "That is what we are supporting, and hope to see it move as orderly but as expeditiously, as possible, under the circumstances."

Mrs. Clinton expressed fears about deteriorating security inside Egypt, noting the explosion at a gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula, and uncorroborated media reports of an earlier assassination attempt on Mr. Suleiman.

The report was mentioned at the conference by Wolfgang Ischinger, a retired German diplomat who is the conference chairman, just as Mrs. Clinton began taking questions at the gathering of heads of state, foreign ministers, and legislators from the United States, Europe, and other countries.

American officials said they have no evidence that the report is accurate. But Mrs. Clinton picked up on it and said it "certainly brings into sharp relief the challenges we are facing as we navigate through this period."

A senior Republican senator at the meeting, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, voiced support for the administration's backing for a gradual transition in Egypt, saying that a Suleiman-led transitional government, backed by the military, was probably the only way for Egypt to negotiate its way to elections in the fall.

"What would be the alternative?" he asked.

Mrs. Clinton emphasized that American support for Mr. Suleiman's plan should not be construed as an effort to dictate events. "Those of us who are trying to make helpful offers of assistance and suggestions for how to proceed are still at the end on the outside looking in," she said.

But in a hectic morning of diplomacy, Mrs. Clinton was clearly eager to build support for this position. She met with Mr. Cameron, Mrs. Merkel, and Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, who said the views of Turkey and the United States were "100 percent identical." Mr. Obama spoke by phone Friday with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mrs. Clinton's emphasis on a deliberate process was repeated by Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Cameron. Mrs. Merkel harkened to her past as a democracy activist in East Germany, recalling the impatience of protestors, after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, to immediately join democratic West Germany. But the process took a year, and it was time well spent, she said.

"There will be a change in Egypt," she said, "but clearly, the change has to shaped in a way that it is a peaceful, a sensible way forward."

Mr. Cameron said introducing democracy in Egypt "overnight" would fuel further instability, saying the West needed to encourage the development of civil society and political parties before holding a vote.

"Yes, the transition absolutely has to start now," Mr. Cameron said. "But if we think it is all about the act of holding an election, we are wrong. It is about a set of actions."

Mrs. Clinton highlighted the dangers of holding elections without adequate preparation. To take part in Egypt's new order, she said, political parties should renounce violence as a tool of coercion, pledge to respect the rights of minorities, and show tolerance. The White House has signaled that it is open to a dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that Israeli officials and others warn could put Egypt on a path to extremism.

"The transition to democracy will only happen if it is deliberate, inclusive, and transparent," she said. "The challenge is to help our partners take systematic steps to usher in a better future, where people's voices are heard, their rights respected, and their aspirations met."

"Revolutions have overthrown dictators in the name of democracy, only to see the process hijacked by new autocrats who use violence, deception, and rigged elections to stay in power," Mrs. Clinton said.

She also underlined the need to support Egypt's state institutions, including the army and financial institutions, which she said were functioning and respected. Economic pressures are building in Egypt, she said, which has been paralyzed by days of street demonstrations.

While this meeting was dominated by the political change sweeping through the Middle East, the United States and Russia also formally put into force New Start, a strategic arms control treaty passed by the Senate in December after a long political battle by President Obama.

Mrs. Clinton and Russia's foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, exchanged legal documents ratifying the treaty, which puts new limits on strategic nuclear warheads, heavy bombers, and launch vehicles. The United States and Russia have 45 days to trade details on the number, location, and technical specifications of their arsenals. Inspection can begin in 60 days.

Relations between the United States and Russia began to thaw at this meeting in 2009, when Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. called for the countries to "reset" their relationship after the chilly Bush years.

In addition to the ratification of New Start, the day saw a meeting of the Quartet, a group that deals with the Middle East and comprises the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. This meeting was intended to reaffirm support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, even amid the turmoil in Egypt and the Arab world.

The United States was reluctant to hold the meeting, a senior Western diplomat said, but the Europeans in particular wanted to make the point that change in the Middle East was a new opportunity for peace, and that stagnation between Israel and Palestine was a bad signal.

"Our analysis is because of the events in Egypt we must react and send a signal the peace process is alive," the European diplomat said. Another quartet meeting will follow in the next month, he said.

Mrs. Clinton deflected a question about how the turmoil would affect Israel or the peace process. In its eagerness to avoid the issue, the administration lined up with Turkey. Mr. Davutoglu said, "It is better not to talk about Israel-Palestine now. It is better to separate these issues."


26) 2 Detained Reporters Saw Secret Police's Methods Firsthand
February 4, 2011


WE had been detained by Egyptian authorities, handed over to the country's dreaded Mukhabarat, the secret police, and interrogated. They left us all night in a cold room, on hard orange plastic stools, under fluorescent lights.

But our discomfort paled in comparison to the dull whacks and the screams of pain by Egyptian people that broke the stillness of the night. In one instance, between the cries of suffering, an officer said in Arabic, "You are talking to journalists? You are talking badly about your country?"

A voice, also in Arabic, answered: "You are committing a sin. You are committing a sin."

We - Souad Mekhennet, Nicholas Kulish and a driver, who is not a journalist and was not involved in the demonstrations - were detained Thursday afternoon while driving into Cairo. We were stopped at a checkpoint and thus began a 24-hour journey through Egyptian detention, ending with - we were told by the soldiers who delivered us there - the secret police. When asked, they declined to identify themselves.

Captivity was terrible. We felt powerless - uncertain about where and how long we would be held. But the worst part had nothing to do with our treatment. It was seeing - and in particular hearing through the walls of this dreadful facility - the abuse of Egyptians at the hands of their own government.

For one day, we were trapped in the brutal maze where Egyptians are lost for months or even years. Our detainment threw into haunting relief the abuses of security services, the police, the secret police and the intelligence service, and explained why they were at the forefront of complaints made by the protesters.

Many journalists shared this experience, and many were kept in worse conditions - some suffering from injuries as well.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, over the period we were held there were 30 detentions of journalists, 26 assaults and 8 instances of equipment being seized. We saw a journalist with his head bandaged and others brought in with jackets thrown over their heads as they were led by armed men.

In the morning, we could hear the strained voice of a man with a French accent calling out in English: "Where am I? What is happening to me? Answer me. Answer me."

This prompted us into action - pressing to be released with more urgency, and indeed fear, than before. A plainclothes officer who said his name was Marwan gestured to us. "Come to the door," he said, "and look out."

We saw more than 20 people, Westerners and Egyptians, blindfolded and handcuffed. The room had been empty when we arrived the evening before.

"We could be treating you a lot worse," he said in a flat tone, the facts speaking for themselves. Marwan said Egyptians were being held in the thousands. During the night we heard them being beaten, screaming after every blow.

We were on our way back to Cairo after reporting about the demonstrations from Alexandria for The Times. We were traveling with journalists from the German public television station ZDF, a normal practice in such conditions - safety in numbers.

At the outskirts of Cairo, we were stopped at what looked like a civilian checkpoint.

We had been through many checkpoints without problems, but after the driver opened our trunk a tremendous uproar began. They saw a large black bag with an orange ZDF microphone poking out. In the tense environment, television crews had been attacked and accused of creating anti-Egyptian propaganda. We had been in the middle of a near-riot with the same crew the day before.

The crowd shouted and banged on the car, pulling the doors open. The ZDF crew in the other car managed to drive off, while we were stuck. Instead of dragging us out as we expected, two men pushed their way into the backseat. We were relieved that they were taking us from the crowd, until one pulled out his police identification. Rather than helping us escape, he was now detaining us.

The officer gave the driver directions to an impromptu police station in the Sharabiya district of Cairo, on the roof of a lumber warehouse. The officer in charge there, who identified himself as Ehab, said they were the secret police.

They searched the ZDF bags and found much more than just a camera. "We have a woman with a German passport of Arab origin and an American in a car with camera, satellite equipment and $10,000," he said. "This is very suspicious. I think they need to be checked."

Anxiety turned to anticipation when we were driven to a military base. The military had been the closest thing Egypt had to a guarantor of stability and we thought once we explained who we were and provided documentation we would be allowed to go to our hotel.

In a strange exchange that only made sense later, Ms. Mekhennet asked a soldier, "Where are you taking us?" The soldier answered: "My heart goes out to you. I'm sorry."

After driving to several more bases we were told we were being handed over to the Mukhabarat at their headquarters in Nasr City.

It was sundown when they had us bring everything in from the car. The items were inventoried, from socks and a water bottle to a band of 50 $100 bills. Our cellphones, cameras and computers were confiscated.

We were taken to separate rooms with brown leather padded walls and interrogated individually. Mr. Kulish's interrogator spoke perfect English and joked about the television show "Friends," mentioning that he had lived in Florida and Texas.

The Mukhabarat has had a working relationship with American intelligence, including the C.I.A.'s so-called rendition program of prison transfers. During our questioning, a man nearby was being beaten - the sickening sound somewhere between a thud and a thwack. Between his screams someone yelled in Arabic, "You're a traitor working with foreigners."

Egyptian journalists had a freer hand than many in the region's police states, but the secret police kept a close eye on both journalists and their sources. As the protests became more violent, a campaign of intimidation against journalists and the Egyptians speaking to them became apparent. We appeared to have stumbled into the middle of it.

Ms. Mekhennet asked her interrogator, "Where are we?" The interrogator answered, "You are nowhere."

We were blindfolded and led to the blank room where we would spend the night and into the next afternoon on the orange plastic chairs. The screams from the torture made it nearly impossible to think.

We were not physically abused. Ms. Mekhennet explained that she had been sick and a man appeared with a blood-pressure gauge, but she declined the offer. One officer gave each of us Pepsi and a small package of cookies. It was after 10 o'clock at night, and we had not eaten since breakfast, but the agonizing cries instantly stilled our appetites.

We were told we could go in the morning, and starting at 6 a.m. we asked repeatedly to be released.

Marwan first appeared around 11 a.m. He became visibly annoyed by our requests, complaining that thousands of Egyptians civilians were in detention. He did not appreciate our sense of entitlement.

That was when he opened the door and showed us our handcuffed, blindfolded colleagues from international news outlets. He said that he was exhausted, but would find our cellphones and computers.

About an hour later, we were given back our belongings. Our greatest fear, that the innocent driver would be kept for "processing," did not come to pass.

We left together, with pangs of guilt as we saw our blindfolded, injured colleagues again, and new people led in, past guards with bulletproof vests and assault rifles.

Were we going to a hotel? we asked.

"You don't get to know that," a guard answered.

They put us in our car with orders to put our heads down. "Look down, and don't talk. If you look up you will see something you don't ever want to see."

They left us that way for 10 minutes. The only sounds were of guns being loaded and checked and duct-tape ripping.

An interrogator appeared and asked our driver, "What did you do in Tahrir Square?" He said we weren't there. The interrogator said to the driver, "So you're a traitor to your country."

In Arabic, Ms. Mekhennet, a German citizen with Arab roots, kept telling the questioner that we are journalists for The New York Times. "You came here to make this country look bad," the interrogator said.

We were told we would be driving out in our car, but escorted by a man with an assault rifle. Again, we were told to look down.

Finally, after a while, our escort ordered the driver to stop the car and got out. "You can go now."

The driver began yelling "Alhamdulillah" or "Praise be to God." We looked around and realized we were alone, somewhere in the middle of Cairo, but away from the protests, the normal street traffic slowly moving past.


27) Discontented Within Egypt Face Power of Old Elites
"'The people are stubborn now,' said Nasser el-Sherif, a 24-year-old student, sitting near a grandmother, Um Ibrahim Abdel-Mohsin, who had ferried rocks to the barricades for two days. 'You want to beat us up? We'll kick you out, and it's our right. We're not compromising our freedom anymore,' Mr. Sherif added. Near him was scrawled graffiti. 'Victory is with the patient,' it said."
February 4, 2011

CAIRO - It was proclaimed as "the Friday of departure," but neither the demonstrators who proved their staying power as a force for change nor their nemesis, President Hosni Mubarak, left. Now a prolonged collision is shaping up between a staggering but entrenched old guard and an outpouring of Egypt's discontented over how fast and how deep the changes will be.

In a contest of image, perception and power, the rebellion pits those disenfranchised by Mr. Mubarak's government against a still formidable array built around the military and security apparatus and a fabulously wealthy clique enriched by connections with the governing party.

Both revolt and reaction have offered their narrative - change and chaos - with the Information Ministry fanning popular discontent over an uprising that has devastated Egypt's economy. But a revolution is not a referendum, and in an 11-day battle that has seen momentum shift almost by the day, each faces the resilience of the other.

Even as it sheds some of its support, the government remains determined not to surrender what it deems its prestige. Mr. Mubarak's leadership is one symbol of that, but even if he leaves, the old guard may well dig in to obstruct open elections and true civilian rule. The government retains a monopoly on armed violence, the state's arsenal in its hands. But despite organizers' own lurking fears, the uprising has proved its ability to turn out thousands into the streets, in a remarkable show of steadfastness that has left the government no option but to engage it. "There are a lot of Fridays left," said Tayssir Ibrahim, a protester in Tahrir Square here.

Egypt's revolution is far from decided, but the country will never be the same. As the government begins to fall back on itself, inciting fears of foreigners, mobilizing provocateurs and cracking down on its opposition, it faces an ever fiercer revolutionary fervor, with ever more sweeping demands.

"It's in the streets now," said Omar Ghoneim, a businessman. "It's the people of Egypt protesting. We have no future. Either we die, or this regime goes completely."

Since a group of officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew the monarchy in 1952, its corpulent king leaving behind a vast collection of pornography, the government has sought to claim the mantle of peasants and workers. Especially in the past decade, it has shed that pretense, concentrating its power around the military - long beyond criticism in the Egyptian media - as well as the loathed Interior Ministry, a governing party skilled in patronage and a clique of the very wealthy, many loyal to Mr. Mubarak's son, Gamal.

Since the revolt, the military has surged to the forefront, emerging as the pivotal player in politics it long sought to manage behind the scenes. The beneficiary of nearly $40 billion in American aid during Mr. Mubarak's rule, its interests span the gamut of economic life - from the military industry to businesses like road and housing construction, consumer goods and resort management. Even leading opposition leaders, like Mohamed ElBaradei, have acknowledged that the military will have a key role in a transition.

The protesters' demands have grown, in part, in a reflection of the way the state's other pillars are staggering. The police have collapsed, only gingerly returning to the streets, and unlike a week ago, its forces made no attempt on Friday to block the protesters' way.

"Its security apparatus is not an immediate player," said Khaled Fahmy, a professor at the American University of Cairo who was at the protests on Friday.

More striking is the way the government has begun shedding the business elite that surrounded it only months ago. Officials have announced the freezing of assets and a prohibition on travel for Ahmed Ezz, a hated steel magnate and leading member of the governing party, and for Rashid Mohammed Rashid, a former minister of trade and industry, Ahmed el-Maghraby, a former housing minister, and Zuheir Garana, a former minister of tourism. (The travel ban meant little for Mr. Rashid; he was in Dubai when the announcement was made.)

"We decided on eliminating all businessmen," Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said Friday of his cabinet in an interview with Al Arabiya, an Arabic satellite channel, in a gesture toward protesters who have made Mr. Ezz a symbol of everything corrupt about the state.

"Scapegoats," Ali Moussa, a leading businessman in Egypt and former chairman of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce, said of the ministers (though not Mr. Ezz).

"It's a sign of weakness, a well-known game that happens all the time," he added.

A dirtier struggle has played out in the streets, where the vision of protesters has collided so viscerally with the oldest tactics of an authoritarian state that, as Mr. Shafiq made clear, has begun retrenching itself. The military police have arrested 30 human rights activists, and an office of the Muslim Brotherhood was raided Friday. Government supporters, some wielding machetes, kitchen knives and a Cairene version of a shank, attacked scores of foreign journalists.

The protesters tried to offer a counterpoint to the government's aggressive image on Friday, in what seemed a growing struggle to define the way that people would be led in the transition. "We're sorry for any inconvenience we're causing you," guards said as they frisked people.

What is so striking about Egypt's tumult is the ardor that protesters have brought to an idea of community. In some ways, Egypt's revolution has already happened.

In a country made miserable by the petty humiliations of authority, Egyptians were welcomed to the square with boisterous greetings. "Thank God for your safety," men organized as guards declared. "Welcome, heroes!" others cried. "Come on and join the square." Most poignantly, they simply chanted, "These are the Egyptian people."

Throughout the day, by accident or intention, tens of thousands of people seemed determined to disprove every cliché that the elite has offered to justify its repression of a people that Mr. Mubarak, as recently as an interview on Thursday, insisted would descend into chaos without him.

No one pushed unduly as they waited to pass concertina wire strung by the military across the entrance. They waited as men prayed, bowing their heads on Egyptian flags that served as prayer rugs. The menacing harassment of women was nowhere to be seen. Volunteers ferried in bread, cheese, honey, juice and milk, along with medicine, some of which was provided by a pharmacist who gave a 20 percent discount for the cause.

Guards at the barricades wore helmets - actually, kitchen bowls converted for a fight - that bore the slogan "The government of the revolution."

"God is great," people chanted, "and the revolution is growing."

In a way, the contest has begun to pit two perceptions of power: sanctioned or imposed.

Protester after protester made the point that the government's prestige was broken, most remarkably by the young men in Tahrir Square who for two days fought off government supporters once routinely deployed to intimidate voters in sham elections and small crowds of protesters. "Heroes," they called the young men.

"The people are stubborn now," said Nasser el-Sherif, a 24-year-old student, sitting near a grandmother, Um Ibrahim Abdel-Mohsin, who had ferried rocks to the barricades for two days. "You want to beat us up? We'll kick you out, and it's our right."

"We're not compromising our freedom anymore," Mr. Sherif added.

Near him was scrawled graffiti. "Victory is with the patient," it said.


28) Preapproved: Well, It Sounded Good
February 5, 2011

MELISSA CALDERONE was ready for a fresh start when she made plans last year to move to Florida from New Jersey. Recently remarried, she signed a contract in mid-March on a house to be built in Windermere, Fla., by Pulte Homes, the nation's largest homebuilder. The neighborhood had good schools for her three children and two stepchildren. It was also close to where Ms. Calderone's parents lived.

Her local bank approved her for a mortgage. But then a Pulte Homes saleswoman told her that she would get a $4,000 credit toward closing costs if she took out a loan with the homebuilder's banking unit instead. Ms. Calderone, 38, agreed. She deposited $20,000 in earnest money and set aside $80,000 more for a down payment on the $347,000 house. Her closing date, documents show, was scheduled for late summer, about six months later.

Then her troubles began. Although she had been "preapproved" by Pulte, the company ultimately denied her the loan. Then, contending that Ms. Calderone had defaulted on the purchase agreement by failing to close on time, Pulte kept her $20,000 deposit. The house went back on the market.

"They have my money and the house, which they are selling to somebody else," Ms. Calderone said. "I have no house and no deposit."

Asked about Ms. Calderone's complaint, a spokeswoman for the PulteGroup declined to comment, citing concerns over customer privacy.

But the spokeswoman provided a general statement: "Preapproval does not guarantee the final approval or closing on the transaction, since a buyer's financial situation can change during the homebuilding process or the buyer may be unable to verify certain aspects of his or her credit profile. If the buyer fails to close on his or her financing for any of these reasons, the purchase agreement allows the seller to retain the earnest money to offset any financial damages."

But Ms. Calderone is not the only Pulte customer with this kind of complaint. Last year, the attorney general of Arizona filed a lawsuit against Pulte, contending that the company's mortgage sales practices deceived consumers. That suit cited borrowers who thought, as Ms. Calderone did, that they had been approved for a mortgage when, in fact, they had not been. Those people lost their deposits as well.

"In the earlier contracts there was a 60-day period for refunds," said Nancy M. Bonnell, the assistant attorney general for Arizona who litigated the matter against Pulte. "It seemed like the disapproval of the loans came after the 60-day period. Then consumers would find out they did not qualify for the loan or rate."

Ms. Bonnell said that Pulte customers in her case forfeited deposits ranging from $2,500 to $25,000 each.

Even when a customer notified Pulte within the specified refund period, the company did not return deposits, according to the Arizona complaint. Some customers were told they had "prequalified" for a loan at one interest rate only to be charged a much higher rate when the loan came through, the complaint said. One customer was promised a 7 percent mortgage but received one carrying a rate of almost 14 percent, it said. Knowing she could not afford the loan, that customer canceled her purchase; Pulte refused to refund her deposit, the complaint said.

Pulte settled with the Arizona attorney general last August, without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Pulte agreed to pay $1.18 million, including restitution.

Under the terms of her contract with Pulte, Ms. Calderone had 45 days to cancel her purchase and get her deposit back. But as occurred in Arizona, her problems with Pulte Mortgage - indeed her first contact with the loan-processing unit - did not come until well after that period had ended.

E-mail correspondence between Ms. Calderone and Pulte shows that the lending company did not contact her until May 25, 2010 - some 67 days after she signed her contract. At that point, she began supplying documents, like the terms of her child-support agreement with her ex-husband, which was her only source of income.

Over the next three months, she continued to respond to questions and requests from Pulte, even when it asked for materials she had already submitted. Pulte also asked about small transactions in her bank account. Where did a $500 cash deposit come from, Pulte wondered? A wedding gift, Ms. Calderone replied.

AS the summer passed, Ms. Calderone kept supplying documents. But she was growing worried that she would be unable to move into the Windermere house by the Sept. 9 closing date. She was living with her parents, and a delay would mean her children could not attend the Windermere schools, where she had registered them.

During this back and forth, nothing changed in Ms. Calderone's financial situation. At one point, the Pulte loan processor told Ms. Calderone that questions were arising because of new rules imposed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance giants. "Then she comes back to me saying 'You haven't been divorced for a year yet, so we can't verify how much income you are getting every month,' " Ms. Calderone recalled.

It seemed to her like one big runaround. "I had the income; I had the credit score," she said. "They preapproved me, and I had a closing date. To me, is seemed like they were looking for a reason not to complete the deal."

The closing date came and went with no contact from Pulte, Ms. Calderone said. The extension she had received from the local school district, meanwhile, was set to expire on Sept. 23.

On Sept. 13, she received an e-mail from a Pulte representative saying the company was submitting her loan application to its regional underwriting manager for review. "I should know today," the e-mail concluded.

But Ms. Calderone did not hear about her loan that day. About a week later, she received a phone call saying the loan had been denied. Unsure if her children would be able to stay in the local school, she canceled her contract and asked for her money back. She was told that because she had failed to live up to her end of the deal, Pulte would keep her $20,000.

In early December, after she wrote a letter complaining to Pulte's chief executive, the company offered her a $10,000 credit on the purchase of another Pulte home. She declined. She and her family are now renting a home in south Florida.


29) With Egypt in Turmoil, Oil and Food Prices Climb
February 5, 2011

Filed at 10:00 a.m. EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - The turmoil in Egypt is causing economic jitters across the globe, pushing up food and oil prices so far, but bigger worries are ahead.

Will popular uprisings and revolution spread to Egypt's rich autocratic neighbors, managers of much of the world's oil supply? Will the U.S. see its influence in the region decline and that of Iran and other fundamental Islamic governments surge?

While those are open questions, there's no doubt the crisis has meant new risks for shaky economies and put a cloud over financial markets.

Instability in the Middle East, if prolonged, could jeopardize fragile recoveries in the United States and Europe. It could limit job creation and fuel inflation.

"If the turmoil is contained largely to Egypt, then the broader economic fallout will be marginal," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "Now, obviously, if it spills out of Egypt to other parts of the Middle East, the concern goes to a whole other darker level."

Protesters have topped the government of Tunisia, with more modest effects in Yemen and Jordan.

"The real worry, I think is if these protests continue indefinitely and there isn't more reassurance about stability in Egypt and in the broader region," said Shadi Hamid, a researcher on Gulf affairs at the Brookings Institution's Doha Center in Qatar. "We're going to see a continued decline in the regional economy and that will, of course, have an effect on the U.S. economy."

Hamid suggested the Obama administration's position of first supporting Mubarak and then raising the pressure on him to leave immediately was not helpful. "There is a real danger here that the Obama administration will be remembered as resisting change," he said.

The unrest already has affected U.S. energy prices.

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. was $3.12 on Friday - up 2.4 cents just in the past week. Analysts expect prices to stay above $3 a gallon - the highest since 2008 - and probably go higher until the conflict in Egypt is resolved and Mideast tensions ease.

Oil prices hovered at about $90 a barrel over the past week. Some analysts predicted the Egyptian crisis will lead to $100 per barrel prices sooner rather than later.

Traders worry the unrest might spread to oil-producing countries in the region and even affect shipments through the Suez Canal. Egypt is not a major oil producer, but it controls the canal and a nearby pipeline that together carry about 2 million barrels of oil a day from the Middle East to customers in Europe and the United States.

So far, traffic through the canal has been unimpeded. But it's high on everybody's worry list. It was blockaded by the Egyptian military for eight years after the 1967 war with Israel and shut briefly during the Suez crisis of 1956.

"I think the major fear regarding the Suez Canal revolves around the power vacuum that's being created by this uprising," said Jeff Sica, president of SicaWealth Management in Morristown, N.J. "The prospect for the Suez Canal being controlled by an unfriendly regime would further devastate the economy."

The likelihood of the canal being shut or blockaded seems remote. It is a huge source of revenue for Egypt that the government will not want to lose, no matter who is in charge. Still, just the possibility could spook financial markets if tensions escalate.

Rising food prices helped fuel the popular uprising in Egypt. Unrest in Somalia and other Arab nations also appears to be driving food prices even higher. Some nations in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Algeria, have indicated they may begin increasing their stockpiles of wheat and other grains.

Hoarding can lead to more hoarding, and political strife can accelerate the process. Egypt is the world's largest importer of wheat.

Iranian leaders have much to gain from the Egyptian turmoil. Not only is Mubarak the most anti-Iranian of American allies, but rising oil prices have clear economic benefits to Tehran.

"Hundred dollar-a-barrel oil for the Iranians does a lot to take down the pain of the sanctions that we're putting on them, so they must be sitting there rubbing their hands with glee at the moment," said Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel.


AP Diplomatic Writer Barry Schweid contributed to this report.


30) U.S. Says Farmers May Grow Engineered Sugar Beets
February 4, 2011

The Department of Agriculture said on Friday that American farmers could resume growing genetically engineered sugar beets that had been barred by a federal judge.

The decision could allow farmers to plant the biotech seeds this spring, avoiding a possible shortage of sugar later on.

"The decision is a win for consumers," said Duane Grant, a beet farmer in Rupert, Idaho, and chairman of the farmer-owned Snake River Sugar Company. "It assures a full beet crop will be planted in 2011."

But environmental groups and organic farmers were dismayed by the decision.

The genetically engineered beets accounted for more than 90 percent of the sugar beets grown last year. They can withstand spraying by the herbicide Roundup, allowing farmers to kill weeds without harming the crop.

But in August, in response to a lawsuit filed by environmental groups and organic farmers, a federal district court judge in San Francisco revoked the approval of the beets.

The judge, Jeffrey S. White, said the Agriculture Department had to prepare an environmental impact statement assessing the effects of the biotech crop. His biggest concern was that the genetically engineered trait could spread to organic sugar beet crops or to other crops like Swiss chard and red table beets.

But some farmers said there might not be enough nonengineered seed available to satisfy demand. The government projected a possible 20 percent reduction in American sugar production.

As a result, the Agriculture Department was under pressure to allow the genetically engineered beets to be grown - and to do so in time for the spring planting season - even though it did not expect to finish the environmental impact statement until May 2012.

The solution announced Friday was an interim "partial deregulation" of the beets that will hold until the impact statement is done and a final decision made. The partial deregulation was requested by the two companies that developed the crop, Monsanto and KWS, a German seed company.

Farmer-owned sugar processing companies will enter into compliance agreements with the government covering their growers. The agreements will spell out the measures that must be taken to prevent the genetically engineered traits from spreading. Farmers' fields will be subject to inspection.

For seed production, growers will need permits and will be kept from growing such seeds within four miles of other sugar beet, table beet or chard seed fields.

Paul Achitoff, the lead counsel for the groups that sued the Agriculture Department, said the conditions imposed on the growers were no different from what was now done voluntarily and would not prevent the spread of the biotech trait.

"It's just window dressing," said Mr. Achitoff, who is with the group Earthjustice.

He said the groups would ask the court to block the Agriculture Department's decision from being put into effect. One obstacle they could face, however, is that the Supreme Court, in a decision last year concerning genetically engineered alfalfa, said the Agriculture Department had the authority to grant partial deregulation.

Friday's decision is the second in less than two weeks favorable to agricultural biotechnology companies and farmers who grow the genetically engineered crops.

Last week, the Agriculture Department allowed farmers to resume growing genetically engineered Roundup-resistant alfalfa without restrictions. In doing so, it pulled back from a proposal to restrict where the biotech alfalfa could be grown so as to prevent genetically engineered material from spreading to organic alfalfa.

Sugar beets are a fairly small crop, planted on a little over one million acres, mainly in northern states, and worth somewhat more than $1 billion. Beets account for roughly half of the American sugar supply, with the rest coming from sugar cane.

World sugar prices are extremely high now because of weather problems and poor output in Brazil and Australia. That would have made it more difficult and expensive to import sugar to make up for any shortfall of American production.