Egypt remains in turmoil on Sunday.
** OBAMA TODAY – SUNDAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
He has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama has no scheduled public events.
Obama is meeting with key members of his national security team on the crisis in Egypt.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on all five Sunday morning TV chat shows, saying that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has to do much more than he has so far to reform his regime. Denouncing “faux democracy,” she called for a transition to full democracy.
Protests continued today in Egypt, which is 10 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.
The Egyptian stock market, scheduled to open today, remained closed.
Mobile phone service has been restored, but texting services are blocked. The Internet is largely blocked, making Egypt the first country in history to be taken off the global cyber-network. The government is trying to shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in the country.
With the police having largely withdrawn, the army is now much in evidence on the streets. Looting has become rampant and thousands of prisoners, including hundreds of Islamists, were freed in Saturday night raids on four prisons.
Egyptian fighter jets swooped low over downtown Cairo repeatedly today around the time of Mubarak’s new 4 PM curfew, which was nonetheless largely ignored.
The U.S. Embassy has suggested it would be prudent for American tourists to curtail their travel. Non-emergency U.S. employees and dependents are being allowed to depart immediately. That is, if they can get a flight.
In one more positive sign, Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, was released from house arrest and addressed protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES – SUNDAY. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
He is prepping for his State of the State address, set for Monday at 5 PM.
This is a key event for him, as he’s made very few public appearances since being elected governor on November 2nd.
In his weekly video/radio address, filmed Thursday at Orion Energy Systems in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, President Barack Obama says that America “will win the future” by “out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building” its competitors.
** OBAMA TODAY – SATURDAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He has no scheduled public events.
Obama is meeting today with members of the National Security Council on the crisis in Egypt.
Egypt is America’s biggest ally in the Arab world. But longtime leader Hosni Mubarak is 82 and ill, and has been attempting to foist his son off as his successor, to the notable disapproval of the country’s military. As is the case in much of the Arab world, the leadership is autocratic and unresponsive, most of the populace under-privileged and reeling from economic dislocations.
Today Mubarak named his national intelligence chief, rather than his son, as his new vice president and possible successor. Mubarak had left the vice presidency unfilled since taking power decades ago. Now it’s the 74-year old Omar Suleiman, like Mubarak a product of the Egyptian military.
Mubarak also named the former head of the Egyptian Air Force, now Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafiq as the country’s new prime minister. Mubarak, too, was the commander of the air force prior to becoming president.
Protests continued today, but were somewhat lighter, perhaps because protesters have been on the streets for days and need rest, perhaps because they are assessing the changing situation, perhaps because the army is out in force. But the soldiers are reportedly mainly guarding principal arteries and TV stations.
The army does not appear to be suppressing the protests. In fact, there are reports of troops protecting protesters from the security police, which are the most loyal to the Mubarak regime. The security police are guarding government ministries and the presidential palace.
The military is the most stable and credible institution in the country. If they turn on Mubarak, it’s clearly over for him.
The chief of staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, General Sami Anan, returned to his country on Friday from Washington, cutting short one of his regular visits to the US.
A State Department spokesman warned Mubarak in a statement today that the US expects reforms in his regime, not merely a reshuffling of the deck.
The US announced yesterday that aid to Egypt, which amounts to $1.4 billion a year, most of which goes to the military, is under review pending resolution of the crisis.
Egypt is the second biggest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, behind Israel.
It’s been a bulwark of America’s counter-jihadist strategies, serving also as a key counter-weight to Iran and a stabilizer of the situation with Israel. But like many Arab countries, it has failed to address basic needs of most of its people and has squelched political reform efforts.
In that regard, mobile phone service is back on today in Egypt. But the Internet is still largely down or reduced in service.
Protests continued in Egypt on Saturday.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Tunisia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and the Korean peninsula, as well as the Wikileaks crisis.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … JERRY BROWN 2.0: HOW’S IT GOING?
** FROM THE JERRY FILES – SATURDAY. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California today.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is working on California’s chronic budget crisis and on developing his nascent administration.
He is also working on his State of the State address, now set for 5 PM on Monday.
** OBAMA AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE JFK INAUGURAL 50 YEARS ON. Why, 50 years after the fact, did official Washington celebrate the inauguration of a most imperfect man who served less than one term as president, and had far fewer accomplishments than many other presidents?
The answer undoubtedly lies in why John F. Kennedy continues to be rated higher in polling than all other modern presidents, and why Barack Obama became a major political figure in the first place and is resurgent today. Ideology, policy, even accomplishment has remarkably little to do with it. … From my January 22nd essay.
** THE JERRY BROWN ERA UNFOLDS (AGAIN). And he is off and running as governor of California. Again. The first week of Jerry Brown’s governorship told us a lot, and set the stage for the second week, in which a hellacious state budget proposal is dominating.
First, let’s look at that, and then at the first week of the Brown governorship as he took over from Arnold Schwarzenegger. A week that was telling and even, in its way, festive. At least at first. … From my January 11th feature.
** 2010: A JERRY BROWN ODYSSEY. … From my December 20th feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in two wars in the region, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil closed on Friday at $89.34 per barrel. Energy markets are closed on the weekend.
This is up about $55 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
Oil went up nearly $4 per barrel yesterday due to the turmoil in Egypt and much of the Arab world.
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