Monthly Archives: January 2011

All Eyes on Egypt: Riots Continue as Mubarak Names Vice President and Prime Minister

Protest continue to grow in Egypt, President Honsi Mubarak tries to show he’s in control by increasing the Military Presence including ordering fighter jets fly over Cairo Sunday. Sky News:

The appearance of the two air force planes was considered to be part of efforts to send demonstrators back to their homes in the capital.

Several tanks were also seen rumbling into the city centre and the suburbs while the jets made multiple passes overhead.

However, troops made no attempt to move the thousands of people in Tahrir Square calling for the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

In addition Mubarak has name his vice president and prime minster in a bid to tamp down on opposition. Omar Suleiman Mubarak’s confident and a former intelligence chief named Vice President Saturday. From Fox News Channel:

State television showed footage of Mubarak with his newly appointed vice president, former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, meeting Egypt’s top army commanders Sunday. The images appeared to be a bid to show that control of the armed forces was still in the hands of Mubarak and his regime.

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North Africa on Edge: Public Protest Governments in Egypt and Tunisia

Tunisia and and Egypt have turned into political powder keg. In Tuinisa, citizens have protest the recent re-election of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and the recent revelation by a US Ambassador has led massive protests and rioting on the government for the Presidents lavish lifestyle and the lack of  jobs in Tunisia From The New York Times:

This ancient Mediterranean hamlet, advertised as the Tunisian St.-Tropez, has long been the favorite summer getaway of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and his large extended family, many of whom have built vast beachfront mansions here with the wealth they have amassed during his years in power.

But their new and conspicuous riches, partly exposed in a detailed cable by the American ambassador and made public by WikiLeaks, have fueled an extraordinary extended uprising by Tunisians who blame corruption among the elite for the joblessness afflicting their country.

And on Thursday, idyllic Hammamet became the latest casualty of that rage, as hundreds of protesters swarmed the streets, the police fled and rioters gleefully ransacked the mansion of a presidential relative, liberating a horse from its stable and setting aflame a pair of all-terrain vehicles.

That outburst was just a chapter in the deadly violence that flared around the country and in Tunis, the capital, again on Thursday, making the government appear increasingly shaky. The mounting protests threaten not only to overturn a close United States ally in the fight against terrorism but also to pull back the veneer of tranquil stability that draws legions of Western tourists to Tunisia’s coastal resorts.

President Ben Ali gave a hastily scheduled televised address on Thursday night, his second in the past week, and this time he appeared rattled. He no longer blamed foreign terrorists or vowed to crack down on protesters. Instead, he pledged to give in to many of the protesters’ demands, including an end to the government’s notoriously tight censorship, but rejecting calls for an immediate end to his 23-year rule.

“I am telling you I understand you, yes, I understand you,” Mr. Ben Ali, 74, declared. “And I decided: total freedom for the media with all its channels and no shutting down Internet sites and rejecting any form of monitoring of it.

Since the original article President Ben Ali resigned and fled with is family Somewhere in Saudi Arabia says France 24:

Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi has taken over as interim president after Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali (pictured) left the country in the wake of weeks of protest against his 23-year rule. Ben Ali arrived in Saudi Arabia early on Saturday.

By AFP / FRANCE 24 (video)

Meanwhile Tunisia forms a coalition government. Reuters:

The ousting of Tunisia’s president after widespread protests could embolden Arab opposition movements and ordinary people to challenge entrenched governments across the Middle East.

Speaker of parliament Fouad Mebazza, sworn in as interim president, asked Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi to form a coalition government and the constitutional authorities said a presidential election should be held within 60 days.

The French government called on Tunisia to hold free elections as soon as possible and said it had taken steps to block suspicious movements of Tunisian assets in France.

Ben Ali has taken 1.5 tons of Gold equal to 4.5 million Euros  according to CNBC Report.

How one man Started a Region-wide  revolution. From London Daily-Mail:

It all began with the despair of one man, a young graduate unable to get a job, like so many others in his country.

Mohammed Bouazizi turned to selling fruit and veg illegally to earn some money for his family, but when the police confiscated his produce last month because he had no permit, it was all too much. He poured petrol on himself and set it alight in an unusually public protest.

The 26-year-old died earlier this month, but today he is a hero. Not just to his nation, but across the ‘gendarmerie’ states of north Africa.

For that agonising act of self-immolation sparked something remarkable: a wave of protests that, for the first time in recent memory, felled a leader in the Arab world.

Courageous protesters withstood bullets, beatings and bloodshed to oust a loathed president who had made their lives a misery while growing rich at their expense.

The people of Tunisia struggle with poverty, joblessness and a greedy presidential family. From the Daily Mail:

Tunisia’s angry protestors are shedding no tears for the downfall of ousted President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s greedy wife Leila.

The former hairdresser was likened to the Philippines’ Imelda Marcos of the Arab world because of her love of wealth and its trappings.

While Ben Ali, 74, was granted refuge in Saudi Arabia, his wife,  more than 20 years her husband’s junior, was at first thought to be holed up in Dubai –  a destination she is said to know well through shopping trips.

The woman who came from a humble background, was branded ‘The Regent of Carthage’ for her power behind the throne and her love of money, luxury cars and opulent homes.

This is why so much of the anger on the streets was directed at the family who were known as ‘The Mafia.’

Looters sick of the family’s nepotism filmed themselves on mobile phones destroying  the family’s expensive cars at one of their villas and riding motorbikes across the manicured laws.

Their two daughters have fled to the Disneyland Hotel in Paris, where they are holed up in £300-a-night VIP suites.

Nesrine Ben Ali, 24, and her sister Cyrine are under guard there while their father Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali is being given sanctuary in Saudi Arabia

Soon after protesters in  other Arabic nations join in including Algeria, Yemen. Toronto Globe and Mail:

Tunisia’s revolution spreads as other countries inspired to protest against authoritarian regimes

Protesters clash with police in Algers

The Glob and Mail have an extensive online galleries of the protests across the Middle East and North Africa.

Also from Yahoo News:

Two days after Yemen’s political opposition called for a national uprising against the leadership of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, thousands of protesters took to the streets in the capital city of Sanaa, calling for the removal of what they view as a persistently corrupt regime.

A crowd of men, wearing pink bandanas in support of Tunisia’s recent revolution, flooded the streets in four different locations in Sanaa. They waved Yemen’s red, white, and black flag and carried posters that read, “We’ve had enough suppression,” “We’ve had enough corruption,” and “We are next” – written above a picture of the Tunisian flag.

I am here today to express that we need a change in the president, that we refuse corruption, and that we are against constitutional changes that will allow the president to be president for life,

But while protesters have drawn inspiration from Tunisia’s revolution, the real effect of Yemen’s protests is likely to be more modest than regime change. Rather, Yemen’s coalition of opposition parties seeks to tap the post-Tunisia revolution energy in Yemen to pressure the ruling party to make reforms that they had sought months before the Tunisian uprising began.

Now Egypt the largest Arabic nation in the Middle East protests against President Hosni Mubarak. From AP via My Way News:

Thousands of anti-government protesters, some hurling rocks and climbing atop an armored police truck, clashed with riot police Tuesday in the center of Cairo in a Tunisia-inspired demonstration to demand the end of Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30 years in power.

Police responded with blasts from a water cannon and set upon crowds with batons and acrid clouds of tear gas to clear demonstrators crying out “Down with Mubarak” and demanding an end to the country’s grinding poverty.

Tuesday’s demonstration, the largest Egypt has seen for years, began peacefully, with police showing unusual restraint in what appeared to be a concerted government effort not to provoke a Tunisia-like mass revolt.

As the crowds in downtown Cairo’s main Tahrir square continued to build, however, security personnel changed tactics and the protest turned violent.

Demonstrators attacked the police water canon truck, opening the driver’s door and ordering the man out of the vehicle. Some hurled rocks and dragged metal barricades. Officers beat back protesters with batons as they tried to break cordons to join the main group of demonstrators downtown.

To the north, in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, thousands of protesters also marched in what was dubbed a “Day of Rage” against Mubarak and lack of political freedoms under his rule.

In another parallel with the Tunisia protests, the calls for rallies went out on Facebook and Twitter, with 90,000 saying they would attend.

By Saturday Egyptian President Honsi Mubarak  spoke out againstt the protests. Them he dissolved his cabinet during a speech as riots intensifies. From CNN:

President Mubarak’s announcement that he was going to dissolve the government Saturday did not sit well with some protesters.

“Mubarak just blamed the government. We will continue our demonstrations until we get our full demands. We want him to leave. His time is over,” said Ahmed, a 19-year-old law student demonstrator in Central Alexandria’s Raml Square.

“We are one of the richest Arab countries and we want to live. Let a new government form but if we don’t get what we ask for, we will go back to the streets again and again,” said Mohammed, a 20- year-old student.

US President Barack Obama calls on the violence to end om Egypt, restore communications cell phone and internet. and the US Secretly backs the protesting.:

U.S. President Barack Obama called on Egyptian authorities Friday to refrain from violence and to reverse any actions they have taken to limit access to the internet in the wake of protests there.

Obama said he spoke to the Egyptian president after he announced plans to dissolve his government and take steps with a new cabinet to implement reforms that will revitalize the economy and create more jobs.

“I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.”

Outgoing White House senior adviser David Axelrod said President Obama warn Pres. Mubarak that protest are coming. From ABC News

In a network exclusive interview to air on Nightline tonight, we sat down this afternoon with White House senior adviser David Axelrod, the president’s closest aide, whose last day at the White House is today.

We talked about a number of issues in this exit interview, but perhaps most news-worthy were his comments on Egypt in which Axelrod suggested President Obama has for two years “directly confronted” the Egyptian president over human rights issues in order to get ahead of growing discontent among his people – a stronger characterization of President Obama’s discussions with Mubarak than we’ve so far heard from the White House.

The relevant section of the interview is below.

TAPPER: Hosni Mubarak is not a good guy and that government tortures, is repressive, doesn’t believe in the same freedoms we do and they’re also one of our closest allies in the Middle East.

AXELROD: Obviously these are the challenges of the presidency in a very difficult world. And, but the way he’s confronted it, is he went to Cairo and talked about the need, the universal human rights of people. He’s — on several occasions directly confronted Pres. Mubarak on it. And pushed him on the need for political reform —

TAPPER: To get ahead of this.

AXELROD: — in his country. Exactly to get ahead of this. This is a project he’s been working on for 2 years and today the president is working hard to encourage restraint and a cessation of violence against the people of Egypt.

TAPPER: With senior administration officials very pointedly suggesting future US aid to Egypt will depend on how Egypt responds. I mean, that’s a real threat.

Mubarak announces his Vice President to appease his critics. From AP via Yahoo News:

With protests raging, Egypt’s president named his intelligence chief as his first-ever vice president on Saturday, setting the stage for a successor as chaos engulfed the capital. Soldiers stood by — a few even joining the demonstrators — and the death toll from five days of anti-government fury rose sharply to 74.

Saturday’s fast-moving developments across the north African nation marked a sharp turning point in President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule of Egypt.

The appointment of the president’s intelligence chief and longtime confidant, Omar Suleiman, as vice president.

The appointment of Suleiman, 74, answers one of the most intriguing and enduring political questions in Egypt: Who will succeed 82-year-old Mubarak?

Another question is whether his appointment will calm Egypt’s seething cities.

Mubarak appointed Suleiman shortly after the U.S. said he needed to take concrete action to achieve “real reform.” Suleiman is well known and respected by American officials and has traveled to Washington many times.

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Obama Gives State of Union Address

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama gave his 2011 State of the Union Speech During a Joint session of Congress. The President focused on Investment on infrastructure. The President also focused on bring the country together after the recent shooting in Tucson which injured Rep. Gabriella Giffords (D-AZ) , 15 other and killed 6 people.

AP provides analysis  the President plans which includes not only infrastructure but freezing spending. From AP via Yahoo News:

The ledger did not appear to be adding up Tuesday night when President Barack Obama urged more spending on one hand and a spending freeze on the other.

Obama spoke ambitiously of putting money into roads, research, education, efficient cars, high-speed rail and other initiatives in his State of the Union speech. He pointed to the transportation and construction projects of the last two years and proposed “we redouble these efforts.” He coupled this with a call to “freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years.”

But Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.

For example, he said he wants to eliminate “billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies.” Yet he made a similar proposal last year that went nowhere. He sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request, even though Democrats were then in charge of both houses of Congress.

A look at some of Obama’s statements Tuesday night and how they compare with the facts:

OBAMA: Tackling the deficit “means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit.”

THE FACTS: The idea that Obama’s health care law saves money for the government is based on some arguable assumptions.

To be sure, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the law will slightly reduce red ink over 10 years. But the office’s analysis assumes that steep cuts in Medicare spending, as called for in the law, will actually take place. Others in the government have concluded it is unrealistic to expect such savings from Medicare.

In recent years, for example, Congress has repeatedly overridden a law that would save the treasury billions by cutting deeply into Medicare pay for doctors. Just last month, the government once again put off the scheduled cuts for another year, at a cost of $19 billion. That money is being taken out of the health care overhaul. Congress has shown itself sensitive to pressure from seniors and their doctors, and there’s little reason to think that will change.

___

OBAMA: Vowed to veto any bills sent to him that include “earmarks,” pet spending provisions pushed by individual lawmakers. “Both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.”

THE FACTS: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has promised that no bill with earmarks will be sent to Obama in the first place. Republicans have taken the lead in battling earmarks while Obama signed plenty of earmark-laden spending bills when Democrats controlled both houses. As recently as last month, Obama was prepared to sign a catchall spending measure stuffed with earmarks, before it collapsed in the Senate after an outcry from conservatives over the bill’s $8 billion-plus in home-state pet projects.

It’s a turnabout for the president; in early 2009, Obama sounded like an apologist for the practice: “Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that’s why I’ve opposed their outright elimination,” he said then.

Boy,oh boy what a speech. Vague as Hell and its a retread. Oh well maybe next year.

Chinese Pianist Plays Anti-American Propaganda Piece at White House

Stunning a Chinese Pianist who was a guest of China President Hu Jintao had a surprise for his American Hosts Playing an anti- American piece “My Motherland” From Epoch Times:

Lang Lang the pianist says he chose it. Chairman Hu Jintao recognized it as soon as he heard it. Patriotic Chinese Internet users were delighted as soon as they saw the videos online. Early morning TV viewers in China knew it would be played an hour or two beforehand. At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie “Battle on Shangganling Mountain.”

The film depicts a group of “People’s Volunteer Army” soldiers who are first hemmed in at Shanganling (or Triangle Hill) and then, when reinforcements arrive, take up their rifles and counterattack the U.S. military “jackals.”

The movie and the tune are widely known among Chinese, and the song has been a leading piece of anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades. CCP propaganda has always referred to the Korean War as the “movement to resist America and help [North] Korea.” The message of the propaganda is that the United States is an enemy—in fighting in the Korean War the United States’ real goal was said to be to invade and conquer China. The victory at Triangle Hill was promoted as a victory over imperialists.

The song Lang Lang played describes how beautiful China is and then near the end has this verse, “When friends are here, there is fine wine /But if the jackal comes /What greets it is the hunting rifle.” The “jackal” in the song is the United States.

The name of the song is “My Motherland,” originally titled “Big River.” In an interview broadcast on Phoenix TV, the first thing Lang Lang is quoted as saying is that he chose the piece.

President Obama says Jobs will be His Focus This Year in the State of the Union Speech

Stop me if you have heard that one before: President Obama says Jobs will be his focus. He will present this during the State of the Union Speech on Wednesday. From Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit via White House You Tube Channel:

Barack Obama released a video today to supporters giving them a glimpse of his State of the Union Address this coming week.
Obama says his “principle and number one focus” this next year will be on creating jobs.

Funny, I think heard him say something like that before:

Nah, I must be dreaming!

MTV New Raunchy Sex Addled Show Raises Concerns

MTV’s newest reality show “Skins” is causing headaches to parent company Viacom and advertiser Taco Bell. The show racy content is showing under age kids provocative situations. From the New York Times:

MTV executives have a new hit drama on their hands, featuring the sexual and drug-fueled exploits of misfit teenagers. They also have something else — a fear that coming episodes of the show may break the law.

In recent days, executives at the cable channel became concerned that some scenes from the provocative new show “Skins” may violate federal child pornography statutes.

The executives ordered the producers to make changes to tone down some of the most explicit content.

One episode feature a 17 year boy with issues a Viagra like medication:

They are particularly concerned about the third episode of the series, which is to be broadcast Jan. 31. In an early version, a naked 17-year-old actor is shown from behind as he runs down a street. The actor, Jesse Carere, plays Chris, a high school student whose erection — assisted by erectile dysfunction pills — is a punch line throughout the episode.

MTV officials say the series  deals with problems that teens encounters in everyday life:

“ ‘Skins’ is a show that addresses real-world issues confronting teens in a frank way,” she said in a statement. “We review all of our shows and work with all of our producers on an ongoing basis to ensure our shows comply with laws and community standards. We are confident that the episodes of ‘Skins’ will not only comply with all applicable legal requirements, but also with our responsibilities to our viewers.”

Two major advertisers  has dropped sponsorship.Taco Bell and General Motors.

And the Parents Television Council are calling for Congressional hearings. From The Hollywood Reporter:

One day after it was reported Viacom executives ordered producers to tone down its racy teen drama, the Parents Television Council has announced it’s urging the Department of Justice and U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees to open an investigation.

“In addition to the sexual content on the show involving cast members as young as 15, PTC counted 42 depictions and references to drugs and alcohol in the premiere episode,” the group wrote in a letter to the government organizations.

“It is clear that Viacom has knowingly produced material that may well be in violation of [several anti-child pornography laws],” added the PTC, which earlier called the show “the most dangerous program ever for children.”

And I thought late 1970’s / early 1980’s teen and young adult movies were racy. Wow. Just. WOW!

Parents, grandparents and guardians read everything!!!

Crony Capitalism Alive and Well: GE Jeff Immelt To Head Presidental Advisory Board

GE’s CEO Jeffery Immelt to head the President Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.  It seems that you play the game right you’ll win. Fox News has the story:

“Jeff Immelt’s experience at G.E. and his understanding of the vital role the private sector plays in creating jobs and making America competitive makes him up to the challenge of leading this new council.”

— Statement from President Obama announcing that G.E. CEO Jeff Immelt will lead the new President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
When Democrats said President Obama was “pro-business,” we didn’t know they meant one business in particular.
There are a few companies on the Obama corporate A List – Democratic patrons Google and Goldman Sachs both turn up again and again at White House functions and for special recognition – but no company seems to get the VIP treatment that General Electric receives.

Obama will announce today on a visit to a G.E. plant in Schenectady, N.Y. that G.E. CEO Jeffrey Immelt will lead his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The panel replaces the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker.

That what you get when Uncle Sam play favorites crony capitalism.!