BBC has an interactive photo of Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Food stalls, flag sellers, clinic and pharmacy, kindergarten, camp site, garbage bins and recycling bins...
These people do not need leaders, do not need a government.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Texas Rep. Ron Paul has won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) 2012 presidential preference straw poll of 3,742 activists, the chairman of the huge annual gathering of conservative activists announced on Saturday.
The poll, sponsored this year for the first time by The Washington Times, is seen as one of the earliest tests of grassroots popularity among the party’s dominant conservative wing, and Mr. Paul, who ran unsuccessfully for the nomination in 2008, has traditionally done well in the CPAC voting.
Here's the rundown:
Ron Paul: 30%
Mitt Romney: 23%
Chris Christie (NJ governor): 6%
Gary Johnson (former NM governor): 6%
Newt Gingrich: 5%
Michele Bachmann: 4%
Mitch Daniels (Indiana governor): 4%
Tim Pawlenty (former Minnesota governor): 4%
Sarah Palin (former Alaska governor): 3%
At least the Algerian government is doing exactly what the Egyptian government under Mubarak did:
Shutting down the Internet;
- Releasing the government-sponsored thugs to beat up on the protesters and journalists.
We know how that turned out for the regime; if anything, it further ignited wider protests, and hardened the resolve of the protesters.
But those in a government, despotic or otherwise, are very slow to catch on. (Isn't it, Madam Secretary of the US?)
Two things about Algeria that could make this uprising a bit more trickier for the West:
Algeria has a huge reserve of natural gas (8th largest), and also of oil;
- A large Algerian population in western European countries, most notably in France
From Telegraph UK (2/12/2011):
Algeria shuts down internet and Facebook as protest mounts
Internet providers were shut down and Facebook accounts deleted across Algeria on Saturday as thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were arrested in violent street demonstrations.
Plastic bullets and tear gas were used to try and disperse large crowds in major cities and towns, with 30,000 riot police taking to the streets in Algiers alone.
There were also reports of journalists being targeted by state-sponsored thugs to stop reports of the disturbances being broadcast to the outside world.
But it was the government attack on the internet which was of particular significance to those calling for an end to President Abdelaziz Boutifleka's repressive regime.
Protesters mobilising through the internet were largely credited with bringing about revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.
"The government doesn't want us forming crowds through the internet," said Rachid Salem, of Co-ordination for Democratic Change in Algeria.
"Security forces are armed to the teeth out on the street, and they're also doing everything to crush our uprising on the internet. Journalists, and especially those with cameras, are being taken away by the police." President Hosni Mubarak had tried to shut down internet service providers during 18 days of protest before stepping down as Egyptian leader on Friday.
Mostafa Boshashi, head of the Algerian League for Human Rights, said: "Algerians want their voices to be heard too. They want democratic change.
"At the moment people are being prevented from travelling to demonstrations. The entrances to cities like Algeria have been blocked."
Friday, February 11, 2011
Drudge Report became one of the infamous alternative media when it started to go after Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Throughout the Bush Administration, it linked articles critical of the administration's policies. During the Obama Administration so far, it has linked articles critical of the administration's policies. It has a conservative leaning, but not "Neocon" Conservative.
But when the ordinary people of all walks of life and religions in Egypt rise up against the dictator heavily favored and supported by the successive US administrations that it's been critical of and these people successfully and peacefully throw him out of office, what does Drudge do?
Earlier, the headline screamed "Military Coup", which is now changed to "Military Takes Command". And it shows a picture of army tanks blocking the street, with a man in Islamic religious garb knelt before the tank to offer his prayers.
Yes, there were men in religious (Islamic) clothes, but THEY WERE FAR OUTNUMBERED by people in ordinary, secular clothes. What Drudge Report tries to do is just a blatantly and patently false, cheap trick - to give the impression that the uprising was all about militant Islam agitation, and it ended with the military coup.
It must be extremely difficult to find a picture like Drudge has, among literally millions of photos taken throughout this Revolution and posted and shared all over the Internet.
Shame on you, Drudge. I am disappointed, so much so that I'm thinking of removing the link to Drudge Report from my blog. Aside from the links on Egypt, its headlines these days read more like a tabloid magazine (I guess it' just returning to the origin - Monika Lewinsky scandal...) and news is not fast.
The Egyptian Revolution in the eyes of Drudge Report:
The same Revolution in the eyes of Egyptians on the streets (now how many men like the one on Drudge can you spot?):
And when they knew they threw Mubarak (and Suleiman) out, they were shouting, singing, crying, dancing, jumping up and down...
Well. Will the US and the UK follow?
From Reuters (2/11/2011):
* Any assets of Mubarak, associates frozen immediately
* Freeze applies for three years - foreign ministry
By Catherine Bosley and Oliver Hirt
ZURICH, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Switzerland has frozen assets that may belong to Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down as president of Egypt on Friday after 30 years of rule, the foreign ministry said.
"I can confirm that Switzerland has frozen possible assets of the former Egyptian president with immediate effect," spokesman Lars Knuchel said soon after Mubarak bowed to 18 days of mass protests. "As a result of this measure any assets are frozen for three years."
He did not say how much money was involved or where it was.
Assets belonging to Mubarak's associates would also be targeted so as to limit the chance of state funds being plundered, the ministry said. Mubarak and his associates would be prevented from selling or otherwise disposing of property, notably real estate.
In recent years, Switzerland has worked hard to improve its image as a haven for ill-gotten assets.
It has also frozen assets belonging to Tunisia's former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, ousted by popular protests last month, and Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down after an election which the outside world says he lost.
A snippet I saw on Al Jazeera's Live Blog for 2/11/2011:
6:54pm ElBaradei speaks to Al Jazeera:
We need to rebuild the Egyptian culture and intellect
Mr. ElBaradei, with due respect... Haven't you been watching how these Egyptian protesters have been behaving for the past 18 days?
They have been showing to the world how civil, intelligent, resourceful, and determined they are. What better way to show the "Egyptian culture and intellect"?
Note to Egyptians: You do not need Mr. ElBaradei to "lead" you. You've been doing great.
Mr. Drudge, your site is slipping. Have you allowed your site to be hijacked by some Gen-X neocon and/or Zionist editors?
From Zero Hedge:
And with Al Arabiya reporting that Omar Suleiman has also stepped down
Al Jazeera Live TV said that even the news readers at the Egypt's state TV were smiling.
Al Jazeera headline. More soon.
I knew something happened when all the stocks on my screen started to jump (except of course, gold and silver stocks - thank you JPMorgue).
Hosni Mubarak resigns as president (2/11/2011 Al Jazeera)
Egyptian president stands down and hands over power to the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces.
Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has resigned from his post, handing over power to the armed forces.
Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, announced in a televised address that the president was "waiving" his office, and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of the armed forces.
Earlier, massive crowds have gathered across Egypt, including hundreds of thousands of protesters in and around Cairo's Tahrir [Liberation] Square, calling for Mubarak to stand down.
Pro-democracy activists in the Egyptian capital also marched on the presidential palace and state television buildings on Friday, the 18th consecutive day of protests.
Watch and hear the crowd in loud celebration in Tahrir Square with Al Jazeera Live Feed.
Egyptians wanted their country back, they're finally getting it back. THEY'VE DONE IT!
Now please don't ever lose it again.
Nice summary at Al Jazeera (2/10/2010):
January 25 - Day 1
Protests begin in Egypt on the day Barack Obama, the US president, gives State of the Union address to Congress.
Obama did not mention Egypt but did refer to protests in Tunisia, saying the US "supports the democratic aspirations of all people".
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, gave the first high-level US response to the Egypt protests, saying: "Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people."
January 26 - Day 2
Obama did not mention Egypt in prepared remarks during a visit to Wisconsin, as Egyptian police fought with thousands of people who defied a government ban to protest.
Richard Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said "Egypt is a strong ally" when asked whether the US still backed Mubarak.
Clinton urged Egyptian authorities to not prevent peaceful protests and not block communications.anuary 27 - Day 3
As protests spread, Joe Biden, the US vice president, calls Mubarak an ally on Middle East peace efforts, saying: "I would not refer to him as a dictator".
Obama, in a YouTube interview, says reform "is absolutely critical for the long-term well-being of Egypt".
January 28 - Day 4
The White House, in the strongest US reaction so far, said the country would review its $1.5bn in aid to Egypt.
"We will be reviewing our assistance posture based on events that take place in the coming days," Gibbs says.
Officials later said no such review was currently planned.
Obama spoke with Mubarak after the Egyptian president, in a televised statement, called for a national dialogue to avoid chaos.
Obama said he urged Mubarak to undertake sweeping reforms "to meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people".
January 29 - Day 5
Obama met his national security team on Egypt, as Mubarak dissolved his government and picked intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as vice president.
PJ Crowley, the US state department spokesman, tweeted that the Egyptian leader "can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat".
January 30 - Day 6
Clinton, on television talk shows, dodges questions about whether Mubarak should resign but brings the term "orderly transition" into the official US message for the first time.
"We want to see an orderly transition so that no one fills a void, that there not be a void, that there be a well thought out plan that will bring about a democratic participatory government," Clinton tells Fox News Sunday.
January 31 - Day 7
Obama dispatched Frank Wisner, a former US ambassador to Egypt, to tell Mubarak privately that he must prepare for an "orderly transition" of power.
Publicly, the White House continues to call for democratic reforms but would not be drawn on Mubarak's fate. Gibbs said: "We're not picking between those on the street and those in the government."
February 1 - Day 8
The state department orders the departure from Egypt of nonessential US government personnel and their families.
Obama made a statement that he spoke with Mubarak after the Egyptian leader pledged not to seek re-election.
He said he told Mubarak that "an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now".
February 2 - Day 9
The White House condemned the violence in Egypt and said it was concerned about attacks on peaceful demonstrators, following the bloodiest day of protests.
US officials were vague on whether Obama's call for an immediate transition of power meant the Washington wanted Mubarak to step down before the September elections.
February 3 - Day 10
The US condemned attacks on journalists. Obama told the US National Prayer Breakfast he is praying "that a better day will dawn over Egypt".
Republican senator John McCain suggests the US should consider suspending aid to Egypt's military.
The US Senate passes a bipartisan resolution calling on Mubarak to transfer power to an inclusive caretaker government.
Clinton calls on the Egyptian government and opposition "to begin immediately serious negotiations on a peaceful and orderly transition".
February 4 - Day 11
The White House called for "concrete steps" toward an orderly transition but again stopped short of demanding Mubarak's immediate resignation.
"Having made that psychological break, that decision that he will not be running again, I think the most important thing for him to ask himself ... is how do we make the transition effective, lasting and legitimate," Obama said.
"And my hope is ... that he will end up making the right decision."
February 5 - Day 12
Clinton said the US backs a transition process led by Suleiman, and that it must be given time to mature.
"The principles are very clear, the operational details are very challenging," she told a security conference in Munich, adding that radical elements may try to derail the process.
Wisner said it is "critical" that Mubarak stay in power for the time being to manage the transition.
"We need to get a national consensus around the preconditions for the next step forward. The president must stay in office to steer those changes," Wisner said.
The state department and White House quickly disavowed his comments, saying Wisner spoke in a private capacity.
February 6 - Day 13
Obama said Egypt "is not going to go back to what it was" and tells Fox News he is confident an orderly transition will produce a government that will remain a US partner.
Clinton said Mubarak had responded seriously to US calls for constitutional change, chiefly through his pledge not to run for president again.
She said she will not "prejudge" a bid by the Muslim Brotherhood to enter Egypt's political process.
February 7 - Day 14
"Obviously, Egypt has to negotiate a path and they're making progress," Obama said.
Crowley, acknowledging doubts about the credibility of the transition process, said: "Our advice would be: test the seriousness of the government and those who are participating to see if it can deliver."
Gibbs said: "The United States doesn't pick leaders of other countries."
February 8 - Day 15
Biden spoke to his Egyptian counterpart by telephone, setting out steps that the country must take in the face of unrelenting protests against Mubarak.
Biden spoke to Suleiman, stressing US support "for an orderly transition in Egypt that is prompt, meaningful, peaceful, and legitimate".
Washington set out four steps the Egyptian government must take, including an end to harassment of protesters and journalists and the immediate repeal of an emergency law allowing detention without charge.
Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said Egypt's military had behaved in "an exemplary fashion" by standing largely on the sidelines during the demonstrations.
February 9 - Day 16
In a sharp escalation of rhetoric, the US government said that Cairo had failed to reach even the "minimum threshold" for reforms in Egypt.
Gibbs said "The [Egyptian] government has not taken the necessary steps that the people of Egypt need to see. That's why more and more people come out to register their grievances."
"What you see happening on the streets of Cairo is not all that surprising when you see the lack of steps that their government has taken to meet their concerns."
Gibbs also criticised the steps taken by Suleiman who is tasked with coming up with a transition plan for Mubarak.
"The process for his transition does not appear to be in line with the people of Egypt. We believe that more has to be done," said Gibbs.
Ahmed Abul Gheit, Egypt's foreign minister, lashed out at the White House for imposiing it's "will" on its Arab ally.
February 10 - Day 17
Noting that he's watching "history unfold" Obama says that he's still hoping for an "orderly and genuine" transiton.
He did not, however, comment directly on reports that Mubarak might be stepping down.
It's way above Obama's "pay grade". About the only one thing I've found to be less unpleasant coming out of his administration these days is his mouthpiece, Robert Gibbs. The smirk seems to have been mostly wiped off his face since the Egyptian uprising started. He started to speak with some substance, unlike his phony-sounding boss. Alas, he is to depart soon, just when he finally gets it right.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Here's the intraday chart of Apple (AAPL). Just gradually drifting after all-time high of $360, the stock suddenly flash-crashed.
Something happened to Apple's (AAPL) share price Thursday afternoon that has investors still scratching their heads.
The stock, which had been sailing along near its all-time high of $360 a share, started to drop at about 1 p.m. Then, at 1:39, it collapsed, falling from $355 to $349 in the space of four minutes.
..."The selling is not normal just for negative news," wrote Bullish Cross' Andy Zaky in an e-mail. "There was a huge spike where dollars were being skipped in the selling. I saw Apple tick from $351.70 to $349.00 within seconds. There's something else. The selling was not normal. That's for sure. It wasn't orderly. Take a look for yourself."
The Fortune article cites rumors that Steve Jobs is back in the hospital, but according to this Wall Street Journal article, he seems to be just fine.
'Ts the bots, algo bots...
A wonderful youtube video linked at Al Jazeera. Just look at these Egyptians, who "are still searching for our place, we keep searching for a place we belong too, in every corner in our country", as the song says.
(Translation of the song at Al Jazeera) "I went down and I said I am not coming back, and I wrote on every street wall that I am not coming back.
"All barriers have been broken down, our weapon was our dream, and the future is crystal clear to us, we have been waiting for a long time, we are still searching for our place, we keep searching for a place we belong too, in every corner in our country.
"The sound of freedom is calling, in every street corner in our country, the sound of freedom is calling..
"We will re-write history, if you are one of us, join us and don't stop us from fulfilling our dream. "
"I went down and I said I am not coming back, and I wrote on every street wall that I am not coming back.
After 17 days of "rallying", you would think AP should know it doesn't look like "tens of thousands" of protesters but rather "millions".
Maybe their reporters are banned from viewing Al Jazeera...
A revelation from Robert Fisk's latest (2/11/2011):
Last night, a military officer guarding the tens of thousands celebrating in Cairo threw down his rifle and joined the demonstrators, yet another sign of the ordinary Egyptian soldier's growing sympathy for the democracy demonstrators. We had witnessed many similar sentiments from the army over the past two weeks. But the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.
Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.
Thus when General Hassan al-Rawani told the massive crowds yesterday evening that "everything you want will be realised – all your demands will be met", the people cried back: "The army and the people stand together – the army and the people are united. The army and the people belong to one hand."
And the cowardice and hypocrisy of the West, as Fisk has been pointing out in his reporting:
The events of the past 12 hours have not, alas, been a victory for the West. American and European leaders who rejoiced at the fall of communist dictatorships have sat glumly regarding the extraordinary and wildly hopeful events in Cairo – a victory of morality over corruption and cruelty – with the same enthusiasm as many East European dictators watched the fall of their Warsaw Pact nations. Calls for stability and an "orderly" transition of power were, in fact, appeals for Mubarak to stay in power – as he is still trying to do – rather than a ringing endorsement of the demands of the overwhelming pro-democracy movement that should have struck him down.
I cannot agree more.
After being assured by the Army that Mubarak would go, the protesters in Egypt were in for a surprise. President Mubarak vows to stay in office until September, and declares he will not bow to "foreign pressure".
Ooops, Obama, you screwed up by flipping and flopping, and didn't say what would have mattered when it would have mattered, and said things that were totally unnecessary (like this morning's speech).
Here's a picture of angry protesters in Tahrir Square with shoes. (We know what those shoes signify, don't we?) (posted by @LaurenBohn via twitpic, from Al Jazeera Live Blog Feb 11, 2011)
According to Al Jazeera, there will be an unprecedented number of Egyptians taking to streets come tomorrow. They are already heading to the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis.
In the meantime, Zero Hedge reports:
EGYPT SECURITY HQ IN RAFAH ATTACKED BY ROCKET PROPELLED GRENADE
Finally seeing the potential of much bigger turmoil and oil supply disruption out of Middle East, the US stock market futures are down right now. Dow futures -37, Nasdaq -6.75, S&P500 -4.70.
Obumbum is mischaracterizing the Egyptian Revolution, saying it's the young people who are forefront of this "historic" movement. Huh?
Hard to believe he actually watches Al Jazeera's coverage that shows people of all ages.
Obama seems to be thinking more of his upcoming 2012 presidential campaign - young (and gullible) people in forefront again of his re-election campaign.
Absolutely nothing new. Wait and see. Why bother speaking?
7:12pmAl Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reports that people around her in Tahrir Square have a strong sense of anticipation - people believe their moment has come.
7:02pm Robert Gibbs, White House spokesman, says: "The president is watching the same thing you are. I don't know what the outcome will be."
6:49pm: Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera correspondent, notes the military's Supreme Council has only ever held three open sessions in its history. 1967, 1973 - and today.
6:44pm: Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports the military presence in downtown Cairo has increased in recent hours, with greater numbers of tanks making a highly visible presence.
6:37pm: White House says situation in Egypt is 'fluid'.
6:36pm: State TV reports Mubarak will address the country tonight.
6:23pm: Egypt's prime minister says Mubarak "is still president, and no decisions taken has changed that".
6:21pm: Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Cairo, says the million-man march planned for tomorrow has already begun - Tahrir Square is absolutely packed.
6:19pm: Al-Arabiya reports Mubarak is on his way to the red sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh with chief of staff. No immediate confirmation.
6:15pm: NDP chief reportedly stopped Mubarak making speech, handing power to VP Suleiman.
6:05pm: Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, says roads to Cairo airport are reportedly being closed.
6:00pm: The CIA chief reportedly says there is a "strong likelihood" Mubarak will step down tonight.5:39pm: Huge chant, Tahrir Square seemingly in unison, shouting: "The army and the people in one hand - the army and the people are united."
The Army has been mobilized because violent protests have spread to other regions of Egypt. However, come to think about it, what the Army has done so far throughout the Revolution has been to do nothing. They didn't actively stop the police and government thugs from attacking the peaceful protesters. They didn't attack the protesters. It was probably the best outcome that they stayed pretty much neutral. The protesters in Tahrir Square did all the work themselves- self-organized to defend themselves against the government thugs, provide security, support, essential services, entertainment, and cleanup.
If the Army acts in the interest of the Egyptians, that's good. But Egyptians, make sure you tell them what to do, not the other way around. Don't let them give you another "leader".
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Robert Fisk's latest on the Egyptian Revolution and the so far pathetic response from the West:
Hypocrisy is exposed by the wind of change sweeping Arab world (Robert Fisk, 2/10/2011)
So when the Arabs want dignity and self-respect, when they cry out for the very future which Obama outlined in his Cairo speech, we show them disrespect
There is nothing like an Arab revolution to show up the hypocrisy of your friends. Especially if that revolution is one of civility and humanism and powered by an overwhelming demand for the kind of democracy that we enjoy in Europe and America. The pussyfooting nonsense uttered by Obama and La Clinton these past two weeks is only part of the problem. From "stability" to "perfect storm" – Gone With the Wind might have recommended itself to the State Department if they really must pilfer Hollywood for their failure to adopt moral values in the Middle East – we've ended up with the presidential "now-means-yesterday", and "orderly transition", which translates: no violence while ex-air force General Mubarak is put out to graze so that ex-intelligence General Suleiman can take over the regime on behalf of America and Israel.
Fox News has already told its viewers in America that the Muslim Brotherhood – about the "softest" of Islamist groups in the Middle East – is behind the brave men and women who have dared to resist the state security police, while the mass of French "intellectuals" (the quotation marks are essential for poseurs like Bernard-Henri Lévy have turned, in Le Monde's imperishable headline, into "the intelligentsia of silence".
And we all know why. Alain Finkelstein talks about his "admiration" for the democrats but also the need for "vigilance" - and this is surely a low point for any 'philosophe' – "because today we know above all that we don't know how everything is going to turn out." This almost Rumsfeldian quotation is gilded by Lévy's own preposterous line that "it is essential to take into account the complexity of the situation". Oddly enough that is exactly what the Israelis always say when some misguided Westerner suggests that Israel should stop stealing Arab land in the West Bank for its colonists.
Indeed Israel's own reaction to the momentous events in Egypt – that this might not be the time for democracy in Egypt (thus allowing it to keep the title of "the only democracy in the Middle East") – has been as implausible as it has been self-defeating. Israel will be much safer surrounded by real democracies than by vicious dictators and autocratic kings. To his enormous credit, the French historian Daniel Lindenberg told the truth this week. "We must, alas, admit the reality: many intellectuals believe, deep down, that the Arab people are congenitally backward."
There is nothing new in this. It applies to our subterranean feelings about the whole Muslim world. Chancellor Merkel of Germany announces that multiculturalism doesn't work, and a pretender to the Bavarian royal family told me not so long ago that there were too many Turks in Germany because "they didn't want to be part of German society". Yet when Turkey itself – as near a perfect blend of Islam and democracy as you can find in the Middle East right now – asks to join the European Union and share our Western civilisation, we search desperately for any remedy, however racist, to prevent her membership.
In other words, we want them to be like us, providing they stay away. And then, when they prove they want to be like us but don't want to invade Europe, we do our best to install another American-trained general to rule them. Just as Paul Wolfowitz reacted to the Turkish parliament's refusal to allow US troops to invade Iraq from southern Turkey by asking if "the generals don't have something to say about this", we are now reduced to listening while US defence secretary Robert Gates fawns over the Egyptian army for their "restraint" – apparently failing to realise that it is the people of Egypt, the proponents of democracy, who should be praised for their restraint and non-violence, not a bunch of brigadiers.
So when the Arabs want dignity and self-respect, when they cry out for the very future which Obama outlined in his famous – now, I suppose, infamous – Cairo speech of June 2009, we show them disrespect and casuistry. Instead of welcoming democratic demands, we treat them as a disaster. It is an infinite relief to find serious American journalists like Roger Cohen going "behind the lines" on Tahrir Square to tell the unvarnished truth about this hypocrisy of ours. It is an unmitigated disgrace when their leaders speak. Macmillan threw aside colonial pretensions of African unpreparedness for democracy by talking of the "wind of change". Now the wind of change is blowing across the Arab world. And we turn our backs upon it.
The Fed chairman Ben Shalom "Bernank" is on Capitol Hill for his first meeting with the lawmakers this year, in the GOP-majority House. The House Budget Committee has Ben to talk about inflation, and Ron Paul's subcommittee discusses the Fed's role in job disappearance and rising unemployment.
PDs dutifully taking down the US stock indices to create angst among bullish pundits and analysts so that they start screaming "Don't harm the Fed! Ben's been doing the exemplary job!" Dow is currently (3PM EST) down whopping ... 32 points.
That's big, you know. The 1st down day in the last 8 days...
Speaking of Ben's job creation skills, here's a chart from Zero Hedge. He sure created part-time workers...
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Ron Paul's Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology Subcommittee will hold its first hearing tomorrow (Wednesday February 9, 2011). The hearing will be about examining "the impact of Federal Reserve policies on job creation and the unemployment rate."
(Will the Fed chairman even show up? UPDATE: No he won't. The House Budget Committee, committee's chairman, Paul Ryan, R-Wis, is scheduled to have the hearing with Ben Bernank on the same Wednesday morning. That's mean, although to be expected from Repub like Paul Ryan and his cohorts who opposed Ron Paul's subcommittee chairmanship.)
(Will C-Span bother to carry?)
Most recently, Ben very nervously denied that his pet project of QE (currently version 2) has caused food riots and revolutions (see the beginning of the vid on this post). Of course he will deny that the Fed policies actually decrease jobs and increase the unemployment rate. (For more on that thinking, read this one from Zero Hedge.)
Political pundits and analysts in the West were saying "The protest is losing momentum."
The crowd in Cairo's Tahrir Square and in Alexandria on Tuesday February 8 was apparently the record number..
Here's an aerial shot of Tahrir Square, by AFP:
Another wedding in Tahrir Square, also by AFP. What a great way to start a new life:
According to Al Jazeera, not only they had already self-organized to set up checkpoints, they now have a welcoming party of some sort for the people who enter the square. There are people who patrol the square to keep order and offer help for protesters and journalists. There are food stalls and an outdoor barber shop.
Muslims continue to do their daily prayers, with non-Muslims forming the ring to guard them.
They know instinctively how to self-organize, and what's more amazing to me is that they do it with civility, equality, and fun. There are spontaneous concerts, people of all ages singing to the guitar or oud.
I think these people are natural-born Austrians. Lewrockwell.com and Ludwig von Mises Institute had better start translating their stuff into Arabic.
because GOP had sought to expedite the bill by requiring two-thirds majority.... They didn't get the votes.
(The Egyptian effect, perhaps?)
From Huffington Post:
Checking the roll call, here's the deal:
WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday failed to extend the life of three surveillance tools that are key to the nation's post-Sept. 11 anti-terror law, a slipup for the new Republican leadership that miscalculated the level of opposition.
The House voted 277-148 to keep the three provisions of the USA Patriot Act on the books until Dec. 8. But Republicans brought up the bill under a special expedited procedure requiring a two-thirds majority, and the vote was seven short of reaching that level.
The Republicans, who took over the House last month, lost 26 of their own members, adding to the 122 Democrats who voted against it. Supporters say the three measures are vital to preventing another terrorist attack, but critics say they infringe on civil liberties. They appealed to the antipathy that newer and more conservative Republicans hold for big government invasions of individual privacy.
Yeas: Republican 210, Democratic 67, total 277
Nays: Republican 26, Democratic 122, Total 148
Not voting: Republican 5, Democratic 4
So, in order to totally defeat the extension that can be passed by simple majority (amendments will be allowed), we need to convert those 67 Democrats who voted Yea, without losing any of the Republicans and Dems who voted Nay. Then, the Nays could be 215 versus 210 Yeas. In addition, we need at least 3 of the Republicans and Dems who did not vote today to vote Nay (or not vote at all, again).
Come on, Democrats, don't you hate the GOP dominated House? Here's your chance to stick it to those conventional, war-loving Republicans! Here's your chance to tell your constituents that you are the defender of individual rights and freedom from the tyranny of the state (like true liberals).
Keep calling your Congressmen, GOP or Democratic. Tell them to vote NO.
Dallas Fed chief (and CFR member and Trilateralist, among others, a thoroughbred insider elite) Richard Fisher, who many consider to be the next Fed chairman, speaks against further "easing". Right.
A very sarcastic comment from Zero Hedge:
The "good money printer - bad money printer" routine is starting to get old. Dallas Fed's Fisher joins Richmond's (non-voting) Lacker in saying no more QE. Earlier today the Dallas Fed president was heard saying anathema things like: "Very eary of further expansion of Fed's Balance Sheet", "Fed is Pushing the Envelope with Asset Purchases" and concludes that we would "probably" dissent in any vote for further QE. Um, great. You have vote Dick, use it. Same goes for Plosser and all the other wannabe Hoenigs. Oh yeah, also while you are at it, please explain just who will be buying the $4 trillion in debt to be issued in the next two years (ref: $32 Billion 3 Year Auction Prices At 1.349% As Foreign Bid Plunges And Fed Indirectly Pockets 62% Of Issue).
Philadelphia Fed chief Plosser (voting member) was supposed to be one of the dissenting voice, along with Fisher. They both had their first chance in January's FOMC to say no to Ben. Not a peep.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Urgent! Look What They Try to Sneak In: Vote to Renew Patriot Act Provisions on Tuesday February 8, 2011
US Congress and the Obumbum administration probably correctly believe we the sheeple simply don't have time to pay any attention to anything other than the 2011 Super Bowl, snow, the Egyptian Revolution, American Idol, and rising gasoline and food prices.
They are going to vote on renewal of the key provisions of the Patriot Act TOMORROW, Tuesday February 8, 2011, the Act which has most recently given us the pornographic pat-downs and scans at the airports.
If Congress does not extend these provisions, they are set to expire on February 28, 2011. The new Congress with Republican majority is expected to easily pass the bill to renew the provisions.
CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSMEN ASAP!!!
It's time we stood up like Egyptians.
From Washington's Blog:
The ACLU reports:
Three sections of the Patriot Act — the so-called 'library provision' that allows a secret court to issue orders for anything deemed relevant to an investigation; the roving wiretap provision that allows the government to get a wiretap order that doesn't specify the person or place to be tapped; and the 'lone wolf' provision, which permits intelligence wiretapping of people not connected to a terrorist group — are scheduled to expire on February 28. It's February 7.***
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) recently suggested that Congress doesn't have enough time to consider reforms this year. That was the excuse for last year's Patriot Act reauthorization. Members of Congress had suggested that they would use 2010 to really examine the effects of the USA Patriot Act and return to it in early 2011 ready to make much-needed changes.
And where are we now? Well, Congress is betting that while they weren't thinking about the Patriot Act in the past year, you weren't either. Late in the day on Friday, we learned that the House will vote tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 8, on a bill to extend the expiring Patriot Act provisions until December 8, 2011. They want to sneak this reauthorization through, and they're hoping that you don't notice.
Well, once again, we're asking you to tell Congress that you are watching, that you don't buy their fear-mongering or their scare tactics, and that you want real Patriot Act reform. We've put a new action alert up urging Congress not to rubber stamp the Patriot Act once again, and we urge you to take action. For almost 10 years, the Patriot Act has given the government too much leeway to pry into our private lives.
As the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others have documented (see this, this and this), the Patriot Act would not have prevented 9/11, and has led to numerous crimes by the FBI and other agencies.
Call Congress NOW and tell them to vote down renewing the Patriot Act. Word from D.C. is that the Patriot Act will be renewed unless there is strong public outcry today.
Remember, the Patriot Act was apparently written before 9/11, and the government's spying on Americans began before 9/11 (confirmed here and here. And see this) . These assault on the Constitution did not keep us safe.
Indeed - as I've previously noted - the "national security" apparatus has been hijacked to serve the needs of big business, and is not really protecting us.
Did you know that you can trade 'snow derivatives' on Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME)? It has been available since 2009, and ever since, we've had the record snow year after year.
From Marketplace @Public Radio (2/2/2011):
Heidi Moore:In 2009, the CME first allowed investors to predict snowfall and make money on the exchange if they were right. We've had record snowfall ever since.
CME's Tim Andriesen says companies need weather derivatives to hedge against losses when rain, heat, or snow can hurt their businesses.
Tim Andriesen: Everybody says you can't manage the weather, which is true. But you can manage the financial consequences of the weather.
Andriesen sees sunny skies ahead -- financially. Investors have bought five times as many snow contracts as last year.
Jeff Hodgson of the Chicago Weather Brokerage sells snowfall derivatives. Here's how they work:
Jeff Hodgson: I'm going to pay $10,000, and if it snows over 40 inches in Chicago, that option will be worth over $25,000. If it doesn't snow over that level, then I lose my $10,000.
Snow removers and insurance companies have the most to protect, so they're his best customers. Of course, snow derivatives only cover the cost. Someone still has to shovel it all away.
Chicago Weather Brokerage's websitesuggests it also offers temperature derivatives and rain derivatives. Checking CME's website, I've also found derivatives on frost and hurricane.
Hightlights of the snow derivatives (info from CME):
- Contract size: $500 times CME Snowfall Index
- Product: snowfall in inches in select US cities
- Contract months: Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr
- Hours: Open Outcry Sun 5PM - Fri 3:15PM
- Position Limits: 10,000 contracts all months combined
- Ticker symbol:
Boston - SB
New York - SX
Chicago O'Hare International - SW
Minneapolis International - BV
Detroit International - EK
New York LaGuardia - FG
From Zero Hedge:
For over a year now, Zero Hedge has been predicting that in its foolhardy attempt of "inflation or bust", the Fed's actions would sooner or later lead to mass rioting and possible revolutions as a result of surging and out of control food prices (which are just the peak of the alternative investment pyramid - yes, stunningly free money can go into other things besides stocks). There have been those who have claimed that deflation is still a far greater force, despite that the all important shadow banking system made a positive inflection point in ending deleveraging in Q3 (and on March 10 we will know whether the Q3 strength persisted into Q4) as was discussed previously, and today's first time in over two years increase in revolving credit merely confirms this view. Alas, to all who believe that deflation or deleveraging is a greater threat: you have our sympathies, as fundamentally your are correct, and were the business cycle have the benefit of playing out in normal course, all the world's banks would become insolvent and yes, deflation would be rampaging. The problem is that these same people do not realize that to Bernanke (whom we have referred Genocide Ben for precisely this reason) there is no other alternative, and inflation must be achieved no matter how terrible the social cost, or the damage to the monetary system. Regardless, the actions in North Africa are just the start. Commodities will run up far higher, and discontent will sooner or later reach to Asia, and possibly to countries which have nuclear arsenals at their disposal. What happens then is anyone guess. Yet for anyone who is still confused about the ultimate Fed agenda, Dylan Ratigan and Bill Fleckenstein sat down late last week to make it so clear that virtually anyone and everyone can understand what the Bernanke endgame is.
So what is Ben's endgame? Look at Ben's face in the very beginning of the video when he had to answer a question of whether the Fed had created the condition for Tunisian and Egyptian uprising by printing the extraordinary amount of money.
And don't think that this consequence is "unintended". Just look at his face.
Guardian (link above) says that will benefit 6 million people.
Art Cashin says 70% of people employed in Egypt work for the government.
Obama: Corporate Profits "Have To Be Shared By American Workers"
What "American workers"? You mean union workers, so that they continue to contribute to your campaign?
Mubarak's ministers have profited handsomely from the relationship
Al Jazeera reports many private sector business tycoons end up in the government.
Obama hands out lucrative Chinese contracts to his favored big businesses
And remember, GE's CEO Immelt is now Obama's Job Czar..
Is the Air Force planning to prosecute service members’ families for reading WikiLeaks?
Well, Egyptians finally rose against theirs.
Here's an interesting juxtaposition of Barack and Mubarak, by UK's Daily Mail. (Identical twins separated at birth that took place some 30-plus years apart?)
With the eyes of dead fish, the Commander in Chief has ordered the FCC to upgrade the national Emergency Alert System (EAS) so that he can talk directly to the Americans in times of grave, national emergency.
Everybody has heard the national Emergency Alert System (EAS). Those familiar "duck calls" that reassure listeners "THIS is a test...this is ONLY a test..."
The FCC is planning an upgrade to the tests by including presidential announcements in the system.
Lisa Fowlkes, deputy chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC, explained to the Federal Drive the Presidential Alert isn't new.
"The primary goal is to provide the President with a mechanism to communicate with the American public during times of national emergency," said Fowlkes. The change, she said, is that prior to last week's order there was no rule in place to call for or allow a test from top to bottom.
Fowlkes said, "There's never been a test from top to bottom where it's issued by FEMA and it goes straight down to all the different levels of EAS to the American public. So this is a way for us to glean, okay, if there were an actual emergency and the federal government needed to activate the Presidential EAS, making sure that it actually works the way it's designed to."
Now that there's a rule in place, the next challenges are going to be working with all the stakeholders on timing of the test and to reach out to the public so they understand it's a test and not a real emergency, Fowlkes said.
"We want to make sure that it works the way it's designed to," Fowlkes said. "If there are things that work well, great. If there are things that don't work well, we can work with EAS participants and with state and local governments as well as our federal partners to correct or improve what doesn't work."
At the same time, said Fowlkes, the FCC is looking at how wireless broadband could also enhance the EAS as part of a recommendation that was in the FCC's National Broadband Plan from last year.
The idea is to leverage broadband and the Internet for emergency alerting with the "Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) being developed by FEMA and the wireless industry."
CMAS would allow three kinds of text messaging or wireless alert to be sent, said Fowlkes:
- Presidential Alerts - "Which would be the same as what the president might issue or FEMA might issue through the EAS system,
- Imminent Threat Alerts - Which Fowlkes said would warn when "there's a hurricane coming or a tornado coming," and then the
- Child Abduction Emergency/AMBER Alerts - Alerts related to missing or endangered children due to an abduction or runaway situation.
Fowlkes said the CMAS is slated to begin deployment in April 2012.
There's your "Internet Kill Switch" right there, "The idea is to leverage broadband and the Internet for emergency alerting..." You will be surfing the net on your cellphone, iPad, PC, and all of a sudden the face of Obama appears and he tells you he's shutting down the net because of the national emergency, which will be so critical and dangerous that he cannot tell you what it is.
Something like that...
It's so 1984 it never ceases to amaze me.
I just wonder what kind of "emergency" the Obama admin is thinking of (or should I dare say planning?).
I have a feeling that it is increasingly hard to pull off a so-called "terrorist" attack on the US soil, although it is certainly possible. (Remember the timely WikiLeaks leak that Al-Qaeda is ready to use dirty nukes?)
I think the "terror" may be biological. I have no basis for that, other than that I happened to read an old article in UK's Guardian about Spanish flu, and in the passing the article said that the scientists reconstructed the extremely deadly Spanish flu virus.
The reconstruction, by the way, was done by the US Army scientists.
So, it is just the "recency bias" on my part. Don't worry. As long as people watch Super Bowl and the shares of Apple (AAPL) keep going up, things are just fine. Nothing to worry about, nothing to see.
which UK's Guardian estimates to be as much as $70 billion.
Al Jazeera February 7, 2011 Live Blog quotes an independent newspaper that mentions the wealth effect of having worked for Mubarak's regime:
10:48pm Al-Masry al-Youm, the largest independent newspaper, released information from Egyptian authorities investigating the former ministers, businessmen, and officials who were banned from travelling and whose assets were frozen. It shows that:
The wealth of Ahmed Ezz, the former NDP Organisation Secretary, is estimated to be 18 billion Egyptian pounds;
The wealth of former Housing Minister Ahmed al-Maghraby is estimated to be more than 11 billion Egyptian pounds;
The wealth of former Minister of Tourism Zuhair Garrana is estimated to be 13 billion Egyptian pounds;
The wealth of former Minister of Trade and Industry, Rashid Mohamed Rashid, is estimated to be 12 billion Egyptian pounds;
The wealth of former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly is estimated to be 8 billion Egyptian pounds.
Sources at Cairo Airport said 3 of former ministers asked for a permission to travel yesterday and the day before yesterday, but they were denied such permission.
With these alone, it is more than 62 billion Egyptian Pounds, which is over $10 billion.
Mubarak's sons got away easily, unlike these ex-ministers who are not the Mubarak family members. But don't let Mubarak out of the country, until you negotiate with him his severance package.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
That will be on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 10AM, in Room 2128 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
You Are Invited (Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., 2/7/2011)
The historic first hearing of Chairman Ron Paul's monetary policy committee, to expose the Fed as the prime creator of unemployment and so much human suffering, will take place at: 10:00AM on Wednesday, February 9, 2011, in Room 2128 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the main hearing room of the Financial Services Committee. The witnesses include the eloquent Austro-free-market stars Thomas DiLorenzo of Loyola College and Richard Vedder of Ohio University.
The Fed itself, and at least three big banks, lobbied against Ron's chairmanship. Republicans who share their fear of the truth worked with Paul Ryan, chairman of the "Budget" Committee, to schedule hearings with Bernanke at the exact same time as Ron's, to try to diminish the significance of Ron's. Ryan, btw, is the fair-haired boy of the Republican leadership who gave the boring response to Obama's boring State of the Empire Address. Like the Republican leadership, Ryan talks about cutting spending, but that is only a ruse. Ryan is a big-government neocon, and so naturally supported TARP, Bush's prescription drug welfare, his wars, and the empire.
I don't believe this insider trick will work against Ron, because his support comes not from the regime or the Republican leadership, but from the grassroots. I think the Paulians will pack Ron's hearings, and not only to show their support for him against the power elite. These hearings will have huge significance in the fight against the Fed, the fractional-reserve banksters, and other destroyers of our prosperity and freedom. It will also be a lot of fun!
Let's see... The Fed and TBTF Wall Street banks were lobbying against Ron Paul becoming the chairman of this subcommittee, along with mainstream Republicans. What can they do now to make the day miserable?
How about Ben Bernank instructing JP Morgue to sell sell sell those S&P500 mini futures? Let's blame Ron Paul for the resulting flash crash, and for dare asking the questions!
February 7, 2011, 4:58AM update on Al Jazeera Live Blog. I was struck by the faces of people singing impromptu anti-Mubarak song. They are so diverse.
What Hank, Ben, and Ken Did in November/December of 2008: Lawless Government Is Right Here in the US
If you want to see a corrupt, dictatorial government in action, you don't need to sit glued to Al Jazeera's Live Feed on Egypt. It's right here in the US, and the government just gets away with breaking the law and ignoring the sub-humans (anyone who doesn't work for the government or the TBTF banks) each and every single instance.
This is just one of those, as recounted by Zero Hedge. It is about how Hank Paulson and Ben "Bernank" Bernanke illegally forced Ken Lewis, then-CEO of Bank of America, to go through with the purchase of Merrill Lynch without Ken Lewis invoking the MAC clause - that is, "Material Adverse Change" clause - and reneging on the deal.
Part from Zero Hedge:
Mr. Corngold: Before we do that, did you have an understanding of what powers the Treasury Department had to remove the board and/or the management of the bank?
The Witness: It was my understanding he said – that’s why I said I think he said government. I think – my impression is that was the language of the Fed used to use in Texas, basically saying, Don’t do something.
Mr. Corngold: You had an understanding that the Fed could remove the board and/or the management of a bank that it regulated if it found certain things.
Q: Do you know what it has to find?
A: They had been so strong about the fact that they strongly advised use not to do it and that it would cause harm to the bank and the system and they system wouldn’t be good for us, either – that it would damage the system. That’s kind of how it was being portrayed.
Q: Was this the first you heard about the government – to use your term – was considering that threat.
Q: Did you ask him, “By the way, what do you mean by that” – I’m sorry, the comment about the removal?
A: No. It was pretty clear.
Q: And at the time, did you sort of have that preexisting understanding of the Texas Fed way of communicating.
A: I had heard that at some point. I don’t know why that’s in my mind, but I’ve heard of that before that’s a way of telling you not to do something.
Q: Have you heard any kind of communication like that from a federal official to you before?
A: This was about just a shear magnitude of loss, and either you do it or you don’t. Behavioral changes, or whatever, wouldn’t fill that hole that we thought was $12 billion, which turned out to be $15 billion.
The bottom line, however, is that Ken Lewis wanted to hang on to the CEO job at Bank of America. He could have called their bluff and disclosed everything out in the open. That might have blown up the financial markets, but I doubt it. Merrill didn't have the kind of extensive reach that Lehman had. Even if that triggered the blowup, it might have been far better than what we have now - a market that has stopped pricing in anything meaningful, whether it is an on-going crisis in Egypt, dismal job numbers, housing market that keeps on collapsing, sovereign debt crisis, "non-core" inflation, skyrocketing commodities prices .... etc...etc... In other words, the market is dead.
Read the whole deposition at the link, and wonder aloud why isn't any of them, Hank, Ben, or Ken, in jail or permanent exile.
From Wall Street Journal (2/6/2010):
Egyptians streamed into Tahrir Square for a 13th day of protests Sunday, one punctuated by a movie star, a bride and groom, and public displays of unity between the country's Muslims and Christians.
Near the northern end of the square, site of brutal fighting midweek between supporters and opponents of the regime, a group of Muslim scholars from the prestigious university at Al-Azhar joined a contingent of Coptic Christians who marched holding up a large wooden crucifix while the Azhar clergy held up an open Quran.
They trotted through the square, mixing chants of interfaith unity and the now-trademark anti-Mubarak slogans. At one point, an Azhar scholar embraced a Coptic marcher and kissed him on the cheek.
The article has two videos from Reuters embedded. The first one reports that as these Coptic Christians prayed, the non-Christian/Muslim protesters gathered around them to form a human shield to protect them, just like the non-Muslim/Christian protesters did for the Muslim protesters as they prayed.
Meanwhile, the supposedly "anti-government, anti-Mubarak, radical Islamic fundamentalism" movement of Muslim Brotherhood has been negotiating with the Mubarak/Suleiman government for possible power-share.
I think Mr. Suleiman, the head spook of Egypt with strong ties to intelligence communities in the US and Israel, will find Muslim Brotherhood very useful.
Watch out, Egyptians... Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.