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While Cairo Burns, Obama Parties

President Obama and David Axelrod
© unknown
President Obama and David Axelrod
The Washington A-List was out in force Saturday night at the farewell party for senior adviser David Axelrod, with a roster of guests featuring Cabinet secretaries, big shot journos and - President Obama.

As revolution threatened to sweep Egypt and possibly other allies - with the horrifying prospect of Islamism replacing reliable friends - the president was on view partying with the IN crowd.

The skepticism beyond the Beltway about whether Washington is just one big Love-In certainly gets fed by the sight - as conveyed by the press pool report - of reporters like ABC's Jake Tapper, NBC's Chuck Todd, National Journal's Major Garrett, and John Harwood of CNBC and the New York Times emerging from a bash with the president that was held to toast his chief political fixer and leading spinmeister.

I understand why reporters would do this - other than the admittedly pathetic notion that, gosh, it's fun to party with the president of the United States! It is pretty good for building sources and getting inside dope. But man, it ain't easy smacking the White House with tough stories all the time if you're getting invited to their exclusive parties, now is it?

Che Guevara

U.S. role in Egypt crisis "shameful"- Chavez

Hugo Chavez
© Unknown
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
  • Venezuelan leader accuses U.S. of meddling
  • Briefed by Libya's Gaddafi and Syria's al-Assad
Venezuela's firebrand leader Hugo Chavez accused the United States on Sunday of a "shameful" role in the Egyptian crisis and of hypocrisy for supporting, then abandoning strongmen round the world.

Chavez, Washington's leading critic in the Americas, said he had spoken to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad for a briefing on the protests in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world.

"In Egypt, the situation is complicated, Chavez said.

"Now you are seeing comments from Washington and some European nations. As President Gaddafi said to me, it's shameful, it makes you kind of sick to see the meddling of the U.S., wanting to take control."

The United States has urged an orderly transition to democracy in Egypt to avoid a power vacuum but has stopped short of calling on President Hosni Mubarak, an ally of three decades, to step down.

The socialist Chavez has generally cast himself as pro-Arab and opposed to the policies of Israel and the United States.

Light Saber

Will Israel Invade the Egyptian Sinai?

Israel's government are deep in discussions about how best to handle the Egyptian crisis. The possibility of a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Egyptian government weighs heavily on their minds.

With the Egyptians in the midst of revolution and right now at their most vulnerable in terms of defending themselves against an Israeli strike, the Israelis may well be tempted to retake part of the Sinai in order to create a buffer zone to pre-empt the opening up of the Gaza Strip. This would not only halt the possibility of an increased flow of armaments which the Gazan Palestinians can then use to defend themselves against continued Israeli oppression, but halt the flow of arms into the Gaza altogether.

Comment: Here is a video with a man offering an opinion on his perspective of what might happen if Egypt falls. It is titled "When Egypt Goes, Israel Goes Into Gaza?"


He may very well have a good point.


Light Sabers

Utah: Federal government conflicts intensifying

Image
© Unknown
Legislators frustrated with federal control of lands across the state are proposing laws to challenge those policies.

The proposals may look to local law enforcement for support, which some opponents worry could lead to armed conflicts with federal officers.

A plan from Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, would void any federal land designation made without the Legislature's approval. The bill is being reviewed by legislative attorneys.

Access to the disputed lands would be maintained by local sheriffs in whatever manner necessary, Wimmer said.

"There's not much more land the federal government can take," said Wimmer. "I'm saying any further land grabs not coordinated with the Legislature will be null and void."

Wimmer said the bill was prompted in large part by a December decision by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to review millions of acres of undeveloped land in Utah for a possible wilderness designation.

House Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City, said Wimmer's proposal concerns him because of its implications for police.

Star of David

Israel urges world to curb criticism of Egypt's Mubarak

Image
© Associated Press
Mubarak, left, and Suleiman, center, seen on Egyptian state TV.
Jerusalem seeks to convince its allies that it is in the West's interest to maintain the stability of the Egyptian regime.

Israel called on the United States and a number of European countries over the weekend to curb their criticism of President Hosni Mubarak to preserve stability in the region.

Jerusalem seeks to convince its allies that it is in the West's interest to maintain the stability of the Egyptian regime. The diplomatic measures came after statements in Western capitals implying that the United States and European Union supported Mubarak's ouster.

Israeli officials are keeping a low profile on the events in Egypt, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even ordering cabinet members to avoid commenting publicly on the issue.

Senior Israeli officials, however, said that on Saturday night the Foreign Ministry issued a directive to around a dozen key embassies in the United States, Canada, China, Russia and several European countries. The ambassadors were told to stress to their host countries the importance of Egypt's stability. In a special cable, they were told to get this word out as soon as possible.

Newspaper

Egyptians, Greeks, British, Tunisians rebelling against being pillaged by giant, international banks and their own government

Nomi Prins - former managing director of Goldman Sachs and head of the international analytics group at Bear Stearns in London - notes that the Egyptian people are rebelling against being pillaged by giant, international banks and their own government as much as anything else.

She also points out that the Greek, British, Tunisian and other protesters are all in the same boat:
The ongoing demonstrations in Egypt are as much, if not more, about the mass deterioration of economic conditions and the harsh result of years of financial deregulation, than the political ideology that some of the media seems more focused on.

According to the CIA's World Fact-book depiction of Egypt's economy, "Cairo from 2004 to 2008 aggressively pursued economic reforms to attract foreign investment and facilitate GDP growth." And, while that was happening, "Despite the relatively high levels of economic growth over the past few years, living conditions for the average Egyptian remain poor."

Unemployment in Egypt is hovering just below the 10% mark, like in the US, though similarly, this figure grossly underestimates underemployment, quality of employment, prospects for employment, and the growing youth population with a dismal job future. Nearly 20% of the country live below the poverty line (compared to 14% and growing in the US) and 10% of the population controls 28% of household income (compared to 30% in the US). [By the most commonly used measure of inequality - the Gini Coefficient - the U.S. has much higher inequality than Egypt]. But, these figures, as in the US, have been accelerating in ways that undermine financial security of the majority of the population, and have been doing so for more than have a decade.

Mr. Potato

Obama will go down in history as the president who lost Egypt

egypt,protest
© Unknown

Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as "the president who lost Iran," which during his term went from being a major strategic ally of the United States to being the revolutionary Islamic Republic. Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who "lost" Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled.

The superficial circumstances are similar. In both cases, a United States in financial crisis and after failed wars loses global influence under a leftist president whose good intentions are interpreted abroad as expressions of weakness. The results are reflected in the fall of regimes that were dependent on their relationship with Washington for survival, or in a change in their orientation, as with Ankara.

America's general weakness clearly affects its friends. But unlike Carter, who preached human rights even when it hurt allies, Obama sat on the fence and exercised caution. He neither embraced despised leaders nor evangelized for political freedom, for fear of undermining stability.

Star of David

Israeli PM says ties with Egypt must be preserved

mubarak
© Reuters

Jerusalem - Israel's prime minister said Sunday that his government is "anxiously monitoring" the political unrest in Egypt, his first comment on the crisis threatening a regime that has been one of Israel's key allies for more than 30 years.

Israeli officials have remained largely silent about the situation in Egypt, but have made clear that preserving the historic 1979 peace agreement is a paramount interest. The peace, cool but stable, turned Israel's most potent regional enemy into a crucial partner, provided security on one of its borders and allowed it to significantly reduce the size of its army and defense budget.

"We are anxiously monitoring what is happening in Egypt and in our region," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before his Cabinet's weekly meeting.

Bad Guys

Revolutionary Change in Egypt: Internal or Made in USA?

egypt key
© Illustration by Carlos Latuff
US imperial policy includes regime change, affecting foes as well as no longer useful friends. Past targets included former Philippines leader Ferdinand Marcos, Iran's Shah ( Mohammad Reza Pahlavi), and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, among others. According to some reports, Mubarak is next - aging, damaged and expendable.

George Friedman runs Stratfor, a private global intelligence service. On January 29, he issued a special Egypt report, saying:

On January 29, "Egypt's internal security forces (including Central Security Forces anti-riot paramilitaries) were glaringly absent" after confronting protesters forcefully for several days. Army personnel replaced them. Demonstrators welcomed them.

"There is more (going on) than meets the eye." While media reports focus on reform, democracy and human rights, "revolutions, including this one, are made up of many more actors than (Facebook and Twitter) liberal voices...." Some are, in fact, suspect, using social network sites for other than purported reasons.

Eye 1

US "Losing Credibility By The Day" on Egypt: ElBaradei

Mohamed ElBaradei
© Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images, Agence France-Presse
Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei is surrounded by reporters as he arrives at Cairo airport on Thursday.
The United States is "losing credibility by the day" in calling for democracy in Egypt while continuing to support President Hosni Mubarak, leading dissident Mohamed ElBaradei said Sunday.

ElBaradei repeated his call for the longtime strongman to step down, going so far as to assert it should happen within the next three days.

"The American government cannot ask the Egyptian people to believe that a dictator who has been in power for 30 years will be the one to implement democracy," ElBaradei told US network CBS from Cairo.

"You are losing credibility by the day. On one hand you're talking about democracy, rule of law and human rights, and on the other hand you're lending still your support to a dictator that continues to oppress his people," added ElBaradei, the former head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency.