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Che Guevara

Egypt's hope turns to fury as Mubarak clings to power

© Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators in Tahrir Square. President Mubarak had seemed on the verge of giving in to demands to resign.
President hands some powers to vice-president Suleiman but will remain in control until September elections

President Hosni Mubarak dashed the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Egyptians celebrating what they expected would be his resignation speech by defiantly telling them he would not bow to domestic or foreign pressure to quit.

Mubarak said he would hand some powers to his vice-president, Omar Suleiman, but would remain in overall control until September to oversee what he called an orderly transition to an elected government. He repeated a pledge not to seek re-election.

He also said that there would be no going back on a commitment of long-term political reform after the two weeks of growing protests to demand his resignation. However, he ominously referred to the army playing a role in ensuring an orderly transfer of power.


Mutant cholera of the 21st century

A female cholera victim at a hospital in Port au Prince (Haiti).
The Russian hygiene service is ready to send its specialists to cholera-hit Haiti alongside an international expert group. The epidemic has claimed the lives of over 4,000 people since it began in October last year. At present, the dangerous disease is reported to be spreading across neighboring Caribbean countries.

Having first appeared as far back as the 16th century, cholera outbreaks turned into a global challenge some 300 years later, in the early 19th century. The epidemic started in India and was then brought by merchant caravans to Russia, Europe and Africa. The world survived at least seven cholera pandemics which hit absolutely every continent.

Fighting the disease in Haiti today are a total of 36 health centers staffed by both local and foreign doctors. The trouble is that the epidemic may break those national boundaries as the warm season approaches, independent epidemiology and vaccination consultant Sergei Romanchuk says.

The disease is spreading throughout Caribbean Basin countries. In Venezuela, the number of ill people exceeded 100 - all of them got infected at a wedding in the neighboring Dominican Republic. Three fatalities were reported yesterday alone. Moreover, four people from the US, who attended the same wedding, fell sick upon their return home, Sergei Romanchuk said.


Mubarak not going anywhere, Egypt on a knife edge

Comment: The Guardian's latest video of the reaction in Tahrir Square to Mubarak's speech:

Hosni Mubarak, the embattled Egyptian president, has refused to step down from his post, saying that he will not bow to "foreign pressure" in a televised address to the nation on Thursday evening.

Putting to rest widespread speculations that he will quit, Mubarak announced that he was delegating some authorities to his new vice-president, Omar Suleiman, a close confidante.

In a much anticipated speech, Mubarak said he had put into place a framework that would lead to the amendment of six constitutional articles (including articles 77, 88, 93 and 189, and the annulment of article 179).

"I can not and will not accept to be dictated orders from outside, no matter what the source is," Mubarak said.

He said he was addressing his people with a "speech from the heart".

Che Guevara

Can an Egypt-style uprising happen in the U.S.?

© The New York Times
The Tahrir Square uprising "has nothing to do with left or right," said Dina Shehata, a researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. "It is about young people rebelling against a regime that has stifled all channels for their upward mobility. They want to shape their own destiny, and they want social justice" from a system in which a few people have gotten fantastically rich, in giant villas, and everyone else has stagnated. Thomas Friedman - NYT

We have an inequality index that can go head to head with Egypt's. Of course food's cheaper here, so no one's in the streets. Thomas Geoghegan, Chicago labor lawyer - NYT

No matter how sympathetic we are with their struggle, most of us following the events in Egypt probably see it as something very foreign: an exotically attired, dark skinned people, speaking heavily accented English in a far off land, rebelling against the corrupt regime of an aging dictator, something to which we can only identify with by an intensely imaginative use of our powers of empathy, seeing few similarities with our own lives and condition. Wrong. Thomas Friedman, of all people, brought it all closer to home for me.


US: Updated - Five dead after massive Allentown, Pennsylvania gas explosion

Explosion destroys at least two center city homes, sets six on fire, more than 600 people evacuated.

Five people - including a 4-month-old boy - have died in Allentown's massive gas explosion and fire, authorities confirmed at a Thursday afternoon news conference. Search crews have located four of the five victims and the recovery operation continues. Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim declined to identify the dead whose bodies have been recovered, describing them only as a 79-year-old man, a 69-year-old woman, a 16-year-old girl and a 4-month old baby. Grim said search dogs were being used to find the fifth victim.

Family members and friends earlier confirmed the dead as: William Hall, 79, and his wife, Beatrice, 74, of 544 N. 13th St.; and Ofelia Ben, 69, Catherine Cruz, 16, and Matthew Manuel Cruz, 4 months, of 542 N. 13th St. About a dozen people were injured and more than 350 were forced to evacuate from surrounding blocks and the Gross Towers seniors apartment complex when an apparent gas leak ignited at 544 N. 13th St. about 10:45 p.m. Wednesday.


US: Employees Fired After Forwarding Obama E-Mail

Caption Compared President To Tar Ball In Gulf Of Mexico

Lawsuits were filed against the Centers for Rehab Services by two employees who were fired over an e-mail comparing President Barack Obama to a tar ball washing ashore in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company said the e-mail was inappropriate, but the employees said they were just expressing their political views and were wrongfully fired.

Team 4 investigator Paul Van Osdol reported that the e-mail in question was circulated last summer while the federal government was trying to contain the massive Gulf oil spill.

It showed an image of Obama walking along a Gulf beach with the caption, "Another tar ball washed up on the shore."

In a memo, a Centers for Rehab Services official called it "an inappropriate e-mail that contained political and discriminatory content."

The lawsuit said the e-mail led the company to fire Deborah Bonanno and James Sprung, who received the e-mail and forwarded it to co-workers.

In court papers, an attorney for Bonanno and Sprung said, "The motivation behind CRS' termination was to stifle (the employees') freedom of expression on a matter of public concern" -- namely, the Gulf disaster.

Vic Walczak, the ACLU's legal director in Pennsylvania, said employees have "very few" rights to sound off at work.

Walczak said he had not seen the lawsuits, but he said the Constitutional right to free speech does not apply when someone uses a workplace computer.


U.S.: Pennsylvania Teacher Suspended Over Blog About Students

Natalie Munroe

Teacher Natalie Munroe
This is a clear case of what happens online, stays online.

The Central Bucks School District has suspended a high school English teacher after parents complained to administrators about her blog in which she railed on her students for more than a year.

Phrases on the blog include; "Frightfully dim," "Rat-like," "Am concerned your kid is going to open fire on the school," "I hate your kid," and "Seems smarter than she actually is."


US: 3 dead, 2 missing after massive Pennsylvania natural gas explosion

Three people including a 4-month-old child were dead and two were missing Thursday after a massive natural gas explosion demolished two row homes and set six others ablaze in eastern Pennsylvania.

Allentown fire Chief Robert Scheirer said a two-story row house exploded about 10:45 p.m. Wednesday. An elderly couple who lived in the home died. They were identified by their daughter-in-law as Beatrice Hall, 74, and her husband, William, 79, the Allentown Morning Call newspaper reported on its website.

The baby was not identified.

UGI Corp. said Thursday morning that one of its natural-gas pipelines likely exploded.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Tamer Hosny, Egypt's Answer to Justin Timberlake, Attacked in Cairo's Tahrir Square

Tamer Hosny
© YouTube / Getty
Egyptian pop star Tamer Hosny was attacked in Tahrir Square Wednesday a week after he called for an end to the protests.
The Arab world's King of Pop - who had publicly dissed Egypt's pro-democracy protests - went to Tahrir Square Wednesday to apologize.

First he was run out with catcalls and punches and had to be saved by the army.

Then he started to cry.

"I want to die today," Tamer Hosny said, blubbering on the video burning up Twitter and YouTube. "I thought I was saving the people."


Ontario Woman Sues Over Strip-Search at U.S. Border

ambassador bridge
An angry and embarrassed Ontario woman who says she was strip-searched at the Ambassador Bridge without justification has sued two U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

The Detroit Free Press says Loretta Van Beek of Stratford filed the suit in Detroit federal court against the unnamed agents. She says she was en route to her Georgia vacation home last March when one agent strip-searched and groped her while the other one watched.