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Oil prices drop as Mubarak leaves Cairo

New York - Oil prices dropped on Friday after Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak handed over power to the military and left Cairo.

Benchmark crude for March delivery fell $1.21 to $85.52 in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Traders and investors have been concerned that anti-government protests in Egypt over the past 18 days could spread to other parts of the Middle East and disrupt oil supplies. Now that Mubarak has stepped down, the military says it will oversee a democratic transition to a new government.

Closer to home, U.S gasoline prices are the highest ever for this time of year. Since Jan. 1, pump prices have averaged well above $3 per gallon. They hit $3.127 per gallon Friday, 3.4 cents higher than the same time last month and 49.1 cents more than a year ago, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service.

The dramatic jump brings back memories of three years ago, when pump prices rose above $4 a gallon, forcing many drivers to join car pools and trade in gas-guzzling SUVs for more fuel-efficient cars. But "it would be a mistake to think we're going to have that all over again," OPIS chief oil analyst Tom Kloza said.

2 + 2 = 4

American Education's Failure: The Cause and Cure

Teachers on top
© MarvinHerndon/YouTube
American education continues decline even as committees propose one new program after another for teachers to implement. But those solutions will fail because committees are the problem. Teachers find themselves at the bottom of an inflexible bureaucratic pyramid with little opportunity or authority to exercise initiative, teaching what they are told by committees in ways they are told to teach. A mechanism is proposed to turn that pyramid upside down, to put teachers in charge, and to expand the range and scope of American education through the establishment of TERRA, an Internet-based Teacher Exchange Resource Repository Archive .

American education continues to deserve low grades, even as elitist committees propose one new program after another for teachers to implement. But federal and state education committees cannot and will not find the solution to America's failing education system. Why? Because committees are the problem.

Since Sputnik's launch in 1957, committees have increasingly come to dominate American education, telling teachers what to teach and how to teach. School textbooks typically are committee-written and committee-approved. The consequence is a narrowly focused, near-monolithic consensus view of knowledge and education-practice, devoid of challenge, debate, and variety; a one-size-fits-all approach that simply does not fit. Is it any wonder that so many students "tune out" and "turn off" and so many teachers "burn out"?


Nearly 140 die in fighting in Southern Sudan

© Reuters
Sudanese Army personnel.
Kampala, Uganda - Two days of fighting in Southern Sudan between the region's army and a rebel faction has killed nearly 140 people, mostly civilians, a southern army spokesman said Friday.

A former high-ranking southern army member who rebelled against the southern government following April elections broke a January cease-fire by attacking the towns of Fangak and Dor on Wednesday, said Col. Philip Aguer, the spokesman for the southern army.

The violence comes days after results of a referendum on secession confirmed south Sudan would declare independence in July, after decades of civil war which claimed 2 million lives.

Renegade commander George Athor's troops captured Fangak on Wednesday, and the fighting continued through Thursday until the southern military retook it, Aguer said. No new fighting was reported on Friday.

Aguer said 89 civilians in the two towns were killed, along with 20 southern soldiers and police officers.

Aguer also said 30 of Athor's men were killed. The Associated Press attempted to reach Athor and his top aide for comment but the phone calls to the remote region did not go through.


Mubarak, family leave Cairo amid persisting unrest

egypt protests
© by Z

Al Arabiya says beleaguered Egyptian president leaves for Sharm el-Sheikh in Sinai as protesters call on the military to take action to push Mubarak out.

Al Arabiya television reported on Friday that President Hosni Mubarak and his family had left Cairo from a military airbase in the suburbs and had travelled to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

It did not give a source for the series of reports on the movement of the president and his family. Al Arabiya said it had confirmed the arrival of the president and his family in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The Al Arabiya report came as Egypt's powerful military backed Mubarak's plan to stay in office until September elections earlier Friday, enraging hundreds of thousands of protesters who deluged the squares of Cairo and Alexandria and marched on presidential palaces and state television - key symbols of the authoritarian regime.

Eye 1

Mubarak's Malingering Leaves Egypt at a Dangerous Crossroads

© John Moore/Getty Images
Antigovernment protesters cheer after news of the possible resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak seeped into Tahrir Square Feb. 10, 2011, in Cairo

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians erupted in angry protest on Thursday night, painfully disappointed after hours of massing in Tahrir Square in celebratory expectation. Famous singers, news anchors and religious sheiks had appeared before the crowd to urge on the hope that President Hosni Mubarak would resign. Parents and children, the elderly, the middle aged, the young and a cross section of political affiliations danced and sang along to nationalist songs. A couple even celebrated their wedding on one of the square's makeshift stages. But the joy was premature.

When President Hosni Mubarak finally spoke, it was not at all what they expected. "He's laughing at the people. He's still laughing at us," Shams Hilal, 27, an Egyptian journalist, said, spitting on the ground in Tahrir Square. "He wants to see the country destroyed." "You arrogant fool," one woman cried at the President's image projected on a large sheet of cloth. "May your house burn," shouted another. And the chants of "Fall, fall, down with Mubarak" rippled through the crowd with a new and furious intensity.

That anger is being channeled into a march on the presidential palace on Friday. Given the positioning of the presidential guard and the army around the presidential palace, some fear that it could lead to another round of bloody clashes. Mubarak's previous address to the nation preceded a day of violence, when armed regime loyalists and hired thugs attacked the protesters in Tahrir Square. On Thursday night after the speech, a small, angry protest gathered in front of the line of tanks outside the state-television building. Others bedded down for another night in Tahrir. Many, many others vowed to keep going until "the idiot" - their President - gets the message.


'Theft by finding': Woman who took potato waffles and pies thrown out by Tesco is handcuffed and charged with stealing

© Alamy
Potato Waffles
'I thought I could help feed me and my family for a week or two'

Sasha Hall, 21, helped herself to potato waffles, pies and ham from outside the Tesco Express in Great Baddow, Essex

A woman was handcuffed and 'treated like a hardened criminal' after she helped herself to food worth £200 that had been thrown away by a Tesco store following a power cut.

Dozens of people could not believe their luck after the outlet of the supermarket giant bagged up thousands of pounds of spoiled stock and left it out in the street.

Sasha Hall, 21, helped herself to potato waffles, pies and ham from outside the Tesco Express in Great Baddow, Essex.

But she was stunned when police arrived at her home and arrested her for suspected 'theft by finding' and took her to the station in handcuffs.

Heart - Black

In Afghanistan, 5,000 Attend Funeral of Prisoner Who Died in Guantánamo, as Afghan Peace Council Calls for Release of Former Taliban Official

Following the death at Guantánamo last week of Awal Gul, an Afghan held for nine years without charge or trial, his body was returned to his home country, where 5,000 people attended his funeral on Monday in the Najmul Jihad area of Jalalabad. With typical insensitivity, the US authorities responded to Gul's death - apparently as the result of a heart attack after taking exercise - by claiming that he was "an admitted Taliban recruiter and commander of a military base in Jalalabad," who "at one point allegedly operated an al-Qaeda guesthouse" and also admitted meeting with Osama bin Laden "and providing him with operational assistance on several occasions."

These allegations were greeted by one of Gul's lawyers, W. Matthew Dodge, as "outrageous" and "slander," and the New York Times, which picked up on Dodge's complaints, along with Reuters, noted that Dodge "said that his client had resigned from the Taliban, and that in three years of litigation, the government never claimed or pointed to any evidence that his client had run any Qaeda house or admitted providing support to Mr. bin Laden."

Che Guevara

Saudis bid to form 1st political party

© Unknown
Activists from the first political party in Saudi Arabia
Nine activists in Saudi Arabia have announced the formation of the first political party in the country, amid ongoing revolutions and pro-democracy protests in other Arab countries.

The move comes despite the kingdom's ban on forming political parties.

The founders of the "Islamic Umma Party" have conveyed a statement to King Abdullah asking him to recognize the group, AFP reported on Thursday.

"It is not hidden from you that the Islamic world has seen great political developments and the strengthening of freedoms and human rights, which Islam already approves ... It is now time for the kingdom to keep pace with this development and contribute to it," a copy of the letter published on the their website reads.

"We have established the Islamic Umma Party to contribute to forwarding the peaceful political reform movement, to which all the people look forward," the statement adds.

The nine founders, who are lawyers, businessmen, professors and political activists, believe in "freedom," "political pluralism, and the peaceful transfer of power, and the right of the (Islamic) nation to choose its governments," it says.


Sarkozy condemns multiculturalism


Sarko: strictly monoculturiste
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has censured multiculturalism a failure, joining other western leaders that have already rejected the notion despite boasting freedom as a founding principle.

Sarkozy declared in a televised interview on Thursday that "I don't want a society where communities coexist side by side" and that "France will not welcome people who don't agree to melt into a single community."

"We have been too busy with the identity of those who arrived and not enough with the identity of the country that accepted them," he added.

The comments have brought the French President in line with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron, a former Australian premiere John Howard and Spanish former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar who have previously expressed their opposition against multiculturalism.

Comment: Just a few days ago, the British conservative PM said the same thing: UK: State Multiculturalism Has Failed, Says David Cameron


Millions to march to Mubarak's palace

Millions of anti-government protesters are expected to march on the presidential palace in Cairo after Hosni Mubarak refused to step down amid massive protests.

Meanwhile, thousands of anti-government protesters have already gathered outside the presidential palace in the suburban neighborhood of Heliopolis in the capital's northeast.

Egypt's state television building in Cairo has also been surrounded by outraged demonstrators demanding Mubarak's immediate resignation.

Egypt's main opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood has said that Mubarak's ouster is not the demand of a particular group but the national demand of all Egyptian people.

Tensions are expected to escalate further on the eighteenth day of pro-democracy protests as millions are to come together at mosques for Muslim communal prayers on Friday.

Meanwhile, media reports said The Egyptian military's Supreme Command Council is to make an important statement to the people.