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Nothing for Free: Egyptians Feel the Economic Pinch of Protest

Bread of the revolution
© MiddleEastOnline
Bread of the revolution
Authorities respond to growing fears of shortages; Egypt still had sufficient stocks of food, cash and fuel.

There is no money at the banks. Fuel is scarce. Tourism is evaporating.

As a popular uprising to oust President Hosni Mubark enters its second week, Egyptians are feeling the economic pinch.

Banks have been shut since Sunday, and they remained so on Tuesday, the day that protesters hope will see a million-strong demonstration in Cairo to demand an end to Mubarak's regime.

Many automatic teller machines (ATM) in the teeming capital have run out of cash, and those still working were dispensing only a limited number of banknotes.

"I scoured the city in search of an automatic teller and I found only one place -- in a neighbourhood where people do not normally use ATMs," said Mohamed, a driver.

In Cairo, supermarkets that usually accepted credit cards insisted on cash instead, while crowds flocked to grocery stores in several neighbourhoods to stock up on essentials.

Many gas stations were closed, with long lines at those that were still open. The Chamber of Commerce in Cairo appealed to shopkeepers on Monday to reopen, but most ignored the call.

Briefcase

US: Judge rules against health law, cites Obama's words

Judge Roger Vinson
© Associated Press/Pensacola News Journal, Tony Giberson
Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, seen here in 2007, declared the Obama administration’s health care overhaul unconstitutional Monday, siding with 26 states that sued to block it, saying that people can’t be required to buy health insurance.
In ruling against President Obama's health care law, federal Judge Roger Vinson used Mr. Obama's own position from the 2008 campaign against him, when the then-Illinois senator argued there were other ways to achieve reform short of requiring every American to purchase insurance.

"I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that, 'If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,'" Judge Vinson wrote in a footnote toward the end of his 78-page ruling Monday.

Judge Vinson, a federal judge in the northern district of Florida, struck down the entire health care law as unconstitutional on Monday, though he is allowing the Obama administration to continue to implement and enforce it while the government appeals his ruling.

Radar

Protesters Flood Egypt Streets

At least a million gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square as mass protests against President Mubarak are staged across country.

Light Saber

'They're informants... if they get killed, they deserve it': New book reveals shocking disregard of Julian Assange towards Afghans named in WikiLeaks cables


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© unk
Julian Assange: Well-educated but described as 'dishevelled, like a bag lady walking in off the street'

* WikiLeaks founder told reporters files should not be censored before they were published, new book alleges
* Amnesty International said naming Afghans risked 'deadly ramifications'
* Assange so scared of the CIA he disguised himself as a woman

Julian Assange said U.S. informants named in secret cables 'deserved' to be killed and initially refused to redact their names, a new book has revealed.

WikiLeaks published thousands of names of Afghans in 77,000 classified war files put on the whistle-blowing website, attracting criticism from international charities and governments.

In later releases of secret U.S. embassy cables in November around 15 per cent of files were withheld to protect lives and every file was checked before release.

Binoculars

9/11 Conspiracy Film Producer Arrested on Drug Charges

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© unk
Oneonta, New York - A producer of a documentary alleging conspiracy theories behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has been arrested on drug charges in upstate New York.

Oneonta police tell the Daily Star of Oneonta that 27-year-old Korey Rowe and a 19-year-old Bronx man were arrested after selling packets of heroin to an undercover officer.

Rowe was arraigned last Friday on a felony count of criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Authorities say the Oneonta resident was released from Otsego County Jail after posting $10,000 cash bail.

It couldn't be determined if he had a lawyer. Rowe's phone number was unlisted.

An Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Rowe was a producer of Loose Change, a 2006 film that challenged the official explanation of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Radar

China's censorship of the Egypt protests isn't fooling everyone

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© Associated Press
China's educated classes know their news is filtered
Media censorship is part of life in China and - though it may go against the Western belief that everyone is yearning for equal freedoms - many in China do, to a certain degree, acquiesce in the necessary evil of a system that has delivered untold prosperity.

It is not just that ordinary Chinese censor themselves (which they do, conscious of where the red lines are) but more than that, they also often actively support the government's view that some censorship is necessary to maintain stability.

It is possible to justify the need for censoring reports of kindergarten knife attacks (to avoid copycats) or even reports on Charter 08 and the Tiananmen Square killings which touch on the touchiest subject of all - one party rule. However, coverage of an international news event, such as the protests currently unfolding in Egypt, fits into a slightly different category.

People

Hamas closes Gaza's southern border

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© Mohammed Saber/European Press Association
Rafah, Gaza's southern border with Egypt has been closed by Hamas.
Rafah border closure expected to last for several days as Israel warns of increase in weapons smuggling during unrest in Egypt

Hamas officials today closed Gaza's southern border as Israel warned that the turmoil in Egypt could result in increased smuggling of weapons into the volatile territory.

The closure of the Rafah border crossing was expected to last for several days at least, said Ghazi Hamad, the Hamas official in charge of the Gaza side of the terminal.

A Hamas delegation which was due to travel through Egypt to Syria to discuss the fate of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit postponed its trip.

Israel army radio said the military were preparing for an increase in arms smuggling to Gaza.

Cow Skull

Egyptian opposition leader ElBaradei calls for Mubarak to leave

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© unknown
Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei addressed crowds of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square Sunday, an appearance that signaled a defiant gesture against the current government and military curfew.

Wading through demonstrators shouting, "we want honor for Egypt," ElBaradei, who is positioning himself as President Hosni Mubarak's leading opposition figure, eventually made it to a podium after being carried by supporters, and he joined them in singing Egypt's national anthem.

"I came today to participate ... in the lives of Egyptians," he told cheering protesters. "Today I look into the eyes of each one of you and everyone is different. Today you are an Egyptian demanding your rights and freedom, and what we started can never be pushed back. As we said, we have one main demand: the end of the regime and to start a new phase."

Binoculars

Breaking: Al Jazeera Reports Mubarak's planning exile to Tel Aviv - The Writing on the Wall

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© Agence France-Presse
Protesters have returned to the streets of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, for the sixth consecutive day across the country staged in defiance of a curfew
Update: Al Jazeera reports Mubarak's planning exile to Tel Aviv. According to sources in the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel is making preparations to welcome Hosni Mubarak into exile after Saudi Arabia rejected overtures. Al Jazeera also reports Israeli diplomats have fled Egypt amid the unrest. CNN reports widespread rumors that Mubarak's wife and other family members have already fled Egypt.

Arab Executives Predict Regime Change in Egypt, as U.S. State Dept says reshuffling of government won't do. Demonstrations across the U.S. rally in solidarity with protesters. See also Robert Fisk's latest dispatch: Death throes of a dictatorship.

The U.S. State Dept's statement, "We strongly believe that the Egyptian Government needs to engage immediately with the Egyptian people in implementing needed economic, political, and social reforms" appears the give-away on Saturday of Mubarak's fragile hold on power.

Heart - Black

Canada: 100 Healthy Sled Dogs Killed Due to Slow Business

sled dogs
© The Canadian Press / Darryl Dyck
Sled dogs rest after returning from a tour run byOutdoor Adventures Whistler in the Soo Valley north of Whistler, B.C., on Monday January 31, 2011. The RCMP and the B.C. SPCA are investigating the slaughter of about 100 sled dogs in Whistler in an incident the SPCA called an absolute massacre.
An official of the SPCA in British Columbia says word of a slaughter of sled dogs in Whistler warrants a criminal investigation.

Marcie Moriarty, general manager of the group's cruelty investigations, says the description of the April 2010 incident is an "absolutely criminal code offence," although there is no indication a police investigation is underway.

Documents obtained by CKNW radio reveal about 100 healthy sled dogs were killed in a mass slaughter in Whistler last April 21 and 23.

According to the WorkSafe B.C. documents, an employee of Outdoor Adventures Whistler has been compensated for post-traumatic stress disorder after being ordered to shoot the animals.