Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Uncle Academic's Hot Links to Today's Headlines, with questions for the readers!

Is anything going on in Egypt that Americans might take note of?


Juan Cole | Egypt's Class Conflict
Juan Cole, Informed Comment
Juan Cole writes: "Cairo's behind the scenes help to the US, with Iraq and with torturing suspected al-Qaeda operatives, were well known. Very little is more distasteful to Egyptians than the Iraq War and torture. The Egyptian state went from being broadly based in the 1950s and 1960s to having been captured by a small elite. It went from being a symbol of the striving for dignity and independence after decades of British dominance to being seen as a lap dog of the West."

Live From Egypt: The Rebellion Grows Stronger
Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Democracy Now!
Sharif Abdel Kouddous writes: "In the second day of defiance of a military curfew, more than 150,000 protesters packed into Tahrir Square Sunday to call on President Hosni Mubarak to step down. The mood was celebratory and victorious. For most, it was not a question of if, but when, Mubarak would leave."

Egyptian Army Says It Will Not Fire on Protesters
Anthony Shadid, David D. Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim, The New York Times News Service: "The Egyptian Army announced Monday for the first time that it would not fire on protesters, even as tens of thousands of people gathered in central Liberation Square for a seventh day to shout for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. The announcement came after the opposition dismissed Mr. Mubarak's cabinet reshuffle as inadequate and as concerns over violence were heightened by the presence of security police officers clustered near the square's entrances, their first deployment there in three days."
Read the Article

The USA:

The Public-Sector Squeeze
Max Fraad-Wolff and Richard D. Wolff, Truthout: "A national campaign is now fully launched to make local, public-sector employees pick up a major share of the costs of the economic crisis. Years of rising spending and falling revenue have carved a path of destruction through federal, state and local budgets. Deficits and debts have mounted, eroding taxpayer support for government spending in general and for public employees particularly. In response to deep economic pains in middle-class communities, major efforts are under way, from California to Maine, to balance budgets through major cuts in services, wages, benefits and employment."
Read the Article

Debts Should Be Honored, Except When the Money Is Owed to Working People
Dean Baker, Truthout: "This seems to be the lesson that our nation's leaders are trying to pound home to us. According to The New York Times, members of Congress are secretly running around in closets and back alleys working up a law allowing states to declare bankruptcy. According to the article, a main goal of state bankruptcy is to allow states to default on their pension obligations. This means that states will be able to tell workers, including those already retired, that they are out of luck. Teachers, highway patrol officers, and other government employees, some of whom worked decades for the government, will be told that their contracts no longer mean anything. They will not get the pensions that they were expecting."
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Happy Days Are Here Again - as Long as You Ignore the Jobs Crisis
Imara Jones, ColorLines: "If Tina Turner was to reprise her 1980's hit in 2011, it would surely be called, 'What's jobs got to do with it?' Unemployment and underemployment remain dangerously high, at around 17 percent, but you wouldn't know it listening to the optimism ringing out from Wall Street to Washington last week. The New York Stock Exchange flirted with 12,000, a level not seen since 2008, everyone celebrated economic growth data, and the annual gathering of global finance and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, was dominated by declarations of an American rebound. A fundamental disconnect between the finance economy and the real one couldn't be more apparent."
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Paul Krugman | A Cross of Rubber
Paul Krugman, The New York Times
Paul Krugman writes: "Apparently bailing bankers out after they precipitated the worst slump since the Great Depression isn't enough - politicians have to stop hurting their feelings, too."

What would it take

to induce the political elite in the US -- including the Obama Administration -- to side with ordinary folk instead of the rich?
Obama's Shift on Egypt
Stephen Zunes, Truthout: "There has been a major shift within the Obama administration over the weekend regarding its policy toward Egypt. President Obama appears to have finally realized that reform within the regime, as the administration had been advocating until Sunday, will not placate the Egyptian people. The administration has yet to issue an explicit call for the authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak to step down, at least in public. However, yesterday, for the first time, Secretary of State Clinton and other officials began calling for 'an orderly transition' to democracy."
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Thom Hartmann | Tag, You're It!
Thom Hartmann, Berrett-Koehler Publishers: "We've seen a lot of cycles in the history of this nation, a series of swings back and forth on the pendulum of oligarchy and democracy in our 230-plus years. In some ways today seems particularly bleak, when an individual hedge fund manger - a job that produces nothing of value for anybody - can suck out of our economy and take home in a single year more than $4 billion ($4,000,000,000.00) by betting that an investment vehicle held by pension funds and retirement trusts will fail.... Yet if there are lessons in history, the first among them is that this too shall pass. Early advocates of abolition and suffrage never lived to see the fruits of their work, but an African-American president and a woman who nearly won the presidency would surely have both stunned and fulfilled them."
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