Mubarak Replaces Cabinet in Effort to Calm Rampant Egyptian Riots

Thousands of Egyptians — taking to the streets across the country for a seventh straight day — defied a mid-afternoon government curfew Monday, despite a bulked-up and proactive military deployment scattered around the restive nation. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has sworn in a new Cabinet, replacing one dissolved as a concession to unprecedented anti-government protests. In the most significant change, the interior minister — who heads internal security forces — was replaced. A retired police general, Mahmoud Wagdi, was named to replace Habib el-Adly, who is widely despised by protesters for brutality shown by security forces. Seven days into an uprising against Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak that has disrupted the nation and filled the streets with protesters, the United States begins charter flights to help thousands of Americans leave.

Gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn Sunday, helping to free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates as police vanished from the streets of Cairo and other cities. The army sent hundreds more troops and armored vehicles onto the streets of Cairo and other cities but appeared to be taking little action against gangs of young men with guns and large sticks who were smashing cars and robbing people. The Arab world’s most populous nation and the closest U.S. Arab ally appeared to be swiftly moving closer to a point at which it either dissolves into widespread chaos or the military expands its presence and control of the streets.

The tens of thousands of protesters who have thrown Egypt’s 30-year-old regime into tumult come from all walks of life — conservative Muslims and Christians, yuppies and the unemployed, young and old. For many, the protests demanding that President Hosni Mubarak step down were a catalyst for years or decades of repressed anger at mistreatment at the hands of the state. There was rampant looting across the sprawling city of 18 million and a growing feeling of fear and insecurity. About a half-hour past midnight Friday morning in Egypt, the Internet went dead. Egypt has apparently done what many technologists thought was unthinkable for any country with a major Internet economy: It unplugged itself entirely from the Internet to try and silence dissent.

  • While hopes for democratic reform abound worldwide, beneath the surface Islamists seek to impose a government less aligned with the U.S. and more supportive of militancy

Global Islamist Revolution is Here

Joseph Farah, founder of WorldNetDaily, writes, “In case you didn’t notice, and few have, there is a global Islamist revolution under way. The world’s press doesn’t see it. The talking heads on cable TV don’t see it. Washington doesn’t see it. It’s a case of not noticing the forest for the trees. With revolts going on in Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, Yemen, Lebanon and Jordan, most of them clearly orchestrated from Iran, it’s easy to believe these are unrelated, disconnected uprisings. This is the work of the Muslim Brotherhood, with the aid and encouragement of Tehran. And the ripple effect of what we’re seeing is hard to overstate. As the leader of Jordan’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood, Hammam Saeed, warned over the weekend, the unrest in Egypt will spread across the Mideast and Arabs will topple those leaders allied with the United States.”

Military Lays Out Plan to Implement Gay Ban Repeal

Military training to apply the new law allowing gays to serve openly will begin in February and will move quickly, senior Pentagon leaders said. They said there is no intent to delay but would not guarantee full implementation of the repeal this year. The hedge on scheduling came despite assertions by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union speech this week that the repeal of the 17-year-old ban will be finalized in 2011. Speaking to Pentagon reporters on Friday, Gen. James Cartwright said he expects the services will know within the first month of training how well they are doing and how quickly they will be able to proceed.

  • Yet another step down the slippery slope of immorality that ensures the ultimate demise of the U.S.A.

Ten States now Developing Eligibility-proof Demands

Arizona may have the most advanced plan, but 10 of the United States – controlling 107 Electoral College votes – are now considering some type of legislation that would plug the hole in federal election procedures that in 2008 allowed Barack Obama to be nominated, elected and inaugurated without providing proof of his qualifications under the U.S. Constitution. And they aren’t all the simple legislation such as that adopted in New Hampshire a year ago that requires an affidavit from a candidate stating that the qualifications – age, residency and being a “natural born citizen” – have been met. In Georgia, for example, HB37 by Rep. Bobby Franklin not only demands original birth-certificate documentation, it provides a procedure for and declares that citizens have “standing” to challenge the documentation. His plan, he said, is needed because he saw “requirements in the Constitution that you don’t have a code provision to ensure that it happens.”

Immigration Sweep Nets 83 Arrests in Arizona

The office of an Arizona sheriff known for his efforts against illegal immigrants has arrested 83 people during a two-day crime sweep. Of those arrested, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday that 68 were illegal immigrants. Those who were not illegal immigrants were arrested for crimes including drug possession and theft. The sheriff’s office seized 725 pounds of marijuana and some methamphetamine during the operation, which ended Friday. It was the office’s 18th such sweep. Sheriff Joe Arpaio says his office’s 17 previous sweeps resulted in more than 1,000 arrests. He says a recent rise in the number of human smuggling arrests prompted another sweep.

U.S. Improving at Identifying Cyber Attackers

U.S. military and law enforcement officials say the government has made significant strides in figuring out who is responsible for complex cyber attacks, a fundamental but elusive first step to determine whether the U.S. should strike back, whom to strike, and how hard. U.S. authorities are using a mix of high-tech forensics and a greater emphasis on spying within the online world, although officials won’t reveal exactly how they are ferreting out cyber criminals in the vast, often anonymous Internet universe. Officials familiar with the issue say the escalating cyber security threat has triggered a greater government-wide emphasis on collecting intelligence related to computer crimes. To date, most cyber attacks aimed at the Pentagon have involved espionage — efforts to steal data rather than attempts to take down the network or manipulate data or communications. It took a serious breach of the military’s computer network in 2008 to change the Pentagon’s mindset and make cyberspace a greater priority.

Masonic/Elk Membership Declining

In an effort to boost flagging membership across the USA, an increasing number of Masonic lodges, like other fraternal service groups, are abandoning secretive ways and inviting the public in to see what the organization is really all about. There are fewer Masons today — by nearly a million — than there were in 1941. There are an estimated 3 million members worldwide and 1.5 million in the USA, he says, compared with more than 4 million members in the USA in 1959. Amos McCallum, a chairman of the past national presidents of the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, says his group has 900,000 members, down from 1.6 million in 1980. Masons have long been the target of conspiracy theorists and today are tackling the myths through the service association’s website and the open-door policy at local lodges. The fraternity denies being part of a “one-world order” or controlling the United States government.

  • It’s not the organization itself that is satanic, but rather the upper echelon. But even the rituals for 1st-3rd degree Masons are subtly anti-Christian with symbolic death and resurrection to a false god.

Economic News

The economy gained strength at the end of last year as Americans spent at the fastest pace in four years and U.S. companies sold more overseas. The growth is boosting hopes for a stronger 2011, but it remains too weak to ease high unemployment. For all of last year, the economy grew 2.9 percent, the most since 2005. It was an improvement from 2009, when the economy suffered its worst decline in more than 60 years. Still, the economy isn’t growing fast enough to drive down unemployment, which was 9.4 percent in December. It takes about 3 percent growth just to create enough jobs to keep pace with the population increase. By some estimates, growth would have to be closer to 5 percent for a full year to drive down the unemployment rate by 1 percentage point.

A fight is looming between rich and poor countries over the value of the dollar and other key currencies, as governments use monetary tricks to boost their national recovery at the expense of other nations, political and business leaders warned Saturday. Washington has been leaning hard on Beijing to allow the Chinese renminbi to rise, saying it is being kept artificially cheap to maintain China’s cheap labor advantage. At the same time the United States, Britain and others have encouraged their central banks to pump money into the system as a means of stimulating the economy. “The U.S. is going to try to use weak dollar policy to help recovery in the U.S., and Brazil, India are not going to accept that and will fight back, and then we’re going to see some struggle and conflicts,” a Brazilian leader said. His words echoed concerns expressed by many participants of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, where ways to maintain the fragile global recovery — and risks to it — are being hotly debated.

Afghanistan

A suicide bomber riding a motorcycle packed with explosives rammed into a car carrying the deputy governor of Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province on Saturday, killing him and wounding three of his bodyguards, the Interior Ministry said. The attacker struck as the official, Abdul Latif Ashna, was being driven to work in the provincial capital. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Kandahar, located in the Taliban’s traditional southern stronghold, has been the scene of several attacks recently.

Pakistan

The United States demanded the immediate release of an American arrested in the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis, saying Saturday that he is a diplomat who qualifies for immunity from prosecution and was illegally detained. The statement from the embassy raised the stakes in what could emerge as a major dispute between Pakistan and the United States. It also showed the shaky nature of ties between the two nations, a relationship Washington believes is crucial for success in Afghanistan and against al-Qaeda. Pakistani prosecutors said Friday they would pursue murder charges in the case. Hard-line Islamic leaders on Sunday rallied at least 15,000 people against an American official arrested in the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis and warned the government not to cave in to U.S. pressure to release the man.

Pakistan has doubled its nuclear weapons stockpile over the past several years, increasing its arsenal to more than 100 deployed weapons, according to a published report. As a result, Pakistan has now edged ahead of India, its nuclear-armed rival, The Washington Post reported Sunday. Only four years ago the Pakistani nuclear arsenal was estimated at 30 to 60 weapons.

  • Eventually, some of these weapons will fall into the hands of Islamic militants

Nigeria

Soldiers in a central Nigerian city opened fire Saturday on university students protesting continuing violence between Christians and Muslims, witnesses said, with at least five people killed in the ensuing violence. The shooting came as gas stations and a farmer’s market smoldered after late Friday violence that sparked when Christian students reportedly attacked Muslims trying to bury a corpse in Jos, a city at the epicenter of tensions between Nigeria’s two dominant faiths. One Muslim died in that attack, which sparked retaliatory assaults on Christian churches in the region Saturday morning. Saturday morning, witnesses said students marched toward soldiers, upset over the deaths of the fellow classmates.

Sudan

Southern Sudan’s referendum commission says more than 99% of eligible voters in the south voted and 99% opted for secession according to the first official primary results released since the vote was held earlier this month. More than 60% of eligible voters turned out in the country’s north, 58% of whom voted for secession as well. The chairman of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil, said 99% of Sudanese expatriate voters living in eight nations also voted for secession.

Volcanoes

About 600 people are returning home after seeking shelter overnight as a volcano in southern Japan spewed ash and smoke over nearby towns, with 612 people stayed in elementary schools for the night after volcanic activity increased Sunday. The explosive eruption at the 4,662-foot (1,421-meter) Shinmoedake volcano was its first major eruption in 52 years. Nobody has been injured in the eruptions.

Weather

The nation’s midsection was bracing for a massive winter storm that was expected to bring snow and ice to much of the Plains and Midwest early this week. The National Weather Service said freezing rain and snow could start to fall in some areas Monday, making morning commutes difficult. But that was expected to be just the beginning of a storm system that forecasters said could bring heavy snowfall Tuesday and Wednesday, paralyzing parts of the region. The storm was expected to march from the Rockies through much of the Plains and Midwest before making its way to the East Coast.

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