Nile Dam Accord

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan Sign Nile Dam Accord | Al Jazeera America.

No details on the water sharing agreement from what will be Africa’s largest dam, but they have one.

Ethiopia, the source of Blue Nile which joins the White Nile in Khartoum and runs on to Egypt, says the dam will not disrupt the river’s flow and hopes the project will transform it into a power hub for the electricity-hungry region.

 

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It Only Took 6,000 Years

Fireworks over Tahrir Square a day after President Hosni Mubarak announced his resignation.

via Egypt Sees New Era After Exit of Hosni Mubarak – NYTimes.com.

CAIRO — As a new era dawned in Egypt on Saturday the army leadership sought to reassure Egyptians and the world that it would shepherd a transition to civilian rule and honor international commitments like its peace treaty with Israel.

Elvis has left the building, so to speak. And after 6,000 years of autocratic rulers, Egyptian citizens will finally get to vote on who they want to lead them.

Third-Grade Fractions

via China, Twitter and 20-Year-Olds vs. the Pyramids – NYTimes.com.

Anyone who’s long followed the Middle East knows that the six most dangerous words after any cataclysmic event in this region are: “Things will never be the same.” After all, this region absorbed the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of Google without a ripple.

I’m not a big fan of Thomas Friedman, but I think he’s right about this:

China per se is not fueling the revolt here — but China and the whole Asian-led developing world’s rising consumption of meat, corn, sugar, wheat and oil certainly is. The rise in food and gasoline prices that slammed into this region in the last six months clearly sharpened discontent with the illegitimate regimes — particularly among the young, poor and unemployed.

There is also the problem of what he calls the “educated unemployables”:

Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia today are overflowing with the most frustrated cohort in the world — “the educated unemployables.” They have college degrees on paper but really don’t have the skills to make them globally competitive. I was just in Singapore. Its government is obsessed with things as small as how to better teach fractions to third graders. That has not been Hosni Mubarak’s obsession.

And in there is a cautionary tale for us – how obsessed are we with teaching fractions to third graders?  Are we going to fall far behind, too?

unFree World

Four-year-old Mahmood Muhammed stands next to his father as he takes part in Friday prayers at Tahrir Square. Tens of thousands of anti-Mubarak protesters gathered Friday for what they billed as the “day of departure.” (Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times / February 5, 2011)

via Egypt secret detentions: Disappearances at the hands of police haunt Egypt; the uprising has only made things worse – latimes.com.

He was almost too shaken by sobs to speak, this thin-shouldered man with missing teeth. Finally he was able to choke out the words: “I am afraid my son is dead.”

At 16, the boy, Rabiyeh, was his father’s life and pride. Now he is missing, one of hundreds of people unaccounted for since the start of the 11-day-old rebellion against President Hosni Mubarak. Their loved ones fear they have been ensnared by Egypt’s vast security apparatus, a shadowy world from which many never emerge.

Over 1,300 people have been detained since the start of the protests.  Many have been released, but at least 500 are still missing.  The New York Times has a first-hand story from 2 reporters who were detained of the torture going on in police stations across Egypt.

Here, in the safety of our homes in the US, it is so unimaginable – police torturing dissidents.  We have rights guaranteed by our Constitution.  But then I recall the 1960s, and Kent State, and realize it is all too easy for governments to become fearful of their citizens.  And Mubarak has much more to lose than Nixon did. We were  opposed to a war – Egypt’s citizens want to bring down a whole government system.

 

What We Talked About in Class

 

via Egyptian protests: How a food crisis is driving a political crisis. – By Annie Lowrey – Slate Magazine

 

Any number of political and social factors underpins the current unrest in Egypt—and as always, economics figures in. The upheaval has shined a light on two serious problems facing the country: Most jobs pay too little, and most food costs too much.

Like we talked about in class,

Egyptians spent more on food than respondents in any other emerging economy surveyed in the report—about 40 percent of their monthly income, versus about 17 percent for Brazilians and about 20 percent for Chinese and Saudi Arabians.

Why is the price of food so high?  Partly the high cost of fuel – Egypt has to import most of its grain, and partly due to floods and droughts in food-producing countries like Russia and Australia.

Combined with high unemployment for young people, men especially, it’s no surprise that Egypt has erupted.

 

 

Egypt Protests Continue

via Egypt Protests Continue as Government Resigns – NYTimes.com.

CAIRO — Tens of thousands of protesters once again defied President Hosni Mubarak’s curfews and threats of a harsh crackdown, taking to the streets for a fifth day as the Egyptian leader struggled to hold on to the power that he has maintained in nearly 30 years of authoritarian rule.

Living on less than $2 per day?  Welcome to Egypt.  Can’t find a job?  Welcome to Egypt.

… soldiers invited protesters to climb aboard their armored personnel carriers to have their pictures taken, and in Alexandria, demonstrators took tea to troops.

If the army joins the protesters fighting security police, Mubarak is toast.  How far will this spread?  Yemen and Jordan are seeing the same sort of protest, and surely all the autocratic governments in the region are fearful of what started in Tunisia.

The Egyptian government also attempted to thwart protesters using cell phones and social networking websites to organize:

Although cellphone service was restored in much of the country, the government appeared to still be blocking or restricting the Internet in an attempt to keep protesters from using social networking sites to communicate. The leaders of the early demonstrators, many of them young, used those sites to organize their protests, successfully evading Mr. Mubarak’s efficient security apparatus, which has for years co-opted opposition leaders it could and jailed those it could not.

There is also anger at the US:

“We are very disillusioned by President Obama’s speech,” said Muhammad Shafai, 35, a lawyer, who called for Mr. Obama to distance himself from Mr. Mubarak.

In his speech Friday night, Mr. Obama took on a stern tone, saying he had personally told Mr. Mubarak that he needed to listen to his people’s demands for a “better democracy.” But the United States has counted on Egypt for help in the region, whether supporting American moves in Iraq or trying to defuse tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Will this end the same way as last year’s revolt in Iran?  We’ll have to wait and see…

Statistics:

half the population is under 25
GNI per capita $1800

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