Monday, October 24, 2011

Hey faithful

I'm here, alive and trying to be kicking

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Filing for Bankruptcy

The reason I'm putting this here is for those of you in a similar situation.
Way too much debt, and the inability to pay it.
My Divorce led me onto the path, and my history with ex who totally believed in credit card debt didn't help.
I got to the point where I simply couldn't meet the minimum payments anymore, and we had already cut our spending to beyond the bare bone.
So I've filed for bankruptcy.
Its a done deal. I meet with the trustee next week. After that meeting my debts will be dissolved within 60 days
And I bless the state I live in, Florida. Because of where I live I won't lose my house or any of its contents.
Mind you I am current on my mortgage payments, so that helps.
But Florida is a very generous state when it comes to bankruptcy.
Thank God
Ya'll know how I've struggled
Ya'll know I"ve suffered
Its time to be done

Hey Faithful

Sorry once again its been so long.
We've had no A/C for ten days and its pure hell on earth.
Here in paradise, life is wonderful, except when you don't have central A/C
We did ok for several days when a cold front moved thru, but the last several days were brutal.
Last night I woke at about 1:30 with my hair and my t shirt soaked in sweat, despite the two fans we had set up to blow on us in the bed.
Got up, made coffee..and stayed up till about 6am
At that point I laid down and fell asleep again until 8
Then the man of my dreams..the man I would give my right arm to at the time, showed up and began work on the A/C unit.
By 11am things were cooling down significantly,,,,as of right now its lovely inside.
What can I say?

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Hey faitthful

Sorry I haven't been blogging....its hard sometimes.
Worried about money..thats a huge issue
However Lil One is at college and doing well. Shes joined clubs, is volunteering and in other words is totally unlike me. LOL

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Very worried about the tropics

The Tropics are so active its frightening. And right now the current system we are worried about has a forecast path directly for us in So Fla...
Prayers welcome and encouraged. The last thing I need right now is a Hurricane.
Finances are so bad, Lil one just left for college and we are broke beyond broke.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Headed for a crash????

I completely believe so. We are beginning to slowly, very slowly due to financial constraints, slowly stockpile canned goods.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

United States credit rating reduced for the first time in the history of finance.

Thank you George W Bush...thank you for wasting the surplus Bill Clinton left us, thank you for starting the domino run that has brought this great nation to its knees.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

What can we do?? Seriously, what can we do?

The very climate of the world is changing, and we are apparently helpless in the face of this horror. Jesus said, there would always be poor starving...but what can WE do? Apparently nothing. We are spending money on a war machine, and paying CEO'S way more than they can ever be worth..We are not taxing the rich fairly to represent their fair share of the burden. And the damn govt is yammering on about debt ceilings and not paying this or that.
The american govt is so corrupt, senate and house members recieve benefits that no average american gets. So they are above the frey, and continue to posture like petty martinettes...
I work hard for a living, both physically and mentally. People like Alan Greenspan who work well into their seventies and eighties raise the retirement age, because they have no clue what its like to actually work for a living. WORK FOR A LIVING...
If I just pushed papers around and made decisions based on that paper pushing I could comfortably work until I was eighty..but I don't.
I save lives for a living, and actually sweat and get my hands dirty.
I am the one standing over your mother or father when their hearts and lungs fail and I am the one working on them.
The fuckers in the house and senate have no clue.
And even tho I voted for him, apparently neither does Obama.
And the people in Somalia starve. And the women in Iraq get acid thrown in their faces.

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Kaltum Mohamed sits beside a small mound of earth, alone with her thoughts. It is her child's grave – and there are three others like it.

Just three weeks ago, Mohamed was the mother of five young children. But the famine that has rocked Somalia has claimed the lives of four of them. Only a daughter remains. The others starved to death before Mohamed's eyes as she and her husband trekked to Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, in search of aid.

Thousands of parents are grieving in Somalia and in refugee camps in neighboring countries amid Somalia's worst drought in 60 years.

The drought and famine in Somalia have killed more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 in the last 90 days in southern Somalia alone, according to U.S. estimates. The U.N. says 640,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished, suggesting the death toll of small children will rise.

Mohamed and her husband tried to get their children from Somalia's parched south to the capital, Mogadishu, in time to receive emergency aid from the few humanitarian organizations that are operating there. They began their journey in the Lower Shabelle region, where the U.N. declared famine July 20. AP Television News found her that day looking after her severely malnourished children, cradling them in her arms.

Her family belongs to a tribe of pastoral nomads, but all of their livestock died in the drought. When her children fell ill, she took them to a hospital in the Lower Shabelle but couldn't afford the treatment they needed. Most aid is not getting to the south where it's desperately needed. An al-Qaida allied group, al-Shabab, controls much of southern Somalia and insists that there is no famine. It has banned all aid groups but the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The family's journey to the capital, one being made by thousands of other Somalis, came too late. Four of Mohamed's children died en route because of severe malnutrition and related complications.

"Death is inevitable," Mohamed told AP Television News on Thursday in a makeshift camp near Mogadishu's airport, home to hundreds of other displaced people. "But the surprise was how suddenly I lost my four children in less than 24 hours because of famine."

Instead of being able to caress her children, she crouched next to one of their graves and softly patted and smoothed the mound of earth covering it. She wept, then wiped away her tears. She still has a daughter to try to feed.

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is under way, and the family is fasting daily. Without food, though, Mohamed doesn't know how they can break their fast at sundown. The international community must do more to help, she said.

Meanwhile, famine still stalks her.

On Wednesday, the U.N. declared three new regions in Somalia famine zones – including the camps for displaced persons in Mogadishu. These are areas where the highest rates of malnutrition and mortality are taking place.

Nancy Lindborg, an official with the U.S. government aid arm, told a congressional committee in Washington on Wednesday that the U.S. estimates that more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died in the past 90 days. That number is based on nutrition and mortality surveys verified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A U.S. official noted Thursday that the U.S. said this week it would not prosecute legitimate aid groups trying to assist Somalis suffering from famine in areas under al-Shabab control. Such prosecution would have been possible under U.S. anti-terrorism laws, but getting groups to go into a part of Somalia controlled by a brutal, hardline Islamist insurgency is another matter.

The official, Jon Brause of USAID, told journalists in Nairobi, Kenya, that there hasn't been a dramatic increase in assistance flowing to Somalia after the announcement because it's so difficult to access al-Shabab-controlled territory.

No U.S. law specifically prevents aid to southern and central Somalia, where the U.N. food agency says it cannot reach 2.2 million Somalis in areas under al-Shabab's control. But bribes, tolls and other typical of costs of doing business in the largely lawless and chaotic country could have been punishable after the State Department declared al-Shabab a terrorist organization in 2008.

"We understand that some assistance may accidentally reach al-Shabab and we are reassuring people they will not suffer prosecution if that happens," said Bruce Wharton, the deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

Wharton signaled that the U.S. believes some inside al-Shabab might be more amenable to letting aid in than others.

"We do not believe al-Shabab is a monolithic organization," he said. "There are degrees of Shabab-ness, if you will, and we think it's important to find ways to get food to people, including people who are in al-Shabab controlled territories."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Day after Tomorrow is closer than you think...

For millions of people enduring this week's extreme heat and humidity, it feels like they're living in a pressure cooker. And in a sense, they are.

Much of the United States is trapped under a heat "dome" caused by a huge area of high pressure that's compressing hot, moist air beneath it, leading to miserable temperatures in the mid-90s to low 100s and heat-index levels well above 100 degrees.

"It's hot no matter what you're doing or where you are," said Tim Prader, a 50-year-old construction worker who was taking a break Tuesday at a job site in St. Louis. Although his huge Caterpillar excavator has air conditioning, he couldn't entirely escape. "When you're done for the day, you're ready to eat, drink and hit the couch."

The oppressive conditions extend from the northern Plains states to Texas and from Nebraska to the Ohio Valley. And they're expanding eastward.

When a high pressure system develops in the upper atmosphere, the air below it sinks and compresses because there's more weight on top, causing temperatures in the lower atmosphere to heat up, said Eli Jacks, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Silver Spring, Md.

The dome of high pressure also pushes the jet stream and its drier, cooler air, farther north – it's now well into Canada – while hot, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico circulates clockwise around the dome, traveling farther inland than normal.

Combined with generally clear skies and the sun's higher summertime angle, "it gets really hot," Jacks said.

That also explains why temperatures in, say, North Dakota this week aren't all that different from temperatures in Houston, he said. The big difference is that people in Houston are accustomed to hot weather, while those in the north are not.

"In places where the highest temperature you ever expect is in the 80s and you're at 102, there are big health concerns," because fewer people have air conditioning or fans, Jacks said. "Heat is the No. 1 killer out of all weather hazards."

Story continues below

What's more, because of the humidity, even nighttime brings little relief.

"It's been 100 degrees at 11 o'clock, lately, at night," said Curtis Mark, who was servicing air conditioners Tuesday at the Greer County Courthouse in Mangum, Okla., where the temperature was 106 degrees at noon. "Stay indoors is about all I do."

Fellow Oklahoman Norma Lauer of Granite said she puts cold water on her hands and arms before going to bed and then lies down "without covering up on the bed, under the fan" and with the air conditioner running.

Thunderstorms can develop around the perimeter of the dome – called the "ring of fire" – bringing temporary relief to some areas, said Kevin Birk, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Illinois. But this dome is so large that the heat rebuilds quickly, Birk said.

While heat domes aren't uncommon, this one is unusual because of its size and duration. It began three days ago and may last seven to 10 days in some locations. And it's moving eastward, with temperatures expected to reach 100 degrees in Washington by Thursday.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records show that the United States broke 25 local high records for the date on Monday, including 103 degrees in both Edgemont S.D., and Victoria, Texas.

On Tuesday, it was 102 in Manhattan, Kan., and Valentine, Neb. The mercury rose to 100 in Joplin, Mo., and Rockford, Ill. – which tied that city's record for the date set in 1930. And in some cities it will be even hotter Wednesday: Chicago reached 93 degrees Tuesday, with 97 forecast for Wednesday.

No widespread deaths have been reported, but the heat sent dozens of people to hospitals.

As hot air blew over the cooler waters of Lake Michigan on Tuesday, a thick fog shrouded many of Chicago's beaches. Lifeguards had to turn away swimmers because they could not see beyond the water's edge.

In South Dakota, up to 1,500 head of cattle died across the state from the heat. And in eastern Iowa, the scorching sun caused a portion of Interstate 380 to buckle.

A Veterans Affairs hospital in Fargo, N.D., had to reschedule more than 50 surgeries after cooling systems struggled to keep up with the weather. Some floors and other surfaces became wet, potentially compromising the sterile environment needed to operate.

In Detroit, more than 70 schools without air conditioning were to close Wednesday afternoon. Power outages and mechanical problems closed several others.

Relief is on the way. Cooler air should begin moving into the Plains states this weekend, as a strong pool of air from the jet stream begins to push hot air out of the way in the Dakotas and into Minnesota before making its way east.

By Monday, temperatures will drop into the mid-80s in the north. Cities in the East could still be sweltering.

"This is really an exceptional event, I think it's fair to say ... in terms of scope and duration," Jacks said.

Sweet corn grower Ron Deardorff of Adel, Iowa, is ready for a break in the weather.

The 64-year-old spent Tuesday morning helping his crew of 24 pick corn in the field and by noon was driving the harvest to a grocery store in Des Moines – with a temperature of 95 degrees, a heat index of 105 and no air conditioning.

"Sometimes I have to change shirts in the middle of the day or middle of the afternoon and get a dry one, " said Deardoff, who kept his truck vents wide open and the windows rolled down. "It's no fun and nobody likes it, but the season is only so long and when the corn's ready, it's ready. You just have to go after it and do what you've got to do."


Associated Press writers Melanie Welte in Des Moines, Tim Talley in Mangum, Okla., Jim Suhr in St. Louis and Randy Schmid in Washington contributed to this story.

This wouldn't be an issue if men could get pregnant..

This is LONG overdue. The issue of pregnancy goes way beyond simply getting pregnant. Prenatal care, postnatal care...and what happens if the mom suffers from post natal depression...or worse yet post natal psychosis...
Again I assert, if this was a man issue, it would have been resolved long ago. Just like when Viagra came on the market. It was immediately covered by the top insurers. Birth control? That's a woman's problem. Just like studies on heart disease have mostly focused on men. Symptoms for women having heart attacks can vary greatly from a mans.
I maintain firmly and believe firmly, that if men could get pregnant, the abortion issue would be a non issue.
Ladies, its a mans world still...what a damn shame.

HealthDay News
United States Panel Recommends Free Birth Control
That plus other services should be added to health care reform, Institute of Medicine says.
By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay News

TUESDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) — Women in the United States could have their birth control covered by insurance companies, free of co-pays, if provisions of a new report are enacted as part of last year's landmark health-reform law.

That is one of eight recommendations in the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that looks to expand preventive services for women under the 2010 law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The report was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to identify "gaps in preventive services for women as well as measures that will further ensure women's health and well-being," the agency said.

"This report provides a road map for improving the health and well-being of women," committee chair Linda Rosenstock, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement. "The eight services we identified are necessary to support women's optimal health and well-being. Each recommendation stands on a foundation of evidence supporting its effectiveness."

The new recommendations were based on a review of guidelines and the effectiveness of various preventive services, the committee said.

By adding birth control to the list of recommendations, the committee said it hopes to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies, which make up almost half of all pregnancies in the United States.

Reaction to the IOM's recommendation varied.

"Millions of women, especially young women, struggle every day to afford prescription birth control," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "Today's recommendation brings us a step closer to ensuring that all newly insured women under the health care reform law will have access to prescription birth control without out-of-pocket expenses."

But Jeanne Monahan, director of Family Research Council's Center for Human Dignity, said: "Several drugs have been approved by the FDA to be legally categorized as 'emergency contraceptives,' despite functioning in ways that can destroy a preborn baby before or after implanting in the mother's womb. A federal mandate to all insurance plans to include drugs such as ella essentially would mandate coverage for abortion."

Besides insurance coverage for contraception, the committee also recommends patient education and counseling for all women of reproductive age.

The report said many women with unintended pregnancies aren't likely to receive prenatal care, are more likely to smoke, more likely to be depressed and more likely to be victims of domestic violence during pregnancy.

Unintended pregnancy also increases the risk for a preterm delivery or a low birth-weight infant. Both these conditions increase the risk for health and developmental problems for a child, the report said.

In addition to insurance coverage for birth control, the committee is recommending:

Screening for diabetes.
Testing for the human papillomavirus as part of cervical cancer screening. Counseling about sexually transmitted infections.
Counseling and screening for HIV.
Counseling on breast-feeding and breast-feeding equipment.
Counseling on interpersonal and domestic violence.
Yearly preventive care visits to recommended preventive services.
Women need more preventive care due to pregnancy and other conditions, which can leave them with more out-of-pocket costs than men. So, adding these services to preventive care can help level the field with men when it comes to costs, the committee said.

The final decision on whether to adopt the new recommendations will rest with the Department of Health and Human Services. The Institute of Medicine is an independent panel of experts that advises the federal government on issues of medicine and health.

Last Updated: 07/19/2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mama update

Haven't seen much of her in several weeks.
Hopefully she is alive and well, brooding her lil brood.
And then hopefully she'll bring them to visit.
When she does, I'll snap a pic of her for ya'll

Tropics getting restless

Making Bread.....

First time in years. I had a sudden hankering for fresh made, and by God its cheaper to make your own...
So I pulled out my bread machine, dusted it off and ran to the Publix for yeast and honey and dry milk powder, I had everything else.
Popped it in for my first loaf. Its a trial run shall we say, since I haven't made bread in so long.
Hopefully it will be
Pic is NOT my machine, just one I pulled off the net...but hey...a tomato is a tomato, right?
And its a really cool looking machine too...:-)

Monday, July 04, 2011

Being Muslim and being American

"That's my home." My heart whispered this thought 15 years ago while looking down at the streets of Pakistan. The plane had just left for New York from Lahore and I was glued to the window, teary eyed. If leaving my country was distressing, not knowing if I would ever return was agonizing. And all the agony was due to one single fact: I was an Ahmadi Muslim and Pakistan's constitution had shunned me as a second-class citizen.

Just two weeks later, I dragged my bones to watch the Fourth of July (1996) fireworks at the New Jersey Shore. Back then it was not "my celebration" so all I remember from that evening is loud music, a huge crowd, and a stranger who thanked me for making room so he could watch the fireworks.

On July 4, 2011 though, as an equal citizen of the United States, I am celebrating something I failed to appreciate 15 years ago: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

The language and substance of our constitutions and declarations has a deep impact on our psyche.

To that end, much of Pakistan's tendency toward extremism is traceable to 1974, when an odious constitutional amendment declared millions of Ahmadis (a sect of Islam) as non-Muslims. A decade later, the state passed Ordinance XX to make it punishable by law for an Ahmadi Muslim to discuss his faith in public, identify his place of worship as a mosque, or even convey the Islamic greeting of peace. This constitutional amendment has also inflicted significant injury on Pakistan's Christian and Hindu minorities.

Pakistan's constitutional inequality not only classified millions as second grade citizens but it also poisoned the masses. Today, a ten-minute inflammatory sermon can make many feel obligated to kill a neighbor belonging to a minority group.

So it's natural for me to note how our US Constitution sweetens the American psyche towards the principles of equality, life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness championed in the Declaration of Independence. Even though more than 80 percent of Americans attest to an incomplete understanding of our Constitution (according to a 2011 Time Magazine poll), this document and the principles it establishes instill tolerance for "the different" in our minds.

Born Americans may not be able to name all the articles and clauses of the Constitution, but they've been taught its ethic for most of their lives. It is instilled in them. It allows passionate debates over sensitive issues like whether a woman has a right to abortion or not, whether children born to illegal immigrants are automatically eligible for US citizenship, whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, or whether a mosque should be built near ground zero - instead of applying duct tape over the lips of a minority position.

No wonder millions flock to the American shores. The United States accepts more legal immigrants every year than all other countries combined. In 2008, over a million people were naturalized as US citizens, mainly emigrating from Mexico, India and China.

Talk to Muslim Americans and you will hear just how valued, how precious, this tolerance is to them. Some would strongly disagree with the American foreign policy, and some would lament about a personal experience of discrimination. But in my experience, all would agree on one thing: that the United States provides them with more freedom, more security, more opportunity, and more peace than the country from which they emigrated.

Since that day on the Jersey shore, I have made it a habit to make room for my fellow citizens wherever I can. It's only my way to reciprocate to you, America, for you have made room for millions of immigrants like me and provided us the opportunity to live with equality, justice, and freedom.

I still get teary eyed thinking about my homeland; particularly with all the mayhem in the name of religion. But, whenever my plane takes off from the Baltimore-Washington Airport, I look down at the rooftops and my heart says, "That's my home, that's my home."

A version of this article previously appeared in the Christian Science Monitor on July 1st, 2011

Faheem Younus is an adjunct faculty member for religion and history at the Community Colleges of Baltimore County and a clinical associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He can be reached at

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I have in the recent years, seen someone from Hollywood on my blog.
I now wonder if it was Ex.
It never occurred to me that he would read, let alone be interested in my blog.
But.....who knows.
In any event, everything I posted was true and real...however pathetic.
I use this blog as a vent point...and at the very least never mentioned him by name.
He broke my heart so finally, that truthfully faithful, I don't think I can ever repair it.
I don't think I can ever open up the way I did, or trust the way I did, or give so unconditionally as I did.
So if you are reading damaged me beyond repair. I hope that gives you some know that my ability to love and trust was so warped.
Anyway...I'm alive, well and thank the good Lord for Marc.
Without him I would be bereft and lost. His love and support keeps me going day and night.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

As of now....

I am off for ten days faithful...TEN DAYS....LOL LOL...BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Yeah right, it will go faster than shit thru a goose.
Other thing is that the mama duck is still hanging around here. Its unusual for a duck to hang without others...she was here being raped by her paramour for several days. Then she was here with him guarding her while she ate.
I hope she broods in our yard or close to it.
I call her Mama, and when shes here, if I call out "Mama" she comes a waddling.
We are feeding her top quality duckie food...Malto meal

Excuse me about the rainy season

Apparently the NWS has stated that the rainy season started on the 26th due to showers off shore.
We sure aren't getting them here in Davie..

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First day of Hurricane Season....

Is tomorrow.
We are not yet in the rainy season, which we desperately need.
So Fla is in a serious drought, and the rainy season can't come to soon for me.
I've been running the sprinklers this week. I'm lucky because mine run on the lake water....but still..
Another news alert. We have a female muscovy duck here in our yard regularly. She was coming up here with her one lone chick, who apparently was lost to predation or some other natural disaster.
She continues to come here with her new paramour.
If anyone is not familiar with muscovy ducks, the mating is NOT for the faint of heart.
The males will continually mount the female, attacking them and pulling out their head and neck feathers. They will mount them without thought of their need to breath in the water.
So after watching our little female whom I have named "Mama"...we had to grit our teeth and just watch as he assaulted her.
Thats the only word for it to me....assault.
I just hope she will bring her babies here for us to feed.
They do love the malto meal cereals lol

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The same Orchid

Same Orchid

Orchid in my yard

Waiting for rainy season

Well here we are, past the average start of the rainy season.
I have the sprinklers on now , hate having to run them...but it hasn't started raining here yet on a regular basis.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sorry for no posts in so long...if anyone cares

Been enormously stressed about money. Don't have enough for the monthly bills..and its been building up as a stress rollercoster.
Lots of other stuff too...don't have the energy to even coherently post it here.
And the end of the world didn't come.
I am fucking pissed off.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hello Blog faithful

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while...I have no reason or excuse why...I just haven't
I'll try to update and put some new pics of the baby pineapple I have growing in the yard..
Other than that, I'll update with some other nonsense as usual..

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dan Fogelberg ~ Only The Heart May Know (with Emmylou Harris)

Jim Croce - Lovers Cross - BBC

I posted several Jim Croce Videos

Its Jim and his second hand man Maury Muehleisen.
They both died in the plane crash
When Jim died it stopped my heart...
I adored him..
I'll never forget, I was in ceramics class when I was dealing with the news.

Jim Croce - I Got a Name (1973)

Jim Croce - Operator

In 1974, there was a commercial on t.v for a documentary...

With John Denver about Big Horn Sheep.
I was about 13 or so...and when I saw the commercials in the morning before school I was energized.
I have no answer for why, I just was.
Then I finally got to see the documentary...and was the scenes and by John Denvers voice. I had never heard of him before, or heard him sing.
And in this documentary, I was exploded with the voice of John Denver.
For those of you who are not old enough, or aren't of the same age range, or whatever your damage this is difficult.
But those commercials helped get me thru another day of the hated school.
The show itself created a new me.
Let me be clear, I was gifted, but not recoganized as such.
So I was bored as hell in all my classes.
School was a hated chore, much hated.
If I had been recoganized and challenged, it might have been different.
But I was on a wavelength with John Denver.
And it lasted for years.
God bless him, and may he rest in peace,
And may his music continue to inspire.

Rocky Mountain High: John Denver

Friday, February 11, 2011

Oh yes Elvis rocked the airwaves

I was tuning in the shine on the light night dial
Doing anything my radio advised
With every one of those late night stations
Playing songs bringing tears to my eyes
I was seriously thinking about hiding the receiver
When the switch broke 'cause it's old
They're saying things that I can hardly believe
They really think we're getting out of control

(CHORUS) Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don't give you any choice 'cause they think that it's treason
So you had better do as you are told
You better listen to the radio

I wanna bite the hand that feeds me
I wanna bite that hand so badly
I want to make them wish they'd never seen me

Some of my friends sit around every evening
And they worry about the times ahead
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
And the promise of an early bed
You either shut up or get cut up, they don't wanna hear about it
It's only inches on the reel-to-reel
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
Tryin' to anaesthetise the way that you feel


Wonderful radio
Marvelous radio
Wonderful radio
Radio, radio

Thursday, February 10, 2011

As we get closer to the end times

Whats happening in Egypt right now terrifies me. I support every peoples right to democracy. But I fear the Muslim Brotherhood will take over...if the Islamic extremists take over, then all support for Israel disappears...and we are the verge of a cataclysm than cannot be stopped

Report from CNN
A riot policeman fires tear gas at protesters in front of the l-Istiqama Mosque in Giza, Cairo, today. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

7.45am: Egypt's biggest demonstrations yet are planned today following Friday prayers, in the face of an increasing crackdown by the authorities.

Overnight several senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested after the organisation pledged to take part in the demonstrations for the first time.

To date the demonstrations have been largely secular, as they were in Tunisia. The involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood could change that, according to the New York Times.

The support of the Brotherhood could well change the calculus on the streets, tipping the numbers in favour of the protesters and away from the police, lending new strength to the demonstrations and further imperiling president Hosni Mubarak's reign of nearly three decades.

Last night Mohamed ElBaradei, the former UN nuclear weapons inspector often named as a leading reformist candidate to replace Mubarak, flew into Cairo calling for a new regime in Egypt.

In an interview with CNN before his return, ElBaradei criticised comments by the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who had described the Egyptian government as stable and "looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people".

"I was stunned to hear secretary Clinton saying the Egyptian government is stable. And I ask myself: at what price is stability? Is it on the basis of 29 years of martial law? Is it on the basis of 30 years of [an] ossified regime? Is it on the basis of rigged elections? That's not stability, that's living on borrowed time," said ElBaradei.

To watch the video in full turn off auto refresh at the top of the page The US has continued to send out ambiguous statements about Egypt. Last night Barack Obama urged the government and protesters to show restraint, saying violence was not the answer. "It is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances," he said.

Internet access has been cut and restricted today. The Washington Post compared the crackdown to one that occurred following the disputed elections in Iran in 2009.

It said:

The Egyptian shutdown, if continued Friday, could be the most drastic move against anti-government activists' use of technology since the Iranian government cracked down on protests in 2009. The US official, who was not authorised to speak on the record, said the actions to shut down the internet and cellphones began after midnight Thursday.

Earlier today the US state department spokesman Philip Crowley expressed concern about the internet restrictions. In a Twitter message he said:

We are concerned that communication services, including the internet, social media and even this #tweet, are being blocked in #Egypt.

Egyptian protesters have been working round the restrictions by distributing leaflets providing practical and tactical advice for mass demonstrations, writes our Middle East editor Ian Black.

Signed "long live Egypt", the slickly produced 26-page document calls on demonstrators to begin with peaceful protests, carrying roses but no banners, and march on official buildings while persuading policemen and soldiers to join their ranks.

7.54am: Peter Beaumont in Cairo describes what's likely to happen today. In an Audioboo interview he says: "Lots of ordinary Cairo residents in good jobs are talking about going to this demonstration today. So it will be interesting to see whether this is a bigger demonstration than happened on Tuesday." He adds that he has been trying to log on to the internet all day without success.

To listen to the audio turn off the auto-refresh button at the top of the page
8.08am: Our technology editor Charles Arthur has the details on the internet restrictions in Egypt. He writes:

Egypt appears to have cut off almost all access to the internet from inside and outside the country from late on Thursday night, in a move that has concerned observers of the protests that have been building in strength through the week.

"According to our analysis, 88% of the 'Egyptian internet' has fallen off the internet," said Andree Toonk at BGPmon, a monitoring site that checks connectivity of countries and networks.

"What's different in this case as compared to other 'similar' cases is that all of the major ISPs seem to be almost completely offline. Whereas in other cases, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were typically blocked, in this case the government seems to be taking a shotgun approach by ordering ISPs to stop routing all networks."

The cutoff appears to have happened around 10.30pm GMT on Thursday night.

8.23am: Peter Beaumont in Cairo has just witnessed 15 security trucks heading for the centre of the city. "There's obviously going to be a massive police presence today," he told me by phone.

8.40am: Tim Marshall from Sky News seems to have found a way to tweet from Cairo. He confirms what Peter just told me about the security presence in the city.

#Egypt Several hundred riot police and 8 riot trucks just turned up in street next to Tahrir Sq.

8.54am: The US softly-softly approach to Egypt, particularly under Obama, is undermined by private criticism of president Hosni Murbarak in embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

An article in the New York Times today says that cables on Egypt:

Paint a vivid picture of the delicate dealings between the United States and Egypt, its staunchest Arab ally. They show in detail how diplomats repeatedly raised concerns with Egyptian officials about jailed dissidents and bloggers, and kept tabs on reports of torture by the police.

But they also reveal that relations with Mr. Mubarak warmed up because President Obama played down the public "name and shame" approach of the Bush administration. A cable prepared for a visit by Gen. David H. Petraeus in 2009 said the United States, while blunt in private, now avoided "the public confrontations that had become routine over the past several years."

9.06am: Human Rights Watch, which has several observers in Egypt, has called on the authorities to allow today's protests to go ahead and to stop using violent tactics against those taking part.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director, said:

"The Egyptian authorities should allow protesters to exercise their right to assemble and protest peacefully. Instead protesters have met with exactly the kind of heavy-handed abuse and repression that people are protesting against.

We have seen wholly unacceptable and disproportionate policing of these protests. Instead of further crackdowns, the authorities should be investigating the widespread reports of excessive use of force by the police and holding those responsible to account."

9.19am: The Egyptian Association for Change claims police are preparing to torch vehicles as a pretext for putting down the demonstration, writes Haroon Siddique.

The report, based on phone calls from activists last night, is by Stephen McInerney, director of advocacy for the Project on Middle East Democracy. In a Facebook post he writes:

Currently, we're being told that large numbers of plainsclothes police officers and security officers are going through the streets covering parked cars with gasoline. The activists expect that the govt plans to light all the cars on fire, claim that the protesters were burning everything, and use that as a pretext to use severe violence to repress the protests, and eliminating all means for the people to relay the truth out of the country.

They are being told by sources within the regime that very large groups of govt-organized thugs, calling themselves "ikhwan al-Haq" [a group never heard of, roughly translated as "brotherhood of truth"], are going to be in the streets with knives, swords, etc..., attacking and killing protesters in the streets tomorrow [Friday]; they don't know whether this may be deliberately and falsely leaked to discourage demonstrators; but they do see evidence that these groups are being organized. they may also claim that these violent groups are the demonstrators as a pretext to use violence on the real demonstrators.

9.26am: Tony Blair, former prime minister and Middle East peace envoy, has echoed America's ambiguous line on Egypt.

My colleague Andrew Sparrow writes:

In an interview on the Today programme Blair said Egypt should "evolve and modernise", but that change should happen in an ordered way. He said anything could happen if there was a vacuum.

"The challenges have been the same for these countries for a long period of time. The question is how they evolve and modernise, but do so with stability. The danger is if you open up a vacuum anything can happen.

"As Hillary Clinton was saying yesterday, the important thing is to engage in this process of modernisation, and improving systems of government, but do it in a way that keeps the order and stability of the country together."

Asked if Mubarak should stay in power, Blair said: "Well I think the decisions about how this is done is incredibly difficult. President Mubarak has been in power for 30 years. There's obviously in any event going to be an evolution and a change there. The question is how does that happen in the most stable way possible.

"All over that region there is essentially one issue, which is how do they evolve and modernise, both in terms of their economy, their society and their politics. All I'm saying is that in the case of Egypt and in the case in Yemen, because there are other factors in this, not least those who would use any vacuum in order to ferment extremism, that you do this in what I would call a stable and ordered way ....

"This is not limited to one country in the region. It's all over the region. You have got to take account of the fact that when you unleash this process of reform, unless you are going to be very, very careful about how it's done and how it's staged, then you run risks as well."

Blair said the west should engage with countries like Egypt in the process of change "so that you weren't left with what is actually the most dangerous problem in the Middle East, which is that an elite that has an open minded attitude but it's out of touch with popular opinion, and popular opinion that can often - because it has not been given popular expression in its politics - end up frankly with the wrong idea and a closed idea."

9.34am: A protest outside the Egyptian embassy in London is due to take place tomorrow. The demonstration will express support for political reform in Egypt.

9.39am: As the internet is down, getting information out of Egypt is proving much more difficult today. But foreign correspondents are getting around the restrictions.

CNN's Ben Wedeman says he "momentarily" has access to the internet.

He just tweeted:

Just saw blue fiat entering main tv building in Maspiro when guards opened trunk, full of baseball bats. Car allowed in #egypt #jan25

Another tweet says:

Cairo in COMPLETE lockdown. Security everywhere, including special forces. Government once again warning protests BANNED.

9.50am: This graph, by the Arbor Networks, graphically illustrates how internet activity has dropped off a cliff in the last 12 hours. (Thanks to Nighthood, in the comments section, for the tip).

10.04am: Mohamed ElBaradei has given an exclusive interview to the Guardian in which he says Mubarak's regime is on its last legs:

The Egyptian dissident Mohamed ElBaradei warned President Hosni Mubarak today that his regime is on its "last legs", as tens of thousands of people prepared to take to the streets for a fourth day of anti-government protests. The Nobel peace prize winner's comments to the Guardian represented his strongest intervention against the country's authoritarian government since he announced his intention to return to Egypt to join the protests. "I'm sending a message to the Guardian and to the world that Egypt is being isolated by a regime on its last legs," he said. His words marked an escalation with the language he used on arrival in Cairo last night, when he merely urged the Mubarak government to "listen to the people" and not to use violence. He has been criticised by some Egyptians for his late return to his homeland, two days after the protests began - hundreds of people have already been arrested and exposed to the brutal tactics of the security services. But ElBaradei was keen to stress his solidarity with the protesters. "There is of course a risk to my safety today, but it's a risk worth taking when you see your country in such a state you have to take risks," he said. "I will be with the people today."

10.18am: The UN chief Ban Ki-moon has condemned Egypt's decision to cut internet access ahead of planned protests as being against the democratic principles of freedom of expression and association, the Associated Press reports:

Speaking to reporters Friday at the World Economic Forum, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he has been following closely the protests in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt and urged leaders to ensure that further violence is avoided. The UN chief said leaders should view the situation as a chance to address what he calls the "legitimate concerns" of their people.

10.23am: Al-Jazeera says rubber bullets were fired in Suez - where there have been three confirmed deaths since the protests began - last night.

Friday prayers have begun in Egypt.

10.26am: WikiLeaks has released a timely new cable on police brutality in Egypt.

Written by the US ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey it says:

Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread. The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders. One human rights lawyer told us there is evidence of torture in Egypt dating back to the times of the Pharaohs.

It's worth reading the whole document.

10.33am: Some more details of what the UN chief Ban said (10.18am):

In that regard ... shutting down all this internet service ... I believe that one of the ground principles of democracy should be to protect the freedom of speech of the people
...All concerned people or leaders should ensure that the situation in that region, and particularly now in Egypt, does not and should not lead to further violence.

10.39am: A comment from below the line from @OneWorldGovernment:

Security forces blocking the road between Ismailia and Suez and the road to the strategic Tahir Square and the local metro stating [station] have been closed for the day. Security has been deployed in the Al Haram neighborhood.

10.47am: The Guardian's Middle East expert Brian Whitaker will be online at 1pm for a live web chat on the unrest in the region. We'll post a link to the chat in the next few minutes.

10.50am: Jack Shenker describes Mohamed ElBaradei's arrival for prayers in Cairo today. ElBaradei was surrounded by a throng of supporters but also riot police.

One supporter, a teacher, told Jack that "hunger and poverty" had bought protesters out on to the streets. "We are not looking for an Islamic revolution" he said, "we want a citizen's government."

Jack says ElBaradei was "basically kettled" by riot police when he appeared.

11.03am: Al-Jazeera reports that teargas has been fired at protesters in Alexandria.

11.12am: Within seconds of Friday prayers finishing teargas, water cannons, and "sound bombs" were used against protesters, Jack Shenker reports from Cairo. He says the city is like a "war zone".

Protesters continued to chant "down down Hosni Mubarak", despite the crackdown, Jack says.

"It was obvious the regime was not going to tolerate any protests today," Jack said. ElBaradei's whereabouts are unknown.

11.20am: The Observer's Peter Beaumont describes the scene before the crackdown. In recording just minutes before the latest violence, he said there were thousands of police on the streets, hundreds on every corner and they have been recruiting young men to help quell protesters.

Authorites have closed the Makram mosque, one of the biggest in Cairo, near Tahrir Square for "urgent building works" but it was open yesterday. The mosques were preaching a message of peaceful protest during Friday prayers.

To listen to the audio in full turn off the auto refresh button.
11.32am: My colleague Simon Jeffery is currently going through the Wikileaks Egypt cables on his Wikileaks blog.

That live Q&A with the Guardian Middle East expert Brian Whitaker will take place here.

11.34am: A witness tells Reuters that Egyptian protesters are gathered near a Cairo residential palace of Hosni Mubarak.

11.38am: Regional Egyptian television stations are reporting clashes between thousands of protesters and police in several major cities outside Cairo, including the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, Minya and Assiut south of Cairo and al-Arish in the Sinai peninsula.

11.43am: Al Jazeera is now reporting that dissident Mohamed ElBaradei has been detained by the police.

11.51am: Now people at the scene are saying ElBaradei has not been arrested but prevented from going anywhere


I am being told El Baradei is not arrested, just stopped from moving anywhere, not sure about the technicalities

11.53am: An al-Jazeera reporter has been beaten up by plain clothes police officers on the 6 October bridge in Cairo, across which people have been fleeing as officers fired teargas at them

11.56am: The protests have spread to Jordan, the Associated Press reports:

Thousands of Jordanian opposition supporters have taken to the streets in the country's capital demanding the prime minister step down and venting their anger at rising prices, inflation and unemployment. About 3,500 opposition activists from the main Islamist opposition group, trade unions and leftist organizations have gathered in Amman. The crowd is denouncing Prime Minister Samir Rifai's unpopular policies. Many are shouting: "Rifai go away, prices are on fire and so are the Jordanians." Another 2,000 protesters in cities of Irbid and Karak have made similar calls. Friday's rallies mark the third consecutive day of protests in Jordan inspired by Tunisia and Egypt's unrest that has demanding the governments' downfall. King Abdullah II has promised some reforms.

12.03pm: Al-Jazeera is reporting four French journalists arrested, no further details at the moment.

12.07pm: The Egyptian people have been given a vote of support they might not appreciate ... from an Iranian cleric. From the Associated Press:

A change of government in Tunisia and violent protests in Egypt and Yemen are evidence that Iran's revolution is being replayed, a senior Iranian cleric said Friday.
"An Islamic Middle East is taking shape," Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said in his Friday prayer sermon. "A new Middle East is emerging based on Islam ... based on religious democracy."
Violent protests in Tunisia toppled former Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and a "Friday of Wrath" has engulfed Egypt, a U.S. ally. Protesters in Yemen also have called for the outser of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled for nearly 32 years. Khatami said the deposed Tunisian president copied the policies of the former Iranian shah and met a similar fate.
"This is God's tradition: Those who fight religion are doomed to fail," he said.
Iran's state TV provided extensive coverage of the violent protests that have engulfed Egypt, saying President Hosni Mubarak won't have a fate better than the shah's.

12.09pm: Here's a summary of what has been a very eventful morning.

• Mohamed ElBaradei, one of Hosni Mubarak's fiercest critics and a former UN weapons inspector, has been detained after appearing on the streets in Cairo. Before he was detained ElBaradei claimed that Mubarak's regime was on its "last legs".

• Riot police fired teargas, water cannon and sound bombs to disperse protesters immediately after Friday prayers in Cairo. Teargas was also used in Alexandria. There are reports that a journalist from al-Jazeera and one from the BBC have been injured in the violence.

• The regime has closed down internet access and several mobile phone networks in an apparent attempt to prevent protesters mobilising. The UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon, human rights campaigners have condemned the censorship. WikiLeaks has released a new batch of secret US embassy cables that detail police brutality in Egypt.

• Despite a massive security crackdown protests have continued amid reports that crowds have gathered outside the Mubarak's presidential palace. Several leading members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood were arrested overnight after the organisation said it would take part in the demontrations for the first time.

• The United States and Tony Blair have issued ambiguous statements calling for both sides to end violence. Iran provocatively claimed that the demonstrations in Egypt and elsewhere echoed the 1979 Islamic revolution.

12.25pm: While we've summarising lots more has been happening. Here's a round-up:

Some of the latest developments from around Egypt.

Reuters is reporting that rubber bullets were fired at protesters. Protesters shouted "Down, Down, Hosni Mubarak" and stamped on posters of the president after Friday prayers, witnesses said. Tanks are moving through the streets. Teargas is being fired constantly.

Reports of thousands of people surrounding the security state building.

Teargas has been fired. People are chanting "God is great" and " We want a regime change". Al Jazeera reports

12.27pm: The Telecoms company Vodafone says the Egyptian government has ordered all mobile telephone operators to suspend services "in selected areas" of the country.

In a statement, the company says that "under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply with it." British-based Vodafone Group plc said Egyptian authorities "will be clarifying the situation in due course."

12.29pm: Before it all kicked off today Jack Shenker wrotea profile of the protesters.

Here's how it starts:

Middle-class, urban, web-savvy – the archetypal media image of the young protesters who have shaken Egypt's dictatorship this week captures only part of the reality.

This generation of dissidents, most of whom have lived their entire lives under the three-decade rule of President Hosni Mubarak, have rejected the moribund landscape of formal politics that has ensnared many of their liberal elders since Nasser's 1952 revolution.

Not content to feed on the crumbs of free expression thrown by the Egyptian regime, they have carved out an alternative space in which to develop, swap and spread ideas which challenge the status quo.

Until the government cut off internet access this morning, the forums they organised were online, spread through a vibrant network of blogs and social media sites. Despite Egypt's limited internet penetration, Facebook has been "the main actor", says Khalid al Aman a political analyst at Durham university. "The development of these events has transcended classical movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and other political parties."

We have witnessed this before in Iran but he goes on to say:

But despite the talk of a "Twitter revolution" it is worth remembering that the specific events that helped fuel this uprising happened offline. On top of the long-burning grievances of political oppression and economic hardship, it was a 2008 strike by textile workers in the Nile Delta town of Mahalla al-Kubra that fired the imagination of many of those on the streets today. The three people shot dead by security forces during the Mahalla unrest on 16 April inspired an online movement which took its name from the date.

The traditional working class from all corners of the country has continued to provoke and inspire dissident activity ever since, occupying pavements outside parliament for weeks on end to highlight the devastating impact of the neoliberal reforms pursued by the ruling NDP party. Some trade unions – most notably the real estate tax collectors – have gone on to break free from state control.

Away from the economic concerns, anger at police corruption and brutality has been at the heart of the new wave of protest.

12.38pm: BBC Arabic says approximately 4,000 protesters have surrounded the Suez governate building and are chanting "Free Egypt, Mubarak out."

An Al Jazeera reporter in the area said 2 soldiers in Suez had charges issued against them for refusing to fire live ammunition overnight.

12.40pm: This screen grab from Al Jazeera shows tear gas fired at protesters in Cairo.

Screen grab from Al Jazeera
12.46pm: A CNN crew has had its camera smashed by plainclothes police


Plainclothed #Egypt policemen in Tahrir Sq attack #CNN crew, brake and steal camera. Violent suppression of protesters everywhere #Jan25

12.47pm: BBC Arabic is reporting that protesters in Ismailia have taken over the local headquarters of Mubarak's National Democratic Party.

12.53pm: The latest take on the clashes from the Associated Press:

A soaking wet ElBaradei was trapped inside a mosque while hundreds of riot police laid siege to it, firing tear gas in the streets around so no one could leave. The tear gas canisters set several cars ablaze outside the mosque and several people fainted and suffered burns. Large groups of protesters, in the thousands, were gathered at at least six venues in Cairo, a city of about 18 million people, and many of them were on the move marching toward major squares and across Nile bridges.

They are demanding Mubarak's ouster and venting their rage at years of government neglect of rampant poverty, unemployment and rising food prices. There were smaller protests in Assiut south of Cairo and al-Arish in the Sinai peninsula. Regional television stations were reporting clashes between thousands of demonstrators and police in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and Minya south of Cairo.

At the upscale Mohandiseen district, at least 10,000 of people were marching toward the city center chanting "down, down with Mubarak." The crowd later swelled to about 20,000 as they made their way through residential areas. Residents looking on from apartment block windows waved and whistled in support. Others waved the red, white and black Egyptian flags. The marchers were halted as they tried to cross a bridge over the Nile, when police fired dozens of tear gas canisters.

At Ramsis square in the heart of the city, thousands clashed with police as they left the al-Nur mosque after prayers. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets and some of the tear gas was fired inside the mosque where women were taking refuge. Hundreds later broke through police cordons to head to the main downtown square, Tahrir. But they were stopped by police firing tear gas.

Near Tahrir, hundreds of riot police clustered together moved in, anticipating the arrival of large crowds of protesters. A short while later, thousands of protesters marched across a bridge over the Nile and moved toward the square, where police began firing tear gas into the crowds. Later, television footage showed protesters throwing rocks down on police from a highway overpass near Tahrir Square, while a police vehicle sped through the crowd spraying tear gas on demonstrators.

12.57pm: People on Twitter are saying the NDP headquarters in Mansoura, 120 miles north-east of Cairo, is being overrun by 40,000 people.


Mansoura NDP headquarters destroyed by protestors #Jan25 #Egypt

12.59pm: In another extraordinary audio report Jack Shenker in Cairo reports on signs that the police are siding with the protesters. He saw a senior police officer discard a teargas canister to signal to protesters that he was on their side. Will the regime fall he asked a state journalist. "It's already falling, it can't stop," Jack was told.

Jack has seen tens of thousands of protesters on the streets, some chanting "we are change".

Turn off auto-refresh to listen to full audio
1.09pm: Al-Jazeera in Suez says the police station in the port city has been taken over by protesters who have freed detainees. They have also set fire to three armoured cars. The reporter said the police were overpowered within minutes.

1.12pm: An eyewitness account from Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, who says police immediately set upon peaceful protesters.

We are in East Alexandria. Immediately after prayer, the people came out of mosque with banners and started marching, shouting 'we are peaceful, we are peaceful'. Security arrived and immediately began shooting teargas and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters, about 600. Then one-hour rock throwing clash, but police didn't advance more than one block and kept being pushed back. Then a massive column of protesters came from the other direction and blocked in police, holding up their hands and shouting we are peaceful. Right now police is held up in the yard of mosque and protesters all around, police can't move. They repeatedly ran out of teargas and begged protesters to stop, protesters telling them to join them.

1.14pm: There are reports a woman protester has been killed in Tahrir Square, Cairo's central plaza.

1.21pm: Moving pictures of people praying in the streets in Cairo are currently being broadcast.

"Nour", a young activist who was locked in the back of a police van with Jack Shenker, has told al-Jazeera that his Dad, Ayman Nour, a prominent dissident, is in intensive care after being hit on the back of a head by a rock thrown by government thugs. His father has diabetes and a heart condition. His father challenged Hosni Mubarak for the presidency in 2005 and was thrown in jail for his troubles.

Nour said there were government thugs in Cairo with "steel and sticks. It is very frightening and intimidating."

1.25pm: The online Q&A on Egypt with the Guardian's Middle East expert Brian Whittaker is now taking place.

1.29pm: Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch in Alexandria has just sent an update that the police where he is have given up and are withdrawing.

1.29pm: Senior politician Mustafa al-Fiqi, chairman of the National Security and Foreign Relations committee, insisted the government would not fall.

But speaking to al-Jazeera he admitted that Egypt had to take action against poverty and corruption, and give people more freedom.

"It is very sad to see this confrontation," he said. "Police and the demonstrators both are Egyptians and we feel sad for the victims of both sides," he said.

He insisted that Mubarak would address his people in the next few days.

"People feel they need change," he said. But he claimed the current government would not fall.

1.33pm: More from Peter Bouckaert, from Human Rights Watch, in Alexandria:

The police have now given up fighting the protesters. The police and protesters are now talking, with protesters bringing water and vinegar (for teargas) to the police. Afternoon prayer has just been called and hundreds are praying in front of the mosque in east Alexandria.

Here's a picture he sent us of people praying after the police gave up:

Photograph: Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch
1.42pm: AP has video of a protester being shot in the head yesterday, in Sinai. The Daily Mail has this story on the killing. Be advised: Contains graphic footage.

1.44pm: Peter Beaumont reports on a pitched battle between police and protesters on the Kassr Nile bridge. "It is white with gas, but the protesters are pushing the police back," he says. Like Jack Shenker and Human Rights Watch, Peter has also seen signs of protesters trying persuade police to join them.

Turn off auto refresh to listen to full audio
1.55pm: AP has raw footage of tens of thousands of protesters clashing with police in central Cairo today.

"We are saying enough of this regime. This is a corrupt regime," one protester shouts in English to the camera.

2.01pm: At least two French journalists have been arrested, according to AP.

The daily newspaper Le Figaro says its reporter Adrien Jaulmes was arrested in Cairo and it has had no contact with him since he was detained.

The photo agency Sipa Press said one of its photographers, Albert Facelly, was also arrested in Cairo today. The agency said it had no details on the circumstances of his arrest and no contact with him yet.

2.08pm: Al-Jazeera is showing extraordinary live footage of a police firing teargas canisters at protesters and protesters throwing them back. Police have cleared one of the main motorway bridges over the Nile.

"The people want to bring down the regime," protesters are chanting, according to a translator.

2.19pm: The protesters are in control of the central square in Suez says al-Jazeera. There is no police presence. Jamal Elshayyal, their reporter in Suez, says:

The police has been quite comprehensively defeated by the power of the people.

2.27pm: "It doesn't show any sign of dying down at the moment," says Peter Beaumont who has been witnessing teargas canisters exchanges on the Kassr Nile bridge. "Having got gassed earlier today, I've got no idea how the protesters are managing to stay in the smoke," he says.

Turn off auto refresh to listen to full audio
2.29pm: You can watch al-Jazeera's impressive coverage online here.

2.32pm: Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, gives this detailed account of how protesters overwhelmed police in Alexandria today.

After prayers, the protesters came out of a mosque and started shouting slogans. They were saying "peaceful, peaceful" and raising their hands. They were immediately attacked by police in an armoured car firing teargas. Fierce clashes started then, with exchanges of rock throwing. About 200 police faced about 1,000 protesters. The clashes lasted for nearly two hours. Then a much larger crowd of protesters came from another direction. They were packed in four blocks deep. Police tried to hold them back with teargas and rubber bullets, but they were finally overwhelmed.

Then the police just gave up, at about the time of afternoon prayers. Protesters gave water to police and talked to them. It was was all peaceful. Hundreds of protesters were praying in the street.

Now walking down to downtown Alexandria, the whole road is packed as far as we can see, people shouting slogans against [Hosni] Mubarak and his son Gamal. Asking others to join them. It is a very festive atmosphere. Women in veils, old men, children, I even saw a blind man being led. And there are no police anywhere.

2.37pm: Reuters is reporting the death of protester in Suez:

Egyptians carried the body of a protester through Suez on Friday after clashes with police who withdrew from central areas of the eastern city leaving some main streets to demonstrators, a Reuters witness said. "They have killed my brother," shouted one of the demonstrators.

2.39pm: Egyptian security officials say Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei is under house arrest.

2.48pm: The NDP headquarters in Dumya/Daniette, 131 miles north-east of Cairo, and Al Mansoura, 120km north-east of Cairohave both been destroyed, according to the Egyptian Association for Change.

2.50pm: Rawya Rageh, for al-Jazeera, says she has seen evidence of a protester killed in Alexandria, a bloody body being held aloft through the streets with people chanting "There is no God but God". She adds that police have now been overrun by protesters in the city.

2.53pm: Protesters have named the man killed in Suez (2.37pm) as Hamada Labib, 30, a driver.. They blamed his death on a gunshot, reports Reuters. It adds:

Egyptian police abandoned central areas of the industrial port city after demonstrations in which thousands of protesters overwhelmed security lines and torched a police station, a Reuters witness said. Police had tried to disperse the protesters, who hurled stones and chanted for the end to President Hosni Mubarak's rule. But they were unable to contain them and moved back, abandoning at least eight big police trucks. Protesters smashed the windows and tried to flip one of the trucks over. Hundreds of members of security forces had gathered in a large group around the governor's offence, where there was no sign of protesters.

2.58pm: An incredible picture from Cairo, taken earlier today, of people praying in the streets surrounded by riot police.

Locals pray in the street in front of The l-Istiqama Mosque watched by riot police in Giza on January 28, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
3.03pm: The International Crisis Group has condemned the detention of Mohamed ElBaradei, who serves on Crisis Group's board of trustees, and the violence against the demonstrators:
Crisis Group President Louise Arbour said:

His detention has no credible basis. It also will not serve Egypt's interests at this critical juncture. In a situation as tense as this, repression and abuse can only further inflame the situation. Rather than resort to repression, the authorities should heed demands of the population for dramatic political, social and economic transformation.

3.05pm: Egyptian protesters in Cairo are calling for the army to side with them against the police, Reuters reports:

Egyptian protesters in Cairo chanted slogans calling for the army to support them, complaining of police violence during clashes on Friday in which security forces fired teargas and rubber bullets. "Where is the army? Come and see what the police is doing to us. We want the army. We want the army," the protesters in one area of central Cairo shouted, shortly before police fired teargas on them.

3.12pm: Following up from the previous update, al-Jazeera just showed pictures of protesters jumping and cheering beside what appeared to be an army armoured vehicle in Cairo with the occupants in the vehicle not responding in any kind of negative fashion. It's too early to get carried away but al-Jazeera was suggesting this could be a sign that the army's allegiance is with the people.
Let's just hope the hopes of the people are not misplaced.

3.17pm: A second police station has been taken over by protesters in Suez, reports al-Jazeera.

3.24pm: A screengrab shows the BBC Arabic journalist Asad Al Sawi after he was attacked by thugs acting for the government.

3.26pm: Protesters are in control of most streets in Alexandria, says al-Jazeera.

3.30pm: Egyptian state media is reporting a curfew starting at 6pm tonight (about 30 minutes away) and running until 7am tomorrow in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.
The way it's looking on the streets at the moment suggests there is little chance of people obeying the order and what can the police actually do to enforce it.

3.38pm: State security have entered al-Jazeera's building in Cairo, it is reporting. It says they may have been chasing activists.

Outside the news organisation's offices, in remarkable scenes, a momentary truce has been called between police and protesters while protesters pray. Just a few moments ago police were throwing teargas cannisters at them and now this:

Screengrab from al-Jazeera
3.43pm: Egyptian state TV says Mubarak has asked the army to take charge of security alongside the police. Looks like that is how he intends to impose the curfew, due to start in about 15 minutes.

3.48pm: Britain's foreign secretary William Hague called on both sides to "refrain from violence". But he said: "It is is important to recognise that people involved do have legitimate grievances, both economic and political. And it is important for the authorities to respond positively to that, and to be able to hold out the hope and prospect of reform in the future. That is the answer to the situation rather than repression."

Hague repeated western ambiguity towards the regime. "It is not for use to try to choose the rulers of other countries. For the moment we should concentrating on advocating the right response." He called for "evolutionary change".

In a pooled interview Hague said the Foreign Office was reviewing travel advice to Egypt.

Based on a phone call to the British ambassador in Cairo, Hague said the main "problems" were in Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez. "Those are places where there is the greatest risk of violence," Hague said.

He added: "We are not sure of the whereabouts of the Mohamed ElBaradei. There are rumours of restraints on his movements, but we don't have any specific information."

3.51pm: In Alexandria Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, witnessed four police cars on fire in front of the Siddi Brahim mosque.

3.55pm: Mubarak is due to address the nation in the next few minutes. Al-Jazeera's offices in Cairo are being raided by police. They are being told to stop broadcasting images of the unrest.

3.56pm: Murabak ordered the military onto the streets, according to al-Jazeera, citing state media.

4.00pm: The curfew is in place, but the protests continue. Live footage from Cairo shows protesters trying to push a police van into the Nile.

4.07pm: There are a couple of Guardian stories on the Wikileaks Egypt documents worth reading. One is about the closeness of Egypt's relationship with the US:

Secret US embassy cables sent from Cairo in the past two years reveal that the Obama administration wanted to maintain a close political and military relationship with the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, who is now facing a popular uprising.
A frank briefing note in May 2009 ahead of Mubarak's trip to Washington, leaked by WikiLeaks, reported that the Egyptian president had a dismal opinion of Obama's predecessor, George Bush.

"The Egyptians want the visit to demonstrate that Egypt remains America's 'indispensable Arab ally', and that bilateral tensions have abated. President Mubarak is the proud leader of a proud nation ... Mubarak is 81 years old and in reasonably good health; his most notable problem is a hearing deficit in his left ear. He responds well to respect for Egypt and for his position, but is not swayed by personal flattery," the cable said.

The other is about a document on police brutality in Egypt:

Under Hosni Mubarak's presidency there had been "no serious effort to transform the police from an instrument of regime power into a public service institution", it said. The police's ubiquitous use of force had pervaded Egyptian culture to such an extent that one popular TV soap opera recently featured a police detective hero who beat up suspects to collect evidence.

Some middle-class Egyptians did not report thefts from their apartment blocks because they knew the police would immediately go and torture "all of the doormen", the cable added. It cited one source who said the police would use routinely electric shocks against suspected criminals, and would beat up human rights lawyers who enter police stations to defend their clients. Women detainees allegedly faced sexual abuse. Demoralised officers felt solving crimes justified brutal interrogation methods, with some believing that Islamic law also sanctioned torture, the cable said.

4.11pm: This is the response to the curfew in Cairo. This is the van protesters have been trying to push into the nile (see 4pm).

Screen grab from al Jazeera
4.22pm: Army tanks are rolling into the centre of Cairo and Suez, al-Jazeera reports. Mubarak has supposedly ordered them in to restore order but people have been cheering the army hoping it will side with them against the police.

4.23pm: TV pictures show the headquarters of the ruling NDP in Cairo are on fire.

4.28pm: The US state department has responded to the protests via Twitter, which Egypt has of course tried to prevent its own citizens from using. PJ Crowley (@pjcrowley), US state department spokesman, tweeted:

Events unfolding in #Egypt are of deep concern. Fundamental rights must be respected, violence avoided and open communications allowed.

Reform is vital to #Egypt's long-term well-being. The Egyptian government should view its people as a partner and not as a threat.

4.30pm: We were expecting Hosni Mubarak or his son Gamal to speak (there were mixed reports as to who was going to speak) half an hour ago but we have still not heard anything.

4.37pm: Military vehicles are on the streets, but it's unclear whose side they are on, Peter Beaumont reports from Cairo.

- Show quoted text - Turn off auto refresh to listen to audio
4.40pm: Obama's press secretary Robert Gibbs has expressed concerned about the violence and urged the government to respect the freedom of speech.

Very concerned about violence in Egypt - government must respect the rights of the Egyptian people & turn on social networking and internet

4.43pm: Amin Iskander, an opposition politician from the Nasserist Al-Karama party, just told al-Jazeera what is needed from Mubarak is "a firm promise that this his last term he spends in office" and he must pave the way for democracy. But Iskander does not believe Mubarak will stand down. He said NDP headquarters are being set on fire across the country because the party had "gobbled up the riches" of the country.

4.45pm: A downtown police station in Cairo, police cars and gas tanks outside the police station are on fire, which could account for the number of loud explosions being heard, al-Jazeera reports.

4.49pm: This Guardian video tells the story of how events unfolded and escalated today after Friday prayers:

4.52pm: Once more amazing scenes being broadcast on al-Jazeera, as protesters stop for prayer. There is the sound of explosions and gunshots in the background as about six rows of people form rows and prostrate themselves on the ground.

4.56pm: Here are some of the best bits from the live Q&A on the Middle East protests, which the Guardian website hosted today. Answering the questions was Brian Whitaker, former Middle East editor and current editor with CIF.

Q. A question about an Eqyptian democracy... is there a basis for hope? is there a political culture that can step up to represent the people and what role will youth play in the new landscape?

Brian's Answer: Egypt already has the infrastructure to turn into a working democracy -- elected parliament, long-established political parties, etc. The problem is the the NDP has monopolised this system for a very long time.
So the transition to a working democracy would not be all that difficult, though I would expect it to be a somewhat flawed democracy for some time - maybe like some of the East European or Latin American countries.
One problem is that most of the opposition parties are just as hidebound as the regime. The younger "Facebook generation" doesn't seem to have much interest in them and prefers to do things in its own way. Youth movements are going to become more and more important, and they are a very hopeful sign.

Q. What are the chances that all this could be repeated in Syria?

Brian's answer: I was discussing that with an Arab friend yesterday. We both felt that it would be very difficult at present in Syria to organise the kind of protests seen in Tunisia and Egypt. One thing you need for it to happen is a civil society structure of some kind, whether it's trade unions, opposition parties or NGOs, plus a lot of internet users. I don't think Syria has that. Instead, it as a very proficient secret police.
That said, I would expect the Syrian regime to be very scared. Yemenis have told me of the panic in the Marxist regime in the PDRY following the revolution in Romania in 1989 -- they feared it could happen to them. I would expect similar fears in the Syrian regime.
Who knows? Could they be the ones who decide to reform rather than waiting to be toppled?

Q. How likely do you think it is that these uprisings will drive Egypt & Tunisia towards democracy? Is it likely that these situations will descend into sectarian or ethnic conflict as we seen in Kyrgyzstan last year?

Brian's answer: Adapting to democracy will be a lot easier in Tunisia and Egypt than it was in Iraq. There are no major ethnic issues; Egypt does have something of a sectarian problem but it is not insurmountable.

5.05pm: The Associated Press reports on the scene in Cairo's central plaza:

An Associated Press reporter saw the protesters cheering the police who joined them and hoisting them on their shoulders in one of the many dramatic and chaotic scenes across Egypt on Friday. After chasing the police, thousands of protesters were able to flood into the huge Tahrir Square downtown after being kept out most of the day by a very heavy police presence. Few police could be seen around the square after the confrontation.

An Egyptian anti-government activist kisses a riot police officer following clashes in Cairo. Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
5.12pm: Hillary Clinton is speaking. She says the US is "deeply concerned about the use of force" against protesters. She calls on the Egyptian government to restrain security forces but also says protesters should refrain from violence.

These protests underscore that there are deep grievances within Egyptian society and the Egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away.

5.14pm: Clinton also called Egypt an "important partner" in the region. But she added:

As a partner we strongly believe that the Egyptian government needs to engage immediately with the Egyptian people in implementing political, social and economic reforms.

It won't be strong enough for everyone but in diplomatic terms that was pretty strong stuff from Clinton.

5.19pm: Another quote from Clinton:

We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protestors. We call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain security forces. At the same time, protesters should also refrain from violence and express themselves peacefully."

5.23pm: Brian Whittaker, a Middle East expert at the Guardian, has provided this snap analysis of Clinton's words:

It looks to me as if Clinton is angling for a negotiated departure by Mubarak, accompanied by an increase in political freedom. I think the US is aiming to structure the solution in a way that would protect its key interests: the peace treaty with Israel, the Suez canal, and co-operation against terrorism.

5.27pm: The Associated Press says thousands of protesters are trying to storm the foreign ministry and state TV buildings in Cairo.

5.34pm: A member of ElBaradei's group told al-Jazeera there are 80,000 people protesting in Port Said, where she said a 14-year-old had been killed.

5.41pm: The Egyptian government has extended the curfew to the entire country, Egyptian state TV reports.

5.46pm: Al-Jazeera showed incredible footage of a vehicle burning in Cairo burning alongside "live" state TV pictures showing a relatively calm scene:

A screengrab from al-Jazeera showing the difference between its own coverage (l) and that from Egyptian state TV (r) of the protests in Cairo. Photograph: Al-Jazeera
5.47pm: Reuters quotes medical sources saying 10 people have been wounded in Cairo today, some with bullet wounds.

5.49pm: The latest from Alexandria from Peter Bouckaert, of Human Rights Watch:

The army has deployed in Alexandria but atmosphere is calm. Soldiers are talking to protestors. Confirmed that Alexandria governorate and many police stations burned down.

6.05pm: US president Barack Obama has convened his national security team on the growing protests in Egypt, the Associated Press reports:

Obama's 40-minute session on Friday took the place of his daily national security briefing. It included Vice President Joe Biden and his national security adviser, Tom Donilon. Aides said additional briefings are planned during the day.

6.39pm: The army are being cheered as they pass in tanks/armoured cars in Cairo by protesters who are clambering on to the vehicles.

6.42pm: Apparently, bizarrely, it's the president's national guard being cheered through the streets of Cairo as they make their way to the state TV station, which has been taken over by protesters.

The Egyptian museum, full of priceless artefacts, is said to be at risk from the fire at the NDP headquarters.

6.54pm: Rachel Stevenson, who freelances for Guardian films, is in the Egyptian holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. She says they are isolated from what's happening elsewhere, there are no demonstrations and people are ignroing the curfew. But she says people in the tourist industry there support the protests not least because they have the same concerns, being in poorly paid jobs despite many of them being highly educated.

Turn off auto refresh to listen to full audio
6.59pm: Here's a summary of the day's events so far on a momentous day in Egypt's history:

President Hosni Mubarak has ordered a curfew in three cities (3.30pm), later extended to the entire country, which was supposed to start at 6pm today and last until 7am tomorrow morning but it has been roundly ignored as clashes have continued.

Mubarak has sent in the army to restore order in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez but protesters cheered the army in some areas, calling on them to side with them against the police (3.43 pm). In some areas the army has done so. Soldiers have shaken hands with protesters in Alexandria and in Cairo. Demonstrators have clambered onto tanks in Suez and Cairo. There have also been unconfirmed reports of clashes between the army and police

There have been unconfirmed reports of many protesters killed today, including a woman in Tahrir square in Cairo, two people in Suez, one named as Hamada Labib, 30, a driver., one person in Alexandria and a 14-year-old in Port Said.

In the country's strongest intervention so far, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said the US is "deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protestors". (5.12pm)

Some police are reported to have joined the protesters, who welcomed them to their ranks. (5.05pm)

Police immediately attacked protesters after Friday prayers (11.12am) but protesters remained defiant and fought back, overwhelming police and government buildings right across the country. The ruling NDP's party headquarters in Cairo were set on fire (4.23pm).

I'm handing over the blog to my colleague Richard Adams now.

7.04pm GMT: Thanks Haroon, this is Richard Adams in the Guardian's bureau in Washington DC, where there has been an abrupt change in attitudes towards events in Egypt today.

The main US cable news networks had given Egypt minimal coverage so far this week, partly because of the time difference but also because of the president's state of the union address on Tuesday night absorbing so much energy.

That has all changed today, with the the extraordinary scenes from Egypt filling America's TV screens – even if the early morning bulletins were more interested in Charlie Sheen's hernia.

The exception has been Fox News, where coverage has been more muted. "You probably don't give a lot of time thinking about Egypt," a Fox News presenter suggested about an hour ago, before explaining that "groups linked to al-Qaida" were in danger of taking over the government in Cairo.

7.11pm GMT: The US State Department has said that US citizens should postpone non-essential travel to Egypt and urged US citizens in the country to "exercise caution". The State Department also says Americans should not try to go to the US embassy since Egyptian security forces may block off the area around the embassy.

7.15pm GMT: The White House has just announced that it is postponing its planned press conference on the situation in Egypt. There's some speculation that may be because Obama himself wants to make a statement personally, but in any case it has been postponed for the time being.

7.26pm GMT: Reuters is now reporting a witness saying that the army has dispersed the protesters who tried to storm Egypt's state television building in central Cairo.

The Al Arabiya network had earlier reported that demonstrators had forced their way in, but the state television channel was broadcasting throughout.

7.30pm GMT: Time magazine talks to "a minister in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," and reports that Israel appears to be backing the Mubarak regime:

With a deep investment in the status quo, Israel is watching what a senior official calls "an earthquake in the Middle East" with growing concern. The official says the Jewish state has faith in the security apparatus of its most formidable Arab neighbor, Egypt, to suppress the street demonstrations that threaten the dictatorial rule of President Hosni Mubarak. The harder question is what comes next.

But this was the most eye-catching quote from the unidentified minister:

"I'm not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process."

7.35pm GMT: There is a White House briefing on Egypt promised shortly, but the Associated Press has this bombshell – that the Obama administration is using US aid to Egypt as leverage over the Mubarak regime:

An Obama administration official says the US will review its $1.5bn in aid to Egypt based on events unfolding in the country, where the authoritarian government is struggling to extinguish huge and growing street protests.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the situation. Egypt has been a key US ally in the volatile region. US officials are now increasing calls on President Hosni Mubarak, the target of the protesters, to respond with restraint and reverse steps taken to cut off the protesters' ability to communicate.

The decision to review assistance to Egypt is a significant step as the US seeks to balance the desire to maintain stability in the region with a recognition of the unexpected scope and uncertain outcome of the protests.

7.43pm GMT: Al-Jazeera is showing some great live footage of the looting of the National Democratic Party headquarters – and is reporting that the protesters are forming a "human shield" around the nearby national museum.

Meanwhile, Nile TV, the Egyptian state broadcaster, is now also showing footage of the protests – perhaps a significant event, since it contadicts the broadcaster's earlier footage.

7.49pm GMT: The White House press briefing room is full of journalists awaiting the press conference that is about to be held. It's being said that the US government doesn't want to be pre-empted by a TV appearance by President Mubarak on Egyptian television.

Still in DC, Politico reports on the split within the Republican party about how to deal with Egypt, between the pro-democracy wing and the Islamophobic wing, a split that also explains the dilemma of Fox News.

Demonstrators on an armoured car, cheering members of the army outside Egypt's national TV building in Cairo. Photograph: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images 7.56pm GMT: CNN's Ben Wedeman – who has been doing an excellent job all day – is asked why things have calmed down in Cairo. "Jim, things have calmed down because there is no government, there's no authority," saying that police and army had disappeared, "there's no one to protest against."

Is something about to happen?

8.09pm GMT: Here we go: Laura Rozen of Politico reports that the Egyptian military's chief of staff, Lt General Sami Enan, is going home early from DC, having been in meetings at the US defence department.

The White House press briefing is starting now.

8.12pm GMT: Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary, is up on stage. He confirms that Obama has not spoken with President Mubarak.

"The legitimate grievances that have festered for quite some time in Egypt have to be addressed by the Egyptian government immediately," says Gibbs.

What can the president do? Gibbs is asked. "First and foremost, this is a situation that will be solved by the people in Egypt," says Gibbs. "We will be reviewing our assistance posture based on events in the coming days" – that's a reference to the US's $1.5bn in aid to Egypt, as mentioned earlier.

Gibbs is also asked if Obama "stands by" Mubarak – and he makes no response.

8.15pm GMT: What's the US doing about aid? "Obviously we will be reviewing our assistance posture based on the outcome of events, now and in the coming days," intones Gibbs.

Who else, what other allies, has Obama talked to about Egypt? "I am unaware of any calls at this point that have been made," says Gibbs.

Why hasn't Obama made personal contact, because of the weight that would have? Gibbs has no substantial answer.

8.21pm GMT: "So the White House has called this press conference to convey with clarity and firmness its mixed feelings and uncertainty," tweets former Bush administration speechwriter Joshua TreviƱo.

8.24pm GMT: Asked if the US was drawing up plans in the event of Mubarak being overthrown, Gibbs replied: "There are a robust series of meetings being held on a whole host of issues right now," in what is not his finest moment as White House press secretary.

Asked why the briefing was delayed for several hours, Gibbs says: "We were delayed for a whole host of reasons ... we were monitoring any and all actions that were coming out of the country and will continue to do so."

Asked who from the administration has been in touch with the Egyptian regime, Gibbs denies that Biden was one of them.

"The situation should be addressed through concrete reforms, that is what the people of Egypt demand, that's what they deserve," he says.

Asked if the US government had condemned the house arrest of Mohamed ElBaradei, Gibbs will only say: "Obviously, this goes into into our concern about expression, association and assembly."

On the cutting off of communications, Gibbs is asked if there any way to pressure Vodafone to turn its mobile phone service back on. Gibbs is noncommittal.

8.34pm GMT: Is the promised review of US aid to Egypt a warning to the regime? Gibbs won't be drawn.

Later: "We're not in touch with the Muslim Brotherhood," Gibbs confirms.

8.43pm GMT: While Robert Gibbs is saying as little as possible ("this is a fluid situation") in a baroque manner, al-Jazeera reports that "intense gunfire heard near key govt buildings in the Egyptian capital".

Very unusually, Gibbs is taking questions from foreign journalists. That almost never happens at a White House press briefing.

8.47pm GMT: Al-Jazeera's live footage is showing a lot of tanks now on the streets of Cairo – and a lot of civilians milling about them unhindered.

Asked about reports about Vodafone agreeing to Egyptian government demands to block mobile phone service, Gibbs says: "I don't want to speak about the specific company because I want a little more information."

Foreign journalists are being tougher on Gibbs than the White House press corps. "We have reached a point where the grievances have to be addressed with concrete reforms, have to, must," says Gibbs at one point, in annoyance.

Gibbs does go on to describe internet access as a basic right, which is a revelation of sorts.

8.58pm GMT: A new tweet from CNN's Ben Wedeman, on the ground in Cairo:

Saw ruling party headquarters in flames, police huddling in barracks as protesters tried to pursue them. Hearing parliament burning

9pm GMT: Robert Gibbs's White House briefing has wrapped up after an hour.

The most noteworthy points to come out:

• Gibbs pointedly refused to take up an offer to say the administration stood by Mubarak

• Gibbs also repeated that the "people of Egypt" would decide events – suggesting that the White House was prepared to cut the Mubarak regime loose – calling their grievances "legitimate"

• The White House confirmed that it was prepared to withhold aid from Egypt's government

But the tone of the administration suggests the White House has been left stranded by the swift pace of events on the ground.

9.09pm GMT: If you're not following CNN's Ben Wedeman @bencnn on Twitter then you should. Here are three tweets he has posted in the last 10 minutes:

Teenager showed me teargas canister "made in USA". Saw the same thing in Tunisia. Time to reconsider US exports?

One man said he graduated from college 4 years ago, hasn't worked a day since. Has been in streets since Tuesday protesting.

Saw boys with massive seal of the republic looted from State TV. If this isn't the end, it certainly looks and smells like it.

9.19pm GMT: Reuters are reporting that "Egyptian medical sources" estimate there have been 1,030 people wounded today in today's protests.

9.29pm GMT: Al-Jazeera is reporting that Fathi Sorour, the speaker of Egypt's parliament, says an "important announcement due soon".

Meanwhile, tanks and APC continue to pour onto the streets of Cairo.

9.33pm GMT: The speaker of Egypt's People's Assembly has told an Egyptian satellite channel that "an important matter will be announced in a short time". The speaker, Fathi Sorour, was talking to the Mehwar channel and gave no further details, according to Reuters.

The speaker of the assembly is the first in the line of succession to become president of Egypt if the incumbent dies or is incapacitated. The New York Times reported in 2009:

Mr Mubarak has never appointed a vice president. If he dies in office, then the speaker of the Parliament, a veteran party leader, Fathi Sorour, would serve as an interim president until an election could be called.

9.43pm GMT: Salon's Justin Elliott talks to major Israeli political pressure groups in the US and finds they are nervous about what happens in Egypt:

The Israelis are worried about, among other things, the possibility that an Islamic movement could gain power if the Mubarak regime were to fall. So I was interested today to see reaction from pro-Israel groups in the United States – which were favorably disposed to the democratic aspirations of the Green movement in Iran last year – to the Egyptian pro-democracy protests.

Craig Labovitz's graphic representation of Egypt's internet blackout 9.50pm GMT: My colleague Paul Lewis passes on this graphic representation of Egypt's internet blackout, showing the effect of the government's cutting off national internet access:

The graphic, which was compiled using anonymous traffic engineering statistics, shows traffic to and from Egypt dropping sharply around 5.20pm ET. As of about three hours ago, traffic has not picked back up.

The graphic was created by Craig Labovitz, chief scientist at Arbor Networks.

10pm GMT: If constant Twitter updates aren't enough for you, there's a whole lot of content on events in Egypt over on Tumblr.

10.12pm GMT: This is a puzzle but Reuters is now reporting that Fathi Sorour, the speaker of the Egyptian parliament who was to make a statement this evening, has told the Nile News television channel that Egypt is in the "safe hands" of President Mubarak.

Reuters reports:

"The matters are in safe hands, in the hands of President Hosni Mubarak, and he will act," Speaker Fathi Sorour told Egypt's state-owned Nile News channel after being asked about how the government would deal with the unrest.

He said the parliament, which is overwhelmingly dominated by Mubarak's ruling party, would meet on Sunday, for an ordinary session, and would request Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif attend to assess the situation and issue recommendations. "What more can we do?" Sorour said.

Now Nile TV is saying that Mubarak himself is about to speak on television. It's hard to keep up.

10.17pm GMT: Mubarak now appears on television, with little warning. It's a single camera shot of him standing at a podium, reading from a statement, lit from below in a gloomy room. No indication if this is live or taped. He begins:

"I have been closely following the protests and what they were asking for and calling on. My instructions to the government have stressed providing it with an opportunity to express the opinions and demands of the citizens.... I deeply regret the loss of innocent lives among protesters and police forces...."

10.27pm GMT: Mubarack has now appeared on television, and says the government will resign tomorrow and a new government will be appointed. More details to follow but here's his key statement:

I have asked the government to present its resignation today [Friday] and I will name a new government starting from tomorrow ... to effectively deal with the priorities of this current phase.

10.29pm GMT: Mubarak finally appears on Nile TV. The translation is very halting and difficult to follow, so these notes may not be accurate, and it's much as I could catch:

"I assure you I am working for the people and giving freedom of opinion as long as you are respecting the law. There is a very fine line between freedom and chaos and I lean toward freedom for the people in expressing their opinions as much as I hold on to the need to maintain Egypt's safety and stability....

"We have to be careful of anything that would allow chaos. No democracy would be there if we allow chaos. These demonstrators wanted to speak about their opinion, to give have more job opportunities and lower prices and fight poverty. I know all of these issues that people are asking ... I will always be on the side of the poor...."

CNN is running Mubarak in a split screen, with the president on one side and the fires and wreakage in the streets around Cairo and Alexandra on the other.

"Dear citizens, I don't talk to you today as a president but as an Egyptian. I [have] spent war and peace in this country, we overcame very hard times, we were united as people.... [We need] new steps for more democracy, for more freedoms for citizens, new steps to raise the economy and to stand by the poor and those with limited salaries. This is what is going to make our future and we can't do that unless we are open and we are hard working. We need to build...

"What happened in the last few days put fear in everybody's hearts and fear for the future and additional chaos. I take responsibility for the security of this country and our citizens, I will not let this happen. I will not let fear live in the hearts of the citizens."

Then Mubarak announced that he will force the government to resign and appoint a new one tomorrow. But Mubarak gave no sign whatsoever that he would be going with them, quite the opposite in fact.

Now let's see how that goes down on the streets of Cairo.

10.40pm GMT: Hi, Tim Hill here, taking over from Richard Adams. In his TV address, President Mubarak also made mention of the protests which continued into a fourth day across Egypt. He defended the actions of the security forces, and said he "regretted" the casualties, but described the protests as part of plot to destabilise Egypt and destroy the legitimacy of his regime.

10.52pm GMT: Reuters are reporting that Egyptian armed forces have taken control of Cairo's Tahrir Square, with protesters fleeing into sidestreets, according to eyewitnesses.

11.03pm GMT:
More reaction on President Mubarak's speech to the nation. Sky News producer Yael Livie, standing above Tahrir Square in Cairo, has reported:

"There are now about 22 tanks on the square. The demonstrators are disregarding the curfew that was imposed. They're not in the square any more but we can hear them. I think much was anticipated from that speech, but it's clear that Mubarak is not stepping down. Whatever he said did not seem to strike a chord.

It was a very ambivalent speech. It was almost as if he was taking some sort of responsibility off himself – asking the government to resign – but not saying anything about him doing anything different. It's very clear he's staying in power. It seems to be a bit of a deadlock."

11.12pm GMT: Some more news: Reuters say six Egyptians were killed in protests on Friday during protests in the northern city of Alexandria, according to medical sources.
The dead were four protesters, a policeman and a bystander hit by a bullet while she stood on her balcony, they said.
One of the protesters reportedly died from a bullet wound to the head.

11.16pm GMT: Glenn Beck, the Fox News host – follow him at @glennbeck – has tweeted:
Egypt may be a tipping point. Yemen and Jordan also have smaller uprisings. Iran is smiling, the Saudis and Israelis are not. Pray4peace.

11.21pm GMT: The White House has just said President Obama will be making a statement on the Egypt protests at 11.30pm GMT. We'll have more details when we get them.

Link to this video 11.24pm GMT: Earlier, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton spoke on Egypt. She described Egypt as an "important partner in the region", but said the US is "deeply concerned about the use of force" against protesters. See the details of her speech here.

11.32pm GMT: Barack Obama has just given a short briefing at the White House. Here's a selection of what the president said:

We have been closely monitoring the situation in Egypt. As the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury and loss of life, so I call upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from violence against the protesters. The US will stand up for human rights everywhere.

Those protesting in the streets have a resposibility to express themselves peacefully.

The US has a close partnership with Egypt. But we've also been clear that there must be reform - social, political and economic. In the absence of these [reforms], grievances have built up over time. I just spoke to President Mubarak, after his speech, and told him he has a responsilibilty to give meaning to his words.

Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people.

What's needed is concrete steps that advance the rights of the people. Ultimately, the future of Egypt will be determined by its people, and we believe the people want the same things as we want. The Egyptian people want a future that befits the heirs to a great and ancient civiliaztions. The US is committed to working with the government and the people to achieve the goals.

When I was in Cairo, after I became president, I said that all governments must maintain power through consent, not coercion, and that is how they will achieve the future. The US will continue to stand up to the rights of the Egyptian people, and work with the government to ensure a future that is more hopeful.

11.52pm GMT: A summary of points from Obama's brief press conference, as the president:

• Told Hosni Mubarak he has a responsibility to deliver on promises of better democracy and greater economic opportunity.

• Emphasised the need for Mubarak to make reforms, saying: "This moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise".

• Urged protesters in Egypt to express themselves peacefully.

• Said the US would stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people.

"What's needed now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people," Obama told reporters at the White House.

12.16am GMT: As we move into Saturday morning, we'll be bringing the live blog to a close shortly. We'll be continuing our coverage tomorrow, but there's much more on the Egypt protests at Thanks for staying with us, and in the meantime, here's a summary of the main points today:

• President Hosni Mubarak appeared on TV to tell Egyptians he has asked the government to resign. Mubarak will form a new government on Saturday, but there was no indication that the president himself would be stepping aside.

• Barack Obama, the US president, said he had spoken to Mubarak following his televised address, and called on Egyptian authorities to refrain from using violence against peaceful protesters. "This moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise," Obama said.

• The White House said it was reviewing its $1.5bn in aid to Egypt, on a day which saw tanks move in after protesters defied a nationwide curfew ordered by President Mubarak. Reports said at least 20 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured on the fourth and most violent day of protests against Mubarak's 30-year rule.

• In another significant development, Mohamed ElBaradei, the former UN weapons chief who may stand in presidential elections later this year, was placed under house arrest for "his own protection" after returning from abroad.
Posted by
Matthew Weaver, Haroon Siddique, Richard Adams and Tim Hill Friday 28 January 2011 07.45 GMT