Updates – North Africa, Middle East, U.S.A.

All these countries are experiencing forms of social protest. In North Africa and the Middle East, people are attempting to achieve lives of dignity and political freedom while in the U.S. one is tempted to say that the rich powers-that-be are attempting to wrest economic dignity from the middle class (the lower class did not have much economic dignity to lose, at least the position of the lower class in the U.S. is not one to desired).

Juan Cole has a concise post, “Top Pieces of Unfinished Business in the Mideast”, in which looks at the situations in Egypt and Tunisia, Bahrain, Jemen and Libya as of Sunday Feb. 27.
Tunisia
One hundred thousand demonstrated on Friday, demanding the resignation of caretaker Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, who was reputed to be a crony of deposed president Ben Ali. Ghannouch was tightly connected to Ben Ali’s inner circle. He resigned on Sunday.
Egypt
Cole writes

“. Tens of thousands of protesters came to Tahrir Square in dowtown Cairo, Egypt, on Friday, demanding the cancellation of the emergency laws that have suspended civil liberties in Egypt for 30 years. They also wanted Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq, an appointee of deposed president Hosni Mubarak, to step down so there would be a clean break with the old regime. The Egyptian army prevented the crowd from going to the prime minister’s residence for their protest, and generally cracked down on the dissidents.”

Bahrain
Two hundred thousand demonstrated on Friday in Bahrain’s capital Manama.

“They want Bahrain’s monarchy to become a constitutional monarchy, with guaranteed civil liberties. The also want the prime minister to be fired. The king has dismissed three other cabinet ministers.”

Yemen
Cole:

” Protesters in Aden, Yemen demanded that strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh step down. About 4 persons were killed and two dozen wounded as security forces over-reacted to the demonstration”

Libya
Just as well to let Cole be quoted as rewriting what he writes:

“Overthrowing Muammar Qaddafi. The dictator’s security forces abandoned the working class district of Tajoura on Saturday after several days in which they tried just shooting down protesters to quell the demonstrations. They failed. If Qaddafi is losing significant portions of Tripoli itself, the writing is on the wall for him. (Update: Confirmation from Western reporters who reached Zawiya Sunday that the city, among the major population centers near the capital of Tripoli, is in rebel hands.”

Cole writes that some 6000 demonstrated in Jordan demanding the transformation of the monarchy
into Euro style constitutional monarchy.

Summarizing, Cole writes:

“The protesters in Egypt and Tunisia had had only partial success, removing a strong man but wondering where genuine reform might have gone. Libyans still have not even removed the dictator, Qaddafi. And in Bahrain, Yemen and Jordan, popular demands for genuine economic and political reform have still largely fallen on deaf ears.”

U.S.
Detroit to close half of its schools. The plan calls for closing half of the district’s high schools and expanding class size to 60 students. LSW assumes that this plan expresses the notion that those people didn’t need education anyway. So what the hell, the richest country in the world can’t afford to provide everyone with a solid education but at least the rich can buy education, somewhere, somewhere not in Detroit.
And in Providence the school board has voted to fire the city’s teachers. The mayor says he needs flexibility. Hey, Mayor, take a yoga course. Once again, a tight budget is the reason. Oh well, better to give the super duper rich more tax breaks than fund education in the country. Trickle down will work this time, I tell you. All those billionaires will provide jobs working on their estates and yachts.

Where are all those common folk tea baggers when you need them?

On Saturday, Feb. 26, 70000 turned out in Madison, Wisconsin to, quoting HuffPo:

“to fight Republican-backed legislation aimed at weakening unions.”

. Further:

“Republican Gov. Scott Walker has introduced a bill that includes stripping almost all public workers of their right to collectively bargain on benefits and work conditions. Walker has said the bill would help close a projected $3.6 billion deficit in the 2011-13 budget, and argues that freeing local governments from collective bargaining would give them flexibility amid deep budget cuts.

The bill has sent Democrats and unions into an outrage. They see it as trampling on workers’ rights and as an attempt to destroy Democrats’ strongest campaign allies.”

The post lists demonstrations taking place across the country, in Ohio, Topeka, Kan: Harrisburg, Pa: Olympia, Wash.: Los Angeles and Minneapolis in support of the Wisconsin workers:

“The rallies were part of a campaign by the liberal online group MoveOn.org to hold demonstrations supporting Wisconsin workers in major cities across the country. Some of the demonstrations attracted counter-protests, though the pro-union rallies were larger.”

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