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Prominent New York Times columnist Frank Rich this Sunday wrote about Americans' fickle interest in international news. As political and social events unfold everywhere but here, we don't recognize the players and we know almost nothing beyond what we can see happening before our eyes. The protesters are on the bridge! The protesters are still on the bridge! Rich laments the near-blackout of cable news station Al Jazeera English due to U.S. Islamophobia. He's right about all that and right to be mad as hell about it, too. Then he starts talking about the internet.
As the Obama Administration tentatively feels its way through the political crisis in Egypt, some key lawmakers on Capitol Hill are sending a strong message to embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, who chairs the subcommittee that approves foreign aid and who has voiced strong opinions about the official "thuggery" on display on the ground in Egypt directed at protesters and journalists, is proposing that Congress not release the more than a billion dollars in aid the U.S. sends to Egypt each year unless Mubarak steps down. Members of the Colorado delegation have yet to weigh in on Leahy's proposal.
Americans looking for news on the incredible events rocking the Egyptian government have tuned into Al Jazeera-English on the web, where contributors are live blogging and live streaming events on the streets as they happen. Although the government shut down the internet in Egypt as protests turned into clashes, Al Jazeera is blinking off and back on to the web, delivering compelling word and image snapshots. Examples from the last few minutes: Embattled President Hosni Mubarak, who has been publicly silent for days, deployed Egyptian armed forces to enforce a curfew tonight. His plans to address the nation have not materialized. The Egyptian National Democratic Party headquarters is in flames. And More: More than 800 wounded in Cairo, some with bullet wounds. Egypt's national airline has suspended flights from Cairo. Thousands of protesters try to storm foreign ministry and state TV building in Cairo. Convoy of army tanks roll through Cairo streets.
Responding to critics who crowded a Golden City Council meeting this week, City Manager Mike Bestor cancelled his invitation to the Al Jazeera English cable news network to interview residents at a barbecue in his back yard during Barack Obama's acceptance speech.