On Sunday, Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Educational Association Council, instructed the teachers in her union to return to the classroom after many of them skipped school for three days last week. The unexpected move energized Republicans in Wisconsin, who took it as a sign that negative public reaction to the “sick-out” is making a difference.
Or perhaps they don’t need the numbers because the unions are bringing in additional reinforcements. Madison, one of the most liberal cities in the United States, is a town always in search of a cause.
Among other unconfirmed reports out of Libya right now, one is that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has left the country for exile in Venezuela. Another is that Qaddafi's sons, Muatassem and Saif al-Islam, fought each other, with the former shooting the latter. It's hard to know much right now, since media coverage out of Libya has gone virtually black.
Madison, Wisconsin has become quite the mob scene with protests by union members opposed to Republican governor Scott Walker's legislation that would require most public sector union employees, including teachers, to pay 12 percent of their health care premiums--up from the current average of 6 percent--and 6 percent of their pension, for which state employees pay almost nothing.
One frequent criticism of the war in Iraq has been that it is impossible to impose democracy from above. The revolution in Egypt represents an attempt to achieve democracy from below, as it were. The jury is out on both nations--and on both paths.
UPDATE: On Friday the Army made its decision. Mubarak was forced out. His Thursday speech was a disaster and it seems to have helped persuade the generals that they had, at last, to choose between Mubarak and the people. They made the right choice.
Who rules Egypt, and who will rule it tomorrow? After 30 years the Hosni Mubarak period is coming to a close, but how the period ends—in violence and turmoil, or on a stable path to democracy—remains unclear.
Fox News is reporting that an assassination attempt has been made on newly named Egyptian vice president Omar Suleiman. Two of the longtime intelligence chief’s bodyguards, Fox says, were killed in the attack. Egyptian security officials, reports Al Arabiya, are denying the reports.
Here's a very graphic video of an Egyptian police truck running over anti-regime demonstrators. As the vehicle cruises past, without having stopped, you can hear demonstrators referring to the police as "infidels," "sons of bitches" and then starting a chant, "Hosni Mubarak is falling."
Just last night I had encouraged an Egyptian friend, Raouf, living in the United States, who wanted to go back home to witness his country’s historic events. “I need to see this,” he told me excitedly. Now with fighting in the streets today I’m not so sure.