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Egyptian protests get a boost of energy

The New York Times is reporting on the latest development in Egypt, though the article has a few interesting related tidbits as well.  The story is, essentially, a Google executive largely involved with coordinating social media for the protest movement disappeared two weeks ago, and has just been released from his secret detainment.  He then gave an emotional interview that has spurred a lift in the fervor of the protests.

In the interview, Wael Ghonim wept over the death toll from clashes with the government. “We were all down there for peaceful demonstrations,” he said, asking that he not be made a hero. “The heroes were the ones on the street.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Ghonim galvanized Tahrir Square, briefly joining the tens of thousands of chanting protesters there. “We will not abandon our demand, and that is the departure of the regime,” he told the crowd, which roared its agreement, The Associated Press reported.

Other notes from the article include a raise for government employees:

Six million government employees would receive a 15 percent raise, which the new finance minister, Samir Radwan, said would take effect in April.

The raise mirrored moves in Kuwait and Jordan to raise salaries or provide grants to stanch anger over rising prices across the Middle East, shaken with the repercussions of Egypt’s uprising and the earlier revolt in Tunisia. In Iraq, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said Friday he would cut in half his salary, believed to be $350,000, amid anger there over dreary government services.

Also, while last weeks clashes between protesters and the pro-Mubarak factions drew a lot of attention, the majority of deaths in the movement occurred a few days before then:

Human Rights Watch calculated that at least 297 people have died in the protests since Jan. 28, including 232 in Cairo, 52 in Alexandria and 13 in Suez. The majority of those deaths occurred on Jan. 28 and 29 as a result of live gunfire, the group reported, relying on hospital lists and interviews with doctors.


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