President Obama said late yesterday that "when President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise."
One subject was conspicuously absent from President Obama's State of the Union address this week: There were no new pledges to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Guantanamo is not a good news story for the president. One of the first things he did when he came into office was sign an executive order that promised to close the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year. And as the Obama administration starts its third year, administration officials say they think it is unlikely they will be able to shutter the facility before his term ends.
When NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson was on the air from Cairo this morning with Weekend Edition's Scott Simon, Egyptian Army tanks and personnel carriers rolled into Tahrir Square. And anti-government protesters, she said, were riding atop them — cheering and waving to others in the crowd.
"It is amazing how receptive the crowd is to the Army. ... They are welcoming them like heroes!" Soraya shouted over the noise.
"Why are people cheering and crawling all over the tanks?" Scott asked. "Are they certain the Army is on their side?"
Egypt this week seemed to be both poised to truly enter the 21st century and plunged back to 1980.
As protests have swelled, the Egyptian government methodically shut down almost all of the country's cell phone and Internet connections. All of the digital nerves that connect Egyptians to each other and Egypt to the world — e-mail, mobile phone calls and social networks — were suddenly severed, and with astonishing ease, though there are reports that some service has returned today.
Host Scott Simon interviews Eric Spiegel, chief executive officer of Siemens Corporation, the U.S. arm of the German engineering giant Siemens A.G., about the impact of high corporate taxes and the Obama administration's plans for corporate tax reform.