Feb 24, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Official Trailer

Yesterday, Bethesda released the first official trailer for Skyrim after December's announcement trailer, this time with plenty of footage of the in-game world. Although I never actually finished Oblivion and am infinitely more excited for Mass Effect 3 than for Skyrim, I have to admit this trailer got me pretty fired up and I look forward to seeing some gameplay footage in the future. I can only hope BioWare hurry up and release some footage of Mass Effect 3 some time soon.

Feb 23, 2011

Trouble in Libya - February 23rd

Libya is the latest country to experience violent protests since the Tunisian protests. Like most of the protests, the unrest is centred on removing their dictator, Muammar al-Gaddafi, who has been in power since 1969.

As of February 23rd, Gaddafi appears to have lost control of the eastern part of the country with the Benghazi becoming the first 'free' city. Yesterday, Gaddafi vowed in a live broadcast "I am not going to leave this land, I will die as a martyr at the end … I shall remain, defiant. Muammar is leader of the revolution until the end of time." and called for a violent, final showdown to crush the uprising by urging loyalists to take to the streets to fight "greasy rats" in the pay of enemies ranging from the US to al-Qaida. This speech has convinced many in Benghazi that although they have removed Gaddafi from eastern Libya they are still no closer to an end to the bloodshed. The local military are defying Gaddafi's regime and monarchy-era flags are flying from government buildings. Defecting troops have also been witnessed carrying tonnes of weaponry and ammunition looted from a military armoury into the courtyard of a ransacked police station to stop it being seized by forces loyal to the Libyan dictator.  Soldiers brought rockets and heavy weapons which had been used in an assault on citizens in central Benghazi on Saturday as Gaddafi tried to keep control of the city. Doctors in Benghazi said that at least 230 people were killed, with a further 30 critically injured.

Army officers have also been interrogating mercenaries flown in the week before in an attempt to suppress protests. An air force officer claims he witnessed 4,000 being flown in over a period of three days, stating it as the reason for many soldiers turning against the government, along with an order to attack citizen's with planes. However, numerous witnesses in Benghazi have said that while artillery was used against citizens, air force planes did not fire on them. They did, however, drop two bombs inside the Rajma military base to stop weapons falling into the hands of anti-government forces. The Libyan ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim al-Dabashi, is one of many diplomats to defect from Gaddafi and claims that "genocide" had begun in the west of the country, with ground attacks occurring from Libyan forces working alongside "mercenaries from many African countries".

On an international front on the morning of the 23rd, the British foreign minister, William Hague, said in a press release that there are "many indications of the structure of the State collapsing in Libya", urging the Libyan state to listen to people's demands. Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called the situation in Libya a genocide and called for massive intervention from the international community. He argued a resolution was now needed allowing control of Libyan airspace so as to stop mercenaries entering the country and called Gaddafi a "sick and dangerous" "tyrant". Peru fully severed diplomatic ties with Libya’s government on and the African Union conducted a security meeting on the rapidly changing situation in Libya. Nationally, The Warfalla, the largest of the numerous tribes in the country, joined calls from other tribes for Gaddafi to stand down.

Feb 20, 2011

Bahrain Army Shoots At Peaceful Protesters

I apologise for lack of posts lately, but I just found this clip from the protests in Bahrain and thought people would like to see just what's going on over there. However, I will warn you that the ending is a bit graphic.

Feb 15, 2011

Trouble In Egypt - February 12th-February 15th - The Aftermath

After the resignation of Mubarak on February 11th work has begun in Egypt towards the democracy they aspired for thoughout their protests, the success of which have sparked a number of further protests across the Middle East, much like the Tunisian protests before it.

On February 12th a group of activists issued the "People's Communiqué No 1", imitating the titles of communiqués from the Army. It demanded, among numerous other demands, the dissolution of the cabinet Mubarak had appointed on 29 January, the suspension of the parliament elected late last year in a poll widely suspected of rigging, freedom for the media and syndicates and for the formation of political parties. In response, the Egypt Supreme Council of the Armed Forces issued Communiqué no. 4, in which they "promised to hand power to an elected, civilian government....[and] also pledged that Egypt would remain committed to all international treaties." The promise of a new beginning following Mubarak's resignation prompted thousands of people to begin cleaning up Tahrir Square, the centre of much of the 18 days of protests.

On February 13th Parliament was dissolved and the constitution was suspended, with the army announcing it will stay in power for the 6 months until September's Presidential and Parliamentary elections. An inventory count at the Egyptian Museum also revealed 18 missing and 70 damaged artefacts.

February 14th saw two representatives of the demonstrators meet with military spokespersons, reporting back that a referendum on changes to the constitution will take place within two months. The military called for an end to strikes and protests, however, thousands of state employees, including police, transit workers and ambulance drivers, protested for better pay and many protesters still remain within Tahrir Square. The military gave a final warning to labor unions before the armed forces intervenes and imposes an outright ban on gatherings and strikes.

February 15th saw little more than announcements that Tareq al-Bishry, a retired judge known for his pro-opposition views and for his support for a strong independent judiciary, was tasked with setting up the committee to reform the constitution, with the changes would be formally announced within ten days and thT Adly Fayed, the director of public security at the interior ministry, and Ismail El Shaer, Cairo's security chief, have been fired over their decision to open fire on the demonstrators.

The most significant responses internationally to the success of the Egyptian protests come from Iran, Yemen and Bahrain, where protesters have been taking to the streets in demand of similar goals of politcal freedom and reform as well as improved human rights and living conditions.

On 14 February, clashes were reported from parts of Bahrain, with helicopters circling over Manama, where protesters were expected to gather in the afternoon. There was also a greater police presence in Shia villages. At least 14 people were injured in clashes overnight,with police having used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse marchers in the mostly Shia village of Newidrat in the country's southwest. The marchers were demanding the release of those detained during earlier protests and after clashes resulted in the death, of a young male named Ali Abdul Hadi Mushaimai protesters were said to have moved to another location with 600-700 continuing protests in the evening. Regrets were expressed over the incident and an investigation into the death was announced. The following day, on February 15th, police reportedly opened fire during a funeral of a protester killed on February 14, killing yet another.The number of protesters increased on the second day and Al Wefaq, the political party which won the largest number of seats (18 out of 40) in the 2006 parliamentary election, officially joined the protests. Thousands of protesters managed to get control of Manama's main square, the pearl roundabout and tents were put up to help protesters stay through the night in an effort to copy Tahrir square during Egypt's revolts.

The Iranian protests are seen as a continuation of the election protests of 2009. February 14th was chosen for the protests in order to coincide with the 25th day of Bhaman, the 11th month of the Persian calendar The day before these protests two opposition leaders were placed under house arrest without any means of communication. An estimated number of 350,000 began to gather in Tehran's Azadi Square despite large amounts of police on the streets. The protests were originally intended as a symbol of solidarity to the Egyptians, but transformed into an anti-government demonstration during which police shot protesters with paint-ball guns and fired tear gas. Protesters responded by setting fires inside rubbish bins as a means to protect themselves. A number of other protests were reported nationwide, but each were forcibly dispersed by police. These protests mark a setback for the propaganda and influence of the ruling regime of Iran, who have been campaigning that the Green Movement of the previous protests had lost momentum, as these revived uprisings prove otherwise. Iranian TV showed footage on February 15th of members of parliament calling for the execution of opposition leaders.

A number of demonstrations have taken place in Yemen through January and February, but the success of the Egyptian protests appear to have sparked further protests in recent days. It all started on February 11th when a group of demonstrators celebrating Mubarak's resignation were attacked by hundreds of men armed with knives stick and assault rifles. The next day saw 4,000 protesters gather in the capital city of Sana'a to carry on celebrations of Mubarak's resignation, before also demanding the removal of President Saleh. Approximately 5,000 police and government supporters responded by beating anti-government protesters. Protesters also attempted to reach the Egyptian embassy before being held back by police. Clashes also broke out with pro-Saleh protesters forcing about 300 anti-government protesters, said to be chanting "After Mubarak, it's Ali's turn" and "A Yemeni revolution after the Egyptian revolution.", to end their protests. Demonstrations continued into a third day in a row as 2,000 gathered in Sana'a, with further chants of "the Yemeni people want the fall of the regime" and "a Yemeni revolution after the Egyptian revolution." 1,000 of these then broke off towards the presidential palace, where they were blocked and clashed with police. President Saleh and an unnamed opposition group were preparing to hold talks in the hopes of avoiding revolts like those in Egypt, as well as postponing a trip to the United States. Several thousand protesters, mostly university students, demanding Saleh resignation and political reform protested at Sanaa University on February 14th. Demonstrators were then attacked by pro-government demonstrators, before starting to march ahead. Though police initially managed to keep a counter-demonstration apart from the anti-government protesters, violence was reported. Demonstrations continued into February 15th.

I'm unsure how regular I will post updates on events, if at all, because the spread of protests across the Middle East and not just Egypt means a lot more news. This post alone took a good hour and a half or so and I'd rather not do that every couple of days because I also have other work to do. So I'll either focus on one particular country or just wait until something really big happens in the future, because this has turned into a lot more work than anticipated and believe it or not blogging doesn't exactly pay well.

Feb 13, 2011

Winter 2011 Mid-Season Impressions

Finally a break from events in Egypt! Other than the three series continuing from Fall 2010, Winter 2011 has had little to offer. However, I have to comment that all of the shows I'm watching have had excellent OP's and ED's and from comments I've seen on other series it appears to be a theme this season. So despite the lacking quality in shows at least there's one up side to this season.

To Aru Majutsu no Index Season II
Quite frankly, this has been rather disappointing. The first two arcs were excellent, but the two after were rather disappointing and dragged on. The main problem with these two seemed to be that they featured only Touma, and with his ability to negate magic it leaves very little suspense. The second arc featured and focused on Misaka and Kuruko, which I found much more interesting as they don't have the same ability as Touma. The next arc also features Misaka, along with her Sisters, and I have very high expectations for it. I guess I'm just a Railgun fanboy after all. The sheer amount of pointless fanservice in this series is also starting to get on my nerves slightly (...unless it features Misaka and her Sisters...).

Star Driver
Despite it's one lapse from the formulaic, repetitive and predictable episode layout, Star Driver went straight back. However, since then the story picked up for a few episodes so the Zero Time sequences didn't bother me too much. Although, considering we're approaching the end, there doesn't seem to be anything too big going on outside the usual, so hopefully something big is awaiting us. Although I hate the predictability of the Zero Time sequences I'm still quite a fan of this show, and I think that is mainly to do with the characters.

Bakuman remains the same as it has always been. Relaxed, light-hearted and without any action at all, and I love it! I'm still finding the trials and tribulations of two friends as they try to get a serialized manga immensely entertaining, especially with some of the troubles which have been cropping up during the season's second half. The only criticism I have of this show is that at times the character animation can be a bit off, but despite this it is possibly my favourite right now and much like Star Driver I think it's mainly die to the brilliant characters.

Yumekui Merry
Yumekui Merry is the first of only two shows I picked up this season without dropping. Much like Bakuman and Star Driver I also developed a real liking to the characters, especially main character Merry Nightmare (DAT MIDRIFF), and this is what drew me in from the start. From what I've heard this season has a rather low budget, which explains some of the sub-par character animations. Despite my immediate liking, I'm not too sure on the story, which has failed to draw me in too much at this halfway stage, and it's mainly just the characters keeping me watching.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Well I never thought I'd watch a Magical Girl show but here it is, and it's excellent. Far from the girly, sparkly images the genre name gives off, this series has been rather dark so far with one death and one near-death in just the first 6 episodes. The story is brilliant with twists and turns that are completely unexpected yet don't seem forced in any way and despite my initial misgivings over the character animation style I've actually grown to rather like it after getting used to it. This is probably going to be one of the best shows of the year and definitely of Winter 2011. Unfortunately it's only 12 episodes long, so after the end of the season I'll have to find completely new shows to watch without any familiar ones from the season before.

Despite not watching any other .hack series' I decided to check out the first of 3 OVA's titled .hack//Quantum after seeing a thread about it on /a/ and finding it pretty interesting. The OVA itself was excellently animated (making a change after only watching shows who have top stretch the budget over 12-24 episode series' for the last few months) and both the story and characters were brilliant so I'll definitely be watching the other two when they're released and maybe get around to watching some other .hack series' in the future.

All in all, despite the rather disappointing turn out for Winter 2011 I've found two pretty good shows, Bakuman and Star Driver continue to be as great as they were before and Index II looks to be back on form after two mediocre arcs. Along with this there have been some of the greatest OP's and ED's I've heard in a long time, especially from Star Driver and Madoka Magica.

I was thinking of spicing up this post with images from each series, but quite frankly I was feeling too lazy to do that, but I may for future ones.

Feb 11, 2011

Trouble In Egypt - February 10th-February 11th - GOODBYE MUBARAK

I'm sorry that all the posts lately have been about the protests in Egypt, but there's not really anything else going on. However, next week I'll be posting my Winter 2011 Mid-Season Impressions anime post if you want something different. As for anything else, I have no idea. Anyway, back to Egypt:

Protests continued on February 10th, with ever more people joining demonstrators in Tahrir Square. Strikes also continued nationwide and also spread further. Protesters across Egypt sang and waved Egyptian flags, as they expected Mubarak to announce his resignation. Numerous news channels reported that February 10th would be the day of Mubarak's resignation, as he was due to give a speech that night. Instead, Mubarak said he would be transferring his power to his vice president Omar Suleiman, would request six constitutional amendments and would lift emergency laws when security in the country permitted it. Protesters watched in stunned silence or in anger to his speech, some crying or waving their shoes in the air. Mubarak also said that he would penalise those responsible for the violence and has a clear vision on how to end the crisis, but is satisfied with what he has offered. He also stated he would be attempting to revise six articles to the constitution, and, while remaining President to the end of his term in September, would transfer his powers to Vice President Suleiman. The constitutional article is used to transfer powers if the president is "temporarily" unable to carry out his duties and does not mean his resignation. After the speech the more than 3 million protesters in Tahrir Square chanted for him to leave. Vice President Omar Suleiman called on the anti-Mubarak protesters to go home and eyewitnesses said that the Egyptian army had pulled out troops from many locations near the presidential palace in Cairo. Soon after the television announcement, a large number of protesters began to march towards the presidential palace and Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei warned that "Egypt will explode" because Mubarak refused to step down as well as calling on the military to intervene.

Massive protests continued into February 11th, with the Presidential Palace and Parliament remaining under protester control. Due to the sheer size of the area occupied by protesters, estimates on their numbers were unable to be made.

Then, at 18:00 Egypt time, the moment Egyptians had been waiting for for the last 18 days finally arrived. Revolution. Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that the Presidency had been vacated with power being transferred to an army council. It took him just over 30 seconds to make the following statement:
"In the name of Allah the most gracious the most merciful, my fellow citizens, in the difficult circumstances our country is experiencing, President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak has decided to give up the office of the president of the republic and instructed the supreme council of the armed forces to manage the affairs of the country. May God guide our steps."
It took only moments for a deafening roar to sweep central Cairo and protesters fell to their knees and prayed, wept and let loose chants of victory. Protesters in Tahrir Square waved flags, held up hastily written signs declaring victory and embraced soldiers.

It took only 30 seconds on television to end Mubarak's 30 year reign. It would appear that the path is now open for the new Egyptian Democracy that the Egyptian people fought so hard for with their blood, sweat and tears, and in some cases even their lives. Countries across the region were also full of celebration as they hoped such events may lead to better lives for them too, however, these feelings were not felt in Israel as they fear whatever new government may develop may threaten the peace between the two countries which has steadied the region.

The Guardian has a rather good article on Mubarak's reign and some of the repercussions that may arise from his resignation.

Feb 9, 2011

Trouble In Egypt - February 7th-February 9th

February 7th began with a symbolic funeral procession for dead journalist Ahmed Mahmoud, who was shot by security forces, along with demands for an investigation into his death. A later attack on a police station in Khargah led to at least 70 people being wounded after police opened fire on the protesters, who were demanding the ousting of a officer notorious for being heavy-handed. Google's head of Marketing for the Middle East and North Africa and the founder of the Facebook page credited for being influential in sparking the protests, Wael Ghonim, was released after being in custody since 25 January. He issued a statement reading:
First of all my sincere condolences for all the Egyptians that lost their lives. I am really sorry for their loss, none of us wanted this. We were not destroying things. We all wanted peaceful protests, and our slogan was no to vandalism. Please don't turn me into a hero. I am not a hero, I am someone that was asleep for 12 days. The real heroes are the ones that took to the streets, please focus your cameras on the right people. I am ok. (sic) God willing we will change our country, and all the filth that was taking place in the country has to stop. Together we will clean this country.
In the first cabinet meeting since protests began  it was decided that 6.5 billion Egyptian Pounds (£685.8 millionwill be allocated to cover a 15 percent raise in pensions and salaries for government employees. One protester said that protests would not end soon because of increasing concessions that the regime offers. While banks have reopened, schools and the stock exhange remain closed, with the Egyptian Stock Exchange saying it will resume work on 13 February. Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass also announced that the looter-damaged artefacts will be restored within the next 5 days and that steps will be made to reopen Egypt's many famed archaeological sites, which have been closed since protests began. The museum is now being guarded by the army. Former minister of the interior Habib El-Adli is set to face prosecution in a military court after giving orders to fire at protesters and for obstructing peace in Egypt, as well as his role in the 31st December bombing of al-Qiddissin Church in Alexandria. State-owned newspaper Al-Ahram has also declared its support for the protestors and stopped supporting the ruling regime, whilst German newspaper Der Spiegel has reported an unconfirmed rumour that Mubarak was planning a "prolonged hospital stay" in Germany, which would effectively  have him leave the presidency and pave the way for a face saving transition of power.

February 8th, or "Day of Egypt's Love" saw over a million people gather in and around Tahrir Square in one of the biggest protests yet, with many being reported as joining the protests for their first time, along with around 1,000 protesters gathering outside parliament to demand Mubarak's resignation. Workers at the Suez Canal have also went on strike. Journalists also gathered in the lobby of the headquarters of the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram's to protest against corruption and call for more press freedom.

In a statement made on Egyptian state television, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced the formation of two independent committees for political and constitutional reforms, both starting work immediately. One committee would carry out constitutional and legislative amendments to enable a shift of power; while the other committee would monitor the implementation of all proposed reforms. He said that wider press freedoms were under consideration and that he would produce a checklist of what was needed to hold free elections. He also said that plans were underway to organise a peaceful transfer of power.

On February 9th, a number of protesters moved from Tahrir Square to set up camp in the area outside parliament, demanding the assembly's immediate dissolution and putting up a sign saying: "Closed until the fall of the regime." The cabinet offices in Cairo had been evacuated and officials were relocated after anti-government protesters gathered outside the building. Strikes continued across the country, particularly in Alexandria, Cairo and Suez, demanding higher wages and better treatment from employers. Violent clashes were also reported in Wadi al-Jadid, where police stations and NDP party building had been destroyed, along with several deaths and hundreds of injuries. Egyptians living outside the country have also returned to join the anti-government demonstrations. The Muslim Brotherhood continued to call for Mubarak's resignation and Culture Minister Gaber Asfour resigned after one week in office, claiming health problems.

Feb 6, 2011

Trouble In Egypt - February 5th-February 6th

Once again, early morning of February 5th was pierced by the sound of gunshots as pro-Mubarak supporters once again attempted to assault Tahrir Square. In order to disperse them troops shot into the air. February 5th also saw an increased military presence and organisation than on any other day of the protests and protesters once again formed a human chain, this time to stop tanks entering Tahrir Square and scuffles broke out as a General asked them to take down their makeshift barriers of debris and corrugated steel. Access to Tahrir Square was further restricted and protesters were urged to return home so life could return to normal. Taking advantage of civil unrest, an Islamist group sabotaged an Arab Gas pipeline between Isreal and Jordan, causing an explosion and an expected week long cut in supplies. False reports were also circulated that Mubarak had stepped down as NDP party leader before being discredited by State Television, however, opposition leaders continue to look for ways to remove Mubarak from power and have called on protesters to continue protesting in Tahrir Square every Tuesday and Friday until Mubarak "resigns and makes true the demands of the people."

Protesters continued to camp over night in Tahrir Square and Alexandria saw peaceful late-night protests. Despite this, gunshots were once again heard in Cairo in the early hours of February 6th, which has been dubbed by organisers as the "Sunday of Martyrs". To counter claims by State Television that the majority of protesters are part of the Muslim Brotherhood, Christians held mass in Tahrir Square as Muslim protesters formed a ring to protect them, mirroring the morning of February 4th where Christians protected Muslims as they prayed. Journalists continue to be targeted, with Ayman Mohyeldin of Al Jazeera being arrested by soldiers in Tahrir Square. Al Jazeera called for his immediate release, and after seven hours of detention he was. Banks were temporarily opened once again, and people rushed to buy US dollars.

Vice President Omar Suleiman held talks with opposition parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, in an attempt to end the mass protests yet opposition leaders claimed he did not go far enough in his proposals for greater political freedom and pledge of free elections. However, Suleiman did agree to et up a committee of judiciary and political figures to study constitutional reforms, with results due by early March.

In Cairo, on February 6th, protesters were said to number in the vicinity of 1 million.

Feb 5, 2011

Trouble In Egypt - February 3rd-February 4th

Conflict started in the early hours of February 3rd with a stand-off in front of the Egyptian Museum, with rocks and petrol bombs flying along with large-calibre shots into the air from the military. Following the stand-off there was a heavy police presence at the museum and anti-government protesters were seen banging on metal railings while rocks were thrown at them. Pro-Mubarak protesters also continued to throw Molotov cocktails at protesters. Mansoura and Alexandria also saw up to a million people march and people were offered food and money to fight against the anti-Mubarak protesters in Tahrir Square (banks are not due to open for two days).

In an interview with ABC, President Mubarak admitted that he was fed up with power, but fears that if he stands down Egypt will descend into (more) chaos, of which the Muslim Brotherhood could take advantage. He also said he does not like seeing Egyptians fight each other and he doesn't care what people think of him, just his country, claiming he will "die on this soil". The Vice President has also reasserted that Mubarak will not run for another term and nor will anyone in his family.

During the night tanks rolled through the streets of Cairo in preparation for what was dubbed the "Friday of Departure" by organisers. Pro-Mubarak protesters were also active and some small clashes took place. Hundreds of thousands gathered to participate in Friday day prayer in Tahrir Square, with events planned to take place afterwards, whilst Christians and others not performing Friday prayers formed a human chain around those praying to protect them from potential disruptions. Many protests took place in other cities in Egypt and protesters in Alexandria warned the government that if they used violence against protesters in Cairo, they would march to Cairo to join them. Despite these protests, President Mubarak remains in office.

Several times over the past week journalists have been victims of violence and Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud of Al-Ta'awun has become the first to die after he was shot on January 28th. The Prosecutor General has also frozen the accounts of numerous government officials and stopped them from leaving the country.

Feb 2, 2011

Trouble In Egypt - January 31st-February 2nd

It would appear that due to the lack of news I forgot that this blog was originally for news, and so I've completely ignored the Egyptian protests. Instead of trying to cover over a weeks worth of events I'm just going to report the last three days or so.

January 31st (Day 7 of the protests) saw possibly one of the biggest hits to the government since protests began, with the military releasing a statement that they will not shoot upon protesters:
"The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people. Your armed forces, who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody."
 The loss of military support is of course a  death blow to any government under threat of revolution and this is a turning point that will certainly affect the outcome of the protests. There are also reports of major prisons being attacked nationwide as law and order rapidly deteriorates, with looters burning the Arkadia shopping mall in Cairo along with many other instances of criminal damage. All internal and outbound flights have also been cancelled by Egypt Air and an inbound flight from London to Cairo was redirected to Athens due to an alleged bomb threat. Many cities have also experienced industrial strikes, causing Japanese firm Nissan to suspend production at their plant to ensure the workers' safety, however Korean firm Hyundai are still working. Internationally known archeologist Zahi Hawass was appointed by President Mubarak to the newly created cabinet post of Minister of Antiquities during the cabinet shake up and has said in a statement published on his personal blog that "the broken objects"- damaged during looting of the Cairo Museum - "can all be restored, and we will begin the restoration process this week". In a media interview he rejected comparisons with Iraq and Afghanistan and said that antiquities were being safeguarded.

The first day of the month saw millions take to the streets in a "March of the Millions" called for by opposition leaders (pictured below). The BBC said it was difficult to estimate the number of protesters in Tahrir Square, reporting that the numbers ranged from "more than 100,000 to some 250,000 – the square's maximum capacity.", with the Egyptian security forces stating that 500,000 people would have participated in the protests in Cairo. According to Al Jazeera, over one million protesters gathered in central Cairo by the afternoon, growing to 2 million as it became late, while hundreds of thousands protested in Alexandria, and an estimated 250,000 protested in Sinai and Suez. This was the largest mobilisation in the eight days of protest, with Mubarak being symbolically hanged. The overall number of protesters nationwide has been estimated to be around 8 million, alongside a virtual "March of Millions" taking place on Facebook in solidarity with Egyptian protesters, with a goal of reaching one million voices in support of the march.

At 23:00 Egyptian time President Mubarak announced that he did not intend to run for another term in the nex election (September 2011) and would stay in office to ensure a peaceful transition, also promising to make political reforms. Mubarak also demanded Egyptian authorities pursue "outlaws" and "investigate those who caused the security disarray." Mubarak said that peaceful protests were transformed into "unfortunate clashes, mobilised and controlled by political forces that wanted to escalate and worsen the situation". Mubarak also called upon the Egyptian parliament to change the requirements to run for president as well as limit terms of presidency, and accepted the legal charges against parliament members, meaning a great number of parliament members will be changed through the legal process. Despite this, protests continued in Tahrir Square, demanding that the president step down.

Tahrir Square during the "March of the Millions"
During the night Mubarak supporters clashed with anti-Mubarak protesters in Alexandria, with shots reportedly being fired into the air. Many of the "March of the Millions" protesters decided to sleep in Tahrir Square, with many more protesters en route to join them. By 12:00 Egyptian time, internet access (previously blocked towards the beginning of protests) was partially restored and the curfew has been eased. However, pro-Mubarak supporters continued their attacks, riding into Tahrir Square equipped with whips atop horses and camels, as well as throwing Molotov cocktails into the crowds. By 19:00 Egyptian time, 300 were reported dead. The Egyptian Museum has also been firebombed, with pro-Mubarak supporters being filmed dropping stones and firebombs from buildings onto protesters on the streets below. Security officials have also been witnessed bribing citizens to attack protesters.

President Mubarak has rejected various international calls to step aside and the upcoming February 4th has been dubbed the "Friday of Departure" by organisers calling on protesters to protest in front of the presidential Heliopolis palace and warning Mubarak that he should step down immediately and has until Friday to surrender his powers.

I'll try and update on events in Egypt but I doubt it will be daily because I don't think enough can happen in a day to get a decent sized post. So updates will probably every 2 or 3 days or whenever something really big happens.