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Live blogging the Egyptian uprising

Long time observers of Egypt are fast running out of adjectives to describe their feelings about unfolding events. Unprecedented, stunning, transfixing. I lived there from 2003 to 2008 and dearly love the country. I'll be posting short updates here throughout the day (Friday, Jan. 28) on the fast-moving events in Egypt. This is my first go at this kind of thing, so bear with me.

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"While the US favours Egyptian political reform in theory, in practice it props up an authoritarian system for pragmatic reasons of national self-interest. It behaved in much the same way towards Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1980s, when Iraq was at war with Iran. A similar tacit bargain governs relations with Saudi Arabia. That's why, for many Egyptians, the US is part of the problem... Amid the juggling, one fact may be pinned down: the US would not welcome Mubarak's fall and the dislocation a revolution would cause in Egypt and across a chronically unstable region. Gradual reforms of the kind Clinton discussed in a recent speech in Doha about the Arab world, and a competitive presidential election this autumn, would probably be Washington's preferred prescription. As matters stand now, this is the least likely outcome."

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1:45 p.m. EST (8:45 p.m. Cairo) EGYPT AIR FLIGHTS leaving Cairo have been canceled for the next 12 hours, Al Jazeera is reporting. Don't know what to make of this yet, but it's sure to lead to frenzied speculation, considering that a full airport shut down in Tunis preceded the departure of Ben Ali. But so far, the reporting is just Egypt Air, not the many other carriers that fly in and out of Cairo.

1:35 p.m. EST (8:35 p.m. Cairo) IT'S NOW 81 HOURS into Egypt's crisis, and still no word from Hosni Mubarak. It's about 4 hours since NDP officials started putting it around in Cairo that the president would address the Egyptian people "soon." What's going on? Who knows? It's hard to see Mubarak finding any words at this point that would mollify the public. He's certainly well-aware that the lame (and disbelieved) promises of reform made by Tunisia's Ben Ali shortly before his Waterloo didn't do him any good. At this point, Mubarak's long career as Egyptian leader is over – and will probably end formally next September, when the rigged presidential elections are scheduled. I'm sure folks are getting together in back rooms now to sort out who will replace him.

1:05 p.m. EST (8:05 p.m. Cairo) THE BATTLE FOR BEST English-language television coverage of the Egyptian uprising today isn't even close. I've got MSNBC, CNN and Fox on here in the office. I have to watch Al Jazeera English on the internet. And, well, Al Jazeera is leaving the US channels in the dust. (Its Arabic-language coverage is also setting the pace.) They have multiple correspondents around the country, the best live and canned footage, and they don't break for Alka-Seltzer commercials or extended conversations with non-Egypt experts in Davos (as Alex Pareene at Salon caught MSNBC doing).

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