Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bill banning cell phones while driving introduced

Editor note: WE DO NOT NEED MORE TRAFFIC LAWS. Just get the Cops to enforce the rules of the road now.
Drivers with irresponcible cell use break most traffic laws. TICKET them and you wll train people to use cell phone properly and for short concise calls! Running red lights, no signal lights, improeper lane changes, driving to fast or too slow, etc....

CARSON CITY -- Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki expressed what a lot of people were thinking after Sen. Shirley Breeden introduced her bill Thursday to outlaw all drivers from using hand-held cell phones and texting.

"I will have to change my driving habits," said Krolicki, who serves as the parliamentarian of the state Senate.

Breeden, D-Henderson, feels optimistic about her Senate Bill 140 becoming law -- unlike two years ago when her similar bill passed the Senate but died in the Assembly.

"I haven't heard anyone say they oppose the bill," she said. "They come up to me and say, 'But Shirley, I depend on texting.' "

If the bill becomes law, then there is a pretty big club in it to induce drivers to obey.

For a first violation, the fine would be $250. A second violation carries a $500 fine. For a third offense, the fine would be $1,000 and the offender would be suspended from driving for six months.

The big fines should persuade parents to impress upon their driving-age children that they should avoid cell phones and texting when they are behind the wheel, Breeden said.

Thirty states prohibit texting by all drivers. Another eight prohibit texting by juvenile drivers.

No state completely prohibits cell phone use for all drivers. Eight, including California, outlaw hand-held cell phone use by drivers. Breeden patterned her bill after California's law.

She said Bluetooth and other devices that allow drivers to talk hands-free can be purchased for as little as $15.

Breeden said her only motive in introducing the bill is to protect the public. Driving while texting is more dangerous than driving drunk, she said, noting that texting drivers can run off the highway and hit people walking on sidewalks.

At least five other bills dealing with texting and cell phones are expected to be introduced at the 2011 Legislature.

One is by Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, who tried in two previous sessions to outlaw cell phone use by drivers. He is confident that this time a law will be passed that at least outlaws cell phone use and texting by underage drivers.

Nevada already has a law against distracted driving, which has led to some questioning why the state needs another law. Sixty-three people died in car accidents in the last five years because of distracted driving, according to the Office of Traffic Safety.

While it is legal to text and talk on cell phones in Nevada, the state Board of Examiners in November passed a regulation prohibiting it when state employees operate state-owned cars. There is no penalty, however, if they ignore the regulation.

Breeden pointed out that police testified in support of her bill two years ago. She said a law targeting cell phone use and texting will lead to more police enforcement.

Breeden also said it is obvious that people cannot talk on hand-held cell phones or text without it adversely affecting their driving.

While driving home Wednesday, she said she saw a driver ahead of her suddenly zigzag on his lane. Then she saw the driver held a cell phone.
Ed Vogel

Obama promotes plan for near universal wireless

MARQUETTE, Mich. – President Barack Obama promoted plans Thursday to bring high-speed wireless to nearly all American households, pushing his domestic agenda in a small, snowy city in Michigan's Upper Peninsula on a day of dramatic developments in Egypt.

Obama kept in touch with his security team throughout the trip and opened his remarks at Northern Michigan University with brief comments on the events overseas, where President Hosni Mubarak appeared close to resigning. "We are witnessing history unfold," Obama said.

He then turned to the importance of investing in wireless technology, part of a new White House focus on innovation, competitiveness and infrastructure as a pathway to jobs and "winning the future." The president compared the goal of extending wireless access to important successes that connected previous generations of Americans: the building of railroads and the federal highway system.

"For millions of Americans, the railway hasn't shown up yet," Obama said. "For our families and our businesses, high-speed wireless service: that's the next train station; it's the next off-ramp. It's how we'll spark new innovation, new investments and new jobs."

Obama wants to make high-speed wireless available to 98 percent of the population within five years, a goal he set out in his State of the Union address.

It's a lofty aim considering such technology is only now being built in major cities by AT&T, Verizon and others. And it will cost billions of dollars that Republicans now running the House signaled they may be unwilling to spend. But the president cast it as crucial for America's future prosperity and competitiveness with other nations.

"This isn't just about faster Internet," the president said. "It's about connecting every corner of America to the digital age."

Obama has taken a domestic trip each week since the Jan. 25 speech to promote different aspects of his competitiveness agenda; previous trips focused on high-speed rail and energy efficiency.

Obama's wireless plan involves increasing the space available on the airwaves for high-speed wireless by auctioning off space on the radio spectrum to commercial wireless carriers. The White House says this would raise nearly $30 billion over 10 years, and the money could be spent on initiatives that include $10 billion to develop a national broadband network for public safety agencies and $5 billion for infrastructure to help rural areas access high-speed wireless.

Portions of the plan will be in the 2012 budget Obama sends to Capitol Hill on Monday. Republicans sounded skeptical Thursday about the proposal, which needs congressional approval.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said billions had already been allocated for broadband services in the 2009 economic stimulus bill. "Before we target any more of our scarce taxpayer dollars for broadband, it is critical to examine whether the money already being spent is having an impact," said Upton, who is holding hearings on the topic.

But Obama's proposals won applause from AT&T and other telecom companies.

White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes told The Associated Press that Obama wants more spending on Internet broadband because business leaders and emergency responders have told him more funds are needed. "We know that this is the right thing to do," she said.

Obama chose Marquette for Thursday's remarks because the university town of 20,000 overlooking Lake Superior is becoming an example of how the Internet can bring opportunity and prosperity to far-flung locales. Numerous local businesses market online. Northern Michigan University also has a high-tech wireless program, which Obama saw in action, that lets students and teachers connect with other classrooms in the region.

Michigan will also be an important state in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Ethics Watchdog Targets Congressional Sleepovers

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Washington ethics watchdog says it's time for Congress to crack down on lawmakers who sleep in their offices rather than pay for a place to live.

Reacting to a surge in first-term lawmakers bunking down on Capitol Hill, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington wants the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether the politicians are getting an unfair tax break and violating their own rules by making personal use of public resources.

"House office buildings are not dorms or frat houses," Melanie Sloan, the group's executive director, said Thursday. "If members didn't want to find housing in Washington, they shouldn't have run for Congress in the first place."

For years, at least a few lawmakers have slept on couches and cots in their offices to avoid long commutes or pricey Washington rents. Some see it as a badge of honor, a commitment to frugality and hard work, and to show constituents they don't consider Washington home.

The group cited media reports that more than 30 lawmakers, all men, are now doing it. Sloan thinks the real total could be as many as 40 or 50 after a wave of budget-conscious, anti-Washington freshmen won seats in November.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, has slept in his office for years. Ryan, R-Wis., brushed aside questions about the complaint.

"People have been doing it for decades," he said. "I work until midnight every night. I get up at six every morning."

Another longtime office-sleeper, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said he'll move out if the rules change. But he said it is more convenient for him to stay on Capitol Hill.

The ethics office did not respond to a request for comment about CREW's complaint. Several other congressional offices overseeing rules and administration also failed to respond.

Sloan said that aside from the legal and rules questions, she has heard reports from congressional staffers about uncomfortable work environments.

"Especially if you're a woman and you're working late and your boss is there getting ready for bed, that seems designed for discomfort," she said.

Besides, she added, "who wants to run into a member of Congress in need of a shower wandering the halls in sweats or a robe?"

Mubarak Refuses to Step Down

CAIRO — President Hosni Mubarak told the Egyptian people Thursday that he would delegate more authority to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, but that he would not resign his post, contradicting earlier reports that he would step aside and surprising hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered to hail his departure from the political scene.

In a nationally televised address following a tumultuous day of political rumors and conflicting reports, Mr. Mubarak said he would “admit mistakes” and honor the sacrifices of young people killed in the three-week uprising, but that he would continue to “shoulder my responsibilities” until September, and did not give a firm indication that he would cede political power.

Even as Mr. Mubarak spoke, angry chants were shouted from huge crowds in Cairo who had anticipated his resignation but were instead confronted with a plea from the president to support continued rule by him and his chosen aides. People waved their shoes in defiance, considered an insulting gesture in the Arab world.

Mr. Mubarak said the process of political change initiated by his administration, including a dialogue with opposition groups, would not be reversed. But he signaled no imminent transfer of power and blamed foreigners for seeking to interfere in Egypt’s affairs.

“We will not accept or listen to any foreign interventions or dictations,” Mr. Mubarak said, implying that pressure to resign came from abroad as opposed to masses of people demanding his ouster through his country.

His statement marked the latest twist and turn in a raucous uprising. Earlier in the day, the Egyptian military appeared poise to assert itself as the leading force in the country’s politics, declaring on state television that it would take measures “to maintain the homeland and the achievements and the aspirations of the great people of Egypt” and meet the demands of the protesters who have insisted on ending Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Several government officials said Mr. Mubarak was expected to announce his own resignation and pass authority to Mr. Suleiman.

NRA's Wayne LaPierre: "Government Policies Are Getting us Killed" THIS SOB IS A LIAR!

NRA's Wayne LaPierre: "Government Policies Are Getting us Killed"

WASHINGTON -- National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre harshly criticized gun control advocates, the Obama administration and members of the media at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, arguing that they are lying when they say bans on certain firearms or ammunition clips will protect Americans.

LaPierre said U.S. gun laws provide more protection to killers like the Virginia Tech and Tucson shooters than to the victims of their attacks, and suggested the current environment puts women at risk for rape. He condemned "gun-free zones and anti-self defense laws that protected the safety of no one except the killers and condemned the victims to death without so much as a prayer."

"Government policies are getting us killed," he said.

LaPierre added that while the Tuscon attacks were "terrible," "it's time for some frank talk."

The media and "political elites," he said, "won't admit the truth." He said it's "dishonest" to suggest that by passing laws we can "legislate evil out of people's hearts."

In the wake of the Tucson tragedy, some commentators and members of Congress have called for stricter gun laws. The proposal with the best chance for passage is one that would ban the sort-of high capacity ammunition clips used by the alleged Tucson shooter, which can hold 33 rounds in a single clip.

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"These clowns want to ban magazines," LaPierre said. "Are you kidding me? But that's their response to the blizzard of violence and mayhem affecting our nation. One more gun law on top of all of the laws already on the books."

"It's going to make all of us less safe in this country, and you know what else it's going to do? Make the deranged and the violence more safe," he said. He added that even in the current environment, "as soon as you leave these halls, your life is in jeopardy."

LaPierre said that the situation in Egypt shows that the Second Amendment remains necessary, as illustrated by the protests in Egypt. He said that "the presence of a firearm" in the hands of good people "makes us all safer."

"Good guys carrying guns can and do make a difference," he said, adding that "the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." LaPierre argued that everyone is safer when bad people "can't tell the difference between the lions and the lambs."

The NRA president said that violence in Mexico illustrates the folly of flawed gun laws, stating that conference attendees are "likely to be beaten, tortured and murdered" if they go there.

He also called for laws in the United States "that give all law-abiding Americans the right to carry a firearm for personal protection."

LaPierre opened his speech by playing a speech by former NRA president Charlton Heston in which Heston criticized the media for portraying the NRA as a villain. Heston, in the video, called media coverage of tragedies "pornography."

LaPierre then criticized the media for showing images of the Tucson shooter and not focusing more on the victims of his attack, stating, "the national media wasted no time in making a celebrity out of the deranged killer."

The media "turns a madman into a hero for every potential deranged copycat out there," he said. "It's sick, it's wrong and the media out to be ashamed of themselves."

Toward the end of the speech, LaPierre played a graphic 911 call of a woman being attacked in her home. He said she is "who we are fighting for."

"No more lies and laws and government failure," LaPierre told the audience of conservative activists. "At the scene of the crime, there's only the criminal and the victim."

The speech received a standing ovation

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has announced that he has passed on his authority to his vice president. He says he is not stepping down and will wait until planned-presidential elections in September to peacefully hand over power.

What Would Shirley Do? By LINDA GREENHOUSE

The news that 41 percent of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion was eye-catching enough, but what really caught my eye in a report on the statistic were the comments of a New York legislator, State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr. “They might think that we will take over, and that they’ve got to stop us,” Senator Díaz was quoted as having told a group of fellow anti-abortion ministers last month. “What they did, they are killing black and Hispanic children.”

There has been a lot of nutty talk about abortion lately, prominently including the effort in the House of Representatives to exclude from eligibility for Medicaid-financed abortions those women whose pregnancy is due to a rape not “forcible” enough to warrant sympathy from the new Republican majority. (I can only guess at a link between the devastating send-up on “The Daily Show” of this proposed legislation and its sponsor’s announcement that he would remove the “forcible rape” provision.)

But these comments by an elected official, a Bronx Democrat who is chairman of the State Senate’s Puerto Rican/Latino Caucus, are beyond nutty. They are racially inflammatory, dangerous and, coming from a leader of a community beset by high rates of unintended pregnancy (54 percent of all pregnancies, according to one study) they are tragic. And did I mention that Senator Díaz opposes making condoms available to teenagers?

Evidently no one at the ministers’ gathering felt the need to ask Mr. Díaz who “they” were. I had a pretty good guess, which wasn’t hard to check out. The senator’s press release last month celebrating the feast of Three Kings Day, posted on his Web site, includes the following: “According to the Bible, King Herod saw the birth of Jesus as a threat. … Today’s abortion industry is not unlike King Herod, who sought out precious and innocent young lives to destroy. Today’s abortion industry targets black and Hispanic children whose lives are also seen as a threat.”

This sentiment, ill founded as it is, is neither original with Senator Díaz nor new. Nor, obviously, is it going away, as anyone can attest who has seen the billboards that depict the worried face of a black infant and the legend “Black Children Are an Endangered Species.” Shaila Dewan of The Times reported on the billboard campaign a year ago when it first sprouted in Atlanta. Now these billboards are on display in minority communities coast to coast.

The purpose of this column is to offer some historical perspective and suggest that anyone interested in public health and welfare, not only those concerned with preserving access to safe and legal abortion, has a stake in challenging the pernicious kind of talk that Senator Díaz’s remarks exemplify. Those most likely to be hurt by it are the very same women who ought to be empowered to make their own reproductive decisions, not patronized or manipulated by white activists like Mark Crutcher, a former car salesman from Denton, Tex., whose Life Dynamics Incorporated produced and promotes a film depicting abortion as “black genocide in 21st-century America.”

The equation of abortion with ‘racial genocide’ isn’t new, it isn’t going away, and it needs to be challenged.

Concern in the black community about abortion and what was once referred to as “population control” has authentic roots, grounded in a shameful chapter in the history of welfare policy. Sterilization as a condition of women’s continued eligibility for receiving welfare benefits stirred deep resentment. In response, feminists active in the early abortion reform movement, both white and black, often marched under twin slogans: “Free Abortion on Demand, No Forced Sterilization.”

Their point was that the choice to become a mother was as worthy of protection as the opposite choice.
The coercive policies were dropped, but the damage lingered, and the growing abortion reform movement in the late 1960’s stirred new fears in the black community. In the black press, the equation of abortion with genocide was prominent. “My answer to genocide,” Dick Gregory, the comedian and activist, wrote in Ebony in 1971, “quite simply is eight black kids — and another baby on the way.” That same year, nearly two-thirds of those answering a poll in the black newspaper The Chicago Daily Defender said they feared that abortion posed a genocidal threat to the black community (although, interestingly, only a quarter of those who responded said that they were opposed to abortion.)

Shirley Chisholm, a leading black politician of her day and the first black woman in Congress, devoted a chapter of her fascinating 1970 memoir, “Unbought and Unbossed,” to “Facing the Abortion Question.” She wrote that she was drawn to the cause of abortion reform because of the suffering she had seen inflicted by the back-alley abortion practitioners to whom desperate women turned. But she viewed a leadership role on the issue as politically risky “because there is a deep and angry suspicion among many blacks that even birth control clinics are a plot by the white power structure to keep down the numbers of blacks, and this opinion is even more strongly held by some in regard to legalizing abortions.”

Then she went on to say: “But I do not know any black or Puerto Rican women who feel that way. To label family planning and legal abortion programs ‘genocide’ is male rhetoric, for male ears. It falls flat to female listeners, and to thoughtful male ones.” She cited a study of women who died in pregnancy. Illegal abortion was the cause of 25 percent of the white women’s deaths, 49 percent of the black women’s, and 65 percent of the Puerto Ricans’. She also observed that 90 percent of the “therapeutic” abortions in New York City — the safe and legal ones during the regime of criminalization — were performed on white women.

“Such statistics convinced me that my instinctive feeling was right,” she wrote. “A black woman legislator, far from avoiding the abortion question, was compelled to face it and deal with it.” In 1969 — more than three years before the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade — Shirley Chisholm became honorary president of Naral, the initials of which then stood for National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws.

Through an act of the Legislature, abortion became legal in New York State in mid-1970. In 1971, there were 262,807 abortions in the state, three-quarters of them in New York City. The State Department of Health reported that in New York City during 1971, there were 517 abortions for every 1,000 live births.

Beyond the numbers, the public health impact of legalization was stunning and immediate. Maternal mortality in New York City dropped by more than half during the first year, to an all-time recorded low. Infant mortality also dropped to a new low, which the New York City Health Services Administration attributed to the availability of abortion to women most likely to give birth to babies at the greatest risk of dying, including very young women and poor women who had not received adequate prenatal care. The number of births to unmarried women dropped for the first time. As knowledge spread of the availability of abortion, more and more women terminated their pregnancies in the first trimester — from 67 percent during the first two months of legalization to 86 percent 10 months later. (The figure today is 88 percent.)

In New York City during that first year, about half the women receiving abortions were poor, as measured by eligibility for Medicaid and by their use of either municipal hospitals or the ward services of private hospitals. Of abortion patients in the city, 48 percent were white, 42 percent were listed as “non-white,” and 10 percent were identified as Puerto Rican (by far the dominant Latino group in New York at that time.)

Nationwide today, black women terminate their pregnancies at a rate five times that of white women. For Latinas, the rate is more than double that of non-Latina whites (28 per 1,000 women compared with 11.) These startling differences reflect equally stark differences in the rate of unintended pregnancy. Forty percent of white women’s pregnancies are unintended, compared with well over half among the two other groups. “Unintended,” of course, does not necessarily mean unwelcome. But sometimes it means disaster. And the difference in the rates raises questions about barriers to access to contraception, not only financial but cultural, too complex to be reduced to a sound bite.

I’m certain that Shirley Chisholm, who died in 2005 at the age of 80, would be distressed to know that the shibboleths she risked her career to fight are even more potent in today’s wired world than they were in the days when abortion was a crime. Those of us privileged to live in the world that she helped to make have an obligation to resist the cynicism of those who know better and the recklessness of those who don’t.

U.S. faces terror threat from within

WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano offered a sobering assessment of the terror threat facing the United States on Wednesday, saying it was at perhaps the "most heightened state" since the Sept. 11 attacks nearly a decade ago.

Napolitano, appearing before the House Homeland Security Committee, said the threat from al-Qaeda, the group that planned the assaults in 2001, has been augmented by al-Qaeda-inspired groups and the emergence of homegrown radicals in the USA.

"One of the most striking elements of today's threat picture is that plots to attack America increasingly involve American residents and citizens," she said. "We are now operating under the assumption, based on the latest intelligence and recent arrests, that individuals prepared to carry out terrorist attacks and acts of violence might be in the United States, and they could carry out acts of violence with little or no warning."

During the past two years, more than 120 people have been indicted in federal court on terror-related charges. About 50 of them were U.S. citizens, said Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., homeland committee chairman, citing Justice Department statistics.

King described the threat as "serious and evolving," adding that increasing domestic radicalization marked a "game-changer" in the anti-terror effort.

"We must confront this threat explicitly and directly," King said.

Hours after the hearing, the Justice Department announced that another U.S. citizen, Daniel Patrick Boyd, 40, of North Carolina, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping to "advance violent jihad" in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"This case proves how our world is changing," North Carolina U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding said. "Terrorists are no longer only from foreign countries but also citizens who live within our own borders."

Though Leiter said the homegrown threats are "less likely to be of the same magnitude as the tragedy this nation suffered in September 2001, their breadth and simplicity make our work all the more difficult."

Lawyers for U.S. suspects in two recent terror cases in Oregon and Maryland have argued that their clients — one accused in an attempted attack in November on a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the other in an attempted bombing in December of a military recruitment center in Baltimore — were victims of entrapment with no actual means to carry out the attacks.

Don Borelli, a former FBI counterterrorism official who helped oversee the 2009 inquiry into a plot to bomb the New York subway by Denver shuttle driver Najibullah Zazi, said Napolitano and others are right to be concerned. Zazi pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.

"I don't think she's overreacting here," said Borelli, a senior vice president for the Soufan Group, an international security firm. He said the homegrown threat will require a change in strategy to help identify people vulnerable to radicalization.

"I think that what you've got is a stage that is certainly set for something to happen," he said.

Egypt Army Signals Steps to Take Power NYTimes

CAIRO — Egypt’s armed forces on Thursday announced that they had begun to take "necessary measures to protect the nation and support the legitimate demands of the people,” a step that suggested the military intends to take a commanding role in administrating the strife-torn nation.

There was no immediate confirmation that the army intended to replace the government named by President Hosni Mubarak, but protesters gathered in Tahrir Square appeared to greet the news that there military had replaced the civilian government they have steadfastly opposed.

Television images on Al Jazeera showed the masses in Tahrir Square cheering the news, waving flags and chanting: "The Army and the people in one hand."

Vice President Omar Suleiman, named by Mr. Mubarak to undertake a dialogue with opposition groups, had warned Tuesday night that if the process he was supervising did not produce results, the military would step in to take administrative control in what he called a “coup.” There was no information about what role Mr. Suleiman or Mr. Mubarak would play in a military government.

The announcement came as Egypt’s uprising entered its 17th day on Thursday, bolstered by strikes and protests among professional groups in Cairo and workers across the country, a senior official in Mr. Mubarak’s embattled government was quoted as saying the army would “intervene to control the country” if it fell into chaos.

As tension built ahead of Friday’s planned mass protests, thousands of chanting lawyers in black robes and physicians in white laboratory coats marched into Tahrir Square — the epicenter of the uprising — to join the clamor for Mr. Mubarak’s ouster.

Engineers and journalists also headed for the square on Thursday as the numbers there began to swell once again into the thousands, with demonstrators mingling among the tents and graffiti-sprayed army tanks that have taken on an air of semipermanence.

The warning by Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit seemed to add a further ominous tone to earlier comments by newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman, who said the alternatives facing tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding Mr. Mubarak’s ouster were dialogue with the authorities or “a coup.”

Mr. Aboul Gheit told Al Arabiya television, “We have to preserve the Constitution, even if it is amended.”

“If chaos occurs, the armed forces will intervene to control the country, a step which would lead to a very dangerous situation,” he said on the broadcaster’s Web site, a day after he dismissed calls by Egyptian protesters and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to scrap the country’s emergency laws, which allow the authorities to detain people without charge.

Up until now, the military has pledged not to use force against the protesters who have occupied Cairo’s central Tahrir Square and whose tactics have broadened to the establishment of a fresh encampment outside the Egyptian Parliament. But a report released Thursday by Human Rights Watch cast doubt on the military’s impartiality.

“Since Jan. 31, Human Rights Watch has documented the arbitrary arrest by military police of at least 20 protesters who were leaving or heading to Tahrir Square,” the group said in a statement. “Most of these arrests occurred in the vicinity of the square or in other parts of Cairo from where protesters were taking supplies to the square.”

The group said it had also documented at least five cases of the torture of detainees at the hands of the military. A spokesman for the military denied the accusations.

The army has also deployed tanks and reinforcements across the city, setting up a narrow access point to the square that forces would-be protesters into single file after they stand in long lines to enter.

The apparently hardening official line — and the stubborn resistance of the protesters — coincided with a surge of strikes and worker protests affecting post offices, textile factories and even Al Ahram, the government’s flagship newspaper.

While the government turned up pressure on the opposition, there were continued signs of turmoil within its own ranks. State TV reported that the state prosecutor had opened a formal investigation of Ahmed Ezz, a widely hated former senior member of the ruling National Democratic Party and a confidant of the president’s son Gamal Mubarak, and two other former ministers.

Another N.D.P. official, Mamdouh Hosny, director of the Industry and Energy Committee in Parliament, announced he was resigning from the party, the Egyptian daily, Al Masry Al Youm, reported.

The presence of lawyers and other professionals joining the demonstrations seemed to broaden the participation in the uprising, reflecting the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has strong support among Egyptian lawyers and other professions..

Some of the protesters say they have been inspired by Wael Ghonim, a Google executive who has emerged as a prominent voice in a revolt galvanized in part by social networking sites. On Thursday, a Twitter feed in his name in English declared: “I promise every Egyptian that I will go back to my normal life & not be involved in any politics once Egyptians fulfill their dreams.”

But, in an interview on CNN, he was also quoted as saying he was “ready to die” for the opposition’s cause. “And I’m telling this to Omar Suleiman,” he said. “He’s going to watch this. You’re not going to stop us. Kidnap me, kidnap all my colleagues. Put us in jail. Kill us. Do whatever you want to do. We are getting back our country. You guys have been ruining this country for 30 years.”

The protests at Al Ahram by freelance reporters demanding better wages and more independence from the government snarled one of the state’s most powerful propaganda tools and seemed to change its tone: On Wednesday, the front page, which had sought for days to play down the protests, called recent attacks by pro-Mubarak protesters on Tahrir Square an “offense to the whole nation.”

And on Thursday, the newspaper’s online edition in English broke news of hotel closures in Sharm El-Sheikh, the heart of Egypt’s Red Sea tourism industry, which was badly hit when many visitors fled the country as the uprising broke out.

Outside Cairo’s main post office, about 100 people gathered to demand higher wages and more jobs as a series of stoppages percolated through the capital. “Everyone has begun demanding their rights,” said Ahmed Suleiman, 29, a part-time postal worker. “And it’s time for the government to meet them.” He spoke under a banner proclaiming: “Egyptian post office in solidarity with the youth of Tahrir Square.”

As the city braced for bigger protests that organizers are trying to muster for Friday — the Muslim holy day and the beginning of the weekend — the authorities appeared to have strung more razor wire around the state radio and television building towering over the Nile. The move seemed to reflect concern that protesters may try to move to new locations, expanding their presence.

On the diplomatic front, Mr. Aboul Gheit’s retort to Mr. Biden played into the complicated relationship between Mr. Mubarak’s government and the Obama administration, which had urged swift steps toward a political transition, then endorsed Mr. Mubarak’s remaining until the end of his term later this year. Since then, Mr. Biden has suggested that the United States still expects some immediate changes to be made.

On Wednesday, the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, responded to the Egyptian government’s claims that such changes were premature, saying, “What you see happening on the streets of Cairo is not all that surprising when you see the lack of steps that their government has taken to meet their concerns.”

That attempt to put some distance between the United States and Mr. Mubarak, though, was unlikely to impress the protesters, who say that the Obama administration, by continuing to back the president, also ignores their concerns.

By nightfall on Wednesday, more than 1,000 protesters prepared to sleep outside the Parliament building for a second night, a symbolic move that showed the opposition’s growing confidence as the protesters expanded the scope of their activism beyond Tahrir Square.

Reports from around the country of vigorous and sometimes violent protests also suggested a movement regaining steam.

Security officials said that five people died and more than 100 were injured during protests on Tuesday in El Kharga, 375 miles south of Cairo. Protesters responded Wednesday by burning police stations and other government buildings. In Asyut, protesters blocked a railway line. Television images showed crowds gathering again in Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city.

Even protests that were not directly against Mr. Mubarak centered on the types of government neglect that have driven the call for him to leave power.

Protesters in Port Said, a city of 600,000 at the mouth of the Suez Canal, set fire to a government building, saying local officials had ignored their requests for better housing. And in one of the most potentially significant labor actions, thousands of workers for the Suez Canal Authority continued a sit-in on Wednesday, though there were no immediate suggestions of disruptions of shipping in the canal, a vital international waterway.

On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch reported that since Jan. 28, when troops took up positions in Egyptian cities, army officers and the military police had arbitrarily detained at least 119 people. In at least five cases, the group said, detainees said they had been tortured.

There were signs that the police, under the jurisdiction of the hated Interior Ministry, were trying to remake their image. The authorities have announced in recent days that prosecutors are weighing charges against Habib el-Adly, recently removed as interior minister. The charges, including murder, are related to the killing of protesters by security officers during the unrest.

On Wednesday, some cellphone customers in Egypt received the equivalent of marketing messages from the new minister, Mahmoud Wagdy. One read, “From the Ministry of Interior: The police will do nothing but serve and protect the people.” Another said, “Starting today, we will only deal through truthfulness, honesty and rule of law.”

As Mr. Mubarak held on to power, influential groups and people seemed determined to distance themselves from his government’s legacy. Members of a prominent journalists’ association moved toward a no-confidence vote against their leader, Makram Mohamed Ahmed, a former Mubarak speechwriter, the daily Al Masry Al Youm reported on its English-language Web site.

And the recently appointed culture minister, Gaber Asfour, a literary critic, resigned Wednesday after pressure from his colleagues, according to Al Ahram.

Outside groups, meanwhile, continued to try to take advantage of the Egyptian uprising. In an online forum, a group in Iraq affiliated with Al Qaeda called on Egyptians to “wage violent jihad to topple the regime in Egypt,” according to Khaled Hamza, the editor of the Web site of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition movement.

He bristled at the comments, saying the revolt in Egypt was nonviolent and included “all sects, trends and religions.”

“Egyptians are capable of solving their problem without intrusion, meddling and prying from foreign groups such as Al Qaeda and similar groups advocating the use of violence,” he said.

Increasingly, the political clamor for Mr. Mubarak’s ouster seemed to be complemented by strikes nationwide. While many strikes seemed to focus on specific grievances related to working conditions, labor leaders suggested they were energized by protests against Mr. Mubarak.

The protest against the Suez Canal Authority began Tuesday night and was staged by about 6,000 workers. In Helwan, 6,000 workers at the Misr Helwan Spinning and Weaving Company went on strike, Ms. Refaat said.

More than 2,000 workers from the Sigma pharmaceutical company in Quesna began a strike while about 5,000 unemployed youths stormed a government building in Aswan, demanding the dismissal of the governor.

In Cairo, sanitation workers demonstrated outside their headquarters.

David D. Kirkpatrick and Anthony Shadid reported from Cairo, and Alan Cowell from Paris. Kareem Fahim, Liam Stack, Mona El-Naggar and Thanassis Cambanis contributed reporting from Cairo, and Helene Cooper from Washington.

CBS News is reporting that Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak may step down tonight. It is still unclear if the Vice President or the army will take over power.

JAKE TAPPER, emceeing Washington Press Club Foundation's Congressional Dinner: "Is Congressman Lee here? Congressman Lee? ... I'm looking for him because he left his phone up here. ... I've also been asked to alert him: Auditions for Chippendales will be immediately after tonight's event in the Grand Foyer. ... I know, that joke is so 4 o'clock. ... This scandal was too quick! He told that woman on Craigslist, 'I won't disappoint.' But I'm disappointed! I want more! Freshmen: Do NOT follow his example. Drag it out. Foley it. Massa that puppy. ... Anyway, now Congressman Lee can be a divorced lobbyist for real -- not just online."