Thursday’s news: Israeli drills, Brotherhood speaks

Al-Ahram leads with a report on social security. The headline points out the “increase in the amount of underprivileged families benefiting from social security,” while the report details new measures taken by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, before his “upcoming transition to the People’s Assembly” during the next parliamentary session. As explained by cabinet spokesperson Magdy Radi, the new measures will result in an expansion of the social security laws, making it available to a wider range of citizens. According to the paper, Radi also stated on the behalf of Nazif and his cabinet that the changes were primarily instituted as a response to the recent “changes in the economy.”

Al-Ahram also features a story on the safety drills held in Israel yesterday, which saw citizens responding to sirens blasting throughout “every corner of Israel.” According to the paper, the sirens sounded for approximately 90 seconds, the aim being to train citizens on how to react to a sudden missile strike. During the drill, vast “clusters” of Israelis made their way to nearby “shelters,” in which they hid for ten minutes, the paper reports. This has been the fourth safety drill since the summer of 2006, when Israel and the Lebanese Hizbullah were at war.

Al-Akhbar focuses on the ongoing, contentious discussion on the distribution of Nile water, with a headline claiming, “Egypt’s water situation is reassuring.” Following a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Nazif, the Minister of Irrigation, who went unnamed in Al-Akhbar’s report, stated that recent measures taken by Egypt concerning the Nile were necessary to “preserve Egypt’s historical right” to the Nile. Nazif added to the statement, claiming, “Egypt is fully convinced that the Nile’s resources are sufficient for the development of all Nile Basin nations and their people,” and that “Egypt is further convinced of the possibility of developmental projects that will result in an increase in returns from the Nile’s water.”

Both state-owned and independent papers also report on the “record increase” witnessed by the Egyptian stock market yesterday. Displaying questionable math skills, Al-Akhbar goes so far as to claim that yesterday’s 4.4 percent increase compensated for Tuesday’s decrease of 6.7 percent.

Al-Dostour leads with a report on a recent statement from the Muslim Brotherhood about the party’s willingness to “rise up against the ruling party” if they break promises concerning the recent extension of the Emergency Law, which, according to government statements last week, only applies to cases of terrorism and drug trafficking. The statements were made by Essam el-Erian, a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau. The government has also promised to release all political prisoners and detainees, many of whom are from the Muslim Brotherhood. So far, now releases have been made and the Brotherhood is threatening protests and demonstrations. “The “The Brotherhood will exhaust all possible means before considering giving up this fight,” el-Erian reportedly told the independent daily.

Al-Dostour also reports on an announcement by president of the ruling National Democratic Party Safwat el-Sherif, in which he stated, “the NDP will not announce any candidates for the upcoming presidential election before July 2011, at the earliest.” El-Sherif cited the Egyptian constitution, which he claimed described and regulated the transition of power regarding the Egyptian presidency, adding “Egypt is not a monarchy.” The statement came during an interview aired on the satellite television channel “Russia Today,” according to Al-Dostour.

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