Today in Egypt: The Digest for Busy Americans

We understand: you’re busy running your social marketing company/law firm/dying publishing establishment. Plus you’re besieged as well — by information overload and first world problems. It’s okay! Here’s a handy digest so that you can stay informed on Egypt without having to read 4000 blogs and newspapers.

• Today’s demonstrations are being called the “Day of Departure,” or “Friday of Departure,” which is a classy way to demand the immediate resignation of President Mubarak. Today has been described as peaceful and jubilant; for the most part, pro-government thugs have not been sent forth to create violence.

• Much of the city of Cairo is difficult to move through today, with odd checkpoints installed throughout the city, often manned by people of unknown position — no uniforms, etc. Soldiers are also searching people at the checkpoints. “Hundreds of thousands” of people are demonstrating in Cairo. (The Times says “more than a hundred thousand.”)

• One thing to note is that the protests are national. For instance, it’s estimated that 100,000 people are demonstrating in Damanhour. Damanhour only has a population of half a million. And there are “hundreds of thousands” of people demonstrating in Alexandria today. That’s Giza, in the video above. (And of course there are protest movements building in other nearby countries.)

• Great news! Now the U.S.’s talking point is that they want Mubarak to step down immediately!

• Less great news! They want the (unelected) “vice president,” Omar Suleiman, to take over! That’s sort of like having the head of the CIA take over the United States. (Oh. Right. We already did that!) He has been the point person with American intelligence for rendition of terror suspects to secret, torturey prisons.

• “It appears that journalists are being targeted by the Egyptian authorities in a deliberate campaign of intimidation aimed at quashing honest, independent reporting of a transformational event.” That’s the foreign editor of the Washington Post. In a 24-hour period this week, journalists in Egypt reported “30 detentions, 26 assaults, and eight instances of equipment having been seized.” Also the Al Jazeera office was burned today.

• Suddenly, for at least a moment, Al Jazeera is beating the Times on web traffic. (Warning: that is using sampled data, not the most accurate.)

• Speaking of data, here’s how you estimate crowds of demonstrators.