10:40 a.m. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s antiquities minister, speaks on CNN about the looting of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. “They [the looters] were looking for gold,” Hawass said, but they couldn’t find it because the museum was dark. The looters threw objects on the ground, but nothing was stolen, Hawass said, because young people and the Egyptian army caught the looters when they were leaving the museum. “We opened the museum yesterday,” Hawass said. All 24 museums in Egypt are completely safe, as are the pyramids and the monuments, which were also defended by the young people, he added.
10:30 a.m. Al Jazeera reports on the size of demonstrations currently taking place all over Egypt. Some 250,000 people are protesting in Sinai and there’s more unrest in Suez, Mansoura, and Damanhour. Hundreds of thousands have gathered in Alexandria, where the hospitals are overloaded, Al Jazeera said.
10:26 a.m. The State Department confirms that the U.S. asked former Ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner to travel there and meet with officials. "The U.S. Government asked him to go. As someone with deep experience in the region, he is meeting with Egyptian officials and providing his assessment," the department said in a statement.
10:23 a.m. U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey met with opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei today, CNN reports, citing the Al Arabiya news network.
10:20 a.m. NJ's Megan Scully reports that Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., reiterated his message during a hearing on Iraq that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his son must address Egypt and make clear that neither will be candidates for office. Kerry added that the president must put together a "caretaker governance" to transition Egypt to a new government. "We are witnessing an historic moment in the Middle East," Kerry said.
9:40 a.m. A recent internal test by a federally funded broadcaster shows that the U.S. government has the power to bypass foreign Internet censors by feeding news over a special e-mail system, Aliya Sternstein reports. How that capability might affect events in Egypt, where leaders have cut off Internet services despite appeals by the Obama administration to restore them, remains unclear, Nextgov.com reported.
Meanwhile, Google announced Monday that it has worked with Twitter to post tweets from those cut off from the Internet in Egypt. Those who want to tweet a message can call one of three phone numbers and leave a message that will be published using the hashtag #egypt.
9:15 a.m. Jordan's King Abdullah II has charged his new prime minister, Marouf al-Bakhit, to "undertake quick and tangible steps for real political reforms, which reflect our vision for comprehensive modernization and development in Jordan," according to a statement from the Royal Palace. Economic reform is a “necessity to provide a better life for our people," the statement said, "but we won't be able to attain that without real political reforms, which must increase popular participation in the decision-making."
9:10 a.m. In other pro-democracy news from the Middle East, the Palestinian government in the West Bank says it will hold municipal elections "as soon as possible," the Associated Press reports. The Palestinian Authority has not held elections since 2006.
9:05 a.m. The State Department ordered the departure from Egypt of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel and their families. From their press release:
On February 1, the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. Government personnel and their families from Egypt in light of recent events. The Department of State will continue to facilitate the evacuation of U.S. citizens who require assistance. Cairo airport is open and operating, but flights may be disrupted and transport to the airport may be disrupted due to the protests. U.S. citizens in Egypt who require assistance, or those who are concerned that their U.S. citizen loved one in Egypt may require assistance, should contact the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo at: EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov, or at 1-202-501-4444. Please follow the directions on the Embassy website for all other consular inquiries.