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Posts Tagged ‘Libya

Unrest In The Middle East.

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The Associated Press has a summary of unrest in the Middle East:

“SYRIA

Syria’s vice president calls for a transition to democracy in a country ruled for four decades by an authoritarian family dynasty, crediting mass protests with forcing the regime to consider reforms while also warning against further demonstrations. Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa was speaking at a national dialogue. Key opposition figures driving the four-month-old uprising boycott the meeting, refusing to talk until a deadly crackdown on protesters ends.

EGYPT

Army troops firing in the air clash with stone-throwing protesters in the strategic city of Suez after crowds block a key highway to push for faster reform efforts, including probes of alleged abuses during the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. Suez has been hit by days of unrest over calls for swifter action against Mubarak-era officials. In Cairo, protesters block access to the Egyptian capital’s largest government building and threaten to expand sit-ins to other sites.
…”

Elsewhere the Torygraph reports:

“In scenes that would have been remarkable before four months of protests and violent suppression, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad allowed public criticism to be aired at a televised conference and promised “multi-party democracy” in response.

“The bullets are still being fired in Homs and Hama,” said one participant, the writer Tayyeb Tizini, of two major cities that have seen repeated demonstrations. “Laying the foundations for a civil society requires the dismantling of the police state.

“That’s an absolute prerequisite, because otherwise the police state will sabotage all our efforts.” He also called for the freeing of “thousands” of political prisoners, some who he said had been in prison for years.

But the convention was boycotted by many more leading dissidents and opposition figures with links to the street protests, calling its final purpose into question. “I thought 1,500 people died for more than a dialogue between the regime and itself,” one activist wrote on Twitter. “

The London School of Economics And The “Libya Gift”

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Below is the minutes of a meeting at the London School of Economics which discussed taking money from Gaddafi’s Libya. A copy of this is on the web, I put it here as a matter of public record.

“THE LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE

COUNCIL

20 October 2009

MINUTES

A meeting of the Council was held on Tuesday, 20 October 2009 in BOX, 5th Floor, Tower 3

PRESENT: Sir Anthony Battishill (in the Chair), Ms Vivina Berla, Professor Chris Brown, Ms Angela Camber, Ms Shami Chakrabarti, Ms Bronwyn Curtis, Mr Alan Elias, Mr Aled Dilwyn Fisher, Mr Tim Frost, Professor George Gaskell, Professor Janet Hartley, Ms Kate Jenkins, Professor Paul Kelly, Dr David Lane, Ms Anne Lapping, Professor Robin Mansell, Professor David Marsden, Professor Eileen Munro, Professor George Philip, Mr Brian Smith, Professor Sarah Worthington.

BY INVITATION: Mr Mike Bragg (Staff Consultative Council), Mr Roger Mountford (Nominated Officer, LSE Enterprise).

IN ATTENDANCE: Ms Jenny Bone, Ms Barbara Bush, Mr Adrian Hall, Professor David Held (until Minute No. 21), Ms Fiona Kirk, Ms Jayne Rose, Ms Jean Sykes, Mr Wayne Tatlow.

APOLOGIES: Mr Stephen Barclay, Howard Davies, Mr Richard Goeltz (North American Advisory Board), Mr Mario Francescotti, Ms Sophie de la Hunt, Mr Wol Kolade, Professor Richard Sennett, Mr Peter Sutherland.

IN MEMORIAM

10. Council stood as a mark of respect for Professor Antoine Faure-Grimaud of the Department of Finance who died on 6 July 2009 at the age of 41.

WELCOME

11. The Chairman welcomed Ms Bronwyn Curtis to her first meeting of the Council.

THE CHAIRMAN

12. REPORTED, by the Secretary and Director of Administration: that Mr Peter Sutherland was recovering from a period of ill health. Mr Sutherland had retained a keen interest in the School during his period of recuperation and had been kept abreast of School developments. He hoped to return to the School later in the Michaelmas Term.

13. RESOLVED: that the Secretary and Director of Administration would convey to the Chairman the best wishes of the Council.

MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 21 SEPTEMBER 2009

14. RECEIVED: the minutes of the meeting of Council held on 21 September 2009.

15. RESOLVED: that the minutes be approved as a correct record.

MATTERS ARISING

Donation for the Centre for Global Governance

16. RECEIVED: paper CL/2, “Libya Gift”, comprising introductory remarks from the Director, a letter from Professor Fred Halliday entitled “LSE and the Qaddafi Foundation: A Dissenting Note”, and a collection of media reports on links between the LSE and Libya.

17. REPORTED: that Council had decided on 23 June 2009 to accept a donation of £1.5m over 5 years from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation for the LSE Centre for the Study of Global Governance. Since that time, there had been widespread condemnation of Libya’s handling of the return of Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi and the Director had received a letter from Emeritus Professor Fred Halliday which counselled against acceptance of the donation. Accordingly, the Council had been given the opportunity to consider whether, in the light of events over the summer, LSE’s links with Libya had attracted negative publicity to the School, or might do so in future and, if so, whether that was sufficient to warrant reconsideration of the gift.

18. REPORTED, by Professor David Held (Co-Director, Centre for the Study of Global Governance): that the decision to accept the gift was a matter for the LSE/ Council; that the Foundation was a UN accredited NGO; that the gift was funded by private sector organisations (in construction and engineering); that the gift was unrestricted and had no conditions on use; that a public signing ceremony had been undertaken, and that a u-turn at this juncture might affect the School’s relations with Libya and cause personal embarrassment to the Chairman of the Foundation, Dr Saif al-Islam Gaddafi; that the views espoused by Professor Halliday were not necessarily shared by all in the academic community; that, having trawled traditional media and the blogosphere, no evidence had been found that LSE’s links with Libya had attracted criticism, despite the ‘storm’ created by the Al-Megrahi affair; and that it was important to engage with the Middle East and North Africa.

19. IN DISCUSSION the following points were made:

(a) that there were concerns about the reputational risk of rejecting the gift, having accepted it in the summer;
(b) that with the exception of Professor Halliday, no member of the School community had queried the decision to accept the Libyan donation, although this might reflect the timing of the original discussion near the end of the Summer Term and the publication of the relevant Council minutes in September;
(c) that in future more information should be provided to Council about controversial potential donations, more time allowed for consideration, and Council should benefit from a “devil’s advocate” approach when considering the arguments;
(d) that in future the totality of the School’s relationship with a country should be overseen to enable early identification of potential reputational risk;
(e) that LSE Enterprise had experience of working with the Libyan state, delivering executive education. They had operated with complete independence and their work had been positively received by others, including the School’s supporters in the United States;
(f) that some individual members of the North American Advisory Board had indicated that acceptance of the donation would not affect the extent to which US alumni would financially support the School;
(g) that although Professor Held had joined the Board of Trustees of the Foundation after acceptance by Council of the donation to the Centre for Global Governance in June 2009, concerns remained about the perceived conflict of interest.

20. REPORTED, by Professor David Held:

(a) that due diligence work and research had been undertaken to establish the credentials of the Foundation. The donation had been extensively debated within the Development Committee before it reached the Council for decision;
(b) that the Foundation was created in order to be to be an exemplary NGO within North Africa. Its support for democracy and human rights had at times placed it at odds with the Libyan State, but it had enjoyed some success in areas such as penal reform;
(c) that the Foundation raised funds on a project-by-project basis, with the money coming from private sector companies, rather than the Libyan government;
(d) that, following the Council meeting on 23 June 2009, Professor Held had been invited to join the Board of the Foundation in an individual capacity. Upon the advice of Council, Professor Held would be willing to resign that position;
(e) that the donation from the Foundation represented less than 20% of the operating costs of the Centre for Global Governance, with the remainder coming from a diverse range of other sources.

21. REPORTED, by the LSESU General Secretary: support for discussion of controversial major donations at Council.

Professor Held left the meeting.

22. RESOLVED:

(a) on balance, that the decision of 23 June 2009 to accept the gift would stand;
(b) that in order to avoid the potential for conflicts of interest and reputational risk, colleagues should not usually serve on the boards of organisations from which they or their units were receiving gifts. The Director would be asked to consider the implications of, and as appropriate promulgate, this policy decision. In this context, Council accepted Professor Held’s offer to stand down as a Board member of the Gaddafi Foundation;
(c) that the totality of the School’s relationship with, and work in Libya needed to be carefully monitored and handled to avoid misunderstanding of the School’s position;
(d) that when presenting to Council on controversial potential donations, the arguments should include a “devil’s advocate” element. Council should be given sufficient time to weigh all of the arguments, and to have the opportunity to reflect before reaching a decision;
(e) that the Secretary and Director of Administration would write to Professor Halliday to inform him of the outcome of discussions at Council.

REPORT ON BEHALF OF THE DIRECTOR

23. REPORTED, by the Pro-Director (Planning and Resources):

Student Recruitment
(a) that the School had “over-recruited” by 280 students, but remained within the HEFCE +/- 5% tolerance band. Departments which had over-recruited by more than 5% of their admission target would receive compensation. Consideration would be given as to how over-recruitment of Home/EU undergraduate students can be avoided in future years.

Points-Based Visa System
(b) that the School’s efforts to mitigate the impact of the introduction of the points-based visa system had proved effective, with relatively few students affected and no significant impact on conversion rates.

Pay Negotiations
(c) that the Universities and Colleges Employers Association’s latest offer of 0.5% had been accepted by Unison, but rejected by the UCU, Unite, EIS – ULA and the GMB. It was likely that all parties would enter into arbitration through ACAS.

Public Sector Finance
(d) that a briefing would be arranged for Heads of Academic Departments, Service Leaders, Departmental Managers, APRC and members of Council, to explain the deteriorating public spending environment and how this might affect the School in future years. The School would need to develop contingency plans to ensure that it would be able to continue to support teaching, research, service improvement and estate development, regardless of any decrease in public funding.

24. REPORTED, by the Pro-Director (Research and External Relations):

THE World Rankings
(a) that the LSE had been rated 67th in the THE World University Rankings and 5th in the world as a specialist social sciences institution. The School’s position in the global ranking had been adversely affected by a change in the weightings for international staff and students, resulting in a marked drop in ranking from 2007. The publishers had acknowledged weaknesses in league table methodology and had entered a dialogue with the School about more suitable measures.

Peking Summer School
(b) that the 6th LSE-Peking University Summer School in Beijing had attracted 240 students from 40 countries.

LSE Cities
(c) that Deutsche Bank had provided an endowment of £1million per year for the next five years to fund LSE Cities, an international centre for urban excellence.

Yrjo Jahnsson Award in Economics 2009
(d) that Professor John Van Reenen, Director of the LSE Centre for Economic Performance had been awarded Europe’s most prestigious prize for economic researchers. Professor Van Reenen shared the award with Fabrizio Zilibotti of the University of Zurich, an alumnus of the LSE.

Postgraduate Education
(e) that the Pro-Director (Research and External Relations) had been invited to contribute to the Government review of postgraduate education.

25. REPORTED, by the Chief Information Officer:

IBSS
(a) that arrangements were being made to secure the financial sustainability of the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, following the withdrawal of funding by the ESRC. Any future arrangement would provide for continued access for LSE users, free of charge, in perpetuity.

26. REPORTED, by the Secretary and Director of Administration:

Human Resources Advisory Group
(a) that the Secretary and the Director of Human Resources would bring forward to Council a report about reviving the committee of Council responsible for advising on HR strategy.

27. REPORTED, by the Pro-Director (Teaching and Learning):

Student Loans Company
(b) that relatively few students had been affected by late loan payments and that the School had been proactive in promoting services to assist any students still awaiting loans.

Black to the Future
(c) that the second LSE “Black to the Future” conference had attracted 380 participants. The aim of the event was to inspire young black Londoners to aim for the top in the world of education.

Orientation
(d) that the new student orientation arrangements appeared to have been successful and feedback was being sought from students.

SUPPORTING PALESTINIAN STUDENTS AND YOUNG ACADEMICS

28. REPORTED, by the Pro-Director (Teaching and Learning):

(a) that the School had for some time been considering ways in which it might assist in meeting the needs identified in a Universities UK report of March 2008 for staff development for young academics in Palestinian universities. The report recommended the development of “virtual” links between Palestinian universities and higher education institutions in the UK. In June, with the assistance of the British Council, Mr Steve Ryan of the LSE Centre for Learning Technology travelled to Al Quds Open University to deliver a seminar on the assistance that LSE might provide, such as online seminars on topics such as the use of IT in teaching and research methodology. The capacity-building programme would be rolled out during 2009/10 and a delegation from Al Quds would visit the UK later this year. It was hoped that Al Quds would disseminate the knowledge made available by the LSE to other Palestinian universities, in order to provide broader benefit.

(b) that the School was exploring the possibility of providing more formal staff development for young academics in Palestine (such as fee waivers). A number of discussions had taken place over the summer between the School, the Department of Business, Industry and Skills (BIS), the British Council and a number of other UK universities. The School had committed support in principle for a scheme of this nature, and an announcement was expected from the BIS early in the New Year. It was understood that any initiative would relate to the Palestinian territories broadly defined, including Gaza.

REPORT OF THE COUNCIL AWAYDAY 2009

29. RECEIVED: paper CL/3, report on the Council Awayday held on 21 September 2009.

30. REPORTED, by Professor David Marsden: that concerns had been raised by Academic Governors during the Awayday session on Research Performance and the Research Excellence Framework regarding: bibliometrics; research themes/ academic autonomy; and the danger of inhibiting truly ground-breaking research.

31. IN RESPONSE, the Pro-Director (Research and External Relations) reported that a paper had been circulated to all Heads of Department regarding preparations for the REF and that this would be debated in full at the Academic Board later in the term and would be the basis of further discussion within academic departments.

STRATEGIC PLAN

32. RECEIVED: paper CL/4, draft Strategic Plan Targets 2009-14.

33. REPORTED, by the Secretary and Director of Administration: that the targets were a “work in progress” and currently contained a mixture of quantitative targets and processes.

34. REPORTED, by Mr Mike Bragg (representative of the Staff Consultative Committee): concerns regarding the achievability of some of the targets for the development of IT Services; and concern that valuable data might be lost if the proposed staff survey were to be made more concise.

35. IN RESPONSE: the Secretary and Director of Administration reported that the staff survey, in its original format, was extremely long and that the time required to complete it would deter staff from responding. He would be reviewing the shortened version of the staff survey and would ensure that all key elements were retained.

36. RESOLVED: that Mr Bragg would discuss his concerns regarding the proposed IT Services targets with the Chief Information Officer outside of the meeting.

37. IN DISCUSSION:

(a) it was suggested that the target for uptake of Houghton Street Online should be more ambitious;
(b) the alignment of activities with the Strategic Plan was welcomed;
(c) that it would be useful to specify the rationale for each of the selected targets.

38. RESOLVED:

(a) that the Director of Development and Alumni Relations would review the target relating to Houghton Street Online;
(b) that Council members would email comments on the proposed targets to the Secretary and Director of Administration within a fortnight of the meeting.

REMUNERATION COMMITTEE

39. RECEIVED: paper CL/5, a report on policy issues arising from the meeting of the Remuneration Committee held on 15 July 2009.

40. REPORTED: that the Remuneration Committee had established four sub-groups to consider individual cases and bring forth recommendations, which allowed the main Committee to focus on substantive policy issues and strategic decisions. The main Committee would set the parameters for decision-making by the sub-groups, in order to ensure consistency in application and appropriate controls on expenditure. In the current session, the Committee would be considering the issue of equal pay.

COURT OF GOVERNORS

41. RECEIVED: the unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Court of Governors held on 2 July 2009.

42. REPORTED, by the Secretary and Director of Administration: that at the suggestion of the Council, the Court would be briefed on issues relating to the promotion by Government of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at the expense of the social sciences, arts and humanities. It was hoped that members of the Court would be willing to lobby policy-makers on this key issue.

43. REPORTED, by the General Secretary of the LSE Students’ Union: that the restructuring of the Union had been successfully completed and that financial irregularities in previous years were being addressed by the Sabbatical Officers and the new management. Financial and back office services would be outsourced to Charity Business, a specialist provider, with the objective of improving management accounts and ensuring compliance with the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) for accounting and reporting by charities.

ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE SECRETARY AND DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION AND THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND FACILITIES

44. RECEIVED: papers CL/7 and CL/8, the annual reports of the Secretary and Director of Administration and Director of Finance and Facilities.

45. REPORTED: by the Secretary and Director of Administration: the role of the Triumvirate under the auspices of the Academic Planning and Resources Committee in approving and resourcing Service Development Plans for the support services and ensuring that these meet the needs of the academic community.

46. RESOLVED:

(a) to commend the outstanding achievements of the professional support services staff over the past year and the plans of the services for the coming year;
(b) to request a substantive discussion within Council about these reports on at least a biennial basis, commencing 2010/11.

HEFCE ASSURANCE REVIEW

47. RECEIVED: paper CL/9, a report on the 2009 HEFCE Assurance Visit.

48. RESOLVED: to note the content of the report.

LEGAL COMPLIANCE

49. RECEIVED: paper CL/10, a report on recent legislative and regulatory developments.

50. RESOLVED: to note the content of the report.

NOTICE OF THE COURT MEETING OF 10 DECEMBER 2009

51. RECEIVED: paper CL/11, the notice of the Court meeting of 10 December 2009.

52. RESOLVED: to approve the draft calling notice for the meeting of the Court of Governors to be held on 10 December 2009, subject to any amendments made by the Director.

RELEASE OF PAPERS

53. RESOLVED: that the agenda and papers of the meeting of Council held on 20 October 2009 be released to the intranet and made available to the public upon request, with the exception of the following items:

(a) Minute 5 of the minutes of the meeting of Council held on 21 September 2009 (estate strategy) on grounds of commercial sensitivity;
(b) Paper CL/2, donation to the Centre for Global Governance – publication to be delayed until follow up action has been completed;
(c) Paper CL/6, unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Court of Governors held on 2 July 2009 and CL/11, notice of the Court meeting to be held on 10 December 2009 – both intended for future publication;
(d) Paper CL/8, the annual report of the Director of Finance and Facilities, will be published save for extracts relating to potential property acquisitions (commercially sensitive) and identified or identifiable individuals (data protection).

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Vice Chairman of the Court and Council

54. REPORTED, by the Secretary and Director of Administration: that on 10 December 2009, the Court would be asked by the Chairmanship and Vice-Chairmanship Selection Committee to approve the election of Ms Kate Jenkins as a Vice-Chairman of the Court and Council, succeeding Sir Anthony Battishill.

55. RESOLVED: to concur with the recommendation of the Chairmanship and Vice Chairmanship Selection Committee that Ms Jenkins be elected a Vice Chairman of the Court and Council.

There being no further business, the meeting of the Council concluded at 7.40pm.”

Remember, those present:

PRESENT: Sir Anthony Battishill (in the Chair), Ms Vivina Berla, Professor Chris Brown, Ms Angela Camber, Ms Shami Chakrabarti, Ms Bronwyn Curtis, Mr Alan Elias, Mr Aled Dilwyn Fisher, Mr Tim Frost, Professor George Gaskell, Professor Janet Hartley, Ms Kate Jenkins, Professor Paul Kelly, Dr David Lane, Ms Anne Lapping, Professor Robin Mansell, Professor David Marsden, Professor Eileen Munro, Professor George Philip, Mr Brian Smith, Professor Sarah Worthington.

Ship Sinks, Why No News?

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At the moment, events in Libya are followed with great scrutiny, yet scraps of information are coming in to suggest that a boat carrying 600 people may have sunk on Friday

Perplexingly, it is not too clear if that is the case. The ship left port on Friday and witnesses in another ship say they saw debris etc:

“A boat carrying more than 600 migrants capsized off the coast of Libya Friday and many of the passengers are believed to have drowned, the United Nations said Monday, marking what may be the deadliest chapter yet in an escalating immigration crisis unleashed by the conflict in the North African country.

Migrants arriving in Lampedusa over the weekend told staff of the United Nations’ refugee agency that they witnessed a boat brimming with hundreds of migrants—who were predominantly Congolese, Eritrean, Nigerian, Ivory Coast and Somali nationals—sink near the port of Tripoli, said Laura Boldrini, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. A spokesman for the Libyan government in Tripoli declined to comment on the matter.

Jean-Philippe Chauzy, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, said it was unclear how many people survived the shipwreck, but that some of the people aboard the capsized boat managed to swim ashore. He added that migrants have often drowned in similar incidents, because they don’t know how to swim. One woman who swam ashore told IOM staff that her baby drowned in the shipwreck. Mr. Chauzy said that once ashore, she and other migrants were “herded” by armed men onto another boat that eventually reached the tiny island of Lampedusa. “

It is bewildering. How could you lose a ship full of 600 people between the Libyan coast and Italy, and not know?

How can 600 people be thrown in the sea and it doesn’t get reported (or hardly) in the Western media?

Or is it simply a case of “No WASPs, Europeans or Westerners involved, move along, no story”.

Surely, a record of the ship leaving must have been kept, its Captain, its destination and when it didn’t arrive, why weren’t questions asked promptly?

Update 1: There are a few stories coming out, now, on Twitter, 3 days later:

My Fox Houston has a piece.

NPR too, but overall too little and far too late.

Gaddafi’s Crimes Against Humanity.

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Reuters on Gaddafi and the ICC:

“(Reuters) – International Criminal Court investigators have proof that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces committed crimes against humanity, and the court’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said on Monday he would soon ask for up to five arrest warrants
.
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously in February to refer Gaddafi’s violent crackdown against anti-government demonstrators to The Hague-based ICC and Moreno-Ocampo said his first recommendations for indictments should reach ICC judges within weeks.

“We have strong evidence on the beginning of the conflict, the shooting of civilians,” he told Reuters in an interview, noting that killing unarmed civilians would qualify as a crime against humanity.

“Also, we have strong evidence of the crime of persecution,” he said. This includes “massive arrests and torture of people, and some forced disappearances … (for) talking to journalists or going to demonstrations.”

Without giving precise details of his proof, Moreno-Ocampo said “for these two crimes we have a lot of evidence.” He plans to brief the Security Council on his probe on Wednesday.

Once Moreno-Ocampo makes his recommendations to the ICC’s pretrial chamber, the judges must decide whether there are sufficient grounds to issue arrest warrants.

Moreno-Ocampo said he would initially ask for up to five arrest warrants, but disclosed no names. “

Middle East Roll Up.

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There’s a lot of things going on, and normally I would like to do separate posts, but following Bob’s shining example, here is a slew of Middle East and related issues:

The Syrian President (and presumably many of his entourage) might end up at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, according to the Torygraph, for their murderous behaviour. Chance would be a fine thing. At latest count 350+ killed by the Syrian regime.

Meanwhile, the Gulf Daily News relates that in Saudi Arabia preparations are underway for a Royal visit to Bahrain and then presumably on to the Royal wedding in London, with blood still dripping from their fingers.

In Royal matters, numerous bloodsoaked dictators are coming over to meet the newly weds, share canopies and chat about how best to shoot the plebs, or whatever counts for small talk in royal circles nowadays. The Bahraini Crown Prince said, regrettably he couldn’t come as killing protesters was a more pressing matter at the moment, or something like that.

We shouldn’t forget that the Bahraini rulers are very close to the Royal family, particularly Charles.

They are very chummy with David Cameron too.

Elsewhere, forget Gaddafi’s “ceasefire” his forces are lobbing rockets into Misratah, killing civilians all over the place.

As Syrian Army tanks move in to slaughter the people of Daraa youths show their contempt by throwing rocks at the tanks.

Modern slavery exists, as Burmese workers are enslaved in the Thai fishing fleet.

Fawaz Turki on the intolerant streak continues to afflict Palestinian society.

We should not forget the revolts have spread from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran and to Mauritania.

Reuters has more on events in Nouakchott:

“NOUAKCHOTT, April 25 (Reuters) – Security forces using teargas and batons dispersed several hundred anti-government protesters in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott on Monday, the most serious clash in the West African state for nearly two months.

Inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, critics of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz began street protests in late February in the poverty-stricken desert country, although their number has rarely risen above one thousand.

“Mauritanians are fed up with this regime, and it is time that we said it loud and clear,” Cheikh Ould Jiddou, a leader of the protest, told Reuters.”

Jeff Goldberg is good on the Mysteries of Richard Goldstone.

Oh, just in case anyone asked, the US already has sanctions on Syria,

Gaddafi Using Children As Cannon Fodder.

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Channel 4 reports that Gaddafi is now using children as cannon fodder:

“Sixteen-year-old Murad, banters with his doctors from his oversized wheelchair.

Smooth faced and wide eyed, with a big innocent smile, he talks about football, computers, and blushes at the mention of girls.

Murad is still too young to shave, but until last week he was handling weapons on the deadliest front of Libya’s brutal civil war. Until he was injured, and captured by the opposition, Murad was an unwilling soldier in Colonel Muammer Gaddafi’s conscript army.

Now his arm is in plaster, and the white bed sheet draped over his thin frame covers the bloody, bandaged stump where his leg has been amputated.

Murad is one of an ‘army’ of child soldiers being used by Colonel Muammer Gaddafi in the battle to regain the besieged Libyan town of Misrata. School boys as young as 15 are being conscripted to the front line say government troops captured by the rebels.

Dozens of school boys who have been taken from Tripoli, and forced to fight for Gaddafi say eyewitnesses. “

Break The Siege Of Misrata.

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The open complacency amongst Western leaders when faced with the siege of Misrata should be shocking to us, but it isn’t.

The West and NATO have shown how useless they are at protecting Libyan civilians, how uncoordinated their actions are and why Gaddafi’s murder of Libyans must be stopped.

Some have argued that Gaddafi wouldn’t have murdered thousands had he taken Benghazi, but the actions of his forces at Misrata make that a lie.

Gaddafi has no compunction when it comes to murdering Libyans as he’s already done by the hundreds and thousands, and will kill as many as necessary to stay in power, that is the nature of this dictator and his grubby sons.

In many ways the West learnt very little from the conflict in the Balkans, invariably acting too late and with too little determination.

So if the West is truly serious about saving Libyans then concerted action needs to be taken at Misrata. Without delay.

Written by modernityblog

17/04/2011 at 14:49

Libya, Good To Remember.

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In a few years’ time the conflict in Libya will take on its own myths, why certain things happened and how, etc etc

So now it is good to remember what Gaddafi and his sons were intent on doing should the Libyan people revolt: kill civilians.

The BBC has more:

“In The Hague on Tuesday, Mr Moreno-Ocampo said: “We have evidence that after the Tunisia and Egypt conflicts in January, people in the regime were planning how to control demonstrations inside Libya.

The planning at the beginning was to use tear gas and [if that failed to work]… shooting,” he told Reuters.

Doctors said last week that at least 200 people had been killed there since the uprising began on 17 February – a figure likely to have risen in recent days. “

Gaddafi Leaving?

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There is a suggestion in the papers that Gaddafi might be leaving, which would be a good outcome overall for Libyans.

Where would he go? Maybe Latin America? Italy? Not sure he’ll want to remain in Africa as the Guardian suggests, lest his days are numbered.

The problem isn’t really him, and although we know that dictators cling on to the last vestiges of power to the end, the issue is, his sons.

One of his sons was destined to take over the family business of running Libya, much like the monarchies of old and that is something they won’t want to give up, so whilst it might be possible to pension off Colonel Gadaffi, his sons are a different matter.

Will they fight to the end? I don’t know, I hope not, but avarice and power are terrible masters.

Written by modernityblog

29/03/2011 at 00:58

The Fate of Dictators?

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Over in Egypt events are moving on a pace, with the removal of the symbols of the Mubarak period, the New York Times reports:

““Egyptians have adopted this habit for centuries — since the time of the pharaohs, when the image of pharaoh was everywhere,” said Mr. Sabry, doing a little walk-like-an-Egyptian maneuver with his hands and head. “Corrupt people should not be honored. I do not want to delete 30 years of Egyptian history, but I want to remove that name.”

The name and face have been scraped away piecemeal since Mr. Mubarak was overthrown Feb. 11 after three decades as president. Mr. Sabry’s lawsuit, filed in Cairo Expediency Court on March 1, seeks a court order to mandate “deMubarakization” in one fell swoop.

The idea draws widespread, but not universal, approval. A brief legal hearing on the issue on Thursday ignited a heated skirmish outside the downtown Cairo courthouse between those seeking to preserve the Mubarak name and those wanting it expunged.

Given that the once universal billboards bearing Mr. Mubarak’s portrait have largely come down, the sudden profusion of his picture held aloft by more than 100 supporters seemed alien. “

Over In Syria And More.

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Khaled Abu Toameh has had some thoughts on Syria:

“Just as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Seif ul Islam, was once praised as the new, liberal and democratic hope of Libya, so Bashar was projected eleven years ago as representing a new generation of Arab leaders willing to break away from a dark and dictatorial past.

But the events of the last few days in Syria, which have seen unarmed demonstrators gunned down by government forces, prove conclusively that when push comes to shove, Bashar is actually not all that different from his late father. As some of his critic comment, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.”

His handling of pro-democracy protests that have erupted in several Syrian cities since March 15 is a reminder that Bashar is a dictator who, like Colonel Gaddafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, will not surrender power gracefully.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal several weeks ago, Bashar boasted that the Tunisian and Egyptian models did not apply to his country and that there was no fear for the survival of his regime. He was right in the first part of his analysis: both neither the Egyptian nor Tunisian presidents chose to fight their people to the last drop of their blood.

But the second part of his analysis is faulty: Syria is far from immune from the political tsunami of popular uprisings currently sweeping through the Arab world.

Syrian human rights organizations have expressed deep concern over the Syrian authorities’ ruthless and brutal crackdown. They note how in many instances children under the ages of 15 were arrested by the notorious “mukhabarat” secret service for allegedly painting anti-government graffiti on city walls.

In another incident that took place in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, Bashar unleashed his commandos against peaceful worshippers who were staging a sit-in strike in a mosque; he killed dozens and wounded many others.

Syrians are asking: Will the son go as far as his father in stamping down on all protests? The public has not forgotten the terrible events of 20 years ago in the city of Hama, when government forces using artillery and air power killed an estimated 20,000 civilians. “

Reuters’ live coverage on the Middle East is useful.

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Twitter, The Middle East And Racism in Italy.

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I find Twitter very useful for keeping up with events.

Of course, there is the danger of too much information and keeping track of things is sometimes hard. Still, certain issues deserve scrutiny, so here’s a selection of a few things I came across on Twitter recently.

Racism in Italy, or in any part of Europe is not new but the HRW’s documenting of it makes depressing reading, as if no lessons have been learnt:

“Instances of horrific racist violence in Italy have been widely reported on in the past several years. Some of the more notorious incidents include the October 2008 brutal beating of a Chinese man by a group of youngsters as he waited for a bus in Tor Bella Monaca, a district of Rome that has seen numerous attacks on immigrants. In this case, the attackers shouted racist insults, such as “shitty Chinaman.”[75] Seven teenagers were arrested hours after the incident.[76]

In February 2009, two adults and a 16-year-old attacked an Indian man in Nettuno, near Rome, beating him and then dousing him with gasoline and setting him on fire.[77] All three were convicted without the aggravating circumstance of racial motivation.[78] In May 2009, a Senegalese actor named Mohamed Ba was knifed in the stomach as he waited for the tram in MIlan.[79] Ba’s aggressor has never been identified or apprehended, according to Ba and a close personal friend.[80]

The focus on of immigration issues for political ends in an increasingly diverse society has created an environment for open expression of racist and xenophobic sentiment. “A particular kind of language has been dusted off … making it so that openly racist expressions in everyday conversation don’t provoke any kind of concern,” according to Deputy Jean-Léonard Touadi.[81] Francesca Sorge, a lawyer in a firm that represents victims of discrimination and racist violence, agreed, saying that “phrases like, ‘You foreigners go away,’ are taken as part of the common lexicon of normal urban rudeness.”[82]”

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Libya And Mali.

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Many thanks to entdinglichung for pointing me towards a piece on the Libyan land grab in Mali.

Readers will remember that Mali is an incredibly poor country ranking 160 out of 169 in the UN Human Development Index of 2010. It has an adult life expectancy of about 49 years.

In contrast, even under the dictatorship of Colonel Gadaffi, Libya ranks 53 in the UN index, with a life expectancy of about 74.

That is forgetting about Libya’s oil, but what a stark contrast. An exceedingly poor country and an rich oil developing country. Yet Mali’s resources are being exploited for the benefit of Libya.

The extremely poor helping the comparatively wealthy, what a travesty.

Read more in Libyan land grab of Mali’s rice-producing land:

“Land grabbing of small farmers’ land by large national and foreign companies is becoming an increasingly concerning issue in Mali. After investing in various sectors of the economy in Mali and in Africa, these national or multinational corporations are looking for new avenues of opportunity, namely land. For example, MALIBYA, a Libyan company, has been allocated 100,000 hectares of land in the Office du Niger region, the country’s main rice-growing region and precisely in West Macina, in the Ségou region, the fourth region of Mali. It has been awarded this land by the Malian government as part of its promotion of private investment in rice production.

By ‘putting the cart before the horse’, the population affected by the MALIBYA project can only wait for conclusions to be made regarding their compensation. Such as Antoinette Dembélé, a sixy-year-old who for decades has devoted her life to market gardening. She used to farm the plot of land that her husband left her before he died in order to pay her family’s bills and other social expenses. As part of the development work, she was dispossessed of her plot of land located next to the water supply canal.

‘The Chinese came and destroyed my garden and everything in it: guava trees, orange trees, papaya trees, onions and so on. And up until now I haven’t received any compensation for this. We tried to refer the matter to the local authorities: the council, the Office du Niger… these made it clear that they could not do anything against a governmental decision and that they had no other choice but to leave it. I’ve been forced to stay at home and sell small things like cigarettes and condiments to meet the needs of my family. It is very hard to keep fighting in this way as they have told us that the land belongs to the government and only the trees and plants that we planted or cultivated are ours. If we try to ask the Chinese who are carrying out the work about this, they tell us to go and see the President of the Republic and that they don’t have to account to anyone. There’s nothing left to do but hope that we’ll be compensated.’ “

Update 1: Libya utilized it vast wealth in other parts of Libya, as Ahram Online details:

“This is a non-exhaustive list of its main investments via the Libya Africa Portfolio which is an umbrella for several groups, among them the Libya Arab African Investment Company (LAICO).

CHAD
- Construction of the Banque commerciale et du Chari, and the Banque sahelo-saharienne.
- Construction in N’Djamena of a five-star hotel (Kempinski) and 10 villas for heads of state.
- Construction of a major school, university and sports complex.
- Purchase of SOTEL, Chadian telephone company (Societe tchadienne de telephone).

GABON
- LAICO manages one of Libreville’s two big hotels. OilLibya is involved in oil exploitation.
- Since 2008 it has held a 52 percent holding in the Panafrican radio Africa N°1 which has 20 million listeners in 20 countries.

GUINEA-BISSAU
- A five-star hotel, four cashew nut processing plants, development of farmland.
- A large proportion of the arms and vehicles of the Guinea Bissau armed forces was financed by Libya.

KENYA
- LAP Green, through Tamoil, controls one of the country’s main petrol distributors Mobil Kenya, under the name OilLibya.

MALI
- $185 million to buy land from the Office du Niger, through the Malibya company.
- $125 million to build a government administration complex in Bamako.
- $40 millions in the hotel sector to buy two hotels.
- Two banks. “

Written by modernityblog

23/03/2011 at 16:16

March And A Rough Around Up.

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A backlog of drafts and emails mean it is round up time again:

The JC on Clare Solomon losing.

Saudi rulers try to buy whole population at Reason.

Weggis on the No Fly Zone.

Protests going in Gaza, Hamas not happy, beating people up:

“More than a dozen protesters were seen being taken away in ambulances after a protest this weekend, though medical authorities would not confirm that there were injuries. Websites dedicated to the protests linked to videos and photographs showing plainclothes police officers wielding clubs and sticks against protesters.

Foreign news organizations, including the Reuters news agency, CNN, and the Associated Press complained that Hamas supporters had broken into their offices and seized video of the protests. Hamas denied the charge and said there’d been a “mistake.” “

In Japan, the elderly left to fend for themselves, appalling.

Smiley Culture Update.

Liverpool libel and Gaddafi at the Index on Censorship.

Rebecca Lesses on the UN resolution and Libya.

Tales of Gilad Atzmon still roll on at Bob’s, with a dose of revisionism. If you ever want to read the SWP fawning over Atzmon try here.

Not forgetting the SWP’s defensive statement on Gilad Atzmon.

Flesh on Doing Something.

Jim on all things Green, including EDM 1565: Libya, North Africa and the middle East.

Harry Barnes on Libya in 2011 is not Iraq in 2003

Ten minutes hate in Japan.

Stroppy takes a rest from blogging.

Max Dunbar on ‘Thank a union guy’.

Martin doing The week in links.

Jhate’s Anti-Semitism News.

Paul Stott reminds us of Ray’s Ten Commandments. I liked 5 and 8.

Green’s Engage covering A Palestinian Tahrir.

Israel blamed for Japan nuke disaster, Adam Holland spills the beans on Gilad Atzmon’s racism. Oh yeah, guess who Atzmon blames? Hmm, not too hard to work out eh?

Written by modernityblog

22/03/2011 at 00:01

In Syria.

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Murder in Yemen, the shooting of unarmed protesters in Bahrain and now Syria, BBC News reports:

“At least three protesters have been shot dead in the south Syrian city of Deraa as security forces clamped down on a protest rally.

They were killed by security forces as protesters demanded political freedom and an end to corruption, eyewitnesses and activists told foreign media.

President Bashar al-Assad, whose Baath party has dominated politics for nearly 50 years, tolerates no dissent. “

Written by modernityblog

19/03/2011 at 01:20

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