Sunday, March 25, 2012

People flex power in three African Countries.

Follow clayclai on Twitter
In Senegal Sunday night they were dancing in the streets as the election results came in. Very much in line with its 164 year democratic history, the president of twelve years, Abdoulaye Wade was unseated in what by most accounts was a fair and peaceful reelection. Wade who was 85 and running for a third term in spite of a two term limit, and attempting to position his son to succeed him, insisted on clinking to power in the face of widespread opposition.

At least six people were killed in the violence that accompanied mass protests in the earlier election in which Wade faced 12 opponents. For the run off, all of the opposition united around Macky Sall who received 65% of the vote to Wade's 35%. While the new president faces many challenges like high food prices and high unemployment, this was a day for the Senegalese, who took to the streets in protest a month ago, with some being martyred, to celebrate the fact they they have been able to chose new leadership.



In Mali, just next door, the story was quite different, on Monday people were out in the streets demanding that the military coup be ended and power returned to the civilian government. They were scheduled to have elections in a month but since elements of the army seized power last week, the future of the whole country has been put in doubt. The Atlanta Constitution reports:
BAMAKO, Mali — Demonstrators in Mali's capital are demanding a return to constitutional order days after mutinous soldiers claimed power in a coup.

About a thousand people, including members of youth movements and political parties, gathered Monday in central Bamako.

Some of the youth groups threatened to march on state TV and radio headquarters, which are under the junta's control.

Junta spokesman Lt. Amadou Konare on Sunday warned demonstrators to "exercise prudence" on Monday, which marks the 21-year anniversary of the last coup.

In Libya, a struggle is building up around garbage, as trash fills the streets of Tripoli. It seems that garbage has not been picked up in Libya's capital for more than a month now, the situation is becoming intolerable. Naturally, most Libyans blame the revolutionary government which is tasked with reinventing virtually all of civilian society, but the problem is more complicated than just organizing the workers and equipment to pickup the trash.

The people that live in the communities around Tripoli are flexing their revolutionary muscles as well. They feel that they have been unfairly dumped on by the city of Tripoli in the old regime and they are demanding a change. Like many communities in Libya now, they are armed and they have blockaded the dump.

From the Tripoli Post:
The Cleaning Up Tripoli team (The Cleaning Revolution), a concerned group of Tripoli residents, will be holding a demonstration in front of the government building (Prime Minister's office) in Triq al Sika at 11.00am until 2.00pm.

The demonstration will demand that the government takes drastic action to solve the garbage problem that has caused an environmental disaster in Tripoli, and call on the people to be aware of the size of the disaster that's threatening the capital and Libya in general.

Along with organising such demonstration on Saturday, the group is also interested in tackling the growing trash crises in the city. It has set up a team to combat the ever accumulating environmental issues in the city through social media, the traditional media, cleaning campaigns and other mediums to raise awareness for proper trash disposal and conservative energy use.

The group is calling on all activists to review the Facebook event invitation at: http://www.facebook.com/events/145825295540733/
They're on Twitter @CleanUpTripoli. Maybe the revolution hasn't solved yet the trash problem but at least now they can demonstrate about it without being shot at!

They were shooting in southern Libya. An armed clash between rival militias over a disputed car left 20 dead and 40 wounded in what may be the worst of such clashes since the defeat of Qaddafi. Al Jazeera reports:
Clashes between rival militias in southern Libya have killed 20 people, a doctor at a regional hospital said, highlighting the challenge the government faces in imposing its authority months after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

A local doctor, Ibrahim Misbah, said on Monday that 20 fighters died of gunshot wounds and more than 40 people were wounded.

Local council member Ahmed Abdelkadir said clashes first broke out on Sunday between former rebel fighters from Sabha, Libya's fourth largest city, and gunmen from the Tibu tribe after a Sabha man was killed in a dispute over a car.
So far armed clashes of this type have been relatively rare but this is a very serious example of what everyone fears can become a persistent problem with so many armed groups in revolutionary Libya. The article continues:
Last month dozens of people were killed in days of clashes between tribes in the far southeastern province of Al Kufra.
Government security forces eventually intervened to stop the fighting in a rare example of the Tripoli bureaucracy imposing its authority.

Abdul-Jalil said incompetent ministers may be dismissed in the coming months, but he gave no specifics.

A 200-member assembly to be elected in June has the job of appointing new cabinet ministers.

My other recent writings on Africa:
BREAKING: Wade defeated in Senegal & other Africa Updates
Mali Coup is latest post-Qaddafi fallout Fri Mar 23
What the PSL got right & wrong about KONY 2012 Sat Mar 10
African Spring continues in Senegal Mon Feb 27
Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone? Tue Jan 10

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mali Coup is latest post-Qaddafi fallout


A military coup that overthrew the elected government of Mali on Thrusday became the latest repercussion of the Libyan revolution and the fall of Mummar Qaddafi to rock the continent of Africa.

Friday, Mali's coup leaders ordered soldiers to return to barracks and imposed a 6am to 6pm curfew in Barnako, the capital. All the country's borders were also closed according to Lieutenant Amadou Konare, spokesman for the National Committee for the Recovery of Democracy and the Restoration of the State, said yesterday on state television.

According to Bloomberg:

Army officers yesterday said they had toppled President Amadou Toure’s government and suspended the constitution over the state’s handling of a Touareg rebellion in northern Mali. The military formed a transitional council that will organize elections and plans to restore power to a democratically elected leader, Konare said. Mali vies with Tanzania to be Africa’s third-biggest gold producer, after South Africa and Ghana.
...
Soldiers in Mali have complained about their lack of preparation and resources in a campaign to quash a two-month uprising by the Touareg separatists who are seeking autonomous rule in northern Mali. Hundreds of soldiers’ wives last month marched on the presidential palace to protest the danger their husbands are being exposed to in the military campaign.
The coup has been widely condemned in the international community. The African Union has been joined by the UN, the US and a host of other nations in opposing it. On Friday, the AU suspended Mali's membership and former colonial power France said it was suspending cooperation with Mali. As William G Moseley, who lived in Mali for a number of years points out in his Al Jazeera opinion piece Mali's coup must be widely condemned:
While this is a Malian problem that must be resolved by the Malian people, the international community (including the Arab League, African Union and UN) must condemn the recent coup in no uncertain terms. This is not the Arab Spring moving south, but a serious backwards step for democracy in the region. Captain Sanogo and his band of thugs must be made to step aside, ATT (if he is still alive) allowed to serve out his remaining month in office, and democratic elections kept on schedule to occur in late April.

The main support for the coup appears to becoming from junior army officers that have been in the thick of the fighting against Tuareg rebels in northern Mali. The Mali army has suffered both a lost of territory and a heavy lost of life in carrying out the government's campaign against the northern rebellion and they blame the president and his government for ordering the strategy and then failing to adequately support it.

In the latest report at this hour [1:09 PST] , the Tuareg are reporting that they have just take a northern Mali town.


The Tuareg are a desert people that span parts of Mali, Niger, Chad, Libya and Algeria. They are renown as warriors and Mummar Qaddafi built a special relationship with them. In the 1980's he recruited many under the banner of the Islamic Legion and when that failed, he brought some directly into the Libyan army where a few obtained very high rank. He also used many as mercenaries.

They fought for him in his frequent wars on the African continent including in Chad, Niger, Sudan, Mali, Sudan even Lebanon and more recently they fought for him in Libya. Tuareg mercenaries were among those shooting down unarmed protesters in Benghazi in the first days of the February 17th uprising, they looted and raped and murdered in Misrata and they were among his most loyal and steadfast fighters till the end.

They took a real shellacking from NATO planes out there in the desert and now they have been relieved of service, you might say. Since September, thousands have been coming home from the fight in Libya, many of them well armed. Heavy weapons have made the journey too.

Many have joined the Tuareg struggle for self determination already in progress in that region and they have greatly energized it. This has lead to the army setbacks that have in turn now precipitated this coup. As Moseley told it:
Sadly, it was Gaddafi's guns, more than anything else, that rekindled a movement aimed at creating an independent Tuareg state known as Azawad. A pivotal moment occurred on January 24 when Tuareg rebels completely overran a Malian military base at Aguelhok, in which it was widely reported in the Malian media that all of the remaining soldiers were slaughtered after they ran out of ammunition to defend themselves. This led to a huge public outcry and, sadly, reprisals against innocent Tuareg civilians. The army also began to publically grumble that they did not have the funds they needed to fight the war in the north.

More on the Tuareg and Qaddafi

August 31, 2011, the Atlantic published a rare interview with one of Qaddafi's returning Tuareg mercenaries. The writer describes his introduction this way:
I learned about him when a Tuareg elder told me that in recent weeks more than 200 Tuareg fighters had returned from Libya to Timbuktu and the surrounding villages. He said that hundreds more had returned to other towns in eastern Mali. Local leaders were worried, he said, that these men could be the leading edge of a large wave of mercenaries returning from the fighting in Libya and that they could set a match to northern Mali’s own brittle mixture of ethnic rivalries.
....
To prove he had been in Libya he produced a document — with a passport photo attached and a stamp from the Malian consulate in Tamanrasset — identifying him as a refugee from Libya. He said that that he went to Libya in 2007 with his wife and children. They were given short-term residence papers in exchange for his enlistment in the Libyan army. He was assigned to a Tuareg brigade in the southern town of Awbari.
He remembered the beginning of the uprising, before the peaceful protests gave way to armed struggle:
When the protests began in Tripoli, his unit was attached to the infamous 32nd brigade, led by Qaddafi’s son Khamis, and was sent to disperse the unarmed marchers. “That was easy,” he said with startling nonchalance. “We would kill three or four in the front of the crowd and they all ran away. It was very easy.”
He fought throughout the revolution and said many Tuaregs were forced to fight for Qaddafi:
After Tripoli, he and his fellow Tuareg mercenaries fought in several battles east of the capital city along the coast, including at Misrata. As the fighting intensified, Libyan officials began rounding up Tuareg living in Libya, threatening to imprison them and their families if they didn’t join the fight, though many had no military training. Some deserted and joined the rebels, but most stayed with the forces loyal to Qaddafi.
While they were fierce with unarmed civilians, they were no match for NATO air power:
Abdullah’s unit moved on to Brega and then to the outskirts of Benghazi. “We were six kilometers [about four miles] from Benghazi when the first NATO bombs hit us.” First, a missile hit a vehicle carrying an artillery piece near his position and killed eight men. “We never heard it or saw it. The men just blew up.” He and his fellow soldiers were spooked. They were well trained to fight on the ground, he said. “None of us was good at shooting down airplanes."
He also confirmed Qaddafi's intention to do to Benghazi what Assad is currently doing in Homs, Idlib and many other Syria cities:
I asked about Qaddafi’s February speech, in which he pledged to hunt down protesters house by house and what his men were ordered to do if they encountered civilians. He paused before answering, “To be honest, it is true. We believed what Qaddafi told us. We believed we would go there and kill everyone.”

I asked if he had seen any civilians killed. In Misrata, he says, “We tried to find everyone there. One half of the city was cleaned.”

“What do you mean ‘cleaned?’” I asked.

“The people were killed. Women, children, everyone there.”
Now the Tuareg are worried about their future. According to Nina Intallou, representing the Kidal region on the Mali national advisory council and a Tuareg rebel and writing before Qaddafi was killed:
“The south of Libya is Touareg territory. They’re obliged to hold on to what is theirs because if Gaddafi goes, they fear what will happen to them. There’s a risk of total destabilisation in the region. Many people in Libya detest the Touareg. Before Gaddafi came to power they weren’t allowed to go to Benghazi, for example, without a special pass. So if Gaddafi’s enemies are given power, we’re really asking what will become of us. We may even face the complete disappearance of the Touareg as a people.”

Andy Morgan wrote about the Tuareg last March, in the early days of the Libyan revolution:
Gaddafi has been buying the affections and fighting skills of the nomadic tribes of the Sahara for a long time. His vision of a borderless desert, an Islamic republic of the Sahara, has often found favour with the Touareg, who have been fighting their own struggle for political self-determination and cultural recognition against the governments of Mali and Niger since independence back in 1960. Gaddafi invited young Touareg immigrants in Libya to join his Islamic Legion in the early 1980s before sending them off to fight wars in Chad, the Sudan and the Lebanon. The same Touareg soldiers then unleashed their own rebellions against Mali and Niger in the 1990s. Despite widespread suspicion that Gaddafi only ever helped the Touareg to further his own territorial schemes, many Touareg fear the consequences of his fall from power.

And he wrote prophetically a year ago:
Other Touareg leaders cite the severe political and social strain that could result from the fall of the Gaddafi regime and the consequent return of thousands of exiled Touareg from Libya to their homelands in Mali and Niger. Many of these returnees will probably be impoverished, disaffected and, what’s worse, heavily armed. Such an influx would pose a severe challenge to the already tenuous peace that exists between the Touareg and the central government of Mali in Bamako.
Qaddafi has long played on both sides of the street in Mali and he has done so to foment instability, a pattern he repeated throughout Africa:
Ironically, Gaddafi has also been investing heavily in agriculture, water infrastructure, hotels and other sectors in southern Mali, where the Touareg are seen as the enemy. Amadou Toumani Touré, the current President of Mali, was the first of many African leaders to call Gaddafi and express his support after the rebellion broke out in Libya.
At the same time:
The Libyan leader has often given financial support to ... Ibrahim Ag Bahanga, the hard line Touareg rebel leader who has refused to make peace with the Malian government, blaming Mali’s intransigence and broken promises for his uncompromising stance.
Not all Tuareg supported Qaddafi and his struggle against the revolution, according to Sheika last March:
"About 200 Touareg have been killed here because they refused to obey orders to shoot innocent protestors. And now the Touareg youth have joined the revolution against the regime…”
Morgan sums up Qaddafi' relationship with the Tuareg this way:
On the international stage, Gaddafi has often proclaimed his great affinity to the Touareg as a people. He is said to have inherited some Touareg blood from his mother, and he sees the Touareg as natural allies in his overriding ambition to create a Sahara without borders, unified by Arab culture and Islam. However, Gaddafi’s international pronouncements are in stark contrast with the way in which he has treated the Touareg and their culture in his own country. In a speech he gave in 1985, he famously claimed that mothers who taught their children Tamazight, the language of the Touareg, were injecting them with poison.

Akli Sheika, a Libyan Touareg living in exile in Britain, was imprisoned for teaching Tifinarh, the ancient Touareg alphabet, in Libyan schools. “I consider Gaddafi to be the enemy number one of the Touareg people,” he told me. “Most of the Touareg in Libya want Gaddafi to leave. Gaddafi is recruiting the Touareg by force and threatening them with violence if they don’t fight with the protestors. Many Touareg from Ghat and Ubari in the south have actually fled to Djanet in Algeria.”
The fall of Qaddafi is both good news and bad news for the people sub-Sahran Africa. They are getting the bad news first in the form of a flood of returning mercenaries and migrant workers. They are also feeling the effects of a multitude of weapons that were formerly locked up in Qaddafi's armory. This has lead to this unfortunate coup in Mali.

The good news is that they will no longer have Mummar Qaddafi first aggravating and then militarizing every conflict on the continent. Although his cachet of weapons may now be flooding Africa, they will dry up and he will no longer be a constant stream of arms, sometimes even to both sides of a conflict

With Qaddafi gone, the wick has stopped for a variety of guerrilla groups and "liberation" movements in Africa. In the short term they may feel the need to breakout with fresh offensives before the Qaddafi supplied reserves have dried up, especially if they are flush with new fighters and weapons just in from Libya. This appears to be the case in northern Nigeria and northern Mali.

But in the longer term, the removal of Qaddafi's meddling in the internal affairs, his spending of billions in Libyan petro dollars on money and arms to advance his vision, as expressed in his Green Book that:
Contemporary national liberation movements are themselves social movements; they will not come to an end before every group is liberated from the domination of another group.
And an end to his continual attempts to split African countries up in a scheme to re-unite them under his rule, is bound to lead to greater progress and liberation in Africa.

For related writing by me see also:
What the PSL got right & wrong about KONY 2012
African Spring continues in Senegal
Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone?
BREAKING: Libyan's NTC pledges not to discriminate against black Africans
Racism in Libya
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:04 PM PT: The self-declared leader of the military coup Army Captain Amadou Sanogo appeal for calm and denied reports that his soldiers were looting petrol stations and state buildings. The whereabouts of President Amadou Toumani Toure are still unknown but he is rumored to be hiding on a Red Beret Army base and under the protection of loyal troops. Rumors of an imminent counter-coup are also being heard.

A joint mission of the AU and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS arrived in Bamako on Friday for negotiations with the rebels, Paul Lolo, the chairman of the Peace and Security Council, told Al Jazeera on Saturday.
"[The mission] is in negotiations with the rebels and it is our hope that they will listen to reason and return Mali to constitutional order without delay," he said.
"This [coup] has been an insurgency, a seizure of power by force. There was a legitimate government in Mali. That government is still legitimate in our view because that is the government we know according to our instruments."
Meanwhile the Tuareg are using of this disorder to make military gains in the north. They have launched a new offensive and could soon be marching on Timbuktu if not opposed.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Best Tweets


I really didn't pay much attention to Twitter until the Arab Spring broke out and forced me to take it seriously. Now I find it the most vital of all the social media services.

I signed up for Facebook MySpace and Twitter all on the same day at some time in the distance past because I had decided it was time to do the social media thing. I spent a lot of time customizing my MySpace page because it could do html and so could I, then I let it fall by the wayside.

Facebook became my social media center. In addition to my own wall, I built a Vietnam: American Holocaust movie page and eventually made over two thousand "friends."

For years, about the only thing I did with Twitter was to use the button that appeared above my posts here at the Daily Kos to tweet out each new diary to my 30 or so followers but in the course of following the quickly unfolding events in North Africa last year I found Twitter to be the most important source of information and the most vital form of communication.

I also found it to be a challenging format to write for. Just 140 characters, 20 less if you include a link and the challenge is to say something with meaning and elegance in that small space. I compose a tweet as though I am writing a 21th century haiku, and on this rainy Saturday in Venice Beach, I thought I'd share what I consider some of my best tweets from the last year with my readers here who are use to me going on ad nauseam about a subject. This is one I just send this morning:
#Assad's soldiers murder women & children in #Syria because for them its a case of kill or be killed <- data-blogger-escaped-behind.="" data-blogger-escaped-blockquote="" data-blogger-escaped-from="">Find more beneath the fold.


1st they burnt the books, then they burnt the bodies. The US in #Afghanistan or ??
#Idlib, #Syria is what #Benghazi, #Libya would have been if the anti-interventionists could have ruled the day
According to #UN, #NATO killed 60 civilians in #Libya during the war, now #Assad kills that many in #Syria everyday. #BloodOnTheirHands
Yes, #KCAL News, 16 is "more than a dozen" but why the discount? Is it because the killer is a US soldier & the victims #Afghanistan?
if Kofi Annan saw a bear attacking a child he would say "You two stop fighting!" #Syria #BloodOnTheirHands
Are #Assad's soldiers killing with knives because he is afraid to give them ammunition? #Syria #BooldOnHisHands
Syrious BS: RT shows pix of passports of alleged foreign fighters in #Syria. Why no pictures? Why not open the passports and show who?
#Russia, If a bear attacks a kid, naturally the kid will fight back, but would you describe it as a fight between a bear and a kid? #Syria
#Assad will allow the Red Cross to enter #BabaAmr as soon as there are no civilians left there to help #BloodOnHisHands #Syria
When woman yells "No War on #Iran" #Obama responds "You're jumping the gun a little bit." Now what does that mean???
#SoCalledSocialists: You don't present the working class if you will suffer in silence any part of it murdered by its ruling class. #Syria
In #Santorum World: Church schools need no Earthquake retrofit if clergy says Lord is their Earthquake protection. #thisweek
"Pres has 12,000 US troops in Malta about to make their descent into #Libya." It's been over a month #CynthiaMcKinney What's up with that?
Whenever u find ppl fighting 4 freedom you'll find CIA&MI6 just like feas on lions but it's ridulous 2 credit the fleas 4 feats of the lion.
#Russian tanks, #Russian guns & #Russian shells, some most likely recently delivered are doing #Assad 's killing in #Homs #Syria
Artilley bombing of #Homs reportly resumes as #Assad applies #Russia tactics: Why send a solider where a shell could go? #BloodOnTheirHands
I feel a grt disturbance in the Force as if 1000s of voices cried out & were suddenly silenced. Something terrible is happening #Homs #Syria
#China doesn't want to see a repeat of #Libya in #Syria (were regime tanks were prevented from entering the city & killing house to house.)
#NATO lacks appetite for intervention in #Syria because they didn't get what they wanted from intervention in #Libya #Feb17
What the anti-interventionists wanted for Benghazi, #Libya, we are now seeing in Homs, #Syria #BloodOnTheirHands #BloodySunday
#Syria 150 ppl/day murdered by own govt while world sits on its hands. Shameful! Absolutely Shameful!
Anti-interventionists, remember when MLK Jr. et al cheered martial law in Montegomery? But you were opposed, weren't you?
#BlackBloc as a tactic is like a lap. Stand up, your lap disappears the way any "tactic" applied w/o regard to reality ceases to be a tactic
#Windows is an OS created by a corporation for profit. #Linux is an OS created by a community for service.
Shouldn't they be kettling the Tea Party and not the #Occupy movement?
The courage of the Syrian people is incredible. The silent support for #Assad from the US left is disgusting. #Syria
"What happened in #Tunisia most likely will stay in Tunisia" James Zogby 22/01/11 Oops!
Many species were lost forever because God ordered Noah to load only 2 of each aboard the ark and not all of God's creatures are fertile :-)
Supicious bombs explode in Damascus prove Assad's point as Arab League arrive in Syria. Like 911, AQ is blamed minutes later. Cui Bono
#VictoriaSecrets say child labor cotton is only used in a "small portion" of its clothing but VS only makes clothing in small portions
17/12/10 -17/9/11 #OWS was born precisely 9 months after Mohamed Bouazizi felt the fire while planting the seed. He is the father of #Occupy
We tried to do a GA in jail, but when we said we were going to breakout groups, they put us on lockdown. [joke] #OccupyLA #OccupyWallSt
When Lenin said "nobody can discredit the communists if they don't discredit themselves" was he talking about Stalin or Trotsky or both?
Marketing #OWS, Any day now I expect the 99cent only store to change its name to #99% only store, And start raising its prices #OccupyLA
Have solution to contenious General Assembly problem. Talked with Keeping it Real Party about setting up the Hard Block Cafe @ #OccupyLA
Some "leftists" use historic Libyan racism as a weapon against the revolution, I see the revolution as a weapon against racism #Libya #Feb17
#ANSWER says "oppose the demonization campaigns underway against #Syria" Does that mean they favor the shelling of civilians?
Jeff Goldblum to #FF "Be sure to scrape that 'War Is Not The Answer' sticker off the bumper before mounting the rockets in the bed"
ANSWER, CCDS and other anti-interventionists: Here is a complete list of anti-NATO protests in Arab or Muslim countries - "" #Feb17 #Libyan
Russia is now recognizing "armed gangs" as the legit representatives of the Libyan people. The times they are a'changing #Feb17 #Libya
#NATO u did a good thing. Don't blow it by sticking around and making mischief. Thank You. Good Bye. #feb17 #Libya
Now that there are no more dragons to slay, there is really nothing for NATO to do but fly off into the sunset.
I'm so sick of hearing about #Libya "stalemate." Have u noticed that this "stalemate" keeps inching closer to Tripoli all the time! #Feb17
They're a lot of chess metaphors in #Feb17 but 'stalemate' ain't one of them. Qaddafi thinks he's the king & treats ppl like pawns #Feb17
stalemate? #Gharyan check! #Tawargha check #Zawiya check! #Garyan check! stalemate? I don't see any stalemate #Libya #Feb17
#FF the word on the tweet is that #Qaddafi has a surprise waiting for you in #Tripoli tomorrow. Be aware #Feb17 #Libya
#Libya loses Younes, #Tahrir loses unity. Revolution is a messy business but reports of the death of the Arab Spring are premature
#Libya - Where some see naked imperialist aggression, I see a slick imperialist response to revolutionary upsurge #feb17
Does NATO want to force key members of old regime on the revolution? Is that what they mean by "negotiated settlement?" #Libya #feb17
#France's Catch 22: Civilians have a right to self-defence but once they are armed they cease to be civilians. #Libya #Feb17 #Nafusa
Is NATO using Qaddafi to discipline the freedom fighters because they will not be co-opted? Just a question #Libya #Feb17
#Japan fishrman, We've good news & bad news. Good news is ur boat survived the tsunami. Bad news is u can't use it cause we nuked the fish
They said my radiation exposure was less than a chest xray. I said "how so?" They said a chest xray cost $$$, the rads cost me nothing!
The keyboard is mightier than the Kalashnikov - update to an old truth #Libya #Egypt #Tunisia #feb17 #jan25 #Anonymous
US UK & EU are hoping Gaddfi will restore the status quo and the oil flow. That's why they take no action. Count on it! #Libya #feb17
Why did that Libyan pilot eject? Is Gaddfi making sure they don't have fuel for Malta now? #Libya #feb17
What is Obama waiting for? He's waiting for Gaddfi to succeed. If the flowing blood keeps the oil flowing, he's for it. #Libya #Feb17
"If it takes a bloodbath to silence the demonstrators, let's get it over with." Who said this? hint M. Gaddfi likes Reagan #Libya #Feb17
If all the UN is going to go is 'fact finding' They should wait till Gaddfi is done killing and avoid the need for a recount. #Libya #feb17
The longer they rule, the faster they fall. #Tunisia Ben Ali 23 yrs & 28 days, #Egypt Mubarak 30 yrs & 18 days, #Libya Gaddfi 42yrs & ? days

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What the PSL got right & wrong about KONY 2012

Follow clayclai on Twitter
I really didn't pay much attention to Twitter until the Arab Spring broke out and forced me to take it seriously. Now I find it the most vital of all the social media services.

I signed up for Facebook MySpace and Twitter all on the same day at some time in the distance past because I had decided it was time to do the social media thing. I spent a lot of time customizing my MySpace page because it could do html and so could I, then I let it fall by the wayside.

Facebook became my social media center. In addition to my own wall, I built a Vietnam: American Holocaust movie page and eventually made over two thousand "friends."

For years, about the only thing I did with Twitter was to use the button that appeared above my posts here at the Daily Kos to tweet out each new diary to my 30 or so followers but in the course of following the quickly unfolding events in North Africa last year I found Twitter to be the most important source of information and the most vital form of communication.

I also found it to be a challenging format to write for. Just 140 characters, 20 less if you include a link and the challenge is to say something with meaning and elegance in that small space. I compose a tweet as though I am writing a 21th century haiku, and on this rainy Saturday in Venice Beach, I thought I'd share what I consider some of my best tweets from the last year with my readers here who are use to me going on ad nauseam about a subject. This is one I just send this morning:
#Assad's soldiers murder women & children in #Syria because for them its a case of kill or be killed <- from behind.

Find more beneath the fold.

1st they burnt the books, then they burnt the bodies. The US in #Afghanistan or ??
#Idlib, #Syria is what #Benghazi, #Libya would have been if the anti-interventionists could have ruled the day
According to #UN, #NATO killed 60 civilians in #Libya during the war, now #Assad kills that many in #Syria everyday. #BloodOnTheirHands
Yes, #KCAL News, 16 is "more than a dozen" but why the discount? Is it because the killer is a US soldier & the victims #Afghanistan?
if Kofi Annan saw a bear attacking a child he would say "You two stop fighting!" #Syria #BloodOnTheirHands
Are #Assad's soldiers killing with knives because he is afraid to give them ammunition? #Syria #BooldOnHisHands
Syrious BS: RT shows pix of passports of alleged foreign fighters in #Syria. Why no pictures? Why not open the passports and show who?
#Russia, If a bear attacks a kid, naturally the kid will fight back, but would you describe it as a fight between a bear and a kid? #Syria
#Assad will allow the Red Cross to enter #BabaAmr as soon as there are no civilians left there to help #BloodOnHisHands #Syria
When woman yells "No War on #Iran" #Obama responds "You're jumping the gun a little bit." Now what does that mean???
#SoCalledSocialists: You don't present the working class if you will suffer in silence any part of it murdered by its ruling class. #Syria
In #Santorum World: Church schools need no Earthquake retrofit if clergy says Lord is their Earthquake protection. #thisweek
"Pres has 12,000 US troops in Malta about to make their descent into #Libya." It's been over a month #CynthiaMcKinney What's up with that?
Whenever u find ppl fighting 4 freedom you'll find CIA&MI6 just like feas on lions but it's ridulous 2 credit the fleas 4 feats of the lion.
#Russian tanks, #Russian guns & #Russian shells, some most likely recently delivered are doing #Assad 's killing in #Homs #Syria
Artilley bombing of #Homs reportly resumes as #Assad applies #Russia tactics: Why send a solider where a shell could go? #BloodOnTheirHands
I feel a grt disturbance in the Force as if 1000s of voices cried out & were suddenly silenced. Something terrible is happening #Homs #Syria
#China doesn't want to see a repeat of #Libya in #Syria (were regime tanks were prevented from entering the city & killing house to house.)
#NATO lacks appetite for intervention in #Syria because they didn't get what they wanted from intervention in #Libya #Feb17
What the anti-interventionists wanted for Benghazi, #Libya, we are now seeing in Homs, #Syria #BloodOnTheirHands #BloodySunday
#Syria 150 ppl/day murdered by own govt while world sits on its hands. Shameful! Absolutely Shameful!
Anti-interventionists, remember when MLK Jr. et al cheered martial law in Montegomery? But you were opposed, weren't you?
#BlackBloc as a tactic is like a lap. Stand up, your lap disappears the way any "tactic" applied w/o regard to reality ceases to be a tactic
#Windows is an OS created by a corporation for profit. #Linux is an OS created by a community for service.
Shouldn't they be kettling the Tea Party and not the #Occupy movement?
The courage of the Syrian people is incredible. The silent support for #Assad from the US left is disgusting. #Syria
"What happened in #Tunisia most likely will stay in Tunisia" James Zogby 22/01/11 Oops!
Many species were lost forever because God ordered Noah to load only 2 of each aboard the ark and not all of God's creatures are fertile :-)
Supicious bombs explode in Damascus prove Assad's point as Arab League arrive in Syria. Like 911, AQ is blamed minutes later. Cui Bono
#VictoriaSecrets say child labor cotton is only used in a "small portion" of its clothing but VS only makes clothing in small portions
17/12/10 -17/9/11 #OWS was born precisely 9 months after Mohamed Bouazizi felt the fire while planting the seed. He is the father of #Occupy
We tried to do a GA in jail, but when we said we were going to breakout groups, they put us on lockdown. [joke] #OccupyLA #OccupyWallSt
When Lenin said "nobody can discredit the communists if they don't discredit themselves" was he talking about Stalin or Trotsky or both?
Marketing #OWS, Any day now I expect the 99cent only store to change its name to #99% only store, And start raising its prices #OccupyLA
Have solution to contenious General Assembly problem. Talked with Keeping it Real Party about setting up the Hard Block Cafe @ #OccupyLA
Some "leftists" use historic Libyan racism as a weapon against the revolution, I see the revolution as a weapon against racism #Libya #Feb17
#ANSWER says "oppose the demonization campaigns underway against #Syria" Does that mean they favor the shelling of civilians?
Jeff Goldblum to #FF "Be sure to scrape that 'War Is Not The Answer' sticker off the bumper before mounting the rockets in the bed"
ANSWER, CCDS and other anti-interventionists: Here is a complete list of anti-NATO protests in Arab or Muslim countries - "" #Feb17 #Libyan
Russia is now recognizing "armed gangs" as the legit representatives of the Libyan people. The times they are a'changing #Feb17 #Libya
#NATO u did a good thing. Don't blow it by sticking around and making mischief. Thank You. Good Bye. #feb17 #Libya
Now that there are no more dragons to slay, there is really nothing for NATO to do but fly off into the sunset.
I'm so sick of hearing about #Libya "stalemate." Have u noticed that this "stalemate" keeps inching closer to Tripoli all the time! #Feb17
They're a lot of chess metaphors in #Feb17 but 'stalemate' ain't one of them. Qaddafi thinks he's the king & treats ppl like pawns #Feb17
stalemate? #Gharyan check! #Tawargha check #Zawiya check! #Garyan check! stalemate? I don't see any stalemate #Libya #Feb17
#FF the word on the tweet is that #Qaddafi has a surprise waiting for you in #Tripoli tomorrow. Be aware #Feb17 #Libya
#Libya loses Younes, #Tahrir loses unity. Revolution is a messy business but reports of the death of the Arab Spring are premature
#Libya - Where some see naked imperialist aggression, I see a slick imperialist response to revolutionary upsurge #feb17
Does NATO want to force key members of old regime on the revolution? Is that what they mean by "negotiated settlement?" #Libya #feb17
#France's Catch 22: Civilians have a right to self-defence but once they are armed they cease to be civilians. #Libya #Feb17 #Nafusa
Is NATO using Qaddafi to discipline the freedom fighters because they will not be co-opted? Just a question #Libya #Feb17
#Japan fishrman, We've good news & bad news. Good news is ur boat survived the tsunami. Bad news is u can't use it cause we nuked the fish
They said my radiation exposure was less than a chest xray. I said "how so?" They said a chest xray cost $$$, the rads cost me nothing!
The keyboard is mightier than the Kalashnikov - update to an old truth #Libya #Egypt #Tunisia #feb17 #jan25 #Anonymous
US UK & EU are hoping Gaddfi will restore the status quo and the oil flow. That's why they take no action. Count on it! #Libya #feb17
Why did that Libyan pilot eject? Is Gaddfi making sure they don't have fuel for Malta now? #Libya #feb17
What is Obama waiting for? He's waiting for Gaddfi to succeed. If the flowing blood keeps the oil flowing, he's for it. #Libya #Feb17
"If it takes a bloodbath to silence the demonstrators, let's get it over with." Who said this? hint M. Gaddfi likes Reagan #Libya #Feb17
If all the UN is going to go is 'fact finding' They should wait till Gaddfi is done killing and avoid the need for a recount. #Libya #feb17
The longer they rule, the faster they fall. #Tunisia Ben Ali 23 yrs & 28 days, #Egypt Mubarak 30 yrs & 18 days, #Libya Gaddfi 42yrs & ? days

Friday, March 9, 2012

What are these RMT Alerts?

Earlier this month my Motorola Droid X smartphone started acting badly. Sometimes it would simply refuse to do what I asked of it, other times it would shut down or start appls for no apparent reason. Recently I watch an important call ring and ring until it went to voice mail as I was watching it because it refused to answer.

At the same time, I started receiving these strange RMT Alerts almost every day and sometimes every 3 of 4 hours. The RMT Alerts carried a very troubling message:
RMT alert
NETWORK TEST Wireless Emergency Alerting System
Message information:

Alert type: RMT alert
Severity: Severe (Significant threat to life or property)
Urgency: Expected (Responsive action should be taken soon - within the next hour)
Alert response type: Reserved
Alert category: Other (Other events)
Certainty: Likely (Likely, Probability >-50%)
Expiration: 2012-03-06, 03:09 pm
Being told by your phone every day or more that you should take action in the next hour because of a significant threat to life or property, without being given a clue as what action to take, can be a little unnerving and I am far from the only one that has had these troubling alerts. Thanks to smokahontas, we have screenshots of what this looks like:


Well, I did some Googling around and discovered that RMT stands for "Required Monthly Tests" and that this program is part of the national Emergency Alert System that has been beefed up greatly since 9/11.

The system for cell phones and mobile devices, Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), also known as the Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), was funded by congress in 2006, was tested in NYC and DC on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon late in 2011 and went nationwide in 2012. Hence, my recent problems.

The system does not use the normal cell phone or text message communications facilities. It requires a special chip, which is currently only in a few advanced smart phones such as the Droid X and iPhone but is mandatory for all phones by 2014. The program is being run at the state level but is under the control the DHS department of the FCC, which causes me to question which agency is in charge here.

According to engadget.com:
The secure messaging network will likely display messages as notifications, rather than texts, and will push to all compatible devices within an affected area based on the phone's physical location, not just its mobile number. Local, state and federal officials will send notifications in response to disasters and other public safety threats, presidential announcements, and Amber Alerts.
The press release issued by Mayor Bloomberg emphasized:
No Opt-In Necessary, Any Enabled Mobile Device Located in the Affected Area at Time of Emergency Will Receive a Message

Free Messages Will Be Sent from Local Cellular Towers to Avoid User Traffic and Will Appear As Text Messages on Enabled Devices
What it didn't say is that no "Opt-Out" is possible.

But I wasn't receiving these alerts once a month, but several times a day, and after I discovered that it involved a mandatory chip in my brain, oops, I mean my phone, I began to suspect that the frequent alerts were somehow related to the other problems I was having with my phone. Thus began a two hour talk with Verizon tech support.

Part of the reason the call took so long was that I had to go through two levels of tech support before I was talking to someone at Verizon that had even heard of RMT Alerts. When I did finally reach someone who had heard of it, that's about all he could tell me, yes, he'd heard of it, but he couldn't tell me anything about it and claimed that Verizon really had nothing to do with it. I ended up educating three Verizon tech support people as to what I had found out about this system.

The other reason the call took so long was that the tech's solution to my problems was to completely reset my phone, which cleared all my setting, apps, contacts (which I saved), pictures, videos and all. It also meant that I had to read and agree to the Motorola license again. We are forever being confronted with software and other license agreements that we have to agree to and are far too long to read as a practical matter. This is pet peeve of mine, so on this occasion, I took the time to actually read it, with the Verizon tech listening. This took an hour even with me reading as fast as I could!

The next day, I received a surprising follow up call from Verizon tech support. (surprising because if you ask them to call you back, they say they can't.) Patty, the Verizon rep, wanted to see if the phone was fix and if the frequent RMT Alerts had ceased. They both had, which furthers my belief that they were connected.

She again insisted that these alerts had nothing to do with Verizon and they could do nothing about them, nor could she tell me who in the government I could talk to about them. She suggested that I call a local news channel, because maybe they would know something. I kid you not, the Verizon rep suggested that I call the news about a problem I was having with my Verizon phone! Go figure.

While I can see the need for a national emergency alert system, the whole way this program is being rolled out, the lack of information and that lack of accountability gives me a very bad feeling about it.

I already know that I carry a surveillance device in my pocket and I'm not happy about that. As doppler pointed out to someone who said they would just turn their phone off to avoid this:
BTW, unless you remove the battery Big Brother knows where you are. They can even turn the phone on for you. Or just listen in and not change a thing.

In a comment on DSLReports.com Blackbird summed it up this way:
"There is nothing wrong with your cell phone. Do not attempt to adjust the images. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. From now on, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your cell phone. You are about to participate in a great expansion of governmental power. You are about to experience the full effects of Big Brother's control and manipulation which reaches from inside the Beltway to... Your Inner Mind." (With my humblest apologies to Leslie Stevens...)
My Droid X is barely a year old but I've got the feeling that it was made in 1984.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Anonymous Lulzsec "Sabu" was an #FBI agent

From statement by AnonOps Communications on Sabu's treachery:
99% don´t worry. There is Anonymous for a long time.
Anonymous is an idea, not a group. There is no leader, there is no head. It will survive, before, during, and after this time.
This is a follow up to Radical Def's diary yesterday Sabu Busted, Turned...Anonymous Stunned.

The statement from AnonOps also said:
Last week Anonymous were arrested in Argentina, Chile, Columbia and Spain by the Interpol. Yesterday we released that Sabu was an FBI agent and betrayed several partners. One in Chicago, two in Britain and two in Ireland.

After what happened, this communication team met to talk. We decided we will continue reporting news about the Anonymous´s activities.

Anonymous will continue fighting for freedom in the world, but we also understand that people around the world should stand up and claimed by what is right.

We think that it is also important to start removing the old power structures that oppress people. The FBI does work for politicians after all, who are kept in office by the campaign donations of Corporations. No longer represent the people. It is time for a change.

Suggestion to the FBI: Maybe you should spend a little less time pursuing Anonymous and put more effort into bringing to justice the white-collar criminals who crashed the economy in 2008 and 2011. Maybe in this way people begin to believe in you. Stop working for the 1%.

Sabu was "flipped" by the FBI last summer and according to DJ Pangburn it didn't take long before some Anons became suspicious:
There has been a widespread belief that Sabu was a rat for quite some time within the hacking community—an August 2011 chat between Sabu and Virus, for instance. Virus quite prophetically wrote in that infamous chat: “I’m absolutely positive, you already got raided, and are setting your friends up and when they’re done draining you for information and arrests they’ll sentence you and it’ll make nose.”

From Inside the hacking of Stratfor: the FBI's case against Antisec member Anarchaos Sean Gallagher fills in some details about the FBI operation:
On December 6, 2011, a hacker using the handle "sup_g" private-messaged Hector Xavier Monsegur, otherwise known as "Sabu," on Anonymous's IRC server to tell him of a server he had gained access to. But "sup_g"—alleged by the government to be Jeremy Hammond—didn't know that the whole conversation was being logged by the FBI, and that Monsegur had turned confidential informant. "Yo, you round? working on this new target."

The target was the server of Stratfor, the Austin-based global intelligence company that would soon become synonymous with the hacker phrase, "pwned." Over the course of the Anonymous cell Antisec's hacking and exploiting of the company's IT infrastructure, the group of hackers would expose credit card and other personal information of over 60,000 Stratfor customers and a vast archive of e-mail correspondence between the company's employees and customers in the private and government sectors. And it all started with a control panel hack.

According to the FBI, Hammond, also more widely known by the handle "Anarchaos," sent Monsegur a link on a TOR network hidden server to a screenshot of Stratfor's administrative panel for its website. Antisec has used panel hacks to exploit a number of other sites, including the Federal Trade Commission's sites hosted on Media Temple.

Using SQL injection exploits against interfaces to the Web administration application, hackers have been able to gain low-level control over sites and do with them what they will. But in the process of exploiting the control panel, Hammond found there was potential for more than just a simple Web defacement in the Stratfor site. "This site is a paid membership where they gain access to articles," he messaged Monsegur . "It stores billing as well - cards. It's encrypted though. I think I can reverse it though but the encryption keys are store[d] on their server (which we can use mysql to read)."

Hammond said that once he found the keys, he could write a script to export the data "en mass[e]."

As it turns out, the credit card numbers were not encrypted, but stored in plaintext in Stratfor's MySQL database. So once Hammond gained access to the database, he and others were able to export all of the data. Next, he turned to the e-mail system and other server applications running Stratfor's intranet—all of which ran within the same hosting service at Austin-based Core NAP.

By December 14, according to the FBI's investigation, Hammond had managed to "root" Stratfor's mail server as well. In a chat on an IRC channel named #lulzxmas, he told another Anonymous member, "we in business baby…time to feast upon their spools."
Gallagher also tells how the FBI was able to ID Anarchaos as Jeremy Hammond:
The FBI tracked down Hammond with information he had shared in IRC logs from different aliases, and by tying those aliases together with the help of Monsegur. Hammond gave away his location by revealing last August that friends of his had been arrested at the "Midwest Rising" protest in St. Louis on August 15. In another chat, he revealed that he had been arrested in New York City in 2004 during the Republican National Convention. And he also revealed information that indicated he had served time in a federal prison.

Using federal criminal records and other data, FBI investigators were able to narrow the field of suspects rapidly. The FBI had dealt with Hammond before—he had been arrested in March of 2005 for hacking into the site of Protest Warrior, a conservative political activist group, and stealing its database, including credit card information. He served two years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Alastair Stevenson, writing in International Business Times AntiSec Will Survive OpAntiSec's Demise:
Questions regarding the future of Operation AntiSec erupted across the internet immediately after the initial Fox News article emerged reporting Sabu as an FBI rat on Tuesday.

"This news certainly looks like the endgame for the splinter group known as LulzSec and possibly AntiSec too. It should certainly be expected that law enforcement have gathered all evidence they feel is necessary to proceed effectively against those individuals they are currently charging. Sabu was certainly not their only source of intelligence, but undoubtedly their most important," read one statement by Trend Micro's director of security research and communications, Rik Ferguson.

Speaking to the International Business Times UK, other analysts have since argued that while LulzSec's specific version of AntiSec may die, the older, 1990s born Anti Security movement (AntiSec) will likely survive.

"They aren't the same. And to me, the AntiSec movement is something that's worth an academic debate. But #OpAntiSec never made much sense to me, nor did Sabu's vocalization of the OpAntiSec ideal - but I guess we now know why..." commented F-Secure security expert Sean Sullivan.
I know this is quick and dirty but I only have a little time before I have to leave for another occupy meeting and I wanted to add to the info presented yesterday with these tidbits. This is still very much a fast developing story so look for more on this topic. One of the things that now needs a close second look is the much vaulted unity last summer between Anonymous and LulzSec. Sabu started LulzSec and now that we know that he was turned by the FBI, that whole episode needs another look.

More, later.

Monday, March 5, 2012

UN: NATO killed 60 civilians in Libya

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The whole basis of the UN mandate for the NATO air campaign over Libya last year was that it was necessary to protect civilian lives and since it was clear to everybody from the beginning that any such air campaign would inadvertently take civilians lives, the question of just how many civilians NATO killed while protecting them has been hotly debated.

During the war, the Qaddafi regime tried to make it sound as though they were suffering under the type of massive assaults we have seen on civilians in Vietnam and other earlier wars. This view was echoed here by many in the anti-interventionist and pro-Qaddafi left as they protested the "massive civilian causalities" caused by NATO "saturation bombing."

The NATO campaign over Libya started on March 19, 2011 with a French strike on a column of Qaddafi tanks just as they were entering Benghazi. Now in Homs, Syria, the world is seeing what happens when the it fails to act and there are no air strikes against a dictator's artillery as he decides to turn them against his civilian population. So the release, March 2, 2012, of the UN International Commission of Inquiry on Libya Report, is a very timely one.

I have already discussed a NY Times study that put the number of civilians killed by NATO in Libya at between 40 and 70 and how they and Democracy Now tried to spin that. And while this UN report deals with many topics that I may have occasion to write about later, in this dairy I want to focus on NATO bombs, so let's just cut to the "money shot" on this question of Libyan civilian causalities caused by NATO.
611. The Commission documented five airstrikes leading to a total of 60 civilians killed and 55 injured.908 The Commission also investigated two NATO airstrikes which damaged civilian infrastructure and where no military target could be identified

They also talked about some of the steps NATO apparently took to avoid civilian casualties in this conflict:
The vast majority of NATO airstrikes did not result in civilian casualties or collateral damage to civilian objects, even where there was a significant potential for civilian harm. 609. For example, from 24-25 May 2011 NATO aircraft struck the Bab-al-Aziziyah facility, a large military compound and barracks in central Tripoli used by Qadhafi as a residence and headquarters. Numerous multi-story buildings used by Qadhafi's security forces were destroyed. The collapsed buildings show damage consistent with 2000lb bombs using delayed fuses: some of the buildings show clear entry holes extending through multiple floors, indicating an aerial bomb with a delayed fuse had exploded inside or underground, collapsing the buildings upon themselves and thus minimizing collateral damage. Several of the security buildings destroyed were less than 300 meters from civilian apartment buildings, close enough to be at risk of collateral damage from the strikes. While civilian apartment buildings were well within the collateral damage radius of the attack, not even the glass on these apartment buildings was broken. Weapons appeared to impact at angles pointing away from civilian housing to ensure flying debris did not impact them. Finally, many strikes were at night. This meant fewer civilians would be on the street and reduced the likelihood of civilian casualties.
About the methods used to compile this study, the report said:
the Commission's military expert, a former head of high-value targeting with a NATO member state government, investigated a total of 20 NATO airstrikes in Libya. This included a visual inspection of each site; detailed crater analysis; analysis of ejecta (material thrown out by the blast); and, where available, examination of the remnants of the munition itself. The Commission also looked for military signatures, in other words evidence that the site had been used for a military purpose. This might include, for example, the remains of weapons stored there, or military equipment such as communications aerials. The Commission also conducted 34 interviews with victims and witnesses. p.161
On the inflated claims of civilian causalities reported by the Qaddafi regime, the report said:
Findings i. Libyan Government claims 617. During the first visit of the Commission to Tripoli in April 2011, the Commission met with a Government health official who stated that 64 civilians had been killed by NATO bombardments. The Commission also received written reports from the Libyan authorities stating that strikes had resulted in the death of 500 civilians and 2,000 injured and that NATO had targeted schools, universities, mosques, and others civilian locations. According to the same sources, 56 schools and three universities were directly hit by these strikes. Furthermore, it was claimed that NATO airstrikes had resulted in the closure of 3,204 schools, leaving 437,787 students without access to education.910 The authorities did not provide any evidence of this at the time and the Commission was not in a position to assess the veracity of the information received.911 As stated in its first report, the Commission had not seen evidence either to suggest that civilian areas had been intentionally targeted by NATO forces, nor that it had engaged in indiscriminate attacks on civilians. 618. The Commission took account of subsequent claims by the Government in regard to civilian casualties, but testimony from former Government members and others, as well as its own interviews at the sites, confirmed to the Commission that the Government deliberately misstated the extent of civilian casualties.912 In some cases the Commission found the Libyan government claimed civilian casualties in airstrikes in areas where there had been no attacks at all. In one case, the Commission received a credible report of Libyan forces removing the bodies of children from a hospital morgue and took them to the site of a NATO airstrike.913

On August 8, at the height of the Libyan revolution, and the NATO air campaign in support of it, the Qaddafi regime made the claim that NATO planes had killed 85 civilians in the town of Majer. If true, it would have been the biggest such NATO mishap of the war. At the time I spent not one, but two, diaries casting doubt on the claims of the Qaddafi regime about this because they were being widely repeated by the anti-interventionist and pro-Qaddafi left.
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
According to the UN report, this air strike on civilians did, in fact, take place, but the number killed was 34, not 85 as the Qaddafi regime claimed:
Cases i. Majer 619. The single largest case of civilian casualties from a NATO airstrike took place in the town of Majer in the area of Al Huwayjat on 8 August 2011. On August 9 2011, Libyan state media claimed 85 civilians had been killed.914 620. The Commission found that at approximately11:30pm six buildings were struck. Four of the buildings were unoccupied. However, five women and seven children were killed in one building. Moments later, four men were killed in a second building. Neighbours and family members from the area, some who were attending evening Ramadan prayers at the local mosque, arrived at the site to evacuate wounded. After the rescuers arrived and had removed the four bodies from the second residential dwelling, another bomb struck, killing 18 rescuers. Victims estimated the time between initial strikes and the final restrike that killed rescuers as between 10 and 15 minutes. It is not clear whether the second strike was a restrike (a strike made shortly after the first in order to target military forces moving in) or simply a second strike to hit targets missed in the first. 621. The Commission conducted a site survey on 4 December 2011. It was able to identify bomb fragments from multiple GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs, as well as the guidance section for at least one GBU-12. There was no sign of the type of weapon debris or military signatures in the ejecta which might suggest the buildings were weapons storage facilities, communications hubs, or had any military function. The buildings struck appeared to have been residential dwellings. The Commission examined the remains of the vehicles driven by the rescuers and confirmed they were civilian-type vehicles with no provision for weapon mounts. The Commission conducted interviews of witnesses and survivors of the attack and reviewed hospital records of those killed and wounded in the strike. The Commission documented a total of 34 civilians killed and 38 wounded.915 622.
Sixty civilian deaths is a relatively low number for an air campaign that involved thousands of strike missions in a war that took 30,000 lives on all sides. Now with Assad's bloody assault on Homs and other Syrian cities showing us what happens to civilians when a ruthless dictator applies tanks and artillery to a dissident population and there is no air cover, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the NATO mission over Libya resulted in saving many civilian lives.

Still, over half of those 60 tragic deaths were the 34 killed in this one strike, and even though there is no evidence that NATO specifically targeted them or any civilians, the UN did find evidence that their deaths were the result of the usual imperialist lack of concern for human life and capitalist willingness to cut corners so as to maximize profits:
Bomb remnants show that the guidance system on at least one of the bombs used in this attack was more than five years past its warranty date (October 2005).

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Friday, March 2, 2012

Libya in the news today

"We will never let the country fall back into the hands of 'climbers'", he adds, using a word that has come to refer to profiteers and opportunists, people whose allegiance during the revolution was dubious.

"On behalf of all the former rebel forces, I say we will crush with an iron fist anyone who tries to destroy the revolution."
- Abdel Hakim Sheibi, a commander of the Zintan Revolutionary Brigades.

I saw two segments on the morning news that I think gives a true flavor of what is happening in Libya today and for that reason I wanted to bring them to your attention.

The first was a segment by Gabriel Gatehouse on the BBC on the militia groups that still control Tripoli's International Airport, and the second was an Al Jareeza segment on the way education is changing in revolutionary Libya.

The Gabriel Gatehouse piece concerns the Monday deadline that the Libyan interim government has given for militia groups to relinquish control of the country's border crossing. Here are some excerpts from that piece:

Battle of wills over control of Libya's border crossings
2 March 2012 Last updated at 08:32 ET

Many of Libya's international gateways are still controlled by brigades of former rebel fighters.

A spokesman for the interior ministry told the BBC they must all be in government hands by Monday.

The issue is becoming part of a battle of wills between Libya's politicians and the young men you fought the revolution.

It is the latter who have the upper hand.

Tripoli International airport is getting busier every day, as Libya emerges from civil war.

When Tripoli fell to rebel forces in August 2011, it was fighters from the small town of Zintan, south-west of the capital, who rushed in to secure the airport.

Six months later, they are still here.
....
The government is trying to assert itself. But it lacks authority. It wants former rebel fighters to join a national defence force.

But Abdel Hakim and his men simply don't trust the government. Not yet.

They believe they are still needed to prevent Libya's international gateway from falling into the wrong hands.

"We will hand over control of everything once the country is back on its feet, but not before," he says.
...
Zintan's various brigades control more than just Tripoli airport.

They control security for at least one bank and an Islamic centre in the capital, as well as several oilfields in the southwest of the country.

Nestled in the foothills of the Nefusa mountains, with a population of no more than 50,000, Zintan has become a force to be reckoned with.
...
Ask Zintanis about their town and they will quickly tell you about the colonial period, when their forefathers fought against the Italians.

But it was during last year's revolt against Col Gaddafi that Zintan gained its current fearsome reputation.

Ibrahim al-Madani lost his father in the revolution. He is now one of the town's most respected commanders.

"It's a small town," he said, "but [fighting] is in our blood."

"Even our grandfathers fought until the end. When you give your blood for Libya and Libyan people, I am happy for that."

The power that men like Ibrahim al-Madani now enjoy is forcing even global players to take note.
So while everybody from the governments of the US, China, Russia and Britain to Amnesty International complain that the revolutionary brigades are "out of control" one thing that is missing from this article, and is missing from most reports coming out of Libya are any hard facts to substantiate those claims. The fact is that incidents of armed clashes between the militias are rare, and those leading to deaths, even rarer. Even Amnesty International had to say "Militias have established sometimes fluid networks of co-operation."

Also we know that Tripoli International Airport is now functioning well under the control of the Zintan Brigades, with more international and domestic flights coming and going everyday and no reports of bribery or thuggery getting in the way.

So it sounds like the revolutionary brigades are carrying out an armed occupation of their own country, very much in the spirit of the worldwide occupation movement, with the aim of assuring that the revolution won by their blood is not lost by "their"politicians. To this I say "Right On!"

The second piece New chapter for Libyan education is a short 2 minute video that talks about how education is changing in Libya, and for the better. I was surprised to find that under Qaddafi, every student had to pass four courses on Qaddafi's little Green Book to get a college degree. Four courses? It's only 33 pages long! At the end one student complains that her studies are much hard now. I guess! Probably have to read more...

I note the black students in the class only because it would appear to contradict the picture of genocide and racist pogroms being painted of race relations in revolutionary Libya by some anti-interventionists and pro-Qaddafi supporters in the US left.



It sounds to me that Libya is doing just fine considering what they just came through.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

This is about Rick Santorum, so I'll be brief

Speaking about the burning of Korans by the US military in Afghanistan, Rick Santorum said on ABCNews ThisWeek:
This is unacceptable. The idea that a mistake was made, clearly a mistake, which we should not have apologized for --
...to apologize for something that was not an intentional act is something that the President of the United States, in my opinion, should not have done.
Don't expect any grace from this guy if he bumps you in the corridor or steps on your toes in the subway. He only apologizes for things he intended to do!

And on the question of the independence of the church from the state, he said this:
the president, someone who is now trying to tell people of faith that you will do what the government says, we are going to impose our values on you
So, I assume that under President Santorum, church schools will be exempt from Earthquake retrofitting if the clergy says the good Lord is their Earthquake protection.

My main question is: Who are the people who take this guy seriously?

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