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Fri, 31 Mar 2023
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Gaddafi's Libya was Africa's most prosperous democracy

Contrary to popular belief, Libya , which western media described as "Gaddafi's military dictatorship" was in actual fact one of the world's most democratic States.

In 1977 the people of Libya proclaimed the Jamahiriya or "government of the popular masses by themselves and for themselves." The Jamahiriya was a higher form of direct democracy with 'the People as President.' Traditional institutions of government were disbanded and abolished, and power belonged to the people directly through various committees and congresses.

The nation State of Libya was divided into several small communities that were essentially "mini-autonomous States" within a State. These autonomous States had control over their districts and could make a range of decisions including how to allocate oil revenue and budgetary funds. Within these mini autonomous States, the three main bodies of Libya 's democracy were Local Committees, People's Congresses and Executive Revolutionary Councils.

In 2009, Mr. Gaddafi invited the New York Times to Libya to spend two weeks observing the nation's direct democracy. Even the New York Times, that was always highly critical of Colonel Gaddafi, conceded that in Libya, the intention was that "everyone is involved in every decision...Tens of thousands of people take part in local committee meetings to discuss issues and vote on everything from foreign treaties to building schools." The purpose of these committee meetings was to build a broad based national consensus.


The West's strange bedfellows: The war against the Shia

It is a ferocious war waged by assassination, massacre, imprisonment and persecution that has killed tens of thousands of people. But non-Muslims - and many Muslims - scarcely notice this escalating conflict that pits Shia minority against Sunni majority.

The victims of the war in recent years are mostly Shia. Last week a suicide bomber walked into a snooker club in a Shia district of Quetta in Pakistan and blew himself up. Rescue workers and police were then caught by the blast from a car bomb that exploded 10 minutes later. In all, 82 people were killed and 121 injured. "It was like doomsday," said a policeman. "There were bodies everywhere."

Responsibility for the bombing was claimed by the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni fundamentalist group behind many such attacks that killed 400 Shia in Pakistan last year.

The dead in Quetta come from the Shia Hazara community, many of whom migrated from Afghanistan in the last century. "They live in a state of siege," says Ali Dayan Hasan, of Human Rights Watch. "Stepping out of the ghetto means risking death. Everyone has failed them - the security forces, the government, the judiciary." In this they are little different from the 30 million Shia in Pakistan who are increasingly beleaguered and afraid in the midst of a rising tide of anti-Shia sectarianism.

The atrocity in Quetta will soon be forgotten outside the area ,but the victims were not the only Shia community to come under attack last week. In Bahrain, where the Shia majority is ruled by the Sunni al-Khalifa royal family, the high court confirmed prison sentences - including eight life sentences - on 20 activists who took part in the pro-democracy protests in 2011. This happened even though the original sentences were passed by military courts using evidence extracted by torture.


The bombing of Mali highlights all the lessons of western intervention

© Photograph: Handout/REUTERS
French troops board a transport plane in N'Djamena, Chad, bound for Mali.
The west African nation becomes the eighth country in the last four years alone where Muslims are killed by the west.

As French war planes bomb Mali, there is one simple statistic that provides the key context: this west African nation of 15 million people is the eighth country in which western powers - over the last four years alone - have bombed and killed Muslims - after Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and the Phillipines (that does not count the numerous lethal tyrannies propped up by the west in that region). For obvious reasons, the rhetoric that the west is not at war with the Islamic world grows increasingly hollow with each new expansion of this militarism. But within this new massive bombing campaign, one finds most of the vital lessons about western intervention that, typically, are steadfastly ignored.

First, as the New York Times' background account from this morning makes clear, much of the instability in Mali is the direct result of Nato's intervention in Libya. Specifically, "heavily armed, battle-hardened Islamist fighters returned from combat in Libya" and "the big weaponry coming out of Libya and the different, more Islamic fighters who came back" played the precipitating role in the collapse of the US-supported central government. As Owen Jones wrote in an excellent column this morning in the Independent:
"This intervention is itself the consequence of another. The Libyan war is frequently touted as a success story for liberal interventionism. Yet the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi's dictatorship had consequences that Western intelligence services probably never even bothered to imagine. Tuaregs - who traditionally hailed from northern Mali - made up a large portion of his army. When Gaddafi was ejected from power, they returned to their homeland: sometimes forcibly so as black Africans came under attack in post-Gaddafi Libya, an uncomfortable fact largely ignored by the Western media. . . . [T]he Libyan war was seen as a success . . . and here we are now engaging with its catastrophic blowback."


Shock: NYTimes shuts environmental desk - global warming meme going extinct?

© NYTimes
It's Death of Little Nell time again in the field of climate "science." The New York Times - aka Pravda - has announced the closure of its Environment Desk. Rumours that the entire environment team, headed by Andy Revkin, have volunteered to be recycled into compost and spread on the lawn of the new billion dollar home Al Gore bought with the proceeds of his sale of Current TV to Middle Eastern oil interests are as yet unconfirmed. - UK Telegraph

Dominant Social Theme: A tragedy of unparalleled proportions has befallen the environment. It is getting harder and harder to save the world ...

Free-Market Analysis: The irascible and brilliant James Delingpole has just posted an article over at the UK Telegraph announcing the closure of the New York Times's environmental desk. Big news, indeed ...

It is an article that lampoons its subject even while declaring victory. Delingpole, in fact, deserves this moment. A novelist and a determined opponent of the power elite's global warming propaganda, he has been at the forefront of mainstream debunkery of "warmist" nonsense.


Great Fallout: NDAA Chinese tunnel scare 'smokescreen for US nuclear intentions'

A US defense report has called for contingency planning to neutralize a vast Chinese tunnel network with both "conventional and nuclear forces." James Corbett told RT the "Underground Great Wall" scare is being used to mask US nuclear ambitions.

Orders for the Commander of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to submit a report on means of nullifying China's underground tunnel network were outlined in the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed by President Barack Obama on January 2.

The NDAA-directed report will further seek to identify knowledge gaps regarding China's nuclear weapons programs, a request which was likely spurred by a controversial 2011 study out of Georgetown University entitled "Strategic Implications of China's Underground Great Wall."

The researchers claimed that China's Second Artillery Corps, a secretive branch of the country's military tasked with protecting and deploying its ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads, had dug some 3,000 miles of tunnels which currently housed up to 3,000 nuclear warheads - ten times US intelligence estimates.


Florida sheriff wants drones to monitor civilians

© AFP Photo / US NAVY
Drones have already been deployed across several US states, but thousands of UAVs could soon be flying all across the country for surveillance purposes that some privacy advocates consider unconstitutional.

The Federal Aviation Administration has received at least 60 applications for drone employment in the US and this month approved 348 drones for domestic use. Most of the currently employed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being used along the Mexican border to help law enforcement officers crack down on illegal immigration, but some drones will soon be used to monitor civilians.

The sheriff's office in Orange County, Fl., has already experimented with two domestic surveillance drones that it plans to use over metro Orlando starting this summer, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The drones would not be armed, but would be used to track down criminals, terrorists and illegal immigrants, as well as be used for environmental monitoring and wildfire surveillance, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The FAA predicts that 30,000 UAVs will fly over the US in less than 20 years, which has alarmed privacy advocates who claim the drones are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against 'unreasonable searches'.

"This is unwise and unnecessary. ... Sheriffs are supposed to be sheriffs, not the US Army," said Doug Head, a Democratic activist who closely follows Orange County politics.


RNC Chairman: Republicans in blue states 'ought to be' rigging Electoral College

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus says that conservative lawmakers in blue states like Wisconsin "ought to be looking at" ways to rig the Electoral College system to tilt elections towards Republican candidates in a way that could have allowed presidential candidate Mitt Romney to win.

On Sunday, the Journal Sentinel reported that Priebus had called on states that traditionally vote for Democratic presidential candidates - but are controlled by Republican legislatures - to devise a scheme to split electoral votes instead of awarding them to a single candidate.

"I think it's something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at," the RNC chairman explained, noting that such a system would give state lawmakers "more local control."


Teargas, clashes at funeral for Bahraini protester

© AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh
Bahraini Police forces run to disperse protestors during clashes following the funeral of Habib Ebrahim Abdullah on January 13, 2013.
Bahraini government forces clashed with protesters on Sunday at the funeral of a demonstrator killed by teargas at a previous rally. Violent crackdowns continue as the demonstrators protest against the royal family, ruling for more than 40 years.

Scores of Bahrainis attended the funeral of the protestor Haj Habib Ibrahim Abdullah, which resulted in another demonstration against the ruling Al-Khalifa family's regime.

Protesters shouted slogans against the regime and called for release of jailed activists. Government forces fired teargas and birdshot to disperse the crowd.

© AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Shaikh
Bahraini Shiite Muslims hold national flags on the top of a van during the funeral of Habib Ebrahim Abdullah on January 13, 2013.
A demonstration on Sunday was held at the funeral of Abdullah, who died after inhaling poisonous teargas. He and his grandson were exposed to lethal gas fired by government forces during a peaceful anti-regime demonstration last Monday. The nine-year-old grandson is now suffering from side effects and is being treated abroad, Ahlul Bayt News Agency reports.

Abdullah and his grandson were exposed to gas during a previous peaceful demonstration which was held in Malkiya village last Monday aftertop Bahraini court overturned an appeal by 13 anti-regime activists on their sentences for protesting in 2011. Seven of the activists received life sentences, the other sentences ranged from five to 15 years in prison.

The 13 whose appeals were overturned were originally part of a group of 20 activists convicted by a military tribunal of conspiring against Bahrain's Sunni royal family and "setting up terror groups to topple the regime." They then lost an appeal in civilian court in September 2011. Seven chose not to appeal again.


Noam Chomsky: Obama has no "moral center"

"The more opportunity you have, the more responsibility you have," the linguist and activist told Al-Jazeera .

In an extensive interview with Al-Jazeera, the political activist and linguist discusses the Tea Party, Israel and why America's rightward course can be reversed.


Ex-IRS Director on non-profit dark-money groups: "Investigate them and prosecute them"

The IRS needs to crack down on political nonprofits, experts say - or risk looking weak and useless.

Big dark-money groups like the Karl Rove-advised Crossroads GPS promised the IRS they would have "limited" involvement in politics - in order to protect their non-profit tax-exempt status - yet went on to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to influence the 2010 and 2012 federal elections. Now several tax policy experts, including a former high-ranking IRS official who ran the division overseeing nonprofits, say the IRS must bring the hammer down on these shadowy nonprofits or risk looking weak and useless.

"The government's going to have to investigate them and prosecute them," says Marcus Owens, who ran the IRS' tax-exempt division for a decade and is now a lawyer in private practice. "In order to maintain the integrity of the process, they're going to be forced to take action."