Society's ChildS


Libya fighter jets attack protesters in Tripoli

© Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters A Libyan airforce pilot walks next to his Mirage F1 fighter jet after landing Monday at Malta International Airport outside Valletta. Two Libyan fighter jets and two civilian helicopters landed unexpectedly in Malta. The fighter pilots said they wre seeking asylum

Tripoli - Libyan military aircraft fired live ammunition at crowds of anti-government protesters in Tripoli, Al-Jazeera television reported Monday.

"What we are witnessing today is unimaginable," said Adel Mohamed Saleh, an activist in the capital whose accounts could not be independently confirmed. "Warplanes and helicopters are indiscriminately bombing one area after another. There are many, many dead.

"Our people are dying. It is the policy of scorched earth," he said.


China tries to stamp out 'Jasmine Revolution'

© APChinese police officers stand guard near a McDonald's restaurant which was a planned protest site for 'Jasmine Revolution' in Beijing, China, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011. Jittery Chinese authorities staged a concerted show of force Sunday to squelch a mysterious online call for a 'Jasmine Revolution' apparently modeled after pro-democracy demonstrations sweeping the Middle East.

Beijing - Jittery Chinese authorities wary of any domestic dissent staged a show of force Sunday to squelch a mysterious online call for a "Jasmine Revolution," with only a handful of people joining protests apparently modeled on the pro-democracy demonstrations sweeping the Middle East.

Authorities detained activists, increased the number of police on the streets, disconnected some cell phone text messaging services and censored Internet postings about the call to stage protests in Beijing, Shanghai and 11 other major cities.

Police took at least three people away in Beijing, one of whom tried to place white jasmine flowers on a planter while hundreds of people milled about the protest gathering spot, outside a McDonald's on the capital's busiest shopping street. In Shanghai, police led away three people near the planned protest spot after they scuffled in an apparent bid to grab the attention of passers-by.


Unrest and the Libyan Military


Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has ordered the Libyan air force to fire on military installations in Libya, according to what the BBC has characterized as a reliable source. Al Jazeera has suggested that air force fighters have opened fire on crowds of protesters.

Though the latter would be particularly draconian, the more important question is whether these signs reflect a split within the regime and Gadhafi using military force to crush opposition to his regime emerging from the military or other security forces. Similar reports of the Libyan navy firing on targets onshore also are emerging, as well as reports that Gadhafi has given execution orders to soldiers who have refused to fire on Libyan protesters.

The application of conventional weaponry is noteworthy and will warrant scrutiny - particularly in terms of the targets of the attacks and the rationale behind them. The use of these weapons is more appropriate for other armed entities rather than unarmed protesters. Libyan troops are good at instilling fear, but not good at stabilizing a situation, so the military may not be able to get in on the ground due to lost capability.


Helen Thomas: Jews Didn't Have to Leave Europe Following Holocaust

Helen Thomas
© APFormer White House correspondent Helen Thomas
In CNN interview, veteran reporter refuses to call comments urging Jews to leave Israel and return to Europe insensitive, says Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is the real insensitivity.

The Jews did not have to leave Germany and Poland following the Holocaust since they were not being persecuted anymore, former White House correspondent Helen Thomas said in an interview on Thursday, adding that the Jews had no right to take other people's land.

Thomas, 90, stepped down from her job as a columnist for Hearst News Service in June of last year after a rabbi and independent filmmaker videotaped her outside the White House calling on Israelis to get "out of Palestine."

She gave up her front row seat in the White House press room, where she had aimed often pointed questions at 10 presidents, going back to Eisenhower.

Speaking of the controversial comments in an interview with CNN's Joy Behar on Thursday, Thomas said she did not regret her comments, saying that the Jews did not have to go anywhere after the Holocaust.


Libya's Qaddafi Appears to Be Losing Control

libya protest
© Alaguri/APProtesters with a pre-Gaddafi era flag in Benghazi, Libya.

After ruling the country for 40 years, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi seems to be losing his grip on power much more quickly than anyone could have imagined a few days ago. After six days of protests, clashes continued across the country but security forces seem to have largely retreated to strategic locations and protesters appear to have taken control of Benghazi, the country's second largest city and the focus of protests, and activists celebrated on the streets.

Al Jazeera hears word that "key cities" near the Egyptian border are now under the control of protests, which could mean that foreign journalists might soon be able to enter the country. Yet security forces aren't backing down just yet. The Associated Press hears word that armed pro-government supporters are circulating "in the streets hunting for protesters in Tripoli's old city."

At least 61 people have been killed in Tripoli as protests escalated overnight and extended into Monday, seemingly emboldened by a rambling address given by Qaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, in which he warned of civil war and said that the protests could lead to "colonization" by the West. He did make some vague promises of reform as well, but it hardly seemed to be enough to satisfy the protesters after hundreds have been killed.

No Entry

Venezuela denies Libya's Gaddafi en route

© Reuters/Ismail ZitounyLibyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attends a ceremony marking the birth of Islam's Prophet Mohammed in Tripoli, February 13, 2011.

Both Libya and Venezuela denied on Monday reports that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was seeking asylum after revolt reached Tripoli and would join his friend President Hugo Chavez in the South American oil producer.

Adding to media rumors, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said earlier on Monday he had seen information to suggest Gaddafi had fled Libya and was on his way to Venezuela, a fellow OPEC member.

But Venezuela's information minister said the leader who has ruled Libya for more than 40 years was not coming.

Eye 2

Stepmother indicted in death of North Carolina girl

Hickory, N.C. - The stepmother of a 10-year-old disabled girl was indicted Monday on charges she killed the freckle-faced child and then desecrated her remains to cover up the slaying, according to court documents.

A grand jury in Catawba County charged Elisa Baker with second-degree murder in the death of Zahra Baker. Authorities planned to discuss the case at a news conference later in the day.

© APZahra Baker was reported missing in October, and police later found her remains in different locations in western North Carolina.
Zahra, who used a prosthetic leg and hearing aids after being stricken with cancer, disappeared four months ago. No one had been charged in her death, though Elisa Baker had been charged with obstructing justice in the investigation. Police eventually found the girl's remains in different locations around western North Carolina. Authorities still have not said how the girl died.

The indictment cites aggravating factors, saying Elisa Baker had a history of physically, verbally and psychologically abusing Zahra. And it says she desecrated Zahra's body to hinder detection and prosecution of the killing.

A search warrant unsealed last month said Elisa Baker led police to the places where they found Zahra's remains. She claimed her husband, Adam Baker, dismembered the body. Adam Baker has denied that.

The warrant also said that cell phone records indicate Adam Baker was not in the locations where Zahra's remains were found on the day Elisa Baker indicated, but that cell phone records showed she was present in those locations.

Attorneys for Elisa Baker did not return calls seeking comment Monday.


Huh? Lieberman volte-face on Kill Switch


Washington - A bipartisan trio of senators has introduced a new cybersecurity bill that eliminates the president's authority to switch off the Internet.

The "kill switch," as it's known, exists in the 1934 Telecommunications Act, which was amended in 1996. It gives the president powers to shut off all regulated telecommunications if he or she deems it vital to national security interests.

But that's not going to fly any more, say Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

The three senators on Thursday introduced The Cybersecurity Freedom Act of 2011, which would take away the president's power to shut off the Internet.

Comment: Full-time Israeli citizen and part-time US senator Joseph Lieberman, the man who virtually singlehandedly conceived and spearheaded the Net Kill Switch bill, suddenly does a volte-face and now wants to "take away the president's power to shut off the Internet." Really. Smacks of a tactical regroup in the face of mounting opposition. Something's rotten in the state of Denmark; standby for a new more devious maneuver busily in the making. Given what's sweeping across the ME (and Wisconsin?), they're going to need more than a kill switch...


Updated: Libyan Fighter Jets Arrive in Malta - Pilots Request Asylum


The pilots of two Libyan Air Force Mirage jet fighters who unexpectedly flew to Malta this afternoon have sought political asylum in Malta, informed sources said.

The pilots told the Maltese authorities that they left from a base near Tripoli and flew to Malta after being ordered to bomb protesters who had occupied the Libyan second city of Benghazi.

The pilots are being questioned by the police,

The pilots initially asked for emergency clearance to land and for refuelling.


This Isn't All About Mubarak

"The revolution in Egypt is an expression of the will of the people, the determination of the people, the commitment of the people....Muslims and Christians have worked together in this revolution, as have the Islamic groups, secular parties, nationalist parties, and intellectuals....In fact every sector has played part in this revolution: the young, the old, women, men, clerics, artists, intellectuals, workers, and farmers."

-- Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah
© Hussein Malla/Associated PressFreed by Egypt's Workers Revolt Workers Press Demands
The real story about what's going on in Egypt is being suppressed in the US because it doesn't jibe with the "ain't capitalism great" theme that the media loves to reiterate ad nauseam. The truth is that the main economic policies that Washington exports through bribery and coercion have ignited massive labor unrest which has set the Middle East ablaze. Mubarak is the first casualty in this war against neoliberalism, but there will be many more to come. In fact, Mubarak's resignation is probably just a sop to Egyptian workers, hoping that they'll follow the military's advice and sheepishly return to their sweatshops so fatcat CEOs in Berlin and Chicago can extract a few more farthings from their labor. But that probably won't happen, because the 18 days in Tahrir Square has had a transformative affect on the consciousness of 80 million Egyptians who've suddenly "had enough". The people have awaken from their slumber and now they're ready to rumble.

The revolution started long before the demonstrations in Tahrir Square, and it will continue for a long time to come. Workers everywhere are rebelling against the miserable conditions, slave wages and "privatization", the crown jewel of neoliberalism. The privatization of state industries in Egypt is the proximate cause of the current uprising. It's led to a general slide in living standards to the point where people would rather face a policeman's truncheon than endure more-of-the-same. Here's an excerpt from Foreign Policy which helps to explain what's going on: