Friday, 25 February 2011

Inspiration and Hope from Libya

Exclamations of joy fill the air as residents of Benghazi find themselves in an unimaginable situation: Freed from Moammar Khadafy's rule for the first time in more than four decades. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

Protesters celebrate and shout slogans following their takeover of Benghazi. Even amid the euphoria, rumors abound that Moammar Khadafy will strike back, either through massive aerial or naval bombardments or through a string of stealth attacks from his plainclothes agents. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)
Flashing V for victory, a Libyan protester celebrates as he stands on a destroyed tank at Al-Katiba military base after it fell to rebels. (Hussein Malla/Associated Press)
An anti-government demonstrator, the colors of the Kingdom of Libya flag on his face, grabs a cup of tea in Benghazi Thursday. Rebels have seized control of Benghazi, the nation's second-largest city. (Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)
After fleeing Libya, dozens celebrate in Ras Jdir, Tunisia. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

What has WikiLeaks ever taught us ?

(Blatantly copied verbatim from

"What has Wikileaks ever taught us?" ... Read on ...

Ryan Gallagher, 17 February 2011
How often have we been told in world-weary tones that Wikileaks has revealed nothing new - especially by those who want to appear to be in the know? Here is an aide-mémoire of a few of the highest profile revelations.
About the author
Ryan Gallagher is a freelance journalist based in London.

Since 2006, the whistleblowers' website WikiLeaks has published a mass of information we would otherwise not have known. The leaks have exposed dubious procedures at Guantanamo Bay and detailed meticulously the Iraq War's unprecedented civilian death-toll. They have highlighted the dumping of toxic waste in Africa as well as revealed America's clandestine military actions in Yemen and Pakistan.

The sheer scope and significance of the revelations is shocking. Among them are great abuses of power, corruption, lies and war crimes. Yet there are still some who insist WikiLeaks has "told us nothing new". This collection, sourced from a range of publications across the web, illustrates nothing could be further from the truth. Here, if there is still a grain of doubt in your mind, is just some of what WikiLeaks has told us:

  • American planes bombed a village in Southern Yemen in December 2009, killing 14 women and 21 children (see Amnesty)
  • The Secretary of State's office encouraged US diplomats at the United Nations to spy on their counterparts by collecting biographic and biometric information (see Wired)
  • The Obama administration worked with Republicans to protect Bush administration officials facing a criminal investigation into torture (see Mother Jones)
  • A US Army helicopter gunned down two Reuters journalists in Baghdad in 2007 (see Reuters)
  • US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers (see the Guardian)
  • In Iraq there were scores of claims of prison abuse by coalition forces even after the Abu Ghraib scandal (see the Bureau of Investigative Journalism)
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai freed suspected drug dealers because of their political connections (see CBS News)
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed support for the concept of “land swaps” (see Yahoo News)
  • The United States was secretly given permission from Yemen's president to attack the Al-Qaeda group in his country (see the Guardian)
  • Then-Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and his top commanders repeatedly knowingly lied to the American public about rising sectarian violence in Iraq beginning in 2006 (see the Daily Beast)
  • The US was shipping arms to Saudi Arabia for use in northern Yemen even as it denied any role in the conflict (see
  • Saudi Arabia is one of the largest origin points for funds supporting international terrorism
  • A storage facility housing Yemen's radioactive material was unsecured for up to a week (see Bloomberg)
  • Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, fearing it was built to make a bomb (see the Sunday Times)
  • Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA (see the Peninsula)
  • Swiss company Trafigura Beheer BV dumped toxic waste at the Ivorian port of Abidjan, then attempted to silence the press from revealing it by obtaining a gagging order (see WikiLeaks)
  • Pakistan's government has allowed members of its spy network to hold strategy sessions on combating American troops with members of the Taliban (see the New York Times)
  • A stash of highly enriched uranium capable of providing enough material for multiple "dirty bombs" has been waiting in Pakistan for removal by an American team for more than three years (see CBS News)
  • US military Special Operations Forces have been conducting offensive operations inside Pakistan, despite repeated denials from US officials (see the Nation)
  • China was behind the online attack on Google (see ZDNet)
  • North Korea is secretly helping the military dictatorship in Myanmar build nuclear and missile sites in its jungles (see CBS News)
  • The Indian government "condones torture" and systematically abused detainees in the disputed region of Kashmir (see CBS News)
  • The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a "government death squad" (see the Guardian)
  • BP suffered a blowout after a gas leak in the Caucasus country of Azerbaijan in September 2008, a year and a half before another BP blowout killed 11 workers (see the Guardian)
  • Saudi Arabia's rulers have deep distrust for some fellow Muslim countries, especially Pakistan and Iran (see CBS News)
  • Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran (see the Guardian)
  • Iranian Red Crescent ambulances were used to smuggle weapons to Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group during its 2006 war with Israel (see CBS News)
  • Dozens of US tactical nuclear weapons are in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium (see Jerusalem Post)
  • The Libyan government promised "enormous repercussions" for the UK if the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, was not handled properly (see CBS News)
  • Pope Benedict impeded an investigation into alleged child sex abuse within the Catholic Church (see MSNBC)
  • Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness carried out negotiations for the Good Friday agreement with Irish then-prime minister Bertie Ahern while the two had knowledge of a bank robbery the Irish Republican Army was planning to carry out (see CBS News)
  • Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC has infiltrated the highest levels of government in Nigeria (see the Guardian)
  • A US official was told by Mexican President Felipe Calderon that Latin America "needs a visible US presence" to counter Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's growing influence in the region (see Yahoo News)
  • Cuba's economic situation could become "fatal" within two to three years (see Business Week)
  • McDonald's tried to delay the US government's implementation of a free-trade agreement in order to put pressure on El Salvador to appoint neutral judges in a $24m lawsuit it was fighting in the country (see the Guardian)
  • British officials made a deal with the US to allow the country to keep cluster bombs in the UK despite the ban on the munitions signed by Gordon Brown (see
  • The British government promised to protect America's interests during the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war (see the Guardian)
  • The US government was acting on behalf of GM crop firm Monsanto in 2008, when the US embassy in Paris advised Washington to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country which opposed genetically modified (GM) crops (see the Guardian)
  • Pfitzer tested anti-biotics on Nigerian children, contravening national and international standards on medical ethics (see Medical News Today)
  • Prisoners at Camp Delta (Guantanamo Bay) were denied access to the Red Cross for up to four weeks (see the Telegraph)
  • More than 66,000 civilians suffered “violent deaths” in Iraq between 2004 and the end of 2009 (see the Telegraph)
  • Russia is a “virtual mafia state” with rampant corruption and scant separation between the activities of the government and organised crime (see the Guardian)
  • The Obama administration tried to “sweet-talk” other countries in to taking Guantanamo detainees, as part of its (as yet unsuccessful) effort to close the prison (see the New York Times)

Why Homosexuality Should Be Banned

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Food for thought - Not for 8% of us

I came across this and was absolutely stunned by the results for Canada.

This is the IMF (International Monetary Fund) 2010 ranking of"Advanced Economies". I'm usually proud of my country and like to think that we'd rank be way up there, especially under the "enlightened, benevolent, happy-happy-joy-joy leadership" of our current government in Ottawa. But as the results below indicate, apparently 8% of us can't afford to feed ourselves.

Can Mr. Harper please identify the 8.4 Senators and 24.6 fact, the whole 25,211.6 Federal Employees in his government who are going hungry so I can invite them over for a decent meal. After all, running our country is hungry business and I want to do my part to ensure that they're up to the job.

Somehow I don't think that any of those people are missing a meal, nor are the additional 2 Million Provincial and Municipal employees. But you and I...well, you better enjoy your lunch cause it may be all you get today.

And the sad part ? Ottawa will claim this as a victory because look at our numbers vs. the USA !! If I were American, I'd be furious hence the title of the graph below.

(8% of 105 Senators, 308 MPs, StatsCan Fed Employees

Click Image to Enlarge

Monday, 21 February 2011

Wikileaks Guide to the Gaddafi Family

The leader of the Libyan revolution presides over a "famously fractious" family that is powerful, wealthy, dysfunctional and marked by internecine struggles, according to US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. The documents shed light on how his eight children – among whom rivalries have sharpened in recent years – his wife and Gaddafi himself lead their lives.

Muammar Gaddafi
The patriarch, now 68, was described by US ambassador to Tripoli, Gene Cretz, in 2009 as a "mercurial and eccentric figure who suffers from severe phobias, enjoys flamenco dancing and horseracing, acts on whims and irritates friends and enemies alike." Gaddafi has an intense dislike or fear of staying on upper floors, and prefers not to fly over water, the cables add.

From Al Jazeera: (click text to follow link)
In power since 1969, Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is the longest-serving leader in both Africa and the Arab world.
He led a bloodless coup toppling King Idris at the age of 27, and has since maintained tight control of his oil-rich country by clamping down on dissidents. The ongoing bloody uprising poses the most serious domestic challenge to his rule.
Among his many eccentricities, Gaddafi is known to sleep in a Bedouin tent guarded by dozens of female bodyguards on trips abroad.
Gaddafi was born in 1942 in the coastal area of Sirte to nomadic parents. He went to Benghazi University to study geography, but dropped out to join the army.
After seizing power, he laid out a pan-Arab, anti-imperialist philosophy, blended with aspects of Islam. While he permitted private control over small companies, the government controlled the larger ones.
He was an admirer of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and his Arab socialist and nationalist ideology.
He tried without success to merge Libya, Egypt and Syria into a federation. A similar attempt to join Libya and Tunisia ended in acrimony.
Crushing dissident
In 1977 he changed the country's name to the Great Socialist Popular Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah (State of the Masses) and allowed people to air their views at people's congresses.
However, critics dismissed his leadership as a military dictatorship, accusing him of repressing civil society and ruthlessly crushing dissident.
To this day, the media remains under strict government control.
The regime has imprisoned hundreds of people for violating the law and sentenced some to death, according to Human Rights Watch.

At the UN General Assembly in 2009, Gaddafi accused the body of being a terrorism group like al-Qaeda
Gaddafi played a prominent role in organising Arab opposition to the 1978 Camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.
Later shunned by a number of Arab states on the basis of his extreme views on how to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among others, Gaddafi's foreign policy shifted from an Arab focus to an African focus.
His vision of a United States of Africa resulted in the foundation of the African Union.
In the West, Gaddafi is strongly associated with "terrorism", accused of supporting armed groups including FARC in Colombia and the IRA in Northern Ireland.
Libya’s alleged involvement in the 1986 bombing of a Berlin nightclub in which two American soldiers were killed prompted US air attacks on Tripoli and Benghazi, killing 35 Libyans, including Gaddafi’s adopted daughter. Ronald Reagan, the then US president, called him a "mad dog".
The 1988 bombing of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie in Scotland is possibly the most well known and controversial international incident in which Gaddafi has been involved.
For many years, Gaddafi denied involvement, resulting in UN sanctions and Libya’s status as a pariah state. Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, was convicted for planting the bomb. Gaddafi's regime formally accepted responsibility for the attack in 2003 and paid compensation to the families of those who died.
Isolation ended
Also in 2003, Gaddafi broke Libya's isolation from the West by relinquishing his entire inventory of weapons of mass destruction.
In September 2004, George Bush, the US president at the time, formally ended a US trade embargo as a result of Gaddafi's scrapping of the arms programme and taking responsibility for Lockerbie.
The normalisation of relations with Western powers has allowed the Libyan economy to grow and the oil industry in particular has benefited.
However, Gaddafi and Lockerbie came back into the spotlight in 2009, when al-Megrahi was released and returned to Libya. The hero’s welcome al-Megrahi received from Gaddafi on his return was condemned by the the US and the UK, among others.
In September 2009, Gaddafi visited the US for the first time for his his first appearance at the UN General Assembly.
His speech was supposed to be 15 minutes, but exceeded an hour and a half. He tore up a copy of the UN charter, accused the Security Council of being a terrorism body similar to al-Qaeda, and demanded $ 7.7 trillion in compensation to be paid to Africa from it's past colonial rulers.
During a visit to Italy in August 2010, Gaddafi's invitation to hundreds of young women to convert to Islam overshadowed the two-day trip, which was intended to cement the growing ties between Tripoli and Rome.

Safiya (nee Farkash)
Gaddafi's second wife travels by chartered jet in Libya, with a motorcade of Mercedes vehicles waiting to pick her up at the airport to take her to her destination, but her movements are limited and discreet. Hosted a banquet in the Bab al-Azizia compound on the occasion of the anniversary of the revolution that was festive but not extravagant. Hails from Benghazi, the centre of the rebellion in eastern Libya.

Saif al-Islam
Second-eldest son. Presumed heir-apparent in recent years who warned of civil war when he addressed the nation on Sunday night. A trained engineer who promotes political and economic reform and backed NGOs under the aegis of the International Charitable Gaddafi Foundation. Has PhD from the London School of Economics.

"Saif al-Islam's high-profile role as the public face of the regime to the west has been a mixed blessing for him. Has bolstered his image but many Libyans view him as self-aggrandising and too eager to please foreigners," the US embassy said.

Escorted the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi home to die in August 2009 "and persisted in his hard-partying, womanising ways, a source of concern in a socially conservative country like Libya". Cables claim at odds with siblings Muatassim, Aisha, Hannibal, and Sa'adi.

Third-eldest son. "Notoriously ill-behaved Sa'adi has a troubled past, including scuffles with police in Europe (especially Italy), abuse of drugs and alcohol, excessive partying, travel abroad in contravention of his father's wishes Former professional footballer (a single season with Perugia in Italy's Serie A league, he owns a significant share of al-Ahli, one of the two biggest soccer teams in Libya, and has run Libya's football federation). An engineer by training, Sa'adi was briefly an officer in a special forces unit.

Used troops under his control to affect the outcome of business deals. Owns a film production company. Reported to have been involved in crushing the protests in Benghazi.

Fourth-eldest son. Father's national security adviser and until recently a rising star. In 2008 he asked for $1.2bn (£739m) to establish a military or security unit akin to that of his younger brother, Khamis. Lost control of many of his personal business interests between 2001 and 2005 when his brothers took advantage of his absence to put in place their own partnerships. Described as "not very bright" by Serbian ambassador. Gets on badly with Saif al-Islam.

Chequered history of unseemly behavior and public scuffles with authorities in Europe and elsewhere. Arrest in Geneva over alleged beating his servants led to bilateral spat with Switzerland, in which Swiss were forced to back down under threat of withdrawal of Libyan investments.

In December 2009, police were called to Claridge's hotel in London after staff heard a scream from Hannibal's room. Aline Skaf, now his wife, was found to have suffered facial injuries but charges were not brought after she maintained she had sustained the injuries in a fall. Fifth eldest son.

Gaddafi's sixth son and the "well-respected" commander of a special forces unit – 32nd battalion or Khamis brigade that effectively serves as a regime protection unit and was reportedly involved in suppressing unrest in Benghazi. Trained in Russia.

Daughter who mediates in family disputes ands runs NGO. Reported to have financial interests in a private clinic in Tripoli, one of two trustworthy facilities that supplement the unreliable healthcare available through public facilities. Lionel Richie was flown to Libya several years ago to sing at her birthday celebration. A younger adopted daughter, Hanna, was killed in the US bombing of Tripoli in 1986.

The eldest son, but by Gaddafi's first wife. Heads the Libyan Olympic committee that now owns 40% of the Libyan Beverage Company, currently the Libyan joint venture Coca-Cola franchisee. Also runs general post and telecommunications committee.

Saif al-Arab
Least publicly known of the eight children. Reportedly lives in Munich, where it is claimed he pursues ill-defined business interests and spends much time partying.

Like all the Gaddafi children and favourites is supposed to have income streams from the national oil company and oil services subsidiaries. A seventh son, Milad Abuztaia, is an adopted nephew.

"MENA" Cast of Characters (Info)

Below is a breakdown of the some of the countries in the Middle East, North Africa (MENA) region that are currently undergoing civil unrest of one form or another. By no means complete it should still serve as an introduction to the issues & players in the region.

Protesters have demanded government reform, prompting authorities to say they will soon lift a state of emergency that was imposed in 1992 to quell a civil war that led to the deaths of more than 150,000. The rule was used to clamp down on Islamist groups, but critics say the insurgency has long since diminished and the law exists only to muzzle government critics.

Roots of unrest:
Protests began in January over escalating food prices, high rates of unemployment and housing issues. They started in Algiers, but spread to other cities as more people joined and demonstrators toppled regimes in neighboring Tunisia, and later Egypt. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would lift the state of emergency law in what analysts said was an attempt to head off a similar revolt.

Seven opposition groups met in Bahrain Sunday to consider their next steps after an appeal from Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa for a national dialogue. Meanwhile, about a thousand protesters remained at the Pearl Roundabout, which has become this island nation's equivalent of Egypt's Tahrir Square. Opposition groups are considering a list of demands, which include an independent investigation into the deaths of at least 10 protesters. They also want answers about people unaccounted for since security forces moved in to clear the Pearl Roundabout in the early hours of Thursday morning, using tear gas, pellet guns and clubs. On Saturday, joyous Bahrainis retook the Pearl Roundabout after Crown Prince Salman ordered the military to vacate.

Roots of unrest:
Protesters initially took to the streets of Manama last week to demand reform and the introduction of a constitutional monarchy. But some are now calling for the removal of the royal family, which has led the Persian Gulf state since the 18th century. Young members of the country's Shiite Muslim majority have staged violent protests in recent years to complain about discrimination, unemployment and corruption, issues they say the country's Sunni rulers have done little to address. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights says authorities launched a clampdown on dissent in late 2010. It accused the government of torturing some human rights activists.

Thousands of people have marched in protest through Djibouti. On Friday, riot police charged the crowd after the call to evening prayers, shooting canisters of tear gas at the demonstrators, according to Aly Verjee, director of the international election observation mission to Djibouti, who witnessed the event. Djibouti is home to Camp Lemonnier, the only U.S. military base on the African continent.

Roots of unrest:
Protesters have called for President Ismail Omar Guelleh -- whose family has ruled the country since its independence from France in 1977 -- to step down ahead of the elections scheduled in April. Guelleh has held the post since 1999 and is seeking a third term. Economic stagnation is also a source of anger among the people of Djibouti.

On Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Egypt for meetings with that country's military leaders, the prime minister's office said.
Protesters in Egypt have issued a reminder to the military that they are watching the ongoing reform process. They celebrated the one-week anniversary of President Hosni Mubarak's ouster Friday in a "Day of Victory" rally at Tahrir Square, epicenter of the protests. Mubarak stepped down February 11 following 18 days of unrest in Egypt. The military has been in charge since Mubarak resigned. Meanwhile, G20 leaders concluded a two-day meeting in Paris Saturday with pledges to support the new emerging governments of Egypt and Tunisia.

Roots of unrest:
Complaints about police corruption and abuses were among the top grievances of demonstrators who forced Mubarak from office last week. Demonstrators were also angry about Mubarak's 30-year rule, a lack of free elections and many economic issues, including high food prices, low wages and high unemployment.

Clashes erupted Sunday in several major Iranian cities. In Tehran, thousands of security officers patrolled Revolution Square, at times striking at throngs of protesters with batons and rushing others on motorcycles. Opposition websites reported that security forces opened fire on protesters in Hafteh Tir Square, killing one person. Several were reported injured and detained. In Isfahan, protesters were met with batons and pepper spray in one square while another peaceful march took place elsewhere under the watch of security agents. An eyewitness in historic Shiraz, who participated in demonstrations Sunday, told CNN that large crowds of anti-government protesters have gathered along Mollasadra Avenue in the center of the city. Roughly 200 people, including men and women of all ages, gathered at the site, but were dispersed by uniformed and plainclothes security agents who hit at protesters with batons.

Roots of unrest:
Opposition to the ruling clerics has simmered since the country's 2009 election, when hundreds of thousands of people filled Tehran streets to denounce the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as fraudulent.

A 17-year-old boy died and 39 were injured Sunday evening when hundreds of demonstrators clashed with Kurdish security forces in Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq, officials said. Most of the demonstrators opposed Kurdistan regional president Massoud Barzani and the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party, and the protest occurred a few hundred meters from the KDP party office.
Masked gunmen attacked and burned the an independent television station in Iraq's Kurdistan region Sunday, wounding a guard, police officials and the broadcast company said.

Roots of unrest:
Demonstrations in Iraq, unlike in other parts of the Mideast and North Africa, have usually not targeted the national government. Instead, the protesters are angry over corruption, the quality of basic services, a crumbling infrastructure and high unemployment, particularly on a local level. They want an end to frequent power outages and food shortages.
Here's a look at some key recent events related to unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:

Protesters in Jordan have called for reforms and for abolishing the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel. On Friday, about 200 people clashed with pro-government demonstrators in downtown Amman. Several people were reported injured. Anti-government protesters who participated in Friday's demonstration included leftists and independent activists demanding political and economic reforms.

Roots of unrest:
Jordan's economy has been hit hard by the global economic downturn and rising commodity prices, and youth unemployment is high, as it is in Egypt. Officials close to the palace have told CNN that Abdullah is trying to turn a regional upheaval into an opportunity for reform. King Abdullah II swore in a new government following anti-government protests in his country. The new government has a mandate for political reform and is headed by a former general, with several opposition and media figures among its ranks. Some protesters have also called for the abolishment of the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel.

Protesters in Kuwait have clashed with authorities on at least two occasions. A second straight day of demonstrations occurred on Saturday in Sulaibiya, just north of Kuwait City, according to witnesses and a government official. Hundreds of protesters are demanding greater rights for longtime residents who are not citizens of the country demanded the release of people arrested in demonstrations Friday. The protesters attacked the security forces, who managed to disperse the people and make arrests, he said. The forces used tear gas on the demonstration involving between 200 and 400 protesters.

Roots of unrest:
Protesters are seeking greater rights for longtime residents who are not Kuwaiti citizens, an issue the country has been grappling with for decades. There are believed to be 100,000 non-citizens living in the country.

Ongoing unrest has left at least 233 people dead, according to Human Rights Watch, citing information from hospital sources. CNN is not able to independently confirm the figure, as the network has not been granted access to report on the ground, but has been in communication with medics and eyewitnesses in Libya whose accounts corroborate closely with information from Human Rights Watch.
Early Monday morning, the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, appeared on state television to warn demonstrators that if their protests do not subside, the country could fall into a civil war.

Roots of unrest:
Protests in Libya, ruled by Moammar Gadhafi since a 1969 coup, began in January when demonstrators, fed up with delays, broke into a housing project the government was building and occupied it. Gadhafi's government responded with a $24 billion fund for housing and development. A month later, more demonstrations were sparked when police detained relatives of those killed in an alleged 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison, according to Human Rights Watch. High unemployment has also fueled the protests, as have anti-Gadhafi groups.

Hundreds of Palestinians rallied for unity in Ramallah, calling on Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian political factions to heal their rifts amid arguments over elections scheduled for September in the Palestinian territories. "Division generates corruption," was one of several slogans written on banners held up by the demonstrators Thursday, who flooded the streets after calls went out on social networking sites, as well as schools and university campuses, for them to attend.

Roots of unrest:
The Palestinian territories have not seen the kind of demonstrations as in many Arab countries, but the Fatah leaders of the Palestinian Authority have been under criticism since Al-Jazeera published secret papers claiming to reveal that Palestinian officials were prepared to make wide-ranging concessions in negotiations with Israel. Negotiations toward a resolution of
the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict have since collapsed. Palestinian protests, largely in support of Egypt and Tunisia, were generally small and poorly attended, and in some cases the Hamas rulers of Gaza and the Palestinian
Authority rulers of the West Bank actively tried to stifle protests. The split between Hamas and Fatah hampers internal change in the territories, although calls for political change are growing louder among Palestinians. Large-scale protests, as seen elsewhere in the Arab world, have failed to materialize, as many Palestinians believe their problem remains the Israeli occupation.

Demonstrators have clashed with authorities on several recent occasions in Sudan. Human Rights Watch has said that "authorities used excessive force during largely peaceful protests on January 30 and 31 in Khartoum and other northern cities." Witnesses said that several people were arrested, including 20 who remain missing.

Roots of unrest:
Demonstrators seek an end to the National Congress Party rule and government-imposed price increases, according to Human Rights Watch. It accuses the government of being heavy-handed in its response to demonstrations, and using pipes, sticks and tear gas to disperse protesters.

As protests heated up around the region, the Syrian government pulled back from a plan to withdraw some subsidies that keep the cost of living down in the country. President Bashar al-Assad also gave a rare interview to Western media, telling The Wall Street Journal last month that he planned reforms that would allow local elections and included a new media law and more power for private organizations. A planned "Day of Rage" that was being organized on Facebook against the al-Assad government failed to materialize, The New York Times reported.

Roots of unrest:
Opponents of the al-Assad government claim massive human rights abuses and an emergency law has been in effect since 1963.

An uprising in Tunisia prompted autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to leave the country on January 14, after weeks of demonstrations. Those demonstrations sparked protests around North Africa and the Middle East.

Roots of unrest:
The revolt was triggered when an unemployed college graduate set himself ablaze after police confiscated his fruit cart, cutting off his source of income. Protesters complained about high unemployment, corruption, rising prices and political repression.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh rejected demands Monday that he step aside, comparing the anti-government protests in his country to a virus sweeping through the region. "This is a virus and is not part of our heritage or the culture of the Yemeni people," he told reporters.
Between 3,000 to 3,500 anti-government protesters demonstrated peacefully in the Yemeni capital Sanaa for the 11th consecutive day Monday. A day earlier, protesters chanted, "First Mubarak, now Ali," referring to Hosni Mubarak, who recently resigned as president of Egypt after nearly 30 years in power, and Saleh. Seven people have been killed in clashes in the city of Aden, hospital and government officials said. One prominent human rights organization put the number of dead as high as 12.

Roots of unrest:
Protesters have called for the ouster of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled Yemen since 1978. The country has been wracked by a Shiite Muslim uprising, a U.S.-aided crackdown on al Qaeda operatives and a looming shortage of water. As in other countries, high unemployment fuels much of the anger among a growing young population steeped in poverty. The protesters also cite government corruption and a lack of political freedom.
Sunday's developments:

Saif Gaddafi - N. Africa's Glenn Beck

Seif Gaddafi went on air this evening in what can only be described as a delusional, drug addled Brain Fart. Apparently he was the head of their Anti-Narcotics department so I wonder if he pulled a "Tony Montana" before recording his ramblings.

Here's some photos from his tirade earlier this evening. You tell me if this guy doesn't look like he's stripped a few gears. 

Some translated snippets of his speech.

"Citizens tried to attack the army and they were in a situation that was difficult. The army was not used to dealing with riots," he says.
"Libyan citizens died and this was a tragedy.
"There is a plot against Libya. People want to create a government in Benghazi and others want to have an Islamic emirate in Bayda. All these [people] have their own plots. Of course Arab media hyped this. The fault of the Libyan media is that it did not cover this.
Libya is not like Egypt, it is tribes and clans, it is not a society with parties. Everyone knows their duties and this may cause civil wars. 
Libya is not Tunisia and Egypt. Libya has oil - that has united the whole of Libya.
"I have to be honest with you. We are all armed, even the thugs and the unemployed. At this moment in time, tanks are driven about with civilians. In Bayda you have machine huns right in the middle of the city. Many arms have been stolen.
"No one will come to Libya or do any business with Libya.
"We will call for new media laws, civil rights, lift the stupid punishments, we will have a constitution... We will tomorrow create a new Libya. We can agree on a new national anthem, new flag, new Libya. Or be prepared for civil war. Forget about oil.
"The country will be divided like North and South Korea, we will see each other through a fence. You will wait in line for months for a visa.
"The Libyans who live in Europe and USA, their children go to school and they want you to fight. They are comfortable. They then want to come and rule us and Libya. They want us to kill each other then come, like in Iraq."


Sunday, 20 February 2011

Google's Translate Whoopsie...

Go to and translate this text from english to arabic 

"Jews are terrorists. Americans are terrorists. Arabs are terrorists"
Copy the arabic translated text and translate it back to english.



US Trade 2010 Insights

Interesting if you're a political, economy, news junkie like me.


Snowmageddon - From Space

Do you folks remember Snowpocalyspe / Snowmageddon on Feb 3, 2011 ? If not, click here for a recap on that peach of a week when we here in North America were buried in the white stuff.

Anyways, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) released the following composite.

At first glance it looks like a graphic from a Discovery Channel programme about a distant ice age. But this astonishing picture shows the world as it is today - with half the Northern Hemisphere covered with snow and ice. The image was released by the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Association (NOAA) on the day half of North America was in the grip of a severe winter storm. 

Cool !!


I want this in my yard !!

Your daily humour - Animals Edition

We interrupt your perviously scheduled revolution to bring you this funny from BBCOne.



Saturday, 19 February 2011

Time Magazine's - Revolution by 0's and 1's

Next week's Time Magazine features several stories about the revolution in Egypt and the people who helped make it happen. Recognition well deserved.

Gaddafi's Response to Protesters

Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi has responded to recent protests in the country by apparently hiring African mercenaries to help him quell protesters. It seems that he cannot rely on his troops so he is using his vast oil wealth (that's dollars from you and me) to bring in people who have no qualms about firing into crowds of unarmed civilians.

It should also be noted that Gaddafi's response mirrors that of the regimes in Bahrain, Algeria and Yemen, in fact, are happening RIGHT NOW all across the region.

  • Internet and media is being either censured or just plain cut off 
  • Police and Army troops are using Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets, Batons and Live Ammo
  • Armored Vehicles and Helicopters fire into crowds
All of this to shut down people who are largely protesting in demand of basic rights that you and I take for granted every day. Simple things like the right to speak out, to elect a representative government, to have a say in the running of their own countries, to have a better future for themselves and their kids.

Warning - This is GRAPHIC and I do not recommend viewing if you're squeamish

"Like fish in a barrel" - Bahrain

Not to make light of the situation with the title of this post but this is what the peaceful protesters in Bahrain are being treated like.

Al Jazeera English - Bahraini protesters fired upon
NY Times - In Bahrain, the Bullets Fly

The Crown Prince of Bahrain has apparently decided not to shoot any How enlightened.

Arabic Survival Guide

In an effort to assist my fellow non Arab readers in deciphering the news coming out of North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf States, I proudly present my inaugural installment of......

"WTF did they say ?"

Arabic Survival Guide edition....The following common words and phrases will assist you in communicating smoothly with your fellow online revolutionaries. Brought to you by the collective genius of social networks like Twitter and some Google / Wikipedia.

NOTE: 7 is the hard 'h' sound: 'Ha', not the 'Heh', or soft 'H'; 3 is the 'ayeen' sound: 'eye'; Another good symbolic sound you will see a lot is '2'. That is a short 'a' sound, shortens vowel pronunciations

Irhal = Leave
Batil = Invalid
Thawra = Revolution
Hurriya = Freedom
Khalas = Enough
Majnoon = Crazy
Yalla = Go (rallying cry)
Hokoma = Government
Neezam = Regime
Shoghl = Work
Khobz = Bread
Ma / Mayya = Water
Hathr Tajawwol = Curfew
Damm = Blood
Ghadab = Anger
Khara = Shit
Kalb = Dog or Dictator (insulting to dogs)
Baltagya = Thugs
Tazweer = Forgery
Ehtfal = Celebration
Kha'an = Traitor
Hob = Love
Salam = Peace
Aman = Safety
Inshallah = God willing
Masry / Masri = Egyptian
Fakhour = Proud
Bousa = Kiss
Yalla = let's go, in a very passionate way, or here we go, or literally oh god
Yasqut = Down with, as in down with mubarak, yasqut mubarak
Yalla yalla yasqut Quddafi! = Let's go, let's go, down with Quiddafi!
Kefaya! = enough!
Fahimtukum = I understood you
Hurreya / Houriyyah = Freedom
Irhal = Leave
vatil = invalid
Thawra = Revolution
Khalas = Enough
Majnoon = Crazy
Selmeyya = Peaceful
Howa yemshi, mesh hanemshi = He leaves, we won't leave.
Toz = Fuck off or Go to hell
"Toz, toz fel Gaddafi = Go to hell, Gaddafi"
Karama / Karamah = Dignity
Shaheed = Martyr (Arabic and Persian)
Shohada = Martyrs
Mesh Hntatay = We won't bow down
Harami = Criminal / Thief
Rooh ballit al bahr! = Go bail out the ocean! (get lost!)
Gazma = Shoe / Tool raised in contempt at dictator
Intifadah = Uprising, Resistance, Rebellion; literally, 'shaking off'
to wage a "jihad" for "Horiyah" = to "struggle" for "freedom"
Tahrir = Liberation
Balady / Bilaady = My country
Watan / Vatan = Homeland (Arabic and Persian)
Amal / Umeed = Hope
Degage = Get out
Shabab = Youth
Ashaab yurid escaat anzam = the people want the regime to fall down
Allah yir7amhom = May god have mercy on them, something like may they rest in peace
Watany 7abiby el watan el akbar = My great country (home); the biggest country(home); it's a name of an old song about the arabian countries
Istihbaal / Estehbal = Idiocy; Playing stupid or Playing dumb; In California-speak, "he's trippin"
Matestahbelsh (variation of estehbal) = Don't play dumb
Khobz wa ma, Ben Ali la' = Bread and water yes, Ben Ali no /  Yes to bread and water, no to Ben Ali
Ya Mubarak Ya gaban, 7'alee il sha3b yi 3eesh fi aman = Mubarak U coward,let the people live in peace
Adala = Justice
Irhal yaany imshy, yemken ma byefhamshy' = Leave means depart, maybe he doesn't understand
Baltagia = A part-time thug for hire (Government thugs who disperse protests on camels)
Go ballit el bahar = go put tiles on the sea: busy yourself with insane task, go fuck a duck
Erfaa rasak foa', enta masry = Hold your head up high, you're Egyptian
Ya Gamal oul li abouk, el musreen be ikhrahook = Gamal, tell your father, the egyptian people hate him.
Sahaafi = Journalist
Batal = Hero
Khayen = Traitor
Mogrim = Criminal
Ana hurr = I am free (masculine) Ana hurra= I am free (feminine)
Fassad = Corruption
Saffah = Murderer
Ameel = Agent
Khayen = Traitor
Haramy = Thief
Tesbahu Ala Khayr = Good night said to more than 2 people
Sarik / Sarrak / 7arami / Harami = Thief
Moataqal (m.) / Moataqala (f.) = Detainee
Masageen ( = Prisoners
Salam = Peace
Al salam alyakoom = Peace be unto you
Shokran = Thank you
Shokran jazeelan = Thank you very much
Jihad = Struggle
Demoqratiyyah = Democracy
Amal = Hope
Sabr = patience
Shuja'a = Courage
Irada = Will
Tahya Masr = Long Live Egypt
Irahal = Leave = Dégage
Dustoor = Constitution
Dawlah Madaniyah = Civil State
Qanoon = Law
Haq = Right
Dameer = Conscience
Sijn = Prison
Ghaz Miseel Lildemua' = Tear Gas
Resas = Bullets
Hokoma = Government
Neezam = Regime
Shoghl = work
Khobz = Bread
Ma/Mayya = Water
Hathr Tajawwol = Curfew
Damm = Blood

Get your non Arabic friends together and try mixing and matching the words above to make your own surprisingly authentic Arabic revolutionary slogans. Feel free to add words where appropriate. For example, here in Canada we might use one of the following:

Manjoon Harper Yalla !!
Khalas Manjoon Harper Irhal !!


Many thanks to Tallulah and her site here which provided many of the examples
and for further reading of info, look at these sites.

Libya goes dark

See the report below. For those that don't speak "geek" it basically means that Libya has turned off it's internet. This is what Egypt tried and look how successful that was for them.

Insha' Allah (Arabicإنشالله‎)

Libyan Disconnect

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Renesys confirms that the 13 globally routed Libyan network prefixes were withdrawn at 23:18 GMT (Friday night, just after midnight Saturday local time), and Libya is off the Internet. One Libyan route originated by Telecom Italia directly is still BGP-reachable, but inbound traceroutes appear to die in Palermo. A minority of our peers report some surviving paths through the peering connection between Level3 and Telecom Italia, but traceroutes into those prefixes fail, suggesting that the Libyan cutoff is complete.
We wondered whether anyone would repeat Egypt's strategy. Tonight, it appears that we have our answer.
Updates to follow.

Gettysburg Address - Then and Now.

I came across this earlier this evening and I thought I would share it. Considering the events currently underway in North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf States, this is rather poignant, at least I think so.

First, the text so you can read it, then the actual document as displayed at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C and lastly, a copy currently being circulated on the internet amongst the various protesters.


The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincon
November 19, 1863
"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honoured dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Freedom of expression is a thing of the past in the Land of the Free…

Hypocrisy has reached a new level as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked at George Washington University on Wednesday, disapproving governments that arrest protesters, not allowing freedom of speech. Former C.I.A. analyst Ray McGovern was taken from the audience by two security guards, beaten and left bleeding in jail. His crime? Standing silently with his back turned to Clinton, wearing a t-shirt that said “Veterans for Peace”. Officially it was “Disorderly conduct”.

McGovern wanted to be “witness to the fact that many Americans are very much opposed to these policies of permanent war”, but he had no idea that it would get him brutalized, arrested and rather seriously hurt.

The timing was “excellent”, as Clinton smilingly said “…and then the government pulled the plug”, the two men grabbed the 71-year-old McGovern and dragged him out of the auditorium. “So this is America,” said McGovern.

“They took me outside, put two sets of iron handcuffs that pierced my wrists. The bleeding went all over my pants.”, said McGovern.

McGovern became a political activist after a 27-year-long career as C.I.A. officer. He served under seven U.S. presidents, presenting the morning intelligence briefings at the White House.

Freedom of expression is a thing of the past in the Land of the Free…

Friday, 18 February 2011

Life looks for Life

The incomparable Carl Sagan narrates this video. Humbling, haunting and beautiful.

Cosmos was one of the first books I ever got growing up. I still have it and still leaf through it from time to time. It was an inspiration to me then and remains one of the most thought provoking, insightful, interesting and frankly, enjoyable books I've ever read.

Who's going to be the Sagan of & for the next generation ? RIP

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy Single Appreciation Day !!

For those of you who're single, may I recommend you have a chuckle as you scan this.....See, being single has it's advantages.

Hitler gets Netflix and hits the internet cap

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Latest Unemployment Roll

I'm guessing these guys are out of work and looking for their next paycheques.

Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments
Date of Information: 2/2/2011

Pres. Mohamed Hosni MUBARAK
Vice Pres. Omar Mahmoud SOLIMAN
Prime Min. Ahmed Mohamed SHAFIK
Min. of Agriculture & Land Reclamation Ayman Farid Abu HADID
Min. of Awqaf (Religious Affairs) Mahmoud Hamdy ZAQZOUQ
Min. of Civil Aviation Ibrahim Ahmen MANNAA
Min. of Communications & Information Technology Tarek Mohamed KAMEL
Min. of Culture Gaber El Ahmed El Sayed ASFOUR
Min. of Defense Mohamed Hussein TANTAWI, Fd. Mar.
Min. of Education
Min. of Electricity & Energy Hassan Ahmed YOUNIS
Min. of Endowments Abdallah el Husseini HELAL
Min. of Finance Samir RADWAN
Min. of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Ali ABOUL GHEIT
Min. of Foreign Trade & Industry Samiha FAWZI
Min. of Health Ahmed Sameh Hosni FARID
Min. of Higher Education Hani HILAL
Min. of Housing, Utilities, & Urban Communities Ahmed El-MAGHRABI
Min. of Information Anas El-FIQQI
Min. of Interior Mahmoud WAGDY
Min. of Intl. Cooperation Fayza ABOUL NAGA
Min. of Irrigation & Water Resources Mohamed NASR EDDIN
Min. of Justice Mamdouh MAREI
Min. of Legal Affairs & Parliamentary Councils Moufed Mahmoud SHEHAB
Min. of Local Development Abdel Salam al-MAHGOUB
Min. of Manpower & Immigration Aisha ABDEL HADI
Min. of Military Production Mohamed Hussein TANTAWI, Fd. Mar.
Min. of Petroleum Sameh FAHMY
Min. of Planning Osman Mohammed OSMAN
Min. of Public Business Sector Mokhtar KHATTAB
Min. of Social Security Ali MOSELHI
Min. of Tourism
Min. of Transport Alaa El-Deen Mohamed FAHMY
Min. of State for Admin. Development Ahmed DARWISH
Min. of State for Economic Development Osman Mohammed OSMAN
Min. of State for Environmental Affairs Maged George Elias GHATTAS
Min. of State for Family & Population Affairs Moshira KHATTAB
Min. of State for Local Development Abdel-Rahim SHEHATA
Min. of State for Military Production Sayed MESHAL
Min. of State for Scientific Research Hani HILAL
Min. of State for Shura Council Affairs Yehia Abdel MAGUID
Governor, Central Bank Farouk Abdel Baky El-OKDA
Ambassador to the US Sameh Hassan SHOUKRY
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York Maged ABDEL FATTAH

Posted: May 03, 2007 12:53 PM
Last Updated: Feb 07, 2011 10:34 AM
Last Reviewed: May 03, 2007 12:53 PM