Feb. 22nd, 2011

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ETA: 4 more articles below Libya at a glance.

Libya is a former Roman colony situated in central north Africa. Its capital is Tripoli and its major language is Arabic.

It is bordered to the west by Tunisia and Algeria, to the east by Egypt and Sudan, to the south by Chad and Niger, and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea.

Its 2010 population was 6.5 million, according to the United Nations.

Libya's official name is Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

It was so named by its current leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who has also implemented a unique form of Islam in the nation. 'Jamahiriya' means 'state of the masses'.MORE

On to today's news, which isn't very good. WARNING: STRONG VIOLENCE

Read more... )
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New Zealand earthquake: Depth and location key

It is in the nature of earthquakes that they tend to cluster in space and time.

And Tuesday's damaging tremor in Christchurch is almost certainly related to the much more energetic event that hit the region last September.

But whereas last year's quake caused relatively little damage and no deaths, the natural disaster that struck the city on 22 February looks set to go down in the record books as one of the most catastrophic in New Zealand's history.

The critical difference on this occasion is that the ground broke almost directly under the country's second city, and at shallow depth.

Christchurch would have been subjected to intense shaking. Masonry collapse was widespread, even in a city where earthquake building regulations are among the strictest in the world.

Seismologists began to record the biggest tremor, a magnitude 6.3, on their equipment at 12:51 and 43 seconds local time (23:51:43 GMT) - right in the middle of Christchurch's day

The focus, the point in the Earth where the rocks first rupture, was a mere 5km (3 miles) below the surface.

Contrast this with September's magnitude 7.0 event; its epicentre occurred some 40km west of the city and at a depth of 10km, and it continued to rupture mainly away from the major built-up areas.


*blink* New Zealand was hit with an earthquake last year? *searches* The previous earthquake in Sept 2010 gave only injuries, but cost up to $2 billion

Much less lucky this time: Quake rocks New Zealand city: PM confirms at least 65 dead after 6.3 magnitude earthquake hits Christchurch for the second time in five months.

John Key, New Zealand prime minister, has said the death toll from the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck the city of Christchurch has risen to at least 65. The death toll from Tuesday's earthquake is expected to rise with hundreds of people still reported trapped in buildings on what the prime minister said "may be New Zealand's darkest day".

Key said eight or nine buildings had collapsed. And the spire of the iconic stone Christchurch Cathedral toppled into a central city square.

Bob Parker, Christchurch mayor, declared a state of emergency and ordered people to evacuate the city center.

Video footage showed some multi-storey buildings collapsed in on themselves, while walls of some others collapsed into the streets.

Toyama [Japan] Group Caught in NZ Quake — Ministry

A group of Japanese students and teachers are believed to be trapped in the rubble of a school that collapsed when New Zealand’s second-largest city Christchurch was hit by an earthquake Tuesday, according to Japan’s foreign ministry.MORE

Christchurch earthquake causes ice to break off New Zealand's largest glacier

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — The earthquake that struck Christchurch has caused some 30 million tons of ice to break off from New Zealand's biggest glacier.

Tour guides at the Tasman Glacier in the Southern Alps say the quake caused the ice to "calve" from the glacier, forming icebergs in the terminal lake.MORE

The Guardian Christchurch Earthquake Live Blog

As night falls in Christchurch this is the situation so far.

• 65 people are confirmed dead and more deaths are expected as rescuers comb through the rubble in Christchurch's centre after a 6.3-magnitude shock hit the city during lunch hour

• Emergency crews are working through the night to reach the 100 to 200 people thought to still be trapped inside collapsed buildings

• Tourists were said to have been in the tower of Christchurch Cathedral when it collapsed, and they are feared dead.

Earthquake topples Christchurch Cathedral's spire

• Power and water supplies have been cut off within most of the city, with an evacuation from the city centre being ordered

• Towns outside Christchurch closer to the centre of the earthquake are also said to be devastated MORE

New Zealand Herald:Latest updates: Christchurch earthquake (+ map)

About half of Christchurch remains without power following today's magnitude 6.3 quake, and lines company Orion Energy is warning it will take several days to make repairs.

Up to 80 percent of customers lost power when the quake hit just before 1pm and Orion had managed to restore it to some.

``We have found serious damage to both major cables and substations in the New Brighton and Dallington areas,'' Orion Energy chief executive Roger Sutton said.MORE

Our thoughts are with the stricken nation at this time.
CBS New Zeland Earthquake pics Building damage only should be safe to view.
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ETA: Saudi Arabia's response below: So. A couple of days ago the Crown prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa called off the security forces and told them to stop shooting the protesters.Some of whom promptly retook Pearl Square and settled in for a nice long seige.

The Al Jazeera Live Blog goes up to Feb 21 which is when shit got seriously real in Libya and everyone got distracted.

While the Crown Prince calls for dialogue between the protesters and the gov't
THE multi-party national dialogue will involve all sections of the Bahraini society, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown and Deputy Supreme Commander said yesterday.

"We are all Bahrainis. No Sunnis. No Shi'ites," HRH the Crown Prince said as he received at Riffa Palace a delegation from Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He stressed that the national dialogue ordered by His Majesty King Hamad would engage all parties.

"Our duty now is to introduce viable reforms promoting equality."

He also called on Bahrainis to assume their historical responsibilities, urging calm, self-restraint and constructive national dialogue. MORE

and in response to demand for concessions, Bahrain's king promised to release political prisoners Bahrain King Orders Release of Political Prisoners

Manama, Bahrain (AP) - Bahrain's king ordered the release of some political prisoners Tuesday, conceding to another opposition demand as the embattled monarchy tries to engage protesters in talks aimed at ending an uprising that has entered its second week.

The king's decree -- which covers several Shiite activists accused of plotting against the state -- adds to the brinksmanship on both sides that has included a massive pro-government rally Monday and the planned returned of a prominent opposition figure from exile.

It's unclear how many prisoners will be freed, said government spokeswoman Maysoon Sabkar.

But they include some of the 25 Shiite activists on trial for allegedly plotting against the Sunni rulers of the strategic island kingdom, a leading member of Bahrain's Shiite opposition, Abdul Jalili Khalil, told The Associated Press.MORE

...The Bahraini oppposition is not stopping there. Today, 100,000 people (of a population of 800,000) are marching in the capital: Bahrain protesters back in action: Tens of thousands march in the first organised demonstration since unrest broke out in the Gulf Arab nation.
Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Bahrain in the possibly biggest demonstration since unrest began last week.

Demonstrators circled the Bahrain Mall and the financial district of Manama, the capital, in a march to the heart of the protest at Pearl Square.

"We want the fall of the government" was the most common chant among the mainly Shia Muslim protesters who accuse the Sunni rulers of discriminating against the island's Shia majority.

Led by opposition groups such as Wefaq and Waad, it was the first organised demonstration and followed spontaneous protests by a rising youth movement relying on social media.

Helicopters hovered overhead but security forces offered no resistance after opening fire on protesters last week.MORE

see also: Bahrain: Loyalty to the Martyrs

And now we do a bit of a segue to some really interesting articles on the Western role in events in Bahrain. It is being postulated that American pressure may have contributed to the Bahraini royal family calling off the security forces, but I can't find that article right now.

Anyway, the LA Times talks about why the USA has ties to Bahrain: U.S. walks tightrope in policy toward Bahrain violence I'm sure you'll be surprised to learn its all about the oil.

A tiny monarchy in the Persian Gulf, Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, and the fall of its government could scramble the strategic order in the Middle East, potentially weakening U.S. leverage and leaving Iran in a stronger position.


Fifth Fleet headquarters commanded by a Vice Admiral Mark I. Fox controls U.S. naval ships and aircraft operating in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Most months of the year, there are dozens of the U.S. naval vessels in the region.

The Fifth Fleet's broad mission is to protect the flow of oil and, in case of a military crisis with Iran, to keep open the strait of Hormuz, the 29-mile choke point near the entrance to the Persian Gulf. More than 20% of the world's petroleum shipments travel through the strait.

"The importance of the Fifth Fleet's mission cannot be overstated," said Mark Kimmitt, former deputy director for strategy for U.S. Central Command and a former senior State Department and Pentagon official. "They have the mission to keep the Persian Gulf open, defeat terrorism, prevent piracy and respond to crises, whether environmental, security or humanitarian.MORE

Now Britain however, has a WHOLE lot of shenanigans to answer for. Read more... )
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Reposting this link:In search of an African revolution: International media is following protests across the 'Arab world' but ignoring those in Africa. Let me point out that a great deal of the "Arab World" is IN Africa.


Gabon: The forgotten protests, the blinkered media by Ethan Zuckeman who started Global Voices

But not all revolutions are blessed with this level of attention. The West African nation of Gabon is experiencing a popular revolt against the rule of Ali Bongo Ondimba, son of long-time strongman Omar Bongo, president since October 2009. Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets of the nation's capital Libreville, on 29 January, and faced violent suppression from Ali Bongo’s troops. Protests have spread to other cities, and the crackdown against them has become increasingly fierce. Protests planned for 5 and 8 February were both suppressed with tear gas. At this point, it’s unclear whether protesters will be able to continue pressuring the government, or whether the crackdown has driven dissent underground.

The protests in Egypt and Tunisia have focused attention on autocratic governments with a history of corruption. In Egypt, the possibility of a Mubarak dynasty moving from Hosni to Gamal Mubarak helped stoke dissent. Gabonese are familiar with these types of problems. Omar Bongo is widely believed to have systematically looted the Gabonese treasury for his personal benefit. A suit brought in France by Transparency International against the governments of Gabon, Congo and Equatorial Guinea, accuses Bongo of depositing 8.5% of the national budget into a personal account at Citibank, siphoning more than $100 million from the country between 1985 and 1997. When Bongo finally died in a Barcelona hospital in 2009, a controversial election ended up selecting Bongo’s son as a new leader amid widespread accusations of voter fraud. And while Gabon, blessed with oil wealth, has a very high gross domestic product per capita by sub-Saharan African standards, little of that wealth reaches the Gabonese people, one third of which live in poverty.

Read more... )

Cameroonian reporter Julie Owono is following the story on Global Voices.


GLobal Voices: Cote d'Ivoir

Interesting how African dictators sometimes use Pan-Africanism as rhetoric for their power grabs. Côte d’Ivoire : About Gbagbo's Pan-Africanism.


Cote d'Ivoire Crisis Page

Cote d'Ivoire Crisis Drags On Amid African Ferment

With the world's attention focusing on mass mobilization and historic shifts of power in Tunis and Cairo, the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire has faded into the background but remains completely unresolved. A series of briefings by the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

African Leaders head for Cote d'Ivoire

South Africa has announced that President Jacob Zuma will join other heads of state this weekend in a bid to resolve the Ivorian crisis, while a naval vessel which could serve as a venue for talks stands by off the West African coast.MORE

Ivorian Crisis Threatens West Africa

With the African Union intensifying efforts to resolve the ongoing political stalemate, concern is growing about the widening impact of the crisis.MORE

Radio France Internationale (Paris)Côte d'Ivoire: Clashes As African Leaders Arrive

Read more... )

Ivory Coast Braces for More Violence Amid Protests and Financial Collapse

Read more... )


Global Voices: Dijibouti

DJIBOUTI: ‘Guelleh step down and Somalia remove your police’ – opposition statement

Read more... )

Djibouti's Government Says It Encourages Protests, Must Remain Within Law
Djibouti’s government said it believes rallies by political parties are a pre-requisite for free and fair elections and that a violent demonstration last week by opponents of the state was hijacked by “trouble-makers.”

One policeman died and nine other people were injured in the Feb. 18 protests by opponents of President Ismail Guelleh, Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Yousef said by phone from the capital city, Djibouti, yesterday. Opposition parties are meeting this week to decide when to hold their next demonstration.


The U.S. has had a military base in Djibouti since 2001, while former colonial power France has 3,000 troops stationed in the country, which is smaller than the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The republic borders the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and is seen as a strategic location in the U.S.-led fight against terrorism and piracy.
Djibouti ranks 148th out of 169 countries in the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, education and living standards.
An investigation is under way to determine whether opposition leaders will be prosecuted for the violence at least week’s protest, Yousef said.MORE

Pro-democracy protests reach Djibouti Actually, they've actually been going on for a while.

Read more... )

Djibouti Opposition Parties to Meet to Plan More Anti-Government Protests

Read more... )


Global Voices: Sudan A People's Revolution in the Making?

Feb 11, In Sudan, protests met with violent government response

Read more... )


Zimbabwe Arrests 46 for Watching Videos of Middle Eastern Protests
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A couple of notes on the situation in Libya.

When judging the international response, particularly in the West, what it comes down to is what it always comes down to, oil.

The UN lifted sanctions on Libya in 2003, the US lifted sanctions in 2004, and Western oil companies poured into the country to reclaim their holdings, led by ConocoPhillips & Marathon Oil & Amerada Hess, which used to operate in Libya decades ago as the Oasis group. And what must be kept in mind, what is the unstated assumption that drives much of Western policy in the Middle East, is that it is almost always easier to negotiate oil rights with dictators and monarchs than it is with democracies.

You can find a complete list of oil and gas companies in Libya here. The last I heard, Gadhafi had already attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investments (with Blair and Sarkozy and Berlusconi and Bush, among many others, personally hand delivering some of those investments). This is the main thing that Western companies and governments are worried about, as well as the spill-over effects of a revolution to neighboring oil-rich countries. From an Al Jazeera article: "The best case scenario, from the oil market’s stand point, would be for unrest to calm," Jones added. "That might be at odds with the populace." The analyst would not comment on what would happen to energy markets if unrest spread to Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer.

So, right now. Oil prices are surging, stocks are sinking, the oil companies are desperately trying to PR their way out of this by saying that they won't be affected, even as they are pulling out personnel and the head of the al-Zuwayya tribe is threatening a halt to petroleum exports:
Sheikh Faraj al-Zuwayy, leader of the powerful Zuwayya tribe in the western and southern parts of the country [they're in the east; this reporter seems to have little clue about geography], said that the message to Qadhafi was to "stop the bloodshed this evening or else our tribe will be forced to stop the oil flow within 24 hours because the blood of Libyans is more precious than oil."

"This is what we demand from Muammar al-Qadhafi, the European countries, and the United States. We reiterate that we will have to stop the oil flow tomorrow. We will do it."

No doubt the Western oil companies are appalled at just how impractical and unbusinesslike the Sheikh is being, issuing a statement like this. (Though, despite what the article claims, the Zuwayya tribe is not all that powerful; the region counts for only a fraction of the Libya's oil exports. The Warfallah, on the other hand, are a different matter.)

Also, a note on Gadhafi. The dude was 28 years old when he came into power, a military officer who headed a coup that toppled the king. The eastern region didn't support this coup, a fact which Gadhafi never forgot. In the last forty years, most of the country's oil revenues have gone to the western regions (which is also where the bulk of the oil is located, if I'm not mistaken). The majority of the opposition and resistance to Gadhafi has originated in the East, particularly the city of Benghazi.

Benghazi is the city in which the protests once again began on the 15th, and whose citizens were first massacred. (And what is with the BBC putting massacre in quotes?) The Zuwayya tribe, who declared that they would stop the oil flow in their region, live just south of this city.

Libya's largest tribe is the Warfallah tribe, located in the West, in the oil rich Tripolitana region. In 1993, they rebelled unsuccessfully against Gadhafi, which led to the sham trials and executions.

On the night of Feb 20th, once protesters had taken over most of Benghazi, they joined them in calling for a revolution. The Taureg tribe, at 500,000 strong Libya's second largest tribe (from the southern and western parts of the country), joined this revolt, and the situation turned from an Eastern uprising to a national revolution.

ETA: Vijay Prashad has an article on CounterPunch, The Libyan Labryinth, that gives additional background.
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Indiana Dems have fled the state. Indiana protesters have swarmed the state capital.

Indiana Senate GOPers Pass Collective Bargaining Bill; Dem Reps Go M.I.A.

Governor Mitch Daniels isn't the only Indianan taking a cue from his northern neighbors in Wisconsin: Protesting Hoosiers swarmed the statehouse in Indianapolis Tuesday, while House Democrats reportedly fled the state, and the GOP-led Senate has passed SB 575 [PDF], which would eliminate state teachers' collective bargaining rights.

Several quorum calls have been attempted in the House, but there are not enough representatives to take a vote on the "Right To Work" bill that's currently before the Legislature. The body's Democrats, who are in an "indefinite caucus," according to spokesperson Peg McLeish, are rumored to be out of state. An approaching deadline is at hand, and if bills aren't passed this week, they are dead.MORE

Does anyone have anymore links, blogs etc?

Meantime Walker wants to lay off state workers to punish Dems for staying out of state. Unions respond by calling for general strike. [livejournal.com profile] ontd_political Wisonsin roundup 2/2 has more details. and [personal profile] badger2305 brings us a personal acct of the day in the State Capitol Quiet State Capitol

So it's 2am here in Madison.

I've just returned from the state capitol. Assembly Democrats are continuing to hold hearings to take testimony from ordinary people scared half to death by SB11 - Gov. Walker's "Budget Repair Bill." My own back-of-the-envelope analysis is that this bill is going to be a fiscal disaster for the state.

I had my opportunity a little after 1am - please note that time. There were no Republicans present. Apparently it is perfectly fine for them to not hear from their constituents, but Heaven forfend if 14 Senate Democrats decide that they won't stay around for the Walker Juggernaut to run them over.MORE

Rachel Maddow - Wisconsin - Survival of the Democratic Party

Wisconsin roundup 2/20: Statement to Workers of Wisconsin by Kamal Abbas of Egypt's Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services labour union

via: [personal profile] lireavue [personal profile] kittydesade has a link roundup of union busting and protesting across the US Carrying the Banner

The Mountain Press indicates that the TN bill is limited to teachers. Other public employees would still be able to bargain through a union.
Local TV News seems to bear that out and discusses a protest march and counter protest by the Tennessee Tea Party.
This local press article also includes a paragraph of intent from the bill's initial sponsor.

This local news article describes a bill that would ban teacher strikes. It is dated Feb 21. However, also according to this article, this is one of only two states in New England that does not ban teacher strikes.
This is an OP-ED piece dated Feb 18 that says that a recent bill "would mandate all early education, after school program and home child care workers to join in statewide collective bargaining." The author believes this would be a bad thing and lists reasons why.

Rhode Island
This article suggests Rhode Island may be the next to see a collective-bargaining rights bill of some kind.MORE


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