Gaddafi: Death Of A Monster: Libya’s Sad Story

I don’t  blame them, the guys who pulled Gaddafi out of a storm drain and shot him.  Actually when I watched the footage, blurred as it was, I didn’t even feel anything for him.  You live by the sword you die by the sword.

All the killing and suffering because one man couldn’t let go of power.  And now he’s dead anyway, died like a rat.  What a horribly sad story.   How are Libyans going to recover from the trauma of all the violence and carnage?  What about the children?

It’s easy to hate Gaddafi and be glad that he’s dead.  Easy to think of him as a bestial creature, not human.  But this morning’s paper had a photo of him taken just after he died, his body bloodied, his face collapsed.  And next to it was a photo of 3 of his supporters, lying face down outside the drain, also dead.  And it hit me.

Somewhere inside that body and twisted mind lay a soul.

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Occupy Wall Street – the US Version of the Egyptian Revolution?

You can’t keep a good thing down.  Nobody ever has been able to, especially when the good thing is people’s independence of spirit and lust for recognition of their rights.  Not so long ago Egypt set the world on fire.  Well it set my heart on fire, that’s for sure.

Up till then revolutions had always been about violence and an upsurge of frustration and anger.  I think most of the world has come to see rebellion as having to be a violent thing because it only seems to happen when people have been so abused for so long that their pent-up rage just explodes.

Not in Egypt though.  I had hoped it would be an example for everybody else in the world to see – there’s such huge power in numbers that violence doesn’t have to be used.  Those numbers have to be engaged somehow but I thought that with social media it would be a breeze.  It hasn’t happened, though.

Which means those Egyptians are really something else.   But maybe the Occupy Wall Street movement is the US version of the Egyptian Revolution.  It started at grass roots, just ordinary people gathering because they’d had enough of abuse of power.  And since power in the US is wherever the money is, that’s where the abuse is.

In Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, protesters weren’t taken seriously either.  In fact, in every revolution that’s ever happened, leaders stay in denial for as long as they possibly can.  Don’t any of them read history books?  Apparently not.  They arrest protestors, try to disrupt or destroy rebellion.  They use injustice, violence.  When that doesn’t work they sulk, use more violence.

Eventually they go down.  It’s inevitable.  And I think the Occupy Wall Street movement’s outcome is inevitable, too.  Protesters are getting arrested now, but for absolutely trivial reasons.  14 people were taken away for violating a midnight curfew – by sitting in a waterless fountain in Washington Square Park.  In Minneapolis 150 protesters were camped out outside City Hall at night and police took away their tents.

Other arrests have been made in Denver, Seattle and San Diego, but reports of violence have been rare.  This is a peaceful movement, but it has power.  I’ve seen a few commentators make fairly derisive comments about it because it’s  “unorganized” but I smiled to myself.  Just wait and see.  A couple of unions have pledged their support – the United Auto Workers and the United Federation of Teachers.

Pretty soon celebs with deep pockets and a wide reach will adding their voices.  America needs a revolution.  According to Wiki at the end of 2001 10% owned 71% of the wealth and the top 1% owned 38%.  Now the top 20% holds more than 80% of the wealth.  Financial gains over the last decade have mostly been made at the top of the economic food chain as more and more people fall out of the middle class.

Something’s gotta give.  It drives me utterly demented every time I see a wealthy capitalist bitch about paying better taxes.  They wouldn’t even notice the money was gone out of their purses.  And for this greed and idiocy a whole country must be sacrificed?  A whole global economy?  Because it isn’t just in America, it’s all over the place.  

Well, Occupy Wall Street is spreading around the world.  It could become the first global and peaceful revolution in the history of mankind.  Now that would be progress.  Where do I sign up?

click here for some great photos

Gaddafi And His Friends – In South Africa?

Allow me to have a rant.   Anybody with an ounce of sense – and I mean anybody who has been outraged at Gaddafi’s behavior and who is rejoicing now that his murderous regime is over – is surely supporting the UN’s call for his $1.5 billion assets to be unfrozen so that Libyans can rebuild their country.

But not South Africa’s government.  President Jacob Zuma has said it’s okay to release $500m for humanitarian purposes, but not the rest, because – wait for it – we can’t support an interim authority that has come to power by illegitimate means.

Right.  And Gaddafi was legitimate?  Furthermore, Zuma was quoted in the Mail & Guardian (August 26 – September 21 2011) as saying “The situation in Libya has been of concern as it has been accompanied by the undermining of the African continent’s role in find a solution.  We could have avoided a lot of loss of life in Libya.”

He has taken the position that the Libyan crisis is just another example of how the rest of the world shows Africa no respect.  Which part of Africa is he talking about?   Corrupt African leaders or African people who have revolted against said leaders?   I think the “rest of the world” has shown huge respect for African people living in Libya.

Zuma was reported to have said not too long ago that if he had to, he would personally fly into Libya to ensure his friend Gaddafi’s passage to safety.  Of course the government now denies he said it.  I hope that’s the truth.  Zuma has some strange friends, though.  His candidate for the position of chief justice has some scary views on marital rape.

In an appeal against a sentence for marital rape he heard in 2007, he acknowledged that the husband had throttled his wife and pinned her to the bed to have sex with her against her will.  He said the man’s guilt was proved beyond reasonable doubt.  But he also said that no harm was done by the throttling and in any case, she came to bed in panties and a nightdress.

The poor guy must have been sexually aroused when his wife came to bed so sexily clad, and his desire to have sex with her must have overwhelmed him.  He only used minimum force, so there was no legitimate reason to imprison him.  Wow.  And this is the guy Zuma wants for his chief justice.  Hey, Gaddafi would fit right in there.  Men with too much permissive entitlement and not a whole lot of integrity.

I had a fantasy when I saw that £1 million reward is offered for Gaddafi, dead or alive.  I imagined seeing him here in Cape Town in some kind of ridiculous disguise which I of course would penetrate with my remarkable acuity.   I’d slink around after him, hugging corners, checking out the landscape.  He’d sit down at a restaurant.  I’d dash to the internet café.

The FBI et al would somehow instantly be deployed (perhaps Harry Potter would help with a bit of magic) and would descend in thwopping helicopters to take the man down and deliver him into the hands of those he has abused with such terrifying impunity.  As for me?  Hah.  World fame at last.  A book deal, a film script, an interview with Oprah on OWN.   Instant success and achievement.  Not to mention a tidy fortune.

Piers Morgan Talks to Simon Cowell; & did Moussa Koussa try to con the West?

Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell

Piers Morgan interviewed Simon Cowell the other night.  I’ve never been a fan of either men – I hated how arrogant and rude Piers was on America’s Got Talent – or was he on Idols?   He seemed to take pleasure in being as rude and cutting as possible, and destroying people.  Simon Cowell has always just seemed like an empty-headed egotist to me.  No personality.

Sigh.  Prejudices always say much more about you than they do about your target, don’t they?    Well, I’ve seen a different side of Morgan since he’s taken over from Larry King.  He’s not afraid to ask straightforward questions, but he’s showing a different, more humane side of himself, more personally vulnerable.

As for Simon Cowell, I saw a man who didn’t fit at all into my prejudice box.  He didn’t seem like a huge egotist after all, just a man who knew what he couldn’t do, and what he could.  He certainly isn’t empty-headed!  He admitted he has absolutely no performing talent, but that his forte is recognizing people who do – or who have that star quality.  People like Lady Gaga, I guess.

He said it isn’t necessarily phenomenal talent that makes a person a star, it’s the individuality and the desire and ability to express it.  I like that.  My favorite part of the interview, though, was when he talked about how Elton John had allegedly criticized him for single-handedly destroying the music industry, because unless somebody makes it in his show now, they don’t have a chance.  Cowell’s reply was that Elton John has enough money and resources to help as many people to become stars as he wants, so why doesn’t he do it?

I think he has a point.  Elton John has so much clout, and is so well-respected, a man of real stature in the industry, for good reason.  Imagine if he got a few of his buddies together and created a kind of scholarship program, where they helped people achieve their dreams and aspirations.  And imagine if it became cool for celebrity performers to participate, so the program just grew and grew all around the world.

One more: imagine if they didn’t make it about age, but just about a person being ready to learn how to express themselves richly and fully.  Think how that would change the music industry and create a completely new kind of balance and perspective.  Maybe I should write to Elton John.  It must be possible to find a contact address somewhere, at least for his agent.

Libya – Did Moussa Koussa Try to Con the West?

When Moussa Koussa first came to Britain, this time round, something just didn’t seem right.  Gaddafi wasn’t bothered, and put out the word that Koussa was there with his blessing because he was a sick old man.  I don’t know what he was really doing in England, but when I heard the other day that he was saying Libya must unite, that civil war would turn it into another Somalia, and then that he wanted to be part of a new government, my hackles rose.

And now he’s gone, and probably won’t come back to face that questioning that was going to happen over Lockerbie etc.  Clever guy.  What was he really doing?  Trying to con the West into letting him play a major role in a new government, after which he could just bring his ol’ pal Gaddafi back into power and everything would be hunky dory.   Don’t trust a person who won’t say I’m responsible and I’m sorry for what I did.

Libya gets UN help at last. Gaddafi Cornered by UN Resolution

I’m relieved to see Libya is getting media attention again.  I was afraid Gaddafi would destroy all his opposition and the world would conveniently look the other way, but it was just that Japan got the focus for a while.  As it should.  One heart-warming thing about that country’s terrible challenges has been the response of so many countries around the world.  And not just lip-service.  Could we really be moving towards a world where countries help each other and everybody wants peace and prosperity more than they want revenge and power?

It seems that that might be the case in the Middle East.   Yesterday Gaddafi warned the opposition rebels that “we are coming” and he would show them no mercy, no compassion.  He clearly thought he was untouchable.  But it was enough to tip the scales for the UN Security Council who voted 10 to 0 to pass  the resolution for an arms embargo on Libya, a freezing of Libyan assets, a no-fly zone and the  use of whatever military force is necessary to protect Libyan civilians from being slaughtered by Gaddafi.

Five countries abstained.  Germany is nervous about getting involved in a way which couldn’t be won, China dislikes the idea of using international military intervention – naturally, given its own human rights record.  Russia, Brazil and India also abstained but nobody vetoed.

Today Gaddafi did a 180 degree turn.  The Libyan Foreign Minister gave a press conference in which he said Libya will abide by the resolution and declared a cease-fire and halting of all military operations.  He made out of course that Gaddafi and his regime were the good guys, but what else was he going to do?   Interesting that Gaddafi didn’t make the speech.  I suspect he’s been strong-armed.

The Foreign Minister went on to express sadness at the blanket no-fly zone and the freezing of Libyan assets, because these two actions would hurt Libyan civilians.  He also said Libya was annoyed that the UN is allowed to use military force.   Parting shots of a loser.  The speech clearly wasn’t written by Gaddafi, whose previous speeches all show what a psychopathic narcissist he is.  Well, he’s finally hit his losing streak.  Many think his games aren’t over, that he’s just buying time, that in this period of cease-fire he’ll move and hide all his firepower.

Personally I think he’s not calling the shots any more.   The sulky rhetoric part of the Libyan Foreign Minister’s speech is meaningless.  I think the reality is more likely to be that the ruling group understands foreign military intervention will be the end for them.

The UN Resolution calls for swift military action and US and its NATO partners have various contingency plans.  These include air strikes and cruise missile attacks on Libyan air defenses and military units being used on rebels.  Two countries from the Arab League will be taking part.  I hope this is the end of all the fighting and that those brave Libyans who have given so much finally succeed in their quest for peace and freedom.

I’m so relieved the UN passed the resolution.  Even looking at this from a cynical perspective, that everybody’s just worried about oil, it’s still great that it’s becoming less and less in anybody’s interests to support tyrants and dictators in the Middle East.   And the power has actually come from the people.  Extraordinary.  The more they succeed, the easier it’s going to be for others to follow suit.

Middle East, Libya, Egypt and Their Brave New World

I have never known very much about Arab and Muslim people.  Mostly by reason of having no real information – certainly very little firsthand.  All I’ve seen and heard have been opinions, when some terrible crime against humanity has been committed.  And of course for me it started with 9/11.

I didn’t buy the Bush government’s story, and I was aware that any foreign hatred of America isn’t entirely unmerited.  I also knew that fundamentalism was at the root of much of the violent atrocities, that Muslims per se are not violent in nature and nor is the religion.  And I don’t like fundamentalists of any sort, so that wasn’t just about Muslims.

Still, since 9/11 I’ve been influenced without realizing it by the perspective of much of the west and the media representations that I’ve looked at.  The picture painted of Muslims and Arabs has never been complimentary.  I’ve rarely seen stories about them in their daily lives, their dreams and aspirations, how they go about trying to accomplish them, their everyday struggles, challenges and triumphs.

I can’t blame it all on the press, though.  I didn’t go looking, either.  Until now that is.  With all the exposure of the Middle East, particularly so far Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.  Tunisia caught my attention, but Egypt touched my soul.  I’ve been glued to my TV ever since Egyptians started protesting. Now it’s Libya. I’ve  wanted to know – and I still do – what’s happening all the time.  I channel hop like crazy between BBC, CNN and SkyNews to get everything I can.

What’s so great is that for the first time in my life I’m seeing the truth about Egyptians, Libyans, and others who are protesting in the region.  Real people, not just general statistics, and not fundamentalists.  I’m seeing beautiful, passionate, courageous, non-violent people by the hundreds of thousands protesting against repressive regimes, willing to sacrifice their lives.

People I can relate to and admire, regardless of the cultural and religious differences between us.  Women and men, young and old, from every sector of society.  Businesspeople, doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, workers.  United in their desire for peace, and to be respected.  None of the protesting has been motivated by fundamentalism or even religion.  It’s just sane people wanting freedom.

What’s not to respect?  Last night I saw a report on Radio Free Libya, in Benghazi.  This was originally the national state radio, totally controlled by Gaddafi and his cronies.  When Benghazi fell to the opposition, much of the station was destroyed, but what remained has been turned into Radio Free Libya – by ordinary people, professionals and business people who have no desire to be in politics, but just want to contribute to putting the country back together again.  None of them are getting any money for it.  It was incredibly moving to watch.

I’ve heard so many comments about Egypt and Libya that are mistrustful of Egyptians and Libyans and their capacity to create change that will really be about democracy.  There’s a lot of skepticism and voicing of negative opinion.  It’s as if people in the west just can’t bring themselves to be positive about the Middle East.  Can’t even let themselves say “I believe something good – something great – will come out of this.”  It’s a pity. They’re missing out in participating positively in the miracle of the century.  It’s a brave new world in the best sense.

Middle East, Egypt, Libya and Twitter

I’m getting addicted to television.  And Twitter.  Blame it on the Middle East and this extraordinary blossoming of people’s awareness of their rights, all the connection that’s happening.  It’s infectious, that’s what it is.  One revolution such as the world has never seen before.  That points the way for all of us, no matter what our challenge is.  Speak out, stay firm, don’t give in to violence, connect with everybody around you. Ghandi would be proud.

I always hear it – and have said it myself a million times – that history repeats itself, and things never really change.  All the dictators, all the repression leading inevitably to crisis and violent,  bloody revolution.  But it’s not really true any more.  Something’s different this time round.  Don’t forget, it’s the year of the Female Iron Rabbit, generally spoken of as a particularly auspicious year.

Here we are in the west pretty much controlled by the power we’ve given to capitalist kings and queens (mostly kings but let’s face it their wives are right behind them).  They are the dictators of this century for us.  They’ve manipulated the desires, the honor, the work ethic of the middle classes just as any dictatorial monarch.

But just as the French, the Russian, the you-name-it Revolutions of the past started with mumblings and rumblings of dissatisfaction which gathered momentum, our awareness is growing of how powerless we really are, who we’re sacrificing our lives to.  And we’re not so happy about it.  We’re doing some mumbling and rumbling of our own.  Revolution is in the air.

In the Middle East, the business of dictatorship has been business as usual up until now.  Repressive regimes violently punishing opposition.  But something has changed.  In fact quite a few things have changed.  It isn’t just one country, one despot.  It’s a whole region, many different countries.  The rulers are independent from each other, but it’s as if there are almost no borders between the people.  At least no borders that can contain the infectiousness of their courage, their desire for freedom, the fact that they’ve all had enough.

So now each country has the momentum, the kind of mass consciousness of the whole region to back it against its despot.  Even somebody like Gaddafi, who lives in an altered reality, much like Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, and who doesn’t care who he kills or how he goes about it, doesn’t have the power to suppress that momentum.  He may not be able to see it but everybody else does.

And how about this for a difference:  King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is trying to pre-empt a revolution by promising to spend $3 billion on housing and security.  A political commentator on BBC said it wouldn’t work, people don’t want lip service, they want the real thing.  He’s 87, by the way, the world’s oldest reigning monarch, and one of the world’s wealthiest men.  He stands to lose a lot.  He may still be deluded, but at least he’s thinking, watching, paying attention.

Something else that’s completely different to past revolutions is that so much of this one is being carried out by young people, who have vision, energy, courage – and Twitter.