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Daily Archives: 16/02/2011

(signalfire.org) TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Hundreds of people clashed with police and government supporters overnight in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, a witness and local media said, in a rare show of unrest in the oil exporting country.

Libya has been tightly controlled by leader Muammar Gaddafi for over 40 years but has also felt the ripples from popular revolts in its neighbors Egypt and Tunisia.

Libyan state television said that rallies were held in the early hours of Wednesday morning across the country in support of Gaddafi, who is Africa’s longest serving leader.

Reports from Benghazi, about 1,000 km (600 miles) east of the Libyan capital, indicated the city was now calm but that overnight, protesters armed with stones and petrol bombs had set fire to vehicles and fought with police.

The protesters were angry about the arrest of a human rights campaigner and demanded his release. Read More

(hrw.org) Iranian security forces should stop using teargas and batons to disperse peaceful crowds gathered in support of the popular movements in Egypt and Tunisia, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should also release opposition leaders and activists arbitrarily detained, and permit the free flow of communications channels, Human Rights Watch said.

On February 14, 2011, demonstrations took place throughout Iran after authorities conducted a wave of arrests against opposition activists, placed the opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi under house arrest, and clamped down telephone and satellite communications and the internet. Initial reports from Tehran and other cities indicate that police, anti-riot police, and plainclothes officers attacked demonstrators, including physical assaults and the use of teargas and batons, to break up crowds, silence people chanting anti-government slogans, and prevent protesters from taking photos. Numerous demonstrators were injured, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. There are also reports of numerous arrests. Read More

(The Electronic Intifada) CAIRO (IPS) – Before his ouster on Friday, toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had made one of the biggest mistakes of his reign: not learning from the lessons of hundreds of small labor and professional strikes that littered the country since 2005. These were the actual precursors to the 25 January Revolution that end his thirty-year autocratic rule.

“We were lucky that the regime failed in its arrogance and aloofness to draw lessons from the many strikes and protests over the past five years,” said Mohammed Fathy, 46, a labor activist in Mahala, whose bid for office in the government-sponsored General Labor Union was stifled because of his anti-regime views.

“We were even luckier that they didn’t understand that there were genuine economic, professional and labor grievances, especially here in Mahala on 6 April 2008.” Read More

(The Ecologist) In an exclusive extract from his new book, World on the Edge, Lester Brown outlines fresh ways of thinking about water and land use in order to sustain the world’s growing population

Prior to 1950, growth of the food supply came almost entirely from expanding cropland area. Then as frontiers disappeared and population growth accelerated after World War II, the focus quickly shifted to raising land productivity. In the most spectacular achievement in world agricultural history, farmers doubled the grain harvest between 1950 and 1973. Stated otherwise, growth in the grain harvest during this 23-year-span matched that of the preceding 11,000 years.
This was the golden age of world agriculture. Since then, growth in world food output has been gradually losing momentum as the backlog of unused agricultural technology dwindles, as soil erodes, as the area of cultivable land shrinks, and as irrigation water becomes scarce. Read More

(AlJazeera) Three people killed in clashes with security forces as protesters break into public offices and set buildings on fire.

Three people have been killed and dozens wounded in clashes between security forces and protesters in a southern Iraqi province, after around 2,000 people attacked government offices in protest over poor services.

Protesters took threw rocks and took over a provincial council building in Kut in Wasit province, about 160km southeast of Baghdad, on Wednesday. Three government buildings were set on fire, including the governor’s official residence.

A police source in Kut said three protesters were killed in clashes and about 30 wounded, including 15 policemen. A hospital source said one of the dead was a 16-year-old boy who suffered a bullet to the chest.

Punishment pledged

Officials said policemen and soldiers fired their weapons into the air in a bid to dissuade protesters, while private security guards employed by Wasit council opened fire directly into the crowd.

“Those were private guards, only they fired at the protesters. They were outside the law,” police Brigadier General Hussein Jassim told AFP. “Our forces only fired into the air.”

Major Mohammed Saleh, the senior police intelligence officer in Kut, said: “Measures will be taken against the private guards but after the situation has calmed down.”

Demonstrators are demanding Latif Hamad al-Tarfa, the provincial governor, resign over poor basic services such as electricity and water.

They held up placards that said, “To all citizens: Electricity is only for officials”, a reference to Iraq’s dramatic shortfall in power provision.

“We demand that our rights be met, that we have better services and that the authorities fight corruption,” Ali Mohsen, a 54-year-old professor at Wasit university, said.

“We demand that the governor resign … all we need is services.”

An official told Al Jazeera that protesters were enraged by comments by al-Tarfa belittling demonstrators at a much smaller protest a week ago.

Source: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/2011216114058147154.html

(wlcentral.org) Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has resigned and is said to be in a coma or “psychologically devastated”. His appointed replacement, Omar Suleiman, is nowhere to be found and the Egyptian army has taken over. There has been wild celebration in the streets of Cairo but there is good reason to think that all is not well and the danger is far from over. Thanks to the reporting of Robert Fisk, we now have the information upon which to arrive at the terrible conclusion of the title. Senior Egyptian army officers, the very ones that are exercising a military dictatorship now, where quite willing only two weeks ago, to carry out a wholesale slaughter of the thousands of protesters in Liberation Square. Read More