September 4th, 2011
By BEN HUBBARD - Associated Press
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Rebel forces and armed civilians are rounding up thousands of black Libyans and migrants from sub-Sahara Africa, accusing them of fighting for ousted strongman Moammar Gadhafi and holding them in makeshift jails across the capital.
Virtually all of the detainees say they are innocent migrant workers, and in most cases there is no evidence that they are lying. But that is not stopping the rebels from placing the men in facilities like the Gate of the Sea sports club, where about 200 detainees — all black — clustered on a soccer field this week, bunching against a high wall to avoid the scorching sun.
Handling the prisoners is one of the first major tests for the rebel leaders, who are scrambling to set up a government that they promise will respect human rights and international norms, unlike the dictatorship they overthrew.
The rebels' National Transitional Council has called on fighters not to abuse prisoners and says those accused of crimes will receive fair trials.There has been little credible evidence of rebels killing or systematically abusing captives during the six-month conflict. Still, the African Union and Amnesty International have protested the treatment of blacks inside Libya, saying there is a potential for serious abuse.
Aladdin Mabrouk, a spokesman for Tripoli's military council, said no one knows how many people have been detained in the city, but he guessed more than 5,000. While no central registry exists, he said neighborhood councils he knows have between 200 and 300 prisoners each. The city of 1.8 million has dozens of such groups.
Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi told reporters this week that he'd visited several detention centers and found conditions "up to international standards."
"We are building a Libya of tolerance and freedom, not of revenge," he said.
Oil-rich but with a relatively small population of 6.6. million, Gadhafi's Libya welcomed hundreds of thousands of black Africans looking for work in recent decades. Many young citizens of Mali and Niger who flocked to Libya in the 1970s and 1980s were recruited into an "Islamic Legion" modeled on the French Foreign Legion. In addition, Gadhafi's military recruited heavily from black tribes in Libya's south.
In February, witnesses reported African fighters shooting at protesters or being captured by anti-Gadhafi forces. Witnesses have described scores of mercenaries being flown in to put down the rebellion, although many of the fighters already were in Libya.
As a result, people with roots in sub-Saharan Africa and black Libyan citizens have been targeted by rebel forces in the messy and confusing fight for control of the country.
In the Khallat al-Firjan neighborhood in south Tripoli, Associated Press reporters saw rebel forces punching a dozen black men before determining they were innocent migrant workers and releasing them.
The Gate of the Sea club near Tripoli's fishing port became a lockup Monday night, when residents rounded up people in the surrounding area.
Guards at the club said they looked for unfamiliar faces, then asked for IDs. Those without papers or whose legal residences were distant cities were marched to the club.
This week, an armed guard stood by a short hallway that led through two metal gates onto a soccer field surrounded by high walls. There was no roof, so the detainees clustered against the wall to get out of the heat.
One black Libyan from the southern city of Sebha said he had worked for a Tripoli cleaning company. A French-speaking man from Niger said he had a shop nearby. One black Libyan said he was in the army but quit during the uprising.
In an office nearby where sports trophies still lined the shelves, Ibrahim al-Rais, a 60-year-old fisherman, acted as prison director. A bag held wallets and IDs taken from the captives. Another was stuffed with cellphones, which occasionally rang.
He acknowledged that many of the detainees were likely innocent migrant workers stranded in the country but he insisted that a "big percentage" were mercenaries.
"These people were fighting against our people," he said.
As proof, his team pointed to ID cards issued in Libya's south that he said were fake and a document issued by the Niger Embassy in Tripoli. He said Gadhafi gave many mercenaries Libyan IDs so they could fight. He also said many had been carrying dollars or euros — which al-Rais said were mercenary wages.
Sabri Taha, a fish merchant in shorts and flip-flops who was guarding prisoners, said one had a video on his phone of a soldier shooting children. When asked by an AP reporter to play it, he couldn't find it. The prisoner said he didn't know how the video got on his phone.
In another detainee's wallet, Taha said he found a photo of the detainee in a green military uniform and accused him of fighting for Gadhafi. The detainee said he had manned a regime checkpoint, but had defected to the rebels when they reached the city.
The captors insist their prison is temporary and that the local military council will question the detainees before releasing them or transferring them elsewhere.
In the meantime, they started a handwritten list of the men's names, ages and nationalities.
"You see, we have no experience, but we have figured out how to get organized," said Abu-Bakir Zaroug, a local volunteer.
They still didn't know how many prisoners they held.
"The danger is that there is no oversight by any authorities, and the people who are carrying out the arrests — more like abductions — are not trained to respect human rights," said Diana Eltahawy of Amnesty International. "They are people who carry a lot of anger against people they believe committed atrocities."
For about a week, the Tripoli Local Prison has been receiving inmates and now holds about 300, said Anwar Bin Naji, a former prison employee who helps run the facility. About 50 are Libyans. The rest are from Ghana, Nigeria, Niger and other African countries.
"They are all arrested by rebels or by civilians who love the homeland," Naji said.
As he spoke, two rebel trucks carrying about a dozen black men entered the prison, honking their horns.
"Those are all mercenaries, or most of them," he said before speaking to the men.
In the cellblock, captives clustered by the barred doors of their cells. All said they were migrant workers who had come to Libya to work. Some said they'd lived here for years.
They said they hadn't been beaten, and were given simple food once or twice a day. They had drinking water, but none for bathing, they said.
Of the 28 people in one five-meter-by-six meter (15-foot-by-18-foot) cell, one had blistering burns on his face, neck and arm. Naji, the guard, said volunteers were still setting up a medical clinic.
The burned man, Ahmed Ali, said he'd come to Libya from his native Chad two years ago and worked as a house painter before the uprising.
"When the rebels entered Tripoli, some guys came and burned down my house," he said. He escaped and ran to some rebel fighters, hoping they'd protect him.
"They brought me here," he said, adding that he'd received no medical care in the six days since his arrest.
"They believe that most of the black in Libya are mercenaries, so now all the blacks on the street, they pick them up," he said.
September 4th, 2011
September 4th, 2011
dutchsinse / YouTube
September 4th, 2011
The Washington Times / Dr. Milton Wolf
My father used to tell me that if I worked hard, it would pay off in the long run. How could he have been so blind? Laziness pays off now!
We all know that the power to tax is the power to destroy. So too is the power to regulate. Equally powerful is the reality that rewarded behavior is repeated. After applying these inescapable truths to the analysis of Obamanomics, a collection of policies designed to reward or deter (or even outright banish) certain behaviors - to ordain winners and losers - it's all clear to me now. The reason Obamanomics has been such a miserable failure is that I failed to follow its cues. I hope America will forgive me.
First, despite so many communities lacking a village organizer, I chose instead to serve mine. At the time, the practice of medicine seemed like a noble calling, but little did I realize what a threat physicians pose to communities. Surgeons, President Obama warned, will run around lopping off patients' feet or yanking out children's tonsils just to pocket a quick buck. I realize that many of you parents who have unsuccessfully pleaded to your child's pediatrician for a tonsillectomy will disagree, but who are you to judge? The president doesn't trust you or your doctor to decide such things. Why else would he appoint as the head of Medicare a man who declared that the doctor-patient relationship is "no longer tenable"?
What's worse - at least in Obamaworld - is that I, like most physicians, have two jobs: I'm also responsible for a business that creates jobs and employs some great Americans. This despite our government's burdensome taxes, regulations and licenses, which already have created formidable obstacles to entrepreneurial success. You don't believe me? Try launching a company or getting a new drug approved. Heck, try starting a lemonade stand. As if these barriers weren't enough already, Obamanomics increases taxes, regulatory burdens and uncertainties that weigh heavily on each new hire. And yet I stubbornly ignore the president's incentives by keeping many good people employed. In my defense, however, medical practices today have to hire their own in-house bureaucracies just to cope with the demands of Washington's bureaucracies. You might think it would be nice if health care money went to, you know, health care, but don't be naive - your government knows best.
Embarrassingly, I must confess that I balance my own budget, both personal and professional. I realize that's anathema to Obamanomics, but I just can't escape my vice of fiscal sanity. What's more, even though there's "shovel-ready" money to be had from "Obama's stash," I stubbornly insist on paying my own bills. This sometimes leads to difficult choices: I'm the only doctor in America, for example, who drives a car officially declared a "clunker" by his own cousin-in-chief, but I'm from the branch of the family that doesn't believe in spending money you don't have - plus, I love my SUV. Still, the undeniable reality is that according to the Obama way of thinking, I obviously sabotaged our economy when I undercut the stimulus and its related gimmicks like "Cash for Clunkers" by refusing to participate in the giveaways.
Worst of all, however, I have become the single greatest impediment to Americans' prosperity in Obamaworld: a high-wage earner. That I clawed my way toward the American dream with humbling jobs since the age of 12, volunteered for a grinding decade of medical training and lived more of my adult years deep in the bottom rungs of incomes than the top, I know now, is no excuse. Obamanomics is about spreading the wealth, not creating it. In my defense, wildly increased taxes, stifling malpractice insurance and even steep medical school loans have worked wonders to erase the gains. Still, Mr. Obama claims that families earning more than $250,000 a year are "millionaires and billionaires." Who knew? Those tax-free corporate jets can't be far behind.
Of course, I'm not alone. Tens of millions of Americans are frustrating the socialist aspirations of this president simply by getting up each morning and going to work. You know who you are. You're not just suckers, you're saboteurs. Barack Obama would prefer we all be wards of the state rather than active producers. How else can you explain the incentives he champions: endless jobless benefits, cradle-to-grave welfare handouts, "tax cuts" for non-taxpayers, and on and on. Thus proclaims the president who himself raked in a cool $7.2 million over the past two years, "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money." The key word there is "you."
Obamanomics hasn't failed America; we've failed it. We refused to become the wards of the state as it demands. I cling (though not bitterly) to my belief that America would be better served if Barack Obama concentrated more on spreading my work ethic than my wealth. I now realize that by serving my community rather than organizing it, by creating jobs and wealth and by holding dear the American dream, I have sabotaged Obamanomics. I hope America will forgive me.
Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a Washington Times columnist, is a cousin of President Obama's. He blogs at MiltonWolf.com.
September 4th, 2011
Christians United for Israel
Benjamin Netanyahu adamant that Israel’s actions during 2010 Gaza flotilla raid fall within its right to self-defense. Jerusalem regrets loss of life, he says; ‘I hope we can mend our relations with Turkey’
“Israel has the right to defend itself,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, in his first official reaction to Turkey’s decision to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Israel, following the release of the UN’s Palmer Report.
“We do not have to apologize for the fact that Naval Commandos defended themselves,” Netanyahu said during Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
The UN’s report, he said, proved what Israel already knew: “We have the full and basic right to defend ourselves from a violent IHH attack, and we don’t have to apologize for trying to prevent arms smuggling to Hamas terrorists and for defending our citizens and our children.
“Just as IDF soldiers and commandos defend us, we will defend them – in any international forum,” he added. “Israel regrets any loss of life and I hope we can find a way to mend our relations with Turkey,” Netanyahu said. “Israel never sought to see the situation deteriorate, nor do we wish it to remain like this.”
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel will not apologize to Turkey
- The Jewish Spring by Nir Boms
- Now is the Time for EU Leadership: Deflecting Palestinian Unilateralism at the UN by Jonathan Schanzer & Emanuele Ottolenghi
- Anti-Israel protest disrupts Philharmonic show in UK
- Germany pulls out of ‘anti-Israel’ Durban III conference