The serial grifter behind the notorious anti-Islam YouTube video The Innocence of Muslims goes to court today in Los Angeles. Mark Basseley Youssef, which is kind of a Muslim-sounding name, is accused of violating his parole for something or other. (Inciting global riots that led to many deaths, including the death of a brave U.S. ambassador in Libya? No, not for that.) Anyway, you will be surprised not at all to learn that this sketchy character looks exactly like you'd expect! (A serious role for Danny DeVito, perhaps, to constructively use the anger from his marriage troubles?) The same courtroom artist also did some amazing portraits of [...]
In case you were in a blackout all weekend, it's say to say that Gaddafi's regime officially toppled over the weekend… probably. (No one's quite ready to say it.) The pictures and video are amazing! Still everyone (everyone being "all the people who are not skirmishing in the streets of Tripoli") keeps hedging, because no one's been sure all night where Gaddafi himself is. (I know where he is: in an extremely long and entirely gold-lined emergency escape tunnel. The other end is surely either in Malta or Crete.)
Things in Libya are… God, this is depressing. But we've apparently done great damage to Gaddafi's Bab al-Azizya compound! Take that, books and files! Worry not, Lindsey Graham and John McCain are out agitating for us to just assassinate Gaddafi. (I'm pretty sure that's what "cut the head of the snake off" means.) You know: the American way.
Elsewhere? Much worse! Apparently government troops are firing on protesters in Yemen today, and, after the horrific weekend in Syria, "Syrian troops and tanks have entered the city of Deraa, where the protests against the Assad regime began last month. Troops reportedly opened fire randomly on people and [...]
Oh, so there is evidence of a long-running intellectual tradition that is against the war-thing in Libya: "This war is stupid and dangerous for all," writes Umberto Eco in a letter to the IHT, what must be his shortest and most-straightforward declaration of all time. (And also an attack on Bernard-Henri Lévy.)
When your country fires 122 of 124 Tomahawk missiles into a country in a single day, and your pilots are doing bombing runs, then your country is leading a war on that other country. That's true even if the French President got his jets there first, and your president only announced it in a radio address from Brazil.
So there are some problems with this.
If you want to see U.S. military intervention on behalf of the rebels in Libya, you should probably pick a more sympathetic group of advocates than the geniuses who thought our invasion of Iraq was such a good idea.
Yemen: How the Al-Ahmar family could take advantage of unrest against the Saleh regime, leading to a civil war—or simply regime change. Meanwhile, the government is going to announce what sounds like an unsatisfactory new government.
Oman: Today is the third consecutive day of protests! The Sultan is quickly making some minor concessions—distributing money
Egypt: Former president Mubarak has been ordered by a prosecutor not to travel; also his assets have been ordered frozen. Too little, too late, says Al Jazeera's analyst.
London, Paris and Washington could not allow a ceasefire because it would have involved negotiations, first about peace lines, peacekeepers and so forth, and then about fundamental political differences. And all this would have subverted the possibility of the kind of regime change that interested the Western powers. The sight of representatives of the rebellion sitting down to talks with representatives of Gaddafi’s regime, Libyans talking to Libyans, would have called the demonisation of Gaddafi into question. The moment he became once more someone people talked to and negotiated with, he would in effect have been rehabilitated. And that would have ruled out violent—revolutionary?—regime change and so denied [...]
"Nicolas Sarkozy is pressing for success in Libya by coalition forces to be achieved in time for him to declare 'victory' on Bastille Day in Paris." —Good luck with that.
25 years ago today, the United States was bombing Libya. How things change!
Late in February, we asked: does the CIA have any idea what's going on in the "Middle East" and "North Africa"? (Or are they, you know, behind everything?) Well! "Small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafi’s military." Oh and they are authorized to arm… Libya's… rebels… which, well. Gosh. But it all worked out sort of okay, despite U.S. intervention, in El Salvador… thirty years later. And I'm sure the CIA ops in Pakistan are going to work out just great! (I'm [...]
"You can get a clue as to how we see war by how newspapers are selling themselves through their front pages. The news stands are covered with more explosions than human faces; the bombs are the story, and the message. One cloverleaf-shaped explosion in particular so beautifully conveys the story that it's on five front pages today. The bombs are the stars."
Word that someone flew a plane into Gaddafi's palace is still but a word. I think we'd all love to hear more about that, should it have happened! Otherwise, back in Libya, well… "Libyan rebels are retreating from the strategic town of Ajdabiya under heavy bombardment by Muammar Gaddafi's forces." Anti-Gaddafi forces seem to only hold three cities, and they're isolated from each other; and government forces are trying to beat down the road to Benghazi, which has about 2/3rds of a million people. What is happening there is truly terrible. And what will happen if the revolution really does fail is even worse: two [...]
Following the dramatic political upheaval in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, Libya has been this week's hot-button North African country to rise up against an oppressive regime—in this case, Muammar Gaddafi, the eccentric dictator whose 42-year reign is the longest in the region.
Gaddafi's done a lot of crappy things: he pissed off Ronald Reagan enough to warrant a large-scale bombing in 1986, and in this most recent round of unrest he's banished journalists from Libya and ordered his military to open fire on his own citizens. And according to some reports, the Libyan military—or mercenaries—have fired .50 caliber rounds against protesters.
And that's where the Internet stepped in and [...]
"Libyan rebels rummaging through Moammar Gadhafi's compound have discovered a photo album with pictures of Condoleezza Rice, who has long fascinated the Libyan leader."
It's the feel-good story of the morning: Goldman Sachs took $1.3 billion of Libya's money in 2008 and promptly turned it into no money at all, according to the WSJ: "The $1.3 billion of option investments were hit especially hard. The underlying securities plunged in value and all of the trades lost money, according to an internal Goldman memo reviewed by the Journal. The memo said the investments were worth just $25.1 million as of February 2010—a decline of 98%." That is particularly delightful. And then, the panicked firm offered the foul government a number of chances to make their money back, but nothing ever came of it. [...]
This is not confidence-inspiring in the slightest: "Nato refuses to apologise for an air strike that hit anti-Gaddafi forces in Libya, saying it had not been aware rebels had tanks."
Not only are people afraid that our Libyan adventure is being run by ladies like Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power (who is terrible), it's also actually being run by a woman, Air Force Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, who's been the commander of Seventeenth Air Force since last summer. Oh my God, there are literally maybe four women in relevant positions of power (I'm counting Susan Rice, our ambassador to the U.N.)! WHY DO WOMEN WANT GADDAFI'S OIL? And what will men do now? Why won't Joe Biden do something?
The four New York Times journalists missing in Libya since Tuesday have been "found." They were in "state custody." Of course they were! And in Libya, Gaddafi has… sort of agreed to a ceasefire, and sort of offered amnesty to rebels, after the U.N. security council agreed to military action against Gaddafi. Except, in his way, Gaddafi also promised to hunt down and murder anyone who opposed him! Yes: "We will find you in your closets. We will have no mercy and no pity.” The U.N. and the U.S. are also putting real action in the hands of the Arab League, because of all the obvious reasons. [...]
Oman: Not only is there a protest movement growing, it's actually being covered by the country's media—which exists in an uneasy state between self-censored and intimidated.
Libya: There is essentially an under-weaponed ground war under way in Libya. Between 1000 and 2000 people have died; in the last 12 hours, Gaddafi loyalists have seized and then lost Al Brega, an oil town in the east. Many see a chance to leave: "The Tunisian government says at least 80,000 people have crossed into the country from Libya in the past week, with many more expected." Gaddafi is trying to recall his U.N. ambassadors, who have renounced [...]