If you used the toilet today, you are luckier than 2.5 billion people worldwide. If you had a drink of clean water, you are more fortunate than 780,000,000 people on our planet, today.
March 22nd is World Water Day, and November 19th is World Toilet Day.
Take a few minutes today to think about water, please.
Image via Wikipedia
Yesterday, the European Council on Foreign Relations, the first Pan-European think-tank, released details of its European Foreign Policy Scorecard 2012. It offers an overview of how EU member states dealt with Foreign Policy issues in 2011, and tells us who the leaders and slackers were on each issue. As a Blogger/Journalist, I was offered an advance copy, but under embargo. But the embargo is now lifted, and I can release my analysis of the Scorecard.
Bearing a British passport, I’m interested in how the UK fares under scrutiny…
By the way, this post was featured on Liberal Democrat Voice’s Top of the Blogs: The Golden Dozen! My first, and thanks very much to Helen Duffett for including it, and Alisdair Calder McGregor for recommending me.
Image by Abode of Chaos via Flickr
Over the past 24 hours, the Libyan opposition has made major gains against Gaddafi‘s forces – under the cover of the no-fly zone. The cities of Ajdabiya and Brega, crucial outposts on the main highway along the coast, have been retaken. This makes a full attack on Benghazi difficult. There are also reports emerging that the rebels have retaken the city of Ras Lanuf, a crucial oil-supplying town. Hurting Gaddafi’s economy can only help in his (hopeful) eventual overthrow.
What has changed? We changed. Thanks to the Western (and now Qatari) imposed no-fly zone over Libya, the rebels are benefitting from a huge boost in morale, knowing that the international community supports them, and from the no-fly zone grounding Gaddafi’s deadly air force.
Apparently, Ajdabiya was taken mostly because of the RAF. A devastating bombardment of the city by RAF Tornadoes led to Gaddafi’s forces melting away.
The French air force has also been suppressing Gaddafi’s air force around Misurata, a city besieged. It took down, reportedly, three planes and two helicopters last night.
Liam Fox has claimed that we will not be directly suppling the rebels with arms, citing the presence of a UN weapons embargo. Mind you, Resolution 1973, only cites arms delivered to the “Libyan Arab Jamahiriya“, the name of Libya under Gaddafi. The Transitional Council calls the country the Libyan Republic. As France recognises the rebels as the legitimate government, are they bound by this embargo? I’m no lawyer, but it’s a point to explore…
So, that’s the latest updates on Libya. A clear change of fortunes for the rebel forces, that we can only hope will continue.
Image via Wikipedia
10.15pm: The government has won by 557 votes to 13 – a majority of 544.
via Politics blog + Commons Libya debate – live | Politics | guardian.co.uk.
Now that’s a majority and a half. Clearly it shows widespread support for the intervention in Libya… but we also have to note the real tone of the debate, and it was far from positive. Reading through a few of the comments, it shows that people are uneasy. With a British submarine, alone with American ships, launching missiles at 20 targets on the coast (Gaddafi‘s missile defence system, clearing the way for the pilots), we’ve become involved more than perhaps some MPs expected. The Arab League is also wavering in support, condemning the bombing of civilians – despite the fact that intervening in a near-civil war was always going to result in civilian casualties, especially as Gaddafi’s supporters were, he claimed, willing to be bussed in to key targets to act as human shields. The prospect of assassination of Gaddafi, hinted at by Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox, is outrageous to many – frankly, I find that speaking openly of it is a foolish move. If you want to assassination someone, you don’t bloody tell Fleet Street. At least the Israeli’s have the common sense not to admit it if they do it. Having said that, assassinating Gaddafi is foolish in-and-of-itself. Martyrdom for Gaddafi is not an advantage to anyone – forcing him out may be our best option, but openly killing him. If he does chose to go down with the ship, so be it. Good riddance. But we can’t openly support it, or plan for it. Our legal mandate is to defend civilians, not assassinate politicians.
John Baron (Basildon & Billericay)
Graham Allen (Nottingham North)
Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley)
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North)
Barry Gardiner (Brent North)
Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Hall Green)
John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington)
Linda Riordan (Halifax)
Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
Mike Wood (Batley & Spen)
Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion)
Mark Durkan (Foyle)
Margaret Ritchie (Down South)
Labour’s Katy Clark (North Ayrshire and Arran) and Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) acted as tellers for the noes.
An excellent summary of the debate can also be found here :-http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2011/03/unease-in-the-commons-as-mps-debate-libya-action/
BBC News – Gaddafi loyalists standing firm in Libya.
Fascinating new video from the BBC.
Who gave us the right to intervene? The rebels, the international community and morality.
The rebels invited us to help them in their struggle for freedom. The international community came together, realised the need for intervention, and passed a legal mandate. They realise that instability in Libya, the region and the world, not only harms the people of Libya but us all, as we are all interconnected. Morality is out basis – it is wrong to stand by and allow crimes to take place when we could prevent them. If a man is being mugged in the street, you call the police, and if you’re strong, you help him against his assailant. It is right to attack his assailant, if it saves the innocent man. All we are doing, is defending the innocent from a thug.
It is strange to still see so much support for Gaddafi but it’s understandable. If this sways you, wondering why we are invading, just look at the pictures of French flags being flown in Benghazi. They are all Libyans, and most know that Gaddafi must leave.
Also: The United States has joined the conflict, firing Cruise missiles into Libya from a warship in the region. The war has come to Tripoli.
Correction: The plane shot down over Benghazi was, as a minority of reports claimed earlier, flown by a rebel pilot, not Gaddafi loyalists.