Rebels reach central Tripoli

When I started writing this post in the early evening Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had vowed to stay in Tripoli “until the end”.

He then called on his supporters around the country to help liberate the capital from a rebel offensive.

In an audio message played by state television he said he was “afraid that Tripoli will burn”.

By 2200 BST, I was absolutely gripped by Sky’s Alex Crawford unflinching reports from Libya.

Her description of the advancement was punctuated by gun fire lighting up the sky like fireworks and jubilant rebels, along with civilians who had surrounded her, chanting: “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great!”)

Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s spokesman, Mussa Ibrahim, claimed in a broadcast a few minutes later that 1,300 people had been killed in the last 11 and a half hours and laid the blame for the deaths at NATO’s door.

He went on to call for a cease-fire.

Sky News then reported that the rebels had revealed Saif Al-Islam, Col Gaddafi’s son, had been captured.

An ex-colleague of mine posted a comment on Facebook questioning whether the rebels have a plan to govern the oil-producing country.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) is now recognised as Libya’s legitimate authority by many countries including the British government which unfroze £91m in UK assets belonging to the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, a Libyan oil firm under the NTC’s control.

The head of the NTC’s political committee, Fatih Baja, told Reuters: “We’ve been preparing for this since the first month of the revolution.”

However, the rebels comprise different factions and ethnic and tribal divisions.

Only time will tell…

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Parents in the dock after England riots

Ironically, it was International Youth Day on Friday. The annual event is supposed to serve as a global reminder of how precious new generations are.

Babatunde Osotimehin, director of the United Nations Population Fund – an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity – suggests dialogue with young people is the way forward .

In a message on the UNPFA’s website, Dr Osotimehin said:

Today on International Youth Day, and every day, youth should be able to participate in decision-making in their families, communities, and nations.

The voices of youth should be heard in meetings within governments and within the United Nations.

Yes, youth participation is a matter of human rights and it is also a matter of being effective at addressing the challenges that we face as humanity.

In our world today there are 1.8 billion young people aged 10 to 24.

When societies embrace youth as partners, we improve our chances of finding solutions to our most pressing problems.

Today too many young people are deprived of opportunities, peace and stability.

As never before, youth are bombarded with sexually explicit images. There is a growing need for sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services that meet the needs of young people.”

The UNPFA’s goal is to reduce extreme poverty by 2015, by focusing on three core areas of work “reproductive health, gender equality and population and development strategies” which, it says, are “inextricably related”.

In the aftermath of the England Riots the spotlight has turned to familial responsibility.

The blame is being laid at the door of so-called “dysfunctional families”.

And, judging from all the scathing comments, statements and finger-wagging this includes single parents, unemployed parents, young mothers and errant fathers.

The family should be the foundation from which each child springs from into the world.

But to surmise this whole shameful episode is a result of bad or non-existent parenting is at best too simplistic and at worse disingenuous.

Below are several definitions for the word: society.

a. The totality of social relationships among humans.

b. A group of humans broadly distinguished from other groups by mutual interests, participation in characteristic relationships, shared institutions, and a common culture.

c. The institutions and culture of a distinct self-perpetuating group.

2. An organisation or association of persons engaged in a common profession, activity, or interest:

3.a. The rich, privileged, and fashionable social class.

b. The socially dominant members of a community.

4. Companionship; company:

5. Biology A colony or community of organisms, usually of the same species

The clean-up campaigns taking place across England and the selfless words from bereaved father Tariq Jahan, whose son, Haroon, was killed in a hit-and-run incident during the riots in Winson Green, Birmingham on Wednesday, serve as reminders of what is great about England.

So-called educated people representing different schools of thought taking to denigrating other races and cultures as well as each other on television is both unhelpful and irresponsible.

Resorting to labelling or pigeonholing certain sections of society is regressive and tired. In fact, I can feel ennui setting in. 

Let us dispense with the name calling and get on with the business of rebuilding a society we can all take pride in.

Norwegian slaughter ‘reality check’

A week today 77 people – most of them teenagers – were slain in Norway.

The youngest was Sharidyn Svebakk-Boehn, who turned 14 just five days before the massacre.

Some of these victims were killed during a bomb blast in the country’s capital Oslo, the others were shot to death attending a youth camp run by the ruling Labour Party on the nearby island of Utoya.

The Norwegian right-wing extremist behind this atrocity Anders Behring Breivik has been described as probably insane by his defence lawyer.

I had BBC News 24 on in the background while doing some research when a breaking news flash revealed the drama that was unfolding in the oil-rich Christian country that is home to a population of 4.9 million people.

My body was instantly gripped by a visceral feeling of dread that I had experienced only twice before – 9/11 and 7/7.

When I sat down in front of the plasma screen, I spluttered: “Oh, no, not again.

Norway, why Norway?”

As it turns out, my utterances were not unique.

We are so programmed to assume that any incident of this nature has been carried out by islamic extremists.

As I watched television transfixed, I was overcome by feelings of sadness and helplessness.

Only at times like these does one realise that death is truly random.

It may be me or it may be you next.

Nationality, birthright, money, power and religion have absolutely no bearing at all when it comes to the randomness of life and death.

May they all rest in peace.

So will Glenn Mulcaire finally reveal all?

So News Corp is to stop paying the legal fees of private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed over the phone-hacking scandal.

Well, there must have been a reason why the company started paying for his legal team in the first place.

Mr Murdoch senior appeared both surprised and annoyed at this disclosure.

Indeed, throughout his time before the Culture, Media and Sport committee and, in particular, under Tom Watson‘s eagle eye and no-nonsense approach to questioning, Mr Murdoch’s feathers were more than ruffled.

What was startling was how little he appeared to know about the machinations of the News of the World even if it is just a bit player in News Corp.

No wonder the media titan admitted to feeling “humbled” before the committee.

Since so many puns have been written about the pie incident, I see no need for me to add to them.

Anyway, back to Mr Mulcaire.

Notice how I have made no mention until now about Mr Murdoch’s son, James, and Rebekah Brooks.

This is because they apparently knew nothing about what was going on at Britain’s biggest selling newspaper…….

Anyway, back to Mr Mulcaire. I know, I know, I am repeating myself.

All eyes are agog and ears pricked up in preparation for the investigator breaking his silence.

His fees would easily have run into hundreds of thousands of pounds ….

Once again we are back to who “signed-off” on releasing the funds for his fees.

Come to think of it, we still do not know who paid him in the first place to hack into the phones.

We also wait with bated breath to see what Harbotte and Lewis, the law firm used in 2007 to investigate the phone-hacking at the NotW, will reveal now that News Corp is allowing it to talk….

Goodness! They are dropping like flies…..

“This can’t be the first resignation…,” Ken Livingstone talking to BBC News 24 about the shock resignation of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.

Mr Livingstone also indicated that others within the met should be off too.

Sir Paul could not have predicted that a few weeks of “R and R” at the glamorous Champneys would leave his glittering police career in tatters on one miserable, wet Sunday evening in July 2011.

How the mighty are being wiped out by the NotW scandal.

I have to admit when this whole saga began unravelling at alarming speed almost two weeks ago, I could never have predicted the whirlwind would have swept up so many high-profile figures.

It is no longer a question of what will happen next but whose head will be next on the chopping block.

Anyone else either directly involved or connected in any way to this saga must now be viewing this as a reign of terror.

Maximilien Marie Isidore de Robespierre would have been proud…..