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Gaddafi, the man who came to dinner

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Published in The Nation on 9-Dec-2011

John Swinton, the doyen of the New York press corps, upon his retirement, made the following speech:
 There is no such thing, at this stage of the world’s history in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dare write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my papers, before twenty four hours, my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting of an independent press? We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes. I do understand that you have to eat like all of us and therefore must keep your mouth shut. You are Jewish and so am I. (Sephardic).
For the sake of truth, I will give you here another side to the Libyan story. Just imagine a country where there is no electricity bill. Electricity is free to all its citizens. There is no interest on loans; banks were state owned and loans given at zero percent interest by law. Having a home was considered a human right. All newlyweds received US$ 50 000 from the govt to buy their first apartment and to help them start a family. Education and medical treatments were free. Before Gaddafi, 25% of the population were literate. Today this figure is 83 percent. Should Libyans want to take up farming, they would receive land, a farmhouse, equipments, seeds and livestock to kick start their operation, absolutely free of charge. If citizens could not find the education or medical facilities they needed, the govt would fund them to go abroad, free of charge, and would get some US$2,300 per month for accommodation and car allowance. Cars were government subsidised to the tune of 50%. Fuel prices were $0.14 per litter. The country had no external debt and its reserves amounted to some $170 billion, now frozen globally plus some 27 tons of gold, which the new regime found safely in the National Bank. Any graduate unable to find a job would get the average salary for the profession, as if he/she was employed, until employment found. A portion of oil sales were credited once a year to every citizen bank account. A mother who gave birth, immediately got some $5000. Forty loaves of bread cost $0.15. 25% of citizens have a university degree. An immense project bringing water from aquifers in the south made it available all over the country, free of charge.
That is what that tyrant Gaddafi gave to his people. There are some 150 tribes in Libya and a strong hand was necessary if the country was to remain in one piece. Every citizen was in possession of a military weapon. Gaddafi was not frightened of his own people. The so called rebels, who took over, so we are told, would not have lasted a few days without Nato air power, British and French commandos and thousands of mercenaries. Those are the winners.
Now another Karzai has been installed in Tripoli, and the country can be plundered at the victors whim and fancy. It takes $1 to extract a barrel of Libyan oil and todays price is over $100. Total the French company has already grabbed some 30% of the Libyan state oil company. BP is starting exploration. And of course massive contracts for the reconstruction of Libya will be handed over to US and European companies. Of the sovereign fund, only some 1.2 billion have been released out of the $170 billion. With the state of the European economy, I doubt very much if Libya will see the rest any time soon. Now Libyans are free as you say, but as Janice Joplin used to say freedom is just another word for nothing else to lose, as Libyan queuing for funds at their banks door are finding out. Gaddafi is gone and so are the perks. What will be left is a terrible civil war. The price of democracy
It is the joyous jiggling dance Americans do USA USA when their government slaughters someone illegally. It is primitive, but it is positively Libyan. Wrong. It is positively American Just saw a movie on the training of the US Army before going to Iraq. Soldiers running and singing: Kill the women Kill the children Then we are shown the results when civilians are gunned down in the streets by those braves, All on film. When they come back home, realizing what they have done, they just commit suicide These are ordinary Sunday soldiers with families.
We can hide the truth with prison sentences, but the truth eventually come through, and unfortunately for us we cannot plug the dyke any longer.

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