The wages of greed

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A COALITION that includes the most despised former colonizers of African countries and led by the United States has attacked Libya under cover of a UN resolution supposedly for humanitarian purposes — i.e., to stop the loyalist troops of strongman Moamar Gaddafi from “attacking their own people.”

The United Kingdom, France and Italy have a long and bloody record in Africa as brutal colonizers. Their claim that they’re involved in the bombing of Libyan air defenses in behalf of protecting civilians is likely to be met with a great deal of skepticism among Arabs and Africans not only because of that record. (Libya itself was a colony of Italy from 1915 till the end of the Second World War, for example. Together with the UK and France, Italy later helped install the Idris monarchy that Gaddafy overthrew in a 1969 coup.) It would be perfectly justified. The attack is after all about greed, figleafed as “humanitarian”.

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Heralds of the failing state

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THEY’RE known as “public service programs” and have been in Philippine radio for decades, particularly after 1986, when the laws restricting the media were lifted. But they have proliferated in recent years, and every radio station includes at least one example in its programming, although that one may run several hours, in addition to the regular news and commentary programs.

The template is straightforward. The program host accepts complaints from listeners through phone calls and text messages as well as personal visits to the station, puts his phone conversations on the air, reads text messages and interviews complainants.

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Iraq redux

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THE usual rhetoric of self-righteous indignation has been flowing out of Washington, London, Paris, and Brussels (where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, is based) in recent days. It was on Iraq and Saddam Hussein in 2003 on the eve of the US invasion of that country. Today it’s on Libya and Muammar Gaddafi.

US President Barack Obama said something to the effect that history is moving against Gaddafi, even as his opponent in the 2008 US elections, Senator John McCain, declared his alleged concern for the lives of “innocent civilians being attacked and massacred from the air.” McCain’s statement was an implicit expression of support for the US-UK proposal for the UN to declare Libya a no-fly zone to stop the Libyan air force from bombing rebel positions.

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No more than thieves

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“BEHIND every great fortune,” said the French novelist Honore de Balzac, “is a great crime.” The Marcoses most certainly have a great fortune, estimated at somewhere between US$30 to US$50 billion — much of it acquired, despite claims otherwise, during the martial law years from 1972 to 1986, which in both this country and elsewhere was also a period of great crimes.

Because of their enormity, no one should need reminding what those crimes were. But not only do many Filipinos not remember what they were; they’re not even aware of them. After all, no attempt has been made to systematically look into the period, which would have included a catalogue and description of the means the Marcos regime used to stay in power, including the human rights violations that among others characterized it.

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