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Friday, October 25, 2013

Barqa Establishes ‘Shadow’ Government

Today after more than a year of planning, the tribal leaders of Barqa (also know as Cyrenaica) in eastern Libya have announced the formation of their sub-government. At a press conference today, Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, the head of the newly established government, suggested his administration’s aim will be to improve distribution of resources and undermine the hold of the centralized system that has discriminated against their region. The new government is made up of 24 posts, which don’t include the defense or foreign affairs portfolios, he said. Al-Barassi said the region will encompass four provinces, including Benghazi, Tobruk, Ajdabiya and Jebel Akhdar.

Thousands of tribal leaders gathered in Benghazi in March of last year to form the new semi-autonomous state of Barqa, much to the chagrin of the nominal central government in western Libya. Under their plan, modeled after other federal governments like those of Russia and Spain, national issues such as foreign policy, the national army, and oil resources would be left to a central federal government in Tripoli. Barqa itself covers nearly half the country, from central Libya to the Egyptian border in the east and down to the borders with Chad and Sudan in the south.

Speaking today, al-Barassi rejected accusations that Barqa’s leaders are only seeking to take control of the region’s oil resources. “We only want Barqa’s share according to the 1951 constitution.” The 1951 Libyan Constitution, which was dissolved when Muammar al-Gaddafi overthrew King Idris I of Libya, did not directly guarantee the autonomy of what was then known as Cyrenaica, but it did acknowledge its peerhood with, rather than submission to, Tripoli.

Thein Sein Will Not Run in 2015

Myanma President Thein Sein, who has presided over Myanmar since the end of military rule and held a significant post in the previous junta, will not run in the upcoming 2015 elections. Shwe Mann, the speaker of parliament and leader of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which Thein Sein founded, told reporters, “President U Thein Sein has told me he will not run for the president.”

Shwe Mann, a fellow former junta member that shares reformist attitudes with Thein Sien, will likely run in his stead. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who recently rejected speculation that Myanmar was on the road to democracy, enjoys tremendous support but is currently constitutionally barred from running as her children hold foreign citizenship. Still, a panel of 109 lawmakers is reviewing the 2008 draft constitution and an amendment may yet clear this hurdle. During the press conference, Shwe Mann was also at pains to allay any suspicions that former junta leader and supposed State Supreme Council member, Than Shwe might run for president or depose the new civilian government. “The senior general doesn’t have any intention to be involved in politics,” he said. “Even if he had, it would be quite impossible to do it in practice.”

Kenyan Authorities Angered Over Looting Allegations

Yesterday three Kenyan Journalist were summoned by Nairobi’s criminal-investigations police unit for their part in an hour-long special that exposed footage showing Kenyan security forces looting the Westgate shopping mall while they were ostensibly battling al-Shabaab fighters. Earlier this week, inspector general David Kimaiyo, castigated news coverage of the investigation into the Westgate attack, suggesting that the media’s reports were aimed at inciting negative opinions of the country’s security forces. “There is a limit; that you need not to provocate a propaganda war, you need not to incite Kenyans,” said Kimaiyo, adding, “If you are one of the people […] carrying out such offenses, we cannot fail to come for you, we will deal with you firmly.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists called these overtures threatening and unhelpful. While Kenya Editors’ Guild challenged the inspector general to prove his allegation of incitement and to clarify why his officers were harassing journalists in the course of their duties. The journalist who created the special report also rejected the provocation charges. “We haven’t done anything that any other journalists wouldn’t do if they were looking for the truth,” said John Allan Namu. “It’s Journalism 101, but they want to paint it as a sustained attack against the military.”

Mummies found in Peru

Archeologists in Peru have unearthed a pair of millennia old mummies in Peru. The mummies, a child and adult believed to be from the Wari, were found at a religious complex which has been under excavation since 1981. From the pre-Incan site of Huaca Pucllana, researcher Gladys Paz told AFP, “This is one of the most important finds in more than three decades of excavation, because both mummies are intact.” The two mummies will remain unopened where they were found until they can be taken to a lab to determine the age and sex of each individual. Researchers also found seven vessels with feline designs used to drink mate, 12 fabric bags, and the remains of three guinea pigs. Throughout Peru’s capital region there are about 350 huacas, a runa simi term denoting a holy site.

Weekend Read: Arise, Tenderloin

San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood is home to a number of affluent technology companies like Zendesk, Zoosk, Yammer, and Twitter; but it’s also one of the United States’ last gentrification resistant neighborhoods, a home to those who lack economic or social means. Gary Kamiya relates the story of how this contradiction came to be in San Francisco Magazine.

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