At 40, Gaddafi’s Libya Has Much to Celebrate

He has called himself ‘an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of Muslims.’ And today, the self-proclaimed ‘king of kings of Africa‘ has a lot to celebrate.

I am talking of course of Muammar Al-Gaddafi, the ‘Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution,’ who today celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Libyan Revolution, which brought him to power.

Photo: antheap, flickr
Photo: antheap, flickr

‘Celebrate Libya’, as today’s event is called, will be one of the biggest events the African continent has seen in modern times. Tonight’s ceremony is said to be comparable in magnitude to an Olympic opening ceremony. Hundreds of thousands of spectators, 800 performers, sound and light shows, 1000 camels, military bands, acrobatic planes, flame ballet and spectacular fireworks will mark the occasion.

The celebrations can be monitored on the official Celebrate Libya website.  

Homo Homini Lupus

“When you try to terrorize people and you burn their houses, when you desecrate graves and when you make death threats, to me that is way beyond activism and I would call this clearly terrorism,” Daniel Vasella, CEO of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, told the media.

Some days before, the “Militant Forces against Huntingdon Life Science (MFAH)” burned down his hunting cottage in Austria and desecrated his mother’s grave in Chur, Switzerland. The MFAH is said to be linked to the British campaign “Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty” (SHAC); Huntingdon being Europe’s largest and, seemingly, most controversial contract animal-testing company. Cynically, Huntingdon’s slogan could also be the MFAH’s credo: “Working for a Better Future.”

Animal liberation / Photo: ThinkVegan/flickr
Animal liberation / Photo: ThinkVegan/flickr

Incredibly enough, according to the Swiss domestic intelligence service, Dienst für Analyse und Prävention (DAP), investigations related to militant animal rights groups amount to as much as 10 percent of their daily workload.

Categories
Business and Finance

Labor Unions Learning to Globalize

Swiss newspaper reports the Triumph story / www.tagesanzeiger.ch
Swiss newspaper reports the Triumph story www.tagesanzeiger.ch

On Friday 24 July, lingerie maker Triumph confirmed that it will lay off 3,700 workers in Thailand and the Philippines. Triumph International is headquartered in Switzerland and employs 40,000 people worldwide.

Firing staff is not remarkable, you may think, especially during a global economic downturn. However, if it was not for the Swiss labor union Unia, the Triumph story would probably not have made news at all.

Unia, together with the NGO Berne Declaration (BD), helped to organize protests in Bangkok and Manila. Hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the Swiss embassies and voiced complaints against Triumph.

Decades after companies started to spread their activities across national borders, trade unions have learned the business of globalization. Unions have fought globalization long enough. It seems that they are now employing its forces.

Pilots vs Zurich Airport

Another case of biting the hand that feeds you:

Here in Switzerland, Aeropers, the Swiss Airlines pilots’ union, is suing Zurich Airport because of aircraft noise.

“The Aircraft noise reduces the value of our office building, which is located in Kloten under the eastern approach corridor”, says Henning Hoffman, the head of Aeropers.



View Larger Map

Since Germany has limited the over flight over its territory to the north, the eastern approach of the airport, which is the global hub for Swiss, faces much more traffic and the buildings underneath it an increased devaluation.

At present, many flat owners in Kloten, the town nearest the airport, have lawsuits pending for monetary compensation. Never mind that:

  • They built and bought their homes 1 kilometer from an airport under an existing – though less frequented – approach corridor and knew it.


  • The home prices have always been lower in the area because of the airport.

The same holds true for Aeropers, whose members produce the same aircraft noise they’re complaining about every day. (The ‘B’ in the map is the Aeroper building).

Real life satire.

Mobutu’s Millions Sully Swiss Banks…Further

Money changes everything, and nothing / Photo: ge'shmally, flickr
Money changes everything, and nothing / Photo: ge\’shmally, flickr

I was saddened by the news that  Swiss banks have been ordered to release over US$6 million to the family of the late Congolese dictator Mobutu. It shows that despite some recent success stories (i.e., the Montesinos and Duvalier cases), Switzerland apparently still lacks sufficient legal instruments to go decisively after money that has been embezzled or stolen by ruthless dictators and hidden away in Swiss bank accounts. Meanwhile, the case further tarnishes the image of Switzerland and its banks, giving support to those arguing that Swiss bank secrecy laws continue to provide a safe haven for stolen assets.