Libya today
The Libyan Head of State is neither a king, a president nor a prime minister. Colonel Gaddafi is always referred to in official documents as the “Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution”. He came to power as the result of a coup d’etat in 1969 when Gaddafi was only 27, and a junior officer in the army. He took over from ailing King Idris and his nephew the Crown Prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi. In 1977, he proclaimed a “People’s Revolution”, changed the name of the country to “The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”, and established “revolutionary committees” to replace political parties. Last year Libya celebrated the 40th anniversary of the revolution and today, without ever having been elected, because elections are forbidden, and without any official function at all, he still leads a country of 6 million people. He is the only person with executive powers, and no criticism or opposition is allowed. His policy was set out in his “Green Book” published in 1975; a mixture of socialism and direct democracy. In response to the recent upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt, he has recently lowered prices for basic foodstuffs and medicines, and given easier access to credit. Over the years, living conditions for ordinary people have improved. Women’s rights have been reinforced. Women are in the forefront of Gaddafi’s security arrangements, an all-woman team accompanying him on all official engagements. In 1984, a bill was published in which polygamy was abolished, divorce was authorised, and forced marriage made illegal. But these socio-economic advances have been offset by political regression. Political parties and trade unions are outlawed. NGOs are tolerated but only as long as their aims are in line with the Libyan revolution. Libya remains a tribal society, controlled by parental and family ties, even down to their football clubs. This complicates political movements and makes any effective opposition quasi-impossible. Any determined sign of discontent is paid off with the proceeds of Libyan oil fields. At the summit of the African Union in February 2009, Gaddafi pursued one of his pet projects – to found a United States of Africa and to spread his revolutionary ideology across the continent. His elite audience included two of his most politically-minded sons, one an avid revolutionary and the other a reformer with a positive attitude towards the construction of civil society. Copyright © 2011 euronews

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Investors upbeat on Apple after Jobs iPad speech
Investors reacted positively on Thursday to the surprise appearance by Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the launch of the new iPad 2 a day earlier. Jobs has been on medical leave since late January with an undisclosed condition. In midday trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York, the price of Apple shares had risen by more than six dollars to 358 dollars. The new iPad is thinner, lighter and faster than its predecessor, which was launched last April. Jobs’s reappearance comes as Apple’s rivals are launching their own tablet computers. The new iPad goes on sale in Europe on March 25, with prices starting at 499 euros. Copyright © 2011 euronews

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Plainclothes policemen arrest a protester in Beijing
Protesters gathered in central Beijing following a call on internet social networkss for a “Jasmine Revolution” in China inspired by uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. REUTERS/David Gray Copyright © 2011 euronews

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Skies to get more crowded says IATA
The number of airline tickets sold is expected to rise to 3.3 billion by 2014 from 2009’s two and a half billion – an increases of nearly a third. The International Air Transport Association is making that prediction based on strong growth in Asia, particularly China. Global airlines have seen a strong rebound from the sharp downturn in 2009 as economies, notably in Asia, have recovered from the recession. But the international air body said the effects of the global recession were still affecting parts of the industry. “The shadow of the global economic recession is expected to remain over parts of the industry for some time to come,” IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani said. In December, IATA revised up its profit forecast for the whole airline industry to $9.1 billion this year from a previous estimate of $5.3 billion. Last year’s profit of the industry was estimated at $15.1 billion, compared to September’s forecast of 8.9 billion. The numbers compared to a total industry loss of $9.9 billion in 2009. Copyright © 2011 euronews

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Shi’ite opposition leader returns to Bahrain
A hardline Shi’ite dissident has returned home to Bahrain from exile to join the burgeoning opposition to the island kingdom’s Sunni royal family. London-based Hassan Mushaimaa is the leader of the Haq movement. He was tried in his absence over an alleged coup plot but received a pardon as part of the ruling family’s concessions. “The talk about change and reforms should not be just patchy,” he said on his arrival at Manama. “We have to have real change or the people have to carry on (protesting). The demands are up to the people on the ground who died there and faced everything.” Pearl Square remains the focus of opposition protests. But today thousands marched on the former prime minister’s residence to call for the removal of a man who has been in his post for 40 years. This week, the government freed more than 300 people detained since a crackdown on Shi’ite unrest in August. The cabinet has also been reshuffled in another sop to the opposiition. But neither move appears likely to end widespread protests. Copyright © 2011 euronews

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EU microfinance: small amounts, big help
Microfinance projects are getting underway in Europe. The first two are in the Netherlands and Belgium. Making access to credit easier is one thing the EU is doing to help people in the wake of the financial crisis. So, how does it work? Copyright © 2011 euronews

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Food and fuel short in quake-hit areas of Japan
Queues of several kilometres long have been reported, as petrol runs short in the areas of Japan hit by last week’s earthquake and tsunami. Conditions are hard in Sendai but anyone who wants to follow official advice and leave will find it hard. As well as the lack of petrol, there is no public transport out of the city. The British embassy has laid on coaches to take people as far as Tokyo. In some places, getting fuel is the main concern. In others, like here in Takahagi City, the worry is water. The Japanese government has mobilised 100,000 extra troops to deliver supplies to stricken areas like this. Food shortages are also common, even in areas that were not damaged in last Friday’s double disaster. Problems with transport and access mean many people are stocking up on basics like bread and rice and the shelves are emptied as soon as they are filled. Miyako Elementary School is home to more than 500 evacuees – more than half of them over 70. It is warmer than out in the open, but even so, many are getting sick. A total of 450 thousand people are thought to be homeless. Many are asking why their government has not done more to help them. Copyright © 2011 euronews

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Women wary of new Egypt constitution
There are concerns in Egypt that the country’s post-revolution constitution will fail to fully represent women. In the weeks leading up to the downfall of authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak, women played their role in the push for democracy and were a visible presence in the crowds at Tahrir Square. It’s estimated that women made up between 20 percent and 50 percent of protesters. A lack of any sort of meaningful political representation under Mubarak gave them as much as, if not more reason to demand change than their male counterparts. Yet many Egyptian women fear that despite their part in deposing Mubarak, they will be denied their just rewards in the post-Mubarak Egypt. When the military took full control of the country last month, it appointed Tarek al-Bishry to form a committee that would change the constitution to make it comply with what the protesters had been risking their lives to demand. That committee has eight members, most of them politicians and judges, all of them men. It is perhaps then not a great surprise that women’s groups are wary that the all-male committee may deprive them of their full rights in the new democratic process. The Egyptian Coalition for Civic Education and Women’s Participation has reviewed the proposed amendments to the constitution and identified points of concern. For example, Article 75 guarantees that “Egypt’s president is born to two Egyptian parents and cannot be married to a non-Egyptian woman. Neither he nor his parents shall have another nationality except the Egyptian one. He shall practice his own civil and political rights.” The fact that the president cannot be married to a non-Egyptian woman suggests that the president must be a man. As does the phrase “He shall practice…” The interim military leadership has set a date of March 19 for a referendum on constitutional changes ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections in June and August respectively. Egypt’s women have little time left to make sure the change they worked so hard to make possible becomes a reality. Copyright © 2011 euronews

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Libyan diplomats reject Gaddafi’s “brutal regime”
In an unprecedented move, most of Libya’s mission to the United Nations in New York has revolted against Gaddafi, vowing to represent the people not the government from now on. Ibrahim Dabbashi said they were taking the action because of the regime’s despicable action in attacking the Libyan people: “We have never been with Gaddafi, we are with the people and we just made a statement to ask the international community to intervene to do something to help the Libyan people who are facing genocide in Tripoli. Also he is facing crimes against humanity in all the eastern cities of Libya,” he said. As protesters showed their support for the uprising outside UN headquarters, the diplomat and his colleagues called for help from the UN. They want it to establish a no-fly zone above Libya to prevent mercenaries from being flown in and to establish a safe passage for medical supplies to help treat the injured. Copyright © 2011 euronews

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European markets at close: 25.02.11
A roundup of the days markets data from euronews.net, brought to you as video on demand. Copyright © 2011 euronews

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