In 1998, at a time when her country was mired in hyperinflation, Valya Chervenyashka left her rural Bulgarian village and went to work as a nurse in Benghazi, Libya, for $250 a month, to pay for her daughters' college education.
Today, Ms. Chervenyashka and four other Bulgarian nurses, as well as a Palestinian doctor whose family moved to Libya in 1967, are under a death sentence in a Libyan jail and facing a firing squad, accused of intentionally infecting more than 400 hospitalized Libyan children with the AIDS virus, in order, according to the initial indictment, to undermine Libyan state security.
They were also charged with working for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service.
"Nurses from little towns in Bulgaria acting as agents of Mossad?" said Antoanetta Ouzounova, 28, one of Ms. Chervenyashka's daughters. "It all sounds funny and absurd until you realize your mother could die for it."
Although the motive of subversion has since been dropped, the death sentence stands. The nurses' final appeal is scheduled to be heard by the Libyan Supreme Court on Nov. 15. – NYT, October 17, 2005.
A few weeks ago, when Christopher Hitchens was rallying the troops about all the good things achieved by the Iraq war, he listed as no. 2 “the … capitulation of Qaddafi's Libya in point of weapons of mass destruction--a capitulation that was offered not to Kofi Annan or the E.U. but to Blair and Bush.” Interestingly, that capitulation has been a win-win proposition for Blair.
In August, there was a story in the Australian about the no. 2 good thing to come out of the Iraq war. It explains Qaddafi’s political roots:
“Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the eccentric Libyan dictator and former pariah of the West, has described how he drew his early inspiration from Lord Baden-Powell, one of the most famous heroes of the British empire and founder of the worldwide Scout movement.
According to Colonel Gaddafi's memoirs, to be published next month, Baden-Powell's 1908 book Scouting for Boys influenced his mother to enrol him in the Scouts.
He spent seven years in a troop while he was at school in the Libyan coastal town of Sirte in the 1950s.
Colonel Gaddafi claims that his bedouin mother, who travelled between encampments with the family's herds of camels, goats and rams, took the step because she wanted him to "understand the complexities of Western society ... rather than to leave him forever with the soul of a shepherd".
The book, My Vision, runs to 263 pages and was largely dictated by Colonel Gaddafi to Edmond Jouve, an Africa specialist at Rene Descartes University in Paris. It also reproduces the colonel's Green Book of political theories.
Now, according to sources close to the book, negotiations are under way between the Libyan authorities, the British Government and John Blake, Colonel Gaddafi's publisher, for the leader to mount a promotional tour in Britain, possibly as early as September this year.”
I mention all things Qaddafi because time is running out for the five Bulgarian nurses that have been condemned to death where the present inheritor of Lord Baden-Powell’s spirit holds sway. In an interesting bit of synchronicity, Tony Blair (who was sent to earth so that Americans can have some political figure in the West with whom they can favorably compare George Bush) is signing off on shipping Libyans to certain death in their own country, finishing up his multy-culty blasphemy bill to send anybody to the slammer for seven years who has a bad word to say about anybody else’s religion (or as his mover in the House of Lord’s puts it, "the bill will not have the impact on freedom of speech which opponents say it will. Incitement to religious hatred represents a gap in the criminal law and it is right that it be filled." – a gap in the law! call out the cops! this, of course, gives a soft authoritarian like Tony shivers in the night) and the execution of the nurses is coming up as a thing to be diplomatically condemned as contracts are being signed.
The good news just keeps on coming. On September 17, Libya investment sent out a press release that is brimming with the fruits of Hitchens No. 2:
“Officials said the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair invited Libya to the first major Western arms exhibition since the easing of defense sanctions by the European Union in 2004. They said major British contractors have been briefing Libya's delegation at the Defence Systems & Equipment International, or DSei exhibition, which ends on Sept 16. "I believe that Britain, as a major importer and exporter, is well placed to understand the interests and concerns of other trading countries," British Secretary of State for Defence John Reid said. "We aim to champion the case for more open defense markets."
Open defense markets for democratic intervention – why, it’s the name of a movement! As LI pointed out in 2002, the chief thing wrong with the argument about WMD was – before anything else – the definition of WMD. The true weapons of mass destruction in this century have been the bullet, the grenade, the garden variety bomb. WMD is defined by the West in such a way that it shapes up nicely with the 100 billion dollar arms market, which runs money to... the West! From Socialist Sweden to the hills of Tennessee. And in ten years, who knows, we might look back on DSEI’s welcoming embrace of Qaddafi, the man who has run the mass murder business in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Chad, Mauritania, and any other place he casts his glance, as a bit of a mistake.
Hey, I've now had six pledges. Is that cool or what? Anyway, later today we will be putting up a link to the Cafe Press site.
“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears
Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann
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"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads