Chatter: Libyan parliament selects its first president




Antler Agency

Need to know: 

Libya’s newly-elected national assembly chose former opposition leader Mohammed Magarief, 72, as its president just a day after the NTC handed power over the 200-member legislative body. Magrief is the leader of the National Front, a moderate Islamist party and a spin-off of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya – the country’s oldest armed opposition movement. Magrief beat out his liberal rival, human rights lawyer, Ali Zidan, by a landslide in last night’s parliamentary vote to select the president.

An economist by training and former ambassador to India, Magarief has lived in exile since the 1980s, leading a coalition that sought to end Gaddafi’s rule. He was a wanted fugitive in Libya until the recent revolt penning books about Gaddafi’s oppressive policies. Magarief’s formal powers have yet to be determined. He will hold on to the leadership position until a new constitution is written sometime next year.

Want to know:

In likely one of the shortest, yet most talked about trials in China, Gu Kailai, wife of former politician Bo Xilai, was tried behind closed doors for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood yesterday with a verdict expected shortly. Today saw four more on trial over the murder. This time, four police officers from Chongqing were accused of helping Kailai cover up the crime.

There is little known about the officers except that they “bended the law to achieve personal benefit,” according to state officials. All four of the men had senior security roles while Kailai’s husband, Bo Xilai, was local communist party chief in the city. Bo Xilai has yet to be formally charged but the murder mystery will surely bring new surprises in the coming days as more and more people are implicated. 

Dull but important:

In a decision that has bankers breathing a sigh of relief, federal officials said yesterday that they would not pursue legal action against Goldman Sachs over bad securities that set off the mortgage crisis. After a year-long investigation by the Justice department, officials said that they could not meet to burden of proof to hold the investment bank criminally accountable for its role in the credit default swap controversy.

The investigation was set off after a Senate subcommittee last year found that Goldman sold complex mortgage securities to banks and investors but failed to tell them about the risks. Goldman then bet against their clients, reducing their own exposure to the worthless securities. The subcommittee even found emails of Goldman employees that called the mortgage securities “junk” and “crap.” Goldman has consistently denied the accusation and said that the company couldn’t function without the trust of its clients. 

Just because:

As torrential rains in the Philippines capital Manila taper off, the real work begins. A massive relief effort has begun after monsoon rains left 60 dead and the city inundated. It is estimated that more than half of the city was submerged at the peak of the flooding with upwards of 400,000 people seeking help at government shelters. In total, more than 2.4 million people were affected by the rain.

The Associated Press reported that the sun finally peaked out Friday and that people were busy repairing their homes and businesses. The country’s president, Benigno Aquino III, toured disaster areas this morning in his home province of Tarlac. It was the worst flooding in the capital since 2009.

Strange but true:

Russian police have uncovered – literally – an Islamic cult that lived in underground tunnels in the Republic of Tatarstan, a majority Muslim region of Russia. Russian police said that some of the 19 children of the 57-member sect had never seen the sun, having been born and raised in the multi-level concrete bunker.

The cult is said to have been led by 83-year-old, Fayzrahman Satarov, a self-styled prophet who said that he is destined to lead a caliphate. He now faces a maximum of 6-months in prison. The underground sect refused to follow Russian laws and the authority of Muslim religious leaders in Tatarstan reported Russian television. The find was made by Russian police investigating Islamic militant groups in the region.