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calendar   Monday - January 17, 2011

Unrest Continues In Tunisia

Shaky Tunisian Government Uses Teargas and Water Cannons on Protest Crowds

Protesters call from current government to quit now

Tunisia, Northern Africa: Hundreds of people rallied in central Tunis on Monday to demand the abolition of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s ruling RDC party as police fired volleys of tear gas to break up the protest.

“We don’t want anyone from the old party in the new government. That includes the prime minister,” one protester told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi was a close ally of Ben Ali and held talks with opposition parties on Sunday to form a national unity government that is due to be unveiled on Monday.

The opposition said members of the previous government are set to stay on.

Any public gatherings are banned under a state of emergency declared by Ben Ali on Friday just before he resigned and fled to Saudi Arabia.

Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to disperse the rally and prevent protesters from marching on the headquarters of the RDC, the Constitutional Democratic Rally.

“With our blood and our soul we are ready to sacrifice ourselves for the martyrs,” they chanted, referring to the dozens reported killed in a wave of protests that led to Ben Ali’s downfall after 23 years in power.

There was another rally in Sidi Bouzid, a city in central Tunisia that was at the heart of the protests that erupted against Ben Ali’s regime mid-December. Demonstrators there chanted: “Bread and water and no RDC!”

A rally was also held in Regueb, a town near Sidi Bouzid.

Tunisia’s ‘Jasmine Revolution’ is still under way, with fighting in the capital today. The enraged Tunisians who took to the streets in December in revulsion at their corrupt, autocratic regime achieved their primary goal: The removal from power of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. But what sort of new order will emerge in the North African country, or whether it will be much different from the old one, has not yet been determined.

For a look at the power players there, click here.

Go on, take the money and run: Meanwhile, Mrs. Dictator seems to have skedaddled with the loot, big time!

Ben Ali’s wife picked up 1.5 tons of gold before fleeing

The wife of ousted Tunisian president Zine el- Abidine ben Ali collected 1.5 tons of gold from the central bank before fleeing the country, the French newspaper Le Monde reported Monday.

Leila Trabelsi visited the bank in Tunis and is thought to have taken the gold bars worth some 60 million dollars along when departing onboard a plane bound for Dubai, according to the report. The head of the bank had reportedly not wanted to hand over the gold at first, but after the 53-year-old contacted her husband telephonically, she was given the gold bars.

The 74-year-old longtime president had initially also resisted instructing the bank to do so, Le Monde said. Ben Ali’s second wife and her relatives have a reputation for being money and power hungry. The Trabelsi clan is regarded as corrupt and widely believed to be involved in racketeering.

After Ben Ali’s was ousted Friday, angry Tunisians looted the couple’s villa in a posh suburb of the capital Tunis. Imed Trabelsi, a businessman and nephew of the president’s wife who for many was a symbol of corruption, was stabbed to death.

Given today’s gold price of roughly $1360/Toz, and 1.5 Troy tons of gold being 3675 Troys pounds, each made up of 12 Troy ounces ... that’s $59,976,000 in bullion; nearly 59 cubic feet of gold; a block 46.6” inches on a side, nearly 2.2 cubic yards worth that weighs 1371.663 kilograms, about as much mass as a small car. That’s a lot of gold!

It’s always fun playing with Troy and Avoirdupois weights, just to remind myself that a pound of feathers weighs 1240 grains more than a pound of gold. But until today I did not know the common factor of these two measurement systems: one is wheat, the other is water. One cubic foot of pure cold water weighs 62.5 avoirdupois pounds; one cubic foot of wheat weighs 62.5 troy pounds. Which means that 1000 avoirdupois ounces weighs the same as 750 Troy ounces. So there ya go. The French came up with this in the year 732, so they didn’t really factor in the varying moisture level that wheat can have. Half an eon later the English adopted it, so now we’re stuck with it. Don’t go looking at how 8 gallons - 64lb - of sea water can be both a cubic foot and a bushel, since a bushel is about 1.24 cubic feet. But hey, back in 732 a bushel was a round basket a cubit across by a handslength deep. Which is irrational, and thus perfectly fwench.

So here’s Stephanie Abrams from the Weather Channel, looking good in pics and being inadvertently naughty in a short video clip. Hope you were watching this morning; she had that tight red cashmere sweater on again. Yum!

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/17/2011 at 09:51 AM   
Filed Under: • AfricaInternationalNews-Briefs •  
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