World leaders condemn Gaddafi’s actions

Barack Obama has finally broken his silence on Libya – but there is no consensus on sanctions or a n

The situation in Libya is getting worse as it becomes increasingly apparent that Colonel Gaddafi is willing to see a huge death toll rather than give up power over the country he has ruled for 41 years. Reports that he has ordered the destruction of oilfields underline the potential threat to world security.

Other governments have been focused on getting their citizens out of Libya – and as US citizens prepared to be evacuated, Barack Obama broke his silence, condemning Gaddafi's actions and threatening sanctions.

Hillary Clinton is flying to Europe to discuss what actions the international community can take to stop the violence. Western leaders are united in condemning the bloodshed, and have variously called for sanctions and a no-fly zone over Libya. Meanwhile, the Arab League has suspended Libya, but has not vocalised any criticism.

Here is a summary of who has said what so far:

Barack Obama

Thursday 24 Feburary 2011

The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop.

Obama said he has asked his administration for a list of options on how to respond to the crisis.

This includes those actions we may take and those we will co-ordinate with our allies and partners, or those that we will carry out through multilateral institutions.

Angela Merkel

Tuesday 22 February 2011

The news we've had from Libya yesterday and today is worrying and the speech by Colonel Gaddafi this afternoon was very, very frightening, especially because he virtually declared war on his own people

We urge the Libyan government to halt immediately the use of violence against its own people, and if the use of violence does not cease then Germany will exhaust every possibility to exert pressure and influence on Libya.

She added that if the violence did not stop "we would then speak in favour of sanctions against Libya".

Nicolas Sarkozy

Wednesday 23 February 2011

[I am asking] European partners to rapidly adopt concrete sanctions so that those who are implicated in the violence know that they must bear the consequences of their actions. These measures should include the possibility of making people face justice, blocking access to the European Union, and the surveillance of financial movements.

He added:

The continuing brutal and bloody repression against the Libyan civilian population is revolting. The international community cannot remain a spectator to these massive violations of human rights.

David Cameron

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Speaking to al-Jazeera, the Prime Minister condemned violence but was vague about whether to impose a no-fly zone or sanctions. It is likely that this position will toughen if and when British citizens are evacuated (a process that has now begun), when the government no longer has to worry about antagonising the Libyan regime.

Sanctions are always an option for the future if what we are seeing in Libya continues. Of course, if Libya continues down this path, there will be a very strong argument [for sanctions].

On military action, he said:

I do not think we are at that stage yet. We are at the stage of condemning the actions Colonel Gaddafi has taken against his own people.

Meanwhile, the former foreign secretary David Owen became the first British politician to call for a no-fly zone, telling the Today programme that he believed UN planes would already be on alert.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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A swimming pool and a bleeding toe put my medical competency in doubt

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Sometimes the search engine wins. 

The brutal heatwave affecting southern Europe this summer has become known among locals as “Lucifer”. Having just returned from Italy, I fully understand the nickname. An early excursion caused the beginnings of sunstroke, so we abandoned plans to explore the cultural heritage of the Amalfi region and strayed no further than five metres from the hotel pool for the rest of the week.

The children were delighted, particularly my 12-year-old stepdaughter, Gracie, who proceeded to spend hours at a time playing in the water. Towelling herself after one long session, she noticed something odd.

“What’s happened there?” she asked, holding her foot aloft in front of my face.

I inspected the proffered appendage: on the underside of her big toe was an oblong area of glistening red flesh that looked like a chunk of raw steak.

“Did you injure it?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t hurt at all.”

I shrugged and said she must have grazed it. She wasn’t convinced, pointing out that she would remember if she had done that. She has great faith in plasters, though, and once it was dressed she forgot all about it. I dismissed it, too, assuming it was one of those things.

By the end of the next day, the pulp on the underside of all of her toes looked the same. As the doctor in the family, I felt under some pressure to come up with an explanation. I made up something about burns from the hot paving slabs around the pool. Gracie didn’t say as much, but her look suggested a dawning scepticism over my claims to hold a medical degree.

The next day, Gracie and her new-found holiday playmate, Eve, abruptly terminated a marathon piggy-in-the-middle session in the pool with Eve’s dad. “Our feet are bleeding,” they announced, somewhat incredulously. Sure enough, bright-red blood was flowing, apparently painlessly, from the bottoms of their big toes.

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Often, what patients discover on the internet causes them undue alarm, and our role is to provide context and reassurance. But not infrequently, people come across information that outstrips our knowledge. On my return from our room with fresh supplies of plasters, my wife looked up from her sun lounger with an air of quiet amusement.

“It’s called ‘pool toe’,” she said, handing me her iPhone. The page she had tracked down described the girls’ situation exactly: friction burns, most commonly seen in children, caused by repetitive hopping about on the abrasive floors of swimming pools. Doctors practising in hot countries must see it all the time. I doubt it presents often to British GPs.

I remained puzzled about the lack of pain. The injuries looked bad, but neither Gracie nor Eve was particularly bothered. Here the internet drew a blank, but I suspect it has to do with the “pruning” of our skin that we’re all familiar with after a soak in the bath. This only occurs over the pulps of our fingers and toes. It was once thought to be caused by water diffusing into skin cells, making them swell, but the truth is far more fascinating.

The wrinkling is an active process, triggered by immersion, in which the blood supply to the pulp regions is switched off, causing the skin there to shrink and pucker. This creates the biological equivalent of tyre treads on our fingers and toes and markedly improves our grip – of great evolutionary advantage when grasping slippery fish in a river, or if trying to maintain balance on slick wet rocks.

The flip side of this is much greater friction, leading to abrasion of the skin through repeated micro-trauma. And the lack of blood flow causes nerves to shut down, depriving us of the pain that would otherwise alert us to the ongoing tissue damage. An adaptation that helped our ancestors hunt in rivers proves considerably less use on a modern summer holiday.

I may not have seen much of the local heritage, but the trip to Italy taught me something new all the same. 

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear