Benghazi: in pictures

Much of eastern Libya is under the control of protesters. Here are photographs from inside the count

Above, an opposition militiaman stands guard in front of a charred national security building. It was destroyed last weekend as opposition forces battled troops loyal to Muammar al-Gaddafi.


Here, Citizens turn in automatic weapons ammunition to a militiaman. Benghazi is largely under opposition control as Gaddafi's forces focus on battling rebels near the capital, Tripoli.


Here, demonstrators in Benghazi call for Gaddafi to be removed. World leaders will attempt to co-ordinate a response to the crisis at a meeting of the UN Security Council this morning.


A Libyan border guard walks through an empty customs hall on the border with Egypt. A no-fly zone and sanctions are possible options on the table for leaders of other countries. Switzerland says it has frozen Gaddafi's assets.


Opposition militiamen speak at a national security building in Benhgazi. In the past eight days, Gaddafi has used aircraft, tanks and foreign mercenaries, killing hundreds. According to some estimates, up to 2,000 people may have died.


El-Faitory Meftah el-Bouras holds a portrait of his son Fathig during a protest. El-Bouras says his son was just one of many thousands of political prisoners killed during Gaddafi's rule.


Demonstrators climb flagpoles. Despite the carnage the city has suffered, people are celebrating their victory and the prospect of a life outside dictatorship.

All photographs: AFP/Getty Images.

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

Photo: Getty
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What happened when a couple accidentally recorded two hours of their life

The cassette tape threw Dan and Fiona into a terrible panic.

If the Transformers series of movies (Transformers; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Transformers: Age of Extinction; and Transformers: the Last Knight) teach us anything, it is that you think your life is going along just fine but in a moment, with a single mistake or incident, it can be derailed and you never know from what direction the threat will come. Shia LaBeouf, for example, thinks everything is completely OK in his world – then he discovers his car is a shape-shifting alien.

I once knew a couple called Dan and Fiona who, on an evening in the early 1980s, accidentally recorded two hours of their life. Fiona was an English teacher (in fact we’d met at teacher-training college) and she wished to make a recording of a play that was being broadcast on Radio 4 about an anorexic teenager living on a council estate in Belfast. A lot of the dramas at that time were about anorexic teenagers living on council estates in Belfast, or something very similar – sometimes they had cancer.

Fiona planned to get her class to listen to the play and then they would have a discussion about its themes. In that pre-internet age when there was no iPlayer, the only practical way to hear something after the time it had been transmitted was to record the programme onto a cassette tape.

So Fiona got out their boom box (a portable Sony stereo player), loaded in a C120 tape, switched on the radio part of the machine, tuned it to Radio 4, pushed the record button when the play began, and fastidiously turned the tape over after 60 minutes.

But instead of pushing the button that would have taped the play, she had actually pushed the button that activated the built-in microphone, and the machine captured, not the radio drama, but the sound of 120 minutes of her and Dan’s home life, which consisted solely of: “Want a cup of tea?” “No thanks.” And a muffled fart while she was out of the room. That was all. That was it.

The two of them had, until that moment, thought their life together was perfectly happy, but the tape proved them conclusively wrong. No couple who spent their evenings in such torpidity could possibly be happy. Theirs was clearly a life of grinding tedium.

The evidence of the cassette tape threw Dan and Fiona into a terrible panic: the idea of spending any more of their evenings in such bored silence was intolerable. They feared they might have to split up. Except they didn’t want to.

But what could they do to make their lives more exciting? Should they begin conducting sordid affairs in sleazy nightclubs? Maybe they could take up arcane hobbies such as musketry, baking terrible cakes and entering them in competitions, or building models of Victorian prisons out of balsa wood? Might they become active in some kind of extremist politics?

All that sounded like a tremendous amount of effort. In the end they got themselves a cat and talked about that instead. 

This article first appeared in the 20 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The new world disorder