Is this the strangest act of defiance ever?

Colonel Gaddafi makes 22-second appearance on state television to say that he has not fled Tripoli.

 

Colonel Gaddafi's strangehold on power in Libya is coming under ever greater pressure, as protests continue in Tripoli and elsewhere in Libya despite the bloodiest crackdown in any of the Middle Eastern states.

Phone lines and internet connections in the country have been largely shut down, making it difficult to verify information. However, last night Gaddafi, who has ruled the country for 41 years, made a brief appearance on state television to counter rumours that he had left Tripoli and fled to Venezuela. He said:

I am satisfied, because I was speaking in front of the youth in the Green Square tonight, but the rain came, praise to God, it is a good omen.

I want to clarify for them that I am in Tripoli not in Venezuela. Do not believe these channels – they are dogs. Goodbye.

It was certainly a strange act of defiance: the broadcast lasted for just 22 seconds and went out at 2am local time. He is shown leaning out of the passenger seat of an old white car, holding up an umbrella to shield himself from the rain as he speaks. It gives the impression of being rather rushed and panicked.

However, Alastair Leithead, the BBC's correspondent, warns that we must not be too quick to take this as a sign of Gaddafi's grip crumbling:

People will be looking at him and saying: "This isn't particularly organised, it maybe shows a little panic but maybe what he was saying was that he was still very firmly in control."

We may read from that that he is determined to continue resistance to the opposition that has taken to the streets, that the opposition will see it as too costly to continue.

But with several key Libyan diplomats disowning the regime, and nearly all of them pleading for Gaddafi to step down or for the international community to step in, it seems that he has not yet succeeded in calming the winds of change.

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

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland