Post-regime change, Arabs eye the road to democracy

After the revolutions, it is elections. The celebrations have barely abated over the scalps of such invincible strongmen as Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak that key voiced across the Arab world are calling for focus on “strong constitutional transition” and post-election management. The concern is obvious. The Islamic world, spread from the Middle-East to Maghreb Africa, has not known parliamentary democracy, in fact no more than one leader in generations. Now, post-Arab Spring, the “transition regimes” are common here as are preparation for elections.

A conference organized by Morocco’s foreign ministry saw key political and intellectual voices flag their concerns while asserting that democracy was irreversible. As Ghazi Gherairi, head of the International Academy of Constitutional Law in Tunis, says, “No government in future can overlook concerns cutting across borders.”

Ironically, monarchies Morocco and Jordan have emerged as the reference points for democracy for their timely move towards reforms to preempt street battles which gripped regimes elsewhere. Experts believe the choice of the nature of democracy and the legal system would determine the fate of the revolutions. The decision on the nature of Islam and its relation to the State will be as crucial. Allagi, minister of justice in the Libyan transition regime, says that multi-party system and the independent judiciary were non-negotiable while the country could have any law, Islamic or otherwise. “Our constitution would enable such a system,” he said.

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Aluminium-water explosion led to Twin Towers collapse?

A mix of sprinkling system water and melted aluminum from aircraft hulls likely triggered the explosions that felled New York’s Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, a materials expert told a technology conference on Wednesday. “If any theory is correct, tonnes of aluminum ran down through the towers, where the smelt came into contact with a few hundred liters of water,” explained Christian Simensen, a scientist at SINTEF, an independent technology research institute based in Norway. “From other disasters and experiments carried out by the aluminum industry, we know that reactions of this sort lead to violent explosions.”

Given the quantities of the molten metal involved, these blasts would have been powerful enough to blow out an entire section of each building, he said in a statement. This, in turn, would lead to the top section of each tower to fall down on the sections below. The aluminum-water scenario would account for explosions from within the buildings just prior to their collapse that have fueled conspiracy theories suggesting that the structures had been booby-trapped. The official report on the causes of the collapse blames over-heating and failure of structural steel beams in the center of the buildings.

Simensen presented his theory at an international materials technology conference in San Diego, California, and has detailed his calculations in an article published in the trade journal Aluminum International Today. “The aluminum industry had reported more than 250 aluminum-water explosions since 1980,” he said. In a controlled experiment carried out by Alcoa Aluminum, 20 kilos of molten aluminum was allowed to react with 20 liters of water, along with a small quantity of rust.

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