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Black Facts for March 24th

1986 - Libya

On Sept. 1, 1969, 27-year-old Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi deposed the king and revolutionized the country, making it a pro-Arabic, anti-Western, Islamic republic with socialist leanings. It was also rabidly anti-Israeli. A notorious firebrand, Qaddafi aligned himself with dictators, such as Ugandas Idi Amin, and fostered anti-Western terrorism.

On Aug. 19, 1981, two U.S. Navy F-14s shot down two Soviet-made SU-22s of the Libyan air force that had attacked them in air space above the Gulf of Sidra. On March 24, 1986, U.S. and Libyan forces skirmished in the Gulf of Sidra, and two Libyan patrol boats were sunk. Qaddafis troops also supported rebels in Chad but suffered major military reverses in 1987. A two-year-old U.S. covert policy to destabilize the Libyan government ended in failure in Dec. 1990.

On Dec. 21, 1988, a Boeing 747 exploded in flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, the result of a terrorist bomb, killing all 259 people aboard and 11 on the ground. This and other acts of terrorism, including the bombing of a Berlin discotheque in 1986 and the downing of a French UTA airliner in 1989 that killed 170, turned Libya into a pariah in the eyes of the West. Two Libyan intelligence agents were indicted in the Lockerbie bombing, but Qaddafi refused to hand them over, leading to UN-approved trade and air traffic embargoes in 1992. In 1999, Libya finally surrendered the two men, who were tried in the Netherlands in 2000–2001. One was found guilty of mass murder; the other defendant was found innocent. Libya had hoped its fainthearted cooperation would lead to suspended sanctions, which had severely affected the Libyan economy. The UN did suspend its sanctions, but they were not formally removed for another four years, not until Sept. 2003, when Libya finally admitted its guilt in the Lockerbie bombing and agreed to pay $2.7 billion to the victims families. In 2004, Libya also agreed to compensate the families of the victims of the UTA airliner bombing ($170 million) and the Berlin disco bombing ($35 million).

1855 - Olive Schreiner

Olive Schreiner , in full Olive Emilie Albertina Schreiner, pseudonym Ralph Iron (born March 24, 1855, Wittebergen, Cape Colony [now in South Africa]—died Dec. 11, 1920, Cape Town, S.Af.), writer who produced the first great South African novel, The Story of an African Farm (1883). She had a powerful intellect, militantly feminist and liberal views on politics and society, and great vitality that was somewhat impaired by asthma and severe depressions. Her brother William Philip Schreiner was prime minister of Cape Colony from 1899 to 1902.

Although Schreiner had no formal education, she read widely and was taught by her formidable mother. From early childhood she had an active fantasy life. From 1874 until 1881 (when she went to England, hoping to study medicine) she earned her living as a governess; during this time she wrote two semiautobiographical novels, Undine (published 1928) and The Story of an African Farm (1883), and began From Man to Man (1926), at which she worked intermittently for 40 years but never finished.

The Story of an African Farm was an immediate success in Europe and North America, bringing its author, though published pseudonymously, many distinguished admirers. It tells the story of a girl on an isolated farm in the veld who struggles for her independence in the face of rigid Boer social conventions. The book’s originality, assured handling of narrative and description, exotic background, and vigorous expression of feminist, anti-Christian views on religion and marriage gave it both notoriety and wide appeal.

Notable among Schreiner’s other works are an attack on the activities of Cecil Rhodes and his associates, Trooper Peter Halkett of Mashonaland (1897), and a widely acclaimed “bible” of the Women’s Movement, Woman and Labour (1911).