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Mar 24 2011

Evening Edition

I’ll be sitting in for ek hornbeck who is Live Blogging the NCAA Championship Games for the next few days.

  • West strikes deep in Libya, Misrata, Ajdabiyah besieged

    By Maria Golovnina and Michael Georgy

    TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Western warplanes hit military targets deep inside Libya on Thursday but failed to prevent tanks reentering the western town of Misrata and besieging its main hospital.

    Air strikes destroyed government tanks on the outskirts of rebel-held Misrata, but other tanks inside the city were not hit, a resident said, underlining the difficulty of the U.N. backed military mission to protect Libyans from Muammar Gaddafi.

  • Turkey and France clash over Libya air campaign

    by Ian Traynor

    Tension mounts over military action as Ankara accuses Sarkozy of pursuing French interests over liberation of Libyan people

    Turkey has launched a bitter attack on French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s and France’s leadership of the military campaign against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, accusing the French of lacking a conscience in their conduct in the Libyan operations.

    The vitriolic criticism, from both the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the president, Abdullah Gül followed attacks from the Turkish government earlier this week and signalled an orchestrated attempt by Ankara to wreck Sarkozy’s plans to lead the air campaign against Gaddafi.

  • French jets destroy Libyan plane, target arms flow

    By Ryan Lucas and Maggie Michaels

    BENGHAZI, Libya – French fighter jets struck an air base deep inside Libya and destroyed one of Moammar Gadhafi’s planes Thursday, and NATO ships patrolled the coast to block the flow of arms and mercenaries. Other coalition bombers struck artillery, arms depots and parked helicopters.

    Libyan state television on Thursday showed blackened and mangled bodies that it said were victims of airstrikes in Tripoli, the capital. Rebels have accused Gadhafi’s forces of taking bodies from the morgue and pretending they are civilian casualties.

  • Libyan rebels wait outside Gaddafi-held Ajdabiyah

    By Mohammed Abbas

    NEAR AJDABIYAH, Libya (Reuters) – Libyan rebels trying to advance on Ajdabiyah came under intermittent shelling on Thursday from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi holding out in the strategic eastern town.

    Rebel fighters said they had dispatched envoys into Ajdabiyah to try to persuade Gaddafi’s forces, now facing air strikes from Western warplanes, to give up.

  • Rebels close in on oil town as NATO set to take charge

    by Imed Lamloum Imed Lamloum

    TRIPOLI (AFP) – Rebels battled on to the eastern oil town of Ajdabiya Thursday as plans firmed for NATO to take over coalition operations after Tripoli came under attack for a sixth day and death tolls mounted.

    France promised to continue air raids “for as long as necessary,” and Italy offered to increase its participation in the coalition operation.

  • Qatar’s decision to send planes to Libya is part of a high-stakes game

    By Jason Burke

    The tiny Gulf state is keen to gain influence out of proportion to its size through diplomacy and al-Jazeera

    In an air-conditioned room down an alley in the old market of Qatar’s capital Doha, enthusiasts of “damah” gather most evenings. The ancient board game, rarely played in recent years, is now being revived by local enthusiasts. It is, afficionados say, a contest of strategy and finesse – and thus an apt metaphor for the high-stakes manoeuvring by the tiny Gulf state and its hereditary leader, 59-year-old Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, in recent weeks.

  • Global food scare widens from Japan nuclear plant

    by Karyn Poupee

    TOKYO (AFP) – Countries across the world shunned Japanese food imports Thursday as radioactive steam leaked from a disaster-struck nuclear plant, straining nerves in Tokyo.

    The grim toll of dead and missing from Japan’s monster quake and tsunami on March 11 topped 26,000, as hundreds of thousands remained huddled in evacuation shelters and fears grew in Tokyo over water safety.

  • Japan says must review nuclear power policy as crisis persists

    By Linda Sieg and Sumio Ito

    TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan will have to review its nuclear power policy, its top government spokesman said on Thursday as radiation from a damaged nuclear complex briefly made Tokyo’s tap water unsafe for babies and led to people emptying supermarket shelves of bottled water.

    Engineers are trying to stabilize the six-reactor nuclear plant in Fukushima, 250 km (150 miles) north of the capital, nearly two weeks after an earthquake and tsunami battered the plant and devastated northeastern Japan, leaving nearly 26,000 people dead or missing.

  • Japanese firemen battle invisible danger

    By Kiyoshi Takenaka

    TOKYO (Reuters) – The most difficult thing in a nuclear crisis, the Tokyo firefighter said, was the inability to sense where the danger was.

    The Tokyo Fire Department’s elite rescue team was among those called in to cool down a nuclear plant north of the capital that was badly damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami and was leaking radiation.

  • Assad offers freedoms after forces kill 37

    By Suleiman al-Khalidi

    DERAA, Syria (Reuters) – President Bashar al-Assad made an unprecedented pledge of greater freedom and more prosperity to Syrians Thursday as anger mounted following a crackdown on protesters that left at least 37 dead.

    As an aide to Assad in Damascus read out a list of decrees, which included a possible end to 48 years of emergency rule, a human rights group said a leading pro-democracy activist, Mazen Darwish, had been arrested.

  • Yemeni opposition says No to Saleh’s new offer

    By Cynthia Johnston and Mohammed Ghobari

    SANAA (Reuters) – Yemen’s opposition stepped up efforts to remove President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Thursday, dismissing his offer to stand down after a presidential election at the end of the year.

    Tensions ratcheted higher a day ahead of a planned rally that protesters have dubbed “Friday of Departure,” and presidential guards loyal to Saleh clashed with army units backing opposition groups demanding his ouster.

  • Facing protests, Syria says may end emergency law

    DAMASCUS (AFP) – President Bashar al-Assad’s government said on Thursday it may scrap an emergency law in place since 1963 following a week of deadly protests in the southern city of Daraa.

    “I am happy to announce to you the decisions made today by the Arab Baath party under the auspices of President Bashar al-Assad… which include… studying the possibility of lifting the emergency law and licensing political parties,” the president’s media adviser Buthaina Shaaban told a news conference.

  • Gates assures Egypt on sustained U.S. aid

    CAIRO (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates assured Egypt’s military ruler of sustained American aid Thursday, as Cairo warned that tourism revenue is nosediving in the wake of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

    Gates, on his first visit to Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, also discussed Libya with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the ruling military council.

  • EU summit split on Libya, upset by Portugal

    by Claire Rosemberg

    BRUSSELS (AFP) – Europe’s leaders head into a crucial summit on Thursday, torn over the military campaign in Libya and calls for NATO to take its reins, as they strive to seal a long-anticipated deal to shore up the euro.

    Originally scheduled to agree a lasting game-plan after financial crises in Greece and Ireland undermined the common currency, European Union leaders gather from 1600 GMT facing a fresh financial storm over troubled Portugal.

  • Debt-ridden Portugal vows to do all it can to avoid bailout

    by Anne Le Coz Anne Le Coz

    LISBON (AFP) – Portugal vowed Thursday to “do all it can” to avert a bailout after Prime Minister Jose Socrates stepped down following a showdown with parliament over his minority government’s latest austerity plan.

    Socrates, in power since 2005, tendered his resignation late Wednesday, saying he could not govern without support after all five opposition parties voted against his fourth programme in a year of spending cuts and tax hikes.

  • Portugal crisis hijacks European summit

    By Julien Toyer

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A political crisis in Portugal that has forced the resignation of its prime minister dominated the start of a summit of EU leaders on Thursday, with Lisbon rejecting intense pressure to seek a bailout package.

    Prime Minister Jose Socrates quit on Wednesday after parliament rejected new austerity measures that his government unveiled to avoid being forced to seek EU/IMF financial assistance, as euro members Greece and Ireland did last year.

  • Special report: The revolution in central banking

    By Paul Carrel, Mark Felsenthal, Pedro da Costa, David Milliken and Alan Wheatley

    FRANKFURT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – On a warm, Lisbon day last May, Jean-Claude Trichet, the ice-cool president of the European Central Bank, was asked whether the bank would consider buying euro zone governments’ bonds in the open market. Paul Carrel, Mark Felsenthal, Pedro Da Costa, David Milliken And Alan Wheatley Frankfurt/washington (reuters) – On A Warm, Lisbon Day Last May, Jean-claude Trichet, The Ice-cool President Of The European Central Bank, Was Asked Whether The Bank Would Consider Buying Euro Zone Governments’ Bonds In The Open Market.

    “I would say we did not discuss this option,” Trichet told a news conference after a meeting of the ECB’s Governing Council. Four days later, the ECB announced that it would start buying bonds.

  • ECB talks rate hikes, braces as Portugal crisis deepens

    By Sakari Suoninen and Terhi Kinnunen

    FRANKFURT/HELSINKI (Reuters) – European Central Bank policymakers underscored the case for an April rate hike on Thursday as Portugal’s political crisis raised the prospect of another spell of reluctant ECB bond market intervention.

    The ECB has kept rates at a record low of 1 percent for almost two years as the financial and debt crises have unfolded, but it took financial markets by surprise earlier this month by flagging a earlier-than-expected hike in April.

  • Best Buy shoppers shun pricey TVs; analysts worry

    By Dhanya Skariachan

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Best Buy Co Inc forecast profit that could fall below analysts’ estimates for the current year as consumers continue to be cautious about buying big-ticket items such as televisions.

    Analysts also questioned the sustainability of Best Buy’s strategy to focus on smartphones and other mobile broadband gadgets, and shares of the top U.S. electronics chain fell 5 percent.

  • Gates, Buffett in India to persuade rich to give to charity

    By Alistair Scrutton and C.J. Kuncheria  

    NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Two of the world’s richest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, will meet the cream of India’s rich on Thursday to tap the wealth of a new generation of billionaires for charity in the rapidly developing Asian giant after a similar visit to China.

    The visit of two of the world’s most generous philanthropists has sparked a renewed debate about the willingness of India’s rich to part with their money to support the nation’s hundreds of millions below the poverty line.

  • Swedish court nixes BP, Rosneft Arctic tie-up: report

    MOSCOW (AFP) – A Stockholm court has ruled against British energy giant BP’s tie-up with Russia’s Rosneft to jointly explore for oil in the Arctic, BP officials said Thursday.

    The British firm immediately issued a statement stating that it “remains committed to partner with Russia” and would seek other ways of completing the historic deal.

  • Ukraine ex-leader charged over reporter’s murder

    by Anya Tsukanova

    KIEV (AFP) – Ukraine on Thursday charged ex-president Leonid Kuchma over the 2000 murder of a journalist, its most notorious post-Soviet crime, amid doubts he could be jailed even if found guilty.

    Ukrainian prosecutors confirmed they had presented charges of “abuse of power” to Kuchma as he attended a second session of questioning after a criminal probe was formally opened earlier this week.

  • Cherry blossom events begin with solemn DC tribute

    By Brett Zongker

    WASHINGTON – The flowering trees that symbolize friendship between the United States and Japan are blooming for the 99th time in Washington in the wake of one of the world’s worst natural disasters.

    Before the two-week National Cherry Blossom Festival opens Saturday, organizers will hold a fundraising walk and vigil Thursday evening among the trees for victims of Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami. An estimated 18,000 people have been killed in the disaster.

  • China renews push to ban smoking starting May 1

    By Gillian Wong

    BEIJING – Chinese health authorities are renewing a push to ban smoking in indoor public places, adding more venues like hotels and restaurants as of May 1, though still excluding many workplaces.

    The guidelines given on the Health Ministry’s website are the latest effort to curb tobacco use in the country with the world’s largest number of smokers and where experts say huge revenues from the state-owned tobacco monopoly hinders anti-smoking measures.

  • FAA chief suspends dozing air traffic controller

    By Joan Lowy

    WASHINGTON – Authorities have suspended a control tower supervisor working alone overnight who couldn’t be roused to guide two airliners landing at Washington’s Reagan airport, the nation’s top aviation official said Thursday.

    “As a former airline pilot, I am personally outraged that this controller did not meet his responsibility to help land these two airplanes,” Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt said.

  • US ‘kill team’ soldier who murdered unarmed Afghans escapes life sentence

    Jeremy Morlock receives 24 years in prison following plea deal to give evidence against fellow soldiers

    A US soldier who pleaded guilty to the murders of three Afghan civilians has been sentenced to 24 years in prison after saying “the plan was to kill people” in a conspiracy with four fellow soldiers.

    The military judge said he initially intended to sentence Jeremy Morlock to life in prison with possibility of parole but was bound by the plea deal.

  • German officials order all stray cats to be neutered

    By Helen Pidd

    City of Bremen to take drastic action to tackle out-of-control feline population, which threatens local songbirds

    All stray cats in the north German city of Bremen are to be neutered under plans by the local council which campaigners hope could be extended to the whole country.

    The drastic measure has been proposed by Bremen’s interior minister, Ulrich Mäurer, in an attempt to control the city’s burgeoning feline population, which is threatening local songbirds.

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