Libyan rebels have withdrawn from the town of Ras Lanuf under heavy attack from forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gaddafi. The rebels’ pullback follows a series of gains with the aid of U.S.-led air strikes. The Libyan government continues to claim bombing raids by allied forces are killing and wounding civilians. On Tuesday, foreign journalists were brought to a hospital in the town of Mizdah that Libyan officials claim was damaged by allied forces. A nurse at the hospital said she witnessed the attack.
Nurse: "We started receiving patients from the outside. A lot of people are injured and wounded. So, we heard a very big explosion inside, but we didn’t imagine it was the hospital. They told us we have to come quickly inside. It was a mess. We couldn’t concentrate. We received patients from outside or to bring the patients from inside. When we came, we found this lady already dead and other two ladies with very serious injuries, and we transferred them to Tripoli immediately."
At a conference in London, NATO countries agreed to continue the bombing campaign until Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi complies with a U.N. Security Council resolution to stop attacking civilians. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the gathering.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "This coalition military action will continue until Gaddafi fully complies with the terms of 1973, ceases his attacks on civilians, pulls his troops back from places they have forcibly entered, and allows key services and humanitarian assistance to reach all Libyans."
As the Gaddafi regime’s counteroffensive intensifies, rebel groups are increasing calls for international military aid. Speaking to ABC News, President Obama said he won’t rule out a U.S. military shipment to the rebels.
President Barack Obama: "I wouldn’t speculate on that. I think that it’s fair to say that if we wanted to get weapons into Libya, we probably could. We’re looking at all our options at this point."
As President Obama refused to rule out U.S. military aid to Libyan rebels, the U.S. commander of NATO has left open the prospect of an international force entering Libyan territory. Testifying before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral James Stavridis was asked about whether NATO could send ground troops into Libya.
Adm. James Stavridis: "I wouldn’t say NATO is considering it yet, but I think that when you look at the history of NATO, having gone through this, as many on this committee have, with Bosnia and Kosovo, it’s quite clear that the possibility of a stabilization regime exists. And so, I have not heard any discussion about it yet, but I think that history is in everybody’s mind as we look at the events in Libya."
Libyan rebels have maintained support for international air strikes but have rejected the prospect of an international invasion. A rebel spokesperson in Benghazi said the rebels will overthrow Gaddafi on their own.
Iman Boughaigis: "To liberate our country, this is our duty, so we thank the United States and the coalition for what they are doing and just we emphasise that from the beginning we didn’t ask for liberation–we will liberate our country."
An alleged victim of rape by Gaddafi’s forces in Libya remains missing four days after she was arrested for telling her story to international journalists. The woman, Eman al-Obeidi, was detained after bursting into a hotel full of reporters in Tripoli and recounting her ordeal. She has not been in public since. Obeidi’s mother said she was offered bribes to pressure her daughter to recant her accusations.
Japan has announced plans to decommission four reactors at the earthquake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. Emergency crews have failed to control reactors Units 1 to 4 since they were struck in the earthquake and tsunami earlier this month. The announcement comes as seawater near the plant is showing the highest levels of radiation to date. Nuclear safety officials report seawater 300 yards outside the Fukushima facility contains more than 3,000 times the legal limit for the amount of radioactive iodine, indicating both the highest levels of radiation found so far and the fact that contaminated water is making its way into the ocean. Radiation has also seeped into the soil, produce, raw milk and even Tokyo’s tap water some 140 miles south of the facility. The president of Tokyo Electric Power Company, meanwhile, has been admitted to a Tokyo hospital for hypertension, after suffering from dizziness and high blood pressure.
At least 53 people have been killed and another 95 wounded in an attack in Iraq’s northern city of Tikrit. Gunmen dressed in police uniforms and suicide vests attacked a provincial office and went room to room executing local politicians and government workers. U.S. forces were deployed to the scene and engaged in combat with the attackers. The dead included Sabah al-Bazee, a 30-year-old freelance photojournalist who worked with the Reuters news agency.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accepted the resignation of his government following two weeks of protests. More than 60 people have been killed in a wave of rallies calling for political reforms. Assad is expected to address the protesters in a speech later today.
A Wisconsin judge has blocked Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union law from taking effect for the second time this month. On Tuesday, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi reissued a temporary restraining order blocking the measure’s implementation. Sumi had earlier ruled Republican lawmakers were likely in violation of state open meeting laws when they pushed the legislation through. Despite the initial ruling, Republicans and some state officials have claimed the measure has taken effect. The state’s Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the measure has become law and on whether it can be appealed.
The Ohio House of Representatives is holding a vote today on a measure that would strip collective bargaining rights for state employees and bar them from striking. The Ohio Senate passed a harsher version of the bill earlier this month. State lawmakers have removed a provision that would impose jail time as a penalty for taking part in strikes.
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard arguments over an effort to bring a massive class action sex-discrimination lawsuit against the retail giant Wal-Mart. On Tuesday, attorneys for Wal-Mart urged justices to block a group of past and current female workers from filing the case. Plaintiff and Wal-Mart worker Betty Dukes said she had brought the suit on behalf of the company’s women employees across the nation.
Betty Dukes: "I brought this case because I believe that there was a pattern of discrimination at Wal-Mart, not just in my store, but I believe it is across the country. Since we have filed our lawsuits in 2001, I have heard from numerous women, telling me basically the same story as mine of disparative treatment in lack of promotion, as well in lack of pay."
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced it will no longer deny green card applications to married, bi-national, same-sex married couples. The decision means bi-national LGBT couples with recognized marriages will now be able to apply for citizenship while Congress decides whether to repeal or modify the Defense of Marriage Act.
Clashes continue in the Ivory Coast between forces loyal to incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and internationally recognized president-elect Alassane Ouattara. Anti-Gbagbo forces have captured a number of strategic towns on the nation’s eastern and western fronts. The United Nations, meanwhile, is accusing forces loyal to Gbagbo of killing a dozen people in the city of Abidjan on Monday. More than a million people are said to have fled Abidjan since the conflict began. Melissa Fleming of the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees office said aid agencies are preparing for a flood of refugees to neighboring Ghana.
Melissa Fleming: "We are bracing for significant arrivals in Ghana, should the situation in Abidjan get worse. There has been a jump. There are over 3,000 refugees who have come into Ghana so far. And also, in countries like Togo, Burkina Faso, we are also preparing for new arrivals."
Federal investigators are reportedly reviewing whether managers for the oil giant BP could face manslaughter charges in connection with last year’s Gulf oil spill disaster that left 11 people dead. Bloomberg News reports investigators are also reviewing statements from company officials at congressional hearings following the spill to determine whether their claims matched what they knew. BP’s former chief executive officer, Tony Hayward, is reportedly among those under investigation.