NATO Strikes Libya Capital with Heaviest Bombing in Weeks

NATO warplanes have struck the Libyan capital of Tripoli in the heaviest bombing of the city in weeks. There are reports that plumes of smoke could be seen from Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s compound. Other targets included the Libyan military intelligence agency and a building used by parliament members. Libyan officials said a hospital also sustained minor damage.

United Nations Warns Key Supplies Running Short in Libya

The United Nations is warning food, water and other basic supplies are running short in parts of Libya. Valerie Amos is the United Nations humanitarian chief.

Valerie Amos, United Nations Humanitarian Chief: "Widespread shortages are paralyzing the country in ways in which will impact gravely on the general population in the months ahead, particularly the poorest and the most vulnerable. We do not yet have an accurate figure of the total number of casualties since the start of the crisis. The longer the current situation continues, the graver the humanitarian situation will become. With this in mind, the United Nations has established a humanitarian presence in both Benghazi and Tripoli."

Hundreds Feared Dead in Capsized Boat Incident off Libya Coast

Reports are emerging that a boat carrying as many as 600 migrants capsized off the Libyan coast last week. It is feared that hundreds died in the shipwreck. Eyewitnesses say they saw bodies washed ashore in Libya. The migrants were reported to be predominantly Congolese, Eritrean, Nigerian, Ivory Coast and Somali nationals. The United Nations estimates some 900 people are believed to have drowned in attempted crossings from Libya since March.

Report: U.S., Pakistan Had Longstanding Deal Permitting Capture of Osama bin Laden

The Guardian newspaper reports the United States and Pakistan struck a secret deal almost a decade ago permitting a U.S. operation against Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil. Under the deal, Pakistan would allow U.S. forces to conduct a unilateral raid inside Pakistan in search of bin Laden. Afterward, both sides agreed, Pakistan would vociferously protest the incursion. On Monday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Gilani addressed the National Assembly for the first time since U.S. forces secretly entered Pakistan to kill bin Laden.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani: "Let no one draw any wrong conclusions. Any attack against Pakistan’s strategic assets, whether overt or covert, will find a matching response. Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate with full force. No one should underestimate the resolve and capability of our nation and armed forces to defend our sacred homeland."

Meanwhile, new details have emerged about last week’s raid. President Obama reportedly insisted that the assault force hunting down bin Laden be large enough to fight its way out of Pakistan if confronted by hostile local police officers and troops.

U.S. Removing 5,000 Troops from Afghanistan by July; 90,000 Left through Year End

In news from Afghanistan, U.S. military officers have reportedly drawn up preliminary proposals to withdraw only 5,000 troops from the country in July and as many as 5,000 more by the year’s end. Such a plan would still leave 90,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the start of 2012, plus tens of thousands of more U.S. contractors.

Report: Afghan Security Forces Responsible for 10 Percent of Civilian Deaths

A new report by Oxfam has raised questions about the readiness of Afghan security forces. Oxfam criticized the human rights record of the forces, saying they were responsible for at least 10 percent of the nearly 2,800 civilian deaths in Afghanistan last year.

Egypt: Second Former Cabinet Minister Arrested

In Egypt, a second former cabinet minister has been sentenced to jail. Former tourism minister, Zoheir Garranah, has been sentenced to five years for squandering public funds. Last week, former interior minister, Habib al-Adly, was jailed for 12 years for money laundering and corruption.

White House Under Pressure to Criticize Bahrain amid Crackdown on Peaceful Protesters

The White House is coming under increasing pressure to criticize its ally, the Gulf nation of Bahrain, for cracking down on peaceful protesters. In an editorial today, the editors of the Washington Post suggest the United States should start looking for a new home for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

Japan, U.S. Considering Construction of Nuclear Waste Storage Facility in Mongolia

A Japanese newspaper has revealed Japan and the United States are considering constructing an underground nuclear waste storage complex in the Asian country of Mongolia. According to the report, Japan and the United States hope to promote nuclear power overseas, promising new contractors that nuclear waste could be disposed at the complex. U.S. and Japanese officials have confirmed they have held discussions with Mongolia about nuclear waste management, but denied aspects of the report. The United States and Mongolia signed a memorandum of understanding on nuclear power in September 2010.

Researchers Confirm Link between Hydraulic Fracking and Flammable Water

ProPublica is reporting a new scientific study has linked natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing with drinking water contamination, in some cases so severe that some faucets can be lit on fire. The researchers from Duke University found that levels of flammable methane gas in drinking water wells increased to dangerous levels when those water supplies were close to natural gas wells. The study was based on 68 drinking water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania and southern New York State. In 2010, Josh Fox, the director of the documentary film Gasland, appeared on Democracy Now! and talked about how he filmed one man in Colorado who could light his faucet water on fire.

Josh Fox, director of Gasland: “So, a lot of people in that area, which is a heavy gas drilling area, would go ahead and test it themselves. And he discovered, lo and behold, that he could light his water on fire. So what you see right there is this enormous explosion coming right out of Mike’s sink. I ended up doing it myself, you know, and lighting the water on fire out of the sink."

Panel: Renewable Energy Could Supply Nearly 80 Percent of the World’s Energy

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said Monday renewable energy could account for almost 80 percent of the world’s energy supply within four decades. But the panel said this is only possible if governments spend significantly more money to help expand solar and wind power. According to Greenpeace, the oil-rich states of Saudi Arabia and Qatar watered down the report’s language on the cost benefits of renewable energy technology.

FBI Surveillance Dramatically Increases

Newly released government data shows that FBI surveillance is on the rise. In 2010, the FBI more than doubled the number of U.S. persons it targeted with National Security Letters. Meanwhile, the number of electronic and physical searches under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act increased by 13 percent. The secretive FISA court was asked to approve 1,506 requests last year for secret electronic surveillance—the court approved every one.

Appliance Giant Avoids Paying Taxes for Three Years

In business news, the Bloomberg news agency has revealed that the world’s largest appliance manufacturer, Whirlpool, has managed to avoid paying federal income taxes over the past three years. The company reported $18 billion in worldwide sales last year, but it received a tax benefit of $64 million from the federal government. Whirlpool’s headquarters are in the cash-strapped city of Benton Harbor, Michigan, where the city’s elected mayor and city commissioners were recently stripped of all power by an unelected emergency financial manager appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

President Obama Visits Texas; Arizona Calls for Lifting of Injunction on Immigration Law

President Obama is visiting El Paso, Texas, today making his first presidential trip to the U.S.-Mexico border. The President is scheduled to give a speech focused on immigration reform. Meanwhile, Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to lift an injunction on SB 1070, Arizona’s anti-immigrant law that empowers state and local law enforcement to stop, question and arrest whoever they suspect may be an undocumented immigrant.

Newt Gingrich Expected to Announce Presidential Campaign

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is expected announce his campaign for the Republican nomination for president on Wednesday. Some analysts have described him as the first high-profile Republican contender to officially enter the race.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich May Run in Washington State

Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio said Monday he may run for Congress in another state if he loses his Ohio seat to redistricting next year. There is some speculation that Kucinich may run in Washington state, which will add a new congressional seat.

Memphis Braces for Continued Flooding as Mississippi River Crests at Near-Record Level

Thousands of people in Memphis remain displaced as the city is suffering its worst flooding since 1937. The Mississippi River crested last night at 48 feet—a full 14 feet above the city’s flood stage. Experts warn the south will remain in danger for weeks to come. Memphis officials say two-out-of-four emergency shelters in Memphis have reached capacity, but alternate locations are on standby. Internationally famous sites in the area, including Elvis Presley’s Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum, have not been damaged by the rising water.

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