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The burial of Muammar Gaddafi has been delayed amidst calls for a probe into the circumstances around his death. Video footage continues to emerge of the last moments of Gaddafi’s life, followed by his blood-drenched body being dragged on the ground. Gaddafi was reportedly shot dead by fighters with the Libya’s interim government shortly after his convoy was bombed in a NATO attack. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has demanded an investigation, calling the images “very disturbing.” Libya’s National Transitional Council says it will allow a third party to inspect Gaddafi’s body, which is currently being held in a cold-storage site in Misurata. Celebrations broke out across Libya on Thursday as news of Gaddafi’s death spread. At the White House, President Obama said the conflict in Libya has come to an end.
President Obama: “The courageous Libyan people fought for their own future and broke the back of the regime. So this is a momentous day in the history of Libya. The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted, and with this enormous promise, the Libyan people now have a great responsibility to build an inclusive and tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke to Gaddafi’s dictatorship.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Pakistan today for a meeting with top Pakistani officials, including President Asif Ali Zardari. Clinton’s visit follows a trip to Afghanistan, where she warned of more unilateral actions inside Pakistan unless the Pakistani government follows U.S. demands to confront militants.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “We must send a clear, unequivocal message to the government and the people of Pakistan that they must be part of the solution. And that means ridding their own country of terrorists who kill their own people and who cross the border to kill in Afghanistan. I think that how we increase that pressure, how we make that commitment, is the subject of the conversations that President Karzai and I have had and that I will have in Pakistan, but we’re looking to the Pakistanis to lead on this, because there is no place to go any longer.”
Greek lawmakers have given final approval to austerity measures that will cut wages, slash spending and raise taxes in return for an international bailout. Thursday’s vote came amidst massive demonstrations and a general strike that brought Greece to a halt. Tens of thousands of protesters flooded the capital of Athens’ main Syntagma Square outside the parliament building.
Guatemala has formally apologized to the family of former president Jacobo Árbenz, 57 years after the U.S.-backed coup that ousted him from office. At a ceremony on Thursday, Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom asked Árbenz’s family for forgiveness. Speaking on behalf of the Árbenz family, Árbenz’s son, Juan Jacobo, called on the United States to follow suit.
Juan Jacobo Árbenz: “My family suffered a lot in exile. We suffered the consequences of an injustice that took place in 1954, when an agency from a very powerful country, the United States, acted on the interests of a powerful North American company called the United Fruit Company, who were condemned in court for being a monopoly. Here started the injustice, and we call on the United States to recognize their errors.”
The Basque separatist movement in Spain has formally announced an end to its armed struggle after over 50 years. In a statement, unidentified members of the ETA say they are laying down their arms to help advance ongoing talks with the Spanish government.
The Senate has failed to approve a key provision of President Obama’s jobs proposal that would have boosted taxes on the wealthiest Americans. On Thursday, the Senate voted 50 to 50 on a measure to fund 400,000 jobs through $35 billion in increased taxes on the rich, 10 votes short of the 60 needed for approval.
The FBI is being accused of targeting groups for investigation based on their race or religion. Citing internal FBI documents, the American Civil Liberties says the FBI has “illegally and unconstitutionally” gone after Americans by racial profiling. According to the ACLU, the FBI has launched investigations in particular communities by linking criminal acts to ethnic groups, and then using census data to identify where many live.
The FBI has agreed to expand the definition of “rape” following a campaign from women’s rights groups. For over eight decades, rape has been officially defined in the FBI’s “Uniform Crime Reports” as “forcible rape,” instead of simply “rape.” The definition has also excluded circumstances where the victims are unconscious or where men are raped. Earlier this year, Ms. Magazine, along with the Feminist Majority and the website Change.org, launched a campaign seeking the change called “Rape is Rape,” which drew tens of thousands of supporters.
A protest is being held today in Manhattan to oppose the New York City Police Department’s practice of stopping and frisking individuals even though they face no charges. Some 700,000 people are on pace to have been questioned under “stop and frisk” this year, the vast majority African Americans and Latinos. Religious leaders, students and activists have planned a rally in front of the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building in Harlem, followed by a march and act of civil disobedience at a local police station.
In Canada, around 200 people rallied near Vancouver on Thursday outside a speaking appearance by former U.S. president George W. Bush. Demonstrators called for Bush’s arrest for war crimes and torture committed during his time in office. The rally came as a legal group lodged a private complaint in a Canadian court on behalf of four people who say they were tortured in U.S. prisons under the Bush administration.
And National Public Radio is drawing controversy after apparently forcing the dismissal of an independent radio journalist over her participation in the protest at Washington, D.C.'s Freedom Plaza. The journalist, Lisa Simeone, hosts the show “World of Opera” and contributed to the show “Soundprint,” which are produced independently but air on NPR stations. But after learning that Simeone had attended the D.C. “Occupy” protest, NPR released a statement saying: “We of course take this issue very seriously.” Hours later, Simeone was fired from her job at “Soundprint.” In a statement, Simeone said: “I find it puzzling that NPR objects to my exercising my rights as an American citizen — the right to free speech, the right to peaceable assembly — on my own time in my own life. I'm not an NPR employee. I’m a freelancer. NPR doesn’t pay me… I’ve never brought a whiff of my political activities into the work I’ve done.”
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