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The European Union is considering sending ground troops into the besieged western Libyan city of Misurata. The city has become a key battleground in the fight between rebel fighters and forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gaddafi. French officials have called for soldiers to be deployed on the ground to help guide NATO air strikes and to support the Libyan rebel opposition. European officials said up to 1,000 troops are ready to go in if requested by the United Nations.
In Bahrain, unknown assailants have attacked the home of Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Rajab said tear gas grenades were thrown into his home early Monday morning. Human Rights Watch reports the tear gas grenades used in the attack were manufactured by Federal Laboratories in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by five Chinese Muslims, known as Uyghurs, who have been held without charge at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, since 2002. The Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented some of the men, criticized the ruling. In a statement, the CCR said, “The practical impact of today’s decision is that detainees will remain in America’s illegal offshore prison indefinitely notwithstanding their exoneration.”
Newly disclosed diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks reveal that the Obama administration led a vigorous campaign to stymie an independent U.N. investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel during its assault on Gaza in 2008 and 2009. The campaign was led by Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. According to the magazine Foreign Policy, Rice issued a veiled warning in one cable to the president of the International Criminal Court. Rice warned that an investigation into alleged Israeli crimes could damage the ICC’s standing with the United States at a time when the new administration was moving closer to the tribunal.
Longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro has confirmed his exit from the Communist Party leadership, ceding power to his brother Raúl. Fidel had served as first secretary in the Central Committee of the party since the party’s creation in 1965. Fidel made the announcement as delegates of the sixth Communist Party Congress were preparing to vote on changes that could bring term limits to key posts.
Residents of Benton Harbor, Michigan, voiced outrage Monday night after the city’s elected mayor and city commissioners were stripped of all power by an unelected emergency financial manager appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Last week, the emergency manager issued an order saying the city commissioners have no power beyond calling meetings to order, approving minutes and adjourning meetings. City Commissioner Dennis Knowles compared Benton Harbor to a dictatorship. He said, “For the people we represent, they are truly being disenfranchised.” Meanwhile, Rev. Jesse Jackson toured Michigan on Monday to help build a coalition against Gov. Snyder. Jackson said, “We don’t like one-man rule, except in Benton Harbor. We are setting up here what we are fighting there. Your vote for elected officials doesn’t count, and that is decimating democracy.”
In economic news, new data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows the largest U.S. multinational companies cut their work forces in the United States by 2.9 million over the past 10 years, while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million. In 2009, the contrast was most stark. U.S. companies cut 1.2 million jobs at home while adding 100,000 jobs overseas.
Newly released tax data shows the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans has been effectively cut in half since the mid-1990s. In 1995, the richest 400 Americans paid on average 30 percent of their income in federal taxes. In 2007, the richest Americans paid less than 17 percent. During that same period, the combined annual income of the richest 400 Americans soared from $6 billion to $23 billion. On Monday, Tax Day protests were held in some 300 cities. Many protesters focused their attention on Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Google for avoiding to pay their full share of taxes by using tax code loopholes.
Burchell Marcus: “My name is Burchell Marcus. I’m the community director for the Borough of Brooklyn. I would like to see my tax dollars go to education. They’ve been cutting too much money away from education. Our kids are not being properly educated, right? Instead of spending the money for the war, take that money and put it into the economy so we can solve the problems here.”
In India, police opened fire on hundreds of protesters Monday at a demonstration against the construction of a new six-reactor nuclear power station. One protester was killed, and more than 20 people were arrested.
In news from Africa, rioting broke out in northern Nigeria after election officials announced President Goodluck Jonathan had won reelection. The Red Cross said many people were killed, hundreds injured and thousands displaced in northern Nigeria by supporters of Jonathan’s northern rival, former army ruler Muhammadu Buhari.
The Pentagon’s inspector general has issued a report clearing retired U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal of violating military policy standards. McChrystal was dismissed last year after Rolling Stone magazine published an article in which McChrystal and his aides made disparaging remarks about top Obama administration officials and exposed longstanding disagreements between civilian and military officials over the conduct of the war in Afghanistan. Rolling Stone is defending its reporting. In a statement, the magazine said, “The report by the Pentagon’s inspector general offers no credible source—or indeed, any named source—contradicting the facts as reported in our story, 'The Runaway General.'”
In Washington, D.C., 21 protesters were arrested Monday for staging a sit-in at the headquarters of the Department of Interior. The protesters were calling for the abolition of offshore oil drilling, coal mining and tar sands extraction. Kristen Owen of High Country Rising Tide in Wyoming was among those arrested. She criticized Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for his recent announcement that the federal government would open up the Powder River Basin in Wyoming for coal mining.
Kristen Owen: “They expect to receive over 758 million tons of new coal from those land leases that will happen on public lands in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, and that coal will be shipped to coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest and then shipped to Asia, a place where we’ll be fueling developing economies, flooding them with cheap fuels that force them to develop coal-based economies instead of renewable-energy-based economies.”
On Monday, more than 5,000 youth climate activists rallied at the White House and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to demand action on climate change and renewable energy. Over the weekend, many of the same activists attended the large Power Shift 2011 conference.
On Friday, President Obama met with a small group of youth climate activists at the White House. Participants included Shadia Fayne Wood, a member of the steering committee of the Environmental Action Coalition. In an interview with The Nation magazine, Wood said, “[Obama] told us it was our job to push the envelope and it’s his job to govern.”
The Obama administration and leading power companies are going before the U.S. Supreme Court today in an effort to block a global warming lawsuit aimed at forcing cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. A half-dozen states, New York City and three land trusts sued four private utilities and the Tennessee Valley Authority over emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants in 20 states. The Obama administration and the companies opposed the lawsuit, claiming that federal courts should not set environmental policy.
This year’s Pulitzer Prizes have been announced. Jake Bernstein and Jesse Eisinger of ProPublica won best national reporting for their series, “Wall Street Money Machine.” It marks the first time the prize has been awarded to a group of stories that were never published in print.