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HeadlinesApril 20, 2011

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France, Britain Plan to Send Troops to Libya

Apr 20, 2011

France and Britain have announced plans to send troops into Libya to help the rebels fighting forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gaddafi. France said earlier today it would join Britain in sending a small team of military liaison officers to Libya to advise the rebels on intelligence gathering, logistics and communications. The move is coming under criticism by some in Britain. Labour MP David Winnick said, “There is a danger of mission creep. There is a civil war in Libya and this is a big escalation of Britain’s involvement.” Meanwhile, the United Nations is appealing for a ceasefire in the city of Misurata, where at least 20 children have been killed in attacks by government forces. On Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration said it had run out of money to fund further evacuations of people trapped inside Misurata.

Jemini Pandya, spokesperson, International Organization for Migration: “We have no more funds at all anymore. We’ve run out of funds. We are now working on emergency reserves. And this is at a time when we know that there are 20,000 Chadians, including women and children, who are still stranded in eastern Libya; there are still 30,000 Chadian families, including women and children, stranded in Ghatroun; many, many thousands of migrants still in Tripoli, in Sabha and very many other places.”

Syria Ends Emergency Rule amid Violent Crackdown

Apr 20, 2011

The Syrian government has passed a draft law to end emergency rule after 48 years, but pro-democracy protesters fear the move will do little to reduce human rights abuses. A new law has already been introduced requiring Syrians to obtain a permit from the state if they want to hold demonstrations. On Tuesday, Syrian security forces arrested Mahmoud Issa, a prominent opposition figure. Protests are continuing across Syria. In the city of Homs, at least 20 pro-democracy protesters had been reportedly shot dead by security forces in the past two days.

Japan Considers Banning Residents from Area Near Damaged Nuclear Plant

Apr 20, 2011

Japanese authorities are considering banning all residents from entering the evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility due to increased fears about radiation exposure. Some 80,000 people live within a 12-mile radius around the plant. Residents were evacuated last month, but many have occasionally returned to their homes to collect belongings and care for their property.

Plans to Build New Nuclear Reactors in Texas Abandoned

Apr 20, 2011

The U.S. nuclear power company NRG Energy has abandoned its plans to build two giant new nuclear reactors in southern Texas due to the rising costs of the project. NRG had already spent $331 million on planning and permitting of the nuclear plant expansion.

Bradley Manning Moved to Ft. Leavenworth Prison

Apr 20, 2011

The U.S. military has announced accused Army whistleblower Bradley Manning is being moved from the Quantico Marine brig in Virginia to a prison at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas. The military has been coming under increasing criticism for holding Manning in solitary confinement since last July. Manning is accused of leaking thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. On Tuesday, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, Jeh Johnson, said, “I won’t say that his conditions at Quantico had nothing to do with this.” During a press conference, Johnson was asked about Manning’s health.

Jeh Johnson, Pentagon General Counsel: “An assessment is underway to determine whether Private Manning is mentally competent in this case, in the event it goes to trial. […] At this juncture of the case, we have decided that the new joint regional correctional facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is the most appropriate facility for Private Manning for continued pre-trial detention.”

Obama Backs Lifting Cap on Social Security Taxes

Apr 20, 2011

President Barack Obama said Tuesday he supported boosting the amount of individual income subject to Social Security taxes. The President’s deficit commission has proposed raising the income cap on Social Security taxes.

President Barack Obama: “The point is, for the vast majority of Americans, every dime you earn, you’re paying some in Social Security. But for Warren Buffett, he stops paying at a little bit over $100,000, and then the next $50 billion he’s not paying a dime in Social Security taxes. So if we just made a little bit of an adjustment in terms of the cap on Social Security, that would do a significant amount to stabilize the system.”

Michigan Pension Boards Sue Governor Rick Snyder over New Law

Apr 20, 2011

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has been sued by two of the state’s pensions boards over a new law permitting state-appointed financial managers emergency powers to terminate employee contracts and suspend collective bargaining. Emergency managers in Michigan are currently running the cities of Pontiac, Ecorse and Benton Harbor, as well as a number of Detroit schools. The General Retirement System of the City of Detroit and the Police and Fire Retirement System filed a complaint against the law in a federal court in Detroit.

Human Rights Watch: International Community Ignores Saudi Crackdown on Dissidents

Apr 20, 2011

Human Rights Watch is reporting Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested more than 160 peaceful dissidents since February, but the international community has largely ignored the crackdown. Over the past month, two top Obama administration officials—U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon—visited Riyadh. Neither said anything about the arrests of peaceful protesters. Christoph Wilcke of Human Rights Watch said, “As the list of Saudi political prisoners grows longer, the silence of the U.S. and the E.U. becomes more deafening.”

Report: 846 Egyptian Civilians Killed in Uprising

Apr 20, 2011

In news from Egypt, a new government fact-finding mission is estimating at least 846 Egyptian civilians were killed in the nearly three-week-long popular uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. The death toll is more than twice that of previous official estimates. Meanwhile, Amnesty International is criticizing the military council now running Egypt. Amnesty said it has documented the continued use of torture, arbitrary detention, trials of civilians before military courts, and repression of freedom of expression by authorities.

Yemen: U.N. Fails to Agree to Act Amid Continuing Violence

Apr 20, 2011

The U.N. Security Council met in New York Tuesday to discuss Yemen’s crackdown on protesters, but failed to agree on a diplomatic reaction to the crisis. Earlier today, one person was killed when a gunman attacked an anti-government protest camp in the coastal Yemeni town of Al Hodeidah. On Tuesday, Yemeni police opened fire on protesters in Sana’a and Taiz, killing at least three people.

Yemeni Protester: “It was a peaceful demonstration. No one carried weapons. Suddenly, the police attacked protesters with tear gas and live shots. But we don’t have anything to say, except we belong to God, and to Him we shall return.”

Two Militants Suspected in Italian Activist Murder Killed in Hamas Raid

Apr 20, 2011

Two Palestinian militants suspected in the killing of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni were killed in a raid by Hamas security forces in Gaza Tuesday. Another suspect was captured alive. Three members of the Hamas unit were wounded in the battle with the jihadist Salafist group. Arrigoni was kidnapped last Thursday and found strangled Friday.

U.S. Approves First Offshore Wind Farm

Apr 20, 2011

The Obama administration has approved the construction of the country’s first offshore wind farm. There will be 130 wind turbine generators built off Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts. Once fully operational, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power about 400,000 homes in Massachusetts.

Three Texas Kindergarten Students Hurt in Gun Accident

Apr 20, 2011

In Texas, three kindergarten students were hurt Tuesday when a gun fell from a six-year-old boy’s pocket and discharged. The boy was injured in the foot, and two other students suffered minor injuries.

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