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HeadlinesMay 11, 2011

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NATO Continues Bombing of Tripoli

May 11, 2011

NATO is denying speculation it is attempting to kill Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi amidst heavy attacks on his stronghold in the capital city, Tripoli. A series of explosions were heard overnight after NATO launched the most intense bombing of Tripoli in weeks. The targets reportedly included Gaddafi’s compound. NATO Brigadier General Claudio Gabellini said the bombing is aimed at undercutting the Gaddafi regime’s ability to order attacks on civilians.

Brig. Gen. Claudio Gabellini: “The first part of the operation has been dedicated to calm down the situation, to stabilize the situation, and to stop slaughtering of the civilians. And once done that, in a broader campaign design, now NATO is taking care about — I mean, taking out the capacity of Mr. Gaddafi to give orders to his troops to slaughter civilians. That’s why we are after command and control centers.”

Bin Laden’s Family Challenges Legality of Killing

May 11, 2011

Osama bin Laden’s family is challenging the legality of the U.S. operation that took his life earlier this month in Pakistan. A statement attributed to bin Laden’s fourth son, Omar bin Laden, says, “[We question] why an unarmed man was not arrested and tried in a court of law.” Noting Omar bin Laden publicly renounced his father’s attacks on civilians, the statement continues, “As [Omar] condemned our father, we now condemn the president of the United States for ordering the execution of unarmed men and women.” The statement calls on the United States to answer questions around the raid and provide “conclusive” evidence of Osama bin Laden’s death or face a legal challenge at the International Criminal Court.

Syrian Forces Shell Residential Areas

May 11, 2011

Syrian forces have launched new attacks on residential areas known to be flashpoints for the ongoing protests against President Bashar al-Assad. Witnesses say Syrian tanks shelled neighborhoods in the town of Homs after residents protested earlier government attacks that killed three people. The Syrian military is reportedly conducting house-to-house raids searching for people whose names appear on a government list. Human rights activists say communication lines have been cut, and checkpoints have been used to seal off communities. Speaking to the New York Times, Rami Makhlouf, a powerful cousin of Assad’s and a wealthy tycoon in Syria, vowed to crush the protests, saying, “We call it a fight until the end… They should know when we suffer, we will not suffer alone.” More than 700 people are believed to have been killed, and some 9,000 arrested, in the Assad regime’s crackdown.

Obama Touts Immigration Reform Plan

May 11, 2011

President Obama visited the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday to launch a new push for his administration’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform. Speaking near El Paso, Texas, Obama called for a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States and criticized Republicans for blocking his efforts. Obama also voiced support for the long-stalled DREAM Act, which would offer the children of undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.

President Obama: “We should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents. We should stop denying them the chance to earn an education or serve in the military. And that’s why we need to pass the DREAM Act.”

Federal Court Blocks Utah Anti-Immigrant Law

May 11, 2011

A federal judge has blocked a new anti-immigration law in Utah just hours after it went into effect. The measure would have allowed Utah law enforcement officers to check the citizenship or immigration status of anyone they arrest. The American Civil Liberties Union and National Immigration Law Center filed suit to stop the law last week.

California Teachers Launch “State of Emergency” Protests

May 11, 2011

The California Teachers Association has launched a series of actions to pressure lawmakers to avoid heavy cuts to education and other public services. The “State of Emergency” campaign calls for renewing a number of temporary taxes instead of gutting public funding to address the state’s fiscal woes. At least 65 people were arrested in the campaign’s first protest at the California statehouse in Sacramento Monday night. Teachers’ union president, David Sanchez, addressed the crowd.

David Sanchez: “This week we are joined by parents, students, the education coalition, firefighters, healthcare workers, custodians, community groups, religious organizations and labor unions, all of whom recognize that California is in a state of emergency.”

Organizers are planning a week-long sit-in at the statehouse in addition to other statewide actions on Friday.

Senate Dems Call for Repealing Oil Company Tax Breaks

May 11, 2011

Senate Democrats have unveiled a plan to eliminate $21 billion in tax breaks for the nation’s five largest oil corporations. The proposal was launched to counter Republican-led efforts to slash government spending in the name of reducing deficits. In announcing the measure, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada also endorsed a call for an equal amount of spending cuts and new taxes for the first time.

Single-Payer Measure Introduced in Congress

May 11, 2011

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington State have introduced their annual measure to establish a single-payer healthcare system. The American Health Security Act of 2011 would establish a single government program to guarantee healthcare to all Americans. Sanders unveiled the bill on Tuesday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Enough is enough. Now is the time for the United States of America to join the rest of the industrialized world and say that healthcare is a right of all people, not a privilege for the few. We are here today to advocate for and bring forth legislation which provides for a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program which will guarantee healthcare for every man, woman and child in this country.”

Sanders’ home state of Vermont is preparing to become the first in the country to enact a single-payer system following final approval by lawmakers of a universal healthcare bill earlier this month.

Study: GOP Budget Plan Would Drop 44 Million from Medicaid

May 11, 2011

A new study estimates nearly 44 million Americans would lose health insurance over the next decade if the House Republican budget plan were to become law. The Kaiser Family Foundation says the Republican plan would force states to make deep cuts to Medicaid, leaving millions uninsured.

Japan Abandons Plan for New Nuclear Reactors

May 11, 2011

Japan has scrapped a plan to obtain half of its electrical power from nuclear energy as the nation continues to struggle with an ongoing nuclear crisis. Thirty percent of Japan’s electrical power comes from nuclear energy, and the government had planned to raise that number to 50 percent by 2030. On Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan apologized for pushing a reliance on nuclear energy and said Japan will promote renewable energy and conservation.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan: “I believe that the government shares a large amount of responsibility due to the fact that nuclear power has been promoted as a national energy strategy. As the head of the government, I want to deeply apologize for the fact that this accident could not be averted.”

Despite his pledge, Kan stopped short of announcing a complete abandonment of nuclear power, instead promising to ensure safety.

Mubarak Faces Extended Detention in Egypt

May 11, 2011

In Egypt, prosecutors have extended the detention of ousted president Hosni Mubarak for 15 days to continue questioning him on allegations of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters during the nation’s recent popular uprising. Mubarak is under arrest at a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Roughly a dozen of Mubarak’s former officials, including his former prime minister and sons, have been detained.

WikiLeaks Founder Honored with Peace Award

May 11, 2011

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been honored with a peace award from Australia’s Sydney Peace Foundation. Assange accepted the award in London, where is free on bail fighting extradition to Sweden to face questioning on sexual crime allegations. Sydney Peace Foundation director Stuart Rees paid tribute to Assange and WikiLeaks.

Stuart Rees: “We think that the struggle for peace with justice inevitably involves conflict, inevitably involves controversy. If it was a sort of stumbling toward some kind of consensus, nothing would ever happen. Now, in that respect, we think that you and WikiLeaks have brought about what we think is a watershed in journalism and in freedom of information, and potentially in politics.”

Microsoft Buys Skype for $8.5 Billion

May 11, 2011

The tech giant Microsoft has announced it will purchase the online phone calling service Skype for $8.5 billion, in its most expensive acquisition to date. Microsoft is expected to gain roughly 600 million worldwide users as a result of the deal. Skype CEO Tony Bates helped announced the sale.

Tony Bates: “We think there’s a tremendous amount of opportunities as we look forward. We think this allows us to extend, not from hundreds of millions, to literally billions. We believe that this is a platform and a set of services that can reach everyone on the planet.”

Flooding Hits Poor Areas of Memphis

May 11, 2011

The Mississippi River crested at nearly 48 feet on Tuesday, causing hardship in some of the South’s poorest areas. With water rushing at a rate of 900 million gallons a minute, some 1,300 homes were threatened, and nearly 500 people living near Memphis were forced into shelters. Crops were washed away by backed-up tributaries. Nineteen casinos along the swollen river will be shut down by the end of the week, costing local governments approximately $13 million in monthly taxes and leaving 13,000 employees temporarily out of work. President Barack Obama has declared 15 Tennessee counties federal disaster areas due to flooding and severe weather.

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