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HeadlinesAugust 23, 2011

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Defying Reports of Capture, Gaddafi’s Son Makes Appearance in Tripoli

Aug 23, 2011

A son of Muammar Gaddafi, previously reported captured, made a surprise appearance with jubilant supporters in Tripoli overnight, urging loyalists to fight off rebels. Saif al-Islam, seen as his father’s chosen successor, visited the Tripoli hotel where foreign journalists are staying to claim that the government was defeating its opponents. Saif’s arrest had been reported both by rebels and the International Criminal Court in The Hague. It is unclear if the rebels lied about his capture or if he escaped. The rebels have also claimed that two of Gaddafi’s other sons were detained but have provided no evidence.

Libyan Rebels Hold Capital City as Heavy Fighting Persists

Aug 23, 2011

The rebels appear to control much of Tripoli today, but heavy fighting is still occurring in parts of the city. The BBC reports gunfire and explosions have been heard near a hotel held by government troops, as well as the area around the Libyan leader’s Bab al-Azizia compound. While the rebels have not seized all of Tripoli, nations across the globe have begun recognizing the rebel-led National Transitional Council as the official Libyan government. Mahmud Nacua is the Libyan charge d’affaires in London.

Mahmud Nacua, Libyan charge d’affaires in London: “It is a great day in Libya. They achieved their victory, our fighters. We now folded the last page in the era of dictatorship, Gaddafi, and we start a new era in Libya. We are going to build a democratic country, where there is freedom and liberty. We are proud for what our fighters have done.”

Libya: U.S., NATO Forces Play Key Role in Rebel Push

Aug 23, 2011

More details are emerging on how the United States and NATO forces played a key role in the Libyan rebel push into Tripoli. Between August 10 and August 22, the United States carried out 17 Predator drone strikes and 38 air strikes. Overall the U.S. military carried out 1,210 air strikes and 101 Predator drone strikes in Libya since April 1. Meanwhile, some prominent U.S. analysts are now calling for U.S. ground troops to be sent into Libya to help stabilize the country. Writing in the Financial Times, Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes, “President Barack Obama may need to reconsider his assertion that there would not be any American boots on the ground; leadership is hard to assert without a presence.”

U.N.: Death Toll in Syrian Crackdown Surpasses 2,200

Aug 23, 2011

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says more than 2,200 people have been killed in Syria in the five-month-old crackdown by Syrian forces on anti-government protesters. On Monday, Pillay outlined the findings of a new U.N. report on Syria.

Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights: “The mission concluded that, while demonstrations have been largely peaceful, the military and security forces have resorted to an apparent shoot-to-kill policy. Snipers on rooftops have targeted protesters, bystanders who were trying to help the wounded and ambulances. The mission also documented incidents of summary execution outside the context of the demonstrations and during house-to-house searches and in hospitals. Victims and witnesses reported widespread attempts to cover up killings by the security forces, including through the use of mass graves.”

South Sudan Cattle Raid Leaves Hundreds Dead

Aug 23, 2011

At least 600 people have been reportedly killed and nearly 1,000 injured in South Sudan in a massive cattle raid. The United Nations says members of the Murle ethnic group attacked three villages of the Lou Nuer community. It is the largest attack since the July 9th independence of South Sudan. As many as 250,000 people were forced to flee their homes. Doctors Without Boarders said its compound was looted and partially burned during the raid. At least one staff member of the organization was killed, and 17 other members of the group’s staff remain unaccounted for.

Suspected U.S. Drone Crashes in Somalia

Aug 23, 2011

A suspected U.S. drone crashed over the weekend in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

Obama Admin Pressures NY Attorney General on Bank Settlement over Questionable Foreclosure Tactics

Aug 23, 2011

In banking news, the Obama administration is reportedly putting “increasing pressure” on New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to agree to a broad state settlement with banks over questionable foreclosure tactics. The federal settlement has been widely criticized because it would insulate the nation’s largest banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, from all criminal investigations in exchange for civil fines. Schneiderman and others have opposed the settlement because they say it would restrict their ability to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing in a variety of areas, including the bundling of loans in mortgage securities.

Goldman Sachs Share Prices Drop After CEO Hires High-Profile Defense Attorney

Aug 23, 2011

In business news, share prices for Goldman Sachs dropped almost five percent Monday after reports that Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has hired high-profile Washington defense attorney Reid Weingarten. The move to retain Weingarten comes as federal investigations of Goldman and its role in the financial crisis continue. In April, a Senate committee released a scathing report that criticized Goldman for “exploiting” clients by unloading subprime loan exposure onto unsuspecting clients. The U.S. Department of Justice has launched its own investigation of the firm. In addition, New York prosecutors have subpoenaed the bank to explain its actions in the run-up to the financial crisis.

Swiss Banking Giant UBS AG Announces 3,500 Jobs Cut

Aug 23, 2011

In banking news, Swiss banking giant UBS AG has announced it is cutting 3,500 jobs worldwide. The move comes just days after Bank of America said it would cut as many as 10,000 jobs.

Head of S&P Steps Down

Aug 23, 2011

The head of the credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, Deven Sharma, is leaving the company at the end of the year. Sharma’s announcement comes just two weeks after S&P’s decision to reduce the U.S. credit rating for the first time ever. He is being replaced by Douglas Peterson of Citibank.

Credit Rating Agency Whistleblower Speaks Out

Aug 23, 2011

A former executive at Moody’s has come forward to say that the credit agency intimidated and pressured analysts to issue glowing ratings of toxic complex, structured mortgage securities. William Harrington said the credit-rating agencies suffer a “conflict of interest” because they are paid by banks and other big companies but are supposed to rate them without bias.

Presidential Hopeful Rick Perry Shuns His Own Book, “Fed Up”

Aug 23, 2011

In presidential campaign news, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is trying to distance himself from views he expressed in a book that he published just nine months ago. In his book, “Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America from Washington,” Perry attacks Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as “fraudulent systems designed to take in a lot of money at the front and pay out none in the end.” Perry also called Social Security “a crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal,” which was implemented “at the expense of respect for the Constitution.” Perry’s campaign is now backing away from the comments. His communications director says the book is “a look back, not a path forward,” and that it is “not in any way as a 2012 campaign blueprint or manifesto.”

Texas Unemployment Rate Highest in Over Two Decades

Aug 23, 2011

In news from Texas, the state’s unemployment rate rose to 8.4 percent in July, the highest it has been since 1987.

Amnesty Condemns Iran’s Harsh Sentence of U.S. Hikers

Aug 23, 2011

Amnesty International has condemned the conviction of two Americans held in Iran for spying and illegally crossing the border. Amnesty said the eight-year jail sentences for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, made a “mockery of justice” and were designed to be used as “a bargaining chip to allow Iran to obtain unspecified concessions from the US government.” No evidence has ever been presented to suggest the men were involved in espionage. Bauer is a freelance journalist who has contributed to Democracy Now! and other news outlets.

Turkish Offensive Leaves 100 Dead in Iraq

Aug 23, 2011

Tension is rising in northern Iraq as Turkey has launched a major offensive against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. Turkey’s military says it has struck 132 PKK targets in Iraq over the past week and killed as many as 100 Kurdish guerrillas.

Prosecutors Asks Judge to Dismiss Charges Against Former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Aug 23, 2011

New York prosecutors asked a judge Monday to dismiss sexual assault charges against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a stunning reversal to one of the most high-profile sexual abuse cases in years. Strauss-Kahn was arrested in June on allegations of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York. The charges were dropped even though forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Strauss-Kahn and the woman. Prosecutors reportedly had major doubts about the credibility of the hotel worker, Nafissatou Diallo, a 32-year-old immigrant from the African nation of Guinea. Diallo’s lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, criticized the district attorney’s decision.

Kenneth Thompson, lawyer for Nafissatou Diallo: “If the Manhattan district attorney, who is elected to protect our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our wives and our loved ones, is not going to stand up for them when they’re raped or sexually assaulted, who will? Thank you.”

Mongolians Opposed to U.S. Nuclear Waste Dump Protest Biden Visit

Aug 23, 2011

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is in Japan today wrapping up his three-country Asian tour. On Monday, Biden stopped in Mongolia where he was met by group of protesters opposed to a possible U.S. plan to store nuclear waste in their country. A report in a Japanese newspaper in May said the United States and Japan planned to build a spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Mongolia, but Mongolia’s government denied involvement in any such talks.

Martin Luther King Memorial Unveiled in Washington

Aug 23, 2011

The new statue honoring civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was unveiled in Washington, D.C., on Monday. It is the first memorial on the National Mall not dedicated to a war, president or white man. The memorial is located on a four-acre site on the Tidal Basin between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The MLK memorial consists of a 30-foot sculpture of King. On either side of the mountain, a 450-foot-long wall is inscribed with 14 quotations from the famous orator’s speeches, sermons and writings. The sculpture was made in China by the sculptor Master Lei Yixin. Harry Johnson is president of the Martin Luther King Memorial Project.

Harry E. Johnson, Sr., president and CEO of Martin Luther King Memorial Project Foundation: “America is diversified, so when you come and see Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington in D.C., it’s not just one race of people. It’s not just these old guys who you read about, but here’s somebody who people may have touched, may have shook his hand, and he is an up-to-date hero that changed this country and made this country and now the world look more diversified as a way we see ourselves.”

Dozens Arrested in San Francisco Transit System Protest

Aug 23, 2011

In San Francisco, authorities arrested 45 people Monday during another protest against BART, the operators of the Bay Area train system. Demonstrators gathered to condemn the recent shooting of Charles Hill by BART police and the agency’s decision to shut down the cellular communications on August 11 ahead of another protest.

Canadian Opposition Leader Jack Layton Dies

Aug 23, 2011

Canadian opposition leader Jack Layton has died at the age of 61. Layton headed the leftist New Democratic Party and oversaw its rise from the smallest bloc in the House of Commons to the second largest. Shortly after he died, his family released a final letter Layton wrote to the Canadian people. The letter concluded with this passage: “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

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