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HeadlinesAugust 24, 2011

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Gaddafi Vows “Martyrdom” as Battle for Tripoli Persists

Aug 24, 2011

Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi is vowing to fight on even though NATO-backed forces have seized control of much of Tripoli, including Gaddafi’s main compound. But in a defiant message to supporters, Gaddafi vowed last night “martyrdom” or victory, and urged loyalists to fight the rebels. Gaddafi’s whereabouts remain unknown and his powerful sons unaccounted for despite rebel claims that the sons had been seized. United Nations Libyan envoy Ibrahim Dabbashi praised the rebel advances.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libyan U.N. envoy: “The regime of Gaddafi has already fallen. It doesn’t exist since the last two days, because none of the Gaddafi regime institutions was working during the last days. It is only a few high officials who are escaping from place to another inside Tripoli, and they are struggling to keep themselves safe.”

While supporters of the rebels have held celebrations across Libya, many analysts say the fighting could continue for weeks or months. Many questions remain unanswered about who controls Libya’s vast arms depots.

Foreign Forces Played Key Role in Intensified Libyan Rebel Offensive

Aug 24, 2011

Additional evidence is coming to light about how NATO troops played a key role in the rebel offensive. The Associated Press reports covert teams from France, Britain and some eastern European states provided critical assistance. Foreign military advisers on the ground provided key real-time intelligence to the rebels, enabling them to maximize their limited firepower. One U.S. official said the Qatari military led the way, augmented later by French, Italian and British military advisers. Armed U.S. Predator drones also helped to clear a path for the rebels to advance.

NY Attorney General Booted from Mortgage Company Settlement Task Force

Aug 24, 2011

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been kicked off a 50-state task force negotiating a possible settlement with the nation’s largest mortgage companies. The move came just one day after the New York Times reported that the Obama administration was pressuring 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, who is leading his own investigation into the mortgage industry, has said that he opposes any deal that gives participating banks a release from other litigation surrounding their mortgage activities.

NY Supreme Court Dismisses Sex Crimes Charges Against Former IMF Chief

Aug 24, 2011

New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus dismissed all charges against former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the request of prosecutors on Tuesday. Strauss-Kahn was arrested in May 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, Nafissatou Diallo, an immigrant from the African nation of Guinea. After the court hearing, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer praised the decision.

Benjamin Brafman, attorney for Dominique Strauss-Kahn: “You can engage in inappropriate behavior, perhaps, but that is much different than a crime, and this case was treated as a crime when it was not. And finally, I’d like to say this, and I’d like to say it publicly, and I say it proudly. Today is an extraordinary day, and it’s an extraordinary event to have a district attorney stand up in a public courtroom and dismiss an indictment, concluding that the complaining witness is not worthy of belief. I’ve practiced in this city for 35 years. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that post-indictment. So I give Cy Vance a great deal of credit.”

Nafissatou Diallo’s attorney Kenneth Thompson told reporters that prosecutors would have pushed ahead with the case if the defendant had not been such a powerful and famous person.

Kenneth Thompson, attorney for Naffistaou Diallo: “District Attorney Vance has abandoned an innocent woman and has denied an innocent woman a right to get justice in a rape case. And by doing so, he has also abandoned other women who will be raped in the future or sexually assaulted.”

The District Attorney’s press conference was cut short when a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the room in New York City, causing reporters to flee out of the building.

Nuclear Power Plant Near East Coast Earthquake Epicenter Lacking Seismographs Since 1990s

Aug 24, 2011

The epicenter of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake was in Virginia, but it shook much of the East Coast from Georgia to Canada. Scientists said it was the largest quake on the East Coast since World War II. No serious injuries were reported, but cracks appeared in the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral. The epicenter of the earthquake was located just 10 miles from a nuclear power plant that has lacked seismographs since the 1990s. The North Anna Power Station lost off-site power and was using diesel generators to maintain cooling operations at its two nuclear reactors following the quake. The facility, which was built on a fault line, is only designed to withstand an earthquake up to a magnitude of 6.1. Yesterday’s quake registered a 5.8. All of the plant’s seismographs were removed in the 1990s due to budget cuts. Federal officials said a total of six nuclear plants from North Carolina to Michigan are under increased scrutiny after the earthquake. Meanwhile, earthquakes have also been reported in Colorado and California over the past 24 hours.

Military Contractor KBR Sues Gang-Rape Accuser for $2 Million

Aug 24, 2011

The military contractor KBR is seeking $2 million in legal fees from a former employee who sued the company accusing her KBR co-workers of drugging and gang-raping her in Iraq in 2005. Last month a jury rejected a lawsuit by the former worker, Jamie Lee Jones. KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, now wants Jones to pay for its legal fees and court costs. Jones’ attorney Todd Kelly said, “This is an attempt by KBR to chill other people from bringing claims against them.”

New Jersey ACLU Joins Parents in $100 Million Lawsuit over Facebook Donation

Aug 24, 2011

In education news, a group of parents and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey have sued the City of Newark over a $100 million donation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The lawsuit is demanding the release of correspondence between the city and company executives as well as other key players in the effort to overhaul the public education system. The parents’ group says it wants to make sure public officials, rather than private individuals, are deciding how to allocate the donated funds.

NYC Education Department Plans to Cut 780 Employees by October

Aug 24, 2011

In education news, New York City Department of Education has announced plans to cut nearly 780 employees by October. It is the largest layoff in a city agency since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in 2002.

South Sudan Calls for Troop Deployment Following Massive Revenge Killings

Aug 24, 2011

The parliament of South Sudan has called for security forces to be deployed to stop revenge killings after recent clashes over cattle killed at least 600 people. Hilde Johnson is a United Nations representative to the newly independent state of South Sudan.

Hilde Johnson, head of U.N. mission in South Sudan: “It was retaliatory attack of a significant scale, with, we estimate, but not confirmed, around 600, maybe more, killed and much more than that wounded. We’re deeply concerned about this, because there’s also now risk of another retaliation from the community that got—that received this attack now and was affected. So we’re now in a situation where we can see a cycle of violence escalating, and this cycle now has to stop.”

Chile’s Largest Labor Union Calls Two-Day Strike as Students Continue Protests

Aug 24, 2011

Chile’s largest union coalition has called for a two-day nationwide strike for today and tomorrow. Protesters are calling for a rewriting of Chile’s dictatorship-era constitution as well as pension reforms, a new labor code and more healthcare spending. For months, Chilean students have boycotted classes to demand a free quality education a right for all citizens. Some students, including Matias Ortega, have been on a hunger strike for over a month.

Matias Ortega, Chilean student on hunger strike: “We have been going for 35 days. The government has not given a response good enough for us to stop, and our bodies are exhausted.”

Democrats Nominate Mississippi’s First African-American Gubernatorial Candidate in Modern History

Aug 24, 2011

In news from Mississippi, Johnny Dupree has become the first African American in modern history to win a major-party nomination for Mississippi state governor. Dupree, the mayor of Hattiesburg, won the Democratic gubernatorial runoff primary on Tuesday. Mississippi has not elected any African-American candidates to statewide office since the Reconstruction period. Dupree will face off against Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant in November.

Report: Climate Change Disproportionately Impacts Indigenous Americans

Aug 24, 2011

A new report finds Native Americans and Alaska Natives are the U.S. group most detrimentally impacted by climate change. According to the National Wildlife Federation, a dependence on natural resources to sustain economic and cultural practices, lagging infrastructure and a profound lack of financial and technical resources has placed Native Americans at an increased risk. The report finds severe weather linked to climate change, such as drought, wildfires and snowstorms, disproportionately harms the already vulnerable Native communities.

Canadian Actors Arrested Alongside 60 Others in Pipeline Protest at White House

Aug 24, 2011

The Canadian actors Margot Kidder and Tantoo Cardinal were among 60 protesters arrested Tuesday for taking part in a sit-in outside the White House calling on the Obama administration to reject permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed 1,500-mile pipeline to deliver tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in Texas. Some 220 people have been arrested since Saturday when the sit-in began. The protest is expected to continue for another 10 days.

Exxon Mobil Estimates Montana Oil Spill Will Cost Company $42 Million

Aug 24, 2011

Exxon Mobil is estimating the recent oil pipeline spill in Montana will cost the company $42 million. More than 1,000 workers have been at the site to help clean up the estimated 1,000 barrels of crude oil that spilled into the Yellowstone River.

Foreign Policy Adviser to Mitt Romney Actively Supporting Iranian Terrorist Organization

Aug 24, 2011

In campaign news, has revealed a foreign policy adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been active in recent months in an advocacy campaign supporting a designated foreign terrorist organization from Iran. Romney’s adviser, Mitchell Reiss, has played a leading role in an ongoing campaign to get the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, removed from the U.S. government’s official list of terrorist organizations.

Famed Journalist Bill Moyers Returns to Television with New Weekly Show

Aug 24, 2011

In television news, the legendary broadcaster Bill Moyers is returning to the airwaves with a new weekly show called “Moyers & Company.” American Public Television will distribute the show. That is because earlier this year, PBS told Moyers that the network did not have an appropriate time slot for his program. Meanwhile, MSNBC has announced the Rev. Al Sharpton will be the full-time host of its new daily program “Politics Nation.” Some critics of Sharpton have pointed out that his selection for the job comes just months after he publicly supported the $30 billion merger of NBC and Comcast.

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