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HeadlinesFebruary 21, 2012

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European Finance Chiefs Approve $172 Billion Greek Bailout

Feb 21, 2012

European finance ministers have agreed to a new $172 billion bailout for Greece that will force Athens to commit to making another round of deep austerity cuts. As part of the deal, Greek workers are expected to suffer further wage cuts larger than the 15 percent already planned for the next three years. Under the agreement, Greece’s private creditors have agreed to take deeper losses on their Greek debts. The bailout is being opposed by several left-wing groups in Greece. The KKE communist party called on people across Europe to join Greeks in their battle against “monopolies and profits.”

Yemen Holds “Election” in Deal to End Saleh’s 33-Year Rule

Feb 21, 2012

Voters in Yemen went to the polls today to select a new president, officially ending the 33-year rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Only one candidate is on the ballot: Saleh’s vice president, Abed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi. He was nominated in a deal between the ruling party and formal opposition parties. Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman hailed the vote as a step to building a new Yemen.

Tawakkul Karman: “This is the day of holy happiness. This the day of victory. Now we are officially announcing the end of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s era. Thanks to God, he is gone. Today we are building the new Yemen. We are building the democratic and happy Yemen that all of the youth and women have dreamed about.”

The new Yemeni government is expected to have close military ties to the United States. President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, said a number of U.S. officials would visit Yemen to help restructure Yemen’s military.

Report: Israel to Release Palestinian Hunger Striker Khader Adnan

Feb 21, 2012

There are reports Israel has agreed to release Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, who has been on a hunger strike for the past 66 days. A Palestinian minister told Agence France-Presse a deal has been struck for Israel to release Adnan on April 17 on the condition he ends his hunger strike. There was no immediate confirmation from Adnan’s lawyer or the Israeli government.

Afghans Protest Koran Burnings at U.S. Airbase at Bagram

Feb 21, 2012

More than 2,000 Afghans protested outside the U.S. military base at the Bagram airbase earlier today after a report that foreign troops burned a pile of Korans at the base. Protesters hurled petrol bombs and fired slingshots at the base. General John Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, offered his apology.

Gen. John Allen: “We are thoroughly investigating the incident. and we are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again. I assure you, I promise you, this was not intentional in any way. And I offer my sincere apologies for any offense this may have caused.”

4 U.S. Soldiers Killed When Spy Plane Crashes in Djibouti

Feb 21, 2012

Four Air Force special operators died on Monday when their spy plane crashed near a U.S. military base in the East African nation of Djibouti. The military said the four servicemembers were returning from a mission in Afghanistan, but some reports said the plane was on a spy mission over East Africa.

Spain: Police Criticized for Brutal Beating of Students

Feb 21, 2012

Police in Valencia, Spain, are facing criticism after beating students as they rallied against cuts to education spending Monday. Footage showed police in body armor charging students, whacking them with batons and dragging them on the ground. Twenty-six people were arrested, five of them minors, according to El País newspaper.

Obama to Host Israeli PM for Talks on Iran

Feb 21, 2012

The White House has announced President Obama will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 5. The talks are expected to focus on Iran and the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons sites. On Sunday, Netanyahu held a two-hour meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon in Jerusalem.

Donors Pour $22 Million into Super PACs for Republican Candidates

Feb 21, 2012

Newly released financial records provide new insight into the growing power of unlimited campaign donations and super PACs in the 2012 race. During the month of January, super PACs backing the four main Republican candidates raised $22 million, mostly in massive donations from a handful of donors. Rick Santorum’s super PAC has received large donations from mutual fund investor Foster Friess and Louisiana energy executive William Dore. Mitt Romney’s super PAC raised $6.6 million in January. Key backers of Romney included Oklahoma mining executive Joseph W. Craft, hedge fund billionaire Bruce Kovner, and David Lisonbee, the founder of a Utah vitamin supplements company. Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s family has so far pumped $11 million into the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC, “Winning Our Future.” The Center for Public Integrity reports the Adelsons have given about 84 percent of the $13.1 million the group has raised so far, and Adelson is planning on giving another $10 million.

Santorum Spokeswoman Attacks Obama’s “Radical Islamic Policies”

Feb 21, 2012

In other campaign news, a spokeswoman for Rick Santorum said in a TV interview on Monday that Santorum was referring to President Obama’s “radical Islamic policies” when he said the President’s agenda was driven by “phony theology.” Alice Stewart made the comment in an interview on MSNBC.

Alice Stewart: “He wasn’t questioning the President’s character. He wasn’t questioning the President’s religion. As he said, as he has clarified the statement, he was talking about radical environmentalists. He was talking about—there is a type of theological secularism when it comes to the global warmists in this country. That’s what he was referring to. He was referring to the President’s policies, in terms of the radical Islamic policies the President has, specifically in terms of the energy exploration.”

After the interview aired on MSNBC, Stewart called the network to say she had made a mistake and said “radical Islamic policies” instead of Obama’s “radical environmental policies.”

Former IMF Chief Held, Questioned in Prostitution Inquiry

Feb 21, 2012

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is being questioned by French police for his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring. Police have questioned several prostitutes who had reported having sex with Strauss-Kahn, who resigned from the IMF in May after he was charged with the attempted rape of a hotel maid in New York City. The case was later dropped. Strauss-Kahn said he did not know the women were prostitutes.

Syria: 12 Killed in Homs as Red Cross Pushes for Ceasefire

Feb 21, 2012

The International Committee of the Red Cross is negotiating with Syrian authorities and opposition fighters on a ceasefire to bring humanitarian aid to civilians trapped by the violence. Syrian activists say at least 12 people have been killed by Syrian troops in the city of Homs. Meanwhile, Syrian forces opened fire earlier today on demonstrators in Damascus.

Senegal: 3 Dead as Pre-Election Protests Intensify

Feb 21, 2012

Protests have intensified in the West African country of Senegal over President Abdoulaye Wade’s bid for a third term. At least three people were reportedly killed in protests over the weekend, one week before the election. The government apologized after tear gas was thrown into a mosque in Dakar on Friday. The country’s constitution limits the presidency to two terms, but Senegal’s highest court last month cleared the 85-year-old president to run again.

Canada Threatens Complaint over Tar Sands Labeling

Feb 21, 2012

Canada is threatening to file a World Trade Organization complaint against the European Union if the E.U. labels oil from Alberta’s tar sands as highly polluting. Canada has threatened to retaliate if the E.U. singled out oil sands crude in what it described as a “discriminatory, arbitrary or unscientific way.”

Study: 94% of Oscar Voters Are White, 77% Are Male

Feb 21, 2012

In entertainment news, a study by the Los Angeles Times has revealed the voters deciding Sunday’s Academy Awards winners are almost all white and mostly male. There are 5,765 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Of the group, 94 percent of them are white and 77 percent are men. African Americans make up about 2 percent of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2 percent.

2011 Polk Awards Given to Shadid, Mayer, AP, Al Jazeera

Feb 21, 2012

In journalism news, the winners of the 2011 George Polk Awards have been announced. The winners included a team of reporters at the Associated Press who exposed how the New York City Police Department built one of the largest domestic intelligence agencies in the country with help from the CIA. May Ying Welsh of Al Jazeera English won an award for her documentary on Bahrain’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. And The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer won for her profile of National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake. New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid will be awarded posthumously for extraordinary valor for his work in the Middle East. He died last week in Syria.

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