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Libya Uprising: Anti-Gaddafi Forces Control Zawiya

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Forces fighting to oust the Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi have seized the city of Zawiya, 50km (30 miles) west of the capital, Tripoli.

The Libyan government took journalists to Zawiya on Sunday morning.

But instead of a show of government force, reporters saw opposition fighters manning the barricades in the city centre and flying their flag.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose sanctions on Col Gaddafi's regime.

Eastern Libya has fallen to the uprising, which began on 16 February in the wake of revolutions which toppled the long-serving leaders of neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.

However the Libyan capital Tripoli remains under the control of Col Gaddafi, who is facing the biggest challenge to his 41-year rule.

At least 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in nearly two weeks of violence.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says nearly 100,000 migrants have fled to neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt in the past week.

Arrow Up

Tunisian PM Mohammed Ghannouchi Resigns Over Protests

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Mohammed Ghannouchi was seen as too closely linked to the old regime
Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has announced on state TV that he is resigning - a key demand of demonstrators.

He was speaking at a news conference in Tunis, after making a lengthy speech defending his record in government.

Mr Ghannouchi is seen as being too close to former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who was toppled in an uprising last month.

Mr Ghannouchi, 69, had served under Mr Ben Ali since 1989.

"After having taken more than one week of thinking, I became convinced, and my family shared my conviction, and decided to resign. It is not fleeing my responsibilities; I have been shouldering my responsibilities since 14 January [when Mr Ben Ali fled]," he said.

"I am not ready to be the person who takes decisions that would end up causing casualties," he added.

"This resignation will serve Tunisia, and the revolution and the future of Tunisia," he added.

It is exactly what the protesters had been demanding. Mohammed Ghannouchi, had served under the country's old dictatorship, and as far as they were concerned, until he went, their revolution was unfinished.

The question now is whether this resignation will be enough to quell the violence. As the news has spread, people have been taking to the streets, chanting and singing of victory.

Light Sabers

Libya troops mass near Tunisian border

U.S., EU weigh no-fly zone; rebel-held cities try to repel Gadhafi loyalists
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© Ben Curtis/AP
Soldiers and dozens of tanks from the Libyan military's elite Khamis Brigade, led by Gadhafi's youngest son Khamis Gadhafi, take positions on Monday about 6 miles outside Zawiya.

Tripoli, Libya - Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were massed near the Tunisian border on Tuesday, residents said, and the United States said it was moving warships and air forces closer to Libya.

Residents feared pro-Gadhafi forces were preparing an attack to regain control of Nalut, about 60 km (38 miles) from the Tunisian border in western Libya, from protesters seeking an end to Gadhafi's rule.

On Monday, foreign powers talked openly of imposing a "no-fly" zone or making other military moves against leader Gadhafi, as his forces used tanks and fighter jets to strike at rebel-held cities nearest the capital.

The U.S. said all options were open, including the use of warplanes to patrol the North African nation's skies and protect citizens threatened by their leader.

Pentagon and military officials told NBC News it appears "unlikely now" that the U.S. military will have to intervene, but "prudent moves" were being taken just in case.

Evil Rays

Sirhan can't remember shooting RFK, wants parole

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© Wikimedia
Mugshot of Sirhan Bishara Sirhan taken after his arrest for assassinating Robert F. Kennedy in 1968
Sirhan Bishara Sirhan's parole lawyer says "it's no act," suggests his client was a "Manchurian Candidate"

More than four decades after Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, his convicted murderer wants to go free for a crime he says he can't remember.

It is not old age or some memory-snatching disease that has erased an act Sirhan Bishara Sirhan once said he committed "with 20 years of malice aforethought." It's been this way almost from the beginning. Hypnotists and psychologists, lawyers and investigators have tried to jog his memory with no useful result.

Now a new lawyer is on the case and he says his efforts have also failed.

"There is no doubt he does not remember the critical events," said William F. Pepper, the attorney who will argue for Sirhan's parole Wednesday. "He is not feigning it. It's not an act. He does not remember it."

Attention

No Minorities Allowed: Texas Group Launches Scholarship For White Males Only

In an effort to address the most under-served minority in a John Travolta film, a non-profit in Texas is launching a scholarship program for disadvantaged students. The Former Majority Association for Equality is offering a $500 scholarship to those who meet one eligibility requirement: "Male - No less than 25% Caucasian":

Winklevoss
© Unknown
The application for a $500 scholarship from the Former Majority Association for Equality looks pretty much like all the others out there. Well, except for this eligibility requirement: "Male - No less than 25% Caucasian."

Yes, the Texas-based nonprofit organization has launched a scholarship for white men. Members of the group, which goes by FMAFE, say they aren't racist and "have no hidden agenda to promote racial bigotry or segregation," according to their Web site. Instead, they say their goal is to provide financial aid to white men who might not qualify for other scholarships.

Chess

You Have More Money In Your Wallet Than Bank Of America Pays In Federal Taxes

Today, hundreds of thousands of people comprising a Main Street Movement - a coalition of students, the retired, union workers, public employees, and other middle class Americans - are in the streets, demonstrating against brutal cuts to public services and crackdowns on organized labor being pushed by conservative politicians. These lawmakers that are attacking collective bargaining and cutting necessary services like college tuition aid and health benefits for public workers claim that they have no choice but than to take these actions because both state and federal governments are in debt.

Main Street Movement
© Unknown
But it wasn't teachers, fire fighters, policemen, and college students that caused the economic recession that has devastated government budgets - it was Wall Street. And as middle class workers are being asked to sacrifice, the rich continue to rig the system, dodging taxes and avoiding paying their fair share.

In an interview with In These Times, Carl Gibson, the founder of US Uncut, which is organizing some of today's UK-inspired massive demonstrations against tax dodgers, explains that while ordinary Americans are being asked to sacrifice, major corporations continue to use the rigged tax code to avoid paying any federal taxes at all. As he says, if you have "one dollar" in your wallet, you're paying more than the "combined income tax liability of GE, ExxonMobil, Citibank, and the Bank of America":

Chess

Seymour Hersh and the men who want him committed for Knights of Malta Neo-Crusader allegations

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Postage Stamp of the Sovereign Order
It seems unusual for a staid, respected publication (one that has received three National Magazine Awards in just this past decade) to start treating a celebrated journalist (who himself has won two National Magazine Awards in just this past decade) as if he were nothing more than a paranoid crank.

It seems unusual, but it's exactly what the staff of Foreign Policy has done to Seymour Hersh, following a lecture the venerated reporter gave at Georgetown University's campus in Doha, Qatar. You may know Hersh as the dogged investigator who exposed the My Lai Massacre during Vietnam. You may know him as the staff writer for the New Yorker who published some of the earliest pieces on Abu Ghraib in May 2004. You might even know him as the man derided and then vindicated for claiming that Dick Cheney was running a secret assassination squad right out of the vice president's office. (In truth, the squad was and is a bipartisan affair, initiated under Clinton and still operative under Obama.)

Yet, given the Foreign Policy staff's derisive commentary on Seymour's Jan. 17 talk, you would think he was some credulous rube midway through his first Dan Brown novel.

Chess

As Libyan Rebels Close In On Gaddafi, US And Europe Ramp Up Intervention

With dictator Muammar Gaddafi's control over the country ebbing, the United States and its European allies are stepping up their intervention into the Libyan crisis. Their aim is to ensure that any new regime will be equally subservient to their economic and geostrategic interests.

Behind the rhetoric about democracy and humanitarian concerns, Washington and the European powers are seeking to exploit the brutality of Gaddafi to condition public opinion to accept a colonial-style intervention and the reassertion of imperialist control over the country's oil fields.

Over the weekend, Gaddafi's hold on power was further eroded by the defection of additional political and military figures and the capture of more key cities by the opposition. Most significant was the fall to the rebels of Zawiyah, an oil port and refinery city thirty miles to the west of the capital, Tripoli. The capture of Zawiyah signified the spread of the rebellion, heretofore centered in the east of the country, to the west.

War Whore

Take That, Rumsfeld! Current U.S. Defense Secretary Says Recommending Wars Like Iraq and Afghanistan Crazy

West Point, New York - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates bluntly told an audience of West Point cadets on Friday that it would be unwise for the United States to ever fight another war like Iraq or Afghanistan, and that the chances of carrying out a change of government in that fashion again were slim.

"In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General MacArthur so delicately put it," Mr. Gates told an assembly of Army cadets here.

That reality, he said, meant that the Army would have to reshape its budget, since potential conflicts in places like Asia or the Persian Gulf were more likely to be fought with air and sea power, rather than with conventional ground forces.

Crusader

Wolf in Shepherd's Clothing: 'God-like' Mysterious People Can Be a 'Funny' and Highly Pathological Lot

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© Unknown
The curse of the Roman Catholic Church is clericalism. Through health care and education, priests and lay people have done noble, self-sacrificing work in the poorest, most needful places. Its churches stand dressed in Gothic and Renaissance art, and house the exalted music of, inter alia, Byrd, Victoria and Palestrina. But, institutionally, it has exalted its politicians and administrators as god-like mysterious people intended to command. And god-like mysterious people can be a funny lot.

The last pope formed a cult of Padre Pio, the present one reveres the Curé of Ars. Both were mentally disturbed self-tormentors, sleeping on stone, living the lives of Poor Tom in King Lear. Popes have also been in steady denial about the male body's reliable production of sperm. Sedulously creating a tradition of priestly child molestation, the modern Vatican seems to be inhabited by mad male spinsters.