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Russia wants tourism halted at ski resort after attack

Russia's envoy to its volatile North Caucasus region called Monday for tourism to be halted at the country's most popular ski resort, where three Moscow tourists were gunned down by suspected Islamist rebels.

Security has been heightened since the Friday night shoot-out and a spate of other attacks including blowing up a cable-car and killing a policeman and an official in Kabardino-Balkaria in the mainly Muslim North Caucasus, where Moscow is failing to quell an Islamist insurgency.

"We must stop receiving tourists," state-run Itar-TASS cited Alexander Khloponin as telling officials in the town of Tyrnyauz on the main road leading to Mount Elbrus, Europe's highest peak, which was open for holiday-makers Monday.

Magnify

Gaddafi will fight a popular revolt to "the last man standing,"

Gaddafi out
© Unknown

Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi will fight a popular revolt to "the last man standing," one of his sons said on Monday as people in the capital joined protests for the first time after days of violent unrest in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Anti-government protesters rallied in Tripoli's streets, tribal leaders spoke out against Gaddafi, and army units defected to the opposition as oil exporter Libya endured one of the bloodiest revolts to convulse the Arab world.

Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appeared on national television in an attempt to both threaten and calm people, saying the army would enforce security at any price.

"Our spirits are high and the leader Muammar Gaddafi is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are behind him as is the Libyan army," he said.

Radar

'This Is What Democracy Looks Like' in Wisconsin: Union Busting

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© public domain
1912 Textile Strike, Lawrence, Massachusetts
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker finished a bad week with a misstep that emphasized his inability to generate support for his attempt to strip the state's public employees of collective bargaining rights.

First, the governor's radical proposal went to such extremes in its anti-labor bias that it sparked a protest movement so large, so steady and so determined in its demands that it is now commonly compared with the protests that have rocked Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries.

Then, the man that badges worn by marchers describe as "The Mubarak of the Middle West" really blew it. Saturday was supposed to be the day when the governor pushed back against the movement that has challenged his radical power grab. The governor's Tea Party allies attempted to grab the spotlight with a rally at the state Capital. Unfortunately, the much-hyped event, which national Tea Party groups had poured money and organizing energy into generating, drew an anemic crowd of several thousand. Even by the optimistic estimates of the Tea Partisans themselves, the pro-Walker turnout was one-tenth the size of the crowd that came to oppose the governor's so-called "budget repair bill."

Vader

Libya fighter jets attack protesters in Tripoli

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© Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters
A Libyan airforce pilot walks next to his Mirage F1 fighter jet after landing Monday at Malta International Airport outside Valletta. Two Libyan fighter jets and two civilian helicopters landed unexpectedly in Malta. The fighter pilots said they wre seeking asylum

Tripoli - Libyan military aircraft fired live ammunition at crowds of anti-government protesters in Tripoli, Al-Jazeera television reported Monday.

"What we are witnessing today is unimaginable," said Adel Mohamed Saleh, an activist in the capital whose accounts could not be independently confirmed. "Warplanes and helicopters are indiscriminately bombing one area after another. There are many, many dead.

"Our people are dying. It is the policy of scorched earth," he said.

Vader

China tries to stamp out 'Jasmine Revolution'

china,protest,jasmine
© AP
Chinese police officers stand guard near a McDonald's restaurant which was a planned protest site for 'Jasmine Revolution' in Beijing, China, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011. Jittery Chinese authorities staged a concerted show of force Sunday to squelch a mysterious online call for a 'Jasmine Revolution' apparently modeled after pro-democracy demonstrations sweeping the Middle East.

Beijing - Jittery Chinese authorities wary of any domestic dissent staged a show of force Sunday to squelch a mysterious online call for a "Jasmine Revolution," with only a handful of people joining protests apparently modeled on the pro-democracy demonstrations sweeping the Middle East.

Authorities detained activists, increased the number of police on the streets, disconnected some cell phone text messaging services and censored Internet postings about the call to stage protests in Beijing, Shanghai and 11 other major cities.

Police took at least three people away in Beijing, one of whom tried to place white jasmine flowers on a planter while hundreds of people milled about the protest gathering spot, outside a McDonald's on the capital's busiest shopping street. In Shanghai, police led away three people near the planned protest spot after they scuffled in an apparent bid to grab the attention of passers-by.

Vader

Unrest and the Libyan Military

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Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has ordered the Libyan air force to fire on military installations in Libya, according to what the BBC has characterized as a reliable source. Al Jazeera has suggested that air force fighters have opened fire on crowds of protesters.


Though the latter would be particularly draconian, the more important question is whether these signs reflect a split within the regime and Gadhafi using military force to crush opposition to his regime emerging from the military or other security forces. Similar reports of the Libyan navy firing on targets onshore also are emerging, as well as reports that Gadhafi has given execution orders to soldiers who have refused to fire on Libyan protesters.

The application of conventional weaponry is noteworthy and will warrant scrutiny - particularly in terms of the targets of the attacks and the rationale behind them. The use of these weapons is more appropriate for other armed entities rather than unarmed protesters. Libyan troops are good at instilling fear, but not good at stabilizing a situation, so the military may not be able to get in on the ground due to lost capability.

Newspaper

Helen Thomas: Jews Didn't Have to Leave Europe Following Holocaust

Helen Thomas
© AP
Former White House correspondent Helen Thomas
In CNN interview, veteran reporter refuses to call comments urging Jews to leave Israel and return to Europe insensitive, says Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is the real insensitivity.

The Jews did not have to leave Germany and Poland following the Holocaust since they were not being persecuted anymore, former White House correspondent Helen Thomas said in an interview on Thursday, adding that the Jews had no right to take other people's land.

Thomas, 90, stepped down from her job as a columnist for Hearst News Service in June of last year after a rabbi and independent filmmaker videotaped her outside the White House calling on Israelis to get "out of Palestine."

She gave up her front row seat in the White House press room, where she had aimed often pointed questions at 10 presidents, going back to Eisenhower.

Speaking of the controversial comments in an interview with CNN's Joy Behar on Thursday, Thomas said she did not regret her comments, saying that the Jews did not have to go anywhere after the Holocaust.

Vader

Libya's Qaddafi Appears to Be Losing Control

libya protest
© Alaguri/AP
Protesters with a pre-Gaddafi era flag in Benghazi, Libya.

After ruling the country for 40 years, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi seems to be losing his grip on power much more quickly than anyone could have imagined a few days ago. After six days of protests, clashes continued across the country but security forces seem to have largely retreated to strategic locations and protesters appear to have taken control of Benghazi, the country's second largest city and the focus of protests, and activists celebrated on the streets.

Al Jazeera hears word that "key cities" near the Egyptian border are now under the control of protests, which could mean that foreign journalists might soon be able to enter the country. Yet security forces aren't backing down just yet. The Associated Press hears word that armed pro-government supporters are circulating "in the streets hunting for protesters in Tripoli's old city."

At least 61 people have been killed in Tripoli as protests escalated overnight and extended into Monday, seemingly emboldened by a rambling address given by Qaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, in which he warned of civil war and said that the protests could lead to "colonization" by the West. He did make some vague promises of reform as well, but it hardly seemed to be enough to satisfy the protesters after hundreds have been killed.

No Entry

Venezuela denies Libya's Gaddafi en route

gaddafi
© Reuters/Ismail Zitouny
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attends a ceremony marking the birth of Islam's Prophet Mohammed in Tripoli, February 13, 2011.

Both Libya and Venezuela denied on Monday reports that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was seeking asylum after revolt reached Tripoli and would join his friend President Hugo Chavez in the South American oil producer.

Adding to media rumors, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said earlier on Monday he had seen information to suggest Gaddafi had fled Libya and was on his way to Venezuela, a fellow OPEC member.

But Venezuela's information minister said the leader who has ruled Libya for more than 40 years was not coming.

Eye 2

Stepmother indicted in death of North Carolina girl

Hickory, N.C. - The stepmother of a 10-year-old disabled girl was indicted Monday on charges she killed the freckle-faced child and then desecrated her remains to cover up the slaying, according to court documents.

A grand jury in Catawba County charged Elisa Baker with second-degree murder in the death of Zahra Baker. Authorities planned to discuss the case at a news conference later in the day.

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© AP
Zahra Baker was reported missing in October, and police later found her remains in different locations in western North Carolina.
Zahra, who used a prosthetic leg and hearing aids after being stricken with cancer, disappeared four months ago. No one had been charged in her death, though Elisa Baker had been charged with obstructing justice in the investigation. Police eventually found the girl's remains in different locations around western North Carolina. Authorities still have not said how the girl died.

The indictment cites aggravating factors, saying Elisa Baker had a history of physically, verbally and psychologically abusing Zahra. And it says she desecrated Zahra's body to hinder detection and prosecution of the killing.

A search warrant unsealed last month said Elisa Baker led police to the places where they found Zahra's remains. She claimed her husband, Adam Baker, dismembered the body. Adam Baker has denied that.

The warrant also said that cell phone records indicate Adam Baker was not in the locations where Zahra's remains were found on the day Elisa Baker indicated, but that cell phone records showed she was present in those locations.

Attorneys for Elisa Baker did not return calls seeking comment Monday.