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Oil prices push higher on Libya supply concerns

Oil prices have risen further on worries that supplies could be disrupted if unrest continues in Libya and spreads across the Middle East.

US light, sweet crude was up $0.49 at $95.91 a barrel, and had hit $96.25 earlier on Wednesday. It has now risen almost $10 since the start of the week.

Brent crude was $0.77 up at $107.57 a barrel, having hit $107.66 earlier.

Total has become the third major European oil company to suspend production in Libya.

Spanish oil firm Repsol and Italy's ENI suspended operations in the North African country earlier this week.

Light Sabers

36 people slain in Somalia conflict

© Press TVAl-Shabab fighters conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu, Somalia
Heavy clashes between Somali government troops, backed by African Union (AU) forces, and al-Shabab fighters have resulted in the deaths of 36 people in Mogadishu.

Sixteen Somali soldiers lost their lives on Tuesday after fierce fighting broke out between al-Shabab fighters and the transitional government troops in Mogadishu's southern districts of Bermuda and Hawlwadig, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Eight al-Shabab members were also killed when Somali forces shelled the districts close to Bakara Market -- the biggest and busiest market in southern Mogadishu.

Also on Tuesday, 12 civilians were killed and 14 others wounded in the exchange of mortar fire between the two sides.

The Somali government and AU forces have been trying to drive the al-Shabab fighters out of Mogadishu.


Libyan envoy to UN: 'Gaddafi comments signal genocide'

Libyan Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Ibrahim Dabbashi
The Libyan deputy ambassador to the UN says Libya's ruler Muammar Gaddafi's statements are a signal for his minions to start genocide against Libyan people.

"I have received information today, that after the statement by Col. Gaddafi today, the attack on people has started in the western parts of Libya. I hope the information I get is not accurate, but if it's right, it will be a real genocide," Ibrahim Dabbashi told reporters on Tuesday.

Dabbashi also called on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, to investigate what he described as genocide and crimes against humanity committed by Gaddafi during the ongoing unrest in the country.

"And also we are calling on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to start investigating the genocide, crimes against humanity and crimes of war committed by Gaddafi against his people," the Libyan diplomat added.

Referring to the UN Security Council's Tuesday statement that called on the Libyan government to stop the violence against its people, Dabbashi said he had hoped for a stronger message from the international community.


Libya: 'more than 1,000 dead'

More, than 1,000 people are thought to have died in violence in Libya as government forces continue to crackdown on protesters demanding an end to Col Gaddafi's regime.

Italy's foreign minister, Franco Frattini, said: "We believe that the estimates [of the death toll] of about 1,000 are credible."

The updated death toll came as French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for Europe to suspend all economic ties with Libya following the suppression of opposition protests there and to adopt sanctions against the country.

The UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session on Friday to discuss the crisis in Libya.

Col Gaddafi threatened to unleash mob rule on his country on Tuesday night as he vowed to "cleanse Libya house by house" until he had crushed the insurrection seeking to sweep him from power.

With hundreds dead and violence spreading across the country, including the capital Tripoli, European states scrambled to evacuate thousands of their citizens left stranded by the turmoil.

Che Guevara

Crews of 2 Libyan warships mutiny

Pro-democracy protesters chant slogans against Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Benghazi.
The crews of two Libyan warships have mutinied and are refusing to obey Muammar Gaddafi's orders to attack the eastern port city of Benghazi.

This development comes as more reports are coming in about Libyan troops defecting to the side of the people seeking to overthrow Gaddafi, the longest serving ruler in the Arab world.

However, thousands of soldiers have been deployed to the city of Sabratha where protesters have reportedly clashed with security forces.

Meanwhile, Libyan Interior Minister Abdel Fatah Yunes has resigned from his post in solidarity with the pro-democracy protesters.

The Libyan deputy ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, has strongly criticized the crackdown, saying he will not support a government that kills its own people, and has asked Gaddafi to resign.


Aid to 20 Countries Axed After Outcry

Ministers will axe overseas aid to nearly 20 Third World nations this week following growing anger at the amount of taxpayers' cash sent abroad.

Angola, Gambia and Niger are among African countries understood to be losing the hand-outs.

Bosnia, Kosovo and former Soviet Republics Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are also thought to be among those being struck off the aid list.

The move is part of an overhaul of Britain's entire overseas aid budget by the coalition Government, with ministers targeting cash where it is most needed.

But despite the cuts, the overall foreign aid budget is still on course to rise from £7billion this year to around £11billion in 2015.

Che Guevara

Protesters Return to Egypt's Tahrir Square

Despite military warnings not to do so, thousands of protesters rallied in Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital of Cairo today, the home to the massive protests earlier this month that forced long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak out of office.

The protesters insisted that the rally was about reiterating "specific demands" which the military has ignored since establishing an interim junta, including the ouster of the existing government and the ending of the emergency law.

The emergency law has been a particular sore spot for Egyptians, particularly as the "emergency" has lasted for decades. Officials have constantly insisted that they would lift the restrictions when situations permit, but the military's promise was worded virtually identically to the former regime.


6 Threats to Free and Open Access to the Internet

Freedom graphic
© n/a
Many of us believe the Internet to be open and free for us to explore all known information. Indeed, it is true that we currently can surf to any active website with our browser, and we can start a website or blog on any topic we wish to discuss. And it is quite a profound concept that everyone with a smart phone literally has all of the world's knowledge in the palm of their hand.

Ben Franklin knew well the importance of free access to information when he founded the first public library in America to share knowledge with those without the means to their own books. Today, he surely would consider the Internet's unprecedented access to information, and ability to communicate it instantly, as the ultimate level playing field of economic mobility and freedom.

However, this access is now under threat of authoritarian control. First, it is important to note that the gears of the Internet have always been controlled by central authorities, as Douglas Rushkoff recently wrote, "From its Domain Name Servers to its IP addresses, the Internet depends on highly centralized mechanisms to send our packets from one place to another."

Therefore, the idea that our movements on the Web are even remotely private or untraceable is false. The central "authorities" who control the gears of the machine know exactly where you have been, while Google and the CIA have even developed ways of knowing where you're going next as well. It's very creepy to know that our every move is being tracked, traced, and databased, but it has been happening from day one on the Internet, and will likely continue to happen despite the violation of basic rights to our privacy.


US: 'Cash for Kids' Judge Took $1m Kickback from Private Jail Builder to Lock Children Up

A former judge has been convicted of taking a $1million kickback from the builder of a juvenile jail in the notorious 'cash for kids' scandal.

Mark Ciavarella sent hundreds of children and teenagers to the private prison for minor crimes after being given the money by the company which ran it.
Some of the children jailed were as young as 10 and at least one killed themselves because the excessive sentences ruined their lives.

© The Associated PressCash for kids: Mark Ciavarella is confronted by Sandy Fonzo, whose son was locked up by the judge for a minor offence and subsequently killed himself
Ciavarella, 61, left the bench in disgrace two years ago after the allegations came to light and is now expected to be jailed for at least 13 years.

But instead of being caged immediately he was allowed to walk out of court - right into a barrage of abuse from the mother of an all-star wrestler who committed suicide after he sent him to jail.

Edward Kenzakoski, 17 was never the same after being jailed for a first-time minor drug offence, his mother Sandy Fonzo raged.

© The Associated PressDistraught: Mrs Fonzo said her son was never the same after he was jailed for a first-time offence of possession of drug paraphernalia. The 'cash for kids' scandal is one of the worst cases of judicial malpractice in U.S. history


US: Sub Officer Discharged Over Religious Beliefs

© Don S. Montgomery/U.S. Navy via Getty ImagesIn this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, the nuclear-powered fast attack submarine USS Hartford is moored off the U.S, Naval Academy in 1999 in Annapolis, Maryland. According to reports from U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, two U.S. Navy ships, USS Hartford and USS New Orleans, collided on March 20, 2009 in the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the Arabian peninsula. One of the vessels, the USS Hartford a submarine, was nuclear-powered.
A junior officer at the Sub base in Groton has been granted an honorable discharge after suing the Navy, saying his Quaker beliefs keep him from participating in war.

In return, Michael Izbicki is dropping the federal lawsuit he filed last year, according to the ACLU. Izbicki filed the lawsuit last year after the Department of Defense twice rejected his discharge request.

A graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Izbicki grew up near Camp Pendelton Marine Corps base in California, and followed a family tradition of military service. He said he realized his Quaker beliefs conflicted with his Navy service after his graduation and began submarine training. During a psych exam, he told doctors he could not launch a nuclear missle.

"Thorough a period of intense religious study and reflection, supported by military and civilian chaplains and his own rigorous reading and prayer, Ensign Izbicki concluded that he was a conscientious objector and had no choice, because of his religious beliefs, but to give up the career for which he had aspired and trained, and to seek honorable discharge from the Navy," the ACLU said in a November news release.