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Gaddafi's Forces Capture Dutch Marines on Rescue Mission

© John Moore/Getty Images
Libyan rebel fighters celebrate after driving back Gaddafi's forces in Brega.
Three marines seized in Libyan port while trying to evacuate Dutch workers

Three Dutch marines are being held in Libya after they were captured by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi while trying to rescue Dutch workers.

The marines were surrounded by armed men and captured on Sunday after landing near Sirte in a Lynx helicopter that was on board a navy ship, HMS Tromp, which is anchored off the Libyan coast to help evacuations, Dutch defence ministry spokesman Otte Beeksma said.

Dutch officials were in "intensive negotiations" with the Libyan government to secure the marines' release, he said.

"We have also been in contact with the crewmen involved. They are doing well under the circumstances and we hope they will be released as quickly as possible."

Asked if the Dutch government considered the marines hostages, Beeksma said: "They are being held by Libyan authorities."


Why the Dollar's Reign Is Near an End

© Flickr
For decades the dollar has served as the world's main reserve currency, but, argues Barry Eichengreen, it will soon have to share that role. Here's why - and what it will mean for international markets and companies.

The single most astonishing fact about foreign exchange is not the high volume of transactions, as incredible as that growth has been. Nor is it the volatility of currency rates, as wild as the markets are these days.

Instead, it's the extent to which the market remains dollar-centric.

WSJ's David Wessel sits down with three senior experts in international finance - Edwin M. Truman, Joseph E. Gagnon and Eswar Prasad - for a discussion on the major issues facing currencies and the global economy.

Consider this: When a South Korean wine wholesaler wants to import Chilean cabernet, the Korean importer buys U.S. dollars, not pesos, with which to pay the Chilean exporter. Indeed, the dollar is virtually the exclusive vehicle for foreign-exchange transactions between Chile and Korea, despite the fact that less than 20% of the merchandise trade of both countries is with the U.S.


Libya Stalemate Presents Diplomatic Challenges

© Reuters
Rebels in eastern Libya have mobilised to stop the advance of pro-Gaddafi forces

Every move in the diplomatic play-book has so far been thrown at the embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and yet he is still hanging on to power.

Assets have been frozen, an arms embargo applied, and legal proceedings are being investigated by the International Criminal Court.

There's even been talk of an internationally enforced no-fly zone to prevent the Libyan leader using his air force to attack his own people.

Nobody, of course, believed that the machinery of international condemnation alone would topple the Libyan leader. That looked as though it was well in hand by Libyan opponents of his regime.

But as the fighting around Brega underscores, neither side seems to have the knock-out punch capable of defeating the other. Col Gaddafi appears unable to re-capture the eastern part of his country. And for now, his opponents seem unable to mount a major offensive against Tripoli.


Libyan Rebels Push West as Gaddafi Receives Crimes Warning

A rebel soldier runs
© Reuters
A rebel soldier runs while holding a pistol and a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) in Brega, March 2, 2011
Libyan rebels pushed west on Thursday, extending their grip on a key coast road as Muammar Gaddafi received a warning he would be held to account at The Hague for suspected crimes by his security forces.

Venezuela said the Libyan leader had agreed to its proposal for an international commission to negotiate an end to the turmoil in the world's 12th largest oil exporting nation.

But Gaddafi's son Saif al Islam said there was no need for any foreign mediation in the crisis, a leader of the uprising rejected talks with the veteran leader, and the Arab League said cautiously the plan was "under consideration."

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said France and Britain would support the idea of setting up a no-fly zone over Libya if Gaddafi's forces continued to attack civilians.

Mr. Potato

Assange appeals extradition as WikiLeaks soldier faces new charges

© Unknown
Rally in support of Bradley Manning on August 8, 2010, in Quantico, Virginia
As Julian Assange fights an extradition order in London, Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of handing over government files to WikiLeaks, has been slapped with 22 new charges.

The US Army announced the new charges today against Pfc Manning, which could see him go to prison for life.

"Aiding the enemy" is the most serious and significant of the additional charges, said Private Manning's lawyer, David Coombs.

He also said that the soldier's defence had been preparing for the possibility of extra charges for the past number of weeks.

According to the charge sheet, the 23-year-old is also accused of wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, knowing that it was accessible to the enemy and multiple counts of theft of public records, transmitting defense information and computer fraud.

The New York Times has a copy of the charge sheet here.

"The new charges more accurately reflect the broad scope of the crimes that Private First Class Manning is accused of committing," said Capt. John Haberland, an Army spokesman.


WikiLeaks' Assange appeals against UK extradition

© Reuters
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves after appearing at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London February 24, 2011.
London - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has launched an appeal against a ruling that he should be extradited from Britain to Sweden over alleged sex crimes, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Last week Assange, who infuriated the U.S. government by publishing thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, was told by a British judge he could be sent to Sweden to face questioning over complaints by two female WikiLeaks volunteers.

The 39-year-old Australian computer expert vowed to fight the extradition decision and his lawyers have now lodged papers appealing the verdict at London's High Court.

One volunteer accuses Assange of sexually molesting her by ignoring her request for him to use a condom during sex; the second says he had sex with her while she was asleep and that he was not wearing a condom, an allegation which falls into the least severe of three rape categories in Sweden.

Assange's lawyers claim he will not get a fair trial in Sweden, as rape cases are held in secret. They criticize the European arrest warrant system used to seek his extradition, and say there are political motivations for the prosecution.


The Someone You're Not - Justice in the US of A

Our packed prisons are starting to disgorge hundreds of mostly African-America men who, over the last few decades, we wrongly convicted of violent crimes. This is what it's like to spend nearly thirty years in prison for something you didn't do. This is what it's like to spend nearly thirty years as someone you aren't. And for Ray Towler, this is what it's like to be free.

© Michael Edwards
Ray Towler
A little girl sitting in a big chair, the witness stand in Courtroom 15-B, overlooking the lake in downtown Cleveland.

It is a Monday morning in September 1981. The girl is eleven. Her name is Brittany. She's in sixth grade, weighs eighty-nine pounds. She lives with her mom and her eighteen-year-old brother. Frequently she stays overnight at her aunt's house. Her cousin is named Jack. He is a year older, in the same grade at the same school. They spend a lot of time together.


Official puts toll in Libya at 6,500

© Reuters
A convoy of 18 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid bound for Benghazi travels past a Libyan army tank and a mural adulating Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in the Tripoli suburb.
Clashes continue as forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi fight to regain control over areas taken over by protesters.

Benghazi: The final figure of those killed in the ongoing clashes between forces loyal to the Gaddafi regime and pro-democracy protesters is 6,500, Gulf News has learned.

An informed source has told Gulf News that according to the transitional national council, the latest death toll in the clashes in country stands at 6,500.

Meanwhile, clashes continued across Libya on Tuesday as forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi fought to regain control over areas taken over by protesters.

Witnesses from around 25km south of the capital Tripoli said tanks and anti-aircraft crews were deployed at all major intersections, activists reported in messages posted online.


Yemeni president says US and Israel behind unrest

© Muhammed Muheisen/AP
An anti-government protestor reacts as he and other demonstrators shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, March 1, 2011. Yemen's embattled president has accused the United States and Israel of trying to destabilize his country and the Arab world.
Sanaa, Yemen - Yemen's embattled president on Tuesday accused the U.S., his closest ally, of instigating the mounting protests against him, but the gambit failed to slow the momentum for his ouster.

Hundreds of thousands rallied in cities across Yemen against the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in the largest of the protests of the past month, including one addressed by an influential firebrand cleric, a former ally of Saleh, whom the U.S. has linked to al-Qaida.

"Go on until you achieve your demands," Sheik Abdul-Majid al-Zindani told tens of thousands of demonstrators in the capital of Sanaa. A former U.S. ambassador to Yemen called al-Zindani's decision to turn against President Ali Abdullah Saleh a major setback for the president.

Some warned that the current political turmoil and possible collapse of Saleh's regime could give a further opening to Yemen's offshoot of the global terror network, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

James Jones, former White House National Security Advisor, warned a Washington conference that Yemen's crisis "could deepen the current vacuum of power in Yemen on which al Qaida has thrived."

The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, believed to have been involved in the attempted 2009 bombing of an American airliner, is seen as particularly active and threatening to the U.S.


9/11 firefighter dies of cancer linked to toxic dust

© Family Photo
New York firefighter Randy Wiebicke lived "in a way that inspired everyone around him," his wife says.
New York -- Firefighter Randy Wiebicke who, like so many New York City firefighters, toiled in and around ground zero in the months after 9/11, died Wednesday following a nearly three-year battle with multiple myeloma, an aggressive and fatal blood cancer.

Wiebicke underwent an experimental stem cell transplant procedure last summer, when his cancer was in remission. But just two months after the transplant, he developed viral infections that, ultimately, his weakening body could no longer fight.

Wiebicke's wife, Madeline, said Randy was "a man who lived his life in the spirit of what being a firefighter meant to him. When others were in danger, running out of a burning building, he was there to run in," she wrote in an e-mail. "He lived his life beautifully, in a way that inspired everyone around him. Having Randy around not only made you want to be a better person, but it showed you how to get there," she wrote.

Comment: For more information regarding the toxic dust effects of 911, see this Sott link:

Toxic World Trade Center dust linked to lung disease in rescue workers