Tag Archive: Italy’


School of Hard Knox

http://mercerisland.patch.com/articles/school-of-hard-knox

It’s a strange experience when an global media explosion happens in practically your own backyard. That happened last week when Amanda Knox was cleared of murder charges in Italy and arrived at Sea-Tac on Tuesday. Suddenly, every reporter around the world was talking about Seattle.

Knox hasn’t been the only big local news story as of late. There’s also the never-ending and increasingly bizarre soap opera revolving around Puyallup’s Josh Powell, his missing wife, porn-loving father and two young sons. For me, following the Powell story – especially the recent ruling which took custody of the children away from Josh — was a similar experience to tracking the events of Knox’s vindication and release. Since these families are local, I’m more emotionally invested.

Logically, I know this doesn’t make much sense. Location is fairly irrelevant these days. I don’t know Amanda or her family or anyone who does. And I’ve probably only been in West Seattle a few times. But somehow the fact that she’s a Seattle girl transformed the story from abstract to concrete. She went to Seattle Prep. She’s probably played soccer on the same fields my kids do. Amanda could have been my daughter (If I was much, much older, obviously).

This identification with Seattleites was an unexpected turning point for me. For maybe the first time, I instinctively considered myself part of this greater community, instead of a recent transplant. I automatically think of Amanda as one of us, not one of them. And when Gawker made a crack about how they supposed “even Seattle is better than an Italian prison,” I wanted to smack some heads. Not that long ago, I would have been snickering along with them. It rained the day after Knox arrived home, and I thought these gray, misty skies of ours probably never looked so spectacularly beautiful to anyone as they did to her that day.

I suppose this investment in international-turned-local stories is a good thing. Empathy can’t be bad, no matter how illogical the reason. Civilized society tends to unravel when we disconnect from others, impersonalizing their tragedies so they’re less painful for us.

And here’s another bright spot to my mild obsession with the case: the whole episode made me acutely fond of the old US of A. Before everyone starts sending me emails about Troy Davis, of course injustices happen all the time. But what’s with this insanity about Italians holding Knox for a year before charging her with a crime. We get to have a lawyer present during questioning and can’t be beaten over the head or such forced confessions become inadmissible. And double jeopardy? Brilliant idea. Despite being found innocent, Knox could still be retried in Italy. Even her appeals case was a game of Russian roulette: Prosecutors upped the ante from the 26-year sentence she’d already been given and went for life in prison instead.

As for Amanda, I have a feeling she’s going to be just fine. Eventually the paparazzi will drift away and she’ll get on with her life. With her mature, level-headed attitude and strong family network, she’ll likely rise above this tragic event much like Elizabeth Smart did after her kidnapping. While I’m sure there will always be people who doubt Knox’s innocence and want to argue points of the case, I hope people will eventually leave her alone.

Because I just keep thinking, what if she were my daughter?

(Ed. Note: This week’s entry in the Welcome to The Rock column is the penultimate installment of the series. Tune in two weeks from now — Oct. 25 —to find out what Michelle has in store for her future.)

About this column: Michelle Bowers is a magazine writer who recently moved to Mercer Island from Connecticut with her husband and two young children. This column follows her discoveries and experiences as she learns about life on ‘The Rock’. Her blog can be found at http://www.momonthefrontlines.blogspot.com.Related Topics:Amanda Knox, Mercer Island Welcome to The Rock, Michelle Bowers, and Welcome to the Rock

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http://news.yahoo.com/amanda-knox-slips-seclusion-brief-shopping-trip-120104427.html

Amanda Knox, who has been in seclusion since her release from an Italian prison, is finally venturing out.

Her return to the public was no more than a trip to a store for toothpaste and a chocolate bar, but it was a deliciously simple act that had been denied her during her four years in an Italian prison.

Ironically, one of her last acts in prison was the inmate ritual of snapping her toothbrush and carrying it outside the walls of Capanne prison before throwing it away.

Knox’s foray into the public comes as more details of her prison ordeal emerge, specifically how she was sexually harassed.

Knox’s younger sister Deanna told ABC News that she saw the remnants of the harassment firsthand while visiting her sister in prison.

“There was something right in front of me and so I put my arm over it,” Deanna Knox said.

Deanna Knox said she covered up scribbled words that read “Amanda is a whore.”

On one occasion, a male guard reportedly entered Knox’s cell alone, despite a policy against it, and made sexual remarks, ABC News has confirmed. On another occasion, a high ranking prison official allegedly ordered Knox into his office at night and wanted to talk about sex.

Amanda Knox Was Sexually Harassed in Prison

“I think the Italian courts…the first time around practically made sure that Amanda was going to be harassed in prison since they made her sex life so much of a focus of the first trial, ” said Vanity Fair’s Judy Bachrach who has covered the case extensively.

Shortly after her arrest, prison officials tricked Knox, falsely telling her that her medical check-up revealed that she was HIV positive and asked her for a list of lovers for health reasons. The list that a distraught Knox provided to officials was soon leaked and became headlines in tabloid newspapers.

“Please oh please,” she wrote in her prison diary at the time. “Let it not be true. I don’t want to die.”

ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams said that Knox could have the basis for a lawsuit but filing one would require a return to Italy.

Knox, 24, was released from prison earlier this month when she and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 27, successfully appealed their murder conviction. They had been accused of murdering Knox’s British roommate Meredith Kercher in a cottage the two women shared in Perugia, Italy.

Sollecito has not spoken publicly since his release but his father told the press that his son is getting used to being at home.

“It’s as if he has been reborn and he is getting used to the simple things in life again, things that he has not been able to do for four years and this will take some time,” said Francesco Sollecito.

Meanwhile, a juror who overturned Knox’s conviction told Italy’s state-run RAI television that he has no doubt that Knox and Sollecito are innocent.

“I saw the faces of these two kids, and they couldn’t bluff. They didn’t bluff. My point of view is that these kids weren’t guilty. They weren’t there,” said Mauro Chialli.

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Amanda Knox’s dad: ABC producer gave kids her room

http://news.yahoo.com/amanda-knoxs-dad-abc-producer-gave-kids-her-233513864.html

NEW YORK (AP) — The courtship of Amanda Knox’s family by American television networks eager to win an exclusive interview with her extended to providing temporary accommodations for two of her younger sisters.

Knox’s father, Curt Knox, said Friday that an ABC producer let his daughters Ashley, 16, and Delaney, 13, stay in her room while court was in session. He said a CBS producer did, too, and an NBC producer offered to.

Amanda Knox, 24, returned to the United States on Tuesday after an Italian court overturned her murder conviction in the death of her roommate. The former exchange student from Seattle had been in custody since 2007.

Networks are competing for an interview with her, even before it’s clear if she’ll even tell her story in that venue. There has been increased attention lately on how networks get these interviews, with ABC declaring this summer it would no longer pay interview subjects to license photos or videos, seen as a dodge of the common journalistic practice of not paying people to tell their stories.

Producers might be able to help the Knoxes see if they could find care for their teenage daughters, but offering something with a specific monetary value — their hotel rooms — isn’t a good idea, said Kelly McBride, senior faculty member for ethics at the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank.

Even without a specific expectation of something in return, “it is unfair to the source because they are in a position of vulnerability,” McBride said.

Curt Knox said that although ABC producer Nikki Battiste permitted his children to use her room, she was doing her job and did not babysit the teenagers. He said Battiste wasn’t in the room with them.

ABC News spokeswoman Jeffrey Schneider said the network didn’t have a problem with Battiste’s actions.

Knox said that CBS producer Sabina Castelfranco also permitted the children to use her room. But CBS spokeswoman Sonya McNair denied this, saying Castelfranco turned down the request when asked and checked out of the small hotel. McNair said it was unclear whether the room was made available to the children after Castelfranco checked out.

Knox said NBC producer Stephanie Siegel offered her room but it wasn’t used. NBC spokeswoman Lauren Kapp denied that such an offer was made.

Battiste and Siegel also accompanied Knox’s wife and the two girls on a shopping trip near the Italian courtroom but didn’t buy anything for the family, he said.

It’s unclear whether any efforts by networks to ingratiate themselves with Knox will make any difference.

“The kind gesture to allow my younger daughters, who couldn’t get into the courtroom due to age, will not have any influence as to which network, if any, that Amanda may choose to go with in the future,” he said.

For Amanda Knox, freedom comes at hefty cost

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/10/05/earlyshow/main20115856.shtml

(CBS/AP)

Amanda Knox left Seattle as an anonymous junior attending Washington’s
flagship public university, and on Tuesday she returned as someone whose release
from an Italian jail made her internationally recognizable.

 

But her freedom came with a price, CBS News correspondent Hattie Kauffman
reports.

 

The 24-year-old’s life turned around dramatically Monday when an Italian
appeals court threw out her conviction in the sexual assault and fatal stabbing
of her British roommate. On Tuesday, photos of Amanda Knox crying in the
courtroom after the verdict was read appeared on the front pages of newspapers
in Italy, the U.S., Britain and around the world.

 

 

Special Section:
The Appeal Trial of Amanda Knox

Amanda
Knox: I’m overwhelmed right now

Amanda
Knox’s alleged accomplice wants retrial

 

 

Knox’s first challenge will be repaying the more than $1 million in legal
debts her family piled up in the past two years.

Her parents each took out second mortgages and drained retirement accounts to
pay for her lawyers. Elizabeth Huff, Knox’s grandmother, took out a $250,000
loan to help pay bills, a burden she welcomed.

 

“We are happy; we are elated,” Huff said. “I can’t tell you how happy we
are.”

 

With the international media frenzy that surrounded Knox’s trial continuing
on the journey home — from her flight out of Rome to her landing in Seattle —
there’s no sign the interest in Knox or her story will let up soon. That could
open up an avenue for the family to pay off those debts.

Sources close to Knox tell CBS News that she began to write a memoir while in
prison. That could be worth millions to publishers eager to profit on one of the
most sensational international legal cases in memory.

On CBS’ “The Early Show” Wednesday, Knox’s U.S. attorney, Theodore Simon, said
her writings weren’t discussed during her reunion with family and friends
Tuesday night.

 

 

 

(Watch at left)

 

 

“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more to come, but I can tell you very
candidly none of those things were discussed last night in any way,” Simon told
“Early Show” co-anchor Erica Hill. “In fact, Amanda is much more about asking
people how they are as opposed to explaining herself, and it was only after much
time and some curiosity where others started asking some questions about her
prison experience, and when everyone hears about all of those I think they are
really going to be really amazed.”

 

As for Knox’s future, her father, Curt Knox, said she would like to return to
the University of Washington at some point to finish her degree.

 

For now, he’s apprehensive about what four years in prison may have done to
his daughter, though there are no immediate plans for her to get counseling.
“What’s the trauma … and when will it show up, if it even shows up?” he told
The Associated Press. “She’s a very strong girl, but it’s been a tough time for
her.”

For now, Knox has just one priority.

 

“My family’s the most important thing to me right now, and I just want to go
be with them,” Knox told reporters Tuesday night. “Thank you for being there for
me.”

 

Amanda Knox

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/10/03/501364/main20114867.shtml

(CBS/AP)

Last Updated 4:04 p.m. ET

PERUGIA, Italy – American student Amanda Knox, who was convicted by an
Italian court for the 2007 murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher, was
acquitted today by an appeals court.

Her murder conviction in the 2007 slaying of her roommate Meredith Kercher
was thrown out by the jury, and she was ordered immediately released from prison
after nearly four years of detention.

Knox collapsed in tears after the verdict was read out Monday.

Her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was also found not guilty.

Knox and Sollecito had been convicted in 2009 of sexually assaulting and
murdering Kercher, who was stabbed to death in her bedroom. She was found in a
pool of blood and covered by a duvet the following day.

Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison, Sollecito to 25. Also convicted in
separate proceedings was Rudy Hermann Guede, an Ivorian man. They all denied
wrongdoing.

As the verdict was announced, about a dozen supporters from the group called
Friends of Amanda, gathered at a downtown Seattle hotel to watch the proceedings
on TV, burst into applause and cheered. They began chanting, “She’s free!” and
“We did it!”

Earlier Monday, as hundreds of reporters and cameras filled the underground,
frescoed courtroom, Knox tearfully told the Italian appeals court she did not
kill her British roommate, pleading for the court to free her so she can return
to the United States after four years behind bars. The court began deliberations
moments later.

Knox frequently paused for breath and fought back tears as she spoke in
Italian to the six members of the jury and two judges in a packed courtroom, but
managed to maintain her composure during the 10-minute address.

“I’ve lost a friend in the worst, most brutal, most inexplicable way
possible,” she said of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old Briton
who shared an apartment with Knox when they were both students in Perugia. “I’m
paying with my life for things that I didn’t do.”

“She had her bedroom next to mine, she was killed in our own apartment. If I
had been there that night, I would be dead,” Knox said. “But I was not
there.”

“I did not kill. I did not rape. I did not steal. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t
there at the crime,” Knox said.

“48 Hours Mystery” correspondent Peter Van Sant reports that Knox appealed to
the jury – members of which wept openly during her statement – to reverse the
conviction and let her return home.

“I insist I’m innocent and that must be defended. I just want to go home, go
back to my life,” she told the court through tears.

Van Sant says Knox’s words brought tears even to the eyes of some journalists
in the room.

Minutes before, an anxious Sollecito also addressed the court to proclaim his
innocence and plead for his release from prison.

“I never hurt anyone, never in my life,” Sollecito said, shifting as he spoke
and stopping to sip water. He said at the time of the murder he was in a great
period of his life, close to defending his thesis to graduate from university
and having just met Knox.

The weekend Kercher was murdered was the first the pair planned to spend
together “in tenderness and cuddles,” he said.

At the end of his 17-minute address, Sollecito took off a white rubber
bracelet emblazoned with “Free Amanda and Raffaele” that he said he was been
wearing for four years.

“I have never taken it off. Many emotions are concentrated in this bracelet,”
he said. “Now I want to pay homage to the court. The moment to take it off has
arrived.”

The Kerchers have arrived in a Perugia hotel and are expected to be in court
for the verdict.

Speaking this morning, Stephanie Kercher said her sister “has been most
forgotten” in the media circus surrounding the high-profile trial.

“As long as they decide today based purely on the information available to
them and they don’t look into the media hype, I think justice will be found,”
she told reporters.

Kercher
family doesn’t want victim forgotten

British student Meredith Kercher's family members, (from L-R) mother Arline, sister Stephanie and brother Lyle attend a news conference in Perugia October 3, 2011. The family of murdered British student Kercher still finds it difficult to forgive her murder, her brother and sister said on Monday, just hours before an expected verdict in an appeal by U.S. student Amanda Knox.  REUTERS/Giorgio Benvenuti (ITALY - Tags: CRIME LAW)http://news.yahoo.com/meredith-kerchers-family-not-ready-forgive-210939790.html

The family of Meredith Kercher said today they still believe Amanda Knoxtook part in her murder and are in no mood to think about forgiveness.

Kercher’s family spoke as the six jurors and two judges were deliberating whether to uphold or throw out the 2009 murder conviction of Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito.

CLICK HERE to watch the full story on “20/20” and, for more on Amanda Knox, CLICK HERE.

The Kerchers have stayed away from the nearly year-long trial in Perugia, Italy, until today when they arrived to witness the appeals verdict.

Meredith Kercher’s mother Arline was joined by her sister Stephanie and her brother Lyle. When asked if they believe in the original guilty verdict, Stephanie Kercher said, “We were satisfied with the verdict… Nothing’s changed.”

The family spoke with dignity, but made it clear they are intent on justice for the family member the remember as “Mez.” Lyle Kercher said their hurt has not been eased since the November 2007 murder.

“It’s very difficult to talk about forgiveness at this time, with the [media] hype around the case. And the defendant is involved in that. The brutality of it has been forgotten,” said Kercher’s brother, Lyle. “There comes a point when we are just battling against what’s essentially a PR machine.”

Family of Meredith Kercher Not Willing to Forgive

Referring to the gruesome autopsy photos that were shown during the trial and appeal, the brother said, “If we had them all up here,” he said pointing to the wall behind him, “you would find it hard to forgive someone who had done that to your loved one.”

“I’m not sure we’ll be looking for forgiveness for a while,” he said.

The Kercher family, who traveled from their home in Britain, are wary about the current attention on Knox instead of Meredith Kercher.

“It’s been four years now, and the focus has shifted for obvious reasons onto the proceedings at court at the moment, but Meredith has been forgotten in all of it,” said Stephanie Kercher.

If the appeal is overturned, Knox and Sollecito will be freed from prison. If the conviction is upheld, Knox may have to serve out her 26 year prison sentence and Sollecito will have to complete his 25 year term. Those sentences could be reduced or increased to life, which is what the prosecution is seeking.

Kercher, a student at the University of Leeds, was studying abroad in Perugia for a year when she was killed. She had been sharing an apartment with Knox, an American student studying abroad, and two Italian women. She was found partially nude and with her throat slit in her bedroom on Nov. 2, 2007.

A third person, Rudy Guede, 22, was also convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in her murder.

“Her death was uDuring her final statement to the court in pleading for her freedom today, Knox said Kercher was her friend, someone she “shared my life with.. She cared for me.”

Kercher’s mother downplayed their friendship.

“I don’t think they were that close… Amanda only got there in the beginning of October and Meredith was murdered on the first of November,” Arline Kercher said. “I think they were friendly, but not that close.”

The family remembered Meredith Kercher. “Mez was just a lovely girl … she was always there for everyone,” Stephanie Kercher said.

Arline Kercher cited a line in a story she read about the murder saying, “I think it happened to Meredith because she was all that they weren’t.”

CLICK HERE to watch the full story on “20/20” and, for more on Amanda Knox, CLICK HERE.

nreal in many ways,” said Arline Kercher, Meredith’s mother, “and still is. I still look for her.”

 

NATO strikes Libyan capital after Gadhafi appears

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110512/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_libya

By DIAA HADID, Associated Press Diaa Hadid, Associated Press 21 mins ago

TRIPOLI, Libya – NATO airstrikes struck Moammar Gadhafi’s sprawling compound in Tripoli and three other sites early Thursday, hours after the Libyan leader was shown on state TV in his first appearance since his son was killed nearly two weeks ago.

Explosions thundered across the capital and ambulances raced through the city as the last missile exploded.

Government officials and state-run Libyan television said the strikes targeted Bab al-Azaziya, Gadhafi’s compound, but did not specify which buildings were hit. Reporters who were taken there later Thursday saw one missile-damaged building, and evidence that at least three missiles had hit the compound.

NATO, which has hit the Libyan capital repeatedly this week, said Thursday’s attack successfully hit “a large command and control bunker complex in downtown Tripoli that was used to coordinate attacks against civilian populations.”

In the eastern city of Benghazi, headquarters for the opposition movement trying to topple Gadhafi, rebel spokesman Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga claimed that anti-Gadhafi residents in the Tripoli area were staging peaceful demonstrations in many neighborhoods, prompting the regime to deploy troops and tanks in the streets that may have been diverted from other regions.

Ghoga, who did not specify the source of his information, said anti-Gadhafi militants had burned a police station in one suburb, and were setting up night patrols and checkpoints in other neighborhoods. There was no immediate independent confirmation of his claims; the foreign journalists in Tripoli are assigned government minders and limited in their movements.

After the early-morning airstrikes, medics arrived at Khadra Hospital with the bodies of two men they said were killed in the attack. One of bodies was charred; the other was covered by a green blanket, a leg dangling from the stretcher.

From a bus ferrying reporters to the hospital, smoke could be seen rising from part of the Gadhafi compound. Skid marks left from screeching vehicles crisscrossed the roads around it.

The medics said others had been killed by the airstrikes and were still being retrieved from the compound.

Gadhafi’s compound has been a frequent site of recent airstrikes, including one on April 30 that killed the leader’s son, Seif al-Arab. Officials said Gadhafi — Libya’s autocratic leader for 42 years — was in the compound when that strike occurred but escaped unharmed.

NATO has repeatedly said all its targets in Libya are military and that it is not targeting Gadhafi or other individuals. In its latest update Thursday, NATO denied targeting the North Korean Embassy in Tripoli — a response to a report by the Libyan state news agency JANA that the embassy had been damaged during one of this week’s strikes.

Gadhafi had seven sons and one daughter. He also had an adopted daughter who was killed in 1986 when a U.S. airstrike hit the Bab al-Aziziya residential compound in retaliation for a bombing attack on a German disco in which two U.S. servicemen were killed..

In an apparent effort to dispel rumors that Gadhafi himself had been killed, Libyan state TV showed him meeting tribal leaders, but did not record him speaking. To authenticate the scene, the camera zoomed in on the date on a TV monitor in the room, which read Wednesday, May 11. It was apparently recorded at the hotel where foreign correspondents must reside in Tripoli. Gadhafi did not make himself available to them.

The last time Gadhafi had been seen in public previously was April 9, when he visited a school in Tripoli.

Intensified NATO airstrikes on Gadhafi’s forces across Libya have given a boost to rebels fighting to oust the regime, with the opposition claiming Wednesday that it had captured the airport in the western city of Misrata. In all, NATO said, the alliance has carried out more than 2,400 airstrikes since March 31 as part of the effort to assist the rebels and pressure Gadhafi relinquish power.

Even though some of the recent reports of ground combat are difficult to confirm, they seem to represent a major boost for the rebels’ military prospects after weeks of stalemate on several fronts.

The rebels control most of eastern Libya, but Misrata — about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli — is the only rebel stronghold in the west. Local doctors say more than 1,000 of its residents have been killed in the fighting and shelling during the siege by Gadhafi’s forces.

In Tripoli, a government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, denied the Misrata rebels’ claims of success, saying regime forces still held the airport.

Ibrahim did acknowledge that the war was creating severe shortages of many commodities in Tripoli.

“The NATO airstrikes and the sea embargo … are badly influencing the lives of daily Libyans,” he said. “We have some shortages in fuel, food and medicine. It makes it difficult to go to schools, hospitals and factories.”

A potential humanitarian crisis was reported Thursday by the World Food Program in the mountain region of western Libya. Josette Sheeran, the WFP executive director, said fighting in the area between rebels and regime forces has prevented aid from reaching civilians trapped in some hard-to-reach villages.

She appealed for a cease-fire so deliveries could be made safely.

Britain said Thursday that it will supply police officers in rebel-held eastern Libya with uniforms and body armor, and help establish a public radio station. The announcement came after Prime Minister David Cameron and other ministers met in London with Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, head of the rebels’ National Transitional Council.

Cameron said he had invited Abdul-Jalil to open a permanent office in London to help cement contacts with Britain, although Britain has not followed France and Italy in recognizing the council as Libya’s legitimate government.

___

Associated Press writers Michelle Faul in Benghazi and Slobodan Lekic in Brussels contributed to this report.

Clinton: NATO nations agree that Gadhafi must go

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110414/ap_on_re_eu/eu_nato_foreign_ministers

By GEIR MOULSON and MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Geir Moulson And Matthew Lee, Associated Press 1 hr 7 mins ago

BERLIN – NATO nations stressed Thursday that their common aim in Libya is to bring an end to Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the world must increase its support for the Libyan opposition.

The effort to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya topped the agenda at a two-day meeting of foreign ministers from NATO’s 28 member countries. Three weeks of airstrikes haven’t routed Gadhafi’s forces, causing tensions in the alliance.

Although NATO countries agree that Gadhafi must be ousted, his departure is not one of its military goals and the alliance has been at odds on how to proceed. One proposal from Italy — Libya’s former colonial ruler — calls for the western powers to provide defensive weapons to rebels.

France has said NATO isn’t doing enough, and was pushing other countries at the meeting to work “on more robust, more efficient, more rapid actions,” according to French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero in Paris.

The rebels — along with France and Britain — have been urging the U.S. military to reassert a stronger role in the NATO-led air campaign. The Obama administration, however, has been insisting the U.S. will stick to its plan to remain in a supporting role, and the Pentagon noted that Americans have flown 35 percent of all Libyan air missions over the last 10 days.

Clinton appealed to the other NATO foreign ministers to show unity.

“As our mission continues, maintaining our resolve and unity only grows more important,” Clinton said Thursday. “Gadhafi is testing our determination.”

NATO members are “sharing the same goal, which is to see the end of the Gadhafi regime in Libya,” Clinton said. “We must also intensify our political, diplomatic and economic mission to pressure and isolate Gadhafi and bring about his departure.”

Clinton drew a line between NATO’s goals of enforcing an arms embargo, protecting civilians, and forcing the withdrawal of Gadhafi forces from rebel cities they have entered, with the international community’s demand that Gadhafi leave power.

The world must “deepen our engagement with and increase our support for” the Libyan opposition, she added.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance and its partners “are fully engaged in operations to safeguard the people of Libya, taking every measure possible to prevent Gadhafi’s brutal and systematic attacks.”

The alliance is keeping up “a high operational tempo,” he added.

France’s foreign minister, Alain Juppe, struck a diplomatic tone as he met with his counterpart from Germany, which isn’t taking part in the military operation and abstained in the U.N. vote authorizing it.

“In reality, we have the same objective — this objective is to allow the Libyan people to enjoy democratic freedom,” Juppe said, adding “there will not be a military solution to the problem, there can only be a political solution.”

“There is no future in Libya with Gadhafi,” Juppe added.

Juppe said outsiders can support political forces that aspire to democracy, but he was guarded when asked whether France thinks the Libyan rebels should be supplied with arms.

“France is not in this frame of mind,” he replied.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Berlin agrees with France and others that “Libya can only have a good future if this dictator goes.”

He said he was “very happy that we have together succeeded in finally pushing through a comprehensive sanctions policy — there is now a de-facto oil and gas embargo (so) that the dictator Gadhafi’s cash reserves cannot be replenished.”

Thursday’s NATO meeting also was to address efforts to hand over security responsibility in Afghanistan to local forces.

_____

David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report.

My Years As Gaddafi’s Nurse

http://news.yahoo.com/s/dailybeast/20110411/ts_dailybeast/13423_oksanabalinskayaonbeinglibyasmuammargaddafisnurse

Oksana Balinskaya Oksana Balinskaya Mon Apr 11, 1:02 am ET

NEW YORK – I checked the dictator’s heart and lived in luxury. But when revolution came, I realized the cost. In this week’s Newsweek, Oksana Balinskaya talks about what it was like being the nurse for Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

I was just 21 when I went to work for Muammar Gaddafi. Like the other young women he hired as nurses, I had grown up in Ukraine. I didn’t speak a word of Arabic, didn’t even know the difference between Lebanon and Libya. But “Papik,” as we nicknamed him—it means “little father” in Russian—was always more than generous to us. I had everything I could dream of: a furnished two-bedroom apartment, a driver who appeared whenever I called. But my apartment was bugged, and my personal life was watched closely.

Oksana Balinskaya worked as Gaddafi’s Nurse. (Photo: Joseph Sywenkyj for Newsweek)

For the first three months I wasn’t allowed to go to the palace. I think Papik was afraid that his wife, Safia, would get jealous. But soon I began to attend to him regularly. The job of the nurses was to see that our employer stayed in great shape-in fact, he had the heart rate and blood pressure of a much younger man. We insisted that he wear gloves on visits to Chad and Mali to protect him against tropical diseases. We made sure that he took his daily walks around the paths of his residence, got his vaccinations, and had his blood pressure checked on time.

The Ukrainian press called us Gaddafi’s harem. That’s nonsense. None of us nurses was ever his lover; the only time we ever touched him was to take his blood pressure. The truth is that Papik was much more discreet than his friend, the womanizer Silvio Berlusconi. Gaddafi chose to hire only attractive Ukrainian women, most probably for our looks. He just liked to be surrounded by beautiful things and people. He had first picked me from a line of candidates after shaking my hand and looking me in the eye. Later I learned he made all his decisions about people at the first handshake. He is a great psychologist.

Papik had some odd habits. He liked to listen to Arab music on an old cassette player, and he would change his clothes several times a day. He was so obsessive about his outfits that he reminded me of a rock star from the 1980s. Sometimes when his guests were already waiting for him, he would go back to his room and change his clothes again, perhaps into his favorite white suit. When we drove around poor African countries he would fling money and candy out the widow of his armored limousine to children who ran after our motorcade; he didn’t want them close for fear of catching diseases from them. He never slept in a tent, though! That’s just a myth. He only used the tent for official meetings.

 We traveled in great style. I accompanied Papik to the United States, Italy, Portugal, and Venezuela, and whenever he was in a good mood, he asked us if we had everything we needed. We would get bonuses to go shopping. And -every year Papik gave all his staff gold watches with his picture on them.

We traveled in great style. I accompanied Papik to the United States, Italy, Portugal, and Venezuela, and whenever he was in a good mood, he asked us if we had everything we needed. We would get bonuses to go shopping. And -every year Papik gave all his staff gold watches with his picture on them. Just showing that watch in Libya would open any door, solve any problem that we had.

I got the impression that at least half the population of Libya disliked Papik. The local medical staff was jealous of us because we made three times more than they did—over $3,000 a month. It was obvious that Papik made all the decisions in his country. He is like Stalin; he has all the power and all the luxury, all for himself. When I first saw television pictures of the Egyptian revolution I thought, nobody would ever dare to rise against our Papik. But there was a chain reaction after Tunisia and Egypt. If Papik had passed his throne to his son Saif when he still had a chance, I believe that everything would have been all right. People would not be dying right now.

I got out of Tripoli at the beginning of February, just in time. Two of my friends stayed behind, and now they can’t leave. I had a very personal reason for wanting to get out: I was four months pregnant, and I was beginning to show. I feared that Papik would not approve of my Serbian boyfriend.

Papik will probably never forgive me my betrayal. But I realize I did the right thing to flee Libya. My friends all told me I should think of my future baby and run. Now Papik’s closest partners are also running from him. And he is forcing his children and our two remaining Ukrainian colleagues to stay and die by his side.

As told to NEWSWEEK’s Anna Nemtsova in Mogilnoye, Ukraine.

Government bombardment pushes back Libyan rebels

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110405/ap_on_bi_ge/af_libya

By BEN HUBBARD and HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press Ben Hubbard And Hadeel Al-shalchi, Associated Press 5 mins ago

BREGA, Libya – Libyan government forces on Tuesday unleashed a withering bombardment of the rebels outside a key oil town, pushing them back despite NATO reports that nearly a third of Moammar Gadhafi’s heavy weapons have been destroyed.

The rebels managed to take part of the oil town of Brega the day before, aided by an international air campaign, but the rocket and artillery salvos unleashed on the rebels indicates the government’s offensive capabilities remain very much intact.

“When you see this, the situation is very bad. We cannot match their weapons,” said Kamal Mughrabi, 64, a retired soldier who joined the rebel army. “If the planes don’t come back and hit them we’ll have to keep pulling back.”

Rebel attempts to fire rockets and mortars against the government forces were met with aggressive counter bombardments that sent many of the rebel forces scrambling back all the way to the town of Ajdabiya, dozens of miles (kilometers) away. There did not appear to be any immediate response from the international aircraft patrolling the skies that have aided the rebels in the past.

Early on Tuesday, however, there was an airstrike against a convoy of eight government vehicles advancing toward rebel positions, rebel officer Abdel-Basset Abibi said, citing surveillance teams.

Brig. Gen. Mark Van Uhm of NATO said Tuesday its aerial onslaught has so far destroyed 30 percent of the Gadhafi’s weapons. On Monday alone, the alliance carried out 14 attacks on ground targets across the country, destroying radars, munitions dumps, armored vehicles and a rocket launcher

Rebel forces have been helped by the arrival on the front of more trained soldiers and heavier weapons, but they are still struggling to match the more experienced and better equipped government troops, even with the aid of airstrikes.

The government has softened its public stance against any compromise that would end the fighting, but government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said late Monday that any changes must be led by Gadhafi, who has ruled the country for more than four decades.

Click image to see photos of protests in Libya

“We could have any political system, any changes: constitution, election, anything, but the leader has to lead this forward,” he said in Tripoli.

“Don’t decide our future from abroad, give us a proposal for change from within,” Ibrahim said, chastising Western powers who have a “personal problem with the leader” and economic interests they believe would be better served if Gadhafi’s government collapsed.

The comments were unlikely to appease the rebels fighting to oust the Libyan leader who has a legacy of brutality. Any long-term settlement poses tough questions about the fate of Gadhafi’s family and the new leader of a post-Gadhafi nation, and the opposition has rejected any solution that would involved one of his sons taking power.

The head of the African Union, meanwhile, voiced his support for Gadhafi, calling for the end to foreign interference into what he called an internal Libyan problem.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema 69-year-old president of Equatorial Guinea described Western military efforts to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya as a “so-called humanitarian intervention.”

But elsewhere in the world, the rebels saw success in their efforts to establish an internationally recognized government in eastern Libya, forging tighter links with Britain and Italy, both potentially major markets for Libyan oil. Italy offered diplomatic recognition to the Libyan opposition council on Monday, becoming the third country to do so after France and Qatar.

Shipping data provider Lloyd’s Intelligence, meanwhile, confirmed that a Greek-owned tanker is on its way to Libya pick up an oil shipment, the first in almost three weeks.

The delivery would be only a tiny fraction of Libya’s pre-crisis exports of around 1.6 million barrels a day, but is viewed by analysts as a symbolic step forward.

The tanker, capable of carrying around 1 million barrels of crude oil, is currently off Port Said in Egypt and expected to arrive at the Libyan port of Marsa al-Hariga, near the eastern city of Tobruk, later in the day.

The conflict in Libya caused crude exports from the country, 17th among the world oil producers, to dwindle to a trickle, sparking a surge in global oil prices. Benchmark crude was trading at around $108 a barrel on Tuesday.

Gadhafi’s British-educated son Seif al-Islam, on Tuesday, dismissed reports that his father’s inner circle of advisers was crumbling following the defection of Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa.

He said “of course” there would be defections among senior members of the regime because some of them are old and tired and “not young like us.”

He also dismissed the idea that Koussa might have new information to offer British authorities about the Lockerbie bombing in which he was a key negotiator.

“The British and the Americans … they know everything about Lockerbie so there are no secrets” Koussa can reveal, Seif said.

___

Al-Shalchi reported from Tripoli. Associated Press writers Jane Wardell and Cassandra Vinograd in London and Slobodan Lekic in Brussels contributed to this report.

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