Tag Archive: The United Nations


1 Timothy 4:12

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example in the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

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NATO hits Tripoli; US says rebels can open office

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110524/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_libya

Sky over Tripoli, Libya, is illuminated by explosions during an airstrike, early Tuesday, May 24, 2011. NATO warplanes were repeatedly hitting Tripoli

By DIAA HADID and MICHELLE FAUL, Asssociated Press Diaa Hadid And Michelle Faul, Asssociated Press 1 hr 7 mins ago

TRIPOLI, Libya – NATO launched its most intense bombardment yet against Moammar Gadhafi’s stronghold of Tripoli Tuesday, while a senior U.S. diplomat said President Barack Obama has invited the Libyan rebels’ National Transitional Council to open an office in Washington but stopped short of formal recognition.

The international community has stepped up airstrikes and diplomatic efforts against the regime in a bid to break a virtual stalemate, with the rebels in the east and Gadhafi maintaining his hold on most of the west.

The NATO airstrikes struck in rapid succession within a half-hour time span, setting off more than 20 explosions and sending up plumes of acrid-smelling smoke from an area around Gadhafi’s sprawling Bab al-Aziziya compound in central Tripoli.

Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said at least three people were killed and dozens wounded in NATO strikes that targeted what he described as buildings used by volunteer units of the Libyan army.

NATO said in a statement that a number of precision-guided weapons hit a vehicle storage facility adjacent to Bab al-Aziziya that has been used to supply regime forces “conducting attacks on civilians.” It was not immediately clear if the facility was the only target hit in the barrage. Bab al-Aziziya, which includes a number of military facilities, has been pounded repeatedly by NATO strikes.

At the Tripoli Central Hospital, the bodies of three men in their twenties lay on stretchers, their clothing ripped and their faces partially blown away. A nurse, Ahmad Shara, told foreign reporters taken on a government-escorted visit to the facility soon after the strikes that the men were standing outside their homes when they were killed, presumably by shrapnel.

One man who identified himself as a relative pounded a wall and cried out in despair after seeing the bodies. Some 10 other men and women were wounded.

“We thought it was the day of judgment,” said Fathallah Salem, a 45-year-old contractor who rushed his 75-year-old mother to the hospital after she suffered shock. He said his home trembled, his mother fainted and the youngest of seven children screamed in terror at the sound of the rolling blasts.

“You were in the hotel and you were terrified by the shaking — imagine what it was like for the people who live in slums!” Salem told the reporters.

“Honestly, we used to have problems (with the regime),” he said in Arabic. “But today we are all Moammar Gadhafi.”

The U.S. launched the international air campaign on March 19 after the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution to protect civilians after Gadhafi sent his forces to crush the public uprising against his rule. NATO, which has taken over the airstrikes, says it has been doing its best to minimize the risk of collateral damage.

The alliance has been escalating and widening the scope of its strikes over the past weeks, increasing the pressure on Gadhafi, while many countries have built closer ties with the rebel movement that has control of the eastern half of Libya.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh announced Tuesday that his country has recognized the rebels’ National Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people and would soon name a permanent envoy in Benghazi.

Several other countries, including France and Italy, have recognized the rebel administration, while the United States, European Union and others have established a diplomatic presence in Benghazi.

Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said he had delivered an invitation on Obama’s behalf to the rebels to establish a representative office in Washington — a move he called “an important milestone in our relationship with the National Transitional Council.”

But while he said the United States considers the council a “legitimate and representative and credible” body, he stopped short of formal recognition due to what he called the temporary nature of the council. Council members stress that they will represent Libyans only in the period until Gadhafi can be defeated and democratic elections held.

“We are not talking to Gadhafi and his people. They are not talking to us. They have lost legitimacy,” Feltman told reporters during a visit to the de-facto rebel capital of Benghazi.

Feltman also said he expects Congress to vote soon to allow frozen regime assets in the U.S. to be used for purely humanitarian aid in Libya.

Rebel leaders welcomed the diplomatic contact, but said only better weapons will help them defeat Gadhafi.

“It is just not enough to recognize (us) and visit the liberated areas,” spokesman Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga told The Associated Press. “We have tried very hard to explain to them that we need the arms, we need funding, to be able to bring this to a successful conclusion at the earliest possible time and with the fewest humanitarian costs possible.”

Rebels now control the populated coastal strip in the country’s east and the western port city of Misrata, which Gadhafi’s forces have besieged for months. They also control pockets in Libya’s western Nafusa mountain range.

In what would be a significant new deployment of firepower, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said Monday that France and Britain will bring in attack helicopters for use in the airstrikes. However, Britain said Tuesday that it has not made any such decision.

British armed forces minister Nick Harvey told Parliament that he couldn’t comment on what the French were saying, but he insisted “that we have not taken this decision, and that we have not suggested to the French that we have taken this decision.”

Harvey left open the possibility that Britain would throw helicopters into the fight, but insisted that Britain was — as of Tuesday — merely considering its options.

The use of helicopters would mark a new strategy for NATO, which has seen Gadhafi’s forces adapt, often turning to urban fighting to make strikes by fighter planes more difficult.

Nimble, low-flying helicopters can more easily carry out precision strikes than jets, but they are also more vulnerable to ground fire. The alliance has had no military deaths since it began enforcing a no-fly zone on March 31.

___

Faul reported from Benghazi. Associated Press writer Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jordan, and Raphael G. Satter in London contributed to this report.

US, Pakistan will cooperate on high value targets

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110516/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_bin_laden

 54 mins ago

ISLAMABAD – According to a joint statement, the U.S. and Pakistan have agreed to work together in any future actions against “high value targets” in Pakistan.

The two countries made the announcement Monday following a visit by U.S. Sen. John Kerry to Islamabad. Kerry is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Relations between the two countries have been badly strained following the U.S. Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2.

U.S. officials have said they didn’t tell Pakistan about the operation before it happened, because they were worried bin Laden might be tipped off.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — U.S. Sen. John Kerry says he and Pakistani leaders have agreed on a “series of steps” to improve their nations’ fraying ties.

The senator did not specify what those steps are but he says they will “be implemented immediately in order to get this relationship back on track.”

Kerry was in Pakistan on Monday amid high tensions over the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in the South Asian country’s northwest.

Pakistan says the raid violated its sovereignty.

Kerry insists the secrecy surrounding the May 2 raid on bin Laden was crucial to assuring its success, and that he himself did not learn of it until afterward.

Int’l court to seek Libya arrest warrants

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110513/ap_on_re_eu/eu_international_court_libya

By MIKE CORDER, Associated Press Mike Corder, Associated Press 1 hr 37 mins ago

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – An international prosecutor said Friday he will seek arrest warrants next week for three top Libyan leaders on charges of murder and persecution during their attempts to crush the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, did not release the names of the suspects, but Gadhafi himself is expected to be among them.

Moreno-Ocampo revealed broad details of his investigation last week to the U.N. Security Council, but the announcement was the first time the court specified the charges — murder and persecution, considered crimes against humanity under the Geneva Conventions.

Prosecutors say their investigation has identified “three individuals who appear to bear the greatest responsibility for crimes against humanity” committed in Libya since Feb. 15, when Gadhafi’s forces began a brutal crackdown on anti-government rebels.

A panel of judges will review the prosecutor’s evidence before deciding whether to issue the warrants. It is not clear how long the judges will take before reaching a decision.

A prosecution statement charged that Libyan security forces “conducted widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population.”

The announcement came as NATO launched more airstrikes in Tripoli and Gadhafi’s protesters and soldiers engaged in gun battles in several of the capital’s neighborhoods.

On Thursday, Gadhafi’s fortified compound in the capital was among the targets hit by NATO aircraft and missiles.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Feb. 26 to refer the Libyan crisis to the international court in The Hague, and Moreno-Ocampo launched a formal investigation just days later.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Thursday said he expected the ICC to ask for Gadhafi’s arrest, which would complicate any suggestion of the Libyan leader accepting exile as a way to end the conflict in his country.

Investigators have collected “extensive and solid evidence” during 30 missions to 11 countries and have interviewed more than 50 witnesses, including “key insiders,” as well as reviewing videos, photographs and other evidence, the prosecutors’ statement said.

They hailed the court for acting in what they called “real time” to prosecute crimes, unlike the international community’s response in other deadly conflicts in the past.

“There was no ICC when the Rwanda genocide happened and the Darfur situation was referred to the ICC two years after the beginning of the crimes against the civilian population,” the statement said.

Because the case was sent to the court by the Security Council, Gadhafi will become an internationally wanted suspect if he is indicted and all United Nations member states will be under an obligation to arrest him.

However, that does not guarantee he will be detained if he ventures outside Libya. The court’s judges have reported three countries to the Security Council for allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to visit without arresting him. Al-Bashir has been indicted for crimes including genocide in Darfur in another case ordered by the Security Council.

The court has no police force of its own to arrest suspects.

Prosecutors said they also have uncovered evidence of war crimes, including rape and attacks on “sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries.”

Prosecutors said they expect more details about such crimes in a report due to be published June 7 by a U.N. Commission of Inquiry probing allegations of human rights violations during the Libyan uprising.

Gas prices expected to drop 50 cents by summer

In this May 5, 2011 photo, the price for one gallon of unleaded regular gasoline is seen on the sign outside a BP gas station in Beachwood, Ohio. Amerhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110507/ap_on_bi_ge/us_gas_prices

By CHRIS KAHN, AP Energy Writer Chris Kahn, Ap Energy Writer 2 hrs 30 mins ago

NEW YORK – Some relief from suffocating gas prices will likely arrive just in time for summer vacation. Expect a drop of nearly 50 cents as early as June, analysts say.

After rocketing up 91 cents since January, including 44 straight days of increases, the national average this past week stopped just shy of $4 a gallon and has retreated to under $3.98. A steady decline is expected to follow.

It might not be enough to evoke cheers from people who recall gas stations charging less than $3 a gallon last year. But it would still ease the burden on drivers. And it might help lift consumer spending, which powers about 70 percent of the economy. A 50-cent drop in prices would save U.S. drivers about $189 million a day.

Typically, gas prices peak each spring, then fall into a summertime swoon that can last several weeks. This year’s decline should be gradual but steady, said Fred Rozell, the retail pricing director at the Oil Price Information Service.

Some drivers might not notice much of a price drop at first, Rozell cautioned. When average gas prices fluctuate nationally, some areas are affected more than others. In cities with many service stations, for instance, prices can be slower to fall. It’s even possible prices will rise at some stations in coming days even if they decline nationally.

And after the galloping surge in prices this year, many gas station owners are reluctant to lower prices until they see their competition doing the same, Rozell said.

“It’s just the nature of the business,” he said. “They’re going to try to get the most they can.”

Station owners still feel bruised from their own higher costs earlier this year. In some cases, their suppliers raised prices so quickly that station owners couldn’t pass along those higher costs to consumers fast enough. Competition also makes it hard for some stations to raise prices.

“So station owners will be watching each other this summer,” Rozell said. “When one guy drops, so will the other.”

A drop in prices would take some pressure off struggling consumers as well as businesses. As prices soared this year, surveys showed that motorists started to drive less. MasterCard SpendingPulse said this past week that it had recorded its sixth straight week of declining gasoline consumption.

That’s a cautionary sign for the economy, because most drivers conserve fuel only after curbing spending on other discretionary items like furniture, computers and vacations.

Over the past month, gas prices have risen 36 cents a gallon in Columbus, Ohio, to $4.10. Steve Garrett has felt it. He’s scrapped a summer trip to Myrtle Beach, Fla. And the bakery distribution center where he works has begun closing sites and laying off staff to save fuel on bread and pastry shipments.

If prices fall fast enough, Garrett, 43, said he may think about another vacation in August.

“But right now, I’m still just scared about the economy,” he said. “I still might lose my job.”

This past week, a confluence of factors stemmed the rise in gasoline prices.

Oil, which is used to make gasoline, tumbled 15 percent in price. Investors who were worried about rising oil supplies and falling gasoline demand in the United States helped drive down the price. Oil prices were also responding to a rising dollar. Oil is priced in dollars. So a stronger dollar makes oil less appealing to people buying with foreign currencies.

It was the largest weekly drop for oil in two and a half years. Some analysts predict that oil will keep falling in coming weeks — from about $97 a barrel to about $80.

Many U.S. refineries also are expected to boost production after a series of unplanned shutdowns stemming from power outages and other problems. Those refineries would pump more gasoline to gas stations. And the increased supplies should push down prices.

“It’s going to be $3.50 per gallon this summer,” oil analyst Andrew Lipow said. “At the very least, you can expect prices to fall 40 cents or so over the next several months.”

Thirteen states and Washington, D.C., have recorded average prices above $4 per gallon. Prices shot up much higher than that in Hawaii, Alaska and parts of Illinois.

The run-up persuaded U.S. Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska to ask residents to post photos of local pump prices because “the rest of the country doesn’t understand” what it’s like to live with gasoline above $4.20 per gallon.

In Illinois, florist Harry Schneider said he had to cut back on shipments from his Melrose Park shop just before Mother’s Day. With Chicago-area gas prices averaging $4.45 a gallon, Schneider said he couldn’t afford to deliver some arrangements.

“I need to make enough to cover the driver’s wages, wear-and-tear on the vehicles and fuel,” Schneider said. “I keep looking at my own bottom line and wonder, `How long do I want to keep losing money?'”

In San Francisco, some top officials have traded their city-owned SUVs for more fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles. Police Chief Greg Suhr said he and his command staff would switch to Ford Fusion Hybrids. Mayor Edwin Lee opted for the Fusion sedan, which gets an average mileage of 39 miles per gallon.

Elsewhere, some hotel chains are starting to offer discounts to help offset higher gasoline costs.

Those changes may need to stay in place for a while. Even if oil falls steeply in coming months, analysts note that world demand continues to rise. Lipow predicts that oil could return to about $110 a barrel by year’s end.

If that happens, and if any major hurricanes this year disrupt refining operations later this year, expect gasoline prices to once again flirt with $4 a gallon.

“It all depends on the weather,” Rozell said. “Trying to predict anything beyond 30 days is witchcraft.

___

Associated Press Writers Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Tammy Webber in Chicago and Robin Hindery in San Francisco contributed to this report.

UN Calls for Cease-Fire in Libya

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/north/UN-Calls-for-Cease-Fire-in-Libya-120054294.html

The United Nations is calling for an immediate cease-fire in Libya as recent heavy fighting left more than a dozen dead in the western part of the country.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his top humanitarian envoy Valerie Amos expressed deep concern over the magnitude of the conflict as well as its toll on civilians.

Shelling and sniper fire by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi killed 17 people in the western city of Misrata Sunday, while rocket and artillery attacks on the eastern town of Ajdabiya sent rebel fighters and civilians fleeing.

In Misrata, at least 47 people also were wounded in the fighting, during which Gadhafi’s forces fired on a makeshift trauma center.

The city has been under government siege for the last seven weeks, leading to a growing humanitarian crisis.

U.N. and Libyan officials say they reached an an agreement Sunday to allow aid workers safe passage to Misrata. Ban says the world body, which is already providing aid in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, will also set up a humanitarian presence in the capital, Tripoli.

Sunday marked one month since the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution authorizing an international air campaign to protect civilians in Libya. In London, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain will not send occupying ground forces into the North African country.

The NATO alliance has carried out airstrikes against loyalist forces in Libya to enforce the U.N.-authorized “no fly” zone protecting civilians from attack by Gadhafi’s troops.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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