The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has warned that the widespread attacks against protesters in Libya amounts to crimes against humanity. Witnesses in Tripoli have reported Libyan fighter jets and helicopter gunships have been used to attack protesters who are calling for an end to Muammar Gaddafi’s four-decade rule. At least 300 people have reportedly died in recent days, and tens of thousands of foreigners are attempting to flee the country. Gaddafi briefly appeared on state television Monday to say he is still in Libya; however, his grip on the country appears to be weakening. Opposition forces now control the eastern part of Libya, and numerous Libyan diplomats and soldiers have defected and voiced support for the opposition.
Libyan Ambassador Accuses Gaddafi of Genocide
In New York City, Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, accused Gaddafi of committing genocide.
Ibrahim Dabbashi, deputy ambassador to the United Nations: “No, we are not with Gaddafi, we have never been with Gaddafi. We are with the people, and we just made a statement to ask the international community to intervene to do something to help the Libyan people, who is facing genocide now in Tripoli. And he has been facing also crimes against humanity in all the eastern cities of Libya.”
Obama Administration Criticized Over Response to Libyan Violence
Many Libyan-American activists have criticized the Obama administration for its minimal response to the bloody crackdown on protests by the Libyan government. President Obama last mentioned Libya on Friday. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not said anything publicly but issued a statement Monday calling for a halt to the “unacceptable bloodshed.”
U.S., Europe and Libya Relationship Strengthened through Corporate, Military Ties
In recent years, Libya has strengthened its ties to the United States and many European nations. Two years ago, the U.S. firm General Dynamics signed a $165 million contract to arm the Libyan Armed Forces’ elite second brigade. Halliburton, Shell, Raytheon, Dow Chemical and Chevron are all members of the U.S.-Libya Business Association. And in 2009, it was revealed that British forces were training Libyan special forces in counterterrorism techniques.
Libya: Human Rights Watch Appeals to International Community for Response
Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch called on the international community to respond to the mass killings.
Human Rights Watch spokesperson, Reed Brody: ‘’We would like to see friends of Libya, the African Union, the European Union, make clear that this violence against unarmed protesters has to stop, that these are crimes that are being committed and that those who commit them could be brought to justice. We would like to see a total cutoff of military and security aid to Libya and demand that Libya restore the internet and allow journalists and human rights groups in to see what is really happening.’’
Egypt’s public prosecutor has requested the freezing of all foreign assets held by former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his family.
Bahrain Releases Prisoners Amid Protests
The King of Bahrain has ordered the release of some political prisoners following a week of pro-democracy protests in the Gulf nation.
Iran: Son of Opposition Leader Detained
Iranian authorities have detained the son of opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi.
Wisconsin Protests Continue as Governor Refuses Negotiation over Anti-Worker Bill
In Wisconsin, massive public protests continue against Republican Governor Scott Walker’s plan to strip most public workers of collective bargaining rights. On Monday, Walker again refused to negotiate over the bill.
Billionaire Koch Brothers Helped Fund Wisconsin Governor Walker
More information has come to light about the close ties between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who helped bankroll the Tea Party movement. According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Koch Industries funneled $43,000 to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign, making it one of Walker’s biggest contributors. In addition, Koch Industries gave more than $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which played a key role in the Wisconsin race. Since taking office, Walker has been in close contact with Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-funded organization. The head of the organization, Tim Phillips, told the New York Times that his group had worked behind the scenes to try to encourage a union showdown in Wisconsin.
American Detained in Pakistan is a CIA Operative Linked to Blackwater
U.S. officials have admitted an American detained in Pakistan for allegedly murdering two men was a CIA agent and a former employee of the private security firm Blackwater. Up until Monday, the Obama administration had insisted Raymond Davis was a diplomat who had acted in self-defense.
President Barack Obama: “With respect to Mr. Davis, our diplomat in Pakistan, we’ve got a very simple principle here that every country in the world that is party to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations has upheld in the past and should uphold in the future, and that is, if our diplomats are in another country, then they are not subject to that country’s local prosecution.”
U.S. News Outlets Knew about CIA Links, Kept Quiet at Government Request
The Guardian newspaper of London first reported Raymond Davis’s CIA link on Sunday and added that many U.S. news outlets knew about his ties to the CIA but did not report on it at the request of the U.S. government. On Monday, the New York Times and the Washington Post confirmed the CIA link and admitted to withholding the story. Dave Lindorff is an investigative reporter who has been closely following the story. He is an editor at the site ThisCantBeHappening.Net.
Dave Lindorff: “The rather amazing thing about this story with Raymond Davis is how the New York Times and some other American news organizations hid this from the American public. They actually knew that Davis was working for the CIA even as the President at a press conference was saying that he was a diplomat, and they allowed that lie to get printed, for instance, in the New York Times without a correction, which is worse than hiding the information: it’s actually allowing the President to lie.”
Arrest Inflames U.S.-Pakistan Tensions
The arrest of Raymond Davis has set off a diplomatic crisis between the United States and Pakistan and has provided the world a glimpse of the secret U.S. war in Pakistan. Pakistani authorities claim Davis acted with excessive force in shooting the men 10 times from both inside and outside of his car. One of the victims was shot in the back as he fled. Upon his arrest, Davis was found in possession surveillance equipment, large amounts of ammunition and a camera that included photos of madrassas and prohibited installations along the border of India.
Tension is rising between U.S. and Afghan officials after reports that 64 Afghan civilians may have been killed in NATO attacks last week. The Washington Post reports that U.S. Gen. David H. Petraeus suggested Sunday in a closed meeting that pro-Taliban Afghans might have burned their own children or invented stories to exaggerate claims of civilian casualties. Afghan officials present at the meeting were said to have been shocked by Petraeus’s comment. One Afghan official said, “Killing 60 people, and then blaming the killing on those same people, rather than apologizing for any deaths? This is inhuman.”
Gulf Researchers Discover Dead Dolphins, Oil on Sea Floor
Researchers in the Gulf of Mexico have found dead baby dolphins are washing up along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines at 10 times the normal rate. The Sun Herald newspaper in Mississippi reports that 17 young dolphins have been collected along the shorelines so far this year, the first birthing season for dolphins since the massive BP oil spill. Deaths in the adult dolphin population have also risen sharply over the past nine months. Meanwhile, a top marine scientist, Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia, has revealed that large amounts of the oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the sea floor bottom in the Gulf of Mexico, decimating life on parts of the sea floor.
Detroit to Close Half of Public Schools, Privatize Services
The state of Michigan has ordered Detroit to close half of its public schools by 2013 and to increase class size in high schools to more than 60 students. The state claims the moves are needed to eliminate a $327 million deficit. In related news, Detroit has announced it plans to privatize maintenance services at the schools by hiring the company Sodexo.
Republican Funding Cuts Threaten Rural TV and Radio Stations
In media news, small television and radio stations serving rural areas are expected to be hardest hit if Republicans succeed in eliminating federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. On Saturday, the House of Representatives approved budget legislation that would slash about $430 million in funding for the CPB. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, CPB funding makes up as much as 45 percent of the budget of some rural public radio and TV stations in California. For some stations broadcasting on Native American reservations or broadcasting in Spanish to farm workers, their federal subsidy is often at least half of their budget.
Chicago Set to Vote for New Mayor
Voters in Chicago head to the polls today to pick a replacement to succeed the retiring Mayor Richard Daley. Candidates include President Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, former U.S. senator Carol Moseley Braun, former Chicago schools president Gery Chico, and City Clerk Miguel del Valle. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held in six weeks.
New Zealand Earthquake Kills 65
In New Zealand, at least 65 people have died after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the city of Christchurch. The quake was so strong that 30 million tons of ice broke loose from New Zealand’s Tasman Glacier after the quake.
John Key, New Zealand Prime Minister: “I don’t think we can go past the fact that we may well be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day. The advice I’ve had at the moment, I think viewers will understand and appreciate that it’s very fluid advice at the moment, but the death toll I have at the moment is 65, and that may rise. So, look, it’s an absolute tragedy for this city, for New Zealand, for the people we care so much about. And it’s a terrifying time for the people