Tag Archives: United States

71 victims makes the Colorado theater shooting largest in U.S. history

I feel I need to get something off of my chest. This is tragic in many ways. 12 people are dead, countless others are hurt and to state that this is senseless is not enough.I don’t understand how each year a new and much bigger killing spree occurs. It’s as if there is a conscious effort to outdo its predecessor.

This reality is truly frightening.

Since this event is fairly recent, speculations are going to come forth as to why this happened and how can we prevent it from happening again. It is on this matter that I felt compelled to share my opinion. I just watched a vlog on youtube, where this gentleman expressed his love for the right to bare arms, and that it is everyone’s responsibility to protect themselves. He was zealous especially with regards to those that have a family, himself included. He went on to say that the shooter, James Holmes, was probably not loved and there in ‘lies’ the reason why he felt the need to commit such an atrocity.

I replied to his post and explained that he was being dismissive, that we don’t know why this happened and the circumstances which drove James to do what he did. I went on to point out that he needed to take a closer look at the culture that he has grown up in.

America is at the fore front of many global conflicts. If they do not start the wars, they are usually there to lend a ‘helping’ hand. Is it just me, or does anyone else see this correlation? If a society breathes and sleeps violence as a means to solve problems, why wouldn’t its citizens feel justified in employing similar methods?

I just don’t feel like seeing a bunch of analysts and so-called professionals,who have nothing credible to say, pointing fingers at the same old things, music, video games and movies.

My prayers and my thoughts will be with those that have been pained and wronged in all of this. I hope for once, a real discussion is had and a new and true solution is found.

Cheers,

Luis


Israel Iran War

Israel asks U.S. for arms that could aid Iran strike

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel has asked the United States for advanced “bunker-buster” bombs and refueling planes that could improve its ability to attack Iran’s underground nuclear sites, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

“Such a request was made” around the time of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s visit to Washington this week, the official said, confirming media reports.

But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue, played down as “unrealistic” reports that the United States would condition supplying the hardware on Israel promising not to attack Iran this year.

Netanyahu told Obama at a White House meeting on Monday that Israel had not yet decided on military action against Iran, sources close to the talks said.

Netanyahu has hinted that Israel could resort to force should Tehran – which denies suspicions that it is covertly trying to develop atomic bombs – continue to defy big powers’ diplomatic pressure to curb its nuclear program.

The risk of an Israeli-Iranian war troubles President Barack Obama, who is up for re-election in November and has cautioned against kindling more Middle East upheaval. A Gulf conflict could send oil prices rocketing upwards.

A front-page article in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv on Thursday said Obama had told Netanyahu that Washington would supply Israel with upgraded military equipment in return for assurances that there would be no attack on Iran in 2012.

Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal but its conventional firepower may not be enough to deliver lasting damage to Iran’s distant, dispersed and well-fortified facilities, many experts say.

Israel has limited stocks of older, smaller bunker-busters and a small fleet of refueling planes, all supplied by Washington.

Western powers suspect Iran’s uranium enrichment program is aimed at stockpiling fissile material for nuclear weapons. Iran says it is strictly for civilian energy uses.

http://news.yahoo.com/israel-asks-u-arms-could-aid-iran-strike-091024021.html

 


United Nations, Iran and the Atomic Bomb

Top U.N. inspectors in Iran talks on atom bomb accusations

By Parisa Hafezi | Reuters

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Senior U.N. inspectors arrived in Iran on Monday to push for transparency about its disputed nuclear program and several European states halted purchases of Iranian oil as part of Western moves to pile pressure on a defiant Tehran.

Iran denies Western accusations that it is covertly seeking the means to build nuclear weapons and has again vowed no nuclear retreat in recent weeks, but also voiced willingness to resume negotiations with world powers without preconditions.

The five-member International Atomic Energy Agency team, led by chief IAEA inspector Herman Nackaerts, planned two days of meetings in another attempt to get answers from Iran regarding intelligence suggesting its declared civilian nuclear energy program is a facade for researching ways to make atom bombs.

Nackaerts said on departure from Vienna that he wanted “concrete results” from the talks. His delegation was expected to seek, among other things, to question Iranian nuclear scientists and visit the Parchin military base believed to have been used for high-explosive tests relevant to nuclear warheads.

But Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi dampened speculation about increased IAEA access when he told the student news agency ISNA that the agency officials would not be going to any nuclear sites. “No. Their work has just begun,” Salehi said.

DIPLOMATIC IMPACT

Diplomats doubted that the talks would bring a breakthrough.

“I believe most are rather skeptical concerning the outcome because, well, Iran had a chance at the last meeting and didn’t seize it,” a senior Western official said, referring to the last trip by the senior IAEA team to Tehran at the end of January.

Referring to last week’s announcements by Iran of new nuclear advances, he said: “They send out the wrong signals that Iran is really willing to cooperate… We will wait and see what will come out of this meeting but we should be prepared that Iran might try some technical steps … to appear cooperative without really providing the necessary cooperation.”

The outcome of the discussions will have diplomatic repercussions because it could either deepen a stand-off that has stoked fears of war or provide scope to reduce tensions.

In a sign of Iranian concern about possible, last-resort air strikes by arch-enemies Israel or the United States, Tehran on Monday began a four-day military exercise in protecting its nuclear sites, according to Iranian media.

“(It) will practice coordination between the Revolutionary Guards and regular army and air defense units in establishing a defense umbrella over our vital centers, particularly nuclear facilities,” the labor news agency ILNA said.

The European Union enraged Tehran last month when it decided to slap a boycott on its oil from July 1. On Monday, the European Commission said Belgium, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands had already stopped buying Iranian oil, while Greece, Spain and Italy were cutting back on their purchases.

In retaliation for oil sanctions, Iran, the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter, has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, conduit for a third of the world’s seaborne oil, and the United States signaled it would use force to keep it open.

On Sunday, Iran’s oil ministry announced a retaliatory halt in oil sales to French and British companies, although that step will be largely symbolic as those firms had already greatly reduced purchases of Iranian crude.

The spiking tension over Iran’s nuclear activity, which Iranian officials say is solely for electricity generation, has put upward pressure on oil prices.

Deputy Oil Minister Ahmad Qalebani suggested the Western crackdown would backfire, saying that in targeting Iranian oil the West had achieved only a surge in crude prices from $103 a barrel to $120, “and it will reach $150”.

In remarks carried by the official news agency IRNA on Monday, Qalebani also said that if other EU states continued “their hostile behavior towards Iran, we will cut our oil exports to those countries … Fortunately demand for Iran’s crude has not decreased. Instead it has increased.”

But the EU could cope with an abrupt halt by Iran of its oil exports as buyers of Iranian oil are already adjusting to the EU’s forthcoming ban on Iranian shipments, an International Energy Agency (IEA) official said on Monday.

China, in rare criticism of one of its major oil suppliers, rebuked Iran over the move to bar sales to Britain and France.

“We have consistently upheld dialogue and negotiation as the way to resolve disputes between countries, and do not approve of exerting pressure or using confrontation to resolve issues,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a news briefing when asked about the matter.

China buys around 20 percent of total Iranian oil exports.

Debt-ridden Greece is most exposed to Iranian crude disruption among EU countries. [ID:nL5E8DJ088]

MILITARY ACTION?

Iran says its nuclear program is wholly peaceful but its refusal to curb uranium enrichment, which can have both civilian and military ends, while shifting a key part of it to a remote mountain bunker protected from air strikes and continuing to restrict IAEA access, has raised suspicions. [ID:nL5E8D33E6]

The United States and Israel have not ruled out using force against Iran if diplomacy and sanctions fail to rein it in, and there has been intense public discussion in Israel about whether it should attack Iran to stop it “weaponizing” enrichment.

The top U.S. military officer said on Sunday that a military strike would be premature as it remained unclear whether Tehran would put its nuclear capabilities to developing a bomb, saying he believed the Tehran government was a “rational actor”. [ID:nL2E8DJ0IG]

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong said using force would be the wrong answer. “Attacking Iran militarily would only worsen the confrontation and lead to further upheaval in the region,” he said.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who also holds the intelligence portfolio, said the sanctions regime had been toughened to the point of causing “hysteria” in Iran.

“All this shows the pressure which this regime is under, but they have not yet decided to shut down their nuclear effort, so the struggle is on,” Meridor told reporters in Jerusalem. “I think there is a chance of success (for sanctions) if it they are done with determination, persistence and leadership.”

The West has expressed some optimism at the prospect of new talks with Tehran, particularly after it sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last week promising to bring “new initiatives” to the table with six world powers without stating preconditions. [ID:nL2E8DH6UT]

“In these negotiations, we are looking for a way out of Iran’s current nuclear issue so that both sides win,” Iranian TV quoted Foreign Minister Salehi as saying on Sunday. The last round of talks collapsed in January last year.

Oil is a pillar part of Iran’s export revenues and an important lifeline for its increasingly isolated economy. Tehran has little refining capacity and must import about 40 percent of its gasoline needs for domestic consumption.

Tighter sanctions, combined with high inflation, have squeezed the ability of working-class Iranians to feed themselves and their families, and this uncertainty will cloud a parliamentary election on March 2.

“Everything’s become so expensive in the past few weeks,” said Marjan Hamidi, a shopper in Tehran. “But my husband’s income stays the same. How am I going to live like this?”

(Additional reporting by Ramin Mostafavi in Tehran, Susan Cornwell in Washington, Fredrik Dahl in Vienna and Crispian Balmer in Jerusalem; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/iran-halts-oil-sales-uk-france-eve-talks-030432361.html


Obama kills Osama

Obama: US operation killed al-Qaida head bin Laden; US in possession of body

By Julie Pace,Matt Apuzzo, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – Osama bin Laden, the elusive mastermind behind the deadly Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that led the United States into wars in Afghanistan and later Iraq, was killed in a firefight, President Barack Obama said Sunday.

Bin Laden’s death at a compound in Pakistan ended the world’s most widely-watched manhunt, and jubilant crowds gathered outside the White House and at ground zero in New York as word spread late at night.

“Justice has been done,” the president said.

A small team of Americans killed bin Laden early Sunday in the town of Abbottabat, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of the capital Islamabad, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. The team took custody of his remains and American officials said they were being handled in accordance with Islamic tradition.

The stunning end came just months before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon, orchestrated by bin Laden’s al-Qaida organization, that killed more than 3,000 people.

Former President George W. Bush, who was in office on the day of the attacks, issued a written statement hailing bin Laden’s death as a momentous achievement.

“The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done,” Bush said.

Obama said he ordered the operation after receiving undisclosed intelligence information. Senior administration officials said the terrorist mastermind was found inside a custom-built compound with two security gates. They said it appeared to have been constructed to harbour one high-value target and that for undisclosed reasons, officials became clear the hideout was bin Laden’s.

The raid occurred in the early morning hours Sunday. Administration officials offered some details of the operation.

Based on statements given by U.S. detainees, intelligence officials have known for years that bin Laden trusted one al-Qaida courier in particular and they believed he might be living with him in hiding. In November, intelligence officials found out where he was living, a huge fortified compound. It was surrounded by walls as high as 18 feet (5.5 metres), topped with barbed wire. There were two security gates and no phone or Internet running into the house.

Intelligence officials believed the $1 million home was custom-built to harbour a major terrorist. CIA experts analyzed whether it could be anyone else, but time and again, they decided it was almost certainly bin Laden.

Three adult males were also killed in Sunday’s raid, including one of bin Laden’s sons, whom officials did not name. One of bin Laden’s sons, Hamza, is a senior member of al-Qaida.

Officials also said they believe the death puts al-Qaida on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse, but there was no word on the whereabouts of bin Laden’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri.

The attacks a decade ago seemed to come out of nowhere, even though al-Qaida had previously damaged American targets overseas.

The terrorists hijacked planes, flew one of them into one of Manhattan’s Twin Towers — and, moments later, into the other one. Both buildings collapsed, trapping thousands inside and claiming the lives of firefighters and others who had rushed to help them.

A third plane slammed into the Pentagon, defacing the symbol of America’s military might. A fourth crashed in rural Pennsylvania after passengers overpowered the hijackers and forced the craft from the air — before it could hit its intended target in Washington.

Obama spoke with Bush and former President Bill Clinton on Sunday night to inform them of the developments.

Obama struck a less than boastful tone in his brief announcement, although he said the death of bin Laden was “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaida.

“His death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al-Qaida will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant,” he added.

Moments after he spoke, American officials cautioned that the events could lead to heightened threats against the United States.

Officials said the U.S. would ensure that bin Laden’s body was handled in accordance with Islamic tradition.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/source-al-qaida-head-bin-laden-dead-us-025557590.html


Osama Bin Laden DEAD

Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden dead: U.S. officials

By Steve Holland, editing by Philip Barbara | Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Osama bin Laden is dead and his body has been recovered by U.S. authorities, U.S. officials said on Sunday night.

President Barack Obama was to make the announcement shortly that after searching in vain for bin Laden since he disappeared inAfghanistan in late 2001, the Saudi-born extremist is dead.

It is a major accomplishment for Obama and his national security team, having fulfilled the goal once voiced by Obama’s predecessor,George W. Bush, to bring to justice the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/obama-statement-sunday-white-house-says-015437966.html


France eyes new military targets in Libya

By Elizabeth Pineau and Catherine Bremer | Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) – France is pushing for NATO approval to extend military strikes on Muammar Gaddafi‘s army to strategic logistical targets, to try to break a deadlock in Libya‘s civil war as the civilian death toll mounts.

The push comes as France and Britain, which are leading the campaign in Libya, struggle to get coalition partners to step up participation or contribute more hardware, despite pleas from rebels that civilians are dying in the besieged city of Misrata.

The United States and European NATO allies rebuffed French and British calls on Thursday to contribute more actively to ground strikes in Libya, and military sources say neither Paris nor London plan to deploy any extra aircraft.

France used military helicopters to fire on armored vehicles in its recent intervention in Ivory Coast, which sped up the ouster of former president Laurent Gbagbo.

But it has made no move to deploy them in Libya, where they would make easy targets for Gaddafi’s army.

France’s two amphibious assault helicopter carriers are currently on base in the port of Toulon and in the Indian Ocean, the Navy says.

While the focus will remain on air strikes from fighter jets, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said on Friday their target should move from Gaddafi’s military bases to logistics and decision centres.

Longuet told LCI television strikes should now focus on “military decision centres in Libya or on logistics depots which today are being spared.” A French military source said the next step was to try and get an agreement on this.

“We have already hit military targets. We want to hit more and more strategic targets,” the source said. “We have hit quite a few tanks and planes, we can continue on other targets. The idea is to weaken Gaddafi by hitting harder and harder … to strike where it hurts most but avoiding collateral damage.”

“Now we need the coalition countries to agree on other targets,” the source added.

STRIKE ASSETS

NATO forces have around 195 aircraft, including fighter jets and refueling tankers, at their disposal for Libya operations, around half of which have been supplied by France and Britain.

France has roughly 50 combat planes deployed in the operation, based at its Solenzara air base in Corsica and on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean.

Officials say seven of the 28 NATO countries — Britain, France, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the United States — have been taking part in air strikes. Others are enforcing the no-fly zone without bombing or supporting it in other ways.

Douglas Barrie, a military aviation expert at London’s International Institute for Security Studies, said attack helicopters and armed unmanned aircraft, or drones, could be of use in Libya.

“The trouble is, most available drones are being used in Afghanistan and attack helicopters would be a potential escalation as they are vulnerable to ground fire from small arms and MANPADS (man portable air defense systems),” he said.

The French military source said France did not need to bring in more aircraft as the planes and missiles it has to hand would be adequate for small logistical targets. A British Ministry of Defense source said Britain did not plan to add planes.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain was talking to other countries about providing more strike aircraft.

“Certainly we are making a bit of progress on that and so I’m hopeful there will be more strike assets made available to NATO,” he said.

Longuet said targeting strategic military sites could avoid the coalition having to take the decision to arm the rebels.

“Our goal is not to organize a front, it’s that Gaddafi’s troops go back to their barracks,” he said.

A member of the opposition transition council told Reuters on Thursday the West must ramp up its operations and consider arming the rebels or sending in troops to fight Gaddafi’s forces.

Suliman Fortea said during a brief visit to Paris that arms were getting through to the rebels, and defectors from Gaddafi’s army were training them but more help was needed.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/france-eyes-military-targets-libya-20110415-094723-463.html


Western strike hits Gaddafi compound

By Maria Golovnina and Michael Georgy | Reuters

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Western forces launched a second wave of air strikes on Libya overnight and officials in Tripoli said a missile intended to kill Muammar Gaddafi had destroyed a building in his fortified compound.

“It was a barbaric bombing,” said government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim, showing pieces of shrapnel that he said came from the missile. “This contradicts American and Western (statements) … that it is not their target to attack this place.”

There was no comment on the strike from attacking forces.

The first air strikes on Saturday halted the advance of Gaddafi’s forces on the rebel-held eastern city of Benghazi and had targeted Libya’s air defences in order to let Western warplanes patrol the skies of this oil-producing north African desert state.

The second wave of Western air strikes also hit Gaddafi’s troops around Ajdabiyah, a strategic town in the barren, scrub of east Libya that rebels aim to retake and where their fighters said they need more help to take the fight to the enemy.

“If we don’t get more help from the West, Gaddafi’s forces will eat us alive,” rebel fighter Nouh Musmari told Reuters.

The U.N.-mandated intervention to protect civilians caught up in a one-month-old revolt against Gaddafi drew criticism from Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who questioned the need for a heavy bombardment, which he said had killed many civilians.

Moussa said on Monday however that the League respected the U.N. resolution while stressing a need to protect civilians.

The United States, carrying out the air strikes in a coalition with Britain, France, Italy and Canada among others, said the campaign was working and dismissed a ceasefire announcement by the Libyan military on Sunday evening.

STRIKES “FOR A LITTLE WHILE”

Henri Guaino, one of French President Nicolas Sarkozy‘s closest aides, said the strikes were not aimed at ousting the autocrat who has ruled Libya for 41 years but told RMC radio that they were likely to last “a little while”.

Britain’s Defence Ministry said one of its submarines had again fired Tomahawk cruise missiles as part of a second wave of attacks to enforce the U.N. resolution but that one air force mission was called off because of civilians in the target area.

“As the RAF GR4 Tornados approached the target, further information came to light … As a result the decision was taken not to launch weapons,” a ministry spokesman said, adding this underlined the British commitment to protecting civilians.

The Libyan government urged people in towns, cities and tribes to join a march from Tripoli to Benghazi “so we could exchange condolences, … announce forgiveness … and then we could sit down as one family …”

The intervention in Libya is the biggest against an Arab country since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Withdrawal of Arab support would make it much harder to pursue what some defence analysts say could in any case be a difficult, open-ended campaign with an uncertain outcome.

Asked about Moussa’s concerns about the conduct of the campaign, Michele Flournoy, Under Secretary at the U.S. Department for Defense, told the BBC:

“I think that may be the case that people don’t understand the military dimensions of what was required to establish the no-fly zone but I can tell you that we continue to have … statements of support from a number of Arab countries.”

Italy said it had warplanes in the air, after U.S. and British warships and submarines launched 110 Tomahawk missiles on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, director of the U.S. military’s Joint Staff, told reporters there had been no new Libyan air activity or radar emissions, but a significant decrease in Libyan air surveillance, since strikes began Saturday.

BENGHAZI NOT FREE FROM THREAT

Benghazi was not yet free from threat, said Gortney, but Gaddafi forces in the area were in distress and “suffering from isolation and confusion” after the air assaults.

Late on Sunday night, Libyan officials took Western reporters to Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli, a sprawling complex that houses his private quarters as well as military barracks, anti-aircraft batteries and other installations, to see what they said was the site of a missile attack two hours earlier.

A short walk from a brightly lit tent where Gaddafi receives his guests, the three-storey building stood in ruins, and a circular hole was visible on its gutted facade. The United States says it does not have Gaddafi on its target list.

A Libyan military spokesman announced a new ceasefire on Sunday, saying that “the Libyan armed forces … have issued a command to all military units to safeguard an immediate ceasefire from 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) this evening”.

Both before and after he spoke, heavy anti-aircraft gunfire boomed above central Tripoli.

Outside Benghazi, smouldering, shattered tanks and troop carriers from what had been Gaddafi’s advancing forces littered the main road. The charred bodies of at least 14 government soldiers lay scattered in the desert.

But with Gaddafi having vowed to fight to the death, there were fears his troops might try to force their way into cities, seeking shelter from air attacks among the civilian population.

In central Benghazi, sporadic explosions and heavy exchanges of gunfire could be heard in the streets late on Sunday evening. A Reuters witness said the firing lasted about 40 minutes.

In Misrata, the last rebel-held city in western Libya, a rebel spokesman said pro-Gaddafi forces were bringing in civilians from nearby towns to use as human shields and that those forces killed seven people there on Sunday.

Residents said water supplies were cut off and Libyan troops had encircled the town.

A Libyan government health official said 64 people were killed by Western bombardment on Saturday and Sunday, but it was impossible to verify the report independently.

ARAB SUPPORT CRUCIAL

Arab support for a no-fly zone provided crucial underpinning for the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution last week that paved the way for Western action to stop Gaddafi killing civilians as he fights an uprising against his 41-year rule.

The U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said the no-fly zone was now in place.

But Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States would not have a “pre-eminent role” in maintaining it, and expected to turn over “primary responsibility” within days, perhaps to Britain or France.

U.S. officials, eager to avoid similarities to the invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein, have been playing down Washington’s role and emphasising that overthrowing or killing Gaddafi is not the goal of the attacks on Libya.

Mullen told CBS television the endgame of the campaign was “very uncertain” and acknowledged it could end in a stalemate.

Gates told reporters: “I think this is basically going to have to be resolved by the Libyans themselves.”

In Brussels, NATO envoys failed to agree on any alliance involvement in enforcing the no-fly zone.

NATO members Turkey and Germany have spoken out against the zone, and diplomats said France had argued against involvement by an alliance whose reputation in the Arab world had been tainted by its involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

French planes fired the first shots of the intervention on Saturday, destroying tanks and armoured vehicles near Benghazi.

France sent an aircraft carrier towards Libya and its planes were over the country again on Sunday, defence officials said. Britain said its planes had targeted Libya’s air defences, mainly around the capital Tripoli.

Other countries, including Qatar, also dispatched aircraft to participate in the operation, U.S. officials said.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/western-powers-strike-libya-second-night-20110320-192228-749.html

 

 


Libya declares new ceasefire amid fresh Western attacks

By Imed Lamloum | AFP News

Explosions rocked Tripoli as Western forces staged fresh air strikes to halt Moamer Kadhafi‘s attacks on civilians, with one raid flattening a building in the strongman’s heavily-fortified residence.

As warplanes took off from Italian bases and anti-aircraft guns roared in the Libyan capital, Kadhafi’s army announced a new ceasefire Sunday, saying it was heeding an African Union call for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

But the United States accused Tripoli of lying about the ceasefire or breaching it immediately.

And United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a swift reaction: “I sincerely hope and urge the Libyan authorities to keep their word.

“They have been continuing to attack the civilian population. This (offer) has to be verified and tested,” he said.

An administrative building in Kadhafi’s residential complex in Tripoli was flattened, an AFP journalist saw. The compound is surrounded by anti-aircraft guns.

The building is about about 50 metres (165 feet) from the tent where Kadhafi generally meets guests. It was hit by a missile, Libyan spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told journalists, who were taken to the site by bus.

“This was a barbaric bombing which could have hit hundreds of civilians gathered at the residence of Moamer Kadhafi about 400 metres away from the building which was hit,” Ibrahim said.

He denounced the “contradictions in Western discourses”, saying: “Western countries say they want to protect civilians while they bomb the residence knowing there are civilians inside.”

But the US denied targeting the residence or Kadhafi himself.

“I can guarantee he’s not on the targeting list. We’re not targeting his residence,” vice admiral Bill Gortney told reporters at a Pentagon press conference.

However, the strike destroyed the Libyan leader’s “command and control capability,” a coalition official told AFP Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The coalition is actively enforcing UNSCR (UN Security Council Resolution) 1973, and that in keeping with that mission, we continue to strike those targets which pose a direct threat to the Libyan people and to our ability to implement the no-fly zone,” the official said.

Kadhafi’s regime had declared a ceasefire on Friday after UN Security Council resolution 1973 authorised any necessary measures, including a no-fly zone, to stop his forces harming civilians in the fight against the rebels.

But his troops continued attacking the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, sparking action by US, British and French forces from Saturday in line with the resolution.

In the West’s biggest intervention in the Arab world since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, US warships and a British submarine fired more than 120 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya late on Saturday, US military officials said.

The first round of strikes by aircraft and cruise missiles prompted a defiant Kadhafi to warn of a long war in the Mediterranean “battlefield”.

Tripoli reported dozens of deaths, but Pentagon spokesman Gortney said: “There is no indication of any civilian casualties.”

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday the United States would not play a “preeminent role” in military action against Libya, with other countries soon taking the lead.

British forces on Sunday took part in a “co-ordinated strike against Libyan air defence systems” for a second straight day, the defence ministry said.

“For a second time, the UK has launched guided Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) from a Trafalgar Class submarine in the Mediterranean as part of a coordinated coalition plan to enforce the (UN) resolution,” a statement said.

London said the first day of air and sea strikes had been “very successful”.

Meanwhile, the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle sailed from Toulon on the 48-hour voyage to Libyan waters.

The US military said the first stage of coalition raids had been “successful”, with Kadhafi’s offensive on Benghazi stopped in its tracks.

Gortney told reporters the strikes had succeeded in “significantly degrading” Libyan air defences, and a no-fly zone was now effectively in place over the country.

Earlier, dissenting voices in the wake of the first raids in Operation Odyssey Dawn became apparent, including from the Arab League which had backed the no-fly zone.

“What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone and what we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians,” League Secretary General Amr Mussa told reporters.

“From the start we requested only that a no-fly zone be set up to protect Libyan civilians and avert any other developments or additional measures.”

Mussa said preparations were now under way for an emergency meeting of the 22-member Arab League.

Russia, which abstained in Thursday’s Security Council vote instead of using its veto, called for an end to “indiscriminate use of force” by the coalition, citing the casualties reported by Tripoli of 48 dead and 150 wounded.

China, another abstainer, expressed regret at the air strikes, saying it opposed using force in international relations.

Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said the raids had included attacks on non-military targets, and had damaged roads, bridges and a cardiology centre.

Gortney said the cruise missiles “struck more than 20 integrated air defence systems and other air defence facilities ashore”.

They were followed by strikes by manned aircraft including B-2 Stealth bombers which dropped 40 bombs on a Libyan military airfield, US officials said.

As Tripoli awaited new attacks, AFP journalists saw residents who had fled Benghazi returning to the rebel capital in eastern Libya.

Medics in Benghazi said that 85 civilians and rebels were killed in fighting with Kadhafi’s forces on Friday and Saturday, while AFP correspondents counted nine bodies of Kadhafi loyalists in a hospital.

AFP correspondents and rebels said dozens of government military vehicles, including tanks, were destroyed on Sunday in air strikes west of the city.

According to the rebels, French warplanes — which began the coalition operation with a strike at 1645 GMT on Saturday — strafed government forces for two hours as day broke on Sunday.

The French spokesman said Paris had deployed 15 aircraft with air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities.

A furious Kadhafi said on Sunday that all Libyans were armed and ready to fight until victory against what he branded “barbaric aggression”.

“We promise you a long, drawn-out war with no limits,” he said, speaking on state television for a second straight day without appearing on camera.

The leaders of Britain, France and the United States will “fall like Hitler… Mussolini,” warned the strongman of oil-rich Libya.

“America, France, or Britain, the Christians that are in a pact against us today, they will not enjoy our oil,” he said. “We do not have to retreat from the battlefield because we are defending our land and our dignity.”

US President Barack Obama called Odyssey Dawn a “limited military action,” unlike the regime change aims of the war against Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

He pledged no US troops would be deployed on the ground.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/libya-declares-ceasefire-amid-fresh-western-attacks-20110320-230530-514.html

 


US and UK vessels launch missile strike against Gadhafi’s limited air defences in Libya

By Robert Burns, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – U.S. and British ships and submarines launched the first phase of a missile assault on Libyan air defences, firing 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles Saturday at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the way for air patrols to ground Libya‘s air force.

In announcing the mission during a visit to Brazil, President Barack Obama said he was reluctant to resort to force but was convinced it was necessary to save the lives of civilians. He reiterated that he would not send American ground troops to Libya.

“We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy,” he said in Brasilia.

It was clear the U.S. intended to limit its role in the Libya intervention, focusing first on disabling or otherwise silencing Libyan air defences, and then leaving it to European and perhaps Arab countries to enforce a no-fly zone over the North African nation.

Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, told reporters the cruise missile assault was the “leading edge” of a coalition campaign dubbed Operation Odyssey Dawn. Its aim: prevent Moammar Gadhafi‘s forces from inflicting more violence on civilians — particularly in and around the rebel stronghold of Benghazi — and degrading the Libyan military’s ability to contest a no-fly zone.

A chief target of Saturday’s cruise missile attack was Libya’s SA-5 surface-to-air missiles, which are considered a moderate threat to some allied aircraft. Libya’s overall air defences are based on older Soviet technology but Gortney called them capable and a potential threat to allied aircraft.

Also targeted: early warning radars and unspecified communications facilities, Gortney said. The U.S. military has extensive recent experience in such combat missions; U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft repeatedly attacked Iraq’s air defences during the 1990s while enforcing a no-fly zone over Iraq’s Kurdish north.

Cruise missiles are the weapon of first choice in such campaigns; they do not put pilots at risk, and they use navigational technologies that provide good precision.

The first Tomahawk cruise missiles struck at 3 p.m. EDT, Gortney said, after a one-hour flight from the U.S. and British vessels on station in the Mediterranean.

The U.S. has at least 11 naval vessels in the Mediterranean, including three submarines, two destroyers, two amphibious warfare ships and the USS Mount Whitney, a command-and-control vessel that is the flagship of the Navy’s 6th Fleet. Also in the area are Navy P-3 and EP-3 surveillance aircraft, officials said.

Gortney said it would take as long as 12 hours to assess the effectiveness of Saturday’s strikes. Then a high-altitude Global Hawk unmanned surveillance plane would overfly the target areas to get a more precise view, the admiral said. He would not say how long the attacks on Libyan air defences would last, but he stressed that Saturday’s assault with cruise missiles was the first phase of a multi-stage mission.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who was scheduled to fly to Russiaon Saturday afternoon to begin a week-long overseas trip, postponed his departure for 24 hours. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates decided he should remain in Washington to monitor developments in Libya at the outset of U.S. strikes.

Gates had been skeptical of getting involved in Libya’s civil war, telling Congress earlier this month that taking out Libya’s air defences was tantamount to war. Others have worried that the mission could put the U.S. on a slippery slope to deeper involvement in yet another Muslim country — on top of the wars inIraq and Afghanistan.

Hours after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attended an international conference in Paris that endorsed military action against Gadhafi, the U.S. and Britain kicked off their attacks.

At a news conference in Paris, Clinton said Gadhafi had left the world no choice but to intervene urgently and forcefully to protect further loss of civilian life.

“We have every reason to fear that, left unchecked, Gadhafi would commit unspeakable atrocities,” she told reporters.

Clinton said there was no evidence that Gadhafi’s forces were respecting an alleged cease-fire they proclaimed and the time for action was now.

“Our assessment is that the aggressive action by Gadhafi’s forces continues in many parts of the country,” she said. “We have seen no real effort on the part of the Gadhafi forces to abide by a cease-fire.”

Among the U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean were two guided-missile destroyers, the USS Barry and USS Stout, as well as two amphibious warships, the USS Kearsarge and USS Ponce, and a command-and-control ship, the USS Mount Whitney. The submarine USS Providence was also in the Mediterranean.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/us-navy-vessels-launch-missile-strike-against-gadhafis-20110319-130851-879.html

 


Japan’s earthquake shifted balance of the planet

By Liz Goodwin | US News – The Lookout

Last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan has actually moved the island closer to the United States and shifted the planet’s axis.

The quake caused a rift 24 kilometres below the sea floor that stretched nearly 300 kilometres long and 150 kilometres wide, according to the AP. The areas closest to the epicenter of the quake jumped a full 13 feet closer to the United States, geophysicist Ross Stein at the United States Geological Survey told The New York Times.

The world’s fifth-largest, 8.8 magnitude quake was caused when thePacific tectonic plate dived under the North American plate, which shifted Eastern Japan towards North America by about 13 feet (see NASA’s before and after photos at right). The quake also shifted the earth’s axis by 6.5 inches, shortened the day by 1.6 microseconds, and sunk Japan downward by about two feet. As Japan’s eastern coastline sunk, the tsunami’s waves rolled in.

Why did the quake shorten the day?  The earth’s mass shifted towards the center, spurring the planet to spin a bit faster. Last year’s massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile also shortened the day, but by an even smaller fraction of a second. The 2004 Sumatra quake knocked a whopping 6.8 micro-seconds off the day.

After the country’s 1995 earthquake, Japan placed high-tech sensors around the country to observe even the slightest movements, which is why scientists are able to calculate the quake’s impact down to the inch. “This is overwhelmingly the best-recorded great earthquake ever,” Lucy Jones, chief scientist for the Multi-Hazards project at the U.S. Geological Surveytold The Boston Herald.

The tsunami’s waves necessitated life-saving evacuations as far away as Chile. Fisherman off the coast of Mexico reported a banner fishing day Friday, and speculated that the tsunami knocked sealife in their direction.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/japan-earthquake-shifted-balance-planet-20110314-065608-417.html