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Sep 26, 2011

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Eurozone rescue plan 'emerging' as IMF and Greece talk, Sep 26, 2011

Greek Minister of Finance Evangelos Venizelos, speaks to media after his meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias in Athens, Thursday Sept.22, 2011.
photo: AP / Petros Giannakouris
read moreBBC News
The outline of a large and ambitious eurozone rescue plan is taking shape, reports from the International Monetary Fund(IMF) in Washington suggest. It is expected to involve a 50% write-down of Greece's massive government debt, the BBC's economic editor Robert Peston says. The plan also envisages anincrease in the size of the European Union...

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L.A. TIMES - Libya says mass grave may contain Abu Salim prisoners, Sep 26, 2011

Abu Salim mass grave

A woman holds a portrait of her son at a mass grave believed to hold the remains of those killed in the 1996 massacre at Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, Libya. She said her son was one of the victims.(Suhaib Salem, Reuters / September 26, 2011)

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Libya's new rulers said Sunday that investigators had found the site of a mass grave believed to contain human remains from what many here regard as one of Moammar Kadafi's signature crimes — the 1996 massacre of about 1,200 inmates at Tripoli's notorious Abu Salim prison.

Street demonstrations in the eastern city of Benghazi by relatives of those who died in the massacre provided a catalyst for the nationwide protest movement that erupted in February. The protests evolved into an armed insurrection that eventually toppled Kadafi after more than 40 years of authoritarian rule.

For years, kin of those who disappeared had been pressing the government to disclose what happened to the prisoners.

On Sunday, a military spokesman for Libya's provisional government told reporters here that the burial site appears to have been discovered — a desert tract scattered with bone fragments outside the prison complex. Rumors had long circulated that the bodies had been interred near the prison.

The site was identified through information obtained from witnesses and former prison security guards captured after Kadafi fled Tripoli, officials said.

Provisional government officials say they plan to seek international assistance in excavating the site and identifying the remains through DNA analysis.

Libya's new rulers are keen to clarify what exactly happened at Abu Salim. The provisional government has said it wants to capture Kadafi and his associates and put them on trial for crimes committed during his rule, including killings at Abu Salim.

A trial could determine whether Kadafi ordered the killings or was even aware of them at the time. Witnesses have said Kadafi's security chief, Abdullah Sanoussi, who is also the deposed leader's brother-in-law, appeared at the prison the day before the killings of most inmates and probably ordered the executions.

Witnesses have said that most of those killed were shot in courtyards at the prison on the morning of June 29. The day before, prisoners protesting conditions had taken several guards hostage and clashes had occurred within the prison's walls.

Abu Salim was long a lockup and interrogation center for political dissidents, especially Islamists bent on ending Kadafi's autocratic rule. In recent years, the government had acknowledged that excess force had been used, and had even notified some families of the deaths of their loves ones.

BBC News - Libyan NTC fighters breach Gaddafi city Sirte from east, Sep 26, 2011

The UN says it is concerned for the safety of civilians fleeing the fighting in Sirte

Anti-Gaddafi fighters have breached the former Libya leader's hometown of Sirte from the east for the first time, as their three-day long assault continues.

Soldiers traded rocket fire with Gaddafi loyalists as they edged from the eastern suburbs into the city.

The advance comes two days after the soldiers, loyal to the National Transitional Council, attacked from the west before retreating again.

Sirte is one of the last remaining strongholds of Gaddafi loyalists.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead, in Sirte, says civilians have been streaming out of the city - some of them were not aware that Tripoli had fallen.

Many of them were terrified, he says, having been told that rebel fighters would slit their throats if they ventured out of the city.

Our correspondent says the remaining civilians are in increasing danger, caught in the middle of intensifying fighting.

Gaddafi loyalists have been fiercely protecting the city from NTC advances in recent weeks.

NEW YORK TIMES - Saudi Monarch Grants Women Right to Vote, Sep 26, 2011

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Sunday granted women the right to vote and run in future municipal elections, the biggest change in a decade for women in a puritanical kingdom that practices strict separation of the sexes, including banning women from driving.

Fahad Shadeed/Reuters

Women in Saudi Arabia endure strict gender separation, including a ban against driving.


Saudi women, who are legally subject to male chaperones for almost any public activity, hailed the royal decree as an important, if limited, step toward making them equal to their male counterparts. They said the uprisings sweeping the Arab world for the past nine months — along with sustained domestic pressure for women’s rights and a more representative form of government — prompted the change.

“There is the element of the Arab Spring, there is the element of the strength of Saudi social media, and there is the element of Saudi women themselves, who are not silent,” said Hatoon al-Fassi, a history professor and one of the women who organized a campaign demanding the right to vote this spring. “Plus, the fact that the issue of women has turned Saudi Arabia into an international joke is another thing that brought the decision now.”

TIMES OF INDIA - Kenya's Nobel peace laureate Wangari Maathai dies, Sep 26, 2011

Nobel peace laureate Maathai dies
"It is with great sadness that the family of professor Wangari Maathai announces her passing away on 25th September 2011 at the Nairobi hospital after a prolonged and bravely borne struggle with cancer," the Green Belt Movement said in a statement.
NAIROBI: Kenya's Wangari Maathai, who won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental work, has died of cancer, the campaigning movement she founded announced on Monday.

"It is with great sadness that the family of professor Wangari Maathai announces her passing away on 25th September 2011 at the Nairobi hospital after a prolonged and bravely borne struggle with cancer," the Green Belt Movement said in a statement.

Born in 1940, Maathai became a key figure in Kenya since founding the movement in 1977, staunchly campaigning for environmental conservation and good governance.

Since its founding, her organisation has planted some 40 million trees across Africa. In the 1970s, she also headed the Kenya Red Cross.

NZ HERALD News - It's Gillard v footy chiefs over pokie machine law, Sep 26, 2011

Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Photo / Greg Bowker

Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Photo / Greg Bowker

With the dice already loaded against her, Prime Minister Julia Gillard now faces a political deck stacked by the nation's biggest football codes.
NRL and AFL bosses have banded together to fight plans to set limits on poker machines to cut problem gambling that is estimated to cost Australia at least A$4.7 billion ($5.6 billion) a year and affect the lives of five million people.
With grand final week raising passions, code chiefs are calling the proposal to pre-programme cash limits on club pokies a "footy tax" and are preparing to unleash a media blitz against it.
Gillard has no option but to face them down.
She agreed to push the limits into law as part of the deal to win her minority Government the support of Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie, a committed anti-pokie campaigner.
Under the deal Gillard must have legislation in place by next May's budget, and a timetable for the law's introduction by 2014.
If she fails, Wilkie will withdraw his support for Labor and possibly precipitate the Government's final death spiral.

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REUTERS World News - Libyan forces close on Gaddafi loyalists in Sirte | Reuters, Sep 26, 2011

Anti-Gaddafi fighters return fire at pro-Gaddafi forces, around 8 km (5 miles) east of Sirte, September 26, 2011. REUTERS-Asmaa Waguih

1 of 16. Anti-Gaddafi fighters return fire at pro-Gaddafi forces, around 8 km (5 miles) east of Sirte, September 26, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih

SIRTE | Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:21pm EDT

(Reuters) - Libyan provisional government forces backed by NATO warplanes raced through the eastern outskirts of Sirte on Monday, closing in on Muammar Gaddafi loyalists holed up in one of the last two bastions of the deposed leader.

Thick, black smoke billowed into the air as National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters battled loyalist troops at a roundabout about 2 km (1.2 mile) from the center of Gaddafi's home town, Reuters journalists said.

The thud of large explosions could be heard as NATO aircraft roared overhead. NTC fighters said the jets were striking the positions of Gaddafi loyalists.

The advance came two days after anti-Gaddafi fighters west of Sirte drove to within a few hundred meters of its center before pulling back on Sunday to make way for NATO strikes.

On the western edges of Sirte on Monday, NTC fighters and Gaddafi loyalists traded heavy machine gun fire, rocket-propelled grenades and artillery rounds.

Snipers loyal to Gaddafi could be seen on building rooftops. NATO aircraft flew overhead.

NEWS CN- War-weary Afghans plead for peace amid series of deadly attacks, Sep 26, 2011

An Afghan policeman checks a man near a security checkpoint in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, Sept. 26, 2011. Security forces in Kabul has been on high alert after series of attacks over the past few weeks including a suicide attack which killed former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani. (Xinhua/Omid)

by Farid Behbud, Zhang Jianhua
KABUL, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Series of deadly attacks, particularly a brutal suicide offensive on former Afghan president and peace body chief Burhanudin Rabbani, rocked parts of the country including the capital city of Kabul over the past couple of months and prompted the war-weary Afghans to pray for durable peace in their country.
"Yet again there was an attack in Kabul just last night, and this time also in the fortified location, we are tired of witnessing such incidents that always cause horror and dread among Kabulis," a Kabul resident Liyakat Khan told Xinhua on Monday, referring a gun battle Sunday night in Ariana Hotel near the Afghan presidential palace, NATO's headquarters and U.S. embassy in Kabul that left a U.S. citizen dead.
A security source who declined to be identified said that a U.S. -run intelligence agency located in Ariana Hotel opposite to the U. S. embassy building was the scene of gun shots Sunday night which left one person dead and injured two others.
Several Afghan cities including the capital city Kabul have experienced a string of deadly suicide attacks and gun battles since the beginning of this year, fading common citizens' hope for having viable peace.
The latest violent attack was a suicide attack against former Afghan President Burhanudin Rabbani, who also served as the Chairman of Afghan High Peace Council, a 70-member government- backed peace body which was set up by President Hamid Karzai on October 2010 to broker peace with the Taliban and other armed opposition groups.

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