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News Wrap: Greek Bailout Runs Into Trouble After Collateral Agreement Surfaces

August 18, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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KWAME HOLMAN: A second bailout for Greece totaling more than $150 billion ran into new trouble today. It followed news that Greece agreed to put up cash as collateral to secure Finland’s part of the bailout.

Four other Eurozone nations, Austria, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia, said they want similar arrangements. That could mean Greece will need even more bailout funding to cover the cost of the collateral.

The bond rating agency Standard & Poor’s is under federal investigation. Today’s New York Times reported the Justice Department wants to know if S&P inflated ratings for mortgage securities prior to the financial meltdown in 2008. The probe began before S&P downgraded the U.S. government’s credit rating this month.

Rebel fighters in Libya scored another advance today. They took control of an oil refinery in the western town of Zawiyah just 30 miles outside Tripoli, Moammar Gadhafi’s last stronghold.

We have a report from Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News.

LINDSEY HILSUM: This is the rebels’ latest prize, the oil refinery at Zawiyah, along the road from Tripoli to Tunisia, a key installation and a sign of the pressure Colonel Gadhafi is now under.

The rebels are more than happy to drive us around the oil refinery, to show that they now control it. There was fighting here until yesterday. It’s not that it was supplying so much fuel to Tripoli, just a trickle. But it’s a very important symbolic victory. And they want to show they have got it.

Yesterday, Gadhafi landed soldiers here by boat. But after fighting, they fled overnight. NATO said it hit a military boat in the area. The local rebel commander told us what happened.

YUSUF HAMED, Libyan rebel commander: They came in. They started to — to fight us, with us, but later, when our soldiers — also, they have heavy, really heavy, heavy fighting. Some of those soldiers, they tried to escape from here to the boat. NATO then, they bombed them. Some of them still surviving, they’re catching there in the boat.

LINDSEY HILSUM: So some are prisoners?

YUSUF HAMED: Yes. Yes, and some — some dead.

LINDSEY HILSUM: But from the refinery, we could see the smoke from a rocket fired into the town. The shelling continues, Zawiyah still disputed, and Colonel Gadhafi’s spokesman in Tripoli is calling this a temporary crisis, not a rebel victory.

A few miles out of town, Grad rockets hit a house. The family were eating outside and escaped injury. But others were hit. And the small local hospital is receiving a steady stream of casualties, and even the bodies of Gadhafi’s soldiers killed in the fighting. Colonel Gadhafi’s green flag still flies over Zawiyah’s eastern gate, leading to the capital. The momentum is with the rebels now, but the war is by no means won.

KWAME HOLMAN: People fleeing Tripoli said tensions there are rising and living conditions growing worse, with gun battles at night and power outages by day.

In western Afghanistan today, a roadside bomb killed at least 21 passengers aboard a minibus. They were traveling through Herat Province when their vehicle ran over an explosive. Most of the victims were small children. To the east, a suicide bomber struck a coalition base in Paktia Province, killing two Afghan security guards. There were no NATO casualties in that attack. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Across the border, in southwestern Pakistan, a wave of fresh violence rocked the country’s largest city. Police in Karachi said 39 people have been killed in the last two days in a spasm of attacks blamed on criminal gangs. Many of the victims were tortured before being shot, stuffed into burlap sacks and dumped in the streets. Karachi has been plagued recently by such violence, linked to competing political factions.

The government of Chile today added another 9,800 names to the list of victims of the Pinochet era. That brings the total to more than 40,000 Chileans who were tortured, imprisoned, killed or seized and never seen again. It took place under the military regime of General Augusto Pinochet, who seized power in 1973 and ruled for nearly 20 years. Pinochet died in 2006.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.