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News Wrap: Libyan Rebels Move on Brega as Reports Hint at Diplomatic Resolution

April 4, 2011 at 6:18 PM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Libyan rebels made modest gains in the oil town of Brega today. And at least five people were killed in Misrata when forces loyal to President Moammar Gadhafi shelled a residential area.

On the diplomatic front, a plan is reportedly being floated for Gadhafi’s sons to take over power.

We have a report from Neil Connery of Independent Television News in Tripoli.

NEIL CONNERY: For 42 years, Libya has known only one leader. But could these be Col. Gadhafi’s final days of power? As diplomatic efforts to end this crisis continue, suggestions that his son Saif could take over as a transitional leader were dismissed by his father’s ever-faithful supporters, who say only one man can lead here.

MAN: Moammar Gadhafi.

NEIL CONNERY: No one else?

MAN: Moammar Gadhafi.

NEIL CONNERY: No one else?

MAN: Moammar Gadhafi.
NEIL CONNERY: Libya’s deputy foreign minister flew to Athens yesterday to meet the Greek prime minister at the start of a new diplomatic push from Tripoli. He says Col. Gadhafi wants an end to the fighting.

But the move was dismissed by Italy’s foreign minister.

FRANCO FRATTINI, Italian foreign minister: They propose while attacking the population of Libya. So, frankly speaking, some kind of proposals are not credible.

NEIL CONNERY: The authorities here are determined to show that support for Col. Gadhafi remains as strong as ever, and any suggestion that he will step aside soon is quickly dismissed.

While the diplomats talk, the human cost of Libya’s misery continues. These victims from the fighting in Misrata were rescued by an aid ship. Unless Libya’s future can be secured soon, they will not be the last.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Also today, U.S. warplanes were pulled from front-line missions in Libya. Britain, France and other NATO allies will now take the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone.

Security forces in Yemen cracked down on thousands of anti-government protesters today. At least 15 people were killed when military forces and police snipers opened fire on a crowd in the southern city of Taiz. Dozens more were wounded. Meanwhile, The New York Times reported the U.S. has shifted its stance on Yemen and is now seeking the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In Washington, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney downplayed the report.

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: We support dialogue, political dialogue. And President Saleh has publicly indicated his willingness to engage
in a peaceful transition of power. And we believe the timing and form of that transition should be accomplished through dialogue and negotiation. So, we urge that process to continue.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Saleh has been a close U.S. ally for years, particularly in Yemen’s role in fighting al-Qaida.

Two American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan today by a man dressed as an Afghan police officer. The incident happened inside a compound in the north as they were training security forces. Witnesses said the shooter fled the scene, but it was unclear if he was an actual police officer or just dressed in disguise. Meanwhile, hundreds of people across the country protested for a fourth day against a recent Koran burning in Florida.

Two U.N. helicopters fired on forces loyal to the entrenched president of Ivory Coast today. That escalation came as French troops joined U.N. operations in Ivory Coast to try and protect civilians from an ongoing internal power struggle. President Laurent Gbagbo refuses to step down, even though Alassane Ouattara was elected to the office last November.

In Japan, workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant raced to find the source of a radioactive leak today. They used a milky white dye to trace the path of radioactive water found seeping into the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, government officials authorized the release of three million gallons of less radioactive water into the ocean to free up space to store more highly contaminated water.

YUKIO EDANO, Japanese chief Cabinet secretary (through translator): We are aware that the water at the number two unit is highly radiated. So as to prioritize and stop the leakage of this water into the sea at the earliest timing, we will release the water stored in the exterior building of the unit, which also, unfortunately, contains radioactivity. We have approved the release of the low-level water into the sea.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Workers will also install screens made of polyester fabric to try and stop some of the contamination already in the ocean from spreading.

In Haiti, news organizations reported Michel Martelly is the winner of the presidential race. Widely known as Sweet Micky, the first-time candidate and pop musician beat out Mirlande Manigat, an academic and former senator. Initial counts from the first round of voting had excluded Martelly from the runoff, inciting riots in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

BP is in talks to resume drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, nearly a year after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. It was widely reported the company hopes to start drilling in 10 existing deepwater wells beginning in July. That’s in exchange for meeting new stricter safety regulations. But, today, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar insisted there is absolutely no such agreement, nor would there be such an agreement.

A decision at the U.S. Supreme Court today upheld a program in Arizona that gives its citizens tax credits for donations supporting private religious schools. The court’s 5-4 ruling held that the taxpayers who filed the lawsuit have no legal claims because the donations are voluntary, and that government tax credits are not the same as government spending in support of religion.

Arizona residents can send up to $500 to a tuition scholarship organization, instead of paying the state that income — that money in income tax.

Two of the largest studies ever on Alzheimer’s disease have found at least five new genes that trigger its onset. That means scientists have now identified a total of 10 genes that lead to the memory-eroding disease. The results were published in the journal “Nature Genetics” on Sunday. Researchers believe 60 percent of Alzheimer’s cases could be prevented if drugs or lifestyle changes could be devised to counter those 10 genes.

Millions of customers of banks, credit-card companies and retail stores received warnings their email addresses and names may have been compromised. The email communications company Epsilon is at the heart of what is one of the largest computer security breaches in history.

Some of the companies involved are Walgreens drugstores, Capital One Financial, Citigroup, the Home Shopping Network and Kroger grocers. Epsilon said no financial data or Social Security numbers were exposed.

On Wall Street today, stocks made little headway. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 23 points to close at 12,400. The Nasdaq fell less than a point to close at 2,789.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.