News Wrap: Heavy NATO Bombing Rocks Libyan Capital
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The heaviest bombing in weeks struck the capital of Libya today. NATO said its warplanes attacked a command center in downtown Tripoli in a pre-dawn raid.
Later, Libyan officials escorted journalists to one of the sites. The officials said it was home to a commission for women and children and offices of parliamentary staff. In Naples, Italy, a NATO spokesman defended the attacks and rejected the Libyan claims.
BRIG. GEN. CLAUDIO GABELLINI, NATO spokesman: All NATO targets are military targets, which means that the targets we have been hitting — and it happened also last night in Tripoli — are command-and-control bunkers.
And again, just to make clear at the start that NATO is not targeting individuals — it’s not in our mandate. Our mandate is to protect civilian population from attacks or from the threat of attacks by Gadhafi regime forces.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Also today, rebel forces reported new gains near the western port city of Misrata. They claimed they advanced about 15 miles outward from the city center. Misrata has been under siege by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces for weeks.
Syrian troops, backed by tanks, moved into more towns today, extending the government crackdown. Witnesses reported heavy gunfire in at least five villages near Daraa. The embattled city has been at the center of the Syrian uprising. Meanwhile, new amateur video showed protesters in several cities being fired on this week. And activists said the military is methodically sealing off any place where there has been unrest.
In Pakistan, intelligence officials said a U.S. drone aircraft strike killed at least three alleged militants. It was the second such attack since the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden. In today’s incident, the Pakistanis said two missiles hit a vehicle in South Waziristan near the border with Afghanistan.
Japan will scale back reliance on nuclear power in the wake of the March earthquake and tsunami. Commercial nuclear plants now supply nearly a third of Japan’s electricity, and that figure was on track to rise to 50 percent by 2030.
But Prime Minister Naoto Kan said today the focus will shift instead to alternative sources and conservation.
NAOTO KAN, Japanese prime minister (through translator): Following the major accident, we will scrap the energy policy and start from scratch. We will thoroughly ensure safety for nuclear power generation and make efforts to further promote renewable energy.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was badly damaged in the March disaster. It leaked radiation over a wide area, and 80,000 people had to leave a 12-mile exclusion zone.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco issued a sharp rebuke to the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department today. The court accused the VA of unchecked incompetence in handling post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. It ordered the VA to work out a new mental health care plan with two veterans groups that brought suit. The ruling was unanimous.
In economic news, General Motors announced it’s adding some 4,000 jobs at 17 U.S. plants. The company said it will hire new employees and call back hundreds of furloughed workers over the next year-and-a-half.
And Wall Street made some additions of its own. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 75 points to close at 12,760. The Nasdaq rose 28 points to close near 2,872.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.