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News Wrap: Thousands of Troops Advance on Libyan Rebels in Misrata

June 8, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The Libyan city of Misrata came under a new attack today by the forces of Moammar Gadhafi.

Thousands of troops advanced on the rebel-held stronghold, shelling it from three sides and killing at least 10 rebels.

Meanwhile, NATO planes hit Tripoli again, a day after more than 60 missions. And the alliance’s secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, again predicted Gadhafi’s fall. He said, it is no longer a question of if Gadhafi goes, but when he goes.

U.S. drone planes have struck again in northwest Pakistan, the fifth time this week. Pakistani officials reported a pair of missile strikes launched from drones. They killed 23 people said to be suspected militants. The strikes have escalated since the killing of Osama bin Laden. Pakistan’s government routinely protests the attacks and denies that it secretly provides intelligence on the targets.

An OPEC meeting ended in disarray today when the oil cartel deadlocked on increasing output. Saudi Arabia and others wanted to pump more oil to make up for the loss of exports from Libya. Iran was strongly opposed. In the end, the OPEC secretary-general said there was no consensus, but he played down concerns about world supplies and high prices.

ABDALLA EL-BADRI, OPEC secretary-general: We have enough stocks. The stocks is about two-and-a-half or three days above five-year average. We have enough supply in the market. There is no shortage whatsoever, even though with the absence of one country. But, as of today, we are not in crisis.

HARI SREENIVASAN: OPEC’s failure to act sent the price of oil back above $100 a barrel in New York trading.

Also today, the Federal Reserve reported growth has slowed in several major regions of the country for the first time this year. In response, the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 21 points to close below 12,049. The Nasdaq dropped 26 points to close at 2,675.

The U.S. Senate has handed merchants a major victory over banks. After a fierce lobbying campaign by both sides, senators voted today to let the Federal Reserve cut debit card fees that banks collect from stores. The fees would be capped at 12 cents each time a customer swipes a card. The current average is 44 cents a transaction. The Fed’s new rule is expected to take effect late next month.

More than 70 Air Force cadets were hit by a lightning strike in Mississippi today. It happened at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg. A spokeswoman for the base said no one was killed. Local hospitals said they were expecting as many as 77 patients for examination and treatment.

The FBI will intensify its focus on cyber-attacks after a series of high-profile hacking incidents. Last week, Google reported attacks on Gmail accounts used by senior U.S. government and military officials, and sites for PBS and the NewsHour came under assault.

FBI Director Robert Mueller addressed the issue at a Senate hearing today.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI director: These attacks threaten to undermine the integrity of the Internet and to victimize the businesses and people who rely on it. We will increasingly put emphasis on addressing cyber-threats in all of the variations. And part of that is making certain that the personnel in the bureau have the equipment, the capability, the skill, the experience to address those threats.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Senate committee was considering the president’s request that Mueller’s tenure be extended by two years. Lawmakers from both parties endorsed the extension today.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.