Negotiations Continue in Libya, Texas Wildfire Destroys 500 Homes

BY News Desk  September 6, 2011 at 8:18 AM EDT

Libyan rebels guard the last outpost before Bani Walid from the northern road towards Misrata. Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images.

As Libyan rebels continue to negotiate with Moammar Gadhafi’s remaining fighters ahead of Saturday’s deadline to surrender, a convoy of more than 200 vehicles suspected to be carrying Gadhafi loyalists was seen crossing into Niger. Rebels have been pressuring Gadhafi troops in the town of Bani Walid and delayed their surrender deadline by a week in an attempt to find a breakthrough in negotiations. The rebel troops have surrounded the city, with one road open for residents to escape.

Despite taking control of most of the country, rebel forces have thus far been unable to find Gadhafi. “[W]e are still strong and capable of turning the tables on NATO,” Gadhafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said, according to the Associated Press. Ibrahim said Gadhafi was in “excellent health, planning and organizing for the defense of Libya.” He maintains strongholds in Bani Walid and his hometown, Sirte.

Wildfire Rages in Texas, 500 Homes Destoroyed

As the worst drought in decades continues to take its toll on Texas, firefighters are battling a 16-mile-wide blaze that has destroyed 500 homes and burned 25,000 acres. About 5,000 people have been evacuated in Bastrop County, located almost 30 miles outside of Austin. The fire is moving away from the city.

The Bastrop fire is one of 50 burning across Texas. “We’re a long way from having these under control,” Gov. Rick Perry said on the “Today” show. Perry cancelled an appearance at a Monday forum in South Carolina for Republican presidential contenders to return to Texas to address the crisis.

The Dallas Morning-News has a photo gallery of the wildfires here.

U.S. Postal Service Faces Possible Default

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe will appear before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to address a potential default over its retirement fund, the latest in a string of financial woes for the Postal Service, which has shed a quarter million jobs in recent years as demand has declined.

CNN reports:

The Postal Service does not have the money to meet an obligation to a retiree health care trust fund coming due at the end of the month. But officials promise no interruption in the mail, the payroll or payments to suppliers if a default were to occur.

The crisis centers on $5.5. billion in health benefits due at the end of September for retirees, payments required by a reform act in 2006.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Hurricane Katia Weakens, Moves North

After briefly being labeled a Category 4 storm, Hurricane Katia has been downgraded to a Category 3, with winds of 125 miles per hour and moving at a speed of roughly 10 miles per hour. Hurricane Katia is currently 400 miles south of Bermuda. Though it is not expected to hit the East Coast directly, it could bring inclement weather as it moves toward the Northeast.