Rebels Attack Gadhafi Strongholds, Greek Loan Decision Delayed
Libyan rebel fighters are pressing toward Sirte and Bani Walid, two of the remaining strongholds of embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi, encountering rockets and small arms fire as they try to take one of the few remaining areas of the country defended by loyalists.
The latest fighting comes after weeks of failed negotiations in Bani Walid, where opposition fighters had hoped Gadhafi troops would surrender. Though many have fled, civilians in both towns could be endangered in the renewed fighting. The rebels’ ground advance has been bolstered by continuing NATO air strikes.
Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is in Tripoli for meetings with the National Transitional Council, one day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron made their first visit to the capital since fighting began. Turkey recently re-opened its embassy in Tripoli.
Greek Loan Action Delayed as Leaders Gather in Poland
European finance ministers are meeting in Poland amid concerns about the possibility of a default by Greece and about debt burdens in other parts of the eurozone. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is also attending, reflecting U.S. concerns over the effect European debt will have on the global economy.
Geithner suggested that the internal conflict was worsening the problem. “Governments and central banks have to take out the catastrophic risks from markets … (and avoid) loose talk about dismantling the institutions of the euro,” he said, according to Reuters.
Despite the concern, a vote on releasing another round of bailout funds has been delayed until October. According to the Washington Post, “Investors had hoped for a quicker sense about the direction of the bailout. Greece’s financial troubles are threatening to spark a wave of credit problems for banks and countries around the euro zone.”
Texas Death Row Inmate’s Execution Blocked
The Supreme Court intervened Thursday evening to delay the execution of Duane Edward Buck, a Texas man who was convicted of killing two people and wounding a third in Texas in 1995. The third victim has joined calls for clemency.
The delay hinges on debate about testimony during his trial that suggested that blacks and Hispanics may be more likely to commit crimes. Sen. John Cornyn, who was the state’s attorney general in 2000, had questioned the sentences of Buck and six other inmates because of the testimony of psychologist Walter Quijano, resulting in new sentencing trials for all but Buck.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles had recommended the execution proceed. On Thursday, Buck was given his final meal before news of the ruling.
North Korean Defector Arrested in Plot to Kill Activist
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service arrested a man reportedly carrying a poison-tipped needle on a Seoul subway platform as he was preparing to meet Park Sang-hak, a well-known activist who has been involved in a balloon leaflet campaign into North Korea. Park is also a defector from North Korea.
According to the Telegraph, “authorities are questioning him to determine whether he was a ‘sleeper’ agent sent to the South to carry out attacks on defectors and other outspoken activists.”
In 2010, two North Koreans were arrested for targeting Hwang Jang-yop, the most prominent defector in South Korea.