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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Carrie Ann Inaba got the proposal on air

Carrie Ann Inaba got more than she bargained for when she agreed to sub for Kelly Ripa on today’s episode of ‘Live With Regis and Kelly’ — 2.5 carats more, to be exact.

The ‘Dancing With the Stars’ judge was surprised on-air by her boyfriend of two years, Jesse Sloan, when he asked for her hand in marriage.

Earlier in the show, Inaba, 43, denied reports that she was engaged, showing off her bare ring finger to the audience.
In the show’s final minutes, all of that changed. The lighting crew set the mood as violinists ushered in the would-be groom, who told told Inaba how beautiful and inspiring she was to him, finally working up the nerve to ask, “Will you marry me?”

Inaba joyfully responded, “Yes! I will marry you!” and showed off her new 2.5-carat Rafinity princess-cut ring to the audience.

If things hadn’t gone as planned, Inaba always had a second choice: newly single Jake Gyllenhaal, who toasted the happy couple with fellow guest Howie Mandel following the proposal, had offered himself — and a fake ring — to Inaba before Sloan arrived with the real thing.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in World News

 

Diaz lowers school standards with ‘Bad Teacher’

LAS VEGAS – As big-screen teachers go, Cameron Diaz will not be joining, say, Sidney Poitier or Sandy Dennis as inspiring role models to her classroom kids. The title of Diaz’s school comedy pretty much sums up her character: “Bad Teacher.” Diaz’s Elizabeth Halsey is a cussing, conniving, boozing, even skanky schoolmarm who calls her students morons as she hurls their test papers at them, dresses like a stripper for a class car wash and has only one educational goal: to get her hooks into a rich substitute teacher. He’s played by Diaz’s real-life ex, Justin Timberlake. “Bad Teacher” arrives just in time for summer vacation, debuting in theaters June 24. Diaz, who stopped by theater owners’ CinemaCon convention Wednesday in Las Vegas to collect an award as female star of the year, described her character’s life as “one big F-bomb.” “This woman is so wrong but so right,” Diaz, 38, said in an interview. “She says and does everything you wish you could say, and does it just irreverently. She doesn’t really care, and sometimes, I think people want to walk through life not really caring.” So how does a woman like that end up a teacher, a hallowed profession in such big-screen dramas as Poitier’s “To Sir, With Love” and Dennis’ “Up the Down Staircase”? “According to her, she thought she was doing it for all the right reasons. She has no accountability, she has the summers off,” Diaz said. “The system allowed it to happen, and she took advantage of it. She could kind of skim by and get the sort of minimal out of the minimal that she was giving, enough for her to go and chase her dreams of marrying a rich man.” Timberlake’s the wealthy heir Diaz’s character pursues while he’s slumming as a sub, and Jason Segel co-stars as a gym teacher whose advances she rebuffs. Diaz, who is about to begin shooting the heist romp “Gambit,” co-starring Colin Firth and Alan Rickman, said there was no awkwardness acting opposite ex-boyfriend Timberlake. “We wanted the best person for the job, and Justin was that person,” said Diaz. “He’s such a great comedian. He’s proven himself over and over again. We all knew what he would deliver on this and how great he would be. “The only thing that I think we were concerned with was what people would make up. The stories that people would make up about us. We were hoping that wouldn’t happen, because we’re there to work, and we didn’t want to have to be distracted by any of those things. And fortunately, for the most part, the media behaved themselves.” Diaz had fun cutting loose with streams of profanity on the set. But her character’s raunchy language was not exactly foreign to her. “I don’t think I’ve ever pretended to have, like, a clean mouth,” Diaz said. “I’ve always had to sort of curb my usage of the words that are not allowed on screen often. I do definitely have to watch my language. I’ve gotten better over the years, but where I grew up, you kind of had to be able to use those words.”

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in World News

 

Rebels in Ivory Coast besiege Abidjan

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – Rebels fighting to install Ivory Coast’s democratically elected president began besieging the main city of Abidjan on Thursday as the top army commander fled his post in the face of a lightning offensive that saw several towns and a seaport quickly fall.

Alassane Ouattara, whom the United Nations and Ivory Coast’s own electoral council declared the winner of November presidential elections, said the rebels will “re-establish democracy and enforce the choice of the people.”

Incumbent Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down and recognize the result of the election. But even a rebel onslaught on the country’s commercial capital will not force him to do so, said Toussaint Alain, one of his advisers.

“He will not resign in the wake of this attack. He is not going to abdicate. He is not going to lay down his arms,” Alain said. “He will stay in power to lead the resistance to this attack against Ivory Coast organized by France, the United States and the United Nations.”

United Nations radio announced that the port of San Pedro, 190 miles (300 kilometers) west of Abidjan, was taken by rebels late Wednesday. Residents said by telephone that soldiers retreated in trucks while firing into the air as the rebels moved in. Hours earlier the rebels took the capital, Yamoussoukro, in central Ivory Coast

In Abidjan, rebels already in control of several northern districts of the city attacked a prison and freed the inmates, a rebel commander said. The rebels also advanced into Yopougon, a district of Abidjan that fervently supports Gbagbo, witnesses said.

The rebel army is on the periphery of Abidjan, said a close aide to Ouattara.

“They will enter the city on multiple fronts, from multiple directions,” said the adviser, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the press. Rebels overnight also took Gbagbo’s hometown, the village of Mama, where the former president had built a lavish villa, the aide said.

“The rebels slept in Gbagbo’s bed,” he said.

At least 462 people have been killed and up to 1 million have fled their homes amid the postelection chaos.

Ouattara said Thursday on his private television station that the rebels, who fought in a vicious civil war almost a decade ago that left the country divided with the rebels holding the north, were attacking to install him in the presidency. Ouattara had repeatedly asked for international military intervention, which never came.

“In order to end the escalation of violence in our country and in keeping with their mission to protect the population against militias and mercenaries under Gbagbo’s control, (the rebels) have decided to re-establish democracy and enforce the choice of the people,” he said.

Ivory Coast’s army chief of staff, Gen. Phillippe Mangou, sought refuge at the home of the South African ambassador in Abidjan with his wife and five children, South Africa’s foreign ministry said Thursday.

Advancing on foot while firing into the air, the rebels set up roadblocks on one of Yopougon’s main thoroughfares and have been battling with police since early Thursday morning, said a resident of the neighborhood of Abidjan who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

Across town in the predominantly pro-Ouattara Adjame district, several residents reported that pro-Gbagbo militiamen were firing weapons, though it was unclear at what.

The rebels have seized over a dozen towns since beginning their offensive on Monday. After they took the capital they did a victory lap in vehicles as people cheered and clapped.

They have faced almost no resistance but many fear that army troops still loyal to Gbagbo plan to make a final stand in Abidjan, the seaside city where the presidential palace is located.

Outtara’s whereabouts were not immediately known. He had been holed up for months in the lagoonside Golf Hotel in Abidjan, protected by United Nations peacekeeping troops. Ouattara, who is from the country’s north, had long tried to distance himself from the rebels.

Clayson Monyela, a South African foreign ministry official, said Mangou and his family were allowed to stay at the ambassador’s home in Abidjan “on humanitarian grounds,” but that no immediate decision has been made on whether to grant him asylum. He said South Africa’s foreign ministry is consulting with unnamed parties in Ivory Coast, West African regional leaders, the African Union and the U.N. on Mangou’s move.

South African President Jacob Zuma has been a key mediator as the African Union sought to find a peaceful way to install Ouattara as president.

On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded an immediate end to the escalating violence and imposed sanctions on Gbagbo and his inner circle.

Gbagbo and Ouattarahave vied for the presidency for months, with Ouattara using his considerable international clout to try to financially and diplomatically suffocate Gbagbo.

Seydou Ouattara, a spokesman for the rebels who is not related to the political leader, said that they faced so little resistance because Gbagbo had tried to neuter the army. Diplomats and human rights groups have said that Gbagbo has enlisted Liberian mercenaries and has armed militias, because he did not trust the regular army.

“He recruited mercenaries. He recruited militias. He essentially told the army we have no confidence in you. We were able to use this to our advantage,” said Seydou Ouattara. “In each town, we told the soldiers, we are your brothers. We want the same thing.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in World News

 

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Libya confirms resignation of FM, now in Britain

TRIPOLI, Libya – The Libyan government has conceded that Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa has resigned but says the regime still enjoys the support of his people.

Koussa’s defection to London has been hailed by the rebels as a sign that Moammar Gadhafi’s regime is cracking at the highest levels. But government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said Thursday that Koussa’s decision was personal and “other people will step in and do the job.”

Ibrahim says Koussa had been given permission to go to Tunisia because he was sick with diabetes and high blood pressure. He says the regime didn’t know he would go to London.

Koussa arrived in Britain Wednesday on a flight from Tunisia.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Opponents of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi battled Thursday to reverse days of losses on the battlefield but took heart in the defection of one of the autocrat’s closest confidants — a sign that the embattled regime is cracking at the highest levels.

Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, who is blamed for some of Libya’s brutality and credited for some of its diplomatic successes, is privy to all the inner workings of Gadhafi’s regime. His departure could open the door for some hard intelligence, though Britain refused to offer him immunity from prosecution.

In another blow to the regime, U.S. officials revealed Wednesday that the CIA has sent small teams of operatives into rebel-held eastern Libya while the White House debates whether to arm the opposition.

The moves come as Gadhafi’s regime has regained the military momentum in recent days despite an international air campaign. The rebels have been pushed farther eastward by the government’s superior weaponry, training and organization.

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“Moussa Koussa’s resignation is a big accomplishment for the Libyan revolution,” said Khaled, a rebel leader in Zintan who used only his first name for fear of reprisals. “The regime is currently breaking apart from the inside, and no one is safe. So anyone around Gadhafi knows they will be held accountable and will be punished by the international community.”

The British government said Wednesday that Koussa had arrived in Britain from Tunisia and resigned. Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said Koussa “notified us that he was sick and that he was going to Tunisia.”

“We are not waiting for individuals to lead the struggle,” Ibrahim told reporters in Tripoli, the capital. “This is the struggle of a whole nation. We are not relying on individuals, no matter how high-ranking they are. And so if everyone feels tired or sick or exhausted, they want to take a rest, it just happens. But I’m not confirming anything.”

Ibrahim said Gadhafi and his family all remain in Libya.

Despite the setbacks and ongoing airstrikes — now led by NATO — Gadhafi loyalists have been logging successes on the battlefield, retaking much of the territory the rebels had captured since airstrikes began March 19.

The latest fighting centered on Brega, a town important to Libya’s oil industry on the coastal road that leads to Tripoli. It has gone back and forth between rebel and loyalist hands, and on Thursday it was a no man’s land, with Gadhafi’s forces at the western gate and rebels east of the city.

The rebels came under heavy shelling by Gadhafi’s forces. Black smoke billowed in the air over Brega as mortars exploded.

Rebels fired back from sand dunes, chanting “Allahu akbar” or “God is great” with each rocket fired. Spotters with binoculars watched where they landed and ordered adjustments.

“Gadhafi’s forces advanced to about 30 kilometers (18 miles) east of Brega,” said rebel fighter Fathi Muktar, 41. Overnight, he said the rebels had temporarily pushed them back, but by morning they were at the gates of Brega. “There were loads of wounded at the front lines this morning,” he said of rebel casualties.

Many people also have fled Ajdabiya, a rebel-held city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the east, for fear that government forces were on their way.

The fighting has highlighted the rebels’ weaknesses: some ran screaming to cars after being frightened by the outgoing fire from their own side.

Koussa is not the first high-ranking member of the regime to quit — the justice and interior ministers resigned early in the conflict and joined the rebellion based in the east. Koussa, however, is a close confidant of Gadhafi’s.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the resignation showed the regime is “fragmented, under pressure and crumbling.”

Koussa was Libya’s chief of intelligence for more than a decade. The opposition blames him for the assassinations of dissidents in western capitals and for orchestrating the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and the bombing of another jet over Niger a year later. The links have never been confirmed.

In later years, however, Koussa played an important role in persuading Western nations to lift sanctions on Libya and remove its name from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. He led settlements of Lockerbie, offered all information about Libya’s nuclear program and gave London and Washington information about Islamic militants after the Sept. 11 attacks.

“His defection is a serious blow” to Gadhafi, Elliott Abrams, a former assistant secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, said in a story posted on the Council on Foreign Relations’ website. “This is the first loss of such a close comrade,” he said, adding that he may have be able to identify other potential defectors.

Abrams, who met Koussa in 2004 in negotiations over Libya’s handover of weapons of mass destruction programs, described him as a handsome, well-dressed man speaking perfect English. Koussa attended Michigan State University in the 1970s.

Abrams said the simple fact that Koussa was able to make it to England “suggests that the regime is falling apart despite its battlefield victories in the last two days.” His departure suggest that Gadhafi’s inner circle “now know how this story ends, and do not wish to be with the dictator when that end comes,” he said.

The poorly equipped rebels, however, still seem no match for Gadhafi’s troops. Their setbacks are hardening the U.S. view that they are probably incapable of prevailing without decisive Western intervention, a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press.

The U.S. has made clear that it is considering providing arms to the rebels. Still, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday no decision has been made yet.

“We’re not ruling it out or ruling it in,” he said.

Obama said in a national address Monday night that U.S. troops would not be used on the ground in Libya.Tripoli

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in World News

 

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Libyan Rebels Close In on Key Gadhafi Stronghold

Russia, however, has criticized the international strikes against government forces that made the rebel advance possible, saying they have overstepped their U.N. mandate to protect civilians by taking sides in a civil war.

The U.S. launched six Tomahawk missiles Sunday and early Monday from navy positions in the Mediterranean Sea, two defense officials said Monday on condition of anonymity because they were not yet authorized to release the information.

That brought to 199 the number of the long-range cruise missiles fired by international forces in the week-old military intervention, one official said.

International air forces flew 110 missions late Sunday and early Monday — 75 of them strike missions. Targets included Gadhafi ammunition stores, air defenses and ground forces, including vehicles and tanks, a third official said.

Libya’s rebels have recovered hundreds of miles (kilometers) of flat, uninhabited territory at record speeds after Gadhafi’s forces were forced to pull back by the strikes that began March 19.
Libya — Rebel forces on Monday fought their way to the doorstep of Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, a key government stronghold guarding the road to the capital Tripoli.

The lightning rebel advance of the past few days, backed by powerful international airstrikes, has restored to the opposition all the territory they lost over the past week and brought them to within 60 miles (100 miles) of this bastion of Gadhafi’s power in the center of the country.

“Sirte will not be easy to take,” said Gen. Hamdi Hassi, a rebel commander at the small town of Bin Jawwad, just 18 miles (30 kilometers) from the front. “Now because of NATO strikes on (the government’s) heavy weapons, we’re almost fighting with the same weapons, only we have Grad rockets now and they don’t.”
In a symbolic diplomatic victory for the opposition, the tiny state of Qatar recognized Libya’s rebels as the legitimate representatives of the country — the first Arab state to do so.
Hassi said there was fighting now just outside the small hamlet of Nawfaliyah, 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Sirte and scouting parties had found the road ahead to be heavily mined.

He added that the current rebel strategy was to combine military assault with an attempt to win over some of the local tribes loyal to Gadhafi over to their side.

“There’s Gadhafi and then there’s circles around him of supporters, each circle is slowly peeling off and disappearing,” Hassi said. “If they rise up it would make our job easier.”

Witnesses in Sirte reported Monday there had been air strikes the night before and again early in the morning, but the town was quiet, and dozens of fighters loyal to Gadhafi could be seen roaming the streets.

Moving quickly westward, the advance retraced their steps in the first rebel march toward the capital that was stopped March 5 by Gadhafi’s superior weaponry. But this time, the world’s most powerful air forces have eased the way by pounding the government’s military assets for the past week.

The east of the country shook off nearly 42 years of Gadhafi’s rule in a series of popular demonstrations starting in mid-February and inspired by similar successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Gadhafi’s forces crushed similar uprising in the west of the country.

Sirte is strategically located about halfway between the rebel-held east and the Gadhafi-controlled west along the Mediterranean coast. It is a center of support for Gadhafi and is expected to be difficult for rebels to take.

West of Sirte is the embattled city of Misrata, the sole place in rebel hands in the country’s west. Residents reported fighting between rebels and Gadhafi loyalists who fired from tanks on residential areas.

Rida al-Montasser, of the media committee of Misrata, said that nine young men were killed and 23 others wounded when Gadhafi brigades shelled their position in the northwestern part of the city on Sunday night. He also said that the port was bombed.

Turkey’s Anatolia new agency said a Turkish civilian ferry carrying 15 medics, three ambulances and medical equipment was heading for Misrata to help treat some 1,300 people injured in attacks there.

Meanwhile, international airstrikes have continued against Libya, including the southern town of Sebha, reported the state news agency. The area remains strongly loyal to Gadhafi and is a major transit point for ethnic Tuareg fighters from Mali and Niger fighting for the government.

JANA said the strikes destroyed a number of houses, though past attacks on Sebha, 385 miles (620 kilometers) south of Tripoli, targeted the airport and the flow of foreign fighters reinforcing the regime.

Britain’s Defense Ministry announced Monday that its Tornado aircraft had attacked ammunition bunkers around Sebha in the southern desert in the early hours of the morning.

After retaking two key oil complexes along the coastal highway in the past two days, rebels promised to quickly restart Libya’s stalled oil exports, prompting a slight drop in the soaring price of crude oil to around $105 a barrel.

The U.N. Security Council authorized the operation to protect Libyan civilians after Gadhafi launched attacks against the protesters who demanded that he step down. The airstrikes have crippled Gadhafi’s forces, allowing rebels to advance less than two weeks after they had seemed at the brink of defeat.

The assault on Sirte, where most civilians are believed to support Gadhafi, however, potentially represents an expansion of the international mission to being more directly involved with regime change.

“This is the objective of the coalition now, it is not to protect civilians because now they are directly fighting against the armed forces,” Khaled Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said in the capital, Tripoli. “They are trying to push the country to the brink of a civil war.”

His position found some support in Russia, where Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said strikes on Gadhafi’s forces would amount to interference in what he called Libya’s civil war, and thus would breach the U.N. Security Council resolution that envisaged a no-fly zone only to protect civilians.

The tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, however, has formally recognized the rebels as the legitimate representatives of the country and promised to help them sell their crude oil on the international market.

Qatar has been well ahead of other Arab countries in embracing the rebels and is also participating in the U.N.-mandated no-fly zone over Libya.

Turkey, meanwhile, has confirmed that even as rebel forces advance on Sirte it has been working with the government and the opposition to set up a cease-fire.

“We are one of the very few countries that are speaking to both sides,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Selcuk Unal said, without confirming whether Turkey had offered to act as mediator.

Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also told reporters his country will take over the running of the airport in Benghazi to facilitate the transport of humanitarian aid to Libya. He did not say when, however.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in World News

 

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Record Crowds Come to Audition for ‘The X Factor’

Simon Cowell seems to have another hit show on his hands based on the record crowds that turned up to audition for ‘The X Factor.’

The first ‘X Factor’ auditions took place on Sunday in Los Angeles, and the Daily Mail is reporting than an estimated 18,000-plus hopefuls turned out to the LA Memorial Sports Arena.

Freeways were jammed around the arena, and hundreds of contestants even camped overnight in order to get a good spot, according to reports.

A show insider is quoted saying, “The scenes down here are crazy. There are around 18,000 people here, and the numbers are growing by the second. There’s gridlock on the freeways into the venue, it’s absolute chaos. These auditions are going to be going on well into the night — there are a lot of people to get through.”

A large motivational factor could very well be the $5 million record deal with Sony that the winner of the show receives.

The money, plus that contestants can be as young as 12 years old, helped draw the large crowds. Contestants ranging in age from 12 to 87 years old reportedly showed up for the auditions.

Saturday’s auditions were also the first round where hopefuls would perform in front of the producers of the show rather than the judges.

As of now, the entire line up of judges has not been revealed. So far, only Cowell and famed record producer Antonio ‘L.A.’ Reid have been confirmed as judges.

The next audition will be held in Miami on April 6.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in World News

 

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Swift sweep west gives Libya’s 2 major oil centers

RAS LANOUF, Libya -Libyan rebels regained two key oil complexes in a high-speed advance west on Libya’s coast on Sunday, retracing the steps of their first march toward the capital with their path cleared by the world’s most powerful air force.

Now that they have the oil, the rebels are making tentative plans to exploit Libya’s most valuable natural resource. But production is at a trickle, the foreign oil workers and their vital expertise have fled the country, and even talk of a marketing deal with Qatar seems murky at best.

The coastal complexes at Ras Lanouf and Brega were responsible for a large chunk of Libya’s 1.5 million barrels of daily exports, which have all but stopped since the uprising that began Feb. 15 and was inspired by the toppling of governments in Tunisia and Egypt.

On the eastern approach of Ras Lanouf, airstrikes hit three empty tank transporters and left two buildings that appeared to be sleeping quarters pockmarked with shrapnel. Like oil port of Brega and the city of Ajdabiya before it, Gadhafi’s troops appear to have left in a hurry, abandoning ammunition and disappearing without a fight.

“There was no resistance. Gadhafi’s forces just melted away,” said Suleiman Ibrahim, a 31-year-old volunteer, sitting in the back of a pickup truck on the road between the two towns. “This couldn’t have happened without NATO. They gave us big support.”

In Washington, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged that the Libya operation could last months, as the Obama administration tried to bolster its case for bringing the United States into another war in the Muslim world.

The U.N. Security Council authorized the operation to protect Libyan civilians after Gadhafi launched attacks against anti-government protesters who demanded that he step down after 42 years in power. The airstrikes have crippled Gadhafi’s forces, allowing rebels to advance less than two weeks after they had seemed at the brink of defeat.

“As they move round the coast, of course, the rebels will increasingly control the exit points of Libya’s oil,” British Defense Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC. “That will produce a very dynamic and a very different equilibrium inside Libya. How that will play out in terms of public opinion and the Gadhafi regime remains to be seen.”

The agreement with the tiny Gulf nation of Qatar could allow the rebels to exploit Libya’s vast oil reserves — most of which are in the eastern territory they control. With no ships coming or going, Libya’s tanks are full to the brim. Until they are emptied, there’s nowhere to store any oil that is pumped from the ground.

Qatar, which has conducted at least one sortie over Libya, is the only Arab country known to have actively joined with the international force.

“We trust them, so basically they are the ones who are going to market our oil for us,” Ali Tarhouni, the rebel finance official, told The Associated Press on Friday. “For Qatar there’s no words to describe what they’ve done for the Libyan cause.”

Officials at Qatar’s ministry of energy and industry could not be reached for comment. Executives with the Arabian Gulf Oil Co., the National Oil Co. subsidiary in the east that broke free from its parent company, also could not be reached. Repeated calls to Libya’s oil minister went unanswered.

Eastern oil officials said over a week ago they were still producing about 100,000 barrels per day from two key fields. But it was unclear whether such levels were sustainable given the security problems across the country and the exodus of foreign workers from the vital sector.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency said recently it believed that Libyan oil production had “slowed to a trickle” while exports had “ground to a halt.” The IEA said it believed it could take months for Libyan oil to reappear on the world market.

Gates said the international action appeared to be a success, with the no-fly zone was in place and sustainable with “a lot less effort than it took to set it up.” He said the Pentagon was planning how to draw down resources that will be assigned to European and other countries pledging to take on a larger role.

But asked on ABC’s “This Week” if that would mean a U.S. military commitment until year’s end, Gates said, “I don’t think anybody knows the answer to that.”

The Gadhafi regime on Saturday acknowledged the airstrikes had forced its troops to retreat and accused international forces of choosing sides.

“This is the objective of the coalition now, it is not to protect civilians because now they are directly fighting against the armed forces,” Khaled Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said in the capital, Tripoli. “They are trying to push the country to the brink of a civil war.”

The rebel turnaround is a boost for President Barack Obama, who has faced complaints from lawmakers from both parties that he has not sought their input about the U.S. role in the conflict or explained with enough clarity about the American goals and exit strategy.

Obama was expected to give a speech to the nation Monday, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday defended the administration’s decision.

Libya, she told CBS, “had a leader who used military force against the protesters from one end of his country to the other, who publicly said things like “we’ll show no mercy,” “we’ll go house to house,” and the international community moved with great speed in part because there’s a history here.”

Pentagon officials are looking at plans to expand the firepower and airborne surveillance systems in the military campaign, including using the Air Force’s AC-130 gunship armed with cannons that shoot from the side doors, as well as helicopters and drones.

Fox, the British foreign minister, ruled out supplying arms to the rebels. “We are not arming the rebels, we are not planning to arm the rebels,” he said

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in World News