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March 26, 2011 at 6:00 PM   |   Comments

Airstrikes help Libyan rebels retake town

TRIPOLI, Libya, March 26 (UPI) -- In the smoldering wake of allied airstrikes, Libyan rebels were able to recapture the eastern oil town of Ajdabiya Saturday, the BBC reported.

Operating under a U.N. mandate, British RAF Tornado aircraft with guided missiles targeted tanks and artillery positions set up by Col. Moammar Gadhafi's army, enabling rebels to retake the town of about 100,000 people, which they lost about a week ago, the report said.

The head of the French military, Adm. Edouard Guillaud, predicted Friday the campaign would be over within weeks.

"There will not be, strictly speaking, a situation of getting bogged down militarily because obviously the solution is political," Guillaud told Radio France Internationale in an interview. "Clearly, it is now a matter of finding political solutions, but that's not my domain."

A BBC correspondent in Ajdabiya said he saw at least 20 tanks and other heavy artillery pieces in ruins as residents danced on them and chanted thanks to U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

In Tripoli, government spokesman Ibrahim Mussa expressed outrage, CNN reported.

"This is immoral, illegal and it was not authorized by the [U.N.] Security Council," Mussa told reporters.

On March 17 the U.N. Security Council authorized allies to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to ground Gadhafi's air force, which was pummeling rebels. The United States led the international effort, but control is being transferred to NATO this weekend.


Regulator: Radioactive seawater off Japan

TOKYO, March 26 (UPI) -- Seawater near Japan's damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima is highly radioactive, the country's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Saturday.

Also Saturday, Yukio Edano, Japan's chief Cabinet secretary and government spokesman, suggested Tokyo Electric Power has been dilatory in providing information on the crisis, Kyodo News Service reported. He urged the company to be more forthcoming.

The nuclear agency said radioactive iodine-131 was found at a concentration 1,250 times the legal limit Friday near the drains of the four reactors battered this month by an earthquake and tsunami.

However, the agency said the sea would "significantly dilute" the radiation and because an area about 15 miles in all directions is under evacuation orders, there wouldn't be any fishing in the area.

Engineers at the plant succeeded in restoring power to the control room at the No. 2 reactor Saturday. That left one of the six reactors, No. 4, still without electric lights in its control room, Kyodo said.

Meanwhile, the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power, said it had changed to using fresh water from seawater to hose the reactor cores and spent fuel areas, the report said. The company said there were concerns salt from the seawater was building up a crust that reduced cooling effects and water flow.

Edano told a news conference it was too early to forecast a date when the reactors, which have been rendered useless, would be stabilized.

"The current situation is that we are preventing it from worsening," he said.


Pioneering Rep. Geraldine Ferraro dies

BOSTON, March 26 (UPI) -- Geraldine Ferraro, who broke new ground as Walter Mondale's running mate in the 1984 U.S. presidential election, died Saturday of multiple myeloma. She was 75.

Ferraro's family announced she lost a decade-long battle with the blood cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital, USA Today reported.

Ferraro, who in 1984 was in her third term in Congress from a New York City district, was the first woman to appear on a major party ticket in a presidential election. While the Democratic ticket carried only Mondale's native Minnesota, losing in a landslide to Ronald Reagan, Ferraro's run broke ground for a generation of political women.

She was used to being a pioneer. After graduating from college in 1952, Ferraro attended Fordham Law School while teaching school and was one of three women in her class.

Three days after Ferraro passed the bar exam, she married John Zaccaro, although she continued to use her maiden name professionally.

"Geraldine will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women, and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life," President Barack Obama said in a statement release by the White House.

"Geraldine fought to uphold America's founding ideals of equality, justice and opportunity for all. And as our ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, she stood up for those ideals around the world."

Before, during and after her years in Congress, Ferraro was concerned with women's rights and social justice. She represented women and children pro bono in family court while raising her family, established the Special Victims Bureau in the Queens District Attorney's Office and set up a flextime system for federal employees.


Jesuits make $166M sex abuse settlement

SEATTLE, March 26 (UPI) -- The Jesuits of the U.S. Northwest will pay $166 million to hundreds of people sexually abused at their boarding schools, plaintiffs' lawyers say.

The settlement by the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus is by far the largest agreed to by a Roman Catholic religious order, The New York Times reports. The province includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

The province said Friday it would not comment on the settlement announced by the plaintiffs because it is in bankruptcy litigation stemming from previous abuse settlements of $55 million. The new settlement with more than 500 victims, mostly American Indians and Alaska Natives, was negotiated under the bankruptcy-ordered restructuring.

An insurer is to pay most of the settlement, which still must be approved by hundreds of other victims and a federal judge.

"There is a huge number of victims, in part because these Native American communities were remote and vulnerable, and in part because of a policy by the Jesuits, even though they deny it, of sending problem priests to these far-off regions," said Terry McKiernan of Bishopaccountability.org, a victims' group.

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