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Security Council considers Libya sanctions

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The U.N. Security Council considered banning arms exports to Libya and other sanctions against Moammar Gadhafi in a closed session Saturday.

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Some of the delegates attending the session told CNN they expected the council to vote on the resolution by the end of the day. The resolution also includes a freeze on assets owned abroad by Gadhafi and his family and a ban on travel by Libyan leaders.

President Obama signed an order Friday freezing Gadhafi's assets in the United States. Switzerland has also ordered its banks to identify and block Gadhafi's accounts.

The Security Council resolution would also ask the International Criminal Court to investigate whether Gadhafi should be charged with crimes against humanity.

The United Nations estimates at least 1,000 people have been killed since mass protests began in Libya. The wave of massive street demonstrations that has hit most Arab countries began in Tunisia, bordering Libya on the west, in January, and spread to Egypt on its eastern border.

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Protesters, police clash in Tunis

TUNIS, Tunisia, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Violence erupted for a second day Saturday in the Tunisian capital as police used tear gas on protesters demanding the prime minister's resignation.

Young demonstrators hurled rocks at police officers and set several cars on fire, The Wall Street Journal reported. Gunfire was heard in central Tunis.

About 100,000 people turned out Friday for the largest rally since President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's longtime dictator, stepped down Jan. 14. The Interior Ministry said at least 20 police officers were hurt and demonstrators broke into stores.

The government headed by interim Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has promised to hold an election by July, although officials have not said whether voters will select a new president, a new parliament or both.

Mass demonstrations, which set off a wave of unrest in the Arab world, were fueled by the suicide of a young man who lost his street vending business and by leaked U.S. diplomatic cables describing the president's luxurious lifestyle. The country's economy remains weak, and the unrest has temporarily halted the tourist industry.


Budget cuts hit British military hard

LONDON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Cuts to the British defense budget have left its army with just a single battalion on standby for emergency operations, officials said.

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Senior military officials said Britain would have only a small chance to rescue civilians from any future situations similar to the conflict in Libya, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The standby battalion, called Spearhead Lead Element, was said to be struggling to obtain the proper equipment needed for training. Much of the military's resources are being used in Afghanistan, where 10,000 troops are committed.

The British navy will lose four large frigates to budget cuts this year, including the Cumberland, which was used to evacuate British citizens from Libya.

"We have cut our cloth very small and if we bit off more than we could chew we would be in trouble," one officer said. "We certainly could not do an operation like Sierra Leone again because we have no fast jets. Even to achieve and sustain a foothold ashore would be difficult."

Another senior military officer said a major operation could be "sustained for a few days only."

"We just don't have any more protection against the unexpected, which is always bound to happen. The locker is not just empty it's completely threadbare."


N.J. union workers rally against Christie

TRENTON, N.J., Feb. 26 (UPI) -- New Jersey trade unionists rallied in support of their Wisconsin counterparts and against Gov. Chris Christie, calling him an enemy of the middle class.

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The demonstration outside the Statehouse in Trenton Friday, called by the state AFL-CIO, drew a crowd of about 3,100, State Police told The Star-Ledger of Newark.

"All of New Jersey's middle class is hurting, but this governor and his right-wing supporters are trying to start a middle-class civil war," said New Jersey Education Association President Barbara Keshishian. "The ultimate goal is to destroy all unions."

"Nothing less than the fate of our middle class is at stake right now," said Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO national president.

In his budget address Tuesday, Christie said private sector workers "support the rich benefits of public employees" and demanded substantial givebacks on benefits and pensions.

Christie was in Washington Friday at the National Governors Association meeting. In a radio interview Thursday, he dismissed the rally, saying, "They'll show complete and utter disrespect for me; you can count on it. There'll be all kinds of ugly and hateful signs. That just shows their character."

A counter-rally organized by Americans for Prosperity drew about 50 people.

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