Monthly Archives: August 2011

Irene’s Death Toll Rises as Cleanup Begins

The number crunching and recovery efforts have begun as people try to resume their normal routines after Hurricane Irene’s weekend Eastern Seaboard wallop left at least 31 dead in eight states, caused massive flooding, and paralyzed air and ground transportation.

After Irene weakened to a post-tropical storm and headed over Eastern Canada on Monday morning, in New York City, commuters are back to using the restarted subway network that normally handles about five million riders daily. Flooding in New York wasn’t extensive because Irene’s eye passed over Coney Island and Central Park.

Some service, however, remains suspended after the unprecedented shutdown of the largest transit system in the U.S. Six of the Long Island Rail Road’s 11 branches are running. But the Metropolitan Transportation Authority warns there may be some cancellations on some routes. As well, service remains suspended on the Metro-North Railroad – serving regions north of New York City, from Westchester to southern Connecticut – because of severe flooding and the after-effects of mudslides, and most New Jersey Transit trains also won’t be running Monday. Many cab drivers in New York were struggling to get moving in the morning as their vehicles were deep in water.

The New York Stock Exchange said it would be open for business on Monday, and the Sept. 11 memorial at the World Trade Center site didn’t lose a single tree.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg stuck by his decision last week to order 370,000 residents to evacuate their homes in low-lying areas, saying it was impossible to know just how powerful the storm would be. “We were just unwilling to risk the life of a single New Yorker,” he said. (CBC)

Following the cancellation of about 9,000 flights, airports in New York and around the Northeast were reopening to a backlog of hundreds of thousands of passengers. But parts of the Northeast are still grappling with widespread power outages and people whose homes have been destroyed have been left stranded.

While the financial damage estimates are preliminary at best – one consulting firm pegged total losses at about $7 billion US, with insured losses between $2 billion and $3 billion – the emotional toll after the first hurricane to make landfall in the continental U.S. since 2008 is incalculable.

“It was much less bite than bark,” said Matt Carletti, specialty insurance analyst at JMP Securities. “Rounding up, it’s a $10 billion event, not 20 or 30 or 40.” (CNN)

“Certainly, the storm was, in terms of damage and losses, less than expected,” said Jose Miranda, director of client advocacy for Eqecat. “The fact that the storm hit the U.S. coast three separate times served as the number one factor why it weakened as it moved up the East Coast and mitigated losses… Economic impact is still to be seen,” added Miranda. “There are towns that are underwater now near Philadelphia and up in New York and Vermont.” (CNN)

“I want to underscore the impacts of this storm will be felt for some time and the recovery effort may last for weeks and months,” President Barack Obama warned during an address Sunday night. (CBC)

The number of storm-related deaths is now at least 31: One each in Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont. Two each in Connecticut and Florida. Four each in New Jersey and Virginia. Five each in New York state and Pennsylvania. Six in North Carolina. The ages of the fatalities ranged from an 11-year-old boy in Newport, Va., who was killed when a large tree crashed through his apartment, to an 89-year-old woman in Prospect, Conn., who was killed early Sunday when a falling tree limb pulled power lines onto her house and started a fire.

Hundreds of people remain out of their homes in Vermont, after they were told to leave before Irene swamped the landlocked state. Video posted on Facebook showed a 141-year-old covered bridge in Rockingham swept away by the rolling, muddy Williams River. In another video, an empty car somersaulted down a river in Bennington.

“It’s pretty fierce. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Michelle Guevin, who spoke from a Brattleboro restaurant after leaving her home in nearby Newfane. She said the fast-moving Rock River was washing out the road to her house. (CBC)

Green Mountain Power warned that Montpelier, the capital, could be flooded twice: once in the initial storm and again if the utility decides it must release water to save the earthen Marshfield Dam, about 30 kilometres up the Winooski River to the northeast. “We don’t want to do it. But if the dam were to be compromised, it would be a far greater effect,” utility spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said. Residents of 350 households were asked to leave as a precaution. (CBC)

“We never see this sort of thing in Vermont,” said CNN iReporter Jesse Stone of White River Junction, where the covered bridge was flooded. “For the people who are saying that Irene was disappointing, maybe, because they didn’t get the sort of wind and damage they expected, I just want to remind them that, in places like Vermont, we really got it pretty hard.” (CNN)

Officials are working to repair hundreds of damaged roads, and power companies picked through uprooted trees and reconnected lines.
Twenty homes on Long Island Sound in Connecticut were destroyed by churning surf. The torrential rain chased hundreds of people in upstate New York from their homes and closed 220 kilometres of the state’s main highway.

As many as 200 residents were isolated and without power Monday on Ocracoke Island, near where Irene had first made landfall as a hurricane on Saturday. Supply transport to Ocracoke was hampered as ocean waves dislodged large chunks of a key roadway. Dunes at Ocracoke’s northern end “have apparently been spread across the road, so no one yet knows how badly the pavement is damaged,” said Clayton Gaskill, manager of Ocracoke’s tiny FM radio station WOVV. (CNN)

Flooding was ongoing, particularly in New England, said Craig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “A lot of activities are moving into recovery phases, but we are still very concerned about the flooding,” he told reporters in a conference call. (CNN) As of early afternoon, about 5 million customers were without power, Fugate said, citing figures from the Department of Energy. That was down from about 6 million, he said.

Asked how FEMA has changed its approach to handling disasters six years after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to much of the Gulf Coast, Fugate said the agency now has more authority to act prior to receiving a request from a governor. That translates into “not having to wait” until the impact of the storm is clear. “We have to act quickly and be prepared to support that.” (CNN)

“Hurricane Irene, from our vantage point, was a very well-behaved, New England breed of hurricane,” said David Vallee, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service in charge of the Northeastern forecast center in Taunton, Massachusetts. “Lots of rain west of the track.” (CNN)

Authorities in and around Easton, Pa., kept a close eye on the rising Delaware River. The National Weather Service forecast the river to crest there at 10 metres, well above normal flood stage.

In the South, authorities were not sure how much damage had been done but expressed relief that it wasn’t worse. “Thank God it weakened a little bit,” said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who toured a hard-hit Richmond neighbourhood where large, old-growth trees uprooted and crushed houses and automobiles. (CBC)

In Norfolk, most of the water had receded by Sunday. There was isolated flooding and downed trees, but nowhere near the damage officials predicted. “We can’t believe a hurricane came through here,” city spokeswoman Lori Crouch said. (CBC)

In North Carolina, where six people were killed, the infrastructure losses included the only road to the seven villages on Hatteras Island. “Overall, the destruction is not as severe as I was worried it might be, but there is still lots and lots of destruction, and people’s lives are turned upside down,” Gov. Beverly Perdue said in Kill Devil Hills. (CBC)

In Washington, President Barack Obama vowed, “We will make sure folks have all the support they need.” He added that “it will take time” to recover. (CNN)

Irene was a major hurricane at one point, with winds higher than 175 km/h as it headed toward the U.S. By the time it hit New York, it was a tropical storm with 105 km/h winds. It lost the characteristics of a tropical storm and had slowed to 80 km/h by the time it reached Canada.

The remnants of the hurricane are creating strong winds and dumping heavy rain on parts of Québec and the Maritime provinces, leaving thousands without power on Monday afternoon.

In Québec, one person was reported missing northeast of Montreal. The Sûreté du Québec is searching the Yamaska River for a man who was in a car that was swept away by rushing water when a culvert collapsed in Yamaska. Two other men were injured in the collapse, which left a 30-metre long hole.

At 8 a.m. ET Monday, the storm was centered about 55 kilometres south-southeast of Baie Comeau, Que., and was tracking northeast at about 45 km/h.


Today In the News

Libya, Nigeria, Mexico, and Hurricane Irene

Libya
The focus of fighting in Libya appears to be shifting to the hometown of Moammar Gaddafi, where forces loyal to him are expected to make a stand. The forces trying to defeat Gaddafi have taken Bin Jiwad, on the road to Sirte, three times only to be driven back each time. They hope to hold it this time to begin the march to Sirte, BBC correspondent Paul Wood said. NATO airstrikes have also focused on Sirte. The military alliance said its warplanes targeted 29 armoured vehicles near the town, which is about 400 kilometres east of Tripoli. In the Libyan capital, sporadic fighting continued, and the water was reported to have gone off across the city. Gunfire was reported near the Tripoli neighbourhood of Abu Salim, where rebels had battled Gaddafi’s fighters holed up in residential buildings for most of Thursday.

Nigeria
At least 18 people were killed Friday in a bombing at a U.N. building in the Nigerian capital, police spokesman said. Police commissioner Michael Zuokumo told reporters eight people had been injured. Rescue officials at the scene in Abuja helped to pull the dead and injured from the rubble. Bomb squad officers and other security teams were also sent to the scene, deputy police spokesman Yemi Ajayi said. A representative for the National Hospital said there was a shortage of blood to use in surgery. Hospital staff and relatives of the injured have been going to the blood bank to donate. The attack targeted a building that housed 26 U.N. humanitarian and development agencies. The building is home to the main U.N. missions operating in Nigeria and may have had as many as 400 people inside. It is not clear who was responsible for the attack, though the Nigerian capital has experienced a series of bombings recently.

Mexico
Calling a deadly fire at a casino “an act of terrorism,” Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his top law enforcement officials vowed Friday to capture gangsters responsible for the deaths of 52 people who perished in a fire set by gunmen at the Casino Royale in Monterrey. Security cameras captured images of a dozen assailants pulling up in four vehicles to the front doors of the casino, spilling out of their trucks in mid-afternoon and entering the entertainment complex, which offers bingo and betting on sports and horse racing. As casino customers are seen quickly rushing from the front doors, some of the gunmen stand watching by their cars. They did not appear to be wearing masks, and with computer enhancements, the license plate numbers of their vehicles would be likely readable. Within two minutes and 30 seconds of their arrival, black smoke and flames appear in the security video and the gunmen are seen rapidly leaving and driving away.The Casino Royale is the third such establishment targeted this month in northern Mexico.

Hurricane Irene
President Barack Obama has warned Hurricane Irene, currently looming off the east coast of the U.S., could be a “historic” storm. Seven states from North Carolina to Connecticut have declared emergencies ahead of Irene’s arrival. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in parts of four states. The storm has weakened slightly to category two, with winds up to 150 mph (169 km/h), a strength at which it is expected to make landfall. Irene, which has already caused havoc in the Caribbean, is expected to hit the coast of North Carolina on Saturday before barreling northwards to Washington and New York City a day later.


Today In the News…

Libya
Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi called on his supporters to march on Tripoli and “purify” the capital of rebels, who he denounced as “rats, crusaders and unbelievers” in a defiant, angry speech that betrayed no hint of despondency. Meanwhile, Libyan fighters battled diehard followers of Gaddafi across Tripoli, racing to find and finish off the fallen strongman and stifle any counter-attack by his family and other loyalists. Closer to home, a Canadian-born man, Nader Benrewin, 24, was shot by a sniper as he stormed Gaddafi’s compound. Benrewin was born in Edmonton but had family living in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. Benrewin had lived and worked in Ottawa for three years before deciding to return to Libya to offer support to rebel forces.

Hurricane Irene
Four governors declared states of emergency Thursday as Hurricane Irene threatened to wreak havoc along the United States’ Eastern Seaboard. Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and North Carolina all declared states of emergency, allowing states to free funds and prepare resources that may be needed. As of 2 p.m. ET, the Category 3 storm was pounding the Bahamas, with its eye over Abaco Island, the National Hurricane Center said. Maximum sustained winds were at 115 mph as the storm worked its way northwest. A mandatory evacuation order was in effect for residents and visitors in Hyde County, North Carolina, which includes Ocracoke Island, reachable only by boat or private plane, on the Outer Banks.

Israel
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that Israel’s military will continue to hit Palestinians suspected of attacking Israel, amid escalating violence in the region since a deadly terror attack on Israelis a week ago. Twenty-four Palestinians have died in air strikes in the past week, Palestinian medical and security sources say, as Israel has carried out a series of targeted attacks on the alleged leaders of terror groups. Ten have died in the past day. Meanwhile, more than 140 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israeli territory from Gaza since last Thursday, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces told CNN Thursday, eight of them in the past 24 hours.

Syria
One of the best-known cartoonists in the Arab world has been beaten up by Syrian security forces, activists say. Ali Ferzat, whose work is critical of the government, was forced from his car in Damascus and badly beaten. The attack comes after 11 civilians and eight soldiers were reportedly killed in different incidents across Syria. The UN says more than 2,200 people have been killed as security forces crack down on anti-government protests that began in mid-March. The demonstrators are demanding the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has been in power for 40 years.

Pakistan
A bomb planted in a child’s tricycle exploded a shop in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least eight people and damaging several stores and hotels, police said. The crackdown occurred in the main bazaar in the town of Risalpur in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said Mohammad Hussain, police chief for surrounding Nowshera district. Shoppers were buying goods for an upcoming Muslim holiday when the bomb went off. At least nine people were wounded, Hussain said. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Pakistani Taliban has carried out many bombings throughout the northwest.

Chile
Chile is set for the second day of a 48-hour national strike called by the main trade unions who are demanding a raft of reforms. Wednesday’s stoppage began peacefully but violent clashes erupted after some demonstrators erected burning barricades and threw stones. Officials said 348 people were arrested and dozens injured. The stoppage comes amid ongoing student protests to press for education reform.


Earthquake Rattles East Coast in United States and Canada

An unusually strong and shallow earthquake struck the U.S. East Coast and Canada on Tuesday, shaking buildings in several cities and delaying flights in New York. There were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries from the 5.9 magnitude quake, which the U.S. Geological Survey said was centered in Mineral, Virginia, at a very shallow depth of 0.6 mile.

The Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol evacuated in Washington, and thousands of panicked office workers scurried into the streets of the city after the lunchtime quake, which sent items crashing to the floor from store and office shelves.

“We were rocking,” said Larry Beach, who works at the U.S. Agency for International Development in downtown Washington, 83 miles from the quake’s epicenter. “It was definitely significant.” (Reuters)

Television monitors and lights swayed for about 30 seconds as the quake rumbled away, and the mobile phone network showed intermittent service for some time afterwards.

“When it started, it felt like someone was moving furniture next door,” Peter Walker told the BBC from Washington. “Things began to shake even more and so everyone rushed out into the corridor. The alarm went off and the building was evacuated. After an hour we were all sent home. There are traffic jams all over the city. The metro is really crowded and so many people are walking or cycling home.” (BBC)

At the National Cathedral in north-west Washington, the highest building in the U.S. capital city, three pinnacles in the central tower snapped off and a fourth was leaning. The 30-storey high central tower suffered minor structural damage. Also, the embassy of Ecuador was reported to have suffered major damage.

“I thought it was a big truck going down the street at first until the building started to sway,” said CBC associate producer Caroline Laurin, who works in the CBC’s Washington bureau. “Then we all laughed nervously.” (CBC)

In Charleston, West Virginia, hundreds of workers left the state Capitol building. “The whole building shook,” a spokeswoman for the state Supreme Court said. “You could feel two different shakes. Everybody just kind of came out on their own.” (BBC)

Earthquakes of magnitude 5.5 to 6 usually cause slight damage to buildings and other structures.

In New York, the tremors prompted evacuations of courthouses, City Hall and halted work at the World Trade Center construction site. Control towers at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey were also evacuated, and flights were delayed while authorities inspected control towers and runways. “We’re going to hope to resume operations. We are talking hours, not longer,” a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said. (Reuters)

It was not immediately clear if there was any damage or injuries in New York, but fire departments and police officials in Dutchess County, north of New York City, reported structural damage to some buildings. “We’re getting a lot of calls on buildings shaking but there’s no report of any structural damage at this time. Just panicked people calling about buildings shaking,” a spokesman for the New York City Fire Department said. (Reuters)

The AFP news agency said procedures put in place after the 9/11 attacks were activated in New York when the quake hit. Police guided people to local parks and away from tall buildings. One witness told AFP she saw a Wall Street skyscraper “shaking like a turning fork.” (BBC) Another said the 20th floor of the court building he was on “shook like mad” and that everyone was scared. (BBC) Fatima Richardson, 28, who was sitting on the steps of the courthouse said: “You could see the building moving. I was just freaking out.” (BBC)

Lower Manhattan office worker Juan Ramos told AFP he was confused after giving blood. “I saw my cup of coffee shaking but I thought nothing of it. I had just donated blood so I thought I had not recovered my equilibrium,” he said. (BBC)

Buildings in Boston were evacuated, while a Reuters witness said the quake was felt as far away as Toronto. The quake was felt as far south as South Carolina.

Traffic lights were knocked out through Washington, and units at a nuclear power plant in Virginia went off line by the quake.

The quake was initially recorded at 5.8 magnitude.


Gaddafi Regime Crumbles as Fighting Continues in Tripoli

Libyan rebels seized most of the capital, swiped control of state television, battled Moammar Gaddafi’s forces and had three of his sons in custody Monday, as their efforts converged on one task that could bring an end to their civil war – and to 42 years of rule: the apprehension of Gaddafi himself.

“The real moment of victory is when Gaddafi is captured,” NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil said at a news conference in Benghazi, long a rebel stronghold in the conflict. (CNN)

The U.S. government said it believes Gaddafi remains in Libya. “We believe he’s still in the country,” Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said Monday. “We do not have information he left the country.” (CNN)

U.N. officials have “been trying to get in touch with him,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The U.N. chief described events in Tripoli as “testimony to the courage and determination of the Libyan people to seek a free and democratic future.” (CNN)

But even as official control of their country seemed to be within reach, the rebels were engaged in fierce battles for parts of Tripoli. “A great majority of the capital of Tripoli is under freedom fighters’ control,” said Guma El-Gamaty, the Britain-based coordinator for the rebels’ National Transitional Council. (CNN)

At the Rixos hotel where international journalists are staying, close to Gaddafi’s compound, intense fighting could be heard Monday afternoon. Sporadic gunfire and explosions coming from the direction of Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound could be heard Monday morning. Much of Bab al-Aziziya has already been destroyed by NATO airstrikes, and a fight for the compound might be more symbolic in nature.

“We are bracing ourselves for another night of intense street fighting,” a Tripoli resident told the BBC. “I think Gaddafi security forces will resort to guerrilla warfare because they know they do not have the support of the people.” (BBC)

But another resident said rebel fighters were “breaking into people’s houses, stealing everything,” adding that the rebel assault would be “a disaster for Libya and NATO.” (BBC)

As fighting continued in Tripoli, residents tried to stay safe. “We cannot feel peace, we cannot feel victory, until we see Gaddafi captured,” said Saud Shariff, a professor at Tripoli’s Libyan University, who spent the night in her home. “After Gaddafi is captured… [the people who are following him] will believe this is the end.” (CBC)

Rebels on Monday afternoon pulled back from an area near Tripoli’s Green Square – which rebels are renaming Martyr’s Square – to coordinate some sort of offensive in the city, although it was not immediately clear what they were planning. In parts of the city, rebels were concerned about snipers on top of buildings.

U.S. and NATO officials said they were concerned forces loyal to Gaddafi might stage a last-ditch attack against civilians. “If there is a last-ditch effort we want to protect civilians,” said a senior NATO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of sensitive intelligence matters. (CNN) Senior levels of NATO were watching closely for any sign of a massing of Libyan government forces, or moving of weapons such as rockets or artillery, the official said. The U.S. official warned that Gaddafi still may be able “to issue orders” to his troops through limited communications, although its unclear how much he controls. (CNN) It was also unclear what may happen to Gaddafi’s sons in rebel custody, as well as to the leader himself if he is captured. The International Criminal Court has warrants for the arrests of Gaddafi and one of his sons, Saif al-Islam, as well as Abdullah al-Senussi, the head of military intelligence.

The court’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, spoke Monday with members of the National Transitional Council about efforts to safeguard the civilian population in Libya. Further conversations will discuss the possibility of surrendering the three men, the court said in a news release.

The rebels on Monday also arrested Hala Misrati, an anchor from Libya’s state-run television. Misrati had a brandished gun on air over the weekend and said that staffers at the television station were prepared to be martyrs. “With this weapon, I either kill or die today,” she said Sunday. (CNN) Rebels said they found her in her car near a coffee shop Monday. Pandemonium ensued when word got out that Misrati had been arrested. Witnesses said Misrati was unharmed but would not be speaking to media. A cordon of soldiers quickly formed to isolate her from media representatives, other rebels and gawkers. Rebel TV later reported that it had taken control of state TV, which had gone black.

Gaddafi’s forces in Tajoura, on the eastern outskirts of Tripoli, where a hospital is located, were negotiating their surrender Monday morning, according to Jumma Ibrahim, a rebel military spokesman.

In Zawiya – a key coastal city that appeared to be under rebel control – residents celebrated by firing guns in the air, setting off fireworks and chanting, “Libya is free!” And in Benghazi, one resident called the rebel gains as joyous as “New Year’s Day.” (CNN)

Elsewhere, rebel units have been deployed to a northern coastal highway – a main thoroughfare to Tunisia – “to get rid of one of the last Gaddafi forces positioned in the northern coastal stretch,” said Jamal Kor, a rebel field commander. Kor said rebels hope the entire coastal stretch between Ras Ajdir, Tunisia and Tripoli “will be in rebel hands” by Monday afternoon. “We have tried to persuade Gaddafi forces to surrender, but to no avail,” Kor said. (CNN) Confident that victory was close, the rebel government began making plans to govern.

El-Gamaty told CNN Monday that it will take 18 to 20 months to create a political framework for a new Libyan government. Though fighting in Tripoli continued, “Libya is under the control of the TNC,” said Ali Suleiman Aujali, the rebel government’s ambassador to the United States. Aujali added that Gaddafi brigades have raised the white flag in the key town of al-Brega. CNN could not independently confirm his claim.

NATO, operating under a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to protect Libyan civilians, has conducted more than 7,500 strike sorties in Libya since NATO began the military operation in March.

Libyans seeking Gaddafi’s ouster rejoiced Sunday after news that two of the ruler’s sons – Saif al-Islam and Saadi – had been arrested by opposition forces.

On Monday, a third Gaddafi son, Mohammed, was also taken into custody. A man identified as Mohammed Gaddafi told Al Jazeera during a live telephone interview early Monday that rebels had entered his home. “I’m being attacked right now. This is gunfire inside my house. They are inside my house,” he told Al Jazeera. (CNN)

As for Gaddafi’s other four sons, El-Gamaty said, “we think they are either hiding or they have run away.” (CNN)

On Sunday, Gaddafi took the airwaves several times urging citizens, including women, to fight the rebels – whom he called “very small groups of people who are collaborators with the imperialists.” “Get out and lead, lead, lead the people to paradise,” he said. (CNN) “How come you allow Tripoli, the capital, to be under occupation once again?” he asked. “The traitors are paving the way for the occupation forces to be deployed in Tripoli.” (BBC)

Libyan government spokesman Musa Ibrahim told reporters late Sunday night that about 1,300 people had been killed and about 5,000 wounded in fighting in the previous 12 hours. “(The city) is being turned into a hellfire,” he said from Tripoli. “Every drop of Libyan blood shed by these rebels is the responsibility of the western world, especially NATO’s countries.” (CNN)

NATO Secretary-General Andres Fogh Rasmmussen said the Gaddafi regime is “clearly crumbling.” “The sooner Gaddafi realizes that he cannot win the battle against his own people, the better – so that the Libyan people can be spared further bloodshed and suffering,” Rasmussen said in a statement on Monday. (CNN)
If the Gaddafi regime falls, it would follow revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt this year in what is known as the Arab Spring. A spate of other countries in the region – including Bahrain, Yemen and Syria – have also seen protests by citizens demanding more freedom and a change in regime. In many cases, these demonstrations have been met with brute force.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Sunday night the momentum against Gaddafi’s regime has reached a tipping point. “Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant,” Obama said. “The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Gaddafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end.” (CNN)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters in Ottawa on Monday that last march, when Canada made the decision to participate in the NATO mission under the leadership of the U.N., the aim was to protect Libyans against the deadly Gaddafi regime. “Today, Canada pays tribute to the news of the beginning of the fall of the Gaddafi regime,” Harper said. “We hope that the transfer of power to the National Transition Council in Libya will also be carried out peacefully. Libyans have expected this for a long time now. They wish to be freed of the violent, barbaric regime of Gaddafi.” Harper added that Canada’s military personnel will remain in Libya, and “we will be consulting our allies as to the next stage.” (CBC)

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron called on Gaddafi to unconditionally cease fighting. Cameron also called on the Libyan rebels to respect human rights and to avoid reprisals, and said frozen assets belonging to the Libyan people would soon be released.

A European Union spokesperson said sanctions against the Libya government would remain in place for now, but that the EU was prepared to drop them quickly. “As soon as we judge that the time is right to help the population, we will change them,” EU spokesman Michael Mann said. (CBC)

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini echoed Cameron’s call for Gaddafi to give up. “The time is up,” Frattini said. “There is no alternative to surrendering and handing himself in to justice.” (CBC)


UK Police Arrest More than 200 After 3 Days of Riots

Riot police have been deployed to the streets of London as violence broke out for a third day running. Officers have clashed with rioters in Hackney, Peckham and Lewisham where vehicles have been set on fire. It follows two nights of violence over the weekend which started after a police shot a man dead in Tottenham.

London’s mayor Boris Johnson is cutting short his holiday to return to the city, where more than 200 people have been arrested and 35 officers injured. Home Secretary Theresa May also returned early from holiday, to meet Acting Metropolitan Police (Met) Commissioner Tim Godwin and other senior officers.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said they discussed the police response to the violence. He said: “They were looking at preparations for tonight (Monday) to make sure any violence is dealt with quickly.” (BBC)

Mrs. May condemned the riots as “sheer criminality” and said those responsible would “face the consequences of their actions.” She said: “The riots in Tottenham on Saturday night and the subsequent disturbances in other parts of London are totally unacceptable.” (BBC) She also paid tribute to the bravery of police officers and urged local communities “to work constructively with police to help them bring these criminals to justice.” (BBC) Mrs. May said at least 215 people had been arrested and 25 people charged.

A peaceful protest in Tottenham on Saturday over the fatal shooting by police of Mark Duggan, 29, was followed by violence which spread into Sunday. A candlelit vigil was due to be held at The High Cross in Tottenham on Monday evening.

A BBC journalist said the latest violence started in Mare Street, Hackney, when a man was stopped and searched by police but nothing was found. Riot vans were drafted in and there are up to 200 police officers in riot gear in the Hackney area. Groups of people began attacking the police at about 1620 BST, throwing rocks and a bin at officers. Police cars were also smashed by youths armed with wooden poles and metal bars. Looters also smashed their way into shops, including a JD Sports store, before being dispersed by police. Planks of wood taken from a lorry were then hurled towards lines of riot officers.

Violence has also broken out in Peckham, south London, where a shop and a bus have been set on fire.

In nearby Lewisham, footage showed a number of vehicles and a trail of bins on fire. “This is just thugs wanting to intimidate people,” Councillor Michael Harris told the BBC. “We’ve had good community relations in Lewisham and it’s simply not justified.” He described the people carrying out the acts as young people whose faces were covered with masks. (CNN)

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said there were “significant resources” on the streets, with a third more officers on duty than on Sunday. He said: “What we can see is that the Metropolitan Police are getting police officers there in numbers. When we have large numbers of criminals intent on that type of violence, we can only do that, get lots of officers there quickly and try to protect local businesses and local people.” He also admitted relations with the family of the man shot dead by police could have been handled better. Mr. Kavanagh said: “I want to apologize to the Duggan family because I think both the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) and the Metropolitan Police could have managed the family’s needs more effectively.” (BBC)

“This has changed from a local issue into organized criminality,” Stephen Kavanagh said Monday as he announced a “momentous investigation” to track down the perpetrators. “We will make sure that this criminality is not allowed to continue,” Kavanagh told Sky News. (CBC)

Saturday’s riots occurred after the shooting death Thursday of Mark Duggan, a black man, as he was seated inside a cab. Officers from Operation Trident – the Metropolitan Police unit that deals with gun crime in in London’s black communities – stopped the cab during an attempted arrest and soon afterwards shots were fired, the IPCC said. Duggan, a father of four, was fatally shot. Shooting deaths are rare in England. The commission divulged neither who shot Duggan nor why police had stopped the cab.

Some reports suggested that Duggan was held down by police and shot in the head, but the IPCC denies this. “Speculation that Mark Duggan was ‘assassinated’ in an execution style involving a number of shots to the head are categorically untrue,” the IPCC said in a statement. (CNN)

Scotland Yard police commander Stephen Watson on Sunday described the scenes as “distressing,” but stressed public safety was “paramount.” He said in a statement that police “are aware of raised tensions… which are understandable following the tragic death… What we experienced earlier on yesterday evening was a peaceful protest outside Tottenham police station – there was no indication it would deteriorate ni this way. For those who involved themselves in this level of violence, there is no excuse.” (CBC)

The violence has cast a pall over a city preparing to host the 2012 Olympic Games. “I hope people will have a fantastic Olympics no matter what happened last night,” London Mayor Boris Johnson said in a telephone interview with BBC television on the weekend, trying to assure the world his city was safe.

Others weren’t so sure, suggesting that the riots exposed incipient tensions at a time of sharp public sector cutbacks and economic uncertainty. “This is just a glimpse into the abyss,” former Metropolitan Police commander John O’Conner told Sky News. “Someone’s pulled the clock back and you can look and see what’s beneath the surface. And what with the Olympic Games coming up, this doesn’t bode very well for London.” (CBC)

“The scenes of violence and destruction over the weekend are utterly appalling,” said Mr. Johnson in a statement. “People have lost their homes, businesses and livelihoods through mindless violence. I understand the need for urgent answers into the shooting incident that resulted in the death of a young local man, and I’ve sought reassurances that the IPCC are doing exactly that. But let’s be clear these acts of sheer criminality across London are nothing to do with this incident and must stop now.” (CNN)

Also on Monday, Premier League football club Tottenham offered to help rebuild the disadvantaged north London neighbourhood after the rioting and looting. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said the club is “deeply saddened” by the weekend rioting, which saw buildings in the area torched and police officers injured.

“The club is committed to supporting its community with help with both the physical clean up of our area and the longer term rebuilding of the community spirit,” Levy said in a statement. “It is more critical than ever that community, business and political leaders – local and national, public and private, now work closely together to support the regeneration of this area and we shall certainly look to play our part in that.” (CBC) The damage at White Hart was limited to a ticket office, which remains closed. But stadium tours have been canceled for “safety reasons,” Tottenham said. Tottenham is due to host Everton on Saturday in its Premier League opener.

Kiolometres from the tourist hotspots of central London, Tottenham is one of England’s most deprived areas. In 1985, it was the scene of one of the most violent riots in the country’s history after a local woman suffered a heart failure when her home was raided by police. One officer was stabbed to death as he tried to protect the firefighters and nearly 60 others hospitalized.