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Libya’s Gaddafi denies fleeing as cities overrun

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TRIPOLI – Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi denied Monday he had fled his country after protesters overran several cities, as his four-decade rule was under assault amid claims of a “massacre” in Tripoli.

“I am going to meet with the youth in Green Square,” in downtown Tripoli, he said, in what state television reported was a live broadcast from the strongman’s home.

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“It’s just to prove that I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela and to deny television reports, those dogs,” he said, holding up an umbrella in pouring rain while about to step into a car. Rain lashed Tripoli on Monday evening.

It was the Libyan strongman’s first comments — apparently to scotch rumors he had fled to Venezuela — since protests erupted last Tuesday in the east of the oil-rich north African nation he has ruled for 41 years.

After days of unrest, the uprising has now spread to the Libyan capital, with gunfire rattling Tripoli, where protesters attacked police stations and the offices of the state broadcaster, Kadhafi’s mouthpiece, and set government buildings ablaze.

Residents of two districts in Tripoli told AFP in Cairo by telephone there had been “a massacre,” with gunmen “firing indiscriminately” in Tajura district.

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Another in Fashlum said helicopters had landed what he called African mercenaries who opened fire on anyone in the street, causing a large number of deaths.

“It’s definitely the end of the regime. This has never happened in Libya before. We are praying that it ends quickly,” one resident of east Tripoli told AFP in Cairo by telephone.

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International concern at the crackdown on the unprecedented unrest rocking Libya is growing as events unfold with human rights group putting the death toll at between over 200 to some 400 people.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the world was “watching the situation in Libya with alarm.”

“We join the international community in strongly condemning the violence in Libya,” she said in a written statement. “Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed.”

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UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was “outraged” by reports that Libyan security forces had fired on demonstrators from war planes and helicopters.

Saying Ban wanted Kadhafi to “immediately” halt violence, Martin Nesirky said: “Such attacks against civilians, if confirmed, would constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law and would be condemned by the secretary-general in the strongest terms.”

NATO, the European Union, United Nations, Britain, France and Italy all called for a halt to the violence.

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Several Libyan diplomats at the United Nations joined calls for Kadhafi to quit, with deputy ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi telling CNN Kadhafi has “declared war” on the Libyan people and is committing “genocide.”

In an interview with BBC World, Dabbashi added: “I think it is the end of Colonel Kadhafi, it is a matter of days, whether he steps down or the Libyan people will get rid of him anyway.”

Benghazi, Libya’s second city and an opposition stronghold in the east, fell to anti-regime demonstrators after military units deserted, the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR) reported earlier.

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Libyan state television said security forces were battling “dens of terrorists” in a sweep that has killed a number of people, without specifying where or who was being targeted.

It later reported Seif al-Islam, Kadhafi’s son, as saying Libyan armed forces had launched strikes on arms depots outside urban areas.

“The armed forces have bombarded arms depots situated far from populated areas,” the broadcaster reported in a banner across the screen, quoting the official Jana news agency.

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It said he denied “reports that the armed forces had bombarded the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi,” after the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera reported air raids in Tripoli.

Earlier, state television reported that Seif al-Islam had set up a commission to probe “the sad events,” and that it would include “members of Libyan and foreign rights organisations.”

Kadhafi’s son had already appeared on television overnight to warn of looming civil conflict, saying: “Libya is at a crossroads. If we do not agree today on reforms… rivers of blood will run through Libya.

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“We will take up arms… we will fight to the last bullet. We will destroy seditious elements. If everybody is armed, it is civil war, we will kill each other.”

Meanwhile, two Libyan fighter pilots — both colonels — flew their single-seater Mirage F1 jets to Malta and said they had defected after being ordered to attack protesters in Benghazi, Maltese military and official sources told AFP.

Italy put all military air bases on maximum alert after the fighters landed, ANSA news agency reported.

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IFHR head Souhayr Belhassen said protesters now controlled Benghazi, Sirte, Tobruk in the east, as well as Misrata, Khoms, Tarhounah, Zenten, Al-Zawiya and Zouara, closer to the capital.

It said the protests had resulted in up to 400 deaths. Human Rights Watch earlier cited a death toll of 233.

Libya’s justice minister, Mustapha Abdeljalil, resigned in objection to “the excessive use of force” against demonstrators, Quryna newspaper reported.

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In Cairo, Libya’s Arab League envoy said he too had stepped down to “join the revolution.” Tripoli’s ambassador to Delhi also quit, as did a diplomat in Beijing, Al-Jazeera television reported.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Why was Jeffrey Epstein buying size 5 women’s panties — while in jail?

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The Miami Herald has another bombshell report on Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a Manhattan jail while waiting to stand trial on federal sex crimes charges.

"A decade ago, during a brief stint in Palm Beach County Jail, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein made an odd purchase at the facility’s store: two pairs of small women’s panties, size 5," the Herald reported Saturday night.

The newspaper noted, "the panties raise questions about why a childless male inmate, accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, would be allowed to buy female undergarments so small that they wouldn’t fit an average-sized adult woman."

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White nationalist Republican ridiculed after only 2 people show up for his town hall meeting

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Embattled Rep. Steve King (R-IA) suffered further humiliation on Saturday when only two people showed up for his town hall meeting with Iowa constituents.

King, who was stripped of all committee assignments for his white nationalism, was been an embarrassment for Republicans with his constant racism and misogyny.

A photo of the town hall meeting was posted on Twitter by Reuters photo editor Corinne Perkins.

https://twitter.com/corinne_perkins/status/1162806565109473280

Rep. King was quickly mocked in the comments.

Here's some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/sedespres/status/1162811223186006018

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2020 Election

Democrats could flip the Texas state house in 2020 — and reshape the national map

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Blue Texas? Democrats have long dreamt of winning Texas’s 38 electoral votes in the presidential election. That may still be a long shot, but a recent “Texodus” from Congress has given new talk to a political transformation across the Lone Star State that could have massive ramifications down the ballot and for decades to come.

This article was originally posted at Salon.

Four of the state’s GOP members of Congress have announced their retirements in recent weeks, an unusual torrent of departures signaling that a storm is coming. And evidence shows that it’s not just hitting Texas’s federal delegation. It’s coming to Austin, too.

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