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Oil industry’s US-Libya business group sees website go dark amid violent uprising

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The website of the US-Libya Business Association (USLBA) was down on Monday as protests in the Arab nation targeting leader Muammar al-Gaddafi’s 41-year regime dramatically intensified.

USLBA, incorporated in 2005, describes itself as “the only U.S. trade association focusing on the United States and Libya,” and has organized policy conferences attended by senior US officials.

A Web cache of the group reveals that over a dozen oil and energy companies and military contractors are members of its executive advisory committee, including Dow Chemical, Chevron, Halliburton, Shell, Raytheon and Occidental Petroleum.

The Bush administration lifted Libya from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism in May 2006, reopening diplomatic relations between the two longtime foes.

Sanctions were initially placed after Gaddafi’s government was implicated in terrorist attacks that led to the deaths of US soldiers. Libyan terrorists reportedly bombed a Pan Am flight over Scotland in 1988.

Libya has a rich supply of known oil reserves, and much of the country remains untapped. The US Energy Information Administration reports that Libya “has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa.”

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In 2009, USLBA announced that it had transitioned management to the National Foreign Trade Council, a free trade group.

It’s unclear when exactly USLBA’s website went down, but the group appears to have been active as recently as this month. USLBA’s executive director Charles Dittrich took part in a discussion weeks ago about US-Libya relations, and mentioned his ties to the group.

A call to USLBA’s Washington, DC office and an email to the group were not immediately returned Monday afternoon.

Clashes in Libya grew violent on Monday as demonstrators crowded cities and regime officials reportedly used air strikes to fend off protesters fighting the military and setting government buildings on fire.

Stephen C. Webster contributed to this report.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren leads Democrats in spirited first 2020 debate

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Ten Democrats clashed in the first debate of the 2020 presidential race Wednesday with Elizabeth Warren cementing her status as a top-tier candidate and several underdogs using the issue of immigration to clamor for the limelight.

The biggest American political debate since the 2016 presidential campaign is occurring over two nights in Miami, climaxing Thursday with former vice president Joe Biden squaring off against nine challengers, including number two candidate Bernie Sanders.

But Wednesday's first take was a spirited encounter between Democrats like ex-congressman Beto O'Rourke, Senator Cory Booker, former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on subjects as varied as health care, economic inequality, climate action, gun violence, Iran and immigration.

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Here are 4 winners and 9 losers from the first 2020 Democratic primary debate

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With ten candidates on stage Wednesday, the opening debate of the 2020 Democratic primary in Miami was a packed mess. And this was only the first course in a two-part event — 10 more candidates will debate on the following night.

A crowded field makes it difficult to stand out, and that means that even after a big night like a debate, the most likely result is that not much changes. But the debate was still significant, giving candidates the chance to exceed, meet, or fall below expectations for their performances.

Here's a list — necessarily subjective, of course — of the people who came out on the top when the dust was settled, and those who came out on the bottom.

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Here are 3 ways Julián Castro stood out in the first Democratic Debate

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There were many predictions going into the first Democratic debate on MSNBC, but no one predicted that Julián Castro would break out from the crowd.

Check out the top three ways Castro stood out from the crowd.

Immigration:

The former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development was the outright winner of the immigration section of the debate

It should "piss us all off," Castro said about the father and his little girl who were found face-down in the shores of the Rio Grande River this week. “It’s heartbreaking."

Castro is a second generation American who got into specifics on immigration policy, calling for an outright "Marshall Plan" style of action for Guatemala and Honduras. He joined with other Democrats calling for an end to President Donald Trump's family separation policy, but he then suggested ending the "metering" of legitimate asylum seekers.

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