Beirut, Lebanon

Protesters aim to topple Lebanese government

Hezbollah-led protesters burned tires and cars and clashed with government supporters yesterday, paralyzing Beirut and areas across Lebanon in the worst violence yet in the pro-Iranian group’s campaign to topple U.S.-backed Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.

At least three people were killed and dozens injured as the two camps battled each other around street barricades with stone-throwing and in some cases gunfire. Black smoke poured into the sky over Beirut from burning roadblocks.

The fighting quickly took on a dangerous sectarian tone in a country whose divided communities fought a bloody 1975-1990 civil war. Gunmen from neighboring districts in the northern city of Tripoli – one largely Sunni Muslim, the other largely Alawites, a Shiite Muslim offshoot – fought each other, causing two of the fatalities.


Washington

Lawyer: White House tried to sacrifice Libby

White House officials tried to sacrifice vice presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby to protect strategist Karl Rove from blame for leaking a CIA operative’s identity during a political storm over the Iraq war, Libby’s lawyer said yesterday.

After Libby complained “they want me to be the sacrificial lamb,” Vice President Dick Cheney personally intervened to get the White House press secretary to publicly clear Libby in the leak, defense attorney Theodore Wells said in his opening statement at Libby’s perjury trial.

The new details of behind-the-scenes conflict at top levels of the Bush White House, along with some previously unseen blunt language from Cheney, were the high points of a dramatic day in which the prosecutor and the defense dueled in multimedia statements to the jury.

Jerusalem

Israeli president faces rape charges

Israeli President Moshe Katsav faced indictment yesterday on charges of rape and abuse of power in the most serious accusation against a top Israeli official in the country’s history.

The allegation that Katsav used his position as Israel’s ceremonial head of state – a job supposed to serve as the nation’s moral compass – to force himself on his female employees has left the nation reeling.

Katsav gave no indication he was preparing to step down, despite a wave of demands that he quit.

Santa Ana, Calif.

Illegal immigrants arrested in raid

Federal officials said yesterday they arrested more than 750 illegal immigrants over the past week in the Los Angeles metropolitan area in what they described as one of the biggest such sweeps in U.S. history.

The week-long series of raids in the five-county region targeted illegal immigrants who had previously been deported for crimes or had ignored final deportation orders.

The raids netted 338 illegal immigrants who were arrested at their homes and apartments and 423 who were identified in area jails since Jan. 17. Those already jailed will be transferred to federal custody when they finish serving their state sentences, said Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

Notable Numbers
800 million

The amount, in dollars, that will be lost by businesses during the week before Super Bowl Sunday as estimated by a consulting firm. The losses stem from a decrease in productivity caused by an additional 10 minutes per day the average employee will spend discussing and betting on the game, The Associated Press reported.

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