The Global Note: Gadhafi’s Final Day…The Fall of Sirte…Greece’s Meltdown…Thailand’s Crisis

By Tom Nagorski

Oct 20, 2011 11:31am

LIBYA: BREAKING…

-GADHAFI CAPTURED — AND KILLED…We’re monitoring a blizzard of reports about what exactly happened to Moammar Gadhafi. The leaders of the new regime say he has died — many accounts suggesting he was wounded and then died of those wounds. BBC reporter Gabriel Gatehouse in Sirte is reporting that a fighter named Mohammed al Bibi captured Gaddafi; that after he was wounded he was brought by ambulance to Misrata. There was a remarkable moment when a Libyan TV News anchor reported the death — with a rebel flag draped over his shoulders. They quote a rebel soldier as saying that Gadhafi yelled “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” just before he was killed. Reuters quotes an official in the transitional council saying Gadhafi was wounded in both legs. The Misrata Military Council, one of multiple command groups for revolutionary forces, says its fighters captured Gadhafi in Sirte. Another commander, Abdel-Basit Haroun, says Gadhafi was killed when an airstrike hit a convoy trying to flee; NATO confirms there was a strike against Gadhafi elements — but not that their bombs actually killed him. There’s a graphic still photo which NTC officials say shows Gadhafi wounded. ABC News streaming coverage here… Also – NTC officials say son Motassim Gaddafi has been killed — and son Saif Al-Islam fled Sirte and is being chased by NTC fighters. Interesting of course that for months the “intelligence” has suggested that Moammar Gadhafi was in the southern desert. Jeffrey KOFMAN here on the import of this day. And Barbara Walters was one of many ABC News reporters to interview Colonel Gadhafi over the years.

-THE LAST STRONGHOLD…All this followed the fall of Gadhafi’s last stronghold – and place of birth – the city of Sirte. Libyan fighters overran the last remaining positions of Gadhafi loyalists in Sirte this morning – two months after the fall of Tripoli. From the AP: Reporters at the scene watched as the final assault began around 8 a.m. and ended about 90 minutes later. Just before the assault, about five carloads of loyalists tried to flee the enclave down the coastal highway but were met by gunfire from the revolutionaries, who killed at least 20 of them. “Our forces control the last neighborhood in Sirte,” Hassan Draoua, a member of Libya’s interim National Transitional Council, said. “The city has been liberated.”

-REACTION…U.N. Secretary General calls this the start of a “historic transition.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in Kabul, was handed a blackberry – she reads a message and says “Wow.” She turns to aides and says, “Unconfirmed reports Gaddafi has been captured.” Moments later, referring to her visit earlier this week to Tripoli, she says, “We came, we saw, he died.”

HILLARY CLINTON: WAR STRATEGY

 -TALK TO THE MILITANTS, AND KILL THEM, TOO…Secretary of State Clinton divides her day between Afghanistan and Pakistan – and the message is all about ways to win or wind down the war. From Nick SCHIFRIN in Kabul: In a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Clinton laid out perhaps the most clear intention to date about how the U.S. wants to end the war in Afghanistan. She said the U.S. will continue to target militants in both Afghanistan and Pakistan — while at the same time talk to those militants, many of whom enjoy safe havens inside Pakistan. The focus now, Clinton said, was the safehavens in Pakistan, and it was up to the Pakistani military and government how — and if — they wanted to help. “We will be looking for the Pakistanis to take the lead,” Clinton said. “Our message is very clear: we’re going to be fighting, we’re going to be talking…And either they can be helping or be hindering.” The Pakistanis have long complained that the U.S. needed to decide whether it was trying to kill militants or talk to them. The U.S. has decided — to do both.

-CLINTON ON CAIN…Also today – Clinton had an amusing exchange with Karzai on Herman Cain’s recent comment that he doesn’t know the names of all foreign leaders, including the many countries ending in -stan.  Said Clinton to Karzai: ”He’s a former pizza company owner.” Karzai: “Is he that?” Clinton: “Oh yes, he started something called Godfather pizza.” Karzai: “Yes I see, I see.” Clinton: “The president was saying he saw a news clip about how Mr. Cain had said I don’t even know the names of all these presidents of all these countries, you know, like whatever…” Karzai: ”All the Stans whatever.” Clinton: “All the Stans places.” Karzai: “That wasn’t right, but anyway, that’s how politics are.” Clinton: ”Well its such a beautiful day here in Kabul.”

AFGHAN MASS GRAVE

Aleem AGHA reports from Kabul: A mass grave was discovered in the Rustaq district of Takhar province. The district governor of Rustaq told ABC News they found more than 20 sets of remains and are looking for others. Not clear how long they’d been there, or the circumstances surrounding their deaths. The district governor said villagers believe there may be more than 100 people buried in the grave.

GREEK PROTESTS, GREEK VOTE

In the second day of a 48-hour general strike in Greece, protestors have been throwing marble and petrol bombs at riot police. The Independent reports the Greek parliament is expected to pass new legislation today further reducing the income of most citizens. The Eurozone votes Sunday to provide Greece with the rest of needed bailout funds. 

FOR FREED PRISONERS, 5-STAR HOTEL, $2K AND A CELLPHONE

A Hamas website has posted a slideshow of released prisoners lounging at the five star Al Mashtal hotel in Gaza. The NYT adds, “At the beachside Commodore Hotel, Hamas functionaries handed out $2,000 to each of the assembled former prisoners, and a Nokia X3 cellphone, to the evident confusion of many of the long-term inmates who had to be shown how to use it.”

IED ATTACKS: NOT JUST IN WAR ZONES

The USA Today reports IED attacks outside Afghanistan and Iraq have more than doubled in the last three years, to an average of 608 attacks per month in 99 countries. Their popularity among criminals, narcotics traffickers and terrorists continues to grow, aided by the spread of online of bomb-making technology.

THAILAND’S FLOODS A “NATIONAL CRISIS”

Akiko FUJITA reports: Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is now calling flooding there a “national crisis.” Some parts of Bangkok will likely be inundated to save the city center. DigitalMediaWire reports a hard drive company based in Thailand are suspending operations because of the flooding. The company will likely suffer an estimated $2.6 billion, impacting the availability and price of hard drives.

ROME PARALYZED BY STORM

From Clark BENTSON in Rome: Might be worth a mention on some platform this morning. Rome was hit by a huge thunderstorm and torrential rain this morning just before rush hour. The weather service reported over 7,0000 lightning strike. Schools in the center of Rome were closed. There is a lake in front of the Coliseum. Train tracks were flooded, flight delayed and in some parts of the city rivers flowed down main streets. The storm has passed and the cleanup is beginning now. The mayor has called for calm. Two people have been reported killed  in storm related deaths so far. More photos here

HEAVY RAINS THREATEN TO SEND COFFEE PRICES HIGHER

The  Wall Street Journal reports torrential rains in Central America are threatening to drive coffee prices more than five percent. Big coffee roasters were looking to this upcoming harvest in Central and South America for relief from three years of lackluster global production. However, the severe rains, which have already claimed scores of lives across the region, are dashing such hopes.

KOSOVO CLASHES

Dada JOVANOVIC reports NATO peacekeepers fired teargas at Serbs this morning while they were dismantling roadblocks at the disputed Serbia-Kosovo border. The Serbian President urged both sides to remain calm and Russian officials are establishing a “humanitarian center” north of the Kosovo border. The news this morning comes after weeks of tensions and what could have been a “major clash” in mid-September.

BUY A HOUSE, GET A VISA

The Wall Street Journal reports Senators Schumer and Lee will introduce legislation today to give residence visas to foreigners who spend at least $500,000 to buy houses in the U.S. Foreigners have accounted for a growing share of home purchases in South Florida, Southern California, Arizona and other hard-hit markets.

ROLLS-ROYCE STUGGLES TO FIND WORKERS

While many companies outsource work to low-wage countries, the Wall Street Journal reports Rolls Royce does not shy away from high wage hot spots. Rolls is betting highly-skilled workers can match the brawn of their lower-cost competitors, but the British manufacturer  is struggling to find enough such employees. Rolls battles for talent against employers ranging from banks to software companies, many of which pay even better. And in many developed countries, it also faces a shrinking pool of science, engineering and math students pursuing technical careers.

QUEEN ELIZABETH IN AUSTRALIA

Although Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard refused to curtsey for Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen still made the trip to Aussie country. She kicked off her tour of Australia at a flower show today where thousands showed up to see her. Joined by Prince Philip she took a barge around Lake Burley Griffin to Commonwealth Park for the Florida flower show in warm spring sunshine.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MICHIKO

Japan’s Empress, who canvassed the tsunami-wrecked villages of Japan earlier this year, turns 77 today. She admits that she and her 77 year-old husband, Emperor Akihito, have found it more difficult to perform official duties in their later years.

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