Wednesday, August 31, 2011


In Haiti, sexual violence, healthcare neglect plague women, girls

Despite a massive humanitarian effort after the 2010 earthquake, females in Haiti remain neglected, rights activists say, lacking access to care as they give birth to babies in squalid conditions, often as a result of sex in trade for food or other necessities.

  • Haitian women, many of them victims of sexual violence, receive sewing lessons.
Haitian women, many of them victims of sexual violence, receive sewing… (Tracy Wilkinson / Los Angeles Times)
August 30, 2011|By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
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Nearly 20 months after Haiti's devastating earthquake, women and girls have been badly neglected in recovery efforts, subjected to sexual violence and left without access to obstetric care even as they give birth to scores of babies in squalid tent cities, human rights activists say.
Despite a mammoth humanitarian-care push in the wake of the Jan. 12, 2010, quake that killed as many as 300,000 people, serious gaps exist in the healthcare that women and girls are receiving, according to a report released Tuesday by the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Pregnant women reported having to give birth in alleyways or on floors; being unable to afford transportation to hospitals, and not having access to prenatal care.
Human Rights Watch also documented widespread sexual violence and "transactional sex," where women trade sex for food or other basic survival needs. Three girls, ages 14 and 15, and three women interviewed by the organization had become pregnant through rape but had been too fearful or too ashamed to seek help.
The 78-page Human Rights Watch report is entitled "Nobody Remembers Us."
"It is inconceivable that, 18 months after the quake, with so much money pledged … that women and girls are giving birth in muddy tents," Amanda Klasing, the report's main author and a fellow in the group's women's rights division, said in a telephone interview from Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital.
Most Haitians face extraordinary hardships even today. More than half a million continue to live in ramshackle collections of tents with minimal sanitation. Food and jobs are scarce, a cholera epidemic persists and street violence is on the rise.
It's worse for women, largely excluded from the reconstruction process despite their importance to the informal economy, the report's authors said. In a country already beset by the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere before the quake, women and girls face unwanted pregnancies, unhealthy conditions for their children, a lack of access to education, poverty and the risk of eviction from already precarious living quarters. Heavy rains this time of year also add to the woes by flooding tents and spreading filth. Very little post-rape care has been made available to the majority of female victims.
"The earthquake has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of this already vulnerable group," the report says.
Klasing said resorting to "survival sex" by women had become common. Women trade sex for food as a way to provide for themselves and their families. "You have to eat," a woman named Gheslaine, who lives in the crowded Croix-des-Bouquets camp outside Port-au-Prince, told the investigators.
Tragically, Klasing said, the women's lack of access to healthcare comes despite numerous international programs that exist in Port-Au-Prince which could help. The Haitian government has failed to distribute information about available care to females in the camps and has failed to protect them, the report says.
The group noted that of $5.3 billion pledged by international donors after the quake, $258 million was dedicated to healthcare — of which only $118.4 million has been disbursed.
"For all women and girls in Haiti," the report concludes, "fulfillment of their rights to reproductive and maternal health and to live free of violence is fundamental to any effort to rebuild their lives after the devastation and disruption caused by the earthquake."
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Graphene's shining light could lead to super-fast Internet
August 30, 2011
GrapheneInternet connection speeds could be tens of times faster than they currently are, thanks to research by University of Manchester scientists using wonder material graphene.


Writing in the journal Nature Communications, a collaboration between the Universities of Manchester and Cambridge, which includes Nobel Prize winning scientists Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov, has discovered a crucial recipe for improving characteristics of graphene devices for use as photodetectors in future high-speed optical communications.

By combining graphene with metallic nanostructures, they show a twentyfold enhancement in harvesting light by graphene, which paves the way for advances in high-speed internet and other communications.

By putting two closely-spaced metallic wires on top of graphene and shining light on this structure, researchers previously showed that this generates electric power. This simple device presents an elementary solar cell.

More importantly for applications, such graphene devices can be incredibly fast, tens and potentially hundred times faster than communication rates in the fastest internet cables, which is due to the unique nature of electrons in graphene, their high mobility and high velocity.

The major stumbling block towards practical applications for these otherwise very promising devices has so far been their low efficiency. The problem is that graphene – the thinnest material in the world – absorbs little light, approximately only 3%, with the rest going through without contributing to the electrical power.

The Manchester researchers have solved the problems by combining graphene with tiny metallic structures, specially arranged on top of graphene.

These so-called plasmonic nanostructures have dramatically enhanced the optical electric field felt by graphene and effectively concentrated light within the one-atom-thick carbon layer.

By using the plasmonic enhancement, the light-harvesting performance of graphene was boosted by twenty times, without sacrificing any of its speed. The future efficiency can be improved even further.

Dr Alexander Grigorenko, an expert in plasmonics and a leading member of the team, said: "Graphene seems a natural companion for plasmonics. We expected that plasmonic nanostructures could improve the efficiency of graphene-based devices but it has come as a pleasant surprise that the improvements can be so dramatic."

Professor Novoselov added: "The technology of graphene production matures day-by-day, which has an immediate impact both on the type of exciting physics which we find in this material, and on the feasibility and the range of possible applications.

"Many leading electronics companies consider graphene for the next generation of devices. This work certainly boosts graphene's chances even further."

Professor Andrea Ferrari, from the Cambridge Engineering Department, who lead the Cambridge effort in the collaboration, said "So far, the main focus of graphene research has been on fundamental physics and electronic devices.

"These results show its great potential in the fields of photonics and optoelectronics, where the combination of its unique optical and electronic properties with plasmonic nanostructures, can be fully exploited, even in the absence of a bandgap, in a variety of useful devices, such as solar cells andphotodetectors"

Graphene is a novel two-dimensional material which can be seen as a monolayer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice.

It is a wonder material that possesses a large number of unique properties and is currently considered in many new technologies.

The world's thinnest material was discovered at The University of Manchester in 2004, which was acknowledged by the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to Geim and Novoselov for their "groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene".

More information: The paper, Strong Plasmonic Enhancement of Photovoltage in Graphene, by T. J. Echtermeyer, L. Britnell, P. K. Jasnos, A. Lombardo, R. V. Gorbachev, A. N. Grigorenko, A. K. Geim, A. C. Ferrari, and K. S. Novoselov, is available from: http://www.nature. … omms1464.pdf

Provided by University of Manchester (news : web)
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physorg.com/news/2011-08-graphene-super-fast-internet.html

Entertainment.

India’s Erotic Movie Posters


AUGUST 30, 2011, 10:30 AM IST         By Margherita Stancati
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There was a time when “morning show” was a byword for erotic movie. These were screened in theaters across India a few hours before the regular Bollywood blockbusters. They had their golden age in the pre-digital 1980s, when VCRs were still uncommon and the Internet still unheard of. For adult films, men who were that way inclined had few options besides coyly heading to the cinema for the 10 a.m. or 12.30 p.m. shows – and risk bumping into relatives or colleagues.

Although morning shows – of the adult variety – have all but died out in India, many of their promotional posters are still around.

They take Bollywood kitsch to a whole new level. Wet shirts feature prominently, as do scantily-clad and Western-looking women. The posters’ na├»ve approach to eroticism reveals a society that related uneasily to sexuality, even among those who worked in the adult film industry.

A selection of them is on show at New Delhi’s W+K Exp until Sept. 17.

The show’s organizers, the Delhi branch of advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, feel it’s time to recognize Indian adult movie posters as a genre in their own right.

While “absolutely tasteless” these posters are “a very definite art form,” said W+K Delhi’s executive creative director V. Sunil, who started collecting vintage erotic posters about a decade ago. He was surprised that while Bollywood posters were gaining cult status globally, no one seemed to notice the racier ones. “I don’t know how they escaped it,” he said. The posters on show are drawn from his private collection.

Posters often featured images that had little to do with the film’s content. Photos of lingerie ads likely pulled out of fashion magazines or of unwitting Hollywood actresses were common fixtures. Among these, no one beat Brooke Shields – a favorite of Indian adult film posters. She became an erotic icon following her role in the 1980 movie “The Blue Lagoon,” which in India has been screened as a “morning show. 



Courtesy of W+K Delhi
Wet shirts were a favorite of Indian adult movie posters.
One-liners that used wordplays and innuendo to hint at a woman’s loose sexual habits were another common trait. They were often more goofy than punchy: “The Good Parts, the Sexy Parts, the Body Parts,” one particular poster reads. Although these were usually in Hindi or English, most movies were actually in Malayalam, Kerala’s official language. This is because the southern Indian state was the hub of country’s erotic movie industry. As a result, when movies in Malayalam were screened in other parts of the country, many expected the adult kind.
But these weren’t regular erotic films. Most productions were so cheap that the erotic scenes were actually cut and pasted from other, often foreign, movies. “Suddenly there would be a woman having a shower or an awkward make-out scene,” recalled Mr. Sunil. Although these sequences would pop up out of context, this mattered little. It’s for those scenes only that an audience turned up for the shows at all. There were sex scenes, too, but these were rarely explicit: it would’ve been difficult for movies to be cleared by censors otherwise.
A popular subgenre was the erotic horror movie, which as Mr. Sunil put it, typically had “a little bit horror, then a little bit of sex.”
Although Indian erotic films fall in the “B movie” category, some big names came out of them, too. Actresses like Shakila and Silk Smitha, whose performances were often described as soft porn, made a name for themselves thanks to their roles in the genre’s higher-end productions. A movie starring Bollywood actress Vidya Balan as Silk Smitha, “The Dirty Picture,” is in the works and is set to be released in December.
Click here to view slideshow.
You can follow Ms. Stancati on Twitter @margheritamvs.
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http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2011/08/30/india%E2%80%99s-erotic-movie-posters/

Tropical Storm Katia


Tropical Storm Katia to Grow Into Hurricane

Q

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Tropical Storm Katia, moving west- northwest across the Atlantic Ocean, is likely to strengthen into a hurricane tonight, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Katia, 1,285 miles (2,070 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, had maximum winds near 70 miles per hour, up from 65 mph earlier today, the NHC said in an advisory at about 4:40 p.m. East Coast time. The storm, which will become a hurricane when its winds reach 74 mph, is traveling at 20 mph on a path that will take it to waters northeast of Puerto Ricoon Sept. 4, the Miami-based center said.
“Katia could become a major hurricane by the upcoming weekend as it passes north of the Lesser Antilles,” said Brian Edwards, a meteorologist for private forecaster AccuWeather in State College, Pennsylvania.
While the storm is forecast to turn north out to sea eventually, a shift westward could bring it to land in eastern Canada, according to AccuWeather. Canada’s Atlantic region, a major gasoline supplier for the Northeast, exported 469,704 cubic meters (2.96 million barrels) of the fuel in May, according to the country’s National Energy Board.
Katia is the 11th named storm of this Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The NHC says the average hurricane season usually produces that many in total.

Gulf System

A system of clouds and thunderstorms over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico has a 60 percent chance of organizing into a tropical cyclone in the next two days, the hurricane center said in aweather outlook before 8 p.m. East Coast time.
“Interests along the entire northern Gulf of Mexico coast should monitor the progress of this disturbance,” the center said in its outlook.
BP Plc began removing more than 500 non-essential workers from some platforms in the Southern Green Canyon area, according to a message on the company’s hurricane hot line. The London- based company said it is preparing for a potential shut-in and full evacuation if necessary.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) evacuated non-essential workers from its Gunnison, Nansen and Boomvang platforms in the western Gulf, according to a notice on the Woodlands, Texas-based company’s website.

Landfall in Texas

“If that storm develops, it will likely sit in the Gulf for a couple days,” said Sean Miller, project manager for Kinetic Analysis Corp., a Silver Spring, Maryland-based firm that predicts the effects of disasters. “Right now the models are pretty divergent as to where it will make landfall, but it will probably be somewhere in southern Texas.”
The Gulf is home to 31 percent of U.S. oil output and 7 percent of the country’s natural gas production.
In the Pacific, a tropical depression northwest of Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico, was “weakening rapidly,” according to a hurricane center advisory issued before 5 p.m. East Coast time. The government of Mexico discontinued a tropical storm watch for an area from Zihuatanejo to Punta San Telmo.
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bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-31/tropical-storm-katia-expected-to-grow-into-hurricane-tonight-nhc-says.html

Discovery.


Malaria's Weakness Uncovered
AUGUST 30, 2011 
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An unusual organelle tucked away in malaria parasites may hold the key to killing the pathogen and preventing disease, HHMI researchers have discovered. The first definitive proof of a weak spot in apicoplasts – organelles with ancient plant origins -- offers hope for drugs and vaccines against malaria and related pathogens.

Pathogens in the genus Plasmodium cause malaria, which infects more than 225 million people per year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, and kills hundreds of thousands of young children. There is currently no vaccine against malaria. Artemesinin, the current first-line treatment, is effective, but resistance against it has been growing. Moreover, scientists have yet to discover the molecular target of artemesinin.


“This, in no uncertain terms, confirms that the only truly essential function of the apicoplast during the blood stage is the production of this one chemical.”
Joseph L. DeRisi

Researchers have suspected that the apicoplast might be one of the pathogen’s key vulnerabilities since the organelle was discovered in 1996. The apicoplast contains its own genes, and these have origins in red algae and cyanobacteria, suggesting that the organelle is the result of an endosymbiotic event, in which the ancestral malaria parasite engulfed another cell and began to rely on it for particular functions. Since the apicoplast’s genes are plant-like, drugs that block them are unlikely to interfere with human genes.

Destroying the whole apicoplast with antibiotics is enough to kill malaria cells. But although scientists have identified possible functions of the apicoplast and found ways to block various apicoplast pathways, it has been difficult to specifically find apicoplast-targeting drugs that impair the overall function of the malaria pathogen.

“When folks discovered the apicoplast, it was heralded to be the Achilles’ heel of malaria,” says Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Joseph L. DeRisi, who spearheaded the latest study at the University of California San Francisco. “But the initial attempts to target it were disappointing. Now we’ve found out why.”

DeRisi and Ellen Yeh, a postdoctoral fellow in his lab, chose to study an apicoplast pathway that hadn’t been targeted yet: a set of genes that synthesize isoprenoids, chemical building blocks with a number of cellular functions. DeRisi and Yeh used a known chemical inhibitor to block the isoprenoid pathway in Plasmodium’s apicoplasts. The cells died as expected, indicating that the pathway is vital to their survival. The scientists then added the end product of the pathway—a compound called isopentenyl pyrophosphate(IPP)—to Plasmodiumcells at the same time as the pathway-blocking drug. The malaria-causing cells survived this time, demonstrating the importance of IPP to malaria.

DeRisi and Yeh didn’t stop there—they wanted to find out whether producing IPP was the only necessary function of the apicoplast, or just one of many vital functions of the organelle. To test this hypothesis, they treated cells with antibiotics, which destroy the entire apicoplast, and then with IPP. The cells, usually rendered dead after a treatment with antibiotics, stayed alive, DeRisi and Yeh report in the August 30, 2011, issue of PLoS Biology.

“This, in no uncertain terms, confirms that the only truly essential function of the apicoplast during the blood stage is the production of this one chemical,” concludes DeRisi.

The discovery of the apicoplast’s weak spot provides researchers with a target for drugs and vaccines, and suggests ways to study malaria further. To investigate exactly how the malaria pathogen uses the IPP that’s so vital to its survival, researchers can remove the apicoplast with antibiotics so it no longer provides the cell with IPP. Then, the researchers can add tagged IPP to the cell, and follow where it goes—a vein of research that DeRisi’s lab is already pursuing.

Additionally, scientists can now pinpoint drugs that treat malaria specifically by blocking the apicoplast’s production of IPP. They can first screen compounds for their ability to kill the pathogen. For those compounds that pass the test, researchers can then see whether adding IPP along with the drug lets Plasmodium cells survive. If so, they’ll know they’ve discovered a drug that works by targeting the apicoplast and blocking IPP production.

Moreover, DeRisi’s findings pave the way for a unique malaria vaccine. His research makes clear thatPlasmodium cells without an apicoplast survive only one generation—long enough to expose a human immune system to the pathogen, but not long enough to cause disease. A vaccine consisting of Plasmodium cells with the apicoplast removed is a potential game-changer for the field of malaria research.

“This finding could also have far reaching implications for other parasites that carry the apicoplast organelle,” DeRisi adds. Pathogens including toxoplasma, the cause of the fooddborne illness toxoplasmosis, also have apicoplasts. Whether the apicoplast has the same function in all these related parasites is yet to be determined, but DeRisi hypothesizes that his findings in malaria will translate broadly to other similar pathogens
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hhmi.org/news/derisi20110830.html

Researchers Find Antibiotic Resistance in Ancient DNA

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An analysis of 30,000-year-old bacteria whose DNA has been recovered from the Yukon permafrost shows that they were able to resist antibiotics.

Antibiotics, before they became used as drugs, were natural products. The new finding is the first direct evidence that antibiotic resistance is a widespread natural phenomenon that preceded the modern medical use of antibiotics.

Experts had long predicted this on theoretical grounds, but they say the new finding underlines the need to use antibiotics sparingly, given that the genes for antibiotic resistance are ubiquitous and can easily be promoted by antibiotics.

“The fact that the genes for resistance are so ancient and widespread means there is no easy solution to the problem of resistance — we will never invent a super-antibiotic that clears everything up,” said Martin J. Blaser, a microbiologist at New York University.

DNA from the ancient bacteria was analyzed by Gerard D. Wright of McMaster University in Ontario. A colleague who works on ancient DNA, Hendrik N. Poinar, told him of a site at Bear Creek in the Yukon Territory in Canada where ancient DNA could be found uncontaminated by anything from the modern world.

Dr. Wright’s team gathered DNA from a layer of mud about 20 feet beneath the surface. The mud was once the sediment around the edge of an ancient lake. Right above the mud layer lies a layer of volcanic ash deposited 30,000 years ago. The site had evidently been shielded from contamination because it contained DNA from ice-age animals like the mammoth, and none from contemporary species like elk or moose.

The ancient bacteria in the sediments turned out to contain all the major genes that enable modern bacteria to resist antibiotics, Dr. Wright reports in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature. He and his team grew the products specified by some of these ancient genes, showing that the resurrected proteins conferred resistance to antibiotics.

Antibiotics are substances produced by fungi, algae and bacteria for signaling and for defense. The inhabitants of this microbial world have also evolved genes that counteract antibiotics. After millions of years of chemical warfare, two classes of sophisticated genes have emerged, those that make antibiotics and those that provide resistance to antibiotics.

“Antibiotic resistance is part of the natural ecology of the planet, and this finding is a cautionary note about how we use these things,” Dr. Wright said. “Antibiotics are remarkable resources that need to be carefully husbanded.”

Widespread use of the drugs has promoted the development of bacteria that have become the scourge of hospitals because they can resist many different kinds of antibiotic. “What this finding says to me is that we have to use the antibiotics we have prudently, because we’re not going to get away with misuse,” said Stuart Levy, a microbiologist at Tufts University who has warned of profligate use of antibiotics for 30 years.

“What had been missed in the 1960s and 1970s was the ease with which resistance could appear,” he said. “Bacteria share these genes like baseball cards with each other.” Most physicians in the United States are now prescribing antibiotics more discriminately, in Dr. Levy’s view, but the drugs are overused in poor countries and by farmers who feed millions of pounds of antibiotics to farm animals because they induce quicker growth.

The drugs promote the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria both in the animals and in the farm workers, Dr. Levy said. “It’s almost an embarrassment that we are still using antibiotics in animal feed for growth promotion when all of Europe has abandoned the practice,” he said.

New methods of DNA sequencing have enabled researchers to study more deeply the communities of bacteria that live in the human gut. The bacteria are noticed only when troublesome, but researchers now believe that in normal times they perform many protective duties.

This raises the question of whether the protective bacteria may be harmed when a person takes a course of antibiotics.

Dr. Blaser warned in an article in Nature last week that the natural bacterial community of the human gut, handed down from mother to child over thousands of generations, might have been severely degraded in the antibiotic era. He sees a possible connection between this impoverishment of human gut bacteria and the current epidemic of obesityin wealthy countries. Farmers feed antibiotics to promote animal growth, and the same thing may be happening inadvertently to the human population, Dr. Blaser wrote.

The discovery that the bacteria of 30,000 years ago had genes for antibiotic resistance underlines the danger of looking at bacteria from a purely medical perspective. Resistance to antibiotics is a defense that bacteria have developed in an arms race that has gone on for a billion years.

“Our use and overuse of antibiotics is amplifying the phenomena dramatically,” Dr. Blaser said.
A version of this article appeared in print on September 1, 2011, on page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: Researchers F
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.nytimes.com/2011/09/01/science/01gene.html

Health and Fitness. neonatal mortality.

Over 4 pc of Indian babies die during 1st month of life: studyPosted: Wed Aug 31 2011, 11:31 hrs
Washington:
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A new study has found that more than half of all neonatal mortality -- deaths in newborns, aged 3 weeks and under -- in 2009 occurred in India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Furthermore, over the past 20 years, more than 4 per cent of all babies in India died during the first month of life.
These shocking findings come from a comprehensive and detailed analysis led by Mikkel Z Oestergaard, from the World Health Organization and partners.
The authors also estimate that although the global neonatal mortality rate decreased from 33.2 to 23.9 deaths per 1000 live births, neonatal mortality rate actually increased in eight countries, five of which were in Africa.
Furthermore, in Africa as a whole, progress in improving neonatal mortality rates is slow and has only decreased by less than 1 per cent per year, from 43.6 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 35.9 per 1000 live births in 2009.
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indianexpress.com/news/Over-4-pc-of-Indian-babies-die-during-1st-month-of-life--study/839700/

Libya News:


Son Denies Rebels’ Claim That Qaddafi Is Cornered


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TRIPOLI, Libya — A top official of Libya’s transitional government said Wednesday that its fighters had cornered Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in a desert redoubt 150 miles from the capital and were exhorting him to give up, in what would bring a sense of finality to the prolonged uprising that routed him and his family from Tripoli a week ago.


But one of Colonel Qaddafi’s fugitive sons, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, threw a new if improbable taunt at the rebels even as they said they had closed in on his father, vowing in an audio statement that loyalists would never surrender and insisting that “victory will be near.”
“Our leadership is fine,” he said in the statement broadcast on the Al Rai television channel of Syria and other Arab broadcasting outlets. “We are drinking tea and coffee.”
Seif al-Islam gave no indication in the statement of his precise whereabouts except that he was in a Tripoli suburb, and it was not clear if his remarks had been prerecorded. But the statement itself raised the possibility of more fighting and underscored the ability of the Qaddafis to frustrate the alliance of rebel forces that has become the effective government of Libya.
Earlier on Thursday, Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, the deputy chairman of the rebel Transitional National Council, said in a telephone interview from his home in Benghazi that fighters believed they had located Colonel Qaddafi hiding in Bani Walid, a desert town southeast of Tripoli.
There was no way to corroborate Mr. Ghoga’s claim on the location of Colonel Qaddafi, whose ability to outrun the rebel forces that toppled him has prevented them from claiming absolute victory in the Libya conflict. Previous assertions by rebel forces concerning the whereabouts of Colonel Qaddafi and his family, routed from their Tripoli compound on Aug. 23, have proved premature or false.
The transition government formed by the rebels has given Qaddafi relatives and their loyalists until this Saturday to stop fighting without conditions.
Mr. Ghoga also confirmed reports that another Qaddafi son, Saadi el-Qaddafi, had offered to negotiate a coalition government with the rebels, but that the rebels rejected that out of hand.
Mr. Ghoga laughed out loud when asked about Saadi el-Qaddafi’s overtures. “They have no choice, Qaddafi has no choice, he has to surrender by Saturday.”
Bani Walid, a town of about 50,000 people southeast of Tripoli, is a stronghold of Libya’s largest tribe, the Warfallah, who have traditionally been strong supporters of the government.
Another Qaddafi son, Khamis, was reported killed when he and a group of bodyguards tried to break through a rebel checkpoint on the road to Bani Walid, rebel fighters in the area have told journalists, but his death has never been verified. A rebel spokesman, Col. Ahmed Bani, quoted survivors of that confrontation as saying that they were escorting Khamis, once the head of the feared Khamis Brigade guarding Tripoli, to refuge in Bani Walid.
In addition, there have been unverified reports that Colonel Qaddafi’s second wife, daughter and two of his sons, who fled to Algeria earlier this week, went through Bani Walid, south to the oasis town of Sabha, and then to a remote desert crossing into Algeria. They were granted asylum on humanitarian grounds there earlier this week, infuriating the rebel forces, who have demanded that Algeria repatriate them.
Rebel forces have massed on the outskirts of Bani Walid, but have stopped advancing during a unilateral cease-fire declared by the rebels for the three-day Id al-Fitr holiday.
The rebels also have moved closer to the coastal city of Surt, Colonel Qaddafi’s hometown and another of his rumored refuges.
Mr. Ghoga said the rebel cease-fire had been holding and there had been no reports of major fighting on its first full day.
The call to surrender was earlier rejected by a spokesman for Colonel Qaddafi, Moussa Ibrahim, in a telephone call to The Associated Press in New York. “No dignified, honorable nation would accept an ultimatum from armed gangs,” the A.P. quoted him as saying.
Rebel officials have expressed hope that their cease-fire would persuade Colonel Qaddafi to surrender and avoid the bloodshed of a last stand. Their announcement of his location may have been calculated to pressure him into taking their Saturday ultimatum seriously.
A spokesman for the NATO operational command in Naples, speaking on condition of anonymity as a matter of alliance policy, said that its operations in Libya were continuing normally. “Our mission continues, our mission is still ongoing as long as there is a threat against civilians.” However, the spokesman refused to confirm specifically whether there were any airstrikes on Wednesday.
Mr. Ibrahim told the A.P. that a missile attack, possibly from NATO warplanes, had killed 1,000 people in Surt — a tally that could not be independently verified. Throughout the six-month conflict, Colonel Qaddafi’s government has exaggerated the extent of casualties it says have been inflicted by NATO bombings.
As they secure growing acceptance abroad, the rebels’ readiness to press their demands showed the extent to which they have been emboldened by the NATO-backed military advances that helped to sweep them into Tripoli.
At the same time, the rebel leadership, struggling to unite bands of fighters and ensure security in the capital and elsewhere in the country, appeared to reject the need for international peacekeepers. “We don’t now expect military observers to be requested,” said Ian Martin, a United Nations special envoy for post-conflict planning in Libya, Reuters reported. “It’s very clear that the Libyans want to avoid any kind of military deployment of the U.N. or others.”
Rod Nordland reported from Tripoli, and Rick Gladstone from New York. Reporting was contributed by Kareem Fahim and David D. Kirkpatrick from Tripoli, Alan Cowell from London and Neil MacFarquhar from the United Nations.
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.nytimes.com/2011/09/01/world/africa/01tripoli.html