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Amitabh Chauhan, left, and Suganthan Kayilasanathan
are charged with gang sexual assault and administering
a noxious substance.
An Ontario doctor facing sexual assault charges in Toronto also has ties to New Brunswick.

Dr. Suganthan Kayilasanathan and another Toronto-area doctor are accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at a hotel.

Kayilasanathan, 32, trained and worked as a family doctor in Saint John, and is still licensed in the province.

"He's been licensed here, first as a resident in training from 2007 to 2009 and then afterwards as a family physician in Saint John up until now, until the present," said Dr. Ed Schollenberg, the registrar for the New Brunswick College of Physicians and Surgeons — the provincial licensing and regulatory body for doctors.

Kayilasanathan and Amitabh Chauhan are charged with gang sexual assault and administering a noxious substance.

Police allege they met a woman at a hotel bar in Toronto on Feb. 13, took her to another bar, gave her an unknown substance, then took her back to the hotel and sexually assaulted her.

Kayilasanathan works as a family doctor at a clinic in Scarborough.

Although Kayilasanathan is still licensed in New Brunswick, he no longer has hospital privileges because he didn't apply for the annual renewal last June, Horizon Health Network officials said.

Without privileges, a doctor can't bill Medicare, order tests, or admit patients.

Still, Schollenberg said he is investigating to determine what, if any, action to take against Kayilasanathan.

He said he'll also be watching to see what his counterparts in Ontario do.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway has reported a 43 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit thanks to the strong performance of BNSF railroad and a paper gain of $1.4 billion on the company's derivative contracts and investments.

Buffett said Saturday in his annual letter that the acquisition of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad was the highlight of 2010 for his Omaha, Neb.,-based company.

Berkshire reported $4.38 billion net income, or $2,656 per Class A share, in the fourth quarter. That's up from the $3.1 billion net income, or $1,969 per Class A share, a year ago.

The three analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Berkshire to report earnings per Class A share of $1,695 in the fourth quarter.

Berkshire's revenue grew nearly 20 percent to $36.2 billion from $30.2 billion last year.
Croatian police clashed with some of the 15,000 anti-government protesters who rallied in the capital Saturday, and state television reported that officers used tear gas to disperse the group. At least 25 people were injured.

Dozens of mostly young demonstrators charged at a police cordon preventing them from reaching a central square in Zagreb where the government headquarters is located, Croatian TV said.

The protesters threw stones and bricks at police, who responded with tear gas, the report said, adding that several people were injured and nearby windows were broken. Police set up metal fences to corral the crowd, the report added, describing the situation as "chaos."

Croatian police said they detained 60 protesters and that 12 police and 13 citizens were injured.

The protests in Zagreb come just two days after several hundred protesters clashed with police at another anti-government rally. Many Croats blame the government for economic hardship and alleged corruption.

At another Zagreb square, thousands protested peacefully against the government and in support of a Croat war veteran awaiting extradition to Serbia in a Bosnian prison. They carried banners reading "Croat defenders are heroes" and "Stop the prosecution of Croat defenders."

The organizers, veterans' groups from Croatia's 1991-95 war, said hundreds of protesters were prevented by police from reaching the event, the Hina news agency reported.

A new exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is taking a fresh look at the influence that Paris had on Marc Chagall and his fellow modernists from 1910 to 1920.

The show, "Paris Through the Window: Marc Chagall and His Circle," opens Tuesday. It is being presented in conjunction with an international arts festival in Philadelphia that opens in April.

The exhibition "represents the Museum's contribution to this festival and will focus on the powerful influence that Paris had on Chagall and his contemporaries," museum director Timothy Rub said.

The show, located in the museum's Perelman annex, includes roughly 40 paintings and sculptures culled mainly from the museum's own collection but reconfigured in a new way. Other featured artists include Chaim Soutine, Amedeo Modigliani and Jacques Lipschitz.

Curator Michael Taylor said the show will provide visitors with "a unique opportunity to reconsider the cross-fertilization that took place" when Chagall and his contemporaries lived and worked in Paris.

Among the show's highlights is Chagall's painting "Paris Through the Window" from 1913, on loan from the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The work is a dreamlike and colorful interpretation of Chagall's world outside his studio window in the La Ruche building near Montparnasse, a thriving artistic community and home to Chagall and fellow Eastern European artists who fled the repression and persecution of their homelands.

"This is indisputably Chagall's early masterpiece," said curator Michael Taylor. Chagall's inspiration from Cubism and his enthusiasm for Paris, where he arrived after finishing art school in Russia, are clear in this and another massive work on display, "Half Past Three (The Poet)" of 1911.

An Egyptian panel tasked with amending the country's constitution recommended Saturday easing restrictions on who can run for president and imposing presidential term limits - two key demands of the popular uprising that pushed longtime President Hosni Mubarak from power.

The eight-member panel also suggested limits on the use of emergency laws - in place in Egypt for 30 years- to a six-month period with the approval of an elected parliament. Extending the emergency laws beyond that period should be put to a public referendum, the panel said.

The sweeping changes must still be put to a popular referendum to take effect, but they appear to address many of the demands of protesters who led the 18-day popular uprising that forced Mubarak to step down on Feb. 11 after more than 30 years in power. The military council has been running Egypt's affairs since then.

The legal panel was appointed last week to suggest constitutional amendments that would pave the way for democratic elections later this year. The Armed Forces Council has said the military wants to hand power over to a new government and elected president within six months.

But the protest movement has been growing impatient, and tens of thousands rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square throughout on Friday to keep up the pressure on the military. In particular, protest leaders are demanding the dismissal of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, who was appointed by Mubarak. They are also calling for a more active civilian role in the decisions made by the council.

In all, the panel suggested 10 amendments to the constitution.

They included allowing for full judicial supervision of the electoral process, starting with preparing rosters, to declaring results- which practically denies the police ministry oversight. That would address regular criticism that past elections were heavily controlled and rigged, ensuring Mubarak's ruling party retained its grip power.

Eric Frenzel and Tino Edelmann of Germany finished 1-2 Saturday in the Nordic combined normal hill event at the world championships.

American Olympic champion Billy Demong finished seventh, one place ahead of teammate Todd Lodwick. Demong had the fastest cross-country time, but was unable to make up a 1:47 time difference after placing 29th with his jump.

Frenzel won by 11.9 seconds after holding on to the lead he earned with a 109.5-meter leap in ski jump. Edelmann, a three-time silver medalist at the last worlds, was sixth after the jump but had a strong 10-kilometer cross-country leg.

Felix Gottwald of Austria was third.

Jason Lamy Chappuis of France finished 15th. He leads the overall World Cup standings.

In other events, Thomas Morgenstern of Austria landed a 107-meter jump to win the normal hill ski jump over fellow Austrian Andreas Kofler. Marit Bjoergen of Norway again delighted a large home crowd with a powerful display in the 15-kilometer cross-country pursuit.

Shoot pirates on sight?

The U.S. Navy has warships in the seven seas to help ensure peaceful passage all over the world. Yet pirates such as the ones who killed four Americans Tuesday are terrorizing an ever-larger number of shipping lanes.

Since 2007, pirates have acted with considerable impunity. According to the International Maritime Bureau, "The number of pirate attacks against ships has risen every year for the last four years... Ships reported 445 attacks in 2010, up 10% from 2009. While 188 crew members were taken hostage in 2006, 1,050 were taken in 2009 and 1,181 in 2010."

According to a U.S. naval source, more than 200 other attacks a year have not been reported because such reporting "is bad for business." The ransom that pirates demand and get has increased from several hundred thousand to several million dollars per crew.

Above all, the pirates mock the notion that the U.S. is a superpower, as a bunch of young men, riding tiny boats, lightly armed, seem unstoppable.

Police in North Carolina say a SWAT officer was securing a stun grenade known as a "flash-bang" at his home when it exploded, killing him.

Charlotte Police Chief Rodney Monroe says 50-year-old Fred Thornton suffered massive internal injuries when the grenade detonated Friday. Police say a preliminary investigation showed Thornton had been working to make sure his equipment was safe. He underwent surgery at a hospital and later died.

Monroe says the 28-year veteran had been on assignment serving a search warrant Friday afternoon. After that, Thornton drove his SWAT vehicle to his home, where the stun grenade went off.

Officials say the device is issued to all SWAT officers and is used to startle suspects during raids.
Space shuttle Discovery zoomed toward a Saturday afternoon check-in at the International Space Station, its final visit before being parked at a museum.

"Your reservation has been confirmed," Mission Control notified the six shuttle astronauts first thing Saturday morning.

The space station's commander couldn't resist a little ribbing as Discovery pulled to within six miles.

"What took you guys so long?" Scott Kelly asked via ship-to-ship radio.

Discovery should have come and gone last November, but it was grounded by fuel tank cracks. It blasted off Thursday with just two seconds to spare, after being held up by a balky ground computer.

"Yeah, I don't know, we kind of waited until like the last two seconds," shuttle commander Steven Lindsey replied. "But it's good to hear your voice, Scott. You guys look great, so we're on our way."

Survivors of Gen. Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship are hoping Barack Obama's visit next month will lead to the release of more classified U.S. documents that could be critical to prosecuting the Chilean agents responsible for torturing and killing leftists decades ago.

They say the U.S. president's visit should also encourage their own government to make good on its promises to deal more forcefully with the darkest period in Chile's political history.

Of all the Latin American countries that have shaken off dictatorships, none has made greater strides than Chile in convicting those responsible for torturing and killing political opponents. The U.S. has helped by declassifying huge troves of documents revealing what it knew about the Sept. 11, 1973 coup - Chile's own 9/11 - and the bloody crackdown that lasted through the 1980s.

But more documents remain classified, and in the files made public, names were redacted, so hundreds of investigations remain stymied.

Authorities are under particular pressure from the daughters of two presidents whose deaths remain shrouded in mystery - Salvador Allende, who was said to have committed suicide as Pinochet's troops seized the presidential palace in 1973, and his predecessor Eduardo Frei Montalva, allegedly poisoned during routine hernia surgery in 1982, when he was a leading critic of the dictatorship.

Pumped up about skyrocketing gas prices? Many American motorists are.

According to AAA, the average U.S. price for a gallon of gas was $3.33 on Feb. 26, up from $2.70 a year ago. Some experts predict gas prices in some areas of the country could skyrocket to $5 a gallon this summer.

While we’re paying more to fill up, the three largest publicly traded oil companies based in the United States have been filling up on profits.

Those three companies – ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips – collectively pulled in an eye-popping $58.3 billion in profits in 2010, according to financial figures announced in January 2011. Mind you, that’s profit – the amount of money that companies pocket after covering their expenses.

By means of comparison, the net worth of Microsoft founder Bill Gate has been pegged at $53 billion, about $5 billion less than the combined profits of the Big Three oil companies.

Here’s the breakdown of the Big Three’s profits in 2010:

• ExxonMobil: $30.5 billion, up $11 billion from 2009. In a substantial understatement, ExxonMobil’s vice president of investor relations, David Rosenthal, said he was “very pleased” with the company’s financial results for 2010.

• Chevron: $19 billion, up from $10.5 billion in 2009.

• ConocoPhillips: $8.8 billion, up from $4.9 billion in 2009.

Certainly, massive profits for Big Oil are nothing new. And for years, American motorists have been moaning about high gas prices while oil companies have been raking in billions of dollars.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the Security Council to consider immediately concrete steps against Libyan President Muammar Al-Qadhafi’s Government for its deadly repression of protesters, with options ranging from sanctions to assured punishment.

“In these circumstances, the loss of time means more loss of lives,” he told the 15-member body during a meeting on peace and security in Africa, noting that estimates put the death toll in recent days at more than 1,000. “It is time for the Security Council to consider concrete action.”

The Council agreed to meet tomorrow to consider urgently a draft resolution “including specific targeted measures aimed at putting an end to violence, helping achieve a peaceful solution to the current crisis, ensuring accountability and respecting the will of the Libyan people,” the Council President, Brazilian Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, told reporters after consultations.

Mr. Ban cited reports that Mr. Qadhafi’s supporters are conducting house-by-house searches and arrests. “According to some reports, they have even gone into hospitals to kill wounded opponents,” he said. “In their public statements, Colonel Qadhafi and members of his family continue to threaten citizens with civil war and the possibility of mass killing if the protests continue.”

The Secretary-General, who announced that he would go to Washington on Monday to discuss the situation with United States President Barack Obama, said the media and human rights reports of indiscriminate killings, arbitrary arrests, shooting of peaceful demonstrators, detention and torture of the opposition, and the use of foreign mercenaries are “credible and consistent” even if there is no conclusive proof.

Google Inc . and Facebook Inc., plus others, have held low level takeover talks with Twitter that give the Internet sensation a value as high as $10-billion, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In December, Twitter raised $200-million in financing in a deal that valued it at $3.7-billion. The company, which allows users to broadcast 140-character messages to groups of followers, had 175 million users as of September.

  • LinkedIn IPO could open floodgates for tech companies
  • Google hands reins back to co-founder
  • Facebook Deals pokes into Groupon’s territory
  • Google to hire more than 6,200 workers this year

The Wall Street Journal reported on its website that executives at Twitter have held “low level” talks with executives at Facebook and Google in recent months about a possible takeover of Twitter.

The leader of Bahrain's largest opposition party said Saturday he has arrived back in Bahrain days after the country's king closed the case against him.

Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the Haq Movement, had planned to return earlier in the week to give a speech on the importance of national unity. His return was delayed by his detention in Lebanon, which he blamed on Bahrain's rulers.

Mushaimaa said after arriving in Bahrain that he was preparing a speech about the protesters' demands for a new regime.

Thousands of people have been demonstrating in Bahrain in recent days for political reforms and other concessions. Mushaimaa had earlier said he planned to join the protesters.

The anti-government rallies in Bahrain have occurred alongside similar protests in other regional states, but they also unfolded amid major gestures by the kingdom.

Bahrain's King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa touted a "national dialogue" and urged Bahrainis "to engage in this new process" and "move away from polarization," a government statement said Tuesday.

Mushaimaa said Saturday he doesn't believe the king's offer for dialogue.

"They are always lying -- they are promising to do something and they don't do it," he told CNN about the monarchy.

"We talked about dialogue for a long time. Nobody listened, nobody heard us," he said. "They are just listening now because of the pressure. If the pressure will finish, they will not listen again."

Mushaimaa, who has been living abroad, had previously been detained by the government for campaigning for more democratic rights in the island monarchy.

Billionaire Warren Buffett wants Americans to be optimistic about the country's future but wary about borrowing money and the games public companies play with profit numbers they report.

Buffett said in his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders Saturday that he still believes America's best days are ahead.

"Commentators today often talk of 'great uncertainty.' But think back, for example, to December 6, 1941, October 18, 1987 and September 10, 2001," Buffett wrote, referring to the days before the Pearl Harbor attack, a stock market crash and terrorist attacks in the U.S. "No matter how serene today may be, tomorrow is always uncertain. Don't let that reality spook you."

He said a housing recovery will likely begin within the next year.

Buffett's letter detailed how the acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, better results at Berkshire's other subsidiaries and strong investment performance combined to boost the company's net income by 61 percent to $12.97 billion in 2010.

But Buffett also devoted part of his message to educating investors on key business principles. Buffett said the financial crisis of 2008 confirmed the dangers of investing with borrowed money because even a short absence of credit can ruin a company.

"When leverage works, it magnifies your gains. Your spouse thinks you're clever, and your neighbors get envious. But leverage is addictive," Buffett said. "Once having profited from its wonders, very few people retreat to more conservative practices."

That's part of why Berkshire always keeps at least $20 billion cash on hand for unforeseen events or investment opportunities, he said. At the end of 2010, its cash reserve totaled $38 billion.

"During the episodes of financial chaos that occasionally erupt in our economy, we will be equipped both financially and emotionally to play offense while others scramble for survival," Buffett said. "That's what allowed us to invest $15.6 billion in 25 days of panic following the Lehman bankruptcy in 2008."

Buffett also urged investors not to focus on the net income figures that companies report because they are easily manipulated through accounting tricks or by selling investments. He said Berkshire's net income can be particularly misleading because of the large amount of unrealized investment gains or losses the company holds at any given time.

To the movie industry, the Oscars are an awards ceremony. For the rest of us, they're a show.

So while we couldn't recall last year's best picture on a bet (Cameron's blue-aliens movie? No, wait, it was "Hurt Locker" from his ex!), we savor the memory of Billy Crystal's great opening bits and Jack Palance's one-armed push-ups and brave Christopher Reeve onstage, alone, in a wheelchair.

So, Academy Awards, what are you going to do for us in the three-hour-and-then-some ABC broadcast starting at 8 p.m. EST Sunday?

Nobody's complaining about seeing the likes of nominees Natalie Portman, Amy Adams or Colin Firth in their designer duds and with a potential winner's aura (and, in Portman's case, the unbeatable glow of pregnancy).

But in a year with so many apparent dead-certs - including Portman as best actress for "Black Swan," Firth as best actor for "The King's Speech" and Melissa Leo and Christian Bale of "The Fighter" for the supporting-actor prizes - we need more bells and whistles.

First, there's the all-important theme for the Kodak Theatre event. This year: "You're invited."

Google has tweaked the formulas steering its Internet search engine to take the rubbish out of its results. The overhaul is designed to lower the rankings of what Google deems "low-quality" sites.

That could be a veiled reference to such sites as Demand Media's, which critics call online "content farms" - that is, sites producing cheap, abundant, mostly useless content that ranks high in search results.

Sites that produce original content or information that Google considers valuable are supposed to rank higher under the new system.

The change announced late Thursday affects about 12 percent, or nearly one in every eight, search requests in the U.S. Google Inc. said the new ranking rules eventually will be introduced in other parts of the world, too. The company tweaks its search algorithms, or formulas, hundreds of times a year, but most of the changes are so subtle that few people notice them. This latest change will be more difficult to miss, according to Google engineers.

In spite of their criticism of unions in Wisconsin, AlterNet has confirmed that leading right-wing pundits are American Federation Television and Radio Artists union members.

February 26, 2011 |  When it comes to the Wisconsin union fights, right-wing pundits Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have a couple of things in common. For starters, have all voiced their opposition to the plight of public employee unions in the state.

On Feb. 18, Limbaugh said on his radio program, "We are either on the side of the Wisconsin protesters or we are on the side of our country." Hannity has featured several guests critical of the union and its supporters, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, on his Fox News television and radio shows.

On the Feb. 18 edition of "The O'Reilly Factor," O'Reilly stated, "Governments can't afford to operate" because of "union wages and benefits." But it turns out that opposing workers' rights isn't the only thing these blowhards have in common.

As it turns out, all three of them belong to the American Federation Television and Radio Artists union (AFTRA), which is the AFL-CIO affiliate for television and broadcast workers.

Yes, you read that right. While Hannity, O'Reilly and Limbaugh have been railing against union workers in Wisconsin, all three of them belong to an AFL-CIO affiliate union.

As Facebook and Twitter have come to play a larger role in getting the word out about issues such as unrest in Egypt, much of what is done using these social tools — particularly by younger users — has been criticized as “slacktivism.” In other words, it is seen as just empty gestures such as changing an avatar or posting a status update, rather than real activism around social issues. But a new study from the University of California has found that younger Internet users become more socially engaged in the real world, not just online. And the study also indicates that being online exposes younger users to more diverse viewpoints, in contrast to the view of the web as a political or social “echo chamber.”

The study, which was done by the university’s Humanities Research Institute, involved more than 2,500 high-school students, of which 400 were followed for a period of up to 3.5 years — making it one of the longest surveys of its kind. Supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the research looked at three types of behavior: politically-driven online participation, online exposure to diverse perspectives, and interest-driven online participation. It followed how often the students used blogs or social networks to share or discuss various social and political issues, how often they searched for information about such issues and how much they communicated with others.

A man has blown himself up with a grenade outside a supermarket in Moscow, killing only himself, Russian news agencies have reported.

The man drove to the shop in north-east Moscow, got out of his car and mumbled unintelligibly before pulling the pin out of the grenade, witnesses said.

The motive for the attack is unclear.

A suicide attack on Moscow's Domodedovo airport in January killed 37 people. Chechen warlord Doku Umarov said he ordered the bombing.

In a video posted online, Mr Umarov said the attack was a response to "Russian crimes in the Caucasus" and similar attacks would continue.

Security at airports, railway stations and shopping areas was tightened after the Domodedovo bombing. There has since been a series of false bomb threats, followed by mass evacuations.

No one else was injured during the supermarket attack on Saturday, the Interfax news agency quoted a police source as saying.
Usually when NASA launch a space shuttle we all get to see it from ground level and cameras that follow the shuttle as it disappears into the outer atmosphere. This can create some truly stunning footage, especially as the rockets fire and the initial launch happens.

On Thursday Discovery got its last ascent into space, but this time instead of just seeing it from the ground, one lucky passenger flight also saw it from the air.

The flight was from Orlando, Florida, and it happened to be passing by the Kennedy Space Center just as the launch happened. We’re also lucky that one of the passengers had the sense to pull his camera out and start recording.

The footage gives you a true sense of just how fast the shuttle is travelling and the trajectory it takes. This is definitely one video for my YouTube favorites list.
Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer for the second time in a month to win his third consecutive Dubai Championships title.

The third-ranked Djokovic won 6-3, 6-3 Saturday to extend his unbeaten record to 12 matches. He topped Federer in the semifinals en route to winning the Australian Open last month.

Federer was a break up in the second set before Djokovic reeled off the last four games for the win.

The victory gives the 23-year-old Serb his 20th career title.
The U.S. is mocking Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi over his claim that anti-government protesters are misguided youths given drugs and money by a "small, sick group."

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley has a new Twitter posting that jabs Gadhafi's "hardly sober claim that protesters are on drugs."

Crowley says "the people of Libya are clear-eyed in their demand for change."

Gadhafi made the comment in a speech Tuesday on state TV when he declared himself "a warrior" and promised to fight on and die a "martyr."
Canada has evacuated its embassy staff and suspended its diplomatic presence in strife-torn Libya.

Dimitri Soudas, the top spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said Saturday the decision was based on the recommendation of Canada's ambassador in Tripoli and in close collaboration with other countries.

A military plane carried the Canadian ambassador, five consular officials as well as 18 other Canadians out of the country early Saturday.

The C-17 also carried British citizens and officials from Australia's diplomatic mission. In all, 46 people were evacuated.

There are now fewer than 100 Canadians in Libya hoping to leave. Some 200 Canadians have escaped on an American-chartered ferry and planes brought in by other countries.
A person familiar with the negotiations says the Cleveland Indians are close to signing reliever Chad Durbin to a one-year contract. He will report to the team's training camp in Goodyear, Ariz., for a physical Sunday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been completed.

The Indians were one of several teams interested in the 33-year-old right-hander. Durbin pitched for the Indians in 2003-4 and spent the past three seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. He went 4-1 with a 3.80 ERA in 64 games last season.

The Indians have at least two bullpen openings, one of which will go to Durbin.
Harriet Rowan was among the first to join what has become an almost two-week-long rally at the Wisconsin Capitol, and she said with the arrival of thousands of others, confusion, misinformation and rumors quickly spread.

"I came back on Tuesday night and there was absolutely no organization," Rowan said. "People needed people to go up upstairs and testify all night to keep the building open ... people were going around just waking people up ... it was chaotic."

The University of Wisconsin senior made a spur-of-the-moment decision to coordinate protest efforts, making signs with media talking points and starting a Twitter feed detailing legislative meeting times, union rally locations and details on day-to-day life in the Capitol.

Other Madison residents have opened their doors to out-of-town strangers, offering a bed to anyone friendly to unions. At the Statehouse, a spread including pizza, chili and artisanal cheeses is offered to hungry protesters. Busloads of supporters from Los Angeles and elsewhere arrive to boost the numbers.

Nearly two weeks after the start of massive protests against Gov. Scott Walker's proposal that would strip nearly all public employees of their collective bargaining rights erupted, a network of volunteers has emerged as the skeleton that keeps the daily demonstrations alive.

Widespread protests began Feb 15, with 13,000 people attending rallies in and around the Capitol. Crowds peaked at 70,000 a week ago, a few thousand of which were tea party counter-protesters. Since then crowds outside the Capitol have dipped significantly, but those inside the Capitol still range in the thousands and police are bracing for another large crowd Saturday. Smaller sympathy demonstrations are planned elsewhere in the country as well.

In a third-floor room where the UW-Madison Teaching Assistants Association has based its support operations, a wood conference table is dwarfed by a mountain of bedding supplies, while posters organizing protests, rides and class coverage for absent TAs line the walls.

President Barack Obama says the economic recovery will stall if Congress can't agree on spending cuts and avoid a government shutdown.

The current budget expires next Friday. That means lawmakers must OK a new spending plan before the March 4 deadline to keep much of the government from running out of money and closing. The Republican-run House and Democratic-controlled Senate are bickering over how much to cut.

"For the sake of our people and our economy, we cannot allow gridlock to prevail," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. "I urge and expect them to find common ground so we can accelerate, not impede, economic growth."

House Republicans have proposed $4 billion in cuts as part of legislation to keep the government functioning through March 18, and they have urged Senate Democrats to accept that approach to avoid closing it down.

In a possible setback to its nuclear program, Iran is unloading fuel assemblies from the reactor at a plant already plagued by delays, according to a report issued Friday by the global nuclear watchdog agency.

The Russian-built plant in the Persian Gulf city Bushehr was expected to produce 1,000 megawatts of electricity and was considered a showcase for nuclear power to be used for civilian purposes in Iran. It was supposed to be operational by the first quarter of this year.

Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), however, said the fuel removal was temporary.

"Upon Russia's request fuel will be removed from the core of the reactor in order to conduct a number of tests and [carry out] technical work," Ali Asghar Soltanieh told the semi-official Islamic Students News Agency on Saturday. "After the tests are conducted, (the fuel) will be placed in the core of the reactor once again."

He said Russia is responsible for completing the plant in accordance with highest safety standards.

Iran began loading fuel into the core of the Bushehr reactor in October after it was launched in August. That came after more than three decades of delays.

Construction started in 1975 when Germany signed a contract with Iran. But Germany pulled out of the project after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran then signed a deal with Russia in 1995, under which the plant was scheduled to be completed in 1999, but the project was repeatedly delayed.

The United States imposed sanctions on the Libyan government on Friday and said the legitimacy of longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had been "reduced to zero."

In response to Gaddafi's bloody crackdown on an uprising against his 41-year rule, President Barack Obama signed an executive order freezing the assets of Gaddafi, his family and top officials, as well as the Libyan government, the country's central bank and sovereign wealth funds.

"These sanctions therefore target the Gaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya," Obama said in a statement.

"By any measure, Muammar Gaddafi's government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable," he added.

The U.S. Treasury said the action would block substantial sums of Libyan money and prevent it being looted by the Gaddafi government, but declined to offer a dollar value.

With the Libyan crisis also being taken up at the United Nations, European Union governments agreed on the idea of imposing an arms embargo, asset freezes and a travel ban on the oil-producing North African nation, with diplomats saying a formal decision would be taken early next week.

Washington announced the sanctions move -- along with the closing of its embassy and withdrawal of U.S. diplomats -- after a chartered ferry and a plane carrying Americans and other evacuees left Libya earlier on Friday.

The Obama administration had been criticized for its relatively restrained response so far to the turmoil. But U.S. officials said fears for the safety of the Americans had tempered Washington's response.

"(Gaddafi) is overseeing the brutal treatment of his people ... and his legitimacy has been reduced to zero in the eyes of his people," White House spokesman Jay Carney said after Libyan security forces shot protesters in the streets of Tripoli on Friday.

Obama discussed Washington's sanctions plan with the leaders of Britain, France and Italy on Thursday and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Friday.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Friday his government was preparing sanctions against Libya and that "Canada fully supports the United Nations Security Council on a resolution that could include a weapons embargo, individual sanctions against key Libyan officials and an asset freeze."


The Obama administration said earlier this week it was studying a wide range of options, including the freezing of assets, a travel ban on members of Gaddafi's government, a "no-fly" zone over Libya and military action.

In a first step, the U.S. Treasury has told American banks to closely monitor transactions that may be related to unrest in Libya for possible signs that state assets were being misappropriated.

Several U.S. energy companies in Libya -- including Marathon, Hess and Occidental -- have continued working through the crisis as other foreign firms have curtailed or suspended operations.

If sanctions gain traction internationally, Libya's oil output could be restricted.

"Although Libya is not a big supplier to the U.S., any sanctions imposed by the U.S. -- particularly on doing business with that country -- means the U.S. or other countries affected will still have to tap other suppliers," said Peter Beutel, president of trading consultants Cameron Hanover.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council was considering a French-British draft proposal for an arms embargo, financial sanctions and a request to the International Criminal Court to indict Libyan leaders for crimes against humanity.

The White House did not express direct support for the proposal but said it was discussing it with members of the Security Council, including the other four permanent members -- China, Russia, Britain and France.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will push for unity against Gaddafi on Monday at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The United States resumed diplomatic ties with Libya in 2004 after Gaddafi agreed to abandon his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. economic sanctions were progressively removed after Libya agreed to accept civil responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988.
International pressure mounted against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Saturday, a day after world leaders demanded action to stop a bloody crackdown on protesters in the north African nation.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called for an effective solution to end the violence against anti-government protesters. A United Nations security panel is scheduled to meet Saturday morning to discuss a draft resolution against Gadhafi, who is clinging to power despite protesters' call for an end to his 42-year rule.

A Libyan envoy tearfully asked the United Nations Security Council to help end the bloodshed during a special session Friday.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in clashes in recent days, Ban estimated. He called for an immediate resolution to the crisis.

"In these circumstances, the loss of time means more loss of lives," Ban told the 15-member security council.