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Gadhafi continues to attack Libyans with military force

BENGHAZI, Libya — Moammar Gadhafi’s forces struck back on three fronts on Monday, using fighter jets, special forces units, and regular army troops in an escalation of hostilities that brought Libya closer to civil war.

The attacks by the colonel’s troops on an oil refinery in central Libya and on cities on either side of the country unsettled rebel leaders — who earlier had claimed they were close to liberating the country — and showed that despite defections by the military, the government still possessed powerful assets, including fighter pilots willing to bomb Libyan cities.

In some of the harshest language yet from an U.S. official, the United Nations envoy, Susan Rice, accused Gadhafi of “slaughtering his own people” and being “disconnected from reality.”

Street battles raged in Misurata and Zawiyah, two important breakaway cities near Tripoli, the nation’s capital and principal Gadhafi stronghold.

New drilling permit for Gulf of Mexico, first one after BP spill

WASHINGTON — The Interior Department said Monday that it had approved the first new deepwater drilling permit in the Gulf of Mexico since the BP explosion and spill last spring, a milestone after a period of intense uncertainty for industry and a wholesale remaking of the nation’s system of offshore oil and gas regulation.

Michael R. Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, said that Noble Energy had been granted permission to resume drilling in 6,500 feet of water off the coast of Louisiana.

Work on the well was suspended, along with virtually all other drilling activity in water deeper than 5,000 feet, immediately after the Deepwater Horizon accident last April 20. The disaster killed 11 rig workers and spewed nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the ocean.

Still, there was no indication that drilling in the gulf would return anytime soon to levels preceding the BP well blowout.

Despite Oscar win, migrants at Israeli school face deportation

TEL AVIV, Israel — The children in the kindergarten class were taking their new celebrity status in stride Monday, singing a Hebrew song about patience, hours after a movie about their school, Bialik-Rogozin in south Tel Aviv, won the Academy Award for best short documentary in Los Angeles.

Although the U.S.-made documentary, “Strangers No More,” celebrates the school’s atmosphere of diversity and tolerance as it tries to integrate the children into Israeli life, there is an ominous subtext to the story that was not explored in the movie. Of the school’s 828 pupils, ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade, 120 are facing deportation with their families because they do not meet government criteria for obtaining legal status.

Despite all the school’s attention from the Oscar, Israel’s Interior Ministry said Monday that the government’s preparations for dealing with the children of illegal residents were in their final stages and that the plan would be carried out in the coming weeks.

A spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry said that since August, the government had considered more than 700 requests from people appealing their expected deportation.