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Rebel Libyan fighters sit on an anti-aircraft battery outside a military base in Benghazi, eastern Libya, Monday, Feb. 28, 2011. (AP)

Battles Escalate For Control Of Libya

Mar 1, 2011

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Korva Coleman

The New York Times says fighters loyal to Libyan ruler Moammar al-Gadhafi hit rebel forces in at least three places: an oil refinery in central Libya, and in two cities on opposite sides of the country. The AP says rebels fought off pro-Gadhafi attackers in Misrata, Libya's third largest city, east of Tripoli. The Wall Street Journal says rebels beat back pro-Gadhafi fighters in overnight fighting in Zawiya.

LIBYAN NO-FLY ZONE?

The US and its western allies are talking about stronger measures to stop Gadhafi, including a no-fly zone. On Morning Edition, NPR's Steve Inskeep talks with former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, who says the allies are first trying to cut off Gadhafi's access to cash. He adds a no-fly zone could be set up and it might make practical sense. But Hill added this caution:

Inskeep: ...What are the risks of the U.S. getting involved in a shooting war, or anything resembling that in Libya?

Hill: ...the risk of getting involved in a shoot-em-up is the risk that it will help Gadhafi supporters say this is all being engineered by foreigners, and look, they're in the air right now, shooting at our airplanes, so I think you gotta be very careful that it doesn't appear that you are somehow leading this thing.

Hill observes Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. is going to do its best to avoid entanglement in Mideast conflicts.

The Los Angeles Times reports setting up a no-fly zone would be feasible but complex: just to start, hundreds of aircraft are needed to repeatedly bomb Libya's air defenses, plus Libya's neighbors would have to consent to these attacks. Somebody would have to look like they are 'somehow leading this thing.'

CONFUSION ON FEDERAL STANCE ON GAY MARRIAGE

NPR's Nina Totenberg examines the Obama Administration's decision to reject health benefits to the legal, lesbian spouse of a federal employee who lives in California. On Morning Edition Nina notes that last week, the Justice Department said it wouldn't go to court to argue for the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government's recognition of same sex marriages.

But the agency also said it would continue to enforce the current law so Congress can go on to defend it in court. Thus, the California couple won't be able to get the health benefits.

One law professor Nina interviews calls the legal rationale 'incoherent'.

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