Amid violence, Turkey closes its embassy in Tripoli
ISTANBUL — Turkey closed its embassy in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, on Monday, becoming the latest country to do so amid increasing violence there. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also said it would maintain its consulate in rebel-controlled Benghazi.
“In light of recent changes in the security conditions in Libya and the emergence of potential security risks, we took an important decision last night to temporarily evacuate our embassy in Tripoli,” Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, told reporters in Ankara.
“Of course this does not mean Turkey will cease its activity” in Libya, he said.
Turkey, which has had strong business ties with Libya and has acted as an intermediary between Western nations and the government of Moammar Gadhafi, has evacuated roughly 25,000 of its nationals from Libya amid the increasing chaos there. Last year, Turkey began allowing Libyan citizens to stay in Turkey for at least three months without a visa, in a strengthening of diplomatic and business relations.
—Sebnem Arsu, The New York Times
Sen. Scott Brown, a guardsman, seeks Afghanistan stint
BOSTON — Sen. Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts announced Monday that he had asked to conduct his annual training as a member of the state’s Army National Guard this summer in Afghanistan.
Brown, a Republican who will face re-election next year in what is sure to be an expensive and closely watched race, has been a member of the National Guard here since 1979. A lieutenant colonel and lawyer for the Judge Advocate General Corps, he said in a statement that doing his training as requested would help educate him on the war in Afghanistan and “better understand our ongoing mission in that country.”
He also said the training, which typically lasts two weeks, would “provide me firsthand experience for my duties on the Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs Committees.”
Brown, 51, has never been deployed to a combat zone, though he completed brief assignments with the National Guard in Paraguay in 2005 and Kazakhstan in 2007. A Brown spokesman said in an email that Brown had done his annual training in Massachusetts last year.
—Abby Goodnough, The New York Times
Canada’s election looks to defy early predictions
OTTAWA — Canadians voted Monday in an election that appeared set to defy its early expectations.
When his government fell in late March, Prime Minister Stephen Harper immediately began a campaign aimed at giving his Conservatives a majority in the House of Commons, ending the political instability that has brought Canada four elections since 2004.
But with the main issue at stake being whether the Conservatives would win a majority or form another minority government without one, most political analysts forecast a dull campaign, low voter turnout and, regardless, another government led by Harper in the end.
Until two weeks ago, they were more or less right.
Since then, the unexpected rise of the New Democrats, a party historically distinguished by its lock on third place, over the final weeks of the campaign has left even some of Canada’s most opinionated commentators at a loss for predictions.
While two Conservative Party officials, who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about internal forecasts, acknowledged that it was unlikely that Harper would get his majority, most polls suggested that he would remain as prime minister.
Beyond that, however, the outcome of the election seemed to be anyone’s guess.
—Ian Austen, The New York Times
Blagojevich’s second federal corruption trial begins
CHICAGO — Rod R. Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois who is charged with trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat that once belonged to President Barack Obama, talked and talked and talked. But he never really sealed a deal, criminal or otherwise.
So went the defense presented by Blagojevich’s lawyers as his second federal corruption trial opened Monday, more than eight months after a first trial ended with a jury divided on all but one in a thick tangle of criminal charges against him.
Aaron Goldstein, Blagojevich’s lawyer, told this new set of jurors that federal authorities had never discovered a pot of money in Blagojevich’s possession after his arrest in 2008. They had never found a flush bank account. “They found nothing because there is nothing,” Goldstein said.
“In the end, you will have nothing,” he said.
In many ways, Blagojevich’s new trial felt like a muted, less circuslike replay of the last one: same courtroom, same judge, same prosecutors, same hair. But this trial — with only a shrunken group of curious residents here to touch Blagojevich or seek his autograph — is expected to be more challenging for Blagojevich, not least of all because of the way prosecutors have scaled back and simplified their case.
Prosecutors have dropped several of the most complicated charges — racketeering, in particular — and have reduced their case to 20 counts, including attempted extortion and bribery. In an opening statement, Christopher Niewoehner, an assistant U.S. attorney, took pains to define for jurors even the most basic concepts — governors sit at the top of the power structure in state government; campaign dollars are separate from official state finances; wiretaps are approved by judges.
—Monica Davey, The New York Times