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IN Libya Muammar Gaddafi's forces attempted with mixed results to re-take towns and areas previously lost to opponents of his rule. Western countries continued to send mixed messages about appropriate action with proposals for imposing a no-fly zone in Libya made by Britain and France opposed as impractical by the United States. Meanwhile the exit of tens of thousands of foreign workers from Libya was threatening a humanitarian crisis.

TWO old-regime prime ministers stepped down: in Tunis, Mohamed Ghannouchi resigned, saying his departure was in the country's interest; in Egypt, Ahmed Shafiz, a minister in Mubarak cabinets, was removed by the military administration under pressure from reformers calling for more evidence of a change in its policies.

THE US Supreme Court upheld the right of a fundamentalist church in Westboro, Kansas, to demonstrate at funerals of US servicemen killed in Afghanistan. The church uses the funerals to draw attention to its belief that wars are God's punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality.

A parliamentary by-election in Barnsley in Britain gave the Labour party candidate an easy victory but put the coalition government Conservatives in third place behind the UK Independence Party and Liberal Democrats last of six candidates with less than three per cent of the votes cast.