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Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has vowed to fight to the “last man and last woman” to defend his country.
Gadhafi was addressing supporters and foreign media on Wednesday in a conference hall in the capital Tripoli as his forces were launching a counteroffensive against parts of the rebel-held eastern half of the country.
“We will fight until the last man and woman. We will defend Libya from the north to the south,” he said.
Forces loyal to Gadhafi battled government opponents for control of a key oil installation and an airstrip Wednesday on the Mediterranean coast in a counter-offensive against the rebel-held eastern half of the country.
The fighting at the Brega oil port appeared to be the first significant attempt by Gadhafi’s regime to push back against the large swath of territory — almost the entire eastern half of the country — seized by the oppposition. For the past week, pro-Gadhafi forces have been focusing on securing his stronghold in the capital Tripoli and trying with mixed success to take back nearby rebel-held cities in the west.
In the capital, Gadhafi repeated claims that al-Qaida is behind the uprising, telling a gathering of supporters that a “sleeper cell” launched the protests.
Opposition members said they believe Gadhafi was pulling up reinforcements from bases deep in the deserts of southwestern Libya, flying them to the fronts on the coast.
Soon after sunrise Wednesday, a large force of Gadhafi loyalists in around 50 SUVS, some mounted with machine guns, descended on Brega, catching the small opposition contingent guarding the site by surprise, said Ahmed Dawas, an anti-Gadhafi fighter at a checkpoint outside the port.
The opposition fighters fled, and regime warplanes hit an ammunition depot on the outskirts of the nearby rebel-held city of Ajdabiya, witnesses said. The forces seized the port, airstrip and the oil facilities where about 4,000 personnel work.
But by mid-morning, the opposition counter-attacked. Anti-Gadhafi fighters with automatic weapons were seen speeding out of Ajdabiya in pick-up trucks, heading for Brega, 40 miles away (70 kilometers) away. Dawas said they retook the oil facilities and airstrip. Other witnesses reported regime forces were surrounded by rebels. The sound of screaming warplanes and the crackle of heavy gunfire could be heard as the witnesses spoke to The Associated Press by phone.
Further fighting was taking place in the afternoon at a university campus between Ajdabiya and Brega that was still in pro-Gadhafi hands. An Associated Press reported at the scene heard automatic gunfire and explosions.
In Ajdabiya, people geared up to defend the city, fearing the pro-Gadhafi forces would move on them next. At the gates of the city, hundreds of residents took up positions on the road from Brega, armed with Kalashnikovs and hunting rifles, along with a few rocket-propelled grenade launchers. They set up two large rocket launchers and an anti-aircraft gun in the road.
Brega, 460 miles (740 kilometers) east of Tripoli along the coast, and nearby Ajdabiya are the furthest west points in the large contiguous swath of eastern Libya extending all the way to the Egyptian border that fell into opposition hands in the uprising that began Feb. 15.
Gadhafi’s regime has been left in control of the country’s northwest corner, centered on Tripoli, but even here several cities have fallen into rebel hands after residents rose up in protests, backed by mutinous army units and drove out Gadhafi loyalists.
In recent days, loyalists succeeded in regaining two of those towns — Gharyan, a strategic town in the Nafusa mountains south of Tripoli, and Sabratha, a small town west of the capital.
But opposition fighters successfully repulsed attacks by pro-Gadhafi forces on several others: the key city of Zawiya outside the capital; Misrata, Libya’s third largest city east of Tripoli; and Zintan, a town further southwest in the Nafusa mountains.
The regime may be bringing in more forces from regions it still dominates in the sparsely populated deserts in the southwest.
Residents of the southwestern oasis town of Sebha — a key Gahdafi stronghold with military bases 400 miles (560 kilometers) south of Tripoli — reported heavy movement at the airport there Tuesday night, said Abdel-Bari Zwei, one of the opposition activists in Ajdabiya in touch with sympathizers in Sebha. Zwei said it is believed some of those forces were involved in the offensive against Brega.
Michael reported from Tripoli, Libya.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
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