France Suspends Delivery of Warship to Russia

iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- As the Ukraine situation continues to fester, France has decided to suspend the delivery of a warship to Russia.

Until further notice, the first of two warships will remain in a French port and will not be handed over to the Russians.

A statement from President Hollande's office stops short of cancelling the deal. At stake is thousands of jobs and a contract worth more than $1.25 billion.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


British Govt. Fighting to Stop Prince Charles’ Secret Letters from Publication

Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images(LONDON) -- When Prince Charles made rare public comments to criticize the lack of Shakespeare teaching in state school curricula, the British government was not too happy.

Now, it appears Prince Charles subsequently sent a letter to Britain's education minister of the time to apologize for not giving prior notice of his views and also to detail his perspectives on education policy, according to an ongoing case involving the government and a British journalist who filed a freedom of information request in 2005 to access the prince's correspondences.

If the letters from Prince Charles to seven government offices are published, it could be a problem for the heir because it might jeopardize the throne's traditional political neutrality, according to former Attorney General Dominic Grieve. As attorney general, Grieve blocked an earlier court decision to reveal the letters, dubbed the "black spider memos" because of the prince's small writing.

The government has put up a tough fight for nine years against Guardian journalist Rob Evans to stop publication of the letters.

This week, hearings on the matter at the United Kingdom's Supreme Court could be the government's last fight.

"My request was driven by a wish for transparency," said Evans to ABC News. "The monarchy should be neutral. So, are they really?"

At the core of the case is whether public interest is sufficient to warrant publication of confidential letters, and who has the final word on what the public interest is.

"Confidentiality should be the starting point," said the Guardian's lawyer, Dinah Rose. "But an Upper Tribunal ruled that the public interest from a public figure was sufficient to overrule it."

"Advocacy letters are very different to personal letters," said Rose, who added Charles "sees himself as performing a public function."

Evans sought disclosure of a number of written communications between the prince and the following government departments between 2004 and 2005: Business, Innovation and Skills; Health; Children, School and Families; Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Culture, Media and Sport; Northern Ireland and Cabinet Office.

When Evans' request was denied by the information commissioner, the journalist appealed to the Britain's Upper Tribunal. In Sept. 2012, the tribunal ruled that the Prince's communications should be disclosed to the extent that they fell into a category defined as "advocacy correspondence," according to legal documents seen by ABC News.

However, Grieve, who as attorney general was a member of government and had an advisory role, vetoed the court's decision. He said the public could interpret the letters to be disagreeing with government policy, which would be seriously damaging to Charles' role as a likely future monarch, according to legal documents.

The overruling of an independent and impartial court by a government minister is extremely rare in the U.K., and this week's hearing will determine whether he acted lawfully and on reasonable grounds.

The case addresses the question of whether public interest is best guarded by the judiciary or the executive branch of British government.

According to Rose, "Parliament has given little consideration" to the veto power given to an executive.

"The Upper Tribunal is much better equipped than a minister to make a decision," said Rose, adding a minister only gives "an opinion based on cabinet consultations."

The constitutional power to veto a court decision was given to the attorney general to protect the public interest where real and significant issues arise, said government lawyer James Eadie, who said it had followed a "carefully considered, deliberate decision" from parliament.

Prince Charles is known for his strong opinions on a range of topics from education to farming and health. Last week, The Guardian ran a long piece on how Charles would reset the sovereign's role by making heartfelt public interventions when he becomes king.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Two Minneapolis Men Charged with Trying to Help ISIS

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- The FBI has arrested a Minneapolis college student and charged another man -- who is still overseas -- for allegedly being part of a conspiracy to help ISIS, authorities said.

Abdullah Yusuf, 18, of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, was arrested Tuesday as part of a broader FBI investigation in Minnesota targeting “numerous individuals” there who have tried to join ISIS or had successfully made their way to war-torn Syria and Iraq, where the terrorist group is wreaking havoc and radicalizing others around the world through online propaganda.

According to federal authorities, Yusuf knew another Minnesota man who went to Syria in March -- and two months later Yusuf tried to go there himself.

This past spring, Yusuf obtained a passport and bought an airline ticket to Turkey, where he would find his way into Syria, according to federal prosecutors.

On May 28, after his father dropped him off at school, Yusuf made his way to the airport, but the FBI caught up to him there and told him he couldn’t leave for Turkey, authorities said.

Charges against 20-year-old Abdi Nur were also announced on Tuesday. According to charging documents, he left for Turkey in May. He was supposed to return to the United States in June, but he never came back.

“More than 16,000 recruits from over 90 countries traveled to Syria to become foreign terrorist fighters with alarming consequences,” said the head of the Justice Department National Security Division, John Carlin. "This is a global crisis and we will continue our efforts to prevent Americans from joining the fight and to hold accountable those who provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Italy's First Ebola Patient Arrives in Rome

iStock/Thinkstock(ROME) -- Italy's first Ebola patient arrived in Rome on Tuesday after contracting the virus in Sierra Leone.

The 50-year-old doctor got the virus while working at a clinic run in the African country by the non-profit organization Emergency.

The doctor was flown to Rome in a sealed unit aboard a military plane. Italian authorities say he doesn't have a fever yet.

So far, 5,500 people, mostly in West Africa, have died from Ebola this year.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Thanksgiving in Space: NASA Reveals What's on Astronauts' Menu

NASA TV(NEW YORK) -- These explorers may be from several different countries but on Thanksgiving, the six astronauts at the International Space Station will sit down for an out-of-this-world feast.

The group, which includes two Americans, will be treated to all of the Thanksgiving staples, with a few necessary tweaks for their home orbiting 260 miles above Earth.

While Americans back on Earth deep fry or wait for their birds to roast in the oven, the astronauts will be treated to a main course of irradiated smoked turkey.

Also on the menu: Thermostabilizaed candied yams, freeze-dried green beans and mushrooms. The astronauts will also dine on NASA's freeze-dried cornbread dressing, which requires one simple step to cook: Just add water.

Of course, it wouldn't be a proper Thanksgiving feast without dessert. The astronauts will be treated to thermostabilized cherry-blueberry cobbler, according to NASA.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


UN Kicks Off Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 16-day United Nations campaign to stop violence against women kicked off on Tuesday and is using the hashtags #16Days and #OrangeUrHood.

On Monday night, the Empire State Building and U.N. headquarters in New York shined in orange light.

Tuesday is the International Day to End Violence against Women.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Pope Calls Europe 'Elderly and Haggard,' Calls on EU to Keep 'Democracy Alive'

neneos/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(STRASBOURG, France) -- Pope Francis addressed the European Union on Tuesday morning, urging the leaders of nations representing "more than 500 million citizens" to "[keep] democracy alive."

Calling Europe "elderly and haggard...less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion," Pope Francis aimed "to offer a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe."

Francis touched on a multitude of subjects, ranging from human rights to the economy, from education to the environment.

"A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life is a Europe which risks slowly losing its own soul and that 'humanistic spirit' which it still loves and defends," the pope said.

Francis noted the EU motto, "United in Diversity," saying that in truth, "unity...does not mean uniformity of political, economic and cultural life, or ways of thinking." Instead, he said that he views Europe "like a family...which is all the more united when each of its members is free to be fully himself or herself."

"Dear Members of the European Parliament," Pope Francis concluded, "the time has come to work together in building a Europe which revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values. In building a Europe which courageously embraces its past and confidently looks to its future in order fully to experience the hope of its present. The time has come for us to abandon the idea of a Europe which is fearful and self-absorbed, in order to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values and faith as well."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


How Chuck Hagel's Resignation Might Affect ISIS Fight

Department of Defense/Glenn Fawcett(WASHINGTON) -- Chuck Hagel’s departure as Defense Secretary will probably have a minimal impact on the administration’s three-part strategy to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria that is expected to take years.

Hagel had raised questions about the strategy’s lack of focus on the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad, but not about the president’s decision that American troops sent to Iraq will not serve as combat troops.

Online supporters of the Islamic terror group ISIS have taken to Twitter to cheer the resignation of Hagel, claiming it was ISIS that forced him out.

An Arabic-language hashtag that roughly translates to “ISIS toppled American Defense Secretary” has been used dozens of times on the social networking site, sometimes alongside images mocking Hagel and the Obama administration. It’s unclear if the social media-savvy terror group actually started the campaign, or if it was the just product of the group’s online supporters.

Regardless of how ISIS supporters may want to interpret Hagel’s resignation, it does not mean the administration’s strategy to combat ISIS is about to change.

The three-part strategy is focused initially on pushing back ISIS’ territorial gains in Iraq by providing material support, and sending American military advisers to advise and train Iraq’a military forces.

There are currently 1,400 U.S. troops in Iraq and President Obama has authorized that those numbers could grow to 3,100 specifically for an advisory and training mission. The administration has been emphatic that these U.S. military personnel are not “boots on the ground” who will serve on the front lines as combat troops.

The U.S. and some of its coalition partners are also conducting airstrikes in Syria to hold ISIS in check by attacking its logistical operations and training facilities that support ISIS fighters inside Iraq.

The third part of the strategy plans to train as many as 5,000 Syrian moderate rebels to fight ISIS inside Syria. However, that training program in Saudi Arabia is going to develop slowly with the first trainees not returning to Syria until well into 2015.

It is the administration’s policy that the American troops sent to Iraq will not be “boots on the ground” serving on the front lines as combat troops that has drawn the most criticism on Capitol Hill.

Members of Congress like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have criticized the Obama administration’s strategy for locking itself into the concept that American ground troops will not be needed.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey has told Congress that there may come a time when U.S. military personnel may have to accompany Iraqi front line troops in the future. He has explained that major complex fights like the Iraqi effort to retake Mosul from ISIS might require U.S. forward air controllers who could help call in airstrikes.

Hagel also raised concerns internally with the president’s national security team that the administration’s strategy did not address what to do about Assad's regime.

In late October, Hagel would not confirm to reporters that he had sent a letter to National Security Adviser Susan Rice laying out those concerns. But he did acknowledge that the president’s advisers owe him their honest and direct advice.

“We are constantly assessing and reassessing and adapting to the realities of what is the best approach -- how we can be most effective,” said Hagel. “That's a responsibility of any leader." And he said that advice has “to be honest and it has to be direct.”

At that same briefing with Pentagon reporters, Hagel expressed concern that "Assad derives some benefits" from the coalition’s focus solely on ISIS. The strategic focus on ISIS has also disheartened moderate Syrian rebel groups who say the real threat to security in Syria is the Assad regime’s grip on power, not ISIS.

But in a congressional hearing in November, Hagel said the administration was not considering a change to the ISIS strategy that would include action against the Assad regime.

“There is no change and there is no different direction,” Hagel told the House Armed Services Committee.

Just last week, Dempsey acknowledged that the administration’s strategy will meet its long-term goals by adapting where needed.

“The objective is not going to change, but I'm not obsessing so much about what's in the middle, because the middle is going to change,” Dempsey said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


US Judge Sentences One of 'El Chapo's' Alleged Leaders for Drug Smuggling

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) --  Captured Mexican drug lord "El Chapo" remains in custody in Mexico, but one of his friends, and alleged high-ranking leaders, has been sentenced in federal court in Chicago.  

Federal prosecutors believe Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez was a high-ranking member of the infamous Mexican Sinaloa cartel, helping his boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman smuggle drugs into the U.S. from Mexico.

In a plea deal, Vasquez-Hernandez admitted to smuggling 276 kilograms of cocaine into Chicago, but he denied playing a major role in the cartel.  Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years behind bars.  

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


US Military Conducts 24 Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria, Iraq

Stocktrek/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The U.S. military continued its attack against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in Iraq and Syria over the weekend, launching 24 more airstrikes on Nov. 21-24.

According to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), seven of the strikes were in Syria, near Kobani. They destroyed three fighting positions and two staging areas, damaged another staging area and suppressed four fighting positions.

Two more airstrikes in Syria hit a headquarters building near Ar Raqqah.

In Iraq, the remaining 15 airstrikes were spread out near al-Asad, Baghdad, Ramadi, Tal Afar, Fallujah and Hit, and destroyed various targets in those areas.

CENTCOM said all the aircraft used in the attacks managed to exit the areas safely.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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