SEARCH

Saturday
Jul162011

Violent Protests Continue in Syria under Western Pressure to Reform

Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images(BEIRUT, Lebanon) -- At least 12 people were killed in Syria mid-afternoon Friday in massive anti-government protests in defiance of increased Western pressure for the regime to radically reform.

The protests followed the week's provocative visits by U.S. Ambassador Robert S. Ford and French envoy Eric Chavallier to the city of Hama enraged Syrian authorities and provoked testy exchanges between Western and Syrian officials.

The protests appear to have gained momentum, with unprecedented numbers in Hama, in central Syria, and Deir al-Zour, in the northeast, according to reports.

The demonstrations have yet to make decisive inroads into Damascus and Aleppo--the country’s two largest cities and the focus of the government’s attention.

The four-month long protests have resulted in the death of 1,431 people, despite activists’ contention that their protests remain peaceful.

The number of causalities is expected to rise, despite a purported dialogue between President Bashar Assad deputies and some regime critics that finished days ago, according to human rights activists.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Friday
Jul152011

China Presses Obama to Cancel Meeting with Dalai Lama

PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- China is demanding that President Obama cancel his planned meeting Saturday with the Dalai Lama.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China does firmly "oppose any foreign official to meet with the Dalai Lama" due to perceived threat to "China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The Chinese argue that the Dalai Lama is a dangerous "separatist" who wishes to sever Tibet from China.  His last visit to the White House in February 2010 caused a diplomatic spat between the U.S. and China and now Lei says a meeting this weekend could further damage China-U.S. relations.

China requests that the U.S. honor a "commitment that recognizes Tibet as part of China and opposes 'Tibet independence,'" Lei said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul152011

US Continues Airstrikes Over Yemen

AFPI/US AIR FORCE/US AIR FORCE/kb/jim/jim, mc(WADYIA, Yemen) -- A U.S. official has confirmed that there was an airstrike in southern Yemen Thursday that targeted Islamic militants.
 
The strike involved a mix of U.S. fighter jets and Predator drones, but it was the jets that fired missiles at the targets.
 
There are varying reports of the number of casualties in the strike which the Yemeni Interior Ministry says was conducted by its own aircraft. Eight militants were killed on the strike on a police station taken over by militants in Wadyia, according to a New York Times report.  
 
There have been a number of airstrikes over Yemen during recent weeks -- some carried out by the Yemeni Air Force and others by U.S. aircraft and drones.   The strikes began in May with a near miss of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar al Awlaki.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul152011

Authorities Arrest Suspects Involved in International Drug Ring

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An international drug ring smuggling heroin through Dulles Airport was broken up Thursday with seven suspects arrested.
 
According to U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride traffickers used couriers to transport drugs from Ghana to the United States, where they would then move about the east coast. Among those arrested were two in Maryland, one in Virginia and one in New York.
 
The smugglers were paid as much as $15,000 to smuggle $250,000 worth of heroin into the country each trip. Authorities say they used carry on bags which hid heroin in the lining or in special compartments.
 
The alleged 61 year old ringleader was arrested in Ghana.
 
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul152011

Afghanistan Transition to Begin Sunday

ABC News(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- This weekend, the U.S. will officially begin to transition control to Afghanistan starting with four cities and three provinces. Herat City in the West, Mazar-i-Sharif in the North, Lashkar Gah in the South and Mehterlam in the East will be among the first cities to transition control.  The U.S. will also hand over control to Bamiyan and Panjshir -- two of Afghanistan's safest provinces -- as well as Kabul.

Aides to Afghan President Hamid Karzai believe transition in Meterlam, which will gain Afghan control July 19, will prove to be the most challenging case. These days the city is relatively safe, but beneath the surface one may find the immense challenges the Afghans will face in confronting security issues increasingly on their own.
 
Police are currently in charge of security, but only a few dozen patrol the city. They are also badly equipped with some wearing only sandals, and none with armor. And instead of IEDs or complex attacks in the city, the Taliban issue personal threats against judges, politicians and people who work with the coalition.

The U.S. will begin transitioning control Sunday.

Copyright 2011 ABC news Radio

Friday
Jul152011

US Recognizes Rebel Group as Legitimate Libyan Government

Libyan rebel fighters and their supporters hoist a former Libyan monarchy flag, which has been adopted by the Libyan revolution, at the city square in Libya's eastern city Benghazi in May. SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) -- Libya's leader may be clinging to power, but the U.S. government on Friday officially turned its back on him.

The U.S. has now officially recognized the rebels as the government of Libya. Secretary of State Clinton made the announcement at a global conference attended by nearly two dozen countries.

"The United States views the Gadhafi regime as no longer having any legitimate authority in Libya,” Clinton said. "And so I am announcing today that, until an interim authority is in place, the United States will recognize the [National Transitional Council] as the legitimate governing authority for Libya, and we will deal with it on that basis," Clinton said, according to prepared remarks.

The TNC is made of up Libyans who oppose Gadhafi's rule.

A senior State Department official tells ABC News this latest move could allow the rebels access to billions of dollars of Gadhafi's frozen funds, including some $30 billion in the U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul152011

US Service Member Killed in Southern Iraq

File photo: U.S. soldiers with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment participate in a patrol on July 14, 2011 in Iskandariya, Babil Province, Iraq. Currently about 46,000 U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- An American service member was killed Friday in Iraq, bringing the number of those who have been killed or have died in that country to four for the month of July.

"A U.S. service member was killed Friday while conducting operations in southern Iraq," the military said in a statement. "The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense."

The military did not provide any further information regarding the incident, but noted that the circumstances surrounding the service member's death is under investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul152011

News Int'l CEO Rebekah Brooks Resigns Amid Hacking Scandal

MAX NASH/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- In the midst of the hacking scandal surrounding Britain's famed tabloid News of the World, the chief executive of News International -- the company that owns the paper -- has resigned.

In a letter sent to her staff on Friday, Rebekah Brooks announced, "I have given Rupert and James Murdoch my resignation.  While it has been a subject of discussion, this time my resignation has been accepted."

Despite growing calls for Brooks' dismissal, the executive remained at her position because she "believed that the right and responsible action has been to lead us through the heat of the crisis."  But, she admitted in the letter, that her "desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate," and has detracted "attention from all our honest endeavours to fix the problems of the past."

"I now need to concentrate on correcting the distortions and rebutting the allegations about my record as a journalist, an editor and executive," Brooks said, adding that the "resignation makes it possible for me to have the freedom and the time to give my full cooperation to all the current and future inquiries."

The executive also apologized to the victims of the scandal, saying, "I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place."

News of the World is accused of hacking into the cellphones of murder victims, terrorism victims and their families, and celebrities -- among others -- in an effort to produce and break stories.  The tabloid has since been shut down.  Its final issue hit newsstands on July 10.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul152011

Osama Bin Laden Plotted to Kill Obama Aboard Air Force One

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Investigators poring over information found at Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan have uncovered new details regarding the al Qaeda leader's aspirations to attack the U.S. and kill President Obama, ABC News has learned.

Officials tell ABC News that bin Laden was trying to hatch a plan to kill Obama by shooting down Air Force One or his helicopter, Marine One, presumably while the president was traveling overseas.

Bin Laden also hoped to kill Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the soon to be director of the CIA, in the same way -- either in a helicopter or fixed-wing airplane with a missile or rocket-propelled grenade.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul152011

Gen. Petraeus Tries Improving US Relations with Pakistan

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Before leaving his command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus spent Thursday trying to mend fences with Pakistan.

Petraeus, the newly-confirmed CIA director, met with the Pakistani Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in hopes of smoothing over a very rough patch in relations between Washington and Islamabad that was exacerbated by the U.S. Navy SEALS raid in Pakistan last May that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The Pakistani military and government were not informed about the operation beforehand, which increased already mounting tensions between the two uneasy allies in the battle against Islamic radicals.

A statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said that the meeting, which also included Petraeus' successor in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. John Allen, covered "various topics of mutual interest and ways to improve regional security."

However, relations aren't expected to be repaired overnight, given that Washington wants to hold back $800 million of the $2 billion in annual assistance it provides to the Pakistani military, while Islamabad is still resistant to U.S. demands that it make a more concerted effort to break the back of Taliban and al Qaeda militancy still active in their country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio