SEARCH

Monday
May302011

John McCain In Thailand to 'Reaffirm' US-Thai Relations

ABC News(BANGKOK) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is spending this Memorial Day in Thailand, where he met with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and is working to reaffirm relations between that country and the United States.

"In Thailand to reaffirm our US/Thai relations & get an assessment on the situation in Burma," McCain twitted Monday.

McCain's office has not yet issued an official travel schedule.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Facing Genocide, War Crimes Charges, Ratko Mladic Appeals U.N. Court Transfer 

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- Bosnian Serb ex-military commander Ratko Mladic on Monday appealed his transfer to a United Nations court, where he faces genocide and war crimes charges, after thousands rallied in Belgrade against his arrest.

His lawyer said he sent the appeal -- citing Mladic's health problems -- by registered delivery at 5:30 p.m. in an effort to delay the captured general's departure from Belgrade by a day. The court now needs to wait a day for the appeal to arrive, after which, under Serbian court procedures, it has three days to rule on it.

However, if the appeal is dismissed, Mladic could be on a plane as early as Tuesday night to the Netherlands and the U.N. prison for war criminals from the former Yugoslavia, which also houses Radovan Karadzic, his former commander-in-chief.

In 2008, lawyers acting for Karadzic, Mladic's co-accused, attempted a similar ploy after he was arrested. But the appeal was lost in the mail and Karadzic was extradited five days later.

"I believe the trial will not go ahead, because I do not believe Mladic will see the start of that process in front of the Hague Tribunal," Mladic's lawyer, Milos Saljic, said. "His health is in an alarming state. It is necessary that he is examined by cardiologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedists and gastroenterologists."

Bruno Vekaric, the deputy war crimes prosecutor in Serbia, believes the appeal is merely tactical, because local doctors have concluded that Mladic is well enough to withstand a transfer for trial. "The Hague has never dropped an indictment against anyone on account of health problems," Nerma Jelacic, a Hague Tribunal spokeswoman, told ABC News. "Doctors will examine him as soon as he is transferred to the Hague."

The War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague has indicted Mladic for war crimes that range from the 1992 campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Bosnia, the establishment of concentration camps in the northwest of Bosnia, a three-year siege of Sarajevo to the taking of U.N. hostages in 1995 during NATO air strikes to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Prosecutors in the Hague said they are currently considering whether to merge the trials of Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. The two men face the same indictment, but Karadzic's trial began in October 2009.

Mladic was captured last week in a village north of Belgrade, some 16 years after the indictment was issued.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Typhoon Songda Hits Earthquake-Ravaged Japan

U.S. Department of State(TOKYO) -- The first major storm of the cyclone season --  Typhoon Songda -- has touched down in Japan, causing significant flooding and some damage in areas still reeling from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Flooding has been the worst in the city of Ishinomaki, where the earthquake lowered the overall elevation by nearly three feet.  These areas have been flooding daily during high tide, but heavy rains have only added to the problems.

Students had to be bused to school on Monday because of concerns of water levels rising.  Strong winds also downed power lines in the city.

At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, there is concern the strong winds and rain will carry radioactive material into the air and sea.  Workers have sprayed the damaged reactors with "anti-scattering" agents, but Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, has said the plant is not properly prepared for the storm.

So far on Monday, contaminated water levels in the turbine buildings of three reactors have all gone up.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Spanish Veggies Eyed In German E. Coli Outbreak

Jupiterimages/Photos[dot]com(BERLIN) -- An E. coli outbreak in northern Germany has officials urging people there not to eat cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh leafy salads after eleven people are known to have died and several hundred others fell ill after consuming tainted produce.

The bacterial outbreak is believed to have come from produce imported from Spain.

Russia has banned imports from Spain and Germany pending further notice.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

NATO Apologizes for Airstrike that Killed Afghan Civilians

NATO(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Following a NATO airstrike that killed at least nine civilians in Afghanistan, the U.S. has issued an apology, promising to investigate the matter.

In a statement issued Sunday by the International Security Assistance Force, the U.S. said that on Saturday, coalition forces were taking fire from insurgents in the Now Zad district in Helmand province.  The insurgents were occupying a compound there and were using it to attack ISAF troops.  One U.S. Marine was killed as a result.

Coalition forces proceeded to neutralize the attack by calling for an airstrike.  But after the bombs were dropped, NATO learned that innocent civilians were inside the compound at the time of the airstrike.

NATO offered its "heartfelt apologies to the families and friends of those killed," and asked "that the Afghan people continue to trust and assist their security forces, so that together we can stop the senseless killing brought upon us by an enemy who wants to exploit the Afghan people through fear and violence."

The military alliance said the incident is under investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Serbs Protest Arrest of Ratko Mladic on Genocide Charges

Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- Clashes between Serbian police and protesters broke out in downtown Belgrade Sunday as up to 10,000 ultra nationalists protested against the arrest and proposed extradition of Ratko Mladic on charges of genocide.

The protest rally was called by the Serbian Radical party, whose leader Vojislav Seselj is himself in The Hague, also facing war crimes charges.  It is the only major party to criticize the arrest of Mladic.

The demonstrations were aimed at Serbian President Boris Tadic's government, which orchestrated the arrest of Mladic in his cousin's house in the northern Serbian village of Lazarevo, after 16 years on the run.

The protests in front of Serbian parliament came as the 69-year-old former Bosnian Serb general denied, through his son, responsibility for the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, the worst atrocity Europe has witnessed since the Holocaust.

The War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague has indicted Mladic on charges of committing a range of war crimes -- from the 1992 campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Bosnia to the establishment of concentration camps in northwest Bosnia to the three-year siege of Sarajevo to the taking of U.N. hostages in 1995 during NATO air strikes and, the most terrible of all, the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Despite calls for calm from the event's organizers, towards the end of the protests, groups of young demonstrators threw rocks, bottles and sticks at some of the estimated 3,000 riot policemen.

Hundreds of police operatives, some in full riot gear, some on horseback, moved in against the crowd.  Some beat protesters with batons and kicked them.  One policeman was seriously wounded, dozens of demonstrators were injured, while 100 protestors were detained, according to police.

Mladic's lawyer, Milos Saljic, meanwhile, is fighting extradition on the grounds of Mladic's mental condition, arguing he is not fit to stand trial.

Jurists at The Hague tribunal are carefully reviewing 11 indictments against Mladic, as they await his imminent extradition.  Mladic could be transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague on Monday or Tuesday, according to the acting president of the Tribunal, Mehmet Guney.

His trial on charges of genocide, including the massacre at Srebrenica, other war crimes and crimes against humanity, could take 18 months to two years to complete.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May292011

French Minister Accused of Sexual Harassment Resigns

LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- A French junior minister has submitted his resignation following allegations that he sexually harassed two female members of his staff.

A statement released by France’s prime minister said that Civil Service minister Georges Tron has resigned, and that Prime Minister Francois Fillon saluted the courage and sense of responsibility demonstrated by Tron.

The statement went on to say that Tron’s resignation does not in any way prejudice the next steps of the justice system regarding the allegations leveled against Tron.

Tron has denied the sexual harassment accusations by the two females.

The accusations against Tron comes on the heels of sexual assault accusations against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, where a maid at a New York City hotel claimed that she was sexually assaulted by Strauss-Kahn on May 14. France native Strauss-Kahn is being held under house arrest in New York and has also denied the accusations against him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May292011

Afghanistan Officials: ISAF Airstrike Results in Civilian Deaths

ABC News(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- An investigation has been launched into allegations that an airstrike by coalition forces on Saturday killed over a dozen people in Afghanistan.

According to a statement from the Helmand Governor’s Office, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) launched an airstrike in the Nawzad district of the Helmand province, in which two civilian houses were hit. The statement went on to say that a total of 14 civilians were killed by the airstrike, among them 12 children and two women. Six other civilians were also said to have been injured by the strike.

Helmand officials say the airstrike occurred after insurgents had attacked ISAF troops.

The governor’s office said it "condemns this deep sorrow incident" and is requesting that ISAF forces stop airstrikes that result civilian casualties.

The ISAF did not immediately confirm the civilian deaths.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May282011

In Poland, President Obama Discusses Lessons for the Arab Spring‬

Pete Souza/The White House(WARSAW, Poland) -- Having visited two formerly occupied countries where there is now freedom and democracy -- Ireland and Poland – President Obama ruminated Saturday on their lessons for the countries embracing the same values in the so-called “Arab Spring.”

‪The process, he noted, is "not always smooth. There are going to be twists and turns. There are going to be occasions where you take one step forward and two steps back -- sometimes you take two steps forward and one step back."

What leaders of these changing nations need to do, he said, is first to understand that they have to "institutionalize this transformation," which he described as a potentially difficult and lengthy process.

"It’s not enough just to have the energy -- the initial thrust of those young people in Tahrir Square, or the initial enthusiasm of the Solidarity movement," he said. "That, then, has to be institutionalized and the habits of countries have to change."

Merely holding elections is not enough, he said. A process needs to emerge to establish rule of law and the respect of the rights of minorities, and mechanisms to guarantee freedom of the press and freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  Potential ethnic conflicts that may arise need to be brokered.

Another lesson offered by the president was for the American people to understand the importance of the US in helping these countries. While countries on the outside "cannot impose this change," he said, they can help and facilitate and make a difference.

Just last night at a dinner with Central European leaders, one of them recalled that "'There were those who said we could not handle democracy, that our cultures were too different.  But America had faith in us.  And so now we want to join with America and have faith in those in the Middle East and in North Africa.  Even if some don't think that they can handle democracy, or that their cultures are too different, our experience tells us something different.'"

‪The president called that "a good lesson for all of us to remember."

On Saturday, one Polish political leader told the president that "he had lived through three waves of revolutionary transformation in his lifetime.  He saw the shift from military rule to democracy in Latin America.  He saw those changes then take place with incredible speed when the Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Curtain was pulled asunder.  And now he’s seeing what’s happening in North Africa and the Middle East."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May282011

Treasury Department Maintains China is Not Manipulating Currency

ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Friday that China was not unfairly manipulating the yuan.

The Treasury issues reports semiannually, and, in contrast with the more outspoken Obama administration, has always refrained from calling out the Chinese government on the controversial practice.

The report said that China does need to let its currency rise in value, indicating that the exchange rate of the renminbi is undervalued.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio