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Saturday
Oct302010

Korean Families Reunite After Decades Apart

North Korean Kim Ho-Sook (R), 83, meets her South Korean brother Kim Ho-Dae during a family reunion after being separated for 60 years on October 30, 2010 in Mount Kumgang, North Korea. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Families separated by war in the 1950s are sharing tearful reunions this weekend in North Korea.

More than 400 South Koreans - many of them elderly - took a historic bus ride across the border to meet with relatives whom they have not seen for decades, the result of a divided Korea.

Red Cross officials from each side exchanged lists of families to be reunited. The meeting took place in the North Korean border town of Kaesong.

A second group will be reunited next week.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Families separated since the 1950s are sharing tearful reunions this weekend in North Korea.

 

More than 400 South Koreans - many of them elderly - took a historic bus ride across the border to meet with relatives whom they have not seen for decades, the result of a divided Korea.

 

A second group will be reunited next week.


Friday
Oct292010

PJ Crowley Calls for Hikers' Release in Tweet to Iranian President

Photo Courtesy - Twitter(WASHINGTON) -- State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on Friday sent a birthday greeting to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling the foreign leader's 54th year "full of lost opportunities."

"Hope in your 55th year you will open Iran to a different relationship with the world," Crowley said.
 
The DOJ spokesman urged Ahmadinejad to release Americans Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who were arrested in July 2009 while hiking the Iraq-Iran border.

"What a gift that would be," Crowley said in a tweet.

The two now face espionage charges. A trial is scheduled to begin next month.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct292010

Ambassador on Taliban Talks: Less Here Than Meets the Eye

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, just back from Afghanistan, told reporters Friday at the State Department much is being made of so-called "high level" peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban leaders...but he says the talks are not really substantive.  Holbrooke said "There is less here than meets the eye."  

The ambassador did say there has been an increase, in low level fighters and commanders saying they want to talk

“Most of this is at the local level, individual provincial leaders, individual commanders with their units, a lot of these groups, if you know the history of Afghanistan, you will know were not hard-core ideological Taliban. They're independent groups who defend their local valley and move back and forth. And they're feeling the pressure.”

Holbrooke said the Afghan government will put forth its new rules on security contractors November 15th.  Its been a controversial matter and Holbrooke said that was largely because the international community did not take Afghan President Hamid Karzai seriously when he raised the issue in the past.  There were concerns a change in the rules would put citizens working under private contracts as security providers at risk without military protection.

Holbrooke said the issue of Iran funneling money to the Afghan government did not come up in his talks there.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct282010

White House Faces Backlash Over Child Soldiers 

Sudanese children displaced by war record their experiences. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is facing backlash from humanitarian and human rights groups after lifting restrictions on the use of child soldiers in certain countries, according to The Cable.

On Thursday, the administration waived a key section of the 2008 Child Soldier Law for the countries of Chad, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Yemen. The law, signed by former President George W. Bush in 2008, prohibits the U.S. from providing military assistance and financing to countries who continue to actively recruit child soldiers.

The administration’s move will allow one more year for those countries to improve before they can be flagged by the State Department for violating the law.

A memo to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed by the president on Monday states that the waivers were in the “national interest of the United States.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct282010

US Preparing New Nuclear Offer to Iran

Photo Courtesy - ATTA KENARE | AFP | Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department on Thursday confirmed that the U.S. and its allies are working on a new deal to swap nuclear fuel for use in the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR).

The deal, according to U.S. officials, would be similar to an offer that Iran initially accepted, then rejected, last year that would've sent much of Iran’s nuclear stockpile abroad for enrichment. In return, Iran would have received fuel that could be used in a nuclear power plant.

This time around, however, Iran would have to transfer nearly double the amount of uranium since they have continued production over the past year.

The European Union has offered to meet Iran’s negotiator in mid-November. No official response has been received.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct282010

$250 Million in Drugs Destroyed in Joint US-Russia Drug Op

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images

(MOSCOW) -- Russia is heralding this first joint operation with the U.S., saying $250 million of drugs were destroyed and doing $1 billion worth of damage to the drug trade, according to Russian reports.  The director of Russia's Federal Drug Control Service, Sergei Ivanov, told reporters in Moscow that 932kg of heroin, 156kg of opium and “a significant amount”  of production equipment was destroyed.

Speaking alongside the U.S. embassy’s deputy chief of mission, Ivanov said 200 million doses would now not appear on the Central Asian market.  He said three heroin labs and one morphine lab were eliminated, 70 US, Russian and Afghan personnel as well as helicopter gunships were involved in the mission that took three months of planning.

"The operation was launched based on a tip-off about the location of drug-making laboratories. It took us three months to establish the precise whereabouts of the drug laboratories, to analyze the specifics of the terrain, as well as to obtain information about those involved, production volumes and possible routes for funding and precursor supplies," Ivanov said, according to Interfax, adding that he hopes to continue to cooperate with the U.S. on destroying labs.

Russia -- Ivanov in particular -- has long criticized the U.S. for not doing enough to stop the flow of drugs from Afghanistan.  Russia has a huge heroin problem; it says it’s the biggest consumer in the world with 2-3 million addicts and about 30,000 deaths per year.  An estimated 90 percent of Russia’s heroin comes from Afghanistan.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

 

Thursday
Oct282010

Mohammed Challenges for Top British Baby Name

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- In Britain, the classic boys' names like Jack and Oliver are being challenged in popularity by the non-traditional British baby name of Mohammed.

Taking into account the different spellings of Mohammed or Muhammed, the name of the Islamic prophet would be in the top five of the country's most popular baby names for boys in 2009.

Some British publications, however, have determined that Mohammed has risen to be the No. 1 favorite name and are indignant that Jack, the king of British boys names for the last 14 years, has been dethroned.

"It's obvious how it's an area of great interest," said Office of National Statistics media relations officer Richard Miles, which released the data Wednesday. Miles said he'd fielded calls on Mohammed all day.

The surge in the number of British boys named Mohammed stems from a growing Muslim population and a rise in Islamic pride.

"It's a popular name because he is the prime prophet of the Muslim community," said Khalid Anis, a spokesperson for the Islamic Society of Britain. "Muslims are becoming more aware of their own faith. Part of the reaction to this is being proud of who you are, and part of that might be the increase in the name Mohammed."

Anis points out Muslim numbers in Britain have been on the increase for the last few decades, at the most recent Census back in 2001 Muslims made up 2.8 percent of the population. Keziah Mookram-Gray, a Catholic resident of London who's six months pregnant with her second child, said she could understand while a Muslim mother would name her son Mohammed.

"Ultimately you want your kid to be popular," said Mookram-Gray.

She spent months going back and forth with her husband to find the perfect name for her first born. "In this competitive world, if you give them a good popular name it will give them a little head start," she said, indicating one would pick a popular name.

London resident Fernanda Palone is pregnant for the first time and spent about three months choosing the name of her upcoming baby. She works at a pregnancy center and hears all sorts of baby names, including ones she finds strange like Apple. Naming a baby, she said, can bring a lot of pressure.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct282010

Encouraging Signs in Kandahar, but Wait Until Next June for Full Results

Photo Courtesy - US Dept. of Defense(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) -- The outgoing commander of the Kandahar offensive says he’s seen “encouraging signs” of progress in Kandahar province, but he cautions it might take until next June to fully determine if they’re enduring given the seasonal and cyclical nature of things in Afghanistan -- namely crop harvests and tree cover for fighters.

Maj. Gen. Nick Carter oversaw the Marjah and Kandahar offensives and he noted to Pentagon reporters how both operations differed in that Marjah was a classic military offensive whereas Kandahar was  more complex because it required bringing order and governance to the city right off the bat and then pushing outward to the belts of Arghandab, Zharay and Panjway.

The operation in Kandahar began by partnering local police with U.S. military police, a novelty for a police force that has never had any control.  In fact, Carter said there is a lack of proper organization in the city because nothing is registered with local authorities.  As for security, he likened it to Moscow of the 1990s where protection rackets ruled the day.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct282010

Seoul Singer's Hit Video Shot With iPhone 4

Courtesy - Apple, Inc.(SEOUL, South Korea) -- A music video entirely shot on the iPhone 4 model has stepped into the limelight while the Korean mobile phone industry moves fast towards a smartphone-oriented market.

The successful debut of song "Garosu-gil" is an example of how Koreans living in the world's most wired nation could utilize and market their products digitally without spending big bucks on gear and agents.

"My songs are targeted at middle-aged listeners, a steady but not so popular market. It's been tough," said Yang Jin-Seok, 45, a celebrity known for his multiple talents as a singer and an accomplished architect.

In an ailing global music industry where revenues suffered a decline for the 10th year in 2009, the challenge he faced was even worse as the Korean music industry is dominated by teenage idol groups and their trendy dance music.

Yang's miracle started on Twitter when he began to tweet ideas for the song's debut. Thanks to an amazingly accessible wireless broadband service nationwide, Korea is where people tweet, watch morning news live, and trade stocks real time on a high-speed bullet train.

Replies flew back instantly from his 9,000 followers and among them were a group of friends who pondered the idea of shooting the music video with the then upcoming iPhone 4.

"It all started as a joke," recalled Wonsuk Chin, an American independent film director of Too Tired to Die and e-dreams. At the time, Chin says his friends in the United States were marveling over the video quality. "We said why not? I wanted to check out what it could do and push the limits."

Another Twitter friend, Hyeon-Gil Cho, who runs a popular entertainment production company, joined the group suggesting locations and actors. "The excitement here was that the entire staff was volunteers. We were all early adaptors who were simply curious about what this new technology could do," said Cho, CEO of H-Plus Communication.

Three days after iPhone 4 came into the market, Yang and his volunteers were shooting "Garosu-gil," a name of a road in Seoul's chic artistic neighborhood. The song is about a man recollecting memories of Garosu Street he had shared with his past girlfriend. "We had one day to shoot, but many questions and doubts," said Chin.

The team immediately tweeted questions like how the camera could be kept from shaking or who has an old record player and beeper to lend for the shoot. The volunteer staff combined had tens of thousands of followers and some followers who were nearby at the time immediately sent over gadgets and other items needed for the shoot.

"It was an amazing teamwork of tweeting friends," said Chin with a wide grin.

Taking up on one of the suggestions from followers, he ended up mounting the iPhone on a baby stroller to steady moving shots. He also attached it to the steel leg of flexible desk lamp for effective zoom techniques.

Yang and Chin kept their curious followers informed even while editing. "Frozen dumplings are my new best friend," tweeted Chin as he was editing overnight. His followers cheered him on and he posted pictures of his editing suite. Yang constantly tweeted his plans and dates to upload the edited version on Youtube and Gom TV, the largest video-sharing Korean website.

Thanks to tens of thousands of retweets which some Korean newspapers picked up to report in their news, the debut of "Garosu-gil" shot on iPhone 4 scored more than 100,000 hits on the first day. "That's huge. A very unusual phenomenon for a non-idol singer," said Eugene Choi, public relations manager at Gom TV.

"People who tweet and use smartphones have progressive minds and they love innovative attempts," said Yang with a smile. "It was all about who's first and who's the most tech-savvy. In that sense, I think I hit the right spot."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct282010

Israel Fears Seized Arms in Nigeria Were Meant for Gaza

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LAGOS, Nigeria) -- Nigerian security officials have siezed over a dozen containers of illegal arms at their port in Lagos, which they believe came from Iran.  While some believe the arms may have been meant for the Taliban in Afghanistan or local militants, Israel fears they were intended for Gaza.  Israel is conducting an investigation amid concerns that the incident may be proof of a new Iranian arms route to the Gaza strip.

Nigerian security officials found artillery rockets, mortar rounds and rocket launchers hidden in 13 containters that were labeled as carrying building materials.  Officials have said off the record that the illegal arms came off a ship from Iran.

Israeli military sources suspect the weapons may have been meant for Hamas militants in Gaza via a land route to Sudan.  It's been more difficult for Iran to send arms to its terrorist proxy via the Red Sea, officials in Israel say, due to beefed up international supervision.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio