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Friday
May132011

Japanese Businessmen Trade Suits for Hawaiian Shirts, Sandals

BLOOMimage/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The Japanese are ditching traditional suits and ties for Hawaiian shirts and jeans at work.

In a country where the black suit and tie is virtually a workplace uniform, a call for no ties and short-sleeve shirts is cause for news. On Thursday, Japanese officials took the call a step further, green-lighting T-shirts, jeans and sandals in the office.

The look is dubbed "super cool biz;" it's the government's campaign slogan to promote energy conservation in light of the power shortage triggered by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The push for business casual comes as Japan braces for an uncomfortably hot summer where air conditioning will be in short supply.

When the earthquake and tsunami crippled Fukushima's reactors, they reduced energy supply to major cities like Tokyo. On Friday, the operator of another nuclear plant began shutting down two of its reactors -- a move made after questions were raised about earthquake safety. With those two plants now out of commission and more than half of Japan's nuclear plants halted for inspection, the country faces the prospect of a serious power shortage in the peak summer months.

Japan has promoted "cool biz" for years now. The program began six years ago to cut down on carbon emissions. Air conditioning at offices was turned down, inside temperatures set to a sweltering 82 degrees, and workers were given permission to suit up in short-sleeved button-ups and ditch the jackets. The campaign has helped slash millions of tons of greenhouse gases and they've helped retailers make millions selling "cool biz" wear, including underwear that helps soak up sweat. With looming power shortages, the government has added the "cool biz" wear to include jeans and sandals this year, though shorts and flip flops still won't be allowed.

Workers will begin revealing the new look at the beginning of June. There is not yet a separate dress code for women.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

Two NATO Personnel Killed by Afghan Police Officer

ABC News(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Two NATO service members are dead following a shooting at a police compound Friday in Afghanistan.

The pair, part of a team of mentors who arrived in Afghanistan to provide support to the 5th ANCOP brigade, were sitting down to lunch when a uniformed Afghan National Civil Order police officer began shooting at International Security Assistance Force service members, officials said, resulting in their death.

“While this is a serious incident, the actions of this individual do not reflect the overall actions of our Afghan partners,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. James B. Laster, ISAF Joint Command Deputy Chief of Staff Joint Operations.  “We remain committed to our partners and to our mission here.”

The shooter was seriously injured during the exchange, according to officials, and was being treated at a medical facility.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

Dozens Killed After Suicide Bombings at Pakistani Paramilitary Base

HASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images(SHABQADAR, Pakistan) -- In the first terrorist attack in Pakistan since U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden there, two suicide bombers killed at least 80 paramilitary recruits and injured over 120 others outside a training center in northwest Pakistan Friday.

The suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gate of Frontier Constabulary base as recruits were boarding vans to go home, police said.

The Frontier Constabulary is a poorly-equipped paramilitary force that patrols and helps man checkpoints all over Pakistan, but mostly in the volatile northwest.

The Pakistani Taliban are calling reporters to claim credit for the attack as revenge for bin Laden’s death, although it’s not clear if that is true.  The Taliban has often targeted law enforcement personnel in the settled areas of the northwest as retribution for ongoing military campaigns against militants in the tribal areas.

Friday’s attack occurred in Charsaddah, a settled area next to the Mohmand tribal area, where the army has been fighting on and off for two years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

Osama Bin Laden Wanted to Kill President Obama

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. officials are analyzing one million pages of data from the trove found in Osama bin Laden's compound during the raid that killed him, and say they have learned more in the past 10 days than in the past 10 years.

Among the things they've learned is that the al Qaeda leader wanted to find a way to kill President Obama.

Meanwhile, the first revenge attack for the bin Laden raid has killed 80 outside a military training center in Pakistan, and President Obama has acknowledged that threats against his own grandmother from another al Qaeda group are being closely monitored.

In the Kenyan village where she lives, the president's 88-year-old step-grandmother, Sarah Obama, shrugged off death threats against her from an al Qaeda affiliate in East Africa called al Shabaab.

"My life has not been affected in any way," Sarah Obama told ABC News.  "It has not restricted my movement."

But President Obama seemed more concerned when asked directly about his grandmother by a Miami Spanish-language television station.

"There is no doubt that when it comes to the American people," he told WLTV, "that after having killed bin Laden there may be a desire on some al Qaeda members to exact revenge and that's something that we have to be vigilant about and we're monitoring all these situations."

The leaders of al Shabaab, which operates in war-torn Somalia on Kenya's northern border, include an Alabama-born-and-raised 27-year-old named Omar Hammami who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Mansour al-Amriki, or Abu Mansour the American. The son of a white Southern Baptist mother and a Syrian Muslim father, Amriki grew up in Daphne, Alabama, near Mobile.

This week, Amriki, who is under indictment on federal terror charges in Alabama, was recorded issuing threats against the United States and President Obama.

"Today we remind Obama, and the rest of his cronies, that they have entered the wrong war," said Amriki.

Bin Laden's own writings discovered at his compound indicate he urged his followers to assassinate the president and find ways to disrupt the 2012 American elections.

"I would say this is probably very personal on bin Laden's part, to kill a president that he believes has violated the Muslim faith," said Brad Garrett," an ABC News consultant and former FBI profiler.  "He is incensed, inflamed, obsessed about killing the president."

In fact, the video of bin Laden watching television in his hideout shows that whenever President Obama came on the screen, bin Laden quickly tried to change the channel.

It was President Obama who got bin Laden first.

In Kogelo, Kenya, security has been increased around the home of President Obama's step-grandmother.

Kenyan police told ABC News they are patrolling round the clock after the threat from Al Shabaab.

Sarah Obama has been protected ever since Obama became president, and security was added to her house the day after bin Laden was killed because of fear of reprisals.  The number of patrolling officers has ballooned, however, since Al Shabaab's threat was issued.  One police chief told ABC News he now had enough officers "to patrol the entire village." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

Nervous Chinese Authorities Crack Down on Sale of Jasmine Flowers

Maria Mosolova/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- It's an icon of Chinese heritage, the subject of many traditional poems and songs, the central ingredient of the country’s favorite tea. But with fear of revolution blossoming in China, authorities are cracking hard down on jasmine...as in, the actual flower.

At the Sunhe Beidong Flower Market in Beijing, florist Liu Wei told ABC News that the police had visited vendors in March, asking them not to sell jasmine to people in bulk. She said that the police ordered them to tell anyone who wanted to buy a large quantity of the flower that it was out of stock and to ask for their name and contact information so as to contact the buyer when it was in stock.

Since that meeting jasmine prices have tumbled 40 percent on last year, at least in part because of the ban. Other vendors at the market confirmed what Liu said about the meeting.

It has been three months since anonymous calls for a jasmine revolution in China first appeared online. Though few protesters turned up at the called-for demonstrations, Chinese authorities cracked down hard, nervous in the wake of pro-democracy revolutions across the Middle East.

Since February, more than 40 activists and dissidents have disappeared or have been put under house arrest. So-called "house churches," churches that are not state-sanctioned, have been raided and their members detained. And foreign journalists have been harassed, with stringent rules limiting the scope of their reporting.

Even video of President Hu Jintao singing the classic Chinese folk song "mo li hua," an ode to the jasmine flower, during a visit to Kenya has been taken off the internet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

US Interviews Osama Bin Laden's Widows

CNN via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly two weeks after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the U.S. was granted access by Pakistan to interview all three of his wives, a senior U.S. official said.

All three widows were questioned at the same time in the presence of Pakistani intelligence officers.  According to the official, the interviews "didn't go very well."  The women were said to be "hostile" and were not cooperative.

Meanwhile, a senior Pakistani military official is denying claims that there has been any access.

The three widows were staying with bin Laden in his Abbottabad, Pakistan compound when Navy SEALS raided the premises on May 1 and killed him.  U.S. investigators had been hoping to interview his wives in an effort to shed some light on the al Qaeda leader's life and possibly learn about future terrorist attacks he had been plotting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

Pakistan's Top Military Officer Cancels Trip to US

Gen. Khalid Shameem Wynne pictured on left. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistan’s top military officer has canceled a scheduled trip to the United States that was supposed to begin late next week “because of the prevailing environment,” according to a military spokesman.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Khalid Shameem Wynne, was scheduled to visit the U.S. from May 22 to May 27, according to the spokesman.

An analyst close to the Pakistani military believes that Wynne cancelled his trip because senior military officials there have not yet decided what message they want to send to the U.S., especially during such a long, high-profile visit following Osama bin Laden’s death.

Wynne is Pakistan’s most senior officer, although the chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, holds more power.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

Evidence Points to a Bin Laden Support System in Pakistan

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senior Washington officials familiar with the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan say there is more evidence that the al Qaeda leader had a support system there that enabled him to remain undetected for several years.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that an assessment of the mission that wound up killing bin Laden suggests that he had no plan for escape in the event that U.S. military personnel actually found him.

They also point to the fact that bin Laden did not have any way of destroying the trove of hard copy and electronic documents that were seized by Navy SEALs and taken back to the U.S. for evaluation by intelligence analysts.

One official remarked, "It looks like [bin Laden] became complacent.  There is a lot more material than we expected to find here."

What's more, the theory that bin Laden had become too comfortable hiding in plain sight is enforced by the lack of security he had at the sprawling complex.  All three men who had guns -- two couriers and one of bin Laden's sons -- were killed during the raid.  However, there's also the possibility that bin Laden deliberately kept few bodyguards in order to make the compound look less suspicious.

For now, administration officials aren't going to presume that the Pakistani military or intelligence was complicit in protecting bin Laden, actively or passively, even as growing evidence points in that direction.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May132011

NATO Keeps Pressure on Gadhafi After TV Appearance

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Not long after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi made his first public appearance on TV in two weeks Thursday, NATO launched a fierce rocket attack on his fortified compound in Tripoli.

NATO was said to be targeting a command-and-control center located in an underground bunker.

Other sites in Tripoli were struck as well as the alliance tries to cripple Gadhafi’s ability to communicate with troops engaged in a desperate fight against opposition forces that control the eastern half of the country

Meanwhile, allied warships were also active Thursday, stopping an attack by Libyan boats on the western city of Misrata that Gadhafi loyalists are trying to take back from rebels.  Earlier this week, the rebels said they had gained control of Misrata’s airport, further cementing their hold on the city.

Opposition forces are hoping Thursday’s successes will further convince Gadhafi that attempting to keep power after 40 years is futile.  His disappearing act since April 30, when a NATO strike killed his youngest son and three grandchildren, had some wondering if Gadhafi had been killed or incapacitated.

Even his appearance on TV to show Libyans in the west that he’s still in charge may not be enough to turn the tide in what now seems to be a losing battle against local and foreign enemies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May122011

Libyan Opposition Leader Says Rebels in Dire Need of Funds, Asks US for Help

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Libyan rebels will run out of funds in four to five weeks unless they are granted access to some of Gadhafi’s frozen funds, the leader of the opposition movement warned in a speech at Brookings Thursday.
 
Mahmoud Jibril, the interim Prime Minister of the Transitional National Council, said the Council is in an “acute financial crisis” and needs access to about $3 billion of the nearly $34 billion of Gadhafi’s money in the coming months. The administration, however, is looking to give them access to only $150-180 million.
 
Jibril also expressed some frustration that the Obama administration has yet to formally recognize the opposition, saying that has hurt their ability to seek access to frozen funds.
 
Jibril is making his first trip to Washington, during which he is meeting with senior administration officials and lawmakers, urging them to step up support for the opposition. He was originally slated to visit D.C. last month, but had to postpone after his commercial flight from Doha was canceled. He’s met with Secretary Clinton three times, most recently during international meetings on Libya in Rome.
 
Despite the skepticism within the administration, Jibril has found some support on Capitol Hill. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told reporters after their meeting Wednesday that he would draft legislation to grant the opposition access to some of Gadhafi’s funds. Thursday morning, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he was very impressed after his meeting with Jibril.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio