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Tuesday
Mar012011

Tourist Does Nazi Salute for Fun, German Police Arrest Him for Real

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MONTREAL) -- A Quebec man found himself in police custody during a visit to Germany last weekend, moments after he thought it would be fun to pose giving the “Heil Hitler” Nazi salute. 

The Montreal Gazette reports the 30-year-old man was standing on the steps of the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building, when he asked his girlfriend to photograph him with his right arm raised in the Nazi salute. 

The report says Berlin police swooped down on the man within seconds, placed him in handcuffs and seized the camera’s memory card.  The man was later released on bail. 

No formal charges have been filed. 

It's against the law in Germany to display symbols or gestures related to the former Nazi regime.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar012011

New Zealand Holds Moment of Silence for Quake Victims

Photo Courtesy - Martin Hunter/Getty Images(CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand) -- New Zealand fell silent for two minutes Tuesday as mourners across the country remembered the earthquake that struck Christchurch exactly one week before.

The moment of silence began at 12:51 p.m. -- the precise time the 6.3 magnitude quake hit, causing widespread damage and killing 155 people, according to the latest police statement.  Dozens of others are still believed to be missing.

Estimates show the cost to repair all the destruction the quake and its several aftershocks left behind could run up to $15 billion.

On another note, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced a relief package Monday to provide financial assistance to employees whose jobs were affected by the quake.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb282011

Gadhafi to ABC News: ‘My People Love Me, Would Die to Protect Me’

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Libya’s embattled leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, sat down Monday with ABC's Christiane Amanpour - the only U.S. reporter to meet with Gadhafi since the recent turmoil in that country - and refused to acknowledge that demonstrations have taken place in the streets of his nation’s capital or that he’s used force against his own people.

“All my people love me," Gadhafi told Amanpour. "They would die to protect me.”

"He should get out of his tent and see what is really happening in his country," U.S. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told ABC News in response.

Gadhafi told Amanpour he feels betrayed by the United States.

"I'm surprised that we have an alliance with the west to fight al Qaeda and now that we are fighting terrorists they have abandoned us,” Gadhafi said.

The Libyan leader blamed al Qaeda for encouraging young people in his country to seize arms from military installations.

Asked why the west abandoned his regime, Gadhafi said, “Perhaps they want to occupy Libya.”

“Obama is a good man,” Gadhafi told Amanpour.

“I have to believe he has been given misinformation. The statements I have heard from him must have come from someone else."

“America is not the international police of the world,” Gadhafi told ABC News.

Gadhafi laughed when Amanpour asked if he would step down from his role as Libya's leader. He said he could not because he is not a president or a king.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb282011

Libya Has Removed Its Rogue Ambassador to DC, US Says

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Department of State(WASHINGTON) -- State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters at a press briefing Monday that Libya has informed the United States that Ali Aujali will no longer be its ambassador to Washington.
 
“We were informed by the government of Libya that they have withdrawn their recognition of their ambassador, Ambassador Aujali.  He no longer represents Libya's interests in the United States,” Crowley said.
 
Aujali recently broke ranks with Moammar Gadhafi and called on him to go, throwing his weight behind a provisional government forming in Benghazi around the former Justice Minister. In interviews over the weekend Aujali sought international support for that upstart government.
 
The United States and Libya maintain diplomatic relations, and a new official has been appointed to take his place.
 
“We may deal -- still have conversations with Mr. Aujali, but it will be in a different capacity,” Crowley said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb282011

Four Americans Killed in Plane Crash in the United Arab Emirates

Photo Courtesy - U.S. State Department(ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates) -- Four Americans were killed Sunday night when a plane crashed in the United Arab Emirates.

The Americans, the only people aboard the turboprop plane, were heading to Saudi Arabia from Al Ain International Airport in what would have been the first leg of their trip back home to the U.S. But moments after taking off, the plane went down, killing all four on board.

The victims have not yet been identified, and the cause of the crash is under investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb282011

Christiane Amanpour in Libya: Gadhafi Doles Out Cash to the People

Photo Courtesy - ABC NewsREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK
By CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, ABC News


(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- I've just returned from the center of Tripoli, Libya, after a drive around town.  Like all journalists here, my team and I were driven and accompanied by government employees, but they did take us precisely where I asked to go.

What we found was normal traffic in the streets, people walking, or at cafes and restaurants.  At just about every bank we saw, there were long lines of men and women waiting for the cash handouts that Col. Moammar Gadhafi had just announced.

The leader was giving each family 500 dinars, the equivalent of about $450.  For most people here, that covers salary for a month or two.

As we walked up with our cameras to talk to them, many burst into pro-Gadhafi chants once they realized we were visiting journalists.  They were friendly, although some complained to the government minder with us that they had been waiting in line for hours and still had not received their handouts. There were also lines at local bakeries.

We went to Green Square, the site of Gadhafi's most recent speech atop the ramparts of the old city.  That's when he accused anti-government protestors of having taken hallucinogenic pills.

One woman we talked to at the Square Monday repeated that charge, and said she had been educated in America.  She told us that Libyans are happy with Gadhafi as their leader, and that their country is a happy and peaceful one.

Another English-speaking man told us that while "the tension is still so thick you could cut it with a knife," things had died down since this time last week, when, he acknowledged, the sound of gunfire could be heard in Tripoli.

At the Tripoli central hospital, the city's main accident and emergency hospital, the head of the emergency unit told my colleague from the London Sunday Times that he had received nine bodies after Friday's anti-government protests in town.

He said all were gunshot victims, mostly to the chest.  The Times talked to family members of the victims at the hospital, angry that protesters had been met by live fire.

But the central allegation against Gadhafi and his regime is that he ordered aerial bombardments and helicopter gunships against protesters.  This has inflamed international anger and the United States and its allies have got a new U.N. resolution that imposes sanctions, a freeze on Gadhafi family assets, a travel ban, an arms embargo, and provision to refer possible war crimes to the International Criminal Court.

In our effort to hunt down evidence of bombings, evidence we also tried to find in Tripoli from the sky on a helicopter tour offered by the government here, which is desperate to prove to outsiders that allegations of aerial bombardment amounts to a "hostile media campaign."

From that vantage point, we could not see any evidence of damage from an air assault here in the capital, even as we flew over the areas where last week's protests started.

But when we got back to our hotel, we did hear some gunfire, and our colleagues from the BBC report another anti-Gadhafi demonstration there -- in Tripoli's Tajoora neighborhood. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb282011

Libyan Opposition Moving Closer to Tripoli

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(GENEVA) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted high-level talks in Geneva with foreign ministers from Europe on Monday, pressing for tough sanctions on the Libyan government in an effort to force the ouster of leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

The discussions occurred at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The European Union also declared sanctions against the North African country, reinforcing the United Nations Security Council's resolution passed against Gadhafi's regime on Saturday.

The first humanitarian aid from the west is on its way to Libya from France. The United States has also pledged to be ready with aid.

The promises come as the opposition appears to be gaining ground in its fight to end Gadhafi's 41-year-rule. The European Union said that Gadhafi has lost control of most of the country's oil and gas fields. Over the weekend, the opposition's control moved closer to Tripoli, Gadhafi's stronghold.

In Zawiyah, just 30 miles west of Tripoli, civilian opponents and some military defectors claim they've been in control for several days. Protesters in the suburbs of Tripoli chanted, '"The blood of martyrs won't go to waste," the BBC reported.

Gadhafi has attempted to appease those living in the capital by offering $400 per family. There were reports of long lines at banks in Tripoli with people seeking the money. Food prices continue to skyrocket with rice prices at $40 for a 10-pound bag.

In exclusive interviews with ABC News' Christiane Amanpour, Gadhafi's sons said their father has no plans to leave Libya. Saif Gadhafi denied reports of helicopter gunships firing on people and reports of Libyan Air Force pilots defecting, jettisoning their planes rather than carry out orders to bomb citizens. When asked about President Obama's call for Col. Gadhafi to step down, Saif Gadhafi responded, "First of all, it's not American business. Do you think this is a solution? Of course not." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb282011

WFP Executive Director to Visit Libyan Border, Refugees in Tunisia

Photo Courtesy - Fred Dufour/AFP/ Getty Images(ROME) -- The executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will travel to Tunisia Monday to assess and discuss the humanitarian needs stemming from the civil unrest across the border in Libya.

According to the WFP, over 40,000 people have crossed the border into Tunisia in the past week, fleeing the violence among protesters and security forces in Libya.  Several refugees have said that they faced limited access to food while traveling between their homes and workplaces in Libya.

The WFP's Josette Sheeran will meet with some of these refugees during her trip to the Libyan border.  She will also meet with aid officials and local authorities to determine the food needs of those who cross into Tunisia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb282011

Egyptian Warship Arrives in Tunisia to Transport Libyan Evacuees

Photo Courtesy - U.S. State Department(ZARZIS, Tunisia) -- An Egyptian warship arrived at the Tunisian port of Zarzis Monday to start transporting the thousands of Egyptian workers who fled the violence in Libya back home to Egypt.

Although an estimated 20,000 Egyptians are massed at the border seeking to return home, the vessel will only be able to hold about 1,000 passengers.  To help with the shortfall, close to two dozen flights may be planned to leave for Cairo on Monday as well.

It is estimated that 1,000 refugees are crossing into Tunisia every hour seeking to escape the violent clashes that have erupted between anti-government protesters and security forces in Libya.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb272011

Exclusive: ABC's Amanpour Interviews Gadhafi's Son

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi, in an exclusive interview with ABC's This Week host Christiane Amanpour, insists Libya is calm, the military has not attacked any civilians and reports of Libyan diplomats abandoning their posts is simply 'miscommunication.'

There is a "big big gap between reality and the media reports" Gadhafi said. "The whole south is calm. The west is calm. The middle is calm. Even part of the east."

What will happen to him and his father – will they stay or go?

"Listen: nobody is leaving this country. We live here, we die here," he insisted. "This is our country. The Libyans are our people. And for myself, I believe I am doing the right thing."

Until civil unrest in Libya exploded over the last weeks, Gadhafi, the second oldest of Col. Moammar Gadhafi's children, had been seen as the western face of the regime. Educated at the London School of Economics, he promoted Libya's potential, telling The New York Times in February 2010 that Libya "can be the Dubai of North Africa."

But, a year later, his emphasis was a bit different. He sat down with Amanpour in central Tripoli to answer tough questions about the future of Libya.

"The President of the U.S. has called on your father to step down. How do you feel about that?" Amanpour asked.

"It's not an American business, that's number one," said Gadhafi, who was dressed casually as he spoke with Amanpour. “Second, do they think this is a solution? Of course not."

"He says if a person can only keep control by using force, then legitimacy is gone," Amanpour pressed.

"Right, but what happened? We didn't use force. Second, we still have people around us," he said.

Amanpour noted the extensive reports of attacks on civilians.

"Show me a single attack, show me a single bomb," he said. "The Libyan air force destroyed just the ammunition sites," Gadhafi said. "That's it."

"What do you make of your diplomats in Washington and New York who are resigning because they can't abide this policy?" Amanpour asked Gadhafi.

"I talked to him. You know, we are the victims of miscommunication," he said. "And they were under the influence of a strong media campaign, well-organized. So, you know, they are human beings at the end."

"But they've defected," Amanpour said.

"Not defected, none of them defect. They were so moved because they--"

Amanpour interrupted. "But they are calling on your father to step down," she said.

"C'mon, they are employees working for the government," Gadhafi said. "It's not their business."

Gadhafi emphasized that the most important issue for him was to correct what he saw as the falsehood that forces backed by his father had attacked civilians.

"The most important issue for us is show me a single evidence that the Libyan army or the Libyan government bombed civilians," he said, slicing the air with his index finger. "I challenge the whole international community to give me a single evidence."

Asked about the potential of international sanctions and the freezing of some of his family's assets, Ghadafi said, "First of all, we don't have money outside. We are a very modest family and everybody knows that. And we are laughing when they say you have money in Europe or Switzerland or something. C'mon, it's a joke."

And what about all those western-orient reforms he tried to implement?

"I worked very hard to implement many ideas, but things went wrong," he said.

"So now we are [in] a difficult situation," Gadhafi added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio