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Thursday
Mar242011

Moscow Comes to the Aid of Tokyo

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- With Tokyo pre-occupied with all of its problems, Moscow has stepped into the breach to stage this year's figure skating World Championships.

The International Skating Union says the championships will go ahead a few weeks later than originally scheduled at Moscow's Megasport Arena. Russia last hosted the event back in 2005, but at a different venue.

In a statement, the ISU says Moscow has promised easy access to visas which can often be difficult to obtain there.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

More Rockets and More Retaliations as Violence Grows in Gaza

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- It's been the bloodiest week on record along the Israeli-Gaza border since the war there over two years ago. It began on Saturday when Palestinian militants fired 50 rockets and mortars in a 15-minute window, injuring a number of Israelis. Israel's airstrikes in retaliation since then have left at least nine Palestinians dead. More strikes came early Thursday morning, but they didn't stop at least another eight rockets from hitting open fields Thursday.

The night sky over Gaza lit up again Wednesday night into Thursday as the Israeli Air Force bombed militant training camps, smuggling tunnels and rocket launchers. No one was injured.

The army says it was responding to more than a dozen mortars and rockets fired by Palestinian militants on Wednesday. Two of those hit a city 25 miles from the border and now Israel's Prime Minister has vowed to respond firmly and responsibly to the escalating violence. But it's unclear what that means and some analysts fear that another war in Gaza may be one possibility.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

6.8 Magnitude Quake Strikes Myanmar

US State Department(YANGON, Myanmar) -- A 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Myanmar Thursday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake hit a remote area of the country, about 55 miles north of Chiang Rai, Thailand, just before 8:30 p.m. local time.  The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that no tsunami was generated from the tremor.

No injuries or structural damages have been reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Three Plant Workers Hospitalized in Japan for Radiation Injuries

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Three workers from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were hospitalized Thursday after suffering radiation injuries.

The workers were trying to restore a broken pump when "they stepped into water and the water apparently contained higher levels of radiation.  As a result workers were exposed to the radiation," Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, said through an NHK TV translator.

The three workers are being treated for cutaneous injuries on their legs.

All work has been halted on the plant for the time being.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Explosion at Jerusalem Bus Stop Renews Fears of Terror Attacks

Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- An explosion that occurred near a bus station in Jerusalem Wednesday is renewing fears of a new wave of terror attacks in Israel.

It's been four years since the city of Jerusalem has been rocked by an attack of this scale.  The three-pound bomb, which was placed in a bag and set down at a bus stop, killed at least one woman -- a British tourist -- and injured over 25 others.  It also blew out the front windows of two buses.

Israel believes Palestinian militants are behind the terror attack and are searching for the culprit.  No militant group has claimed responsibility for the bomb.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded by strongly condemning the attack in a statement from his office, while Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said it contradicts the Palestinian people's plan to achieve freedom throuhg peaceful means.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn't specifically remark on the attack.  Instead, from the airport before boarding a flight to Moscow, Netanyahu discussed the general escalation in violence over the past few days.  He vowed Israel would respond firmly, responsibly and wisely, but didn't give any details.

Now the question on many people's minds is whether the attack in Jerusalem is related to the uptick in violence along the Gaza border.

In the last two days, militants have shot over 15 rockets and mortars into southern Israel.  The Israeli Air Force has struck back with airstrikes, leaving at least nine Palestinians, including four civilians, dead.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Secretary Clinton Says Allies Have Saved Many Libyan Lives

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out forcefully Wednesday in support of U.S. participation in coalition efforts to protect Libyan civilians.

The operation to neutralize Col. Moammar Gadhafi's air power by establishing a no-fly zone over Libya has been getting more negative reviews than positive lately from U.S. lawmakers, as well as countries not involved in the limited international offensive labeled Operation Odyssey Dawn.  Critics say the mission is ill-defined and ultimately meaningless if Gadhafi remains in power.

However, Clinton insisted, "Many, many Libyans are safer today because the international community took action," which was the primary goal of the United Nations Security Council resolution approved one week ago.

The former first lady reiterated the Obama administration's call for Gadhafi to relinquish his four-decade-long leadership of Libya.

Meanwhile in Cairo, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged that even as the U.S. prepares to hand off the lead role in the offensive to its allies within days, attacks against Gadhafi's military forces could continue indefinitely.

Gates also admitted that the coalition has been unable to get an accurate assessment of the strength of rebel forces opposed to Gadhafi's rule, which makes predicting how long the mission will take an even more difficult task.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

White House Has No Back-Up Plan if Yemeni Leader Departs

GAMAL NOMAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As Yemen's embattled president attempts to consolidate power, Defense Secretary Robert Gates publicly admitted that the U.S. has no idea what will happen if there is a regime change there.

During his visit Wednesday to Cairo, Egypt, Gates acknowledged that many in Yemen are fed up with Ali Abdullah Saleh's authoritarian rule after 32 years, which has resulted in calls for his immediate resignation.

However, the White House also values Saleh's help in fighting Islamic radicals, particularly al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which makes its home base in Yemen.

The quandary the U.S. faces is only deepened by the fact that forces trained by the U.S. who are protecting Saleh may wind up in a civil war with Yemeni military troops now siding with pro-democracy groups.

With his power rapidly ebbing, Saleh ordered his parliament Wednesday to pass emergency laws that effectively puts Yemen in a state of martial law.  The move gives those still loyal to the president the right to arrest anyone who threatens his rule.

Ironically, that's what's been going on in Yemen since Saleh rose to power in 1979 but this last-ditch attempt to remain in power may not work, since over half of the country's top military commanders and powerful tribal and religious leaders are intent on pushing Saleh out of office.

Ordinary Yemenis have also largely turned against the president.  The tipping point was last Friday's government sniper attack on peaceful protesters that left 45 people dead and more than 200 wounded.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar232011

Sarah Palin: 'Gadhafi Is Going to End Up Dead'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NAPLES, Fla.) -- Sarah Palin thinks President Obama needs to explain the American mission in Libya more clearly, but she has much harsher words for the Libyan leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, saying he “is going to end up dead.”
 
Appearing on On the Record with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News, the former Alaska governor said, “I think there is a lot of confusion” when it comes to the White House goals in Libya -- “are we really ready to turn over command and control to Arab League and to the British and the French?  When do we get to reclaim command and control over our troops?”
 
Palin, a paid contributor to Fox News, was an early advocate of the idea of a no-fly zone over Libya, but is now critical for what she considers mixed messages from the President.  “As long as we are in it, we better be in it to win it, “ she told Van Susteren. “And if there's doubt, get out.”
 
She added that Col. Gadafi has “the blood of innocent Americans on his hands” for his alleged role in the Lockerbie bombing and that “now is our chance to make sure he is held accountable.”  And when asked what she thought the immediate fate of the Libyan dictator would be, she concluded he “is going to end up dead,” either at the hands of the rebels or someone else.
 
Van Susteren was speaking to Palin in Naples, Fla. where earlier in the evening the former governor addressed the “Naples Town Hall Distinguished Speakers Series.”
 
Palin just returned from an overseas trip that included a speech in India and her first visit to Israel, including a dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She called the visit to Israel the “trip of a lifetime,” adding, “I have such a love of Israel.”
 
She was extremely critical of the President’s efforts to freeze development of Israeli settlements, saying “President Obama was inappropriate to intervene in a zoning issue in Israel,” and stated,  “I would have taken an opposite approach. “
 
Yet again, Palin said she has not made up her mind about running for President.  However, she said she is “tempted” this time, even while she began to say there are other ways to contribute.
 
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
Mar232011

Budget Rejection Prompts Resignation for Portuguese Prime Minister 

George Doyle/Thinkstock(LISBON, Portugal) -- The prime minister of Portugal, Jose Socrates, resigned Wednesday.  His decision to step down comes after failed attempts by his minority government to gather support from opposing parties for an austerity budget, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The proposed budget included spending cuts and an increase in taxes.  Parliament's rejection of the budget is likely to lead the country to seek a bailout package.

Socrates has said before that he would not continue in his post if parliament did not accept the budget.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the financially strapped country is looking at $5.96 billion in debt repayments next month.

Socrates said in a televised address a bailout could be worse for Portugal.

"Those who imagine an external aid package won't include more demanding measures, measures that are worse for us, are completely fooled," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar232011

Auditors in China Uncover 'Embezzled' Millions for High-Speed Rail

STR/AFP/Getty Images(BEIJIING) -- State auditors in China found $28.5 million intended to fund the development of a high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai to be stolen by construction companies and other individuals, reports the BBC.

The project, which began in 2008, is due to be completed in June 2011 -- one year ahead of the projected finish date.

Officials said Wednesday that irregularities had been detected over a three-month period of the rail's construction in 2010, according to the Financial Times

This kind of corruption is not uncommon to China's railway industry.  Just last month, the country's railway minister was dismissed in connection with corruption claims.

The state audit office has handed the case over to the Chinese judicial system for a formal investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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