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Wednesday
Nov242010

US Navy, South Korea to Conduct Exercises in Yellow Sea

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Navy/ Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Heather Hess(WASHINGTON) -- The aircraft carrier USS George Washington and four other U.S. Navy ships will participate in just-announced military exercises with South Korea this weekend as part of the United States’ response to North Korea’s deadly artillery barrage of a South Korean island, which has triggered an international crisis.

The exercise will be held in the Yellow Sea, west of the Korean Peninsula.

Late Tuesday night, the White House announced that as part of President Obama’s phone conversation with South Korean President Lee, both presidents “agreed to hold combined military exercises and enhanced training in the days ahead to continue the close security cooperation between our two countries, and to underscore the strength of our Alliance and commitment to peace and security in the region.”

A statement from the Navy’s Seventh Fleet says the USS George Washington strike group will join with South Korean naval forces in the Yellow Sea for a joint exercise that will begin this Sunday and last through Dec. 1.

In addition to the carrier, the cruisers USS Cowpens and USS Shiloh, and the destroyers USS Stethem and USS Fitzgerald, will also participate in the exercise.

The statement makes the point that the exercise is “defensive in nature” and “while planned well before Tuesday's unprovoked artillery attack, it demonstrates the strength of the ROK-U.S. Alliance and our commitment to regional stability through deterrence.  It is also designed to improve our military interoperability.”

The U.S. and South Korean forces will conduct air defense and surface warfare readiness training.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov242010

All 29 Miners Believed Dead After 2nd Blast Rocks New Zealand Mine

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ATARAU, New Zealand) -- All 29 men trapped in a New Zealand coal mine are believed to be dead after a second explosion rocked the mine on Wednesday.

Speaking to New Zealand Media, Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said officials said the blast "was an enormous explosion" and that they believe "there's no way anyone could have survived it."

The miners have been trapped at the Pike River mine in the country's western town of Atarau since the initial blast ripped through the mine on Friday.  Rescue efforts ensued, but high levels of toxic gas made it difficult for rescue teams to enter the mine.

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key says, "Questions must now be asked and answered about how such a tragedy was able to occur and how we can prevent another happening in the future."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

Irish Government to Make $114-Billion Bailout for Bank of Ireland

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DUBLIN) -- The Irish government will take a majority stake in the Bank of Ireland as part of the massive €85 billion ($114 billion) bailout being worked out by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, according to The Financial Times.  This move means that all major lenders in Ireland would have the government as their largest shareholder.
 
The Euro currency trade, as well as Asian and European markets, will likely react to the news overnight.
 
Fears persist that Spain and Portugal are next in line to need a bailout, and that the entire eurozone could be facing a deepening crisis.
 
The Irish bailout amounts to about 15 percent of the $700-billion U.S. bailout, for a country with a population about that of Chicago and Houston combined.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

ABC News Exclusive: President Obama Says North Korea Poses a 'Serious and Ongoing Threat'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- President Obama Tuesday strongly condemned North Korea's attack on South Korea and, in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters, urged China to take a stand against aggression.

"This is a -- just one more provocative incident in a series that we've seen over the last several months, and I'm going to be talking to the president of Korea -- South Korea -- this evening and we'll be consulting closely with them in terms of the appropriate response," the president said. "We've strongly condemned the attack....We are rallying the international community once again to put pressure on North Korea."

Obama wouldn't speculate on military actions the U.S. may take, but reiterated that South Korea is "one of our most important allies" and "a cornerstone of U.S. security in the Pacific region."

"We want to make sure all the parties in the region recognize that this is a serious and ongoing threat that has to be dealt with," the president added.

He specifically called on China to stand firm and "make clear to North Korea that there are a set of international rules that they need to abide by."

Tensions escalated on the Korean peninsula Tuesday morning after North Korea fired artillery shells at South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island. The South Koreans responded with their own artillery fire.

The exchange of fire came days after North Korea revealed its upgraded and strengthened uranium enrichment plant to western scientists.

Siegfried Hecker, the Stanford professor and former head of the Los Alamos lab who was invited to North Korea last week to witness their new uranium program, said Tuesday the country's nuclear capability is much farther along than previously estimated.

He added that the Obama administration should undertake a thorough review of North Korea, since the last one was in 2000.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

EU Bans Afghan Air Carriers

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(BRUSSELS, Belgium) – The European Union has now banned airlines certified in Afghanistan to their list of carriers no longer allowed to operate within their borders.

The latest update is the sixteenth by the European Commission and will extend a ban that previously included only one Afghan carrier, Ariana Afghan Airlines, to all air carriers certified in Afghanistan.

In a statement, the Commission said they recognize the efforts of the Afghan government to reform the present civil aviation oversight system. The EU said they are willing to provide active support in the Afghan effort to improve safety in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Tuesday
Nov232010

Under Half of Donor Funds to Rebuild Haiti Received in 2010

Photo Courtesy -- ABC News(NEW YORK) – A new analysis shows that not quite half of the funds pledged to rebuild Haiti have been received.
 
The United Nations Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti (OSE) said Tuesday that only 42.3 percent of funds it expected to receive from top donor countries for 2010 have been paid out thus far.

According to the OSE, the top 30 pledgemakers at the March 31 international donors conference pledged a combined $2.12 billion for 2010. Of that, just $897 million has been disbursed.

The United States, however, has already paid out 100 percent of the aid it pledged for 2010. Among the worst offenders is Venezuela, which has only paid seven percent of its promised contribution.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

Iran Hints At Canceling Stoning Execution of Woman Convicted of Adultery

Photo Courtesy - ETIENNE LAURENT/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- There is a "good chance" that the life of an Iranian woman, sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery, may be spared, the head of the country's Human Rights Commission told Iranian state media.

The official, Mohammed-Javad Larijani, who last week defended stoning following a United Nations censure vote, told Iran's Press TV that Sakineh Ashtiani -- whose death sentence has become an international cause celebre -- may not be executed after all.

Ashtiani, 43, was found guilty of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning in 2006. Since then she has confessed on Iranian television three times, but her face has been blurred each time. Her sentence had reportedly been changed from stoning to hanging, but the government maintained stoning was still an option.

According to Press TV, Larijani indicated Ashtiani's death sentence was "still open for further revision." He did not, however, say why the government is now hinting that her death penalty could be overturned

Under the form of stoning used in Iran, before being pelted in the head with tennis ball-sized rocks, men are buried to their waists, but women are buried up to their shoulders. Under Iranian law, the stoning ends in some cases if the accused confessed his crime and can dig himself out of the hole.

International human rights groups believe there are at least 13 people awaiting stoning executions in Iran.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

Deadly North Korean Strike Pounds South Korean Island

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- South Korea is reporting two of its marines were killed and 16 were injured after North Korea fired artillery shells at a South Korean island Tuesday.  Seventy houses were set on fire in the unprovoked attack, which led South Korea to return fire.

At least three South Korean civilians have also been hurt in the barrage, authorities report.

Artillery rounds fell near Yeonpyeong Island, a fishing village at the border between both countries that has been the center of disputes in the past.  Some rounds fell into the water but others landed on the island.  South Korean local media are quoting residents who saw 60 to 70 houses on fire after the shelling. 

Residents and South Korean troops are also trying to fight fires that have ignited on mountains.

The South Korean military has fired back and is on full alert.  The president's office has convened a national security meeting at the underground bunker.

The South Korean Navy was conducting a maritime training in that area Tuesday morning.  Analysts believe North Korea could have fired in protest to that exercise.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

Heavy Metal in Baghdad Now Means Music, Not Tanks

Photo Courtesy - Fatalogy/Facebook(BAGHDAD) -- Heavy metal is back in Baghdad and for a change that doesn't mean tanks or artillery.

More than 300 "metalheads" defied the dangers of being in a Baghdad crowd -- which are tempting targets for terrorists -- to rock out with the band Fatalogy last week on Karradah Street. Earlier this month worshippers at a Christian church were massacred in the Karradah neighborhood.

The only violence at the Fatalogy performance, however, was the high decibel assault on the ears and the fans leaping into the mosh pit.

The name of the band and much of their music reflects the grim reality of Baghdad's recent past. Fatalogy is a combination of the English word "fatal" and the scientific suffix "logy," understandable in a city where death has been common thanks to armed militias, al Qaeda, and exploding arsenals of IEDs, car bombs, mortars, and the like.

Heavy metal has been popular in Baghdad since the early 1990s and boasted half a dozen bands during Saddam Hussein's regime. It disappeared from the stage after the 2003 U.S. invasion, surviving only on CDs and YouTube videos. With a fragile security seemingly taking hold, heavy metal bands are emerging once again.

The band opened its show with two original songs, one called "Abu Ghraib" and the other "War After War." Abu Ghraib was a notorious prison under Saddam and the now-shuttered jail took on a new meaning for Iraqis after the U.S. invasion, when pictures surfaced of U.S. some soldiers mistreating terror suspects who had been held there.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

Prince William's, Kate Middleton's Royal Wedding Date Set

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- It's finally time for millions of Britons, celebrities, and foreign leaders to save the date. After a flurry of speculation, the royal family said Tuesday that recently engaged Prince William and Kate Middleton have set a date for their wedding.

The royal couple will be wed at Westminster Abbey Friday, April 29, 2011, according to a statement by the royal house of Prince Charles, William's father.

As one of the most anticipated events of 2011, the date will be declared a national holiday and, in addition to the thousands of guests expected to attend the wedding, millions more will be watching on television and online.

The wedding could be an emotional return to Westminster for Prince William. It was the same place he said his final goodbyes to his mother, the late Princess Diana, at her funeral in 1997.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio