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Thursday
Feb242011

Rescued Miners Visit Israel

Photo Courtesy - RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- It's being called a pilgrimmage of thanks as Israel is treating 25 of the 33 rescued Chilean miners to an all-expenses-paid 8-day tour of the Holy Land. The group arrived Wednesday night.
   
The 25 Chilean miners accompanied by their wives came off the plane singing with excitement. At their reception ceremony, miner Jose Henrequez said they considered it a blessing to come to the place of the God they prayed to when they were trapped in the mine and give thanks. 

Highlights of the miners' tour will include Jesus' birthplace in Bethlehem, the stations of the cross on Jerusalem's Via Dolorosa, and the church where Jesus is believed to have been resurrected.  Several miners have also decided to be baptised near the Sea of Galilee.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Gadhafi Makes Bizarre Speech as Turmoil Grows Feverish

Photo Courtesy - Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images(BENGHAZI, Libya) -- Colonel Gadhafi's grip of power seemed to slip further Thursday as opposition forces called for greater turn-out and the army reacted in violent desperation.

The embattled Libyan dictator gave a bizarre speech by phone Thursday, claiming the revolt was the work of Osama bin Laden and that the rebellious youth had been given hallucinogens. He rambled that the Queen of England has ruled longer than him and yet no one has ever asked her to step down. The speech was often incomprehensible.

Gadhafi's defense of his government came amid reports that his army of African mercenaries has begun to strike back at protesters, using an anti-aircraft gun to blast the minaret off a mosque where opposition demonstrators had sheltered and attacking the protesters with automatic weapons.

President Obama on Wednesday joined other world leaders in condemning this week's violent government crackdown on Libyan protesters who have held firm in their efforts to oust Gadhafi as he struggles to maintain power.

More video has emerged of Gadhafi's forces firing on protesters from helicopter gunships, and a fighter jet dropping bombs. Human rights groups say they've confirmed 300 deaths.

Witnesses said the number could be as high as 1,000.

President Obama said the United States is preparing a full range of options to respond to the crisis, including no-fly zones to prevent attacks and proposals for oil companies to stop operations in the world's 12th-largest oil exporter.

Meanwhile, thousands of foreigners, including hundreds of Americans, are being evacuated from Libya. Americans trying to leave aboard a ferry that was supposed to depart for the island of Malta were delayed by bad weather.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

How to Deal with an Untethered Dictator?

Photo Courtesy - MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON D.C.) -- Officials analyzing Moammar Gadhafi's rambling speech are concerned that the Libyan strongman is so untethered to reality he may "burn down the house with him," as one put it, putting the Libyan people -- and hundreds of Americans -- at risk, and prompting President Obama to carefully calibrate his words.

In his first public remarks on the crisis Wednesday, President Obama didn't mention Gadhafi's name, not wanting to personalize the crisis as a showdown between him and President Obama. Critics blasted Obama for waiting days to make any kind of statement on the deteriorating situation in the North African country -- and then criticized the comments he did make Wednesday as too timid.

Officials defended the cautious line President Obama is treading, equating it to that of a law enforcement negotiator trying to deal with a hostage-taker; seeking a resolution without inflaming the situation.

The president would have been more forceful in his comments, sources claim, if the hundreds of Americans in Libya had been able to escape the country. But as of now there's a real fear Gadhafi could accuse the Americans of being spies and take them hostage.

At the same time, the president is pursuing a variety of actions aimed at further isolating Gadhafi from the international community: unilateral and multilateral sanctions and a potential travel ban. Next week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet her diplomatic counterparts in Geneva at a convening of the United Nations Human Rights Council -- where she will support an effort to remove Libya from the group.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Judge Rules Assange can be Extradited to Sweden

Photo Courtesy - LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A judge ruled Thursday that WikiLeaks whistleblower Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden on sexual assault charges.

Assange faces seperate charges of unlawful coercion and rape; Swedish prosecutors also claim Assange eluded justice last September by leaving the country.

Today's verdict gives the 39-year-old Australian a week to file an appeal.

Assange has been staying in a friend's country house outside of London after spending nine days in jail. He was arrested on Dec. 7 on a European warrant stemming from the sex charges.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Marcos Victims Compensated

Photo Courtesy - NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images(MANILA, Philippines) -- It took 25 years, but victims who suffered human rights abuses under Former Filipino Dictator Ferdinand Marcos will be finally be compensated. The victims' lawyers says the government payout will go to 7,500 people for the Marcos regime's decades long campaign of  execution, abduction, and harassment.

Marcos rose to power in 1965 and ruled the Philippines for 2 decades. His administration was marred by widespread corruption, human rights abuse, and the assassination of a political opposition leader. He was ousted from power 25 years ago by the People Power Revolution.

This class action lawsuit payout would be the first time anybody has received compensation for Marcos' deeds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Prince William and Kate to Make Public Appearance in Wales

Photo Courtesy - Indigo/Getty Images(ANGLESEY, U.K.) -- Prince William and Kate Middleton will be out and about meeting members of the public in Anglesey, North Wales Thursday.

The outing is only the second time the world will have heard Middleton speak in public, the first being last November when she and Prince William announced their engagement.

The couple will meet members of the public, and Kate will launch her first boat.

The outing is seen as a chance for Kate to learn royal protocol for public appearances from the Prince, who is experienced in such matters.

On Thursday, the couple will return to St. Andrews, Scotland, where they met as students.

The couple currently shares a secluded farmhouse in Wales.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Brent Crude Oil Prices Swell to Nearly $120

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TRIPOLI) -- Brent oil prices, which account for two-thirds of the world's crude oil supply, soared to its highest prices since August 2008 Thursday as the Libyan uprising grew more tumultuous.

Brent crude oil shot up 7.7 percent, at one point reaching $119.79 a barrel. Libyan oil exports have been cut in the face of protests and violent government backlash. The OPEC cartel has feared for its safety as popular unrest spreads across the Middle East.

Analysts are not optimistic. Prices are expected to rise incrementally, and may likely surpass the 2008 high of $147.50 per barrel. If the trend continues, U.S. crude oil could reach $159 a barrel this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Gbagbo Escalates Violence in Ivory Coast

Photo Copyright - SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images(ABIDJAN) -- Violence has resumed with renewed vigor in the Ivory Coast this week as Laurent Gbagbo took action to secure his place in power.

Reports indicate Gbabgo used heavily armed troops to assail the Abobo neighborhood of Abidjan, where many Gbagbo opponents live. The death toll is unclear.

The Ivory Coast has been on the verge of civil war since the November elections that Gbagbo lost to Alassane Ouattara. The nation's economy, once the world's largest cocoa producer, has since crumbled. Many major banks have closed in the past weeks, and international sanctions have suffocated normal economic behavior.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Obama Condemns Violence in Libya; No Mention of Moammar Gadhafi

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said Wednesday the bloodshed in Libya was "outrageous and unacceptable," but he declined to directly censure Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi, who has been blamed for much of the violent crackdown.

"The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable, so are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters," Obama said in his first televised remarks on the situation in Libya. "These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop."

The president said the Libyan government "has a strong responsibility to refrain from violence" and that it must be held accountable, but he stopped short of placing the blame on Gadhafi, Libya's eccentric dictator who has ruled for 42 years.

Obama said his staff will work with the international community to discuss the volatile situation and the administration is "doing everything we can to protect American citizens," calling it his "highest priority."

The uprising that began over the weekend has divided the country. Libyan rebels in the eastern part of the country demanding Gadhafi's ouster claim to have taken control of another city and are sending weapons and manpower to Gadhafi's opponents in the capital of Tripoli where a brutal war is reportedly being waged by mercenaries who are terrorizing protesters.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
Feb232011

Clinton: US Evaluating All Options to Pressure Libya

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Asked what it will take for the United States to take a tougher stance on Libya, where the government has instituted a brutal crackdown against protestors seeking its ouster, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the Obama administration’s actions so far.

“The United States, starting with what the president said on Friday, what I reiterated yesterday, have made it absolutely clear that we strongly condemn the violence in Libya, that we have called for an end to violence against protesters and those who are seeking the rights that are due to any people anywhere.  And we deeply regret the loss of life that has already occurred,” she said at a press conference following a meeting with her Brazilian counterpart.

She told reporters that all options are still on the table.

“We will look at all the possible options to try to bring an end to the violence, to try to influence the government,” she said.

To that end, Clinton said the U.S. wants to coordinate with international partners in creating a unified response to the violence, in large part because, she said, other countries have more leverage with Libya than the United States.

“There are many countries that have much closer relations with Libya than we do, as you know.  We haven't had those relations for many years to the extent that we have the kind of influence that other countries might be able to exercise now,” she said, referencing possible action at the United Nations Security Council and at the Human Rights Council.

Clinton also urged Americans to leave Libya if they can.

“In any situation our foremost concern has to be for the safety and security of our own citizens,” she said. “We urge Americans to depart immediately.  If they need help, they should contact the embassy or go to our Bureau of Consular Affairs website for information.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio