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Saturday
Jan012011

North Korea New Year's Message Calls for Peace, Threatens Too

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- Communist North Korea's official New Year's message, carried on state-run media, calls for the two Koreas to work together for the best interests of the peninsula but also warns that war there would "bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust."

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak said he is confident peace can be achieved and that South Korea's "sustained economic growth" will continue.

Tensions between the North and South have been running high throughout recent months, highlighted by North Korea's sinking of a South Korean naval vessel and the North's shelling of a small island in response to South Korean military training exercises.  Saturday's conciliatory messages run counter to recent rhetoric from both sides.

Both governments say they believe the two Koreas should be unified but North Korea's vision insists that it direct any new government.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan012011

Russian Jet Catches Fire, Explodes on Runway

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- A Russian plane exploded Saturday just before it was scheduled to take off from an airport in Siberia. At least one person was killed.

Most of the 128 passengers and crew made it off the Russian jet after one of the engines apparently caught fire as the plane taxied for takeoff.

The plane, a Tu-154, has been blamed for a number of crashes. The Russian airline Aeroflot pulled the model from its fleet of aircraft last year amid safety concerns.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec312010

UPDATE: Toll Rises in Blast at Egyptian Coptic Christian Church

Photo Courtesy - STR/AFP/Getty Images(ALEXANDRIA, Egypt) -- At least 21 people have now been confirmed dead in a Friday car-bombing outside a Coptic Christian church in the north Egyptian city of Alexandria.  Many more people have been rushed to a hospital.  The people were emerging from a New Year's service when it happened. 

Security has also been put on high alert across churches in Alexandria after the blast, which devastated many citizens on Khalil Hamada Street, where the church stood.  Muslim and Copts continue to clash in the area. 

Christians from the Coptic Orthodox Church make up about 10 percent of Egypt's predominantly Muslim population.

Alexandria is Egypt's second-largest city with a population of about four million.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec312010

Rehab for Terrorists? Pakistan Works With Extremist Teens

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SWAT, Pakistan) -- Once a terrorist always a terrorist? Not so, says Pakistani military officials who are using psychiatry, education and religion to rehabilitate more than 150 teenage extremists.

Opinions on whether terrorists can be rehabilitated are still mixed. Saudi Arabia has tried to re-educate known jihadists for the past few years with limited success. But the Pakistani military believes its program can teach the young men -- ages 14 to 17 -- how to think for themselves and become productive members of society.

The teenagers are housed in a compound in Pakistan's Swat valley, an area that just a few years ago was a Taliban stronghold, where beatings and beheadings were constant. Today, Taliban headquarters is gone, destroyed by the Pakistan army, and the area is home to reopened schools and shops. But the half-million people who live there vividly recall the days of Taliban rule -- hundreds of them sided with the terrorists, many, the army says, out of fear.

The young men undergoing rehabilitation are kept in their compound 24 hours a day, meeting with psychologists, teachers and religious instructors. Security is a constant presence. Some of the young men have killed or tortured their countrymen and were ready to carry out suicide bombings. One of them told ABC News that the Taliban told him fighting the Pakistani army "was the right thing to do."

A student in the reintegration program told ABC News that he thinks differently now and would never go back to the Taliban.

Only 11 of the 152 young men going through the program are considered ready for reintegration. In Pakistan, the army and the community will help to monitor the young men for a year or more and help them to get jobs.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec312010

U.S. Security Secretary Napolitano Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made a surprise visit to Afghanistan Friday as law enforcement officials across the country remain at a heightened state of alert over potential attacks on the New Year's Eve holiday.

Napolitano met with top U.S. and Afghan officials in Kabul to assess progress on Department of Homeland Security efforts to train local security forces. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers have been helping the Afghans secure the country's borders and combat drug and weapons smuggling.

She is expected to spend New Year's Eve with military service members whose continued efforts and sacrifices, she said, are making "the American homeland safer and more secure."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec312010

Floods Leave 200,000 Australians Stranded

Photo Courtesy - Torsten Blackwood /AFP/Getty Images(BRISBANE, Australia) -- More than 200,000 Australians have been affected by relentless flooding stemming from rain that fell for days last week in Queensland.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said 22 towns "are either substantially flooded or isolated because the roads have been cut off to them."  Bligh added that the flooding spans "an area that's bigger than the size of France and Germany combined."

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard toured the affected areas Friday and said, "Federal government and state government are working closely together through national disaster relief and recovery arrangements and will continue to do so."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

Violent Deaths in Iraq Reach 'Impassable Minimum'

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(IRAQ) – The number of civilian lives claimed by violence in Iraq has reached its lowest level since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to a group that tracks casualties.

The annual report from Iraq Body Count (IBC) shows that violent deaths in the country fell under 4,000 this year, down 15 percent from 2009. Although lower, the IBC calls the 2010 figure an “impassable minimum” that is likely to remain constant in the coming years.

According to the report, the number represents nearly two explosions a day, 66 percent of which were caused by insurgent bomb attacks.

"After nearly eight years, the security crisis in Iraq remains notable for its sheer relentlessness: 2010 averaged nearly two explosions a day by non-state forces that caused civilian deaths," the IBC said. "As well as occurring almost daily, these lethal explosions can happen almost anywhere, with 2010's attacks occurring in 13 of Iraq's 18 administrative regions."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

14 Dead After Roadside Bomb in Helmand Province

Photo Courtesy -- ABC News(KABUL, Afghanistan) – Fourteen people are dead and four are injured in the Helmand province of Afghanistan after a roadside bomb exploded, hitting a minivan.

Afghan National Security and International Security Forces were on hand to evacuate the wounded and provide medical attention.

The insurgent attack was carried out in a crowded area of Nahr-e Saraj. The dead include women and children according to the ISAF/NATO statement.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

Pakistan Government to Defend ISI in NY Lawsuit

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(PAKISTAN) – Pakistan’s government released a statement Thursday saying they “strongly contest” the suit filed against the country’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, in a New York court.

The lawsuits, filed in federal court in Brooklyn by relatives of victims of the 2008 Mumbai attack, name the ISI.

The government of Pakistan and the Pakistan embassy in Washington say they will defend the suit on behalf of the ISI and its directors.

In a statement to the National Assembly, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said they will seek dismissal. “We do not believe the ISI, as an agency of the Government of Pakistan, or its present and former officials could be subjected to civil litigation in the courts of the United States and we intend to take appropriate steps to obtain dismissal of this action.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

Islamic Index Encourages Muslims to Invest in Bombay Stock Exchange

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MUMBAI, India) -- The Bombay Stock Exchange has launched a new stock index of companies that are compliant with the Islamic legal code, encouraging Muslims to invest in India's fast-growing stock market.

Islamic law imposes restrictions on investing in companies that charge interest and those that sell products such as alcohol, weapons or tobacco.

The index, called BSE TASIS Shariah 50, is composed of the 50 largest and most liquid stocks that adhere to Islamic law. The companies were chosen by the Taqwaa Advisory and Shariah Investment Solutions (TASIS), a Mumbai-based Islamic finance firm whose board members include legal experts and Islamic scholars.

Stocks will be reviewed monthly for Shariah compliance, and non-compliant stocks will be removed. Additional companies will be added on a quarterly basis.

"It will create a market for Indian Muslims," Shariq Nisar, the director of research and operations at TASIS, said in a statement. "We can provide opportunity to domestic investors so that they can invest their money without falling foul of their ethical and religious requirement.

"A lot of Muslim investors who could have invested their money in stock market and benefited from it, they were not having this opportunity earlier."

Islamic indexes already exist in other countries in the Middle East and Asia, including Pakistan and Indonesia, which have the two largest Muslim populations in the world. (India is third, with more than 150 million Muslims, or 13 percent of its predominantly Hindu population).

"These people were just keeping the money under their pillows," Nisar said. "Many were investing either in gold or in real estate."

The index will make it easier for Muslims to know which companies adhere to Shariah law, encouraging Muslims on a psychological level to invest.

The new index will increase awareness of "financial investments amongst the masses and help enhance financial inclusion," Madhu Kannan, the managing director and chief executive of the BSE, said in a statement.

Muslims, many of whom have been excluded from India's financial sector in the past because of Islamic law, will now be able to invest guilt-free.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio