Amb. Rice: U.S. Not Ruling Out Deal for Moammar Gadhafi Exile

ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- Is there a deal in the works to give Moammar Gadhafi safe haven out of Libya?  There are lots of tantalizing clues out there Tuesday, with the New York Post and the Times of London reporting Italian officials are developing a plan that would grant Gadhafi immunity from war crimes prosecution if he goes into exile.  And when UN Ambassador Susan Rice was asked about the idea on Tuesday's Good Morning America, she opened the door pretty far.

“The expectation, both of the Libyan people and the international community is that there needs to be justice for the crimes that are committed,” she said. “But obviously should there be an opportunity for some sort of arrangement for Gadhafi to step aside that is something the Libyan people will have to judge and we will take it as it comes.”

Rice suggested twice that the U.S. would follow the lead of the Libyan rebels. If they’re ok with the deal, all indications point to the U.S. signing off too. Administration officials also say that the U.S. is still getting feelers about a peaceful endgame from people close to Gadhafi. Amb. Rice didn’t deny that either, but said the U.S. needs to see something more concrete.

“I think we will be more persuaded by actions rather than prospects or feelers and I think that the message for Gadhafi and those closest to him is that history is not on his side, time is not on his side, the pressure is mounting, the sanctions are biting and he needs to take a decision that will be for the benefit of the Libyan people,” she said.

Rice also didn’t rule out having the U.S. arm the Libyan rebels if Gadhafi doesn’t go.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Forty Countries to Discuss Libya's Future at London Conference

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Forty countries, including several Arab nations, will gather in London Tuesday for a conference to discuss Libya's future.

The purpose of the meeting will be to recognize the formal transition of military operations in Libya to NATO, to establish a "contact group" to deal with the situation and coordinate going forward, and to prepare for an upcoming visit to Tripoli and Benghazi by the United Nations Secretary General's special representative.

The U.S. delegation will be led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who met with Libyan opposition envoy Mahmoud Jibril Ibrahim prior to the conference.

On another note, the Obama administration is preparing to send its liaison to the Libyan opposition, Chris Stevens, to Benghazi soon, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters in London Tuesday.

The official wouldn't say when Stevens would travel, but left the impression that it could happen quite soon after Tuesday's conference.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Deadly Strain of H1N1 Turns Up in Mexico

US Department of State(CHIHUAHUA, Mexico) -- There are reports out of Mexico about a new outbreak of the H1N1 human influenza, which sent the world into a panic almost exactly two years ago.

It was in April 2009 that the virus, better known as the swine flu, was first detected in Mexico, resulting in health scares that spread from North America and around the globe.  Though 18,500 people died after developing complications from H1N1, the epidemic had far less impact than expected.

This time, the outbreak was discovered in Mexico's Chihuahua state, which borders the U.S., with the news of four deaths last week.  But unlike before, Mexican officials this time appear ready to head off a potential crisis.

Chihuahua state officials said that a vaccination program is well underway and the population is learning about prevention measures through an extensive outreach program.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


French 'Spiderman' Scales World's Tallest Building in Dubai

Davis McCardle/Getty Images(DUBAI, United Arab Emirates) -- Alain Robert, the French climber who calls himself "Spiderman," scaled the world's tallest building in Dubai Monday, with the blessing of government officials.

The only thing officials asked of Robert was that he use a rope and harness, which the daredevil agreed to do before his ascent of the Burj Khalifa, a 2,717-foot-high tower.

Despite windy conditions, Robert made the climb as an ambulance with a stretcher waited at the base of the half-mile-high building. 

Beforehand, the Frenchman, who has climbed more than 70 buildings including the Empire State Building and Chicago's Willis Tower, declared, "To live we don't need much, just a roof over our heads some food and drink and that's it... everything else is superficial.  I climb because I need to find something I enjoy in life and I enjoy climbing buildings."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


During Libya Protests Khamis Gadhafi Hurried Home...From Wall Street

KTRK(NEW YORK) -- When a popular uprising exploded in Libya in mid-February, Moammar Gadhafi's son and military commander, Khamis Gadhafi, charged with protecting the regime at all costs, was not there. Instead, Khamis was waltzing down Wall Street, just one stop on a whirlwind, cross-country tour of the U.S. organized by an American company with U.S. State Department approval.

The trip was part of an internship program with Los Angeles-based engineering giant AECOM, set to span just over a month, and take Khamis Gadhafi, head of Libya's elite Khamis Brigade, to tours and meetings with high-profile universities and companies from Houston to L.A., San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and Boston, according to travel documents obtained by ABC News.

After beginning in Houston with an extensive tour and presentations at the Port of Houston Authority, Khamis jetted off to L.A. where he was scheduled to go on an "exclusive" VIP tour of Universal Studios. After that, it was a short trip to San Francisco for meetings with technology giants Google, Apple and Intel, among others. In Colorado the next day, Khamis toured the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and then hopped a plane to Chicago where he toured Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

By mid-February, Khamis was scheduled to visit the nation's capital to see famous landmarks like the National Mall before high-powered meetings with defense contractors including Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, among others.

Next up, Khamis headed to Wall Street in lower Manhattan to walk through the heart of the U.S. economy at the New York Stock Exchange before taking in the Broadway show Mamma Mia. But on the day he visited the floor of the stock exchange and was also scheduled to tour New York's Columbia University, protests against his father's regime rang out in Benghazi, Libya. A spokesperson for Columbia told ABC News the University canceled the visit in light of the protests and an AECOM spokesperson told ABC News that instead of heading uptown to Columbia, Khamis hopped a plane and flew back to his home country that night.

That meant Khamis missed out on further scheduled events including a tour of the West Point Military Academy, MIT and Harvard University.

Less than a month later, Khamis was rumored to have been killed in an attack by a Libyan kamikaze pilot. The reports have not been confirmed. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Anna Chapman Won't Admit She Was a Russian Spy

ABC News(MOSCOW) -- In her first foreign language interview since she was arrested as a spy, undercover bombshell Anna Chapman was coy about whether she had ever engaged in espionage for Russia.

"Who told you I was an agent?" Chapman asked an interviewer for the BBC, though she pled guilty to espionage in the U.S. last summer and was sent back to Russia as part of a massive spy swap. "I will never deny and I will never confirm the fact."

Ever since her return to Russia, the flame-haired 28-year-old has turned her notoriety into a lucrative and varied career in her native land. She has already appeared in various men's magazines and accepted a high position in the country's ruling political party, but the BBC interview was timed to promote her latest venture, a regular weekly show on Russian television.

Mysteries of the World With Anna Chapman airs weekly on REN-TV, a private channel. Wearing a little black dress, Chapman was prominently featured in a promotional shot on the station's web site, which also said "I reveal all mysteries, if you have the courage."

Chapman told the BBC she had never considered being on television. "I never saw myself as a TV star," said Chapman. "Most people they dream of being a TV star, like they dream of fame. I never thought of that."

She said, however, that she would never feature her own personal story on Mysteries of the World. Chapman, born Anya Kushchenko, and nine other members of a Russian spy ring were arrested in the U.S. in the summer of 2010. She and her fellow spies all pleaded guilty to espionage in a Manhattan courthouse in July. They were immediately flown to Vienna to be exchanged for accused Western agents held by Russia in the largest U.S.-Russia spy swap since the Cold War.

Chapman has continued to attract attention since her repatriation. She was hired as an advisor to a Russian bank in October. At a ceremony in Moscow in December, Chapman was appointed a leader of the youth branch of Vladimir Putin's political party. Candid nude photos that an ex-boyfriend snapped of Chapman appeared in the January issue of Playboy. Other nude and semi-nude photos of Chapman appeared in the British and U.S. press last summer, and Chapman posed in leather and lingerie for other magazines. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Israel Deploys New Anti-Missile Defense System 

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- In response to last week's surge in militant rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Israel decided to move up its timetable on the deployment of its most advanced anti-missile defense system, called Iron Dome. The first mobile battery unit has been placed near the southern city of Ber Sheba and two more will be deployed in the near future officials say. The first iron dome mobile unit is located on a hill in Ber Sheba because of its propensity to be targeted.

The main unit is connected to a number of missile launch pads and advanced radars in the field. "This is a unique system. There is no other system in the world that shoots missiles against rockets," says Brigadier General Doron Gavish, who oversaw the deployment. 

Iron Dome successfully destroyed rockets midair in a series of tests, but officials including the prime minister are lowering expectations. They've said Iron Dome will help, but it's still being tested and it's not fully operational yet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


William, Close Pals Celebrate Prince's Last Few Weeks of Singledom

Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince William and 20 close pals celebrated the prince's final few weeks of  being single this weekend at a country estate in Norfolk, England.

The secret bachelor party took place just two hours outside London.

"We believe that William had a house party effectively within the grounds of a big stately home owned by friend Ed Van Cutsen, he's one of the ushers at the wedding," said ABC News contributor Duncan Larcombe.

The all-boys-bash was planned by best man Guy Pelly and younger brother Prince Harry.

Harry had originally planned a water-themed celebration with speed boats and water skiing, but these plans were dropped after details leaked to the press.

"He did everything he could to stay out of the public eye," said Larcombe.  "The shy prince does it again, no one got near him."

That shy one would be Will of course, not Harry.

As for Harry, seeing out his brother's days of bachelorhood came just a few days before he is due in the North Pole where he will take part in a four-week, 200-mile journey for charity.

"This was a logical weekend for them -- William just got back from Australia, there weren't that many dates left," Larcombe told ABC News.

So what about Kate Middleton's bachelorette party?

"Well, we know that's coming," said royal author Katie Nicholl.  "I'm hearing possibly next weekend."

"It's probably going to be at the Middleton family home," continued Nicholl.  "Although they have hired out four venues in London in case they want to hit the capital."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Libyan Rebels Advance to Sirte as NATO Assumes Command

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Air raids targeting the Libyan city of Sirte Sunday night aided rebels advancing towards the city.  It was also confirmed that NATO will now be assuming the entire mission in the war-torn country, including all air strikes and the civilian protection mission.

Sirte, which is Moammar Gadhafi's hometown, lies halfway between the rebel-held east and the government-controlled west.  Taking the city is a major coup for the rebels, who are quickly advancing toward the capitol city of Tripoli.

Earlier Sunday, rebels regained two key oil complexes along Libya's coastal highway.  Their westward march towards Sirte mirrors their earlier advancement towards the capitol, but this week they had powerful air forces bombarding Gadhafi's military and clearing a path.

Shortly after nightfall, air raids on both Tripoli and Sirte began, Libyan state television confirmed.  Fighting began in the contested city of Misrata -- which lies between Sirte and Tripoli -- as residents reported that pro-Gadhafi forces were firing on residential areas.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed that NATO will assume command of all aerial operations in Libya, taking over from the U.S.-led force.

According to a senior Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity, NATO will now assume the entire mission of implementing U.N. Security Council resolution 1973, which demands an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians.

This fulfills President Obama's promise to take the leading edge with America's unique capabilities, then quickly turn over authority to NATO, the official said.

More countries should be contributing assets to the operation, the official said, adding that not every country will have to take part in every aspect of the mission.  While some may contribute to enforcing the arms embargo or the no-fly zone only, others may participate in bombings to protect civilians.

NATO will lead all of it, the official confirmed, stressing that the mission is to strike at anyone who targets civilians, not to support the Libyan rebels.  NATO commanders will have the authority to pick bombing targets and won't have to seek permission from a political body first, the official noted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Three Nuclear Reactors at Japan's Plant May Be Damaged

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Following its apology for mistakenly reporting radiation levels, the power company operating Japan's troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant now believes three of the plant's nuclear reactors may be in jeopardy.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company announced Monday that the fuel rods of reactor numbers one, two and three may be damaged.  Yet, the company isn't characterizing the damages as a meltdown because it says there isn't enough evidence.

The latest news comes a day after TEPCO issued an apology for erroneously announcing that radiation levels inside the water in reactor two was 10 million times higher than normal.

The reading raised fears of radioactivity exposure and led to workers fleeing the facility.  It also spurred a demonstration outside of TEPCO's headquarters in Tokyo, where hundreds rallied to protest the company's handling of the nuclear crisis and demonstrate against nuclear power.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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