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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

Thursday
Dec302010

Attacks on Christians in Baghdad Kill 2, Injure 13

File Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BAGHDAD) – Coordinated attacks against Christian families in Baghdad have left two dead and 13 injured.

Various assaults were carried out in different areas of Baghdad. In one instance, an IED went off near a Christian family’s home in New Baghdad, in the eastern part of the city. The attack killed two and injured three others.

Three were injured in Karradah, in the central part of Baghdad, when another IED planted next to a Christian home exploded.

More attacks were carried out in the areas of Yarmouk, Amiriyah, Dora, Saydiya and Amil.
 
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

More and More Brits Living to 100

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- According to new British government statistics, roughly a sixth of the country's current population will live to see their 100th birthday.  While that's good news, it also raises the question of how to properly fund old age.

The numbers come from the government's state pension department. "For people like me the question is, if you thought you were going to live to 100, how would that change what you do now in terms of working and saving? And saving more has got to be part of the mix," says Steve Webb, the minister of state for pensions.

The bottom line is under the current economic climate, saving for those golden twilight years may be easier said than done.  

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

Bomb Explodes Outside Athens Court Building; No One Injured

Photo Courtesy - Louisa Gouliamaki /AFP/Getty Images(ATHENS, Greece) -- Greece's capital was rocked by another explosion Thursday morning, leaving behind broken windows and at least eight burned-out cars, but no injuries.

A bomb hidden on a parked motorcycle ripped through an area just outside of a court building in Athens.  The blast sent up a cloud of smoke that could be seen across the city.

A warning was called in to several media outlets, which allowed people to clear out and avoid getting injured.

The explosion is believed to be linked to an upcoming trial involving a group of homegrown militant suspects.

At least a dozen suspected members of the anarchist collective known as the Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire are due to go on trial in mid-January.  The group is allegedly responsible for the series of parcel bombs that were sent to embassies in Greece last month.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec302010

Former Israeli President Found Guilty of Rape, Sexual Harassment

Photo Courtesy - Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- The man who served as Israel's eighth president from 2000-2007 was found guilty Thursday of two counts of rape and other sexual offenses.

Israel's former President Moshe Katsav was convicted of raping a former employee twice and sexually harassing two others. The lead judge in Tel Aviv's district court ruled that Katsav's testimony, in which he stated that he did not rape his former employee while serving as the ministry of tourism over 10 years ago, was filled with lies.

The verdict means Katsav will spend four-to-16 years in prison when he is sentenced.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio