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Thursday
Nov112010

Cholera Cases in Haiti May be Grossly Underestimated

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(HAITI) -- As medical units in north Haiti become inundated with cholera patients, some are concerned the number infected may be well beyond current figures.

Official statistics show the number infected just below 10,000, with the number of cholera-related deaths near 650. The Haiti Epidemic Advisory System, however, believes those numbers are grossly underestimated, likely by a factor of five.

They believe that there are around 50,000 active cases in Haiti, which means that there are about 150,000-200,000 carriers.

Reports on the ground depict a shortage of supplies to treat an overwhelming number of patients. Meanwhile, the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research in Bangladesh will send a team to Haiti to assist with cholera treatment and control.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Google Nearly Starts a War

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MOUNTAINVIEW, Calif.) -- Errors by Google Maps have in the past week reignited a territorial dispute in North Africa and nearly caused a war in Central America.

In the latter instance, Nicaraguan forces crossed a disputed border last week and raised their flag in territory that was long considered part of Costa Rica after the military commander on the scene looked up the area on Google Maps to determine how far he could deploy his troops.

Costa Rica has responded with heavily armed police (the country abolished its army decades ago), and its president has called the move an invasion. Nicaragua so far has refused to withdraw its soldiers.

The Organization of American States has been called in to mediate, and the regional body will consider a proposed solution whereby Nicaragua removes its forces and the two sides sit down to map out the border. Both sides have so far rejected the plan.

In a separate incident this week, Google Maps mistakenly attributed to Morocco a tiny island (more of a large rock) a few hundred yards off its coast and then changed it, again erroneously, to Spain. The problem is the uninhabited island (save for a few goats), which Spain calls Isla de Perejil (“Parsley Island”) and Morocco calls Leila (“Night”), has been a disputed territory for years and the two countries nearly fought over it in 2002.

Google has acknowledged its errors and promised to fix them, pledging to remain neutral in the Morocco/Spain dispute and fix the border line in the Nicaragua/Costa Rica one.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Hot or Not? Accounting Firm Men Rated Female Employees

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

(GREAT BRITAIN) – Male workers at an accounting firm in the United Kingdom are accused of circulating a crude e-mail chain that rated whether new female recruits were hot or not.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is investigating reports that the men sent e-mails with the photos of new female workers and a rank of their attractiveness. The women included were all new hires and recent college graduates, according to PWC spokesman Johanna Dehaene.

The global accounting firm, which is one of the largest in Great Britain, found out about the rating system Tuesday evening after The Irish Independent newspaper obtained a copy of the e-mail.

One e-mail chain seen by ABC News was started by senior associate Stephen Tully and then forwarded on by two other senior associates. Tully's subject line read: "This would be my shortlist for the top 10." Other colleagues wrote: "Great work.. have reservations about the last one getting in" and "FYI. New clunge." "Clunge" is a British slang word for vagina.

PWC has launched an investigation and would not comment on what the consequences for the men will be. In all, 17 names were on the e-mail circulation list.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Iraq Gets Closer to Establishing New Government with Deal

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto/ Academy for Educational Development(BAGHDAD) -- The longest awaited election result in history appears to be at an exhausting, and not entirely, unexpected end.

Just over eight months since the March 7 national elections, Iraqi political parties finally agreed to a power-sharing deal, paving the way for the formation of a new government.  Kamal Al Saidi, member of the National Alliance Party, called the deal "a new era for Iraq” adding “Iraq will be safer despite expected attacks from Al-Qaeda in Iraq."

More than 3,300 Iraqis have died in violence across the country since the March elections and thousands more were injured as insurgents have tested the weak government combined with the drawdown of U.S. combat forces.

Under the terms of the deal, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will keep his job, but is expected to make broad concessions to Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiya coalition.   Allawi, whose party bested Maliki’s in the March elections but could never get muster the seats to put himself in the prime minister’s job, could take a brand new position as head of the National Council of Supreme Policy, which is expected to have wide ranging power in security and other matters.  Though, it’s still not clear what the mandate of this organization will be and from where its power will be derived.  It’s equally unclear whether Allawi himself will take the job or appoint someone of his choosing.

The mainly ceremonial post of president will remain with Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, while the powerful Parliamentary Speaker’s job will go to a Sunni as will the position of Foreign Minister.  That position is currently held by the Kurd Hoshayar Zebari.

Though the deal is widely expected, it could still take a month or more before a government is officially in place.  Once the deal is announced, Maliki will have up to 45 days to name his ministers and form his entire government.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Hillary Clinton to Meet with Israeli Prime Minister

Photo Courtesy - U.S. State Department(NEW YORK) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benajmin Netanyahu in New York Thursday.

The meeting comes just days after Israel announced it would build over 1,300 new housing units in east Jerusalem.  On Wednesday, Clinton voiced criticism over the plan, calling it counterproductive.

Netanyahu's office has said in an official statement that he'll discuss with Clinton the need to formulate a broad U.S.-Israeli consensus on Israel's long term security needs under any peace agreement.

Political sources in Jerusalem say behind that general description, Netanyahu is specifically negotiating a 10-year security agreement with the U.S. in exchange for a new building freeze.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Russian Double Agent Helped US Break Up Russian Spy Ring

Anna Chapman, one of the Russian spies who was caught. Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MOSCOW) -- A colonel in Russia's foreign intelligence service helped the U.S. track down the Russian spy ring that was broken up in June.  A report by the newspaper Kommersant identifies Col. Shcherbakov as a double agent that worked with the U.S. in identifying the sleeper agents.

Shcherbakov was head of the American section in charge of placing moles in the U.S.

Shcherbakov fled to the U.S. in June, just days before Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was set to visit President Obama.  Questions are being asked about how this wasn't uncovered sooner, considering that Shcherbakov's daughter lived in the U.S. and his son fled there just before the story broke.

A senior Kremlin official told the newspaper that they know where Shcherbakov is and that an agent has been dispatched to take care of him.  "The fate of such a person is unenviable," the official said.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in July that he knew who traitors were and that they always end up in the gutter, taking to drink or drugs.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

US Fails to Convince South Korea to Open Markets to US

Photo Courtesy - Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- President Obama and his trade negotiators failed to convince their South Korean counterparts to expand market access for American automobiles and beef Thursday, sinking hopes that President Obama would leave Seoul with the free trade agreement his administration has pursued so vigorously.

President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak acknowledged the bottleneck at a joint press conference.  Both leaders tried to spin the impasse.

President Lee said that he and President Obama have agreed to give South Korean trade minister Kim Jong-hoon and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk “more time so that they can finalize the technical issues.  And President Obama and I will continue to work together so that we can have a mutually acceptable agreement at the earliest possible date.”

After meeting with President Lee in June, President Obama seemed to hope the agreement would be close to done by now, which, sources said, it is not.  “I want to make sure that everything is lined up properly by the time that I visit Korea in November,” President Obama said then.  “And then in the few months that follow that, I intend to present it to Congress.”

The failure to reach an agreement was not unexpected -- negotiators didn’t even focus on beef exports, because the disagreements on that point are seemingly irreconcilable at this time.  Still, the news is a disappointment for President Obama and his team, who say an agreement would increase the export of American goods to South Korea by approximately $10 billion, with billions more in services, in turn supporting more than 70,000 jobs in the U.S.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov112010

Study Finds Men Can Park Better Than Women

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOCHUM, Germany) -- Who can park a car better: men or women?  According to a new study, on average, men can parallel park much quicker than women and with better precision.

The team of scientists at Ruhr University in Germany observed 65 drivers on their specially-designed test course.  They found that female drivers took up to a minute-and-a-half to park a car into a parallel parking space, while male drivers were able to pull into the same space 42 seconds faster with three percent better precision.

The researchers say biological factors, such as hand-eye coordination, play a part in giving the males an edge, but so do societal gender factors.  They say where men view difficult parking as a challenge, women tend to see it as a task they'd prefer to avoid.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov102010

Secretary Clinton: No Role for Turkey, Brazil in Nuke Talks with Iran

Sec. Clinton & EU High Rep. Catherine Ashton: Photo Courtesy - U.S. State Department(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary Clinton on Wednesday ruled out any other country’s involvement in talks between Iran and the P5+1 -- comprised of the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Russia and China -- even as Iran proposes to hold the next round of negotiations in Turkey, a country that, along with Brazil, tried to strike a nuke deal with Tehran earlier this year.
 
“It is a P-5 plus one meeting with the Iranians,” Clinton told reporters. “At this moment, the offer of discussions with the Iranians is in that forum, and that is the appropriate venue for any discussion on any issue to occur.”
 
The proposal to hold talks in Turkey can be seen as a shrewd diplomatic dismissal by Tehran, as Ankara and Brasilia have been more sympathetic towards Tehran’s efforts. The P5+1 rejected their proposed deal with Iran next year, which was similar to a P5+1 offer at their last meeting in October 2009, because Iran had continued to produce more uranium in the interim.
 
The group is expected to offer an updated deal that would provide fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor in exchange for Iran shipping uranium abroad for enrichment. The deal is similar to last year’s offer but raises the amount of uranium Iran would have to send over and would demand they halt enriching uranium up to 20 percent.
 
Clinton said she spoke on Tuesday with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, who deals with Iran on the group’s behalf, and that the P5+1 spoke at lower levels Wednesday. Clinton said a decision would be reached soon on where and when to hold the meeting. Iran has proposed it take place in late November or early December.
 
“The location has been discussed, and I believe that High Representative Ashton will be responding to the Iranians about where that should be and on what date,” Clinton said Wednesday, adding that Ashton will determine the specifics.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov102010

Carnival Splendor Passengers Begin Calling Out from Ailing Ship

The Carnival Splendor adrift at sea. Photo Courtesy - U.S. Navy(SAN DIEGO) -- Passengers aboard the ailing Carnival Splendor began getting a strong enough cellular signal to make phone calls out to worried friends and families Wednesday, telling those on land that they pass their time playing cards and waiting for Coast Guard food drops.

Passenger Gordon Gilbreath told ABC's San Diego affiliate KGTV that after initial fear and uncertainty, they were in better spirits knowing the Coast Guard was nearby.

"A lot of people that are in the inside cabins, it's been pitch black for several days and most of those folks have been up on the decks and a lot of them have been sleeping on the decks with their blankets and so on," Gilbreath said.

"You know it gets cold, like during the night it's been pretty cold so the rooms get cold, so we've got a lot of extra blankets," he said. "It's been quite an ordeal, I have to tell you."

Monday morning, when an engine room fire knocked out power to the hulking cruise ship, passengers were scared, knowing they were all alone in the middle of the ocean, he said.

"The first day or two like when we were in a complete blackout and there was no power at all, you know, we were just kind of floating out in the ocean with absolutely nothing," Gilbreath said. "Now people are doing a lot better."

With the slow trip back to port in San Diego now underway, passengers are left to contend with the monotony of passing time on the mostly powerless ship. After several days adrift and only some of the ships toilets now properly functioning, there were reports that the ship smells badly. And there are complaints that the bars are closed.

Carnival announced Wednesday that in addition to the intermittent cell signals, the ship's phones are also working on a limited basis and guests were allowed to make complimentary calls home.

The ship, currently being towed by a tugboat named "Chihuahua," is expected to reach San Diego on Thursday, and hundreds of families will breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Carnival has offered the Splendor passengers a full refund, plus transportation costs and a free subsequent cruise.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio