Entries in ABC News (12)


Mexico’s New President: Safety a Primary Focus

Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images(MEXICO CITY) -- As he prepares to take over a country ripe with violence and plagued by drug wars, Mexico’s president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto is promising to focus first and foremost on making the streets of his nation safer.

Pena Nieto claimed victory after a recount on Wednesday. Over half of all ballot boxes were reopened and recounted amid accusations of vote buying. Following the official recount, Pena Nieto was again declared the next Mexican president.

Two days after his victory in Sunday’s election, Pena Nieto told ABC News’ Cecilia Vega in an interview that Mexico’s war on violence can be won, but policy changes must be made.

“We have to emphasize the reduction of violence that our country lives in right now. The policy of fighting insecurity has to have social support and to achieve that goal it’s necessary today to give Mexicans conditions of greater calm and security,” Pena Nieto said in an interview conducted in Spanish and translated into English.

More than 50,000 people have been killed as a result of Mexico’s drug wars since outgoing president Felipe Calderon took power in 2006, a staggering string of violence that has raised concerns in the United States as well. Only days before last weekend’s election, a car bomb in Nuevo Laredo, only miles from the border, injured seven people.

“Look, to obtain security that Mexican society demands goes hand in hand with obtaining results in other fields to precisely have a safe border,” Pena Nieto said. “I would tell them to those who live in the United States in worry and fear that this is the biggest challenge: to recover peace and tranquility for Mexicans and for those who visit us from the United States, to obtain this means to adjust the public safety strategy, secondly, obtain an environment of economic growth to generate jobs and opportunities of self-development. This will allow, or rather avoid, that many people, especially young people, get co-opted by organized crime.”

Pena Nieto also expressed that while US-Mexican relations will certainly be affected by who wins November’s elections in the U.S., he is impartial about the outcome. “I’m completely respectful of the decision that Americans will have over their president,” Pena Nieto said. “I will be respectful towards whoever results elected president of the United States. My interest will be to work a close relationship of increased collaboration, of respect to our sovereignty and above all to set shared goals and above all to be efficient in achieving these goals.”

In terms of Mexican immigration to the United States, Pena Nieto is eager to make remaining in Mexico an attractive option for his people. “For me, one of my major priorities will be to drive structural reforms that will allow Mexico to grow and generate jobs and opportunities for Mexicans,” he said. “In this way, migrating will be an option or a decision and not a necessity for many Mexicans.”

However, in the case of immigrants already in the U.S., Pena Nieto is in favor of amnesty: “If they’ve decided to remain in that country they should have the opportunity of fair treatment and their work be recognized.”

In his campaign for the presidency, Pena Nieto, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), pledged to focus less on apprehending narco-traffickers and more on reducing violence on the streets. However, Pena Nieto emphasized to Vega that certain policies that worked under Calderon will still be continued even after he leaves office.

“Those who suppose we have to reverse or cancel the policy of President Calderon are wrong. I’ve publicly recognized the progress and achievements he’s had in certain areas within the insecurity fight,” Pena Nieto said. “We’d have to strengthen the policy of capacity of civil force of Mexican State to combat organized crime, territorial presence. But also, we have to now in the adjustment of the strategy, increased emphasis in reducing violence. This is what worries Mexicans the most – the fear planted in many Mexicans due to this climate of insecurity. So we’ll have to say, what has worked in this government, will continue. We’ll strengthen actions started by the current government, but we have to adjust the necessary to combat impunity, re-establish the rule of law and regain the tranquility that Mexicans are asking for.”

Pena Nieto will take office Dec. 1 after last weekend’s election saw him win 38 percent of the vote. It signals a return to power for the PRI, a party that ruled for over seven decades before finally being ousted in 2000. Now Pena Nieto, 45, who is married to a soap opera star, will get to work on his ambitious plans to restore safety to a nation rocked by years of bloodshed.

“The policy of fighting insecurity has to have social support and to achieve that goal -- it’s necessary today to give Mexicans conditions of greater calm and security,” he said. “That’s why, the policy of public safety, in order to have social support, has to translate into results and peace of mind that Mexicans expect of the next government.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'A Cry for Help': Hunger and Drought Crisis in West Africa

Two-year-old Ouobra Kompalemba, who suffers from severe malnutrition and bronchitis, receives milk through a catheter at a hospital in Diapaga, eastern Burkina Faso. RAPHAEL DE BENGY/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- According to the United Nations, the Sahel region of West Africa, which stretches across eight countries including Chad, Mauritania and Gambia, is being affected by a hunger crisis.

The U.N. estimates that 15 million people in the region are suffering from food shortages caused by drought and conflict, and UNICEF says that nearly 1.5 million children are near starvation.

The following organizations are working to stop the famine by supporting livestock, growing crops and giving people cash so they can afford the food on sale in their markets.

Below is more information on those organizations and how you can help:

Save the Children: Save the Children plans to reach 185,000 of the most vulnerable families -- 1.3 million people -- to help prevent them from falling into hunger.

The group's Lane Hartill said, however, that the organization also wanted to help these families to build up their resistance in the long term so they are better prepared for the next drought.

Save the Children also supports families through cash-transfer programs so they have money to buy what they consider appropriate. Cattle and goats -- essentially "savings accounts" in villages -- have been hard hit by the drought, Hartill said, and with animals dying, there is no fodder.

According to the organization, $39 could help support 10 mothers whose children are in a stabilization clinic and $2.35 could pay for sachets of oral rehydration salts to help treat 100 children suffering from diarrhea.

To donate to Save the Children, click here.

Oxfam: Oxfam is starting to distribute unconditional cash to the most vulnerable so they can access food on the markets -- 30 percent to 40 percent higher than in the last five-year average -- and cope until the next harvest.

The organization says that animal feed is "super important" to protect the livelihoods of pastoralists. If they lose their animals on the onset of the rainy season -- which occurred in 2010 when 24 percent of the livestock was lost -- they will be locked in the cycle of hunger.

"One way to put this: Save an animal, save an entire community and help lift them out of poverty," said Gaelle Bausson, an Oxfam spokesperson.

Oxfam said that seeds are also among "the most acute and immediate" need.

Bausson told ABC News that $40 will vaccinate 15 goats so vulnerable families can have food and an income; $80 will give three people the money to buy food and other essentials for the next three months; and $140 will provide clean, safe drinking water for three families by building or repairing water sources.

To donate to Oxfam, click here.

UNICEF: UNICEF is focused on the nutritional needs of children. According to the organization, children who are acutely malnourished cannot consume regular food and require ready-to-use therapeutic food for their bodies to recover.

UNICEF said the donations made for the Sahel crisis would support life-saving relief efforts for children, including: therapeutic food and milk, medicine, immunizations and supplies to provide access to clean water.

Susannah Masur, a UNICEF spokeswoman, said that $100 could save a child from severe acute malnutrition; $50 could buy 1,200 high-energy biscuits to give suffering children protein, vitamins and sugar; and less than $1 could immunize two children against the measles.

To donate to UNICEF, click here.

World Food Programme: According to the World Food Programme, the main help it needs is money. WFP is funded entirely by voluntary donations from governments, companies and private individuals.

The organization is geared to provide for 9.6 million people across the eight countries of West Africa hit by the Sahel drought. The WFP expects the total cost of providing and delivering that food to be $789 million.

Despite donations from countries like the U.S., the WFP needs $361 million to feed everyone who needs help.

Jane Howard, spokeswoman for WFP, said that the organization spent most of its money on buying food to stop people from going hungry or dying from malnutrition. Howard said a No. 1 product needed in this fight against hunger was a "sachet of Plumpy'sup." It costs about 30 cents for a day's ration.

She said that two months of treatment could transform the life of a malnourished child.

WFP also has started to provide more cash or vouchers so that people can have flexibility when buying their own food.

To donate to World Food Programme, click here.

You can also text AID to 27722 to donate $10.

Charges will appear on your wireless bill or be deducted from your prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by account holder. Must be 18 years of age or have parental permission to participate. Message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to 27722 to STOP. Text HELP to 27722 for HELP.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontieres: In addition to preventing and treating malnutrition throughout West Africa and the Sahel region, Doctors Without Borders is responding to multiple emergencies related to and exacerbating the hunger crisis, including assisting refugees from Mali and vaccinating against meningitis in Chad.

The organization said that $35 could purchase either enough vaccine to innoculate 85 children against measles during a deadly outbreak or a scale used to weigh children too young or weak to stand.

To donate to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontieres, click here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gadhafi Defiant: Vows to Repel 'Crusader Aggression'

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- In his first comments since the U.S. and allied forces began an assault on Libyan military targets this weekend, Col. Moammar Gadhafi said that he’s prepared for a long and arduous war.

“You're not capable of a prolonged war in Libya,” Gadhafi said. “We consider ourselves ready for a long war.”

A defiant Gadhafi pledged to press forward with attacks on the rebel-held city of Benghazi and vowed to repel a "colonial crusader aggression" by international forces.

"We ask others to stand by us," he said. "We must now open the weapons depot and arms to all Libyans."

“We even train the women to fight. They are trained to carry weapons and use arms,” Gadhafi said in a phone call to State TV.

“For sure,” he said, “we're going to end up victorious. We will win.”

Also on Sunday, ABC’s Christiane Amanpour spoke exclusively with Gadhafi’s son, Saif Gadhafi, who maintained that retreat is not part of his father’s plan.

Amanpour will have more on her global exclusive with Saif Gadhafi today on ABC's This Week and throughout the day on your ABC News Radio station.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Aerial View: Christiane Amanpour Flies Over Japan Destruction


(TOKYO) -- We flew from Tokyo an hour up what looked like an unscathed country to the city of Sendai, through mountainous terrain where we saw little traffic but also no evidence of this massive earthquake.

When we first flew over Sendai, we saw a surprisingly composed city, with traffic heavy, we're told because of long lines for gas in town.

But just five minutes east of the city by chopper, the extent of the devastation becomes painfully clear. Huge swaths of land all along the coast remain under water. There are also huge plumes of smoke billowing from various points, including a huge fire at a refinery, with oil visibly spilling into the water.

Along the coast, acres of trees flattened in neat rows, showing where the wall of water roared over them. Just beyond that, you see all that's left of what were once houses -- now just the foundations left standing in watery inlets. Boats are smashed and piled on top of each other; cars floating with just their roofs showing above water. A few houses do still stand, but they are among debris that packs roads and waterways.

We flew over the airport, where we saw at least six military transport helicopters, presumably part of the rescue effort. The main runway is cut in two by debris, and part of it is covered by sand and silt left behind by the wave of water.

The Sendai fire station looks badly damaged, with vehicles crushed and lots of debris. Some roads look drivable, with others heavily damaged.

We saw red vehicles, presumably from the fire department, along one stretch of road, and out at sea, many more ships lining the coast, we assume there to help the rescue effort.

As severe as the damage was, we could see the dividing line where the water ended, leaving the rest of Sendai remarkably intact.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan: Reporters Travel to Earthquake Ravaged Sendai

Photo by NASA via Getty Images(SENDAI, Japan) -- The city of Sendai, Japan, was hit hardest by Friday’s devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami; it sits on the northeast coast, just 80 miles from the epicenter of the quake.

Among the journalists on their way to Sendai is ABC News correspondent Clarissa Ward, who was making her way east toward the earthquake-ravaged city.


It has been an epic journey, even trying to get here. We have been traveling for more than 26 hours and were diverted through three different cities. We have now reached a point just less than 100 miles to the city of Sendai.

What is most striking is that when you look around here, the roads look fine, the buildings look fine, there’s electricity – but just another 50 miles down the road, that is all expected to change when we get to a town called Yamagata, which is being described as sort of the last frontier of the area where people are coming in and regrouping before going on to those affected areas. We have seen a lot of cars coming and going, but it’s impossible to say whether they are fleeing the area.

The people we’ve talked to are certainly very, very frightened. Our driver, for example, told us he that he had never felt anything like Friday’s earthquake. He said the ground was moving for five minutes and now he’s confronted with these sort of apocalyptic images on his television set.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: ABC's Amanpour Interviews Gadhafi's Son

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi, in an exclusive interview with ABC's This Week host Christiane Amanpour, insists Libya is calm, the military has not attacked any civilians and reports of Libyan diplomats abandoning their posts is simply 'miscommunication.'

There is a "big big gap between reality and the media reports" Gadhafi said. "The whole south is calm. The west is calm. The middle is calm. Even part of the east."

What will happen to him and his father – will they stay or go?

"Listen: nobody is leaving this country. We live here, we die here," he insisted. "This is our country. The Libyans are our people. And for myself, I believe I am doing the right thing."

Until civil unrest in Libya exploded over the last weeks, Gadhafi, the second oldest of Col. Moammar Gadhafi's children, had been seen as the western face of the regime. Educated at the London School of Economics, he promoted Libya's potential, telling The New York Times in February 2010 that Libya "can be the Dubai of North Africa."

But, a year later, his emphasis was a bit different. He sat down with Amanpour in central Tripoli to answer tough questions about the future of Libya.

"The President of the U.S. has called on your father to step down. How do you feel about that?" Amanpour asked.

"It's not an American business, that's number one," said Gadhafi, who was dressed casually as he spoke with Amanpour. “Second, do they think this is a solution? Of course not."

"He says if a person can only keep control by using force, then legitimacy is gone," Amanpour pressed.

"Right, but what happened? We didn't use force. Second, we still have people around us," he said.

Amanpour noted the extensive reports of attacks on civilians.

"Show me a single attack, show me a single bomb," he said. "The Libyan air force destroyed just the ammunition sites," Gadhafi said. "That's it."

"What do you make of your diplomats in Washington and New York who are resigning because they can't abide this policy?" Amanpour asked Gadhafi.

"I talked to him. You know, we are the victims of miscommunication," he said. "And they were under the influence of a strong media campaign, well-organized. So, you know, they are human beings at the end."

"But they've defected," Amanpour said.

"Not defected, none of them defect. They were so moved because they--"

Amanpour interrupted. "But they are calling on your father to step down," she said.

"C'mon, they are employees working for the government," Gadhafi said. "It's not their business."

Gadhafi emphasized that the most important issue for him was to correct what he saw as the falsehood that forces backed by his father had attacked civilians.

"The most important issue for us is show me a single evidence that the Libyan army or the Libyan government bombed civilians," he said, slicing the air with his index finger. "I challenge the whole international community to give me a single evidence."

Asked about the potential of international sanctions and the freezing of some of his family's assets, Ghadafi said, "First of all, we don't have money outside. We are a very modest family and everybody knows that. And we are laughing when they say you have money in Europe or Switzerland or something. C'mon, it's a joke."

And what about all those western-orient reforms he tried to implement?

"I worked very hard to implement many ideas, but things went wrong," he said.

"So now we are [in] a difficult situation," Gadhafi added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hillary Clinton Calls for End to Violence in Bahrain

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an end to violence in Bahrain and for the government there to move towards democratic reform. But in an ABC News interview aired Sunday, she declined to hold Bahrain to the same standard that the Obama administration held Egypt to during the 18 days of protests there.

She warned, speaking generally about the Middle East, that there were dangers in the transition to democracy and that the process could be hijacked. Iran loomed large in Clinton's view of democratic transition. She twice used Iran's 1979 revolution as an example of how a people's movement could result in a non-democratic government.

"We've been very clear from the beginning that we do not want to see any violence. We deplore it. We think it is absolutely unacceptable. We very much want to see the human rights of the people protected including right to assemble, right to express themselves and we want to see reform. And so Bahrain had started on some reform and we want to see them get back to that as quickly as possible."

Pressed on what the consequences might be from the United States if Bahrain continued to violently crack down on protesters, Clinton said the administration’s been clear in its expectations.

"We want to see transparency, accountability," Clinton said. "We deplore violence and we expect that the government will take the steps necessary to try to restore confidence, to reach out and continue the path of reform that they were on."

Bahrain, a Shia-majority country ruled by a Sunni monarch, is an island nation in the Persian Gulf. An essential ally for the United States -- in large measure because of its key geographic position near Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran -- Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. One-fifth of the world's oil supply passes through the Persian Gulf.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Egyptian Ambassador: US Can Count on Egypt as an Ally

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Egyptian ambassador to the United States says the Egyptian military, led by the Minister of Defense Field Marshall Mohamad Tantawi, is in charge of his country and that the post-Mubarak Egypt will continue to be a strong U.S. ally.

"Can the U.S. count on the same kind of support it had before?" Christiane Amanpour, host of ABC’s This Week, asked Ambassador Sameh Shoukry.

"Certainly," Shoukry said. "These issues are driven by mutual interest, by Egyptian interest and the interest remains a close association to the United States."

Shoukry said that Egypt's emergency law would be lifted, as the military had communicated, "as soon as the current conditions of protest have been terminated."

The emergency law allows agents of the government to arrest anyone without charge.

The government, Shoukry said, would focus on restoring security, and restructuring the police force and economic welfare.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Egypt: With Mubarak Out, New Sense Of Purpose In Tahrir Square

Photo Courtesy - Aaron Katersky/ABC NewsREPORTER’S NOTEBOOK

(CAIRO) -- After 18 days of protests that succeeded in ousting president Hosni Mubarak, a sense of civic pride has overcome the people of Egypt.

They're still celebrating here in Tahrir Square, but where they were carrying flags and placards, now they're carrying brooms, dustpans and garbage bags. The people here have a new sense of purpose – they are cleaning up the Square, actually picking up garbage.

“I've decided that I'm going to work, and plan and dream and get inspired,” one woman told me. “Starting cleaning the streets until building another pyramid.”

Such is the hope that was unleashed here with the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and, for the moment, it trumps any apprehension Egyptians may have about how their country will be governed going forward.

People say they want to build a new Egypt and thousands have come, many with their families.

“This is a historic moment in our time and I want them to feel this,” another woman told me, referring to her children whom she brought with her to help clean the Square. “I need this to be in their memory when they grow up.”

Though her children will grow up with almost no recollection of the country’s former president, she told me that she just wants them “to remember that we did something in this country.”

Over the last three weeks or so this square has seen bullets and bottles, violence and death, and celebration.

“Something within me says it has to be cleaned,” a third woman in the Square told me. “Now I feel it's an obligation.”

“This is my country,” she said. I have to clean it with my own hands. This is my own responsibility now, and everyone else’s.”

She told me it feels like she’s coming home after a 30-year absence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Egypt: Hosni Mubarak Steps Down as President

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Egypt's embattled President Hosni Mubarak abruptly stepped down as president, ending his 30-year-reign, and Egyptian armed forces will take over the leadership of the country, vice president Omar Suleiman announced Friday.

Crowds gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square erupted into loud cheers, chanting "Egypt is free," as the historic announcement was made.

"My fellow citizens. In this difficult time that the country is going through, the president Mohamed Hosni Mubarak has decided to relieve himself of his position as president and the Supreme military council has taken control of the state's affairs. May God protect us," Suleiman said during his somber one-minute announcement on TV.

Mubarak left the presidential palace in Cairo earlier Friday as protesters kept the pressure on the government to force Mubarak out of office.

Sources tell ABC News that the 82-year-old president has gone to an estate he owns in Sharm el-Sheikh, a resort town on the Red Sea about 250 miles from the protests in Cairo. Mubarak told ABC News last week he may eventually retire to the resort town, but vowed never to leave Egypt.

A senior Egyptian official told ABC News Mubarak's departure from the palace was intended to be symbolic, as well a visual withdrawal from the political process after having handed over most of his authority to Vice President Omar Suleiman. But the move does not preclude him from returning or inhibit his ability to oversee constitutional amendments, the official said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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