The Americans Are Coming! 'Kate Middleton Country' in Demand 

Photo Courtesy - Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The Americans are coming, the Americans are coming!

And please forgive the small English village of Bucklebury for its apprehension as Kate Middleton's hometown adjusts to the loss of anonymity, courtesy of the princess-to-be.

Starting Sunday, a U.K. company will be sending bus tours to Bucklebury, or "Kate Middleton Country," 55 miles west of London.

Tour operator Adrian Morton said he hopes visitors will flock to see the home of a likely future queen of England. What is more, he added, Americans will make up the bulk of his groups.

"I've been contacted by an American tour operator about possible tours," he told the Associated Press. "You can see the places where she went to school and where she was christened. And locals are interested, too."

The bus tours will begin on a small scale but will grow as the April 29 wedding nears. "There seems to be more interest in the States than in our own country," he said.

Prince William's future bride grew up in Bucklebury, in West Berkshire, where her family still live.

"It's just wonderful what's happened," Martin Fidler, who owns Bucklebury's Bladebone Butchery, told ABC News.

The village is quiet and quaint with a scattering of houses, a village green, one pub, a butcher shop and an interior design shop. The civil parish has a population of 2,066.

"People haven't come out here to visit," Fidler said. "Life just carries on as normal."

But when news broke that a local girl was to marry the second in line to the throne, things weren't so calm in Bucklebury.

"For two days we couldn't move; it was just jam-packed all the way up the avenue," Fidler said, adding that he lost business because his customers couldn't make their way through camera crews to get to his shop. "Where they [Middleton's parents] live, it was just swamped, absolutely swamped."

Tour buses are likely to mean good business for local pubs and shops but at noticeable inconvenience for the village.

"I'm probably going to make sure I'm not around on the wedding day," Stephanie Kennedy, 20, who grew up in Bucklebury and works at the Bladebone Inn, said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Biden to Pakistan: Fight Extremism or Be 'Consumed' By It

Photo Courtesy - The White House/Pete Souza(ISLAMABAD) -- Vice President Joe Biden made an unannounced trip to Pakistan Wednesday to try and push government and military leaders to crack down on militants and shore up a shaky economy.

Biden delivered that message in private and in public, one week after a prominent politician was assassinated and crowds across the country celebrated his killer.

“Societies that tolerate such actions wind up being consumed by those actions,” Biden said to the media in prepared remarks.

Biden was in the country for only about six hours and did not meet any Pakistanis who do not work in the government or military.  He traveled by motorcade under extraordinary security from the airport to the U.S. embassy, then onto the presidential palace, the prime minister’s residence, and the military’s headquarters before departing for an unannounced destination.‬

He had arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan, where he spent a day-and-a-half in three different provinces, meeting with President Hamid Karzai, U.S. troops, and U.S. diplomats in a trip that was far more extensive than the one he made to Pakistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Final Death Toll for Haiti Quake More than 300 Thousand

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) – Haiti’s prime minister has told ABC News that the final death toll in last year’s earthquake in the country is higher than originally estimated.

According to Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, the final death toll is 316,000, up from approximately 230,000.

The figure represents three percent of Haiti’s population and is equivalent to the entire city of New Orleans being wiped out in less than 60 seconds. Per capita, about twice as many Haitians died in the quake as did Americans during WWII.

Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of the disaster.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


William and Kate: The Guest List, Protocol and Dress

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Details of the April royal wedding have trickled out as Kate and William's big day draws nearer. But until the guest list is confirmed, speculation will abound about who has made the cut. One member of the royal family who has been coy about her chances of receiving a wedding invitation is William's aunt, Sarah Ferguson. In an interview with Canadian TV channel CBC News, the Duchess of York refused to confirm whether she will be attending.

Ferguson is the ex-wife of Prince Andrew and mother of the princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Fergie, as she is known, is no stranger to controversy. She caused great embarrassment to the royal family in May after being caught on camera taking an $800,000 bribe in exchange for attempting to broker a meeting with Andrew, who's the younger brother of William's father, Prince Charles.

Ferguson's marriage into the royal family in July 1986 also took place in Westminster Abbey, the same venue chosen by William and Kate Middleton: "It's wonderful to just see great love," Ferguson told CBC. "I remember those days of Andrew and I, you know, and getting married at Westminster Abbey."

For the 600 guests who are invited to attend the ceremony, there will be strict protocol to follow.

"The bride's relatives will be on the left and the groom's on the right as you walk in," Judy Wade, royal correspondent for Hello magazine, said. "The more senior you are, the later you arrive. The Queen will arrive just before Kate."

Middleton is expected to travel by car rather than the traditional carriage, but speculation is still rife about what the bride will wear.

On recent occasions, she has chosen a mixture of items from the high end, as well as from mid-range designers such as Issa London, who made the blue dress she wore when the couple announced their engagement. The dress sold out in a day and has inspired several replicas. But stores, brands and designers be warned because a decree has gone out from the palace -- sell or market anything under the Kate Middleton name and you'll be facing a royal lawsuit.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Secretary Hillary Clinton Makes Unannounced Stop in Yemen

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SANA'A, Yemen) -- In an unannounced visit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Sana’a, Yemen on Tuesday where she met with President Ali Adbullah Saleh for roughly two hours. It was the first visit by a U.S. secretary of state to Yemen in more than a generation.

After their meeting, Secretary Clinton said the U.S. is “committed to a broad relationship between our two countries. We face a common threat posed by the terrorists and al Qaeda, but our partnership goes beyond counterterrorism.”

President Saleh has expressed concern in the past that the U.S. is “more interested in fighting al Qaeda than in helping the Yemeni people.”

The U.S. has sought for Saleh to pursue al Qaeda more aggressively. Last month, President Obama’s counterterrorism advisor John Brennan called Saleh to urge him to take more forceful action against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to thwart attacks in Yemen and the U.S.

AQAP has been responsible for at least two attempted attacks against the U.S. in the last year: the attempted Christmas Day 2009 bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight by Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab and an attempt to send air cargo packages containing explosives to the U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


WikiLeaks Founder Appears in Court Over Extradition

Photo Courtesy - Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, made a short appearance at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in London Tuesday for a procedural hearing related to his extradition to Sweden.

During the case management hearing, bail conditions were relaxed to allow Assange to stay in London for two days so he can attend his next scheduled court dates on Feb. 7 and 8, when a final decision on his extradition will be made.

Assange is fighting extradition from the United Kingdom to Sweden, where two women have accused him of sexual assault.  He was freed on bail in England after being arrested on Dec. 7 in London.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japanese 'Superhero' Inspires Wave of Gift-Giving

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TOKYO) -- A mysterious donor claiming to be a popular Japanese cartoon hero has set off a national wave of gift-giving to underprivileged children in Japan.

Dozens of orphanages and child welfare centers across the country have reported receiving school bags in the past few weeks, even cash from somebody claiming to be Naoto Date, the main character of 1960s comic Tiger Mask.

Date is an orphan who becomes a professional wrestler known as Tiger Mask.  He donates money to his orphanage after he becomes successful.

The real-life spate of gift-giving began Christmas Day when 10 boxes full of school bags were left behind at a child counseling center in the Gunma Prefecture, an hour outside Tokyo.  Employees found the boxes at the entrance, with a note signed by "Naoto Date."  The leather bags traditionally worn by elementary school students in Japan sell for more than $300 each.

More than 90 similar acts of generosity have been reported since then.  A large retail chain in the northern Iwate Prefecture said it received about $1,200 in an envelope with a letter reading, "There are Tiger Masks all over Japan.  Please use this for our most promising children."

The anonymous superheroes have even gone to the police to drop off the expensive school bags.  Twenty-one different facilities reported receiving boxes Tuesday alone.

The gifts haven't been limited to school supplies.  A welfare facility in the Yamagata prefecture reported receiving five bags of rice, 44 bushels of greens onions and 11 Chinese cabbages.  The shipment came with roughly $120 in cash and a letter signed "Naoto Date of the countryside."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Israeli Vulture Spy Declared Innocent by Saudi Arabia

Picture Of A Vulture Unrelated To The One Caught in Saudi Arabia. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) -- A vulture that was caught in Saudi Arabia last week and accused of spying for Israel's Mossad is to be released, a Saudi official said.

Prince Bandar bin Saud Al Saud scoffed at the claims, as did much of the world when news came last week that the vulture tagged with a GPS tracker by Tel Aviv University had been caught in the kingdom and accused by the media and locals of partaking in a "Zionist plot."

"These systems are fitted to birds and animals, including marine animals. Most countries use these systems, including Saudi Arabia," Saud told Saudi media on Sunday, according to Emirates 24/7. "We have taken delivery of this bird, but we will set it free again after we [have] verified its systems."

Saud insisted he wasn't defending Israel, but called for calm.

"Some of the Saudi journalists rushed in carrying the news of this bird for the sake of getting a scoop without checking the information," he said. "They should have asked the competent authorities about the bird before publishing such news."

The bird, identified as a Griffon vulture tagged R65, was called a bald eagle by Saud.

After the bird had been captured, Israeli officials were quick to insist that it was part of a program studying migratory patterns.

"The device does nothing more than receive and store basic data about the bird's whereabouts, and about his altitude and speed," an official at Israel's Park and Nature Authority told the Maariv newspaper.

Israel is the subject of feverish conspiracy theories across the Arab world. In December, an Egyptian governor floated the possibility of the Mossad of being behind a string of shark attacks at an Egyptian resort.

The Jerusalem Post reported Monday that the director of the Society for the Protection of Nature, Dan Alon, is "filled with joy to hear of the bird's release."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Australia Floods Leave 72 Missing and Eight Dead

Sattellite Photo Courtesy - NASA(dot)gov(QUEENSLAND, Australia) -- Officials in the Australian state of Queensland say at least 72 people are missing and eight dead in flash floods that hit overnight. State Premier Anna Bligh called the flash floods Queensland's "darkest hour" since the flood crisis began.

A massive deluge overwhelmed Toowoomba, a city west of the state capital Brisbane, without warning. Since then, sandbags have been given to residents of Brisbane, where floods are expected to peak sometime on Wednesday.

Rescue efforts are underway as helicopters are being used to reach those trapped in car and roofs of buildings. However officials say emergency crews are struggling to cope with calls for assistance and that they expect the death toll to rise over the coming days.

Copyright 2011 ABC Radio News


Sudan Independence Vote Draws Large Turnout, More Violence

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JUBA, SUDAN) – As residents of Southern Sudan eagerly go to the polls to cast their votes for independence, violence continues to complicate what most hoped would be a peaceful process.

Residents all across the country are currently able to vote in a referendum for southern independence, which would separate the Islamic northern region of the country from the oil-rich and largely Christian south. This vote follows a nearly 20-year civil war that has claimed over two million lives. Voting has been frequent in the south, but ballots have been cast few and far between in the north, where residents are not as enthusiastic about a possible split.

Fighting continued Monday in the oil-rich province of Abyei, near the north-south border, where South Sudanese officials say 20 policemen were killed and 30 others injured by Arab militiamen. Military officials say the policemen were killed with anti-tank weaponry, indicating they are backed by the military in the north. However, Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, denies any state involvement.

In the south, pro-separation and anti-Khartoum signs are everywhere. “Bye Bye Bashir” read one banner, a sign of the long-standing animosity between the two regions which references current Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

The voting is scheduled to last through Saturday, but the results are not expected to be announced until early next month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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