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Tuesday
Apr262011

New Leaks Detected at Japan's Nuclear Power Plant

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- In yet another setback to gaining control of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency announced Tuesday that radioactive water was detected leaking from the containment vessel of reactor number one.

NISA said American robots will be sent into the reactor to assess the situation.

The leak wasn’t detected by robots when they initially went into reactor number one on April 17 to check for radiation levels there, but NISA said they detected the problem while examining data from the nitrogen injections, which were done to prevent hydrogen explosions.

The new leakage is expected to slow down efforts to flood the reactor’s containment vessel with water to cool it down.  Once the water is cool, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company hopes to achieve a "cold shutdown" at the nuclear plant -- within the next nine months.

On another note, TEPCO announced Monday it would be cutting pay to stay afloat financially.  The company plans to cut executive salaries by half, managers' salaries by 25 percent and salaries for lower-level employees by 20 percent.  TEPCO also announced it would freeze hiring next year.

The pay cuts come as the company begins paying initial compensation to victims affected by radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr262011

Chernobyl Nuclear Accident: 25 Years Later

SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As Japan continues work to prevent a meltdown at its badly damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the world on Tuesday marks a grim anniversary of the nuclear age.

On April 26, 1986, a series of explosions inside reactor number four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine resulted in the worst nuclear accident in history.  Following the blasts, large quantities of highly radioactive smoke were released into the atmosphere that spread over Western Russia and Europe.  It’s estimated that as much as 60 percent of the fallout landed in Belarus.

During the five years after the accident, over 350,000 people were evacuated from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine and resettled.

Meanwhile, more than 500,000 workers were ultimately required to contain the nuclear contamination.  The high cost of the operation was a major factor in crippling the economy of the Soviet Union.

It’s believed that 31 people were killed as a direct result of the catastrophe at Chernobyl, including reactor staff and emergency workers, most of them dying within three months.  Estimates of those who died over time due to radioactive contamination vary wildly.  The World Health Organization puts the number at 4,000 while the Russian publication, Chernobyl, says the accident caused 985,000 deaths from 1986 to 2004.

The accident at Chernobyl was rated a seven, the highest level on the International Nuclear Event Scale, which was recently matched by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.  However, that accident is not considered as serious as what occurred at Chernobyl.

An investigation into what caused the explosion at Chernobyl's unit four pinned the blame on a flawed reactor design that was operated with inadequately trained personnel.

By October of 1986, Russian workers had encased unit four in concrete, which allowed the other reactors at the Chernobyl plant to continue operating until December 2000, when the last reactor there was shut down.  Over time, some of those who were forced from their homes in contaminated regions have returned, including to parts of Belarus.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr262011

Royal Wedding: Rain in the Forecast

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Despite predictions last week that the sun would shine on Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding day, updated forecasts now show the weather taking a turn for the worse.

The Met Office, the United Kingdom's national weather service, predicts strong winds with a likely chance of heavy showers Friday.

While superstition states that wedding-day rain is good luck, William and Middleton will surely be disappointed if their big day gets rained out. More than 2 billion people are expected to watch the royal wedding, and 600,000 tourists are flocking to London this week to catch a glimpse of the spectacle. A sea of umbrellas covering the wedding guests, royal family, bridal party, and William and Kate will surely block the best views.

ABC News royal contributor Katie Nicholl said it wouldn't be a royal wedding if there weren't several contingency plans. If it rains, the entire royal procession will travel to Buckingham Palace in covered coaches, a St. James's Palace spokesman confirmed. Prince William and his bride will take the Glass Coach, the same carriage in which Princess in to her wedding at St. Paul's Cathedral.

As for the royal couple's first kiss on the balcony of Buckingham, the Daily Mail reports a royal aide's insisting that the kiss will take place "'virtually no matter what...with no plans to alter the timing."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr262011

State Department Issues Travel Warning Urging Americans to Leave Syria

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In a travel warning issued Monday night, the U.S. State Department urged U.S. citizens currently in Syria to leave while commercial flights are still available.  The State Department is also pulling out non-essential U.S. Embassy staff and has ordered the departure of families of embassy personnel. 

The embassy in Damascus will remain open for limited services.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Tuesday
Apr262011

Gadhafi Unharmed in Latest Assault on Compound

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Col. Moammar Gadhafi is alive and well, according to a government spokesman, following a NATO airstrike on his compound in Tripoli early Monday.

Photographs showed extensive damage to Gadhafi's main offices similar to damage from a bomb hitting the facility, which of course was the case.

Despite the bombardment, the spokesman said Gadhafi "is well.  He is healthy.  He is in high spirits."

Gadhafi's whereabouts during the NATO attack weren't known.  It's believed he never sleeps in the same place two nights in a row for fear of being assassinated.

His military and residential compound was struck in 1986 on orders by then-President Ronald Reagan.  Upon surviving that attack, Gadhafi had a giant fist crushing a U.S. jet built to show his hatred for America.  It isn't clear whether that sculpture survived the latest air strike.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr252011

Royal Palace Guard Suspended after Nasty Kate Middleton Facebook Post

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- After calling Kate Middleton a series of epithets on Facebook, a Buckingham Palace guard has lost his chance to work the wedding of the century.

Scots Guardsman Cameron Reilly, 18, who usually stands guard outside the royal palace, called Prince William's bride-to-be a "posh b****" and other nasty names on the social networking site, according to British reports.

Reilly reportedly wrote, "hur and william drove past me on friday n all a got was a sh*tty wave while she looked the opposite way from me, stupid stuck up cow am a not good enough for them! posh b**** am totally with u on this 1 who reely gives a f*** about hur".

Reilly also posted anti-Semitic and racist comments on his Facebook page, the Press Association reported. The Ministry of Defense is reportedly investigating the claims and has removed Reilly from his wedding-day duties.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Apr252011

Radical UK Cleric: Royal Wedding Attractive Target for Al Qaeda

Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) -- As the royal wedding nears and the eyes of the world turn to London this week, a radical Muslim cleric in Britain tells ABC News the celebrations are a "prime target" for al Qaeda franchises and wannabe jihadists alike.

Top al Qaeda operatives Ayman al-Zawahiri and Anwar al-Awlaki are "actively encouraging people to carry out [do-it-yourself] operations]" similar to the attempted attack by alleged 'Underwear Bomber' Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on a Christmas Day flight from Amsterdam to Detroit in 2009, says Anjem Choudary in an interview on the current episode of ABC’s Brian Ross Investigates.

"There's nothing really which is outside of the realm of a possible attack, from biological to nuclear to very high profile events like 9/11," said Choudary, whose extremist Islam4UK organization was recently banned by the British government under counter-terrorism laws. "So I think it's a case of all-out war."

He said there is a "very real possibility" that attackers "will come into [Britain] via the sea or via ports where they can slip under the security."

While the Royal Wedding "is certainly a target for those people who want to cause havoc in Britain," Choudary said as a Muslim residing in Britain he lives "under a covenant of security" and as such is "not allowed to carry out such an operation." However, he said "there is a difference of opinion" and while he stopped short of supporting a violent attack by those living outside Britain, he did say, "I do believe that a Muslim, whenever he is being attacked, or whenever his land is being occupied, or whenever his honor is being violated, he has a divine duty to defend himself."

Choudary does support a planned protest by the activist group "Muslims Against Crusades" outside Westminster Abbey, where the wedding is being held, during the wedding on April 29.

Scotland Yard rejected the group's application to demonstrate, but the group says it is going ahead with its protest, with a spokesman telling ABC News, "We plan to make the Royal Wedding a day that the world will never forget and although we are non-violent, we are confident that our presence will be enough to make a nightmare out of the situation, God willing."

Scotland Yard would not comment on whether it considers Muslims Against Crusades a direct threat to the royal couple and spectators' safety, but security officials previously told ABC News they are more concerned the group's vague threats could spur violence by other, "self-radicalized" Muslims.

For weeks Muslims Against Crusades has posted on its website a continuous countdown clock to the wedding under the title "Muslims to Disrupt Royal Wedding."

"Attacks on the mainland, particularly here in London, I think remain the holy grail for these organizations," said Martyn Frampton, professor and author of Legion of the Rearguard: Dissident Irish Republicanism. "An attack on London is worth 10, 20 times more to them in terms of bringing attention to their cause and to the fact, as they see it, that the conflict is not over."

Brian Ross Investigates airs every Friday on Hulu.com and ABC News Now, the network's 24-hour news channel available throughout the U.S. and Europe. Each show is also available on mobile devices.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr252011

Syria: Witnesses Report Bodies in Streets, Escalated Violence

AFP/Getty Images (file)(DERAA, Syria) -- Hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of troops cracked down on protesters Monday in the Syrian city of Deraa, killing somewhere between 11 and 25 people, according to reports.

The regime deployed tanks for the first time during the crackdown as security forces moved into Deraa and towns on the outskirts of Damascus. Arrests were reportedly made in both cities. Witnesses in Deraa reported seeing bodies in the streets. Phone lines and electrical supplies to Deraa were reportedly cut early in the day.

This latest action comes on the same day that Syria closed off its land border with Jordan.

The Syrian bloodshed has drawn a stronger new warning from the White House. A spokesman confirms that President Obama has several possible targeted sanctions and he calls the killing of protesters "completely deplorable."

Anti-government demonstrators have been calling for the removal of President Bashar al-Assad from office. Hundreds have reportedly died in the violence since protests began last month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr252011

Taliban Members Escape from Afghanistan Prison

ABC News(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) -- An estimated 476 Taliban members reportedly managed to crawl their way to freedom from the main jail in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Monday morning.

The prison's warden said the prisoners used a long tunnel to make their way outside and that authorities discovered it only after the breakout from the political wing of the building.

The warden admitted he and others didn't know if the tunnel was dug from outside or inside the Sariposa prison, which is considered the largest facility in southern Afghanistan.

In a statement, the Taliban said that 541 prisoners had actually escaped and that more than 100 were commanders.

This is not the first time Taliban members have escaped from the facility. In 2008, the Taliban freed 1,200 people from the prison, about 350 of whom belonged to the group.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr252011

WikiLeaks Releases Documents on Gitmo Detainees, Al Qaeda 

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- WikiLeaks’ latest document dump has again infuriated the Obama administration and will likely raise the ire of former President Bush and his one-time senior advisers.

The website has passed along materials to The New York Times, Washington Post and National Public Radio that concerns formerly classified information about current and past detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as new details about how al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri escaped from coalition forces in Afghanistan in late 2001 and have managed to keep the terrorist operation going.

Among the 700 internal U.S. military documents about the Gitmo detainees are details about schemes designed by admitted 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, along with intelligence gathered by interrogators from their interviews with other detainees.

The New York Times says the documents reveal that most of the remaining detainees of the 600 that have been released over the past eight years are considered “high risk” to American interests if they were freed. There’s also a speculation that 200 of the detainees previously released, most under the watch of the Bush White House, were deemed "high risk."

Among one of the more explosive pieces of information made public is the alleged treatment of Mohammed Qanhati, who was believed to have been prepared to take part in the hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001 that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.

Qahanti, a Saudi held at Gitmo, was reportedly leashed like a dog, made to urinate on himself and sexually humiliated. According to his file, “Although publicly released records allege detainee was subject to harsh interrogation techniques in the early stages of detention,” his confessions “appear to be true and are corroborated in reporting from other sources.”

“It is unfortunate that several news organizations have made the decision to publish numerous documents obtained illegally by Wikileaks [sic] concerning the Guantanamo detention facility," Defense Department spokesmen Dan Fried and Geoff Morrell said in a joint statement. "These documents contain classified information about current and former GTMO detainees, and we strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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