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Tuesday
May312011

US Human Rights Officer Threatened in Bahrain

JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department confirms that an American human rights diplomat in Bahrain, Ludovic Hood, was the subject of threats in recent weeks, but denied reports that he had been recalled as a result.
 
“He did just complete his tour in Manama and returned to Washington. He's taken up a position here within the State Department. So he wasn't recalled and his posting -- as you know, our assignment cycle has already been set for like the last six months or so,” says State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
 
“That said, we are aware, as press reports have cited, that there were threats, accusations made against him on some websites. And obviously we take the safety of our diplomatic personnel very seriously, but in this case, he was simply transferred back to Washington,” Toner added. “He was not brought back here because of these -- of these accusations or allegations…he was not brought back early.”

Hood reportedly had been the subject of ethnic slurs and threats in official media reports saying his return was due to concerns over his safety. According to human rights groups, Bahrain’s security forces were accused of a brutal crackdown on protestors during this year’s uprising.
 
By chance, Bahrain’s foreign minister met with Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg.
 
“I can't specifically say whether that's going to be raised” during the meeting, Toner said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May312011

Ratko Mladic's Extradition Appeal Rejected

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- Ratko Mladic's appeal to be transferred to a United Nations court, where he faces genocide and war crimes charges, was rejected by Serbian judges on Tuesday.

Serbia's deputy war crimes prosecutor, Bruno Vekaric, told ABC News that Mladic's extradition is expected to come shortly.

Upon arriving at The Hague, Mladic will be taken to a holding cell located on a different floor from where other war crimes suspects awaiting trial are being held, Nerma Jelacic, a spokeswoman for the war crimes tribunal, told ABC News.  He will be given his indictment in Serbian and a list of possible defense lawyers.

The former Bosnian Serb military commander will then undergo a standard medical checkup, at which time the court will issue an official health bulletin and "provide Mladic with adequate care if needed," Jelacic said.

Within 24 to 48 hours of his arrival, Mladic will appear before the court to enter his plea before the three-member panel of judges.

The president of the tribunal, Mehmed Guney, said "the trial could last between a year-and-a-half and two years."

Mladic was indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague for war crimes that include the 1992 campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Bosnia, the establishment of concentration camps in northwest Bosnia, the three-year siege of Sarajevo; the taking of U.N. hostages in 1995 during NATO airstrikes, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May312011

Afghan President: Airstrikes on People's Homes Won't Be Tolerated

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- In response to a NATO airstrike that killed several women and children in Afghanistan over the weekend, Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued strong words Tuesday, saying his country will no longer tolerate coalition airstrikes that target insurgents but result in civilian casualties.

"The Afghan people can no longer tolerate these attacks on their homes," Karzai said, adding that "If it is repeated, Afghanistan has a lot of ways of stopping it.  But we don't want to go there."

Karzai said NATO must treat Afghanistan as a sovereign nation.

"We must clearly demonstrate our understanding that Afghanistan is an ally, not an occupied country," he said.

The president's statement comes after NATO issued an apology following Saturday's incident in Helmand province, where at least nine civilians were killed after coalition forces bombed a compound occupied by insurgents.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May312011

Sweden Death Linked to German E. Coli Outbreak

Jupiterimages/Photos[dot]com(BERLIN) -- The E. Coli outbreak that’s had people in northern Germany on edge looks to be spreading.

The outbreak, linked to tainted vegetables, has reportedly claimed the life of a woman in southwestern Sweden after she was admitted to a local hospital this weekend following a trip to Germany.

German officials have urged people in some northern areas of the country not to eat cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh leafy salads. At least 15 people have died and several hundred others have fallen ill after consuming tainted produce that Germany believes was imported from Spain.

Russia has banned imports from Spain and Germany pending further notice.

The exact source of the outbreak remains unknown.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May312011

John McCain Pushes Democracy In Thailand, Burma

ABC News(BANGKOK) -- Sen. John McCain's trip to Thailand continued Tuesday, ahead of a scheduled visit to neighboring Myanmar, also known as Burma, where he will meet with government officials and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, whom he called an inspiration.

The Arizona senator said he hopes Myanmar's military dictatorship will improve its human rights record. Last year the country held its first election in decades, and the government released Suu Kyi from house arrest.

"We should greet what's happened so far in Myanmar with a healthy dose of skepticism," McCain said.

McCain also noted that China is exerting its influence in Myanmar, but that China, too, needs to reform. He said the government there should loosen its grip on the Internet.

"In China you can't Twitter," he said. "I had a meeting with a high-ranking Chinese official in Washington a couple of weeks ago and I said if you really want to convince us that you're progressing then let your people Twitter. Let 'em tweet."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May312011

Afghanistan: Explosion Rocks Police Station Near Capital

ABC News(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- At least one civilian is reported dead and another five injured following an explosion from an attack that apparently targeted a police station in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Tuesday.

Story developing...

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May312011

Royal Couple's Trip to US, Canada Will Mark Reinvention for Catherine

David Cheskin - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- From Westminster Abbey to a delayed honeymoon in Seychelles, to the grocery store, Duchess Catherine Middleton has been on the move since marrying Prince William at London's Westminster Abbey April 29.

Now, as the new royal and her groom prepare for their royal coming out -- a full-fledged tour to Canada and the United States later this month -- royal gazers are closely watching how the young couple will put their own stamp on centuries of royal tradition.

"This is our chance to really see the royal couple for first time since the wedding," ABC News royal correspondent Katie Nicholl said Tuesday on Good Morning America.

William and Catherine -- now formally the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge -- will embark June 30 on a nine-day, eight-city tour that will take them from Ottawa and Montreal through the Northwest Territories of Canada before making their way down to Los Angeles for a grand finale.

The overseas trip will mark their first as a married couple, and an opportunity for the newlyweds to showcase the new breed of monarchs that some are calling the "modern royals": going to college, having careers, and marrying for love.

"They'll be visiting the rodeo.  He'll fly a helicopter," Duncan Larcombe, ABC News contributor and royal correspondent for Great Britain's Sun newspaper, said of the couple's planned itinerary. "I think they'll have a few more surprises for us."

Even as they attempt to live the royal life on their own terms, William and Catherine will not escape the scrutiny to which the royal family is subjected.  And on this trip, that scrutiny will most heavily be focused on the new bride, and part two of her royal reinvention.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Memorial Day: Maj. Gen. John Campbell on Final Battlefield Tour of Afghanistan

U.S. Department of Defense(KUNAR, Afghanistan) -- This is Maj. Gen. John Campbell's last circle of the Afghan battlefields.

For one year, Campbell has commanded the deadly and dangerous 450 miles of Afghanistan that borders Pakistan, which means he has responsibility for 30,000 soldiers working at more than 150 combat outposts, many of them routinely attacked.

On one particular day, ABC News arrived at a small outpost in the Pech Valley, landing in a vast, dizzying pattern to confuse the enemy. The Americans and Afghans who live nearby had been under fire -- enduring eight or 10 mortar rounds -- just before ABC News arrived.

The soldiers, including West Point graduate Brian Kalaher, seemed almost numb to the attacks. Kalaher is in his third deployment.

"We brought in three children at our aid station here," Kalaher told ABC News. "One child, who was probably about 12 years old...died."

Even the death of Osama bin Laden was a day of mixed emotions.

"We had a soldier killed then too," Kalaher said, "so we were on blackout. So for us, it was a little different."

At every outpost ABC News visited, it seemed as if someone had died or been wounded. They've pulled through, with Campbell helping them along. Throughout the year, ABC News asked Campbell the same question during each visit: How many soldiers has he lost? In July, after only five weeks on the ground, Campbell lost 28 soldiers. He carried cards for each. In September, the number jumped to 76. In December, the number of deaths had nearly doubled to 141. Now as Campbell leaves Afghanistan, the stack of 217 cards has grown so large that he has to lug them around in his rucksack.

"It touches me deeply," Campbell said. "I've made decisions that have put people in harm's way. That's why I have to carry those things that tell me about those soldiers, about their family. I will carry that with me the rest of my life."

Campbell said he cried every time he lost a soldier. "I'm tearing up now talking about it," he said. "Thinking about that family who had a soldier who was killed, and his wife was pregnant. And that son, daughter will never see their father. Those kinds of things get to me."

To counter that pain and those numbers, Campbell thinks about the 4,000 Taliban fighters he said his soldiers have killed or captured in the past year. He adds to that the doubling of the number of weapons caches being found, and the significant improvement in the Afghan security forces.

Campbell said he wants the U.S. to continue fighting in Afghanistan after he leaves the battleground -- despite public sentiment -- because he doesn't want the effort already made here to be in vain.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Adm. Mullen: Reports of Tense Talks with Pakistanis 'Overstated'

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After returning from what he called a "frank" meeting with political and military leadership in Pakistan, Adm. Mike Mullen told ABC News Monday that the reports of tense conversations between officials were "overstated."

"It is a very difficult time and yet a very important relationship.  And both Secretary Clinton and I really went there together to reaffirm the commitment on the part of the United States to continue to work with Pakistan and there were a host of issues discussed," Mullen said.

So did Mullen hear what he needed to from the Pakistanis?

"We were very frank with them and they were very frank with us.  On the army side right now there is a very significant introspective look and review that is ongoing.  And I think they are going to have to get through that.  And that makes sense to me," he said. "I did hear from the military leadership their continued commitment to look ahead and work with us and we think that’s important."

Mullen will retire in October after 42 years in the military. But he wouldn't share his thoughts about his expected successor as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey.

"The president's the one who makes all the selection for the senior appointments.  And just like you, I await that announcement.  I know there has been a lot of speculation about it but I certainly don't want to get out in front of the president."

And on this final Memorial Day before his retirement, Mullen reflected on his more than four-decade career in the military.

"This is a level of both leadership and commitment and opportunity, and it's been a great privilege...The opportunity and privilege to serve during these two wars and to lead 2.2 million young men and women who make up the best military of the 42 years that I have been serving," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Pakistan: Former Navy Commando Arrested In Karachi Attack

RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Kamran Malik, a former Navy commando who was dismissed from service after being court-martialed for disobedience a decade ago, has been arrested in Lahore, Pakistan, for his alleged involvement in the attack on a Karachi naval base last week that killed ten soldiers and left a P3C Orion aircraft destroyed.

"Malik may have provided inside information and the layout of the facility," a source said, adding, "we are still establishing the chain."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio