World Famous 'Knut' the Polar Bear Dies In Berlin

Anita Bugge/WireImage(BERLIN) -- The world famous polar bear Knut died Saturday, the Berlin Zoo announced.

The four-year-old polar bear was found dead in his pen. The cause of his death is unknown, and the zoo intends to administer a necropsy.

Knut was a major tourist draw for the zoo, garnering some three million visitors in 2007.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Cruise Missiles Hit Targets Inside Libya

The USS Barry launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn. This was one of approximately 110 cruise missiles fired from U.S. and British ships and submarines that targeted radar and anti-aircraft sites along Libya’s Mediterranean coast. U.S. Navy photo by Interior Communications Electrician Fireman Roderick Eubanks/Released(WASHINGTON) -- More than 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles struck over 20 targets inside Libya on Saturday in the opening phase of an international military operation the Pentagon said was aimed at stopping attacks led by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and enforcing a U.N.-backed no-fly zone.

President Obama, speaking from Brazil shortly after he authorized the missile attacks, said they were part of a "limited military action" to protect the Libyan people.

"I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it's not a choice I make lightly," Obama said. "But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy."

The first air strikes, in what is being called Operation Odyssey Dawn, were launched from a mix of U.S. surface ships and one British submarine in the Mediterranean Sea at 2 p.m. ET, Vice Adm. William E. Gortney told reporters at a Pentagon briefing.

They targeted Libyan air defense missile sites, early warning radar and key communications facilities around Tripoli, Misratah, and Surt, but no areas east of that or near Benghazi.

Gortney said no U.S. troops were on the ground in Libya but that U.S. aircraft would be involved in the campaign.

In response to the attack, Gadhafi issued an audio statement broadcast on Libyan state TV, calling the attacks a "crusade" against the Libyan people and calling for Arab countries and African allies to come to his government's aid.

On Friday Gadhafi warned the international coalition not to interfere in Libyan affairs, calling the U.N. resolution "invalid" and appealing directly to world leaders, including President Obama, in a letter.

Just hours before the missile strike Saturday, French warplanes destroyed several Libyan military vehicles, including tanks, in eastern Libya, as pro-Gadhafi forces battled towards the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, French Defense officials said.

At one point a fighter jet resembling a Libyan MiG 27 was shot down over the city, according to news reports from inside Libya.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


French Fighter Jet Fires on Libya, Air Assault Begins

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- A French warplane has fired its first shot on Libya, part of an enforcement operation against the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, defense officials confirmed to ABC News. The French Defense Ministry said the aircraft struck a Libyan military vehicle.

President Obama interrupted his visit to Brazil on Saturday to be briefed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by phone.

“Our consensus was strong and our resolve is clear: the people of Libya must be protected,” the president said, standing next to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. “And in the absence of an immediate end to the violence against civilians, our coalition is prepared to act and act with urgency.”

Less than an hour later, Clinton – speaking in Paris – accused Gadhafi’s government of saying one thing and doing another. While Gadhafi’s government said it had declared a ceasefire, Clinton said “aggressive actions” have been taken by Gadhafi forces.

“We heard the words,” Clinton added. “They are not true.”

Clinton said French jets were flying over Libya. It’s unclear if U.S. forces have been involved so far. What is clear is that the United States wants to take the lowest profile possible for a “no-fly zone.”

“We did not lead this,” Clinton said, adding that there was no unilateral action by the United States but “strong support for the international community.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ready to Strike: World Leaders Prep Military Action Against Libya

U.S. Department of State(PARIS) -- Arab and European leaders Saturday began taking military action to stop Moammar Gadhafi’s attacks on the Libyan people.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy made the announcement following an emergency summit in Paris.

“Participants agrees to use all the necessary means, in particular military means, to enforce the Security Council decisions,” Sarkozy said through a translator.

The decision comes in response to attacks by Gadhafi’s forces on the town of Benghazi.

 “As of now our aircraft are preventing planes from attacking the town,” Sarkozy said.

“These Arab peoples need our help and support and it is our duty to provide it.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Libya: Fighter Plane Shot Down Over Benghazi

PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images(BENGHAZI, Libya) -- A fighter plane was shot down over the eastern Libyan city and rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Saturday.

Reports say rebels in the city -- who claim they are under attack -- shot down the plane, a Gadhafi war aircraft. Witnesses say pro-Gadhafi tanks have made their way inside the city.

President Obama is monitoring the situation from Brazil, where he is watching to see if Libya's unpredictable leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi heeds his warning to cease fire against the Libyan people or risk military action from the U.S. and its allies.

According to ABC News sources, President Obama on Friday told members of Congress that he expects the U.S. would be involved in heavy kinetic activity for "days, not weeks," before taking more of a supporting role.

As the U.S., France, Britain and Arab countries meet in Paris to discuss possible military action in Libya, Libyan government spokesman Musa Ibrahim read at a news conference Saturday letters that he said were written by Gadhafi and addressed to world leaders.

"The resolutions of the Security Council are invalid," Ibrahim said on Gadhafi's behalf.

Gadhafi said that the U.N. and Western powers would "regret" any intervention into what the Libyan leader called "our internal affairs.

"I have all the Libyan people with me and I'm prepared to die and they are prepared to die for me. Men, women and even children."

In the letter addressed to Obama, Gadhafi referred to the president as a "son."

"Even if Libya and the United States of America enter into a war, God forbid, you will always remain my son and I have all the love for you as a son."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Gives Gadhafi Ultimatum: Stop Violence or Face Action

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama gave an ultimatum to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Friday that he must immediately implement a ceasefire in all parts of Libya and allow international humanitarian assistance or risk military action against his regime. 

"Moammar Gadhafi has a choice. The [U.N.] resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Arab states agree that a ceasefire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop," the president said. "These terms are not negotiable.”

Obama indicated that coalition forces are giving Gadhafi some time to change course, but are preparing for an attack if their demands are not met.

Obama, pressured domestically by many who say the United States cannot afford another international engagement, reiterated several times that any action would be led by European and Arab forces, and that the United States is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya.

On Saturday, France is hosting a high level meeting of representatives from the Arab League and European Union to discuss the implementation of the no-fly zone or targeted strikes inside Libya. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also attend.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet with the emir of Qatar. Qatar and the UAE, and possibly Jordan, are expected to lend their jets to any military action. A European diplomat said that barring major developments on the ground prior to the meeting, there likely won't be any military action before then.

Gadhafi's regime, faced with U.N.-backed airstrikes, declared a ceasefire Friday as Libyan forces menaced the rebel capital of Benghazi.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Deadly Day In Yemen: Clashes Prompt State of Emergency

GAMAL NOMAN/AFP/Getty Images (file)(SANA'A, Yemen) -- Embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared a state of emergency Friday, the same day that a series of clashes and crackdowns left dozens dead. Protesters in Taghyeer Square came under fire from snipers and pro-government forces as fighting spread through the capital of Sana'a.

President Obama on Friday condemned the violence in Yemen and called on Saleh, “to adhere to his public pledge to allow demonstrations to take place peacefully.”

“Those responsible for today’s violence must be held accountable," the president said in a statement. "The United States stands for a set of universal rights, including the freedom of expression and assembly, as well as political change that meets the aspirations of the Yemeni people. It is more important than ever for all sides to participate in an open and transparent process that addresses the legitimate concerns of the Yemeni people, and provides a peaceful, orderly and democratic path to a stronger and more prosperous nation.”

Protests calling for the president's ouster have rocked Yemen for two months.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


For President Obama, Libyan Tipping Point Came Tuesday

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- On Tuesday, President Obama became clear that diplomatic efforts to stop the brutality of Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi weren’t working.

Presented with intelligence about the push of the Gadhafi regime to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, the president told his national security team "what we're doing isn't stopping him.”

Some in his administration, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been pushing for stronger action, but it wasn’t until Tuesday, administration sources tell ABC News, that the president became convinced sanctions and the threat of a no-fly zone wouldn’t be enough.

Already skeptical that a no-fly zone would not have enough of an impact given all the ground attacks, the president met with his national security team from 4:10 p.m. ET to 5:10 p.m. ET and asked for more military and diplomatic options, sources tell ABC News.

On Tuesday night the president met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and other military officials over dinner.

Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET, the president went to the Situation Room where he met with principals such as National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Susan Rice patched in through secure video teleconference. There they hashed out plans for the behind-closed-doors meeting of the UN Security Council the next day.

Rice was instructed to broaden the UN Security Council resolution offered by Lebanon to permit more military might, allowing for the international coalition to stop not just Libyan planes but other Libyan assets such as tanks.

All the while the administration worked furiously to put an international face on the opposition to Gadhafi, emphasizing the Arab League’s vote over the weekend in support of a no-fly zone. President Obama is mindful that the American public is war-weary and that there is significant international sensitivity to the notion of the U.S. taking military action against yet another Muslim country.

What role the U.S. will play versus that of European and Arab countries is still being worked out, but there’s little doubt that whatever happens will be with significant U.S. support made as inconspicuous as possible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


F-22s Stealth Fighter May Be First Enforcer of Libyan No-Fly Zone

Erik Simonsen/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With the United Nations authorization for an internationally monitored no-fly zone over Libya, it seems clear that the United States will play a role enforcing it.

It is not yet clear exactly that U.S. military's role would be. The White House has made clear it wants help in particular from other countries in the Middle East. All planning could be altered by reports of a truce between Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi and rebel forces in Benghazi.

But Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norman Schwartz provided a House panel with some insights on what the United States could do, beginning with the deployment of F-22 stealth fighters, which can avoid Libyan air defenses. While some have said that the implementation of a no-fly zone could begin within hours, Schwartz said it would take "upwards of a week" to implement a no-fly zone.

As for what the U.S. could offer to help: "It would entail numerous assets. Certainly fighter aircraft, F-16, F-15, both air to ground and anti- radiation capabilities." He said the F-22 stealth fighter "would be useful, and I would have the expectation that at least in the early days it certainly would be used." F-22's are based only in the U.S.

Fighter jets need support, however. In addition, surveillance aircraft and tankers to fuel all the other planes would be needed. Schwartz called the mobilization of a "total force sort of application."

"You've going to have RC-135s, you're going to have surveillance kinds of capabilities that would be used to surveil both the integrated air defense system and others areas as tasked. You'll have tankers to support the short-legged platforms. You would have Compass Call and other capabilities that, again, can jam communications and affect the effectiveness of the integrated air defense and so on. And you would have undoubtedly some bomber aircraft that would give you long dwell over specific target areas.

Compass Call is the name given to a specialized C-130 that provides electronic jamming of radars, communications, etc. RC-135's are specialized intelligence gathering aircraft that specializes in communications intercepts.

"So the bottom line, if we do this, this is a complete kind of a total force sort of application of our air and space capabilities," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan Raises Nuclear Crisis Level to Five

DigitalGlobe via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency elevated the level of severity of the nuclear crisis in the country from a four to a five Friday as workers continued to battle the crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The latest rating is based on a seven-level scale and is equivalent to the level of the Three Mile Island accident that happened in the United States 32 years ago.

Meanwhile, at the nuclear power plant, efforts were under way Friday to reconnect electricity to cooling systems and to spray more water from the ground.  Seven water-spraying trucks targeted the plant's unit 3 reactor, entering one at a time to fire their water cannons.

Additional volunteers also joined Japanese military and emergency crews working to prevent a nuclear meltdown.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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