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Thursday
Jan202011

'Paul' The Octopus Is Memorialized

File Image. Image Courtesy - Getty Images(OBERHAUSEN, Germany) -- A fitting tribute to 'Paul' The Octopus has now been established in Germany.
 
At Oberhausen's Sea Life Aquarium, they've unveiled a six-foot-high replica of Paul clutching a soccer ball in his eight arms and inside the ball is a gold-leafed urn, holding his ashes.

The world's most famous prognosticator from the animal kingdom became a household name last summer with his long string of winning picks during the World Cup.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan202011

Vatican Reacts to Latest Berlusconi Sex Allegations

Photo Courtesy - Governo.it(VATICAN CITY) – The latest charges against Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have troubled the Vatican, reports the BBC.
 
An investigation was opened Friday into accusations that Berlusconi hired an under-age prostitute. It is only the latest in a string of sexual allegations made against Berlusconi.

The Vatican reacted by challenging the moral fiber of those in positions of power.

"The Church urges and invites everyone, especially those who hold a position of public responsibility [...] to commit themselves to a more robust morality, a sense of justice and legality," said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

The investigation revolves around an 18-year-old Moroccan belly-dancer who was believed to have attended Berlusconi’s infamous parties where, prosecutors say, he paid her to have sex with him when she was 17.

Berlusconi has called the investigation flawed and politically motivated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan202011

Controversial Florida Pastor Banned from Entering Britain

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones has been officially banned from entering Britain.

The British government maintains it opposes extremism in all its forms and barring Terry Jones, it says, is for the public good.

When asked if he considers himself to be an extremist, the preacher told the BBC, "definitely not."

Jones, who advocated burning a Koran last fall, had been invited to the U.K. to address a right-wing group about what he sees as the 'Islamification of Britain.'

A government spokesman said coming to Britain is a privilege, not a right.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan202011

Extinct Woolly Mammoth May Be Resurrected by Scientists

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HIGASHIOSAKA, Japan) -- It has been 10,000 years since prehistoric elephants roamed the earth.  Now, a band of Japanese scientists hopes to recreate a living, breathing woolly mammoth.

The scientists plan to extract cell nuclei from a frozen mammoth they dug up in Siberia and implant them in egg cells of the mammoth's closest living relative, the elephant.  They are hoping that the elephant will give birth to a real-live woolly mammoth.

Plans to resurrect the mammoth have been in place since 1997.  During three separate studies, a research team from Kinki University in Japan obtained mammoth skin and muscle tissue excavated in good condition from the permafrost in Siberia.

But they soon discovered that most nuclei in the cells were damaged by ice crystals and were unusable, so the project was abandoned, according to the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbum.

Japanese researchers said in 2008 that they successfully cloned a mouse from a body that had been frozen for 16 years, which they claimed theoretically opened the door to preserving endangered animals and resurrecting extinct animals such as the woolly mammoth.

Minoru Miyashita, a professor at Kinki University, was asked last spring to join the project.  He has petitioned zoos to donate elephant egg cells when their female elephants die so more research can be done.

If all goes according to plan, an elephant will be giving birth to a woolly mammoth in the next five to six years, Yomiuri Shimbum reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Arabs Earn Less, Work More than Israeli Jews

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ISRAEL) – Despite working longer hours, Israeli Arabs earn less than their Jewish counterparts for the same work, according to data released by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry and the Central Bureau of Statistics.

In 2007, Arab employees earned an average monthly gross wage of NIS (Israeli new shekel) 5,410 compared to the NIS 7,885 earned by Jewish employees, despite Arab men working 3.8 hours longer each week.

Arab households also earned less monthly, NIS 8,818 compared to the NIS 14,242 earned by Jewish households.

Although employment figures were about the same for men, only 22 percent of Israeli Arab women were employed in 2007, compared to 66.6 percent of Jewish women.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Air Strikes Over Afghanistan Hit All-Time Low

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(AFGHANISTAN) – Air Force figures released Wednesday show that the number of air strikes over Afghanistan fell to a record low of 91 in December. The number is a 90-percent reduction from the all-time high of 1,043, set in October.

Numbers had been on the rise from May to October due to a sharp increase in ground fighting.

Although a drop in December is typical due to winter weather, such a sharp drop was not expected. The number of air strikes in November, 880, was still very high.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Former Swiss Banker Found Guilty In WikiLeaks Leak

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ZURICH, Switzerland) – A former Swiss banker has escaped a prison sentence for charges he breached Switzerland’s bank secrecy laws by leaking confidential banking files to WikiLeaks.

Rudolf Elmer was found guilty and fined, but the judge in Zurich declined the eight-month prison sentence sought by prosecutors.

Elmer had said he leaked files from the bank he used to work for, Julius Baer, in order to expose tax evasion by rich businessmen and politicians.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said the files will be posted on the whistleblowing website once they are verified.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Transcripts Shed Light on Crash that Killed Poland’s President

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MOSCOW) – Newly released air traffic control transcripts from the April 2010 flight that killed Poland’s president have raised new questions over communications errors that may have led to the crash, reports the BBC.

Although Russia has blamed the crash on pilot error, Polish experts say that the Russian ATC is to blame for poor weather information that doomed the plane.

Transcripts depict mixed communications followed by desperation from air traffic control as the flight unknowingly heads for disaster.

Just over an hour before the crash, an ATC officer in Smolensk urgently asks Russia’s central control to warn the Polish plane that low visibility has closed the airport in Severny and that the flight has not requested permission to land.

The Russians reroute the flight to Vnukovo airport, but are unable to make contact.

When the Polish pilot does make contact, however, it is clear the pilot does not understand the Russian ATC officer’s warnings of fog and low visibility. A short time later, as the jet strikes the tree tops and crashes, the transcripts depict a frantic control room as Russian ATC officers shout obscenities amid attempts to contact the plane.

Along with claiming the life of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, the crash also tore deeper into Polish-Russian relations. 

As Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told parliament Wednesday, the countries relations are “maybe even more difficult than before,” and Poland should “not to seek fresh arguments to escalate conflict.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Special United Nations Rapporteur Visits Indian Kashmir

Photo Courtesy - ABC News Radio(SRINAGAR, India) -- In a special visit to Indian Kashmir, Margaret Sekaggya, a special human rights advisor to the United Nations, made her first steps on Wednesday toward bringing answers on the troubled land to the U.N.

Sekaggya is a lawyer and academic from Uganda who has specifically been assigned to be a special rapporteur to review the working conditions of human rights defenders in the region.

Her visit comes on the heels of several violent incidents last year in which 112 people were shot dead by security forces during protests. Last week, New Delhi announced its intentions to reduce security forces by 25 percent in Kashmir to hopefully make life easier. Kashmir is one of the world's most militarized zones because of border disputes.

On Wednesday, Sekaggya met with several victims of human rights violations as well as local journalists. This was not an unfamiliar situation for her -- she was the chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission from 1996-2008.

She is expected to conclude her visit on Thursday by meeting with local officials.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Obama and Hu Agree Progress Needed on Human Rights in China

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- As Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Obama held what they described as "candid" discussions on human rights Wednesday, skeletons from the Chinese leader's closet literally danced in the street outside the White House.

Dozens of colorful Tibetan protesters lined Pennsylvania Avenue along the north lawn, chanting "Shame on Hu Jintao," "Stop the killings in Tibet" and "President Obama, speak for Tibet." Some held signs with a familiar litany of grievances against the Chinese, including censorship, imprisonment of political critics, and oppression of minority groups.

Nearby in Lafayette Park, two 10-foot-tall skeleton figures painted in traditional Tibetan colors parried alongside a slithering green human dragon. They represented "the Tibetans who have died because of his [Hu Jintao's] ultra-violent rule in Tibet and are coming back to haunt him," said Stephanie Rogers, a grassroots organizer for Students for a Free Tibet. "They're not going away until he frees political prisoners."

The group says Chinese authorities have imprisoned more than 800 Tibetan political activists and 60 Tibetan writers, artists and intellectuals deemed to be undermining government policies. Author and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, also remains in a Chinese prison.

Inside the White House at a joint press conference, Obama acknowledged that human rights issues have been a source of tension between the U.S. and China, but said it shouldn't prevent cooperation.

Obama suggested China had improved its record on human rights over the past 30 years and said he expects further change in the decades ahead.

President Hu Jintao acknowledged "a lot" still needs to be done to improve human rights in his country, which is rapidly growing as an economic power. "We will continue our efforts to improve the lives of our people and promote democracy and rule of law," Hu said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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