CDC Reports on Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(ATLANTA) – A report by the CDC Thursday gives better insight into how the cholera outbreak in Haiti began, and what the future of the outbreak may bring.

Data from the report indicates that only 63 percent of the country had access to “improved” drinking water -- even prior to the earthquake in January -- while just 12 percent had piped, treated water. The earthquake only exacerbated the situation, as around 2.3 million Haitians were displaced and the risk of waterborne illness increased.
Sanitation levels were also very low, with only 17 percent having adequate sanitation as of 2008.

Despite a quick emergency repose by the Haitian government, the CDC expects cholera cases to continue to spread and increase substantially even as systems to track the cases improve.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


WikiLeaks Founder Wanted in Sweden Rape, Sex Assault Cases

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(SWEDEN) – A Swedish prosecutor has called for the detention of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as investigators have been unable to bring Assange in for questioning on rape and sexual assault cases for which he is a suspect, according to local news reports.

"I request the court to detain Assange in his absence, on suspicion of rape, sexual assault and coercion or oppression. Background is that he must be interrogated in the investigation and that he could not be found for the implementation of these hearings," said chief prosecutor Marianne New in a statement that has been translated into English.

Assagne is accused of rape stemming from an incident in August in Enköping as well as three cases of sexual molestation in Stockholm and Enköping and a case of duress in Stockholm. The complainants were two young women.

Assange’s council has released a statement on his behalf.

“Both women have declared that they had consensual sexual relations with our client and that they continued to instigate friendly contact well after the alleged incidents,” said Mark Stephens, head council for Assange. “Only after the women became aware of each other’s relationships with Mr. Assange did they make their allegations against him.”

In the statement, Stephen’s alleges that Assange’s name had been unlawfully released to the press by Swedish authorities and that the accusations have been carried away due to his notoriety.

Assange is an Australian journalist best known for founding the political activism website WikiLeaks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Germany Fears Terrorists May Already Be in the Country 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HAMBURG, Germany) -- A senior German official said Thursday's bomb scare involving a Germany-bound flight out of Africa was not the cause of this week's terror alert. Instead, the official told ABC News the move was in response to specific threat intelligence and that terrorists planning an attack may already be in Germany.

In Namibia Thursday, authorities found a fuse in a bag that was destined for Germany. Authorities were trying to determine whether the device could have exploded.

The possibly alarming discovering came a one day after Germany elevated its terror alert.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly, said that Germany has about 200 individuals of great concern who are placed under tight surveillance, hinting that Wednesday's threat alert has more to do with people who may be inside the country. The official said Germany has not wanted to jail them yet in order to try to collect as much intelligence from them as possible and collect evidence against them. The concern, however, is how long do you let them try to plan an attack.

Though the official declined to confirm these details, the New York Times reported today Thursday the U.S.' decision to issue a travel alert for Europe last month was sparked by intelligence about 25 al Qaeda fighters, organized into cells of three to five individuals each, who had been planning "commando" attacks in Britain, France and Germany.

Since then, the paper says that about 10 of them are believed to have been killed, most by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. A Pakistani intelligence official told the New York Times that drone strikes in September and October had killed European recruits who intended to strike in Britain or Germany.

On Oct. 5, a Western official confirmed to ABC News that German citizens were among a group of militants believed to have been killed in a recent drone strike in Pakistan.

Many of the plotters, however, are still alive, the Times reported. While several German citizens have been arrested in Pakistan in recent weeks, a European official told the paper many of the plotters may already be in place in their countries.

A German intelligence official tells the paper the suspected terrorists were planning Mumbai-style attacks, but had no specific information on where or when.

On Nov. 26, 2008, teams of terrorist commandos attacked train stations, restaurants and hotels popular with businessmen and Westerners. More than 160 people were killed and more than 300 wounded.

When asked today about U.S. efforts to kill German citizens in Pakistan, the German official would only tell ABC News that Germany and the United States are fighting a common enemy and that there is very close cooperation between the their intelligence services. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Suspicious Bag Bound for Germany Found in Namibian Airport

Photo Courtesy - Andreas Rentz/Getty Images(BERLIN) -- Just as Germany stepped up security measures at transportation hubs, a suspicious bag was found in Namibia Wednesday before it was to be loaded onto a German-bound flight.

Police found the suitcase at a luggage screening point of Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport before it was loaded onto an Air Berlin flight bound for Munich.  After the discovery, all 296 passengers and luggage were removed from the plane as a precautionary measure, according to the Namibia Airports Company.

After a delay, the plane was allowed to depart and landed in Munich Thursday morning.  All of the flight's cargo stayed behind for investigation.

On Thursday, Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office said a scan of the suitcase revealed batteries attached by wires to a fuse and a clock.  According to the office, authorities in Windhoek, Namibia are determining whether or not the device was explosive.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


US Army Testing New 'Smart' Weapons in Afghanistan

Photo Courtesy - US Army(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Nine years into the war in Afghanistan, a handful of U.S. soldiers have a new weapon in hand, a lethal combination of technology and explosives that the Army has called a "game changer."

Looking like it came straight out of a sci-fi movie, the XM-25 fires highly specialized rounds that can be programmed to explode at the precise location where the enemy is hiding behind cover.

Five of the high-tech, semi-automatic weapons arrived in the war-torn country this month and soon will be tested in combat.

"This weapon makes our forces more lethal, it makes them more effective and it keeps them safer," said Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, the project manager for individual weapons at Program Executive Office Soldier, which developed the XM-25.  "This is the first time that we've put smart technology in the weapons system for the individual soldier."

Though the XM-25 has tested well in the United States, military brass will be watching the weapon's performance in real-life combat to assess not only how well it performs, but also what weapons it might end up replacing.

Soldiers currently up against insurgents ducking for cover behind fortified walls have little choice but either to fire highly explosive 40mm grenades or mortar rounds, which are effective, but often inaccurate, or to leave their own cover and maneuver to fire direct shots, which puts American lives at risk.

Enter the XM-25.  "We're talking about seconds to neutralize the enemy, versus minutes," Lehner said.

Crouching behind his own cover, a U.S. soldier armed with the XM-25 can point his weapon at the wall behind which the enemy is hiding to get the precise distance.  The rounds, which come four to a magazine plus one in the chamber, can then be programmed to travel just a short distance behind that to explode precisely where the insurgent is believed to be hiding.

With the scope aimed at the top of the wall, the round will fire and explode before impact, at the precise location programmed by the soldier, raining a hail of explosives and fragments on to the enemy.  It all takes mere seconds -- five to program and fire, two for travel.  The rounds also take into account air pressure and temperature to accurately hit their marks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


China Imports $6 Billion a Year from Washington State

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BEIJING) -- China's status as the United States' number one-importer has heavy hitters like California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg passing through Beijing jockeying for a piece of the China market, but there's one little welterweight that's making a big hit.

Call Washington State the little engine that could.

In the last decade, Washington State's exports to China increased over 300 percent. Last year, the state exported nearly $6 billion worth of products to China, second only to California.

Chinese consumers are going crazy for a Washington State candy called Almond Roca.

The buttercrunch toffee is an affordable treat in the United States. In China, it's marketed as a luxury item, showcased in upscale department stores and repackaged with Chinese characters. The Chinese character for Roca actually means "happy family."

Asians first got a taste of the candy during World War II, said Almond Roca Chief Executive Officer Pierson Clair. "We [United States] had a number of Navy bases in the Puget Sound and so captains and supply officers would throw on cases of Almond Roca to be on the ships for provisions, but they also used them for barter across Asia," Clair said.

The candy was formally introduced in Chinese department stores 22 years ago. It's an export that American workers can rest easy about; all of the candy is made in America, and sales in China have caused the factory of 300 workers to create another 25 jobs. "China is the star of our export business," Pierson said.

Washington State isn't stopping with the candy. There's a new opportunity in wine. The expansion of restaurants and supermarkets in China is providing a new opportunity for marketing wine from the state.

As more of China's elite make the move from the traditional white liquor called Baijiu, they're increasingly toasting to success with a nice, glass of Washington State wine mixed with a splash of Coca-Cola. They say the Coke makes it sweeter.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Russia Frustrated With START Debate, Could Damage 'Reset'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- There’s no debate over the contents of New START on this side of the pond.  No need, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it in March, for Rahm Emanuel to come to Moscow to whip up votes in the Duma.  If the Kremlin wants the treaty ratified, it gets ratified.  Moscow and Washington agreed they would ratify the treaty at the same time so the Russians are sitting and waiting for the Senate to get it done.

However, they’re realizing that the chances of the Senate ratifying it in the lame-duck session are quickly fading, if not dead already.  They also believe that a prolonged debate in the Senate could seriously harm the “reset” in U.S.-Russia relations and have broader policy implications.

“One should agree with Joe Biden who fears that, due to procrastinations with the ratification, the United States may lose Moscow's vital support in tackling the problem of Iran and in the war in Afghanistan," Mikhail Margelov, the head of the Federation Council’s international affairs committee -- Sen. John Kerry’s counterpart -- told the Interfax news agency Wednesday.

Margelov’s counterpart on the Duma’s international affairs committee -- the lower house -- said that Republican gains in the midterm elections could compromise the reset.

“We are concerned that now given the fact that there is a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, which is in opposition to President Obama, this will interfere with his initiative to restart Russian-American relations,” Konstantin Kosachev said Tuesday.

“The problem is not that [New START] is a bad document, but the fact that the [Senate] Republicans refuse to ratify the document. We are certain that these questions should not have anything to do with party politics.”

For its part, the Foreign Ministry is publicly optimistic, saying they think there’s enough time in the lame duck session to get the treaty ratified.  However, if the vote doesn’t happen this year, it “would not be the best outcome of the work we have done,” said deputy Foreign Ministry Sergei Ryabkov.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Verdict in GITMO Trial: Damaging to Obama Administration Goal 

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, seen in this undated FBI wanted photo, was cleared of all but one of a 286-count indictment. Photo Courtesy -- FBI via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A Manhattan federal jury has cleared the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to stand trial in a civilian court of all but one major count in a 286-count indictment.

The verdict found Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who was alleged to have participated in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Africa, guilty of conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property with explosives, a charge that can carry 20 years to life.

A 2001 superseding indictment had charged Ghailani of conspiring with Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda to kill Americans anywhere in the world. It also brought charges of murder for the deaths of each of the 224 people killed in the U.S. Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya and various other offenses related to the bombings.

The verdict could be a severe setback for the Obama administration’s goal of trying the GITMO detainees in civilian courts rather than before military tribunals.

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan did not allow a key government witness to testify in part because of allegations of torture and how they might have impacted the witness testimony. He ruled that the witness was arrested after information was obtained through enhanced interrogation techniques. 
Ghailani, who had been held since September 2006 at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was transferred to New York in June 2009 to face trial in a civilian court.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Germany Calls for Increased Security Amid Heightened Risk of Attack

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(BERLIN) – German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for heightened security given “concrete indications of a series of attacks planned for the end of November.”

In a statement Wednesday, de Maizière said Germany has “cause for concern, but no reason for hysteria” as comprehensive security plans are being set in motion to deter possible terrorist attacks.

De Maizière said he is acting on a tip received from a foreign partner that indicated attacks are planned for late this month. He has ordered that security be heightened at airports and train stations.
“The public will be able to see these police measures, but there will also be many measures you will not be able to see,” de Maizière said.

Germany is working in cooperation with foreign partners to investigate several potential threat scenarios.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Clinton Issues International Religious Freedom Report

Photo Courtesy - U.S. State Dept.(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday unveiled the 2010 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.

“We are troubled by what we see happening in many, many places. Religious freedom is under threat from authoritarian regimes that abuse their own citizens. It is under threat from violent extremist groups that exploit and inflame sectarian tensions. It is under threat from the quiet but persistent harm caused by intolerance and mistrust, which can leave minority religious groups vulnerable and marginalized,” she explained.

Clinton stressed that DOJ is reviewing the United States’ own record on religious freedom.

“With this report, we do not intend to act as a judge of other countries or hold ourselves up as a perfect example,” she said.

Clinton also made special effort to express American opposition to so-called defamation bans, laws that prohibit the criticism of religions. She said the U.S. would oppose an effort at the U.N. to condemn defamation of religion, saying freedom of speech is just as important.

“Some people propose that to protect religious freedom we must ban speech that is critical or offensive about religion. We do not agree,” she said.

“The United States joins in all nations coming together to condemn hateful speech, but we do not support the banning of that speech…attempts to stifle them or drive them underground, even when it is in the name and with the intention of protecting society, have the opposite effect,” she added.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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