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Friday
Nov192010

Biden on Afghanistan Power Transfer: 'Daddy's Taking Off the Training Wheels'

File photo. Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) --  Vice President Joe Biden sat down for an interview with Larry King on Thursday -- his 49th appearance on the CNN host’s program -- and had a colorful message for the Afghans regarding the timeline for transferring security by 2014.

"Daddy is going to start to take the training wheels off in October -- I mean in next July -- so you'd better practice riding," he said of the plan that will be outlined at the NATO summit in Lisbon.

Biden sounded skeptical when asked about his confidence in Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.

"I've known President Karzai for a long, long time.  I think he's in a very difficult position," the vice president said. "You know, we could argue that there could be a stronger leader, but you deal with the hand you're dealt, as the old saying goes."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov192010

Suspicious Suitcase Bound for Germany Was a Dummy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BERLIN) -- German authorities have confirmed Friday that a suspect package that was to be loaded onto a German-bound flight was just a security test. The packages caused a security scare that made headlines worldwide.

Authorities say the suspicious suitcase -- which was found at a luggage screening point in a Namibian airport before it was loaded onto an Air Berlin flight bound for Munich -- was a so-called "real test" suitcase.  No explosives were found and at no time was there any danger to passengers.

After the suitcase's discovery on Wednesday, all passengers and luggage were removed from the plane as a precautionary measure.  Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office on Thursday said a scan of the suitcase revealed batteries attached by wires to a fuse and a clock.

Germany is already on the highest state of alert after intelligence received warnings of possible terrorist attacks.  The country has increased security at transportation hubs, like airports and train stations.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov192010

NATO Leaders to Discuss Afghan Exit Plans at Lisbon Summit

Photo Courtesy - Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images(LISBON, Portugal) -- Leaders of NATO countries will grapple with important defense issues, including military presence in Afghanistan, at their summit in Lisbon, Portugal this weekend.

NATO leaders are expected to endorse a plan to gradually bring troops home from Afghanistan in the coming years.  NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the alliance and Afghan President Hamid Karzai agree on this proposed transition, saying last week that both share commonality "towards greater Afghan leadership of military operations and transition to a supporting role for international forces."  Afghan representatives are expected to attend parts of the meeting.

Earlier this week, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance and Afghan President Hamid Karzai both share commonality "towards greater Afghan leadership of military operations and transition to a supporting role for international forces."

Also on the agenda, NATO leaders will discuss a new mission statement for the future of the alliance, as well as discuss further cooperation with Russia and ways of boosting economic growth and employment in the U.S. and Europe.

"The Lisbon summit will be substantial," Rasmussen said.  "It will shape the future of our alliance."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov182010

World Trade Centre to Open in Ireland

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DUBLIN) -- The World Trade Centre Association announced plans to open the World Trade Centre Dublin, providing for Ireland "a new gateway to international trade opportunities."

"In the current economic climate every business needs to examine all its options and seek new business opportunities.  Through our network of world trade centers, we will be in a position to offer networking and trading opportunities with over one million companies throughout the world,"  WTCD Director David Pierce said about the launch.

On Wednesday, a breakfast briefing was held to discuss the details of the WTCD's first Irish project -- a joint professional initiative with Independent Colleges.  WTCD and Independent Colleges plan to work together to improve and grow the international trade competency of businesses in Ireland.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov182010

DR Treated Isolated Case of Cholera, Country Safe to Visit

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(SANTA DOMINGO) – The Dominican Republic has reassured travelers that they have diagnosed and treated an isolated cholera case that originated in Haiti and that the nation is safe to visit.

The DR Ministry of Tourism said they have treated a cholera case that was contracted by a citizen who traveled to Haiti to visit family, and have put steps in place to prevent the disease from spreading to the country.
 
The ministry said they are working with the U.S. and other international partners to respond to the outbreak in Haiti, but are confident that the disease will not spread to the Dominican Republic.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov182010

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


Thursday
Nov182010

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

Thursday
Nov182010

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

Thursday
Nov182010

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

Thursday
Nov182010

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







ABC News Radio