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Tuesday
Oct122010

Russia's Military Turns to Inflatable Weapons

Photo Courtesy - Rusbal(MOSCOW) -- Russia's Defense Ministry is in talks with a private company called Rusbal to develop a range of inflatable decoy armaments they could place in battlefields to deceive the enemy about positions and lure it into attacking cheap replicas with their million-dollar rockets.  The plan could save the Russian military millions, while sparing the depletion and destruction of their pricey arsenal.

Tanks, radars, jets and anti-craft missle launchers are part of the series.

"They're light, possible to move quickly, meaning more mobile," says Viktor Talanov, Rusbal's head of marketing. "They're the full imitation in every sense: visually, heat and on radar."

From the air, the decoys look remarkably realistic.  But in this day of thermal imaging and heat-seeking missiles, Rusbal has had to improve dummy technology to interest the military.  They line various parts of the equipment with a thin layer of metal and install a heating system so that, for example, an inflatable truck would appear to have a warm engine when viewed through thermal imaging.

Talanov claims that in side-by-side tests conducted by the military, one can't tell the difference between the real and the fake.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct122010

Polygamist's Family Reunites on Facebook

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(NAIROBI, Kenya) -- The grandson of the late Kenyan polygamist Asentus “Danger” Akuku told Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper that a Facebook page he created to locate his grandfather’s many children and grandchildren has garnered responses from all over the world.

Akuku died earlier this month, leaving behind more than 100 wives and dozens more children. He will be buried Dec. 4 to allow his family time to travel.

Nicknamed "Danger" for his physical appearance and ability to attract many partners, Ancentus Akuku became a polygamist in his early 20s. There was no known age for Akuku at the time of his death, though various reports specified he was in his 90s.

In an interview, one of the man’s wives described Akuku as a proud man who took care of his family. Her only complaint was that he “rarely visited,” but when he did, she says “he was just the best.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct112010

Countdown to Mine Rescue: Chile Miners Prepare to Be Lifted Into Sunlight

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(COPIAPO, Chile) -- The steel capsule designed to rescue 33 men deep in a Chilean mine was tested Monday, and it went so well that engineers said the capsule would be sent back into the earth to make its first rescue at midnight Tuesday.

A source close to the rescue told ABC News that the men could be out in just 12 hours once the operation gets underway.

The miners' families are counting the final hours.  Liliana Ramirez, the wife of Mario Gomez, the oldest miner, said that she is anxious, but happy too -- "Happy that this nightmare is coming to an end."

The men, excited to see their loved ones, apparently want to look their best.  They've asked for shampoo and shoe polish.  The men have endured misery few can imagine.

As the miners and their families count down the hours, every hour now brings news.  The latest news about the cramped rescue capsule is that it's working as planned.  Monday, workers lowered the capsule full of sandbags to the bottom of the shaft and brought it back up safely.

Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said, "This test has been very successful...we are pretty sure that the cage will behave properly as it has been designed during the rescue process.  We already saw that there was no movement inside the cage."

The capsule leaves nothing to chance. A man riding inside will wear an oxygen mask, his heartbeat and body temperature will be monitored, and he will wear a telephone headset to talk with the rescue team above.

Every second of the miners' ascent will be monitored by video camera.  They will be pulled up, one by one, on a twisting, 2,000-foot-long ride.  It will take 20 minutes to get each man to the surface for what is expected to be a jubilant reception.  When the men reach the surface, they will have to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from daylight they have not seen in two months.

The men are taking aspirin because of concerns about blood clotting in the cramped capsule.  Soon, they will begin a liquid diet to cut down on nausea.

The miners have been trapped half a mile underground since August, and this weekend they were cheered when the drill broke through and into their cavern.  A bell announced the breakthrough to the miners' families at the makeshift camp outside the mine gates.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct112010

No Terror Charges for 12 Suspects Arrested in France

(PARIS) -- The Paris prosecutor's office has released 12 suspects picked up in two anti-terror operations in the south of France last week.  No terror charges were filed against the suspects.  Three of the freed individuals, who were arrested in Marseille and Bordeaux, had been taken into custody for suspected links to a Frenchman of Algerian descent who'd been picked up in Naples, Italy, allegedly with an explosives kit in his possession.  French authorities are seeking his extradition.

Four of the suspects, all arrested in and around Marseille, have been charged with weapons counts in connection with the weapons that were seized at the time of their arrests. The remaining suspects do not face any charges. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct112010

Israeli Rabbi Blesses Illicit Sex for Female Spies

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(JERUSALEM) -- An Israeli rabbi has blessed the use of female spies in "honeytrap" or "honeypot" stings against terrorists, according to a study called "Illicit Sex for the Sake of National Security."

The ruling by Rabbi Ari Schvat, contained in a study published by the Zomet Institute, was first reported by the news agency DPA and published by Haaretz.com.

Israeli officials confirmed the rabbinical ruling and the gist of the study for ABC News.

The Zomet Institute studies the intersection of religion and modernity. It examined whether it was acceptable for female agents of Israel's foreign secret service, Mossad, to have sex with the enemy in so-called "honeypot" or "honeytrap" sting missions.

Israeli intelligence has made repeated use of honeytraps. In 1966, a female Israeli spy convinced an Iraqi pilot to defect to Israel with his MIG. Twenty years later, a female Mossad agent lured Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician who had revealed details of Israel's nuclear program, from England to Italy, where he was abducted and brought back to Israel.

But according to Haaretz.com, Rabbi Schvat wrote that honeypot missions are "not just a thing of modern-day espionage."

In fact, honeypot missions are rooted in Biblical lore, according to the report. "Queen Esther, who was Jewish, slept with the Persian king [Ahasuerus] around 500 BC to save her people," Schvat noted.

And, the report noted, Yael, wife of Hever, slept with the enemy chief of staff Sisra to tire him and cut off his head.

However there is a catch for married honeypots. "If it is necessary to use a married woman, it would be best [for] her husband to divorce her....After the [sex] act, he would be entitled to bring her back," Schvat wrote.

"Naturally, a job of that sort could be given to a woman who in any event is licentious in her ways."

Rules for male Mossad agents were not mentioned in the writings.

Schvat's study was praised by Zomet's director, Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, according to Haaretz, though Rosen conceded "women employees of the Mossad are probably not going to come consult with a rabbi" before their missions.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct112010

Palestinians Likely to be Unimpressed with Netanyahu Offer

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Palestinian leaders are reacting negatively to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's offer to seek extension of the West Bank settlement moratorium.  During his inaugural speech to the Knesset on Monday, Netanyahu said he'd ask the ruling body to extend the moratorium, demanding Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state in return. 

Netanyahu has made the offer before and does so again under intense diplomatic pressure from the U.S.  Washington wants a two-to-three-month extension of the newly-expired moratorium on settlement construction.  The Palestinians have said there will be no further talks without a freeze.  They fear agreeing to Netanyahu's condition would prejudice future negotiations over Palestinian refugees and the so-called right of return. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct112010

Karzai Confirms Taliban Talks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In an interview to be broadcast Monday on CNN, Afghanistan's president confirms long-rumored talks between his government and the Taliban.  Hamid Karzai says the unofficial talks have been on a "countryman to countryman" basis and will continue.

Karzai's peace efforts with the Taliban and other insurgents reflect concerns expressed in a recent speech during which he cried and said his country will not become peaceful enough for his son to remain there. 

There are currently 95,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  President Obama has said those troops could begin leaving the country next summer. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct112010

Israeli Cabinet Approves Controversial Loyalty Oath

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israel's right wing cabinet has approved a controversial new loyalty oath for non-Jewish citizens, sparking accusations of racism from the country's Arab minority and criticism from moderate Israeli politicians.

If passed by the Israeli Knesset, non-Jewish applicants for Israeli citizenship will have to swear allegiance to a "Jewish and democratic state."  Critics say the oath invites discrimination towards non-Jews.

The new ruling is expected to be passed into law in the next few months and will affect several thousand people a year, mainly Arabs who marry Israeli Arab citizens.  Jewish people wishing to become new citizens of Israel will not have to take the oath.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who heads a right wing governing coalition, defended the move.

"The state of Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people and is a democratic state in which all of its citizens, Jews and non-Jews, enjoy full equal rights. Whoever wants to join us has to recognize us," he said.

But critics said the new oath was further evidence of the state's discrimination against non-Jews.  Arabs, both Christian and Muslim, make up 20 percent of Israel's population.  They have long complained of institutional discrimination against them.

Ahmed Tibi, a prominent Arab member of the Israeli Knesset said of the new oath: "Its purpose is to solidify the inferior status of Arabs by law. Netanyahu and his government are limiting the sphere of democracy and deepening the prejudice against its Arab minority."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct112010

Did Rescue Team Kill British Aid Worker?

Photo Courtesy - British Foreign and Commonwealth Office(LONDON) -- British aid worker Linda Norgrove might have been killed by the people who were trying to rescue her, rather than her kidnappers.  United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron said he received a call from Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, informing him of the possible accident.

Cameron said Gen. Petraeus told him a member of the U.S. special forces team detonated a grenade during the rescue operation, and that grenade might have killed Norgrove, who was working in Afghanistan for an American contractor.  This finding conflicts with initial reports indicating the explosion was triggered by a captor close to Norgrove.

Gen. Petraeus' office has released a statement in which he requests an investigation be made to determine how Norgrove was killed.  His office states that after reviewing surveillance footage and holding discussions with members involved in Norgrove's rescue efforts, her cause of death can not be conclusively determined.

The U.S. military will team up with the British government to conduct the investigation.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct102010

Serbian Police, Protesters Clash at Gay Pride March

Photo Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images(BELGRADE, Serbia) -- Riot police fought off hundreds of right-wing protesters in a clash that left dozens injured and more than 100 arrested at a gay pride parade in downtown Belgrade.

Police in heavy riot gear used tear gas and armored vehicles on Sunday to block the protesters from breaking through security cordons.

Rioters came armed with bricks, flares, bottles and Molotov cocktails, or petrol bombs.

Part of the Democratic Party headquarters was set ablaze and the entrance to the Serbian state television building was also attacked.

The clashes left broken street signs, smashed windows, and destroyed vehicles. Lost shoes were strewn across sidewalks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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