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Friday
Feb182011

US Calls for Restraint Following Violence in Bahrain

Photo Courtesy - Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. is appealing to the government of Bahrain to show restraint and usher in political reform after security forces used violence to break up pro-democracy protests, leaving at least five people dead.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the appeal to the Bahraini foreign minister Thursday, hours after military police roused sleeping protesters in the middle of Manama's main square by firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.

Clinton, who spoke directly with Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, cautioned the Bahraini government against disrupting funerals of the slain demonstrators planned for Friday.

The Obama administration is keeping a watchful eye on the fluid situation in Bahrain, which is the home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet and a strong ally of Saudi Arabia, another Arab nation that may soon experience the anti-government protests that have spread rapidly throughout the Middle East over the past month.

President Obama has taken an even more measured approach to the situation in Bahrain than he did with Egypt, being careful not to overtly criticize its ruling monarchy.

The president's message thus far to Middle East allies is for these autocratic regimes to begin instituting democratic reforms before they're forced to do so.

In Bahrain, opposition forces are calling for the prime minister to step down, as well as demanding improvements in quality of life issues such as wages and housing.  As in Egypt and Tunisia, the protesters have been spurred on by bloggers using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which are more difficult for the government to suppress.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb182011

Afghan Soldier Turns On, Kills Coalition Counterpart

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BAGHLAN, Afghanistan) -- A person wearing an Afghan army uniform turned his gun on the coalition soldier he was working with Friday, killing him and another soldier in the northern district of Baghlan. Other coalition soldiers then fired at the Afghan soldier, wounding him critically.

Local police say the two soldiers were German. At least eight others were injured in the attacks.

These kinds of shootings have increased in the last year. This is the second case in just the last month. On Jan. 20, an Afghan soldier killed two Italian soldiers before escaping a base in western Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb182011

Libya Protests Continue; 'Day of Rage' Leaves Dozens Dead

Photo Courtesy - Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Protesters in Libya are expected to take to the streets again on Friday for a fifth straight day, following violent clashes that have left dozens in the country dead and several others injured.

Demonstrators are demanding the ouster of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi and his government.  On Thursday, they gathered across the country in what they called a "day of rage."  Clashes between them and Libyan security forces, some who reportedly used live rounds to disperse the crowds, resulted in the death of at least 24 protesters and injured several others, according to Human Rights Watch.

Thursday's clashes add on to violence that erupted between both sides earlier in the week.  On Tuesday, authorities responded to demonstrators throwing stones at them by using tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets, leaving 14 people with injuries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb182011

Egypt Protesters Gather in Tahrir Square for 'Victory March'

Photo Courtesy - Chris Hondros/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Tens of thousands of people are gathering on the streets of Egypt Friday, but this time, it's not in protest.

Exactly one week after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, protesters are returning to Cairo's Tahrir Square after Friday prayers for what they are calling a "victory march."  Protesters, complete with a military marching band, will be celebrating the ouster of Mubarak and the revolution they helped create.

In a symbolic move, Sheikh Qaradawi, one of the most influential Sunni clerics, will be presiding over Friday prayers at the square.  Qaradawi was previously banned from entering the country under Mubarak and has been instrumental in urging the Egyptian people to rise up against the regime.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb182011

Invitations to Prince William's Royal Wedding Mailed

Photo Courtesy - Chris Jackson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Invitations to the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton went out from the Lord Chamberlain's office on Thursday, ABC News has learned.

Most of the guests already know who they are since many of them received a save-the-date fax from the Queen a few weeks ago.  The 1,800 invitees will receive a "traditional, gold-embossed handwritten invitation," according to the Daily Mail.

Several European royals have already RSVPed, including one of William's godfathers, King Constantine, the former ruler of Greece.  A spokesman for him and his wife Queen Anne-Marie and their son Crown Prince Pavlos confirmed to the Daily Mail that the Greek royal family received a fax and plan to attend.

But the most sought after ticket isn't the one that gets you into Westminster Abbey.  Katie Nicholl, author of the book William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls, told ABC News that the "ticket that everyone really wants -- and it is the golden ticket -- is the invitation to the evening reception which is being hosted at Buckingham Palace by the Prince of Wales."

Just 300 people are attending the exclusive soiree.  Nicholl said "William and Kate have been told they can invite 100 each."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

U.S. Defense Secretary: Chances of Closing Guantanamo "Very Low"

Photo Courtesy - Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Thursday that the chances of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are remote.

“The prospects for closing Guantanamo, as best I can tell, are very, very low, given very broad opposition to doing that here in the Congress,” Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Gates was testifying with Admiral Mike Mullen and answered questions on a variety of topics ranging from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Wednesday that President Obama still remains steadfast about closing the facility.

"The president remains committed to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, because as our military commanders have made clear, it's a national security priority to do so," Carney said on his first day as White House press secretary.

Gates said Thursday that the mostly Republican opposition to closing the facility was not entirely without merit.

“One of the things we have discovered over time is that we’re not particularly good at predicting which returnee will be a recidivist,” he said. “Some of those we have considered the most dangerous have not, and some that we have evaluated as not being much of a danger, we’ve discovered in the fight.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Feb172011

Canada Shuts off Internet Access After China-Based Cyber Attack

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OTTAWA, Canada) -- Officials in Canada have traced a cyber-attack on government servers to China-based computer servers, forcing several agencies to cut Internet access to protect secret files, reports the BBC.

Cyber-security agents say the hackers had gained access to secret data, specifically in a security breach of a civil agency of the national defense department.

The breach forced both the Treasury Board and the finance department to cut Internet access.

Officials in Beijing Thursday denied any involvement in the attacks, which were first discovered in January. Canadian officials are working to determine whether the attacks actually originated in China, or if they were routed though the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Peruvian Potatoes Sent to 'Doomsday Vault?'

File Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PERU) - Several species of Peruvian potatoes, some that date back to the Inca Empire, are being sent to a figurative "doomsday vault" amid fears that several varieties are at risk of disappearing, reports the BBC.

The ice vault, located inside a mountian in the Arctic circle, will soon house samples of around 1,500 varieties of potatoes from farmers in the country who want to protect certain South American highland species.

"Peruvian potato culture is under threat," Alejandro Argumedo, a plant scientist involved in the project, told the BBC. "Sending seeds to the [vault] will help us to provide a valuable back-up collection - the vault was built for the global community and we are going to use it."

The crops will join other samples of the world's food supply that have been sent to the Svalbard seed vault  to be protected from natural and human disaster.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

Biggest Sun Storm in Five Years Passes Earth

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A giant solar flare -- the biggest in four years -- leapt from the face of the sun on Monday and sent masses of charged particles outward into space, including toward Earth, according to NASA.

The radiation from Monday's flare, known as a Coronal Mass Ejection, was expected to pass Earth on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The charged particles will speed by at around 560 miles per second.

However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., says the Earth is well-protected by its atmosphere and magnetic field.

According to NOAA, when solar radiation picks up, the most dramatic effect is usually a brightening of the aurora borealis, the famous northern lights in the sky over Arctic regions.

A 2008 National Academy of Sciences report warned we are not prepared for the biggest -- albeit rarest -- solar storms, which it said could cause 20 times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb172011

U.S. To Provide $150 Million to Egypt, Secretary Clinton Says

Photo Courtesy - The State Dept(WASHINGTON) -- United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Thursday the U.S. would be providing $150 million in aid to help Egypt work into a new government following the departure of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Clinton made the announcement following a closed-door meeting with senators to bring them up to speed on recent events in the region. She said the aid would alow “to put ourselves in a position to support the transition there and assist with their economic recovery.”

“It’s very clear there is a great deal of work ahead to ensure an orderly democratic transition. It’s also clear that Egypt will be grappling with immediate and long term economic challenges. The United States stands ready to provide assistance to Egypt to advance its efforts,” Clinton said.

Although the State Department could not immediately announce where the money would come from, it was made clear that these funds would be reapportioned from another part of the department's budget.

Clinton made the announcement alongside Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwight. Two administration officials will be traveling to Egypt next week to speak with Egyptian officials about how the funds will be used.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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