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Sunday
Mar062011

Amid Protests, US Allows Some Gov't Personnel to Leave Yemen

AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department has issued a new travel warning for Yemen, authorizing family members of U.S. Embassy staff and non-essential personnel to depart the country.

The warning also urges American citizens in Yemen to leave the country, citing a “high security threat level” due to “terrorist activities and civil unrest."

"Should a crisis occur, evacuation options from Yemen would be extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and other security concerns,” the warning says.

“The U.S. Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in the event of a crisis in Yemen is very limited."

Protesters in Yemen are calling for the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1978.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar052011

Saudi Arabia Bans Protests Amid Recent Demonstrations

Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) -- Amid all the recent protest demonstrations that have been taking place in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that the government has implemented a ban on all protests and marches in the country.

Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry made the announcement, informing the public that any attempts to create public disorder would be met with action from the country’s security forces. The ministry says security forces have been authorized to use all measures necessary to ensure that order is maintained. The ban follows recent protests staged in the kingdom’s eastern province during the month of February.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah recently unveiled a host of benefits for citizens in an apparent attempt to prevent protests from breaking out.

Social unrest caused by protests has been common throughout the Middle East and North Africa regions in recent weeks, highlighted by uprisings in Libya and Egypt.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar052011

Royal Wedding: Dinner Dance Details Revealed

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- More details have surfaced regarding the post-royal wedding dinner dance.

After walking down the aisle at Westminster Abbey before 1,900 guests, the pageantry broadcast worldwide for millions of viewers April 29, William and Kate will let loose and boogie down to a 1980s-themed reception with close family and friends, London newspaper The Sun reports.

Special requests for '80s-tastic jams include hits from Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Culture Club. Princess Diana was a known admirer of Abba, and Kate has followed her lead by requesting the Swedish band's classic wedding-reception dance staples.

Prince Harry will set the tone for the party with his best man speech. Though the boys are incredibly close, Prince Harry plans to goad his big brother a bit. Harry has nearly completed his flight training on Apache gunships, a much faster plane than the Sea King search-and-rescue helicopter William co-pilots. Planning to use this difference in their military aviation careers, Harry will compare the brothers to the fable of the tortoise and the hare.

The next morning, the newlyweds will depart on a two-week honeymoon. But not before a night spent laughing, dancing and celebrating their love at the £75,000 ($88,000) bash thrown by Prince Charles.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar052011

McCain Reiterates Call For No-Fly Zone in Libya

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, reiterated on Friday his call for the Obama administration to implement a no-fly zone in Libya to prevent Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from killing his own countrymen.

“If you want Gadhafi to go, then one of the steps among many would be to establish a no-fly zone to prevent him from massacring his own people from the air,” McCain said after emerging from a closed briefing for senators on the situation in Libya.

“There is the possibility in Libya of a stalemate where Gadhafi controls Tripoli and its environment and the eastern part of the country is controlled by the revolutionaries. That obviously would give Gadhafi an opportunity to kill his own people which he has announced that he’s more than ready to do,” he added.

“One of the most important options is a no-fly zone where it’s pretty clear that there are not a lot of aircraft that Gadhafi has flying, his air defense systems are certainly old and it’s not a major challenge at least in my assessment of being able to impose a no-fly zone.”

McCain has urged the administration repeatedly in the past week to establish a no-fly zone to prevent Gadhafi from killing his own people. On Thursday the Arizona senator noted at an event at the Brookings Institution in Washington that “we all admit that he’s insane.”

The Pentagon pushed back this week against the idea of a no-fly zone because it would be difficult to set up, require military action within Libya, and new authorization from the international community.

President Obama, on Thursday, also cautioned that direct military action by the U.S. could be counterproductive in creating democracy in Libya.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar042011

Female Mexican Police Chief May Have Fled to US

Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images(PRAXEDIS G. GUERRERO, Mexico) -- Marisol Valles Garcia, the 20-year-old who became police chief in one of the most violent towns in Mexico, has requested political asylum in the United States, according to unconfirmed media reports.

The college student and mother was reportedly receiving death threats for months. Andres Morales, secretary of the county in Mexico and second in charge after the mayor, told ABC News Friday that he couldn't confirm the report of her seeking asylum. Valles Garcia did request a few days off to care for her sick son, and she is expected back at work on Monday, he said.

An unnamed relative of Valles Garcia told The New York Post that the chief had left Mexico with her young son.

Valles Garcia, called "the bravest woman in Mexico," was sworn in in November 2010 as the head of a new program of crime prevention in a farming town located in one of the bloodiest regions in Mexico. Since her predecessor's head was left outside the police station over a year ago, no one wanted to fill the vacancy. Valles Garcia took the position.

Cartels in many drug-plagued parts of Mexico have killed or threatened police chiefs and their departments, buying off some officers and causing others to quit. Nationwide, 30,000 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels. Recently, the assistant mayor of nearby El Porvenir and the mayor of Distrito Bravos were killed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar042011

Sudan: Satellite Images Show Burned Villages, Military Buildup

Satellite Sentinel Project(WASHINGTON) -- A satellite imagery network set up by actor George Clooney to document abuses in Sudan released a set of photographs Friday showing the smoldering remains of structures in a tense oil-rich region that is coveted by both sides of a long-standing conflict there.

One of the images released by the Satellite Sentinel Project shows at least 20 civilian buildings that appear to have been intentionally burned in the village of Maker Abior. Other images show a buildup of Sudanese Armed Forces units, including artillery, near the Abyei region.

Another image released Friday shows burned structures in the village of Todach. Clooney's group says the absence of scorched ground vegetation or trees is indicative of apparent arson.

In the past week, intense fighting around Abyei has killed at least 100 people and countless more have been displaced or fled in fear. According to the Enough Project, which partnered with Clooney on the six-month, $750,000 satellite mission, the motivations of the fighting depend on which side is talking. Southern Sudanese authorities say the attackers were members of the Sudanese army and allied militias, while some tribal officials say southern forces have instigated the violence by disguising troops as part of a police force that is meant to be neutral. Neither side is supposed to have troops in the area.

"The United States calls on local and national authorities to ensure that the UN Mission in Sudan has the access required to protect civilians, increase patrols where fighting is taking place, and engage with local leaders to restore calm," said State Department spokesman PJ Crowley.

Clooney has lent his star power to the cause of peace in Sudan and has made several trips there in the past year to highlight the violence.

Oil rich Abyei remains at the heart of a smoldering conflict between North and South Sudan. The two sides fought a bloody civil war that lasted for decades. It ended in 2005 with the signing of a US-brokered comprehensive peace agreement that called for referenda this year on South Sudan's independence and on the status of Abyei.

In January the South Sudan referendum took place under what international monitors called free and relatively peaceful circumstances, resulting in overwhelming support for South Sudan's independence, but the referendum on Abyei was delayed over concerns that conflict there would jeopardize the rest of the process in the rest of the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar042011

UFO Files: UK Releases Thousands of Secret Documents, Reports

NASA(WASHINGTON) -- Alien abductions, flying saucer sightings, mysterious lights, and even extraterrestrial autopsies -- they're all in the real-life X-files released by the British government this week.

As part of a continuing effort to declassify government reports related to unidentified flying objects, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense and The National Archives this week released about 8,500 pages of UFO-related documents, illustrations, letters, and parliamentary debates from 2000-2005.

Some of the files describe paranormal reports that turned out to be mere pranks; other stories of intergalactic proportions were ultimately found to have earthly explanations. But the British government said 5 percent of the cases remain unsolved.

The newly released trove of documents shows that, in the 1960s and '70s, the British government seriously considered a possible alien threat. The esteemed House of Lords even debated UFOs in January 1979.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar042011

Frankfurt Shooting: Friends, Family Remember Slain Airmen

BORIS ROESSLER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As details emerged Friday in the deadly assault on U.S. servicemen at an airport in Frankfurt, Germany, friends and family of the fallen spoke out about the slain airmen.

U.S. Air Force servicemen Zachary Cuddeback, 21, and Nicholas J. Alden, 25, were killed when the suspected gunman, 21-year-old Arid Uka from Kosovo, opened fire in a bus at the airport. German prosecutor Rainer Griesbaum told reporters Friday that Uka asked Alden if the troops were heading to Afghanistan while he was standing outside the bus. When he said yes, Uka allegedly pulled out a handgun and shot Alden in the head before entering the bus and shooting Cuddeback in the back of his head.

The gunman's weapon jammed after he wounded two more servicemen and, when he tried to flee, he was chased down and subdued by the other servicemen who were apparently the target of the attack, Griesbaum said. Uka reportedly shouted "Allahu Akhbar!" (God is great! in Arabic), as well as the word "Jihad!"

Cuddeback, the bus driver, had never feared for his safety in Germany, his best friend told ABC News.

"Zach enjoyed his life and he was proud to be fighting for his country," said Erin Jones, who met Cuddeback when they were 12-years-old.

Jones said the last time they spoke, on Monday, the two were planning Jones' twenty-first birthday party. "I didn't know it was going to be the last time I spoke with him or I would have told him that I loved him," Jones said.

In a statement, Cuddeback's parents called him an "Army brat" whose "love for the Air Force; cars and hockey were paramount in his life."

Cuddeback's uncle and godfather, Dan Cuddeback, told ABC News Cuddeback was one of the youngest in a long line of Cuddebacks who served the nation, from Zachary Cuddeback's great-grandfather in the Second World War to his cousin who is currently serving in the Army.

Cuddeback, from Stanardsville, Virginia, was in the 86th Vehicle Readiness Squadron at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. There, he was "always joking about something, but ready always willing to help out and be there for whatever was needed," one fellow serviceman at Ramstein said.

Alden, who was stationed with the military police at the 48th Security Forces Squadron at the Royal Air Force base in Lakenheath, England, was heading to Afghanistan with his fellow airmen before the attack.

Though he was from Indiana, Alden, 25, lived in South Carolina, where he met his wife. The couple recently had their second child, according to a report by ABC News' Indianapolis affiliate WRTV.

"The thing that I'm going to miss the most is being able to talk to him, being able to see him. It hurts even worse because he's got two children and they won't get to fully know him and what a great person he was," Nicholas Alden's brother, Joe, told WRTV.

Gunman Confessed, Charged With Murder

Uka, the suspected gunman, was subdued after the attack and arrested. He has been charged with murder and attempted murder.

Thursday, authorities in Europe called the shooting an act of Islamic terrorism, though U.S. investigators said it is too soon to tell.

Uka, an ethnic Albanian from Kosovo who was described as a long-time resident of Germany, had been apparently radicalized over the last few weeks, Boris Rhein, Interior Minister for the German state of Hesse, said Thursday. Rhein said that while in detention, Uka confessed to the shooting. The suspect has ties to known radicals, authorities say, but they believe he acted on his own.

Though U.S. officials were hesitant to label the incident as a terror attack, a senior U.S. intelligence official told ABC News the attack was likely terror-related.

Uka is another "dot in the matrix" of a rising threat of fundamentalist terror originating in the Balkans, the official said Thursday. Another man from Uka's home town in Kosovo was among those arrested in Raleigh, North Carolina, on terrorism charges in July 2009.

President Obama made an unscheduled appearance before reporters Wednesday to say he was "saddened and...outraged by this attack" and that U.S. investigators would work with German authorities and "spare no effort" to ensure that "all of the perpetrators are brought to justice."

He added that the killings were a "stark reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices" of American service members.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar042011

Security Heightened in Libya as More Protests Expected

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Pro-Gadhafi security forces in Libya stepped up their efforts Friday as more demonstrations are planned throughout the country after Friday prayers.

Security forces kept control over the anti-government protesters in Tripoli, scattering them with tear gas and live fire. Military equipment, including tanks and anti-aircraft machine guns, were also set in place at intersections in and around the city.

The heightened security in Libya comes a day after President Obama publicy called for Moammar Gadhafi to step down.

"Let me just be very unambiguous about this. Col. Gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave," Obama told reporters at the White House Thursday.

Gadhafi has been at war over the past two weeks with anti-government forces who've taken control of eastern Libya, the location of the country's oil installations.  Since the unrest began, oil exports have slowed down to a trickle, which has sent the price of crude soaring.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar042011

Funeral, Burial Held for Assassinated Pakistani Minister

Jewel Samad/AFP/ Getty Images(ISLAMABAD, Pakistan)  -- The Pakistani minister for minorities affairs who died because he fought for tolerance will be buried Friday.  And as his coffin is lowered into the ground, Pakistanis wonder if there’s anyone left who will speak for the country’s most oppressed.

"Today is a very sad day," said Pakistan's Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, during the funeral for Shahbaz Bhatti, who was assassinated by gunmen in Islamabad Wednesday.  "The founding father of Pakistan had one wish: he taught the people of Pakistan to give the rights and protection to the minorities… People like him are very rare.  All the minorities have lost a great leader."

After the funeral, which was held in Islamabad, Bhatti's body was flown to his hometown, where his family will bury Pakistan’s most senior Christian politician.

As Gilani spoke inside Islamabad's best known church, dozens of Christians wailed and chanted psalms on the road outside, flanked by hundreds of police and Western security officials.  It was the largest security showing for an event in Islamabad in the last year.  Inside, Gilani was joined by the U.S. ambassador and other senior Western diplomats.

Bhatti spoke for Christians -- who make up five percent of Pakistan's largely Muslim population -- and all of Pakistan's minorities.  He was killed because he wanted to change laws and attitudes used to persecute -- and even kill -- members of those minorities.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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