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Friday
Feb112011

Portrait of Mutilated Afghan Woman Wins World Press Photo Award

Ayesha seen here in before and after file photos was the subject of photojournalist Jodie Bieber's award-winning photo (not shown). Photo Courtesy - ABC News (KABUL, Afghanistan) -- A photo of the mutilated face of Ayesha, an Afghan woman whose nose and ears were cut off by members of the Taliban, has been awarded a top photography prize, the World Press Photo award for 2010.

The portrait by South African photojournalist Jodi Bieber was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in August 2010, with Ayesha's piercing eyes staring directly into the camera over a hole in her face where her nose was removed. The cover set off wide debate over whether the image was too graphic for a mainstream magazine -- or too powerful to hide.

Bieber will receive a cash prize of 10,000 euros (about $13,500) for her work, which beat out over 100,000 images from nearly 6,000 photographers around the world.

The story of Ayesha has drawn global attention to the the plight of Afghan women. The 18-year-old woman, once known simply as "Bibi," was brutalized by her own husband, a member of the Taliban.

Ayesha was married when she was just 12 years old. She endured years of abuse. At times she was forced to sleep in the stables with animals. After she tried to run away, she was caught, and the village men handed down their sentence. Ayesha's husband sliced off her nose and ears while his brother held her down.

Left for dead, she managed to crawl to her uncle's house, but he refused to help her. Ayesha kept on until a relative finally took her to a hospital run by an American military medical team. The hospital cared for her for more than two months, ensured her safety, and gave her something she had not received before -- kindness.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Friday
Feb112011

Egypt: Jubilation In Cairo As Transition Begins To Take Shape

Photo Courtesy - Getty ImagesREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK
By AARON KATERSKY, ABC News


(CAIRO) -- As you cross the Nile Bridge into Tahrir Square, you are carried along by a sea of humanity: red, white and black Egyptian flags are being held high, people are singing and chanting and hugging -- celebrating the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak after 30 years in power here.

You can hear the celebration echoing all throughout downtown. Horns are honking, people are cheering all over Cairo.

The army is now in control. That's not what the demonstrators wanted, but they now hope a new era of democracy can be ushered in here in Egypt. There are many uncertainties ahead. Will the army usher in the democratic reforms these demonstrators have been seeking or will they seek to preserve a system which has served the generals well for six decades?  The answer, thus far, is unknown.

But for now, it feels like the entire city of Cairo is out partying.  A river of people, crossing the Nile Bridge into Tahrir Square. Many are hugging each other, children are on their parents' shoulders, waving Egyptian flags -- young and old, all walks of life, celebrating a moment many of them thought they could never live to see.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

Mandela 'Doing Alright' on 21st Anniversary of Prison Release

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JOHANNESBURG) -- South African President Jacob Zuma said Nelson Mandela is receiving good medical care at home and urged respect for his privacy as he recovers from the acute respiratory infection which he was hospitalized for last month. Zuma spoke of Mandela’s condition during his annual State of the Union Address Thursday night.

"We need to accept the reality that President Mandela, who is loved by all of us, young and old, men and women, black and white, is not young anymore," Zuma said. "He will, from time to time, visit medical facilities for checkups, which is normal for a person of his age. We should allow him to do so with dignity, and give the family and the medical team the space to look after him, on our behalf, in privacy."

Mandela’s grandson, Mandla, said his grandfather was “doing alright,” and thanked the South African people for their prayers and contribution in ensuring Madiba “gets better.” Zinzi Mandela told a local news station that the family will gather at her father’s home in Johannesburg for a private celebration Friday honoring the 21st anniversary of  the icon’s release from Victor Verster prison after serving  27 years under the apartheid government, most of which were spent in Robben Island prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

Egyptian Military: Emergency Law Will Be Lifted After Protests End

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAIRO) -- The Egyptian military announced in a statement over State TV Friday that the emergency law will be lifted, but only after the current crisis in the country ends.

Egypt's emergency law gives more power to authorities and imposes on the people's constitutional rights and freedom to assemble.  It has been a hated thing in Egypt and a central part of criticism of the country's human rights record for three decades.

The military said the law will no longer be in effect once demonstrations end, asking protesters to go back to normal life.

The military also stated that there will be free and fair presidential elections and that they will carry out constitutional changes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

Pakistan Resists U.S. Pressure; Continues to Detain Raymond Davis

Photo Courtesy - Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images(LAHORE, Pakistan) -- If there was any question that Pakistan intended to bow to U.S. demands and release diplomat Raymond Davis quickly, the answer is an emphatic no.

The U.S. wanted Davis released before his court appearance Friday, but a Pakistani court said he would remain detained for two more weeks.  Davis has been in a police station since he was charged with the murder of two men working for Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI.  He will now be moved to a jail.

Lahore's police chief accused Davis Friday of "intentional and cold blooded murder."  In other words, stating that Davis didn't act in self-defense, as the U.S. claims.

On another note, a judge requested the foreign office to declare once and for all whether Davis has diplomatic immunity.

Davis' continuing detention and his move to a prison could further enrage the United States, which has already threatened the Pakistani government with closing consulates and canceling major bilateral meetings next month if Davis isn't set free.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb102011

Obama's Sudan Envoy to be Nominated for New Post in Kenya

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) - In a move that has been rumored for some time, Scott Gration, President Obama’s Special Envoy to Sudan and a longtime advisor, will be nominated as the next ambassador to Kenya.

“He is very enthusiastic about the challenge there in deepening democracy and also dealing with the spillover effects in Somalia,” State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley told ABC News.

The change comes as Sudan peacefully wrapped up a referendum last month that will result in Southern Sudan forming its own country.

“The referendum represented a perfect time to transition to a new special envoy,” Crowley said.

During his tenure, Gration clashed with other top officials in the administration, particularly United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice. In 2009, Gration refused to characterize the violence in Darfur as an ongoing genocide, touching off a major debate within the administration.

Gration also came under heat from advocacy groups when he focused more on the Southern Sudan referendum than on Darfur. There is no word yet on who will replace him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb102011

Former Chile President Sued over 2010 Earthquake, Tsunami

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SANTIAGO, Chile) - Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile, has been sued by victims of last year's earthquake who allege she made mistakes regarding the country's warning system prior to the resulting tsunami.

The government had lifted their initial tsunami warning after the country was stuck by a 8.8-magnitude earthquake. A lawyer for the victims claims that Bachelet "made decisions she was not qualified to make."

At stake? The lawsuit aims to ban Bachelet and other defendants from serving in a future public office. Others named in the suit include former Interior Minister Edmundo Perez and former Defense Minister Francisco Vidal.

The February 27 earthquake and tsunami claimed more than 500 lives. Bachelet left her post just a month after the disaster.
 
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb102011

French Judges Hold Anti-Sarkozy Rallies

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NANTES, France) -- French judges and magistrates angry over comments made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that criticized the judiciary have taken to the streets in anti-Sarkozy protests and brought the court system across France to a standstill.

The judiciaries took to the streets in a dozen cities nationwide, rejecting criticism from Sarkozy and complaining of inadequate resources.

The mounting row began over Sarkozy's comments surrounding how the judiciary handled the high-profile murder of 18-year-old waitress Laetitia Perrais. The prime suspect in the murder, Tony Meilhon, was a criminal who had been released from prison after a rape conviction without being assigned a probation officer.
  
The president condemned how the system had handled Meilhon and said "serious dysfunctions" existed in the police and judicial systems.

The judiciary said mistakes occurred due to a lack of resources. In Nantes, where Meilhon's case had been handled, 17 probation officers were "overwhelmed" with 3,300 cases.

More than 1,000 people are said to have showed up for protests in Paris and Nantes alone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb102011

Egyptian Army Official: 'All Your Demands Will Be Met Tonight'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAIRO) -- After 17 days of demonstrations, protesters' demands in Egypt may finally have been heard after a military official made an unexpected announcement.

ABC News reports that Egyptian Army Chief of Staff Sami Eman made his way through the crowd at Tahrir Square Thursday, announcing over a microphone, "All your demands will be met tonight."

When asked by an ABC News reporter whether that meant that President Hosni Mubarak would leave office, Eman replied, "It ends tonight."

Eman ended his announcement with, "Allahu Akhbar," meaning "God is great."

The crowd reacted by singing the national anthem.

People at a makeshift hospital in the square also jumped for joy, hugging and kissing one another as they heard the news.

Egypt's Minister of Information would not confirm or deny to ABC News that Mubarak will in fact be stepping down.  He only said that officials will be holding meetings to discuss the next steps.

"You will know soon," he told ABC News.

Over in the U.S., CIA Director Leon Panetta, speaking before a House intelligence committee Thursday, said "I have the same information you do, there is a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening."

Mubarak is expected to address the country Thursday night from the Presidential Palace, according to State TV.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb102011

National Intelligence Director's Office 'Clarifies' Remarks On Muslim Brotherhood

Photo Courtesy - DNI dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- The director of the Office of National Intelligence, James Clapper,  told a House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday that the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood -- which seeks Egypt to become an Islamic state ruled by sharia law -- is “a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.”

Jamie Smith, director of the office of public affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, later said in a statement to ABC News, “To clarify Director Clapper’s point -- in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood makes efforts to work through a political system that has been, under Mubarak’s rule, one that is largely secular in its orientation -- he is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization.”

How much the Muslim Brotherhood has eschewed violence and decried al Qaeda is subject to debate. Critics of the group point to its ties with Hamas, a terrorist organization according to the U.S. State Department, for instance.

A Council on Foreign Relations background on the Muslim Brotherhood recently stated that “like other mass social movements, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is hardly a monolith; it comprises hardliners, reformers, and centrists, notes terrorism expert Lydia Khalil.  And some hardline leaders have voiced support for al Qaeda or use of violent jihad. For instance, as recently as 2006, Khalil points out, a member of Brotherhood elected to parliament, Ragib Hilal Hamida, voiced support for terrorism in the face of Western occupation. Instances like these raise questions over the group's commitment to nonviolence.

In December, Clapper raised eyebrows when he couldn’t answer a question from ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer about the arrests of 12 suspected terrorists in London hours before.

After initially claiming Sawyer’s question was too “ambiguous,” the Obama administration acknowledged that the retired Air Force lieutenant general had not been briefed about the arrests at the time of the interview.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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