Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Chinese Dissident

Photo Courtesy - Mike Clarke/AFP/ Getty Images(OSLO, Norway) -- The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China".

Xiaobo receives the award while serving an 11-year sentence in prison.  He was imprisoned in December of last year for his role in creating a manifesto, titled "Charter '08", calling for democratic reform in China.

While the news was being announced, television coverage on media outlets BBC and CNN both went black in China.

Speculation is rising on how Beijing will react to the news.  Chinese leaders had previously warned of damage to trade between Norway and China should the prize be awarded to Xiaobo.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Board to Investigate Executions of Pakistani Civilians in Video

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PUNJAB, Pakistan) -- Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff has ordered the creation of a board to investigate video footage that shows civilian executions by personnel dressed in Pakistan Army uniforms.  Through the board, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani seeks to establish the true identity of the uniformed personnel featured in the footage, as well as the authenticity of the clips.

Kayani stated that it is not expected of a professional army to engage in such violence against civilians they are trying to protect against terrorism.  If the uniformed personnel prove to be Pakistani soldiers, Kayani is determined to take the strictest possible disciplinary action against them.  He stated that such violations of his orders will not be tolerated, and termed the incident as unacceptable under any circumstances.

Kayani also cautioned against being quick to conclude the involvement of Pakistani soliders, pointing out that terrorists have disguised themselves before as Pakistan Army soldiers during several attacks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Senate Report Alleges Taliban Is Guarding U.S. Bases in Afghanistan

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images

A Senate report claims that private security contractors used to protect convoys and bases are undermining the U.S. mission in Afghanistan by hiring guards who are either unqualified or identified as criminals, drug users or Taliban insurgents.

The Pentagon is being held accountable for 125 security contracts employing tens of thousands of people at a cost of well over $100 million.

In a bristling critique, the Senate Armed Services Committee accused the Defense Department of paying power brokers and warlords “who act contrary to our interests and who contribute to the corruption that weakens the support of the Afghan people for their government and for our effort.”

Committee chairman Carl Levin said that the main problem is that many of those hired are poorly vetted and not familiar with weapons or other equipment, adding that because of improper supervision by contractors, they pose “grave risks” to American and NATO forces.

Levin slammed the Pentagon for poor oversight and for allegedly being more interested in handing out contracts than being held accountable for whom they hire.

General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has warned about the over-reliance on contractors while Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently issued an order to shut down all domestic and foreign private contractors within four months.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


German Terror Connection Grows; 45 More Terror Suspects Being Tracked

Captured German Ahmed Siddiqui - Courtesy Stern Magazine(BAGRAM, Afghanistan) -- The claims of a captured German al Qaeda recruit about a multi-city plot against Europe have been bolstered by other "highly reliable" sources of information, US and German intelligence officials said Thursday.

The captured German, Ahmed Siddiqui, told American interrogators at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan that Osama bin Laden had personally blessed the plan, officials said.

Since then, US and German officials said, Siddiqui's claims have been verified by a second captured German terror recruit and "other sources" that officials were reluctant to describe in detail for fear of compromising law enforcement operations.

“There are several different sources, all confirming that there are plots afoot by al Qaeda central, that is to say the Osama bin Laden organization in Pakistan, to do attacks in Europe," said Dick Clarke, a former White House national security official and now an ABC News consultant. "Now they don’t have anything that points to the United States yet, but if there were to be simultaneous attacks in Europe, it’s at least possible there would be a simultaneous attack in the United States as well.”

German intelligence officials told ABC News that about 45 other "potentially dangerous" individuals in Germany are being tracked as officials seek to prevent an attack from taking place.

Siddiqui worked as a cleaner at the Hamburg airport and was a "devout member" of the al-Quds mosque in Hamburg, where Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers gathered prior to their attack.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Four Killed, Several Wounded After Explosions in Pakistan

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KARACHI, Pakistan) -- Police and rescue officials confirm four people are dead, and several others injured, after two explosions went off at a Sufi shrine in Karachi, Pakistan on Thursday.

Police officials at the scene say it's too early to tell whether or not it was a suicide attack.

The explosions happen at a time when Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is visiting Karachi and living in his private residence not far from the explosion site.

Police, however, say the target was the shrine, since the explosions took place at the shrine's entrance.  The shrine is a famous landmark in Karachi that's especially busy Thursday evenings.

In the past, terrorists have targeted Sufi shrines in Lahore.  This week, they have also killed a religious leader in a spree of target killings in Karachi.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Israeli Air Force Strikes Gaza

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- The Israeli Army deployed an air strike in Gaza Thursday in response to Wednesday's rocket attack on southern Israel.

The Israeli Air Force struck what it's calling two terror targets in Gaza.  A local report describes one of these locations as a Hamas training camp.  Palestinian sources say the attack has left four injured, and that three spots, not two, were hit.

Militants in Gaza have increased their rocket and mortar attacks on Israel since the direct peace talks were relaunched, with 30 such attacks since September.  On Wednesday, militants fired two qassam rockets on Israel.  One rocket landed in the Negev region, but didn't cause any injuries.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Nine Year Anniversary of War in Afghanistan

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Dept. of Defense(AFGHANISTAN) -- Thursday marks nine years since the war in Afghanistan began.  U.S. troops invaded the country after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in an effort to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Afghan political analyst Haroon Mir says fighting this war is difficult because Pakistan protects Taliban leaders.  He tells ABC News Radio, "It is very difficult to defeat this insurgency just by killing rank and file, low-level Taliban fighters.  There's no pressure on Taliban leadership, there's no pressure on their financial network, on their training camps."

Mir adds that the Taliban has lasted in the war because they can easily replace their fighters, saying, "They could sustain this kind of war because recruiting low-level Taliban fighters is not a problem because there are so many madrassas.  At these madrassas they could recruit thousands and thousands of new Taliban fighters each year."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Toxic Sludge Turns Hungary Town Into Red Ocean

Photo Courtesy -- ABC News(KOLONTAR, Hungary) -- Four people are dead and hundreds have evacuated areas affected by a toxic chemical spill in Hungary on Monday.  The Hungarian government has even launched a criminal investigation into the disaster.

Although officials have not determined an official reason for why a wave containing an alarming amount of toxins would barrel down from the reservoir after a dam burst at a local metal processing plant, recent rain storms are believed to have weakened the mud and rock walls that held back the factory's waste waters.

Residents of Kolontar -- the first town hit by the sludge -- such as Ferenz Andor say they saw the river of sludge pouring out.  Andor told ABC News that the sludge looked like an ocean of red.

On Wednesday, crews were working nonstop to clear the streets, spraying the sludge with water, corralling it and then scooping it up with shovels.

"If it gets to your skin, it's causing like a burning," Gergely Simon of the Clean Air Action Group said. "If it gets to your eyes, you get blinded. If you swallow it, you die."

The fear now is that the sludge could seep into the rivers including the Danube River. As of Tuesday, authorities said that the sludge is five days away from reaching the Danube. If it does reach it, the sludge will flow into six other European countries -- Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldova -- before it reaches the Black Sea.

"This is the most important thing, if it goes directly to the Danube it could really be a huge ecological catastrophe," Bendek Javor, Chair of the Sustainable Development Committee of the Hungarian Parliament, said.

Already, the sludge has reached the Marcal River. Emergency workers poured 1,000 tons of plaster into the water to try to keep it from flowing into the Danube.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Hitler's Nuremberg Laws End Convoluted Journey at National Archives

Photo Courtesy - Hulton Archive|Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Martin Dannenberg, an Army intelligence officer, was sitting in a German beer hall in April 1945 when a local man approached him, asking for help getting out of the war-torn country. In exchange, he promised him something that would be highly valuable to the Americans.

Intrigued, Dannenberg followed the man he called Uncle Hans to a bank vault in the town of Eichstatt, where he found a swastika-embossed envelope containing four of the most symbolic records from the war: original copies of the Nuremberg Laws.

The laws, which were signed by Adolf Hitler 75 years ago last month, outlawed marriages and sex between Jews and citizens of "German blood;" stripped Jews of their German citizenship; and established the swastika as the official flag of the Third Reich.

They established the legal underpinnings for marginalization of Jews and ultimately set into motion the Holocaust, historians say.

Dannenberg, under orders from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to gather Nazi records and submit them for use in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, photographed the documents with his Minox spy camera and gave them to his superior, Gen. George S. Patton.

But then the documents -- the only surviving original copies -- went missing and never made it into prosecutors' hands for use during the trials or into the collection of Nazi records now held in the U.S. National Archives. For Dannenberg, the discovery became little more than a personal memory which he didn't have the evidence to prove.

The Nuremberg Laws surfaced 54 years later at a small museum in San Merino, California, where Patton had deposited them for his personal safekeeping. And they were finally transferred this summer to the U.S. National Archives in Washington. On Wednesday, they were put on display for the first time.

While Dannenberg didn't survive to see the transfer of the records he first found -- he died in August at age 94 -- his family, who had been regaled for decades with his tale of the discovery, said he would be thrilled.

"We never saw the documents but we believed him," said Dannenberg's son, Richard, of his father's war story. "I'm sure he knows that they're here now. He would be proud."

Martin Dannenberg told the Baltimore Sun in a 1999 interview that he saw the discovery as incredibly ironic. "I had the most peculiar feeling when I had this in my hand, that I should be the one who should uncover this," he said. "Because here is this thing that begins the persecution of the Jews, and a Jewish person has found it."

Patton whisked the documents out of Europe and deposited them with the Huntington Museum near his family property in California. The general later died in a car accident, and the museum, lacking instructions from Patton, secretly kept the documents in a vault for decades.

The laws appeared publicly for the first time in 1999 when the Huntington loaned them to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. But Dannenberg didn't immediately receive the credit.

"There was a comment that said General Patton found these documents and went in, guns blazing, to get them," said Richard Dannenberg. "When my father saw that, he said, 'wait a minute, that's not right. I'm the one who found the documents!'"

Dannenberg's story was later corroborated by government archivists and historians and the museum has since corrected its records.

"Had Patton not taken them back to California & these would have been used at the [Nuremberg War Crimes] trial, and when the trail was over, these records would have come to us in 1947," said National Archives senior archivist Greg Bradsher.

"What was significant about the find of the original Nuremberg Laws was & the symbolic nature of the documents themselves, what they intended to do and what they helped create," he said. "These were the first laws to marginalize a whole group of people before they came up with a definition of what a Jew was."

The documents will remain a permanent part of the U.S. government collection of records from the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


UFO Sighting Over China Closes Airport...For Eighth Time

Photo Courtesy - Chien-Min Chung/Getty Images(HANGZHOU, China) -- A Chinese airport was shut down for more than an hour last month because air traffic controllers saw what they believed to be a UFO buzzing the airport, according to reports out of the country.

It is the eighth time since June that UFOs have been reported in China.

In the latest episode, several passenger jets were diverted from the airport at Baotou in Inner Mongolia for about an hour arond 8 p.m. on Sept. 11.

The alert was triggered by bright lights in the sky that moved erratically, but reports claim air traffic controllers at the Hohhot Air Traffic Management Bureau spotted the object on their radar.

After about an hour, the object and the lights suddenly vanished and passenger jets were allowed to land.

The Chinese government had said on previous occasions that the lights some claimed to be UFOs were military exercises, but the government denied the Sept. 11 incident happened at all.This summer another UFO report caused a sensation and forced Xiaoshan Airport in Hangzhou, to cease operations on July 7.

A flight crew preparing for descent first detected the object around 8:40 p.m. and notified the air traffic control department. Aviation authorities responded within minutes, grounding outbound flights and diverting inbound ones to airports in Ningbo and Wuxi.

Eighteen flights were affected. Though normal operations resumed an hour later, the incident captured the attention of the Chinese media and sparked a firestorm of speculation on the UFO's identity.

Hangzhou residents released photos, taken in the afternoon before the delays, of a hovering object bathed in golden light and exhibiting a comet-like tail. Less than an hour before the Xiaoshan airport shut down, residents said they also saw a flying object emitting red and white rays of light.  

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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