7.8-Magnitude Aftershock Strikes Off Chile’s Coast

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Aldo Solimano/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A 7.8-magnitude aftershock struck off the coast of Chile on Wednesday, one day after an 8.2-magnitude quake struck nearby.

The aftershock hit about 25 miles southwest of the city of Iquique and 6 miles beneath the ocean floor, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Tsunami warnings were issued for Chile and Peru, but there is no destructive tsunami threat to Hawaii, officials said. There’s no immediate word on damages.

Tuesday’s earthquake forced nearly a million people out of their homes, and resulted in tsunami warnings for nearby countries. At least six people died.

The area is known as the “Ring of Fire,” a circle of quake-prone areas on the Pacific Rim.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Palestinians Could Take More Unilateral Actions, Ambassador to UN Says

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday his country would potentially pursue joining more international organizations if the Israelis fail to honor their commitments in the current round of peace talks — including accession to the International Criminal Court, a move that could cause the already-shaky negotiations to collapse.

Israel fears that if the Palestinians were to join the ICC, they would seek to challenge Israel’s presence in the West Bank.

The ambassador, Riyad Mansour, said Wednesday that his leadership had “the right to do more,” including applying to more organizations, if it believed Israel was not acting like an equal partner in peace talks, and didn’t rule out a request for a seat at the ICC in The Hague when asked by a reporter.

“The leadership will observe and see how things unfold and it will decide accordingly the timing of the second batch [of applications] and the third batch and so on,” Mansour said, adding that the discussion of whether to apply to specific organizations — and how to time those applications — began some time ago.

The United States considered it a silver lining when President Mahmoud Abbas omitted the ICC when he announced Tuesday that he would submit applications to sign on to fifteen international treaties and organizations.

But Mansour said Wednesday that Abbas would not have made the move to join these organizations had Israel released a fourth tranche of prisoners as it had agreed to during the initial deal worked out almost nine months ago. Israel, in turn, said they did that only because the Palestinians had not yet agreed to continue negotiating past the current deadline of April 29.

“When they violated that agreement, we were free to do whatever we feel that we need to do and what we did is legal,” Mansour said.

During a hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power stressed how damaging to peace talks a Palestinian request to join the ICC would be.

“This is something that really poses a profound threat to Israel,” Power said, noting that the action would be “devastating to the peace process.”

The White House has blamed “tit for tat actions that don’t serve any purpose” with foiling progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One that the administration is “disappointed” by recent “unhelpful, unilateral actions both parties have taken in recent days.” But, he said, the administration still believes there is a path forward.

“There is a path for us to diplomatically find a way for there to be a safe, secure Jewish state of Israel existing alongside an independent, secure Palestinian state as well. That is the ultimate goal.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Malaysia Airlines Mystery: No Clues in Captain’s Flight Simulator

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

(WASHINGTON) — The FBI has completed a review of the in-home flight simulator that belonged to the captain of the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet and found “nothing suspicious whatsoever.”

It was the latest dead-end in the investigation of the jetliner’s disappearance on March 8 with 239 people on board.

The home-made flight simulator belonged to the plane’s pilot Capt. Zaharie Shah. It was seized by Malaysian investigators when baffled authorities began to look into the background of the plane’s crew. Officials looking for signs that the pilot may have practiced certain routes or maneuvers found that some files had been deleted from the simulator’s computer. The simulator was sent to the FBI’s lab in Quantico, Va.

“They (FBI analysts) have finished with the simulator. There is nothing suspicious whatsoever about what they found,” a senior U.S. official told ABC News.

“There’s nothing at all (criminal) about the pilot. Right now there is zero evidence of a criminal act by the flight crew,” the official said.

The sources said this creates even more of a need to find the plane and so-called black boxes because the background checks on passengers and crew, at least those done by U.S. officials, have not come up with anything definitive.

Planes and ships from several nations are scouring the southern Indian Ocean looking for signs of the plane.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Vladimir Putin’s Divorce Finalized

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — The divorce of Russian President Vladimir Putin from his wife of 30 years, Lyudmila, has been finalized, the Kremlin confirmed Wednesday.

Putin and Lyudmila Shkrebneva, who worked as a flight attendant, married on July 28, 1983. The pair met through a mutual friend when she stopped off in Leningrad for a few days.

“I was used to life as a bachelor, but Lyudmila changed that,” Putin said, according to his biography.

The couple announced their separation last year.

Russian tabloids have linked Putin to former Olympic gymnast Alina Kabayeva since 2008, however both have denied the relationship, according to reports from the past several years.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Russian Lawmaker Croons About Crimea in Gleeful Music Video

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — Russia’s annexation of Crimea has inspired a patriotic, if at times off-key, ballad from a nationalist Russian lawmaker.

The song is simply titled “Crimea” and the music video begins with an excerpt from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s defiant speech to the country’s political elite just days after the region voted to join Russia.

It then segues to the lawmaker, Andrei Ivantsov, stepping through a snowy forest and crooning about Crimea awaking from “a long cold winter.” He’s joined by a woman and, at times, another man for flowery lyrics about the region’s beauty.

This is just the latest song from Ivantsov, a local legislator in the southern city of Astrakhan, who posts them all on his YouTube page.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Residents Evacuated After Deadly Quake Strikes Off Chile’s Coast

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(SANTIAGO, Chile) — Nearly one million residents were forced to evacuate after a magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off Chile’s northern coast, triggering a small tsunami.

Six people are confirmed dead, Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said. Many of the victims died from heart attacks or falling debris.

The extent of the damage from Tuesday night’s quake couldn’t be fully assessed before daybreak, President Michelle Bachelet said, but she wasn’t taking any chances, declaring a state of emergency for the northern part of the country and deploying armed forces to prevent looting.

Military officials are also rounding up prisoners who escaped from a women’s prison in the city of Iquique. Officials said 39 of the 300 prisoners who escaped have been recaptured.

More than 900,000 people and 11 hospitals were evacuated along the Chilean coastline, government officials said.

The quake — which struck six miles beneath the ocean floor and 61 miles west-northwest of Iquique — was strong enough to be felt nearly 300 miles away in the Bolivian capital of Sucre. It was initially measured at 8.0, but was later upgraded, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a six-foot tsunami hit Pisagua, Chile, at 8:04 p.m. ET. There was some damage reported on roads linking northern towns between Iquique and Alto Auspicio, but it wasn’t immediately clear how much.

A tsunami alert was lifted early Wednesday for Chile and Peru while an advisory remained in effect for Hawaii. Alerts were cancelled for Ecuador, Colombia and Panama. Tsunami watches were also cancelled for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

The quake also triggered at least eight strong aftershocks in the first few hours, including a 6.2 tremor.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Residents Evacuated After Deadly Quake Strikes Off Chile’s Coast

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(SANTIAGO, Chile) — Nearly one million residents were forced to evacuate after a magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off Chile’s northern coast, triggering a small tsunami.

Six people are confirmed dead, Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said. Many of the victims died from heart attacks or falling debris.

The extent of the damage from Tuesday night’s quake couldn’t be fully assessed before daybreak, President Michelle Bachelet said, but she wasn’t taking any chances, declaring a state of emergency for the northern part of the country and deploying armed forces to prevent looting.

Military officials are also rounding up prisoners who escaped from a women’s prison in the city of Iquique. Officials said 39 of the 300 prisoners who escaped have been recaptured.

More than 900,000 people and 11 hospitals were evacuated along the Chilean coastline, government officials said.

The quake — which struck six miles beneath the ocean floor and 61 miles west-northwest of Iquique — was strong enough to be felt nearly 300 miles away in the Bolivian capital of Sucre. It was initially measured at 8.0, but was later upgraded, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a six-foot tsunami hit Pisagua, Chile, at 8:04 p.m. ET. There was some damage reported on roads linking northern towns between Iquique and Alto Auspicio, but it wasn’t immediately clear how much.

A tsunami alert was lifted early Wednesday for Chile and Peru while an advisory remained in effect for Hawaii. Alerts were cancelled for Ecuador, Colombia and Panama. Tsunami watches were also cancelled for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

The quake also triggered at least eight strong aftershocks in the first few hours, including a 6.2 tremor.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Peter Jackson’s Jet Involved in Flight 370 Search

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) — A luxury jet owned by movie director Peter Jackson is involved in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Jackson gave the OK for the jet to be used in the search — with the company that operates his jet accepting a charter offer, Radio New Zealand first reported.

The Gulfstream G650 jet, which can reach speeds of 700 miles per hour, is being used to relay messages between the search crews. Jackson’s spokesman, Matt Dravitzki, said the director wasn’t seeking publicity for the situation.

“A lot of civilian and military aircraft are involved in the search and it’s kind of disappointing that because one is owned by a celebrity it becomes a matter of news when there are [over] 200 people missing,” Dravitzki told the New Zealand Herald.

That search resumes Wednesday with 10 aircraft and nine ships, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was carrying 239 people when it went missing on March 8.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Peter Jackson’s Jet Involved in Flight 370 Search

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) — A luxury jet owned by movie director Peter Jackson is involved in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Jackson gave the OK for the jet to be used in the search — with the company that operates his jet accepting a charter offer, Radio New Zealand first reported.

The Gulfstream G650 jet, which can reach speeds of 700 miles per hour, is being used to relay messages between the search crews. Jackson’s spokesman, Matt Dravitzki, said the director wasn’t seeking publicity for the situation.

“A lot of civilian and military aircraft are involved in the search and it’s kind of disappointing that because one is owned by a celebrity it becomes a matter of news when there are [over] 200 people missing,” Dravitzki told the New Zealand Herald.

That search resumes Wednesday with 10 aircraft and nine ships, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was carrying 239 people when it went missing on March 8.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Report: No American Fatalities in Afghanistan in March

Posted on: April 1st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury/Released(WASHINGTON) — No Americans died in Afghanistan throughout the month of March, according to the Pentagon.

This marks the first time a month has gone by without a fatality in Afghanistan since 2007. While last year there was a 30-day period without an American fatality, that period stretched over two different months.

Reports show 12 Americans suffered injuries in Afghanistan in March.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Magnitude 8.2 Earthquake Strikes Off Chilean Coast

Posted on: April 1st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(IQUIQUE, Chile) — A magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck just off the coast of western Chile on Tuesday evening, the United States Geological Survey reports.

The quake hit 49 miles northwest of the port city of Iquique. The earthquake was centered about 6.2 miles underground. The USGS initially measured the tremor as a magnitude 8.0 before moving it to an 8.2.

Five deaths have been reported thus far: four men and one woman. All died from either cardiac arrest or falling debris.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a six-foot tsunami hit Pisagua, Chile, at 8:04 p.m. ET. There was some damage reported on roads linking northern towns between Iquique and Alto Auspicio, but it was not immediately clear how much.

The PTWC also issued a tsunami warning for Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Panama. A tsunami watch was put in effect for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. All warnings and watches were called off on Tuesday night, with the exception of tsunami warnings for Chile and Peru.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Kerry Insists Mideast Peace Talks Still Alive

Posted on: April 1st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images(BRUSSELS) — As Middle East peace talks descended into crisis mode Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry sought to make clear that they are still ongoing — at least for now.

“It is completely premature tonight to draw any kind of judgment, any kind of final judgment, about today’s events and where things are,” he told reporters at the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium.

But he also warned that extending the negotiations will not happen if the Israelis and Palestinians don’t exhibit their desire to keep them going.

“Facilitation is only as good as the willingness of leaders to make actions to put in front of them,” he said.

Even as Kerry cancelled his own trip back to the Middle East, which was supposed to happen Wednesday, he said he was continuing to talk with his negotiating partners on the ground there.

But he urged both the Israelis and Palestinians, who have made moves that drew ire from both sides over the past few days, to show restraint.

Kerry also responded to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s defiant announcement Tuesday that he was applying to join at least fifteen international organizations — an effort to align the Palestinians with the international community that Israel is wary of.

Seeking to find the silver lining in that move, Kerry underscored that none of the organizations Abbas is now seeking to join are affiliated with the United Nations, which Israel has said would blow up the talks.

Kerry also emphasized how much political capital the Obama administration has expended on these talks, noting that President Barack Obama “has committed his personal time… he has committed my time.”

But, he said, the United States is willing to continue negotiations as long as the Israelis and Palestinians are.

“We’re going to continue to do our work. We’re going to continue because this matters,” he said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

US Offers Release of Jonathan Pollard to Keep Peace Talks Alive

Posted on: April 1st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — As the current round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians hit their nine-month deadline, the Obama administration introduced a Hail Mary-esque offer to keep the Israelis at the table: the release of Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. spy who provided intelligence to the Israelis and has been serving a life sentence since 1987.

Israel decided not to release 30 Palestinian prisoners last week, a provision of the current round of talks, because it first wanted a commitment from the Palestinian side that they would extend talks beyond the current April 29 deadline.

A U.S. official said Pollard is one of several options being considered in order to keep the Israelis at the table and give way to a diplomatic domino effect: Israel releases the prisoners and agrees to another item on the Palestinian “wish list” like a settlement freeze in the West Bank or the release of elderly and female prisoners in order to keep the Palestinians talking for another set period of time.

The Palestinians have threatened to seek full member status at the United Nations if Israel does not release this batch of prisoners.

Pollard has long been a cause célèbre for pro-Israel activists on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In 2002, Benjamin Netanyahu, now the Prime Minister but who was then out of office, visited Pollard in his North Carolina prison.

ABC US News | ABC Business News

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Experts Claim They’ve Found the Holy Grail in Spanish Basilica

Posted on: April 1st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

CESAR MANSO/AFP/Getty Images(LEON, Spain) — It’s been a Hollywood staple as well as a 2,000-year-old mystery. What happened to the elusive Holy Grail, the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper?

But now, two historians have come forward saying the jewel-encrusted goblet has been inside the San Isidoro Basilica, in Leon, Spain, for the last 1,000 years.

“This has been an incredibly popular endeavor to try to find something that Jesus touched,” Dr. Robert Cargill, an assistant professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Iowa, told ABC News.

The two researchers, Margarita Torres and Jose Manuel Ortega del Rio, authors of the book, Kings of the Grail, believe they found conclusive evidence from ancient Egyptian scrolls documenting that Muslims stole the infamous cup from Jerusalem and took it to Egypt. They say it was then disguised with jewels and eventually given to Spanish King Ferdinand I as a gift.

The authors claim there is “no doubt” they have found one of the most intriguing artifacts in the Christian faith.

However, Cargill begs to differ.

“I don’t think we’ll ever find the Holy Grail,” he explained. “Even if we had it, there would be no way to confirm it was the grail.”

The latest discovery is stirring new intrigue close to the Easter season as thousands of believers are now flocking to see the golden chalice, which, despite being inside the Spanish museum for a thousand years, has only been on display since the 1950s.

Before that, it had been placed in storage.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

The Real Final Words from Flight 370 Cockpit Revealed

Posted on: April 1st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Rob Griffith – Pool/Getty Images(PERTH, Australia) — As the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane stretches into a fourth week, authorities clarified the final recorded words spoken by the plane’s pilots.

Malaysia’s transport ministry said the final voice transmission from the cockpit of Flight 370 was, “Good night Malaysian three-seven-zero.” Earlier, the government said the final words were “All right, good night.”

There’s no explanation for the discrepancy, and authorities are still trying to determine whether the voice belongs to the pilot or co-pilot.

Monday’s search for the jetliner included 10 planes and nine ships and continued amid poor weather conditions. At a press conference Monday, retired Australia Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston said Australia will soon be deploying an E-7A Wedgetail to act as a flying air traffic controller over the Indian Ocean.

Houston said the search area is roughly the size of Ireland.

“This search and recovery mission is the most challenging I’ve ever seen,” Houston said. “If we don’t find wreckage on the surface, we are eventually going to have to probably, in consultation with everybody who has a stake in this, review what we do next.”

The search area for the doomed plane has been refined due to data from the satellite company Inmarsat, which tracked the jet on a southern route off the western coast of Australia. But even knowing the plane did crash in the Indian Ocean, the exact location remains a mystery, said Chris McLaughlin, Inmarsat’s Senior Vice President.

“We can’t give you a definitive ‘X marks the spot,’ we can give you a range area in which to look, which is what the world’s navies and aircraft are now doing,” McLaughlin told ABC News.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Many Iraq, Afghanistan War Vets Say Health Worse than Before Deployment

Posted on: April 1st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Many veterans who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan say they are worse off for doing so, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey of 819 veterans conducted in late 2013. In all, 2.6 million service members were deployed in the two wars going back to October 2001.

Forty-three percent say their physical health is now worse than before they went overseas to fight, with 45 percent saying it’s about the same. Only 12 percent claim it’s better.

As for their mental or emotional health, 31 percent say it’s worse than before deployment to either Iraq or Afghanistan while 56 percent claim it’s the same and 12 percent believe it’s better.

The Post-Kaiser Family survey also finds that 18 percent were seriously injured while performing their duties and 34 percent have a service-connected disability.

Just over four in ten Iraq and Afghanistan vets admit experiencing outbursts of anger while 51 percent know a service member who has considered suicide.

About half say they’ve had problems transitioning into civilian life while the other half claim it’s actually been easier than expected.

Given the cost of wars, nearly all vets in the survey would do it all over again, even knowing what they know now.

Regarding their political views, 32 percent approve of the job President Obama is doing while 42 percent feel he is a “good commander in chief of the military.” Forty percent believe the president is not a good commander in chief.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Candidate for Afghan Presidency Confident of Victory

Posted on: April 1st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

metrokom/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Afghanistan’s presidential election is Saturday, April 5, and 2009 runner-up Abdullah Abdullah thinks he’s going to be the successor to Hamid Karzai.

In an interview last week, Abdullah said he believes he’ll get enough of the popular vote in the crowded field of candidates to avoid a run-off.

It was five years ago that Abdullah, a former Afghan foreign minister, was set to face Karzai in a run-off following the hotly contested election in which accusations of voter fraud were leveled at the incumbent president. However, Abdullah backed out of the run-off, handing the election to Karzai.

Unlike the current president, who was constitutionally banned from running a third time, Abdullah supports a Bilateral Security Agreement that would keep a residual force of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan following the planned pullout of most coalition soldiers by the end of 2014.

The post-war pact also guarantees billions of dollars in pledges for Afghanistan by foreign governments.

Abdullah has promised to sign the BSA “within a month” of winning the election.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Putin May Have Ordered Partial Withdrawal from Ukraine Border

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — Russian President Vladimir Putin may have ordered a “partial withdrawal” of troops from the Ukrainian border on Monday.

Putin informed German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the move in a phone conversation on Monday, the BBC News reports. The Russian Defense Ministry released a statement saying that a motorized infantry battalion was being moved to a new location from the Rostov region, which borders Ukraine.

The U.S. State Department was unable to confirm the troop movement on Monday, however, spokesperson Jen Psaki did say that, “if reports that Russia is removing some troops from the border region are accurate, it would be a welcome preliminary step.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Putin May Have Ordered Partial Withdrawal from Ukraine Border

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — Russian President Vladimir Putin may have ordered a “partial withdrawal” of troops from the Ukrainian border on Monday.

Putin informed German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the move in a phone conversation on Monday, the BBC News reports. The Russian Defense Ministry released a statement saying that a motorized infantry battalion was being moved to a new location from the Rostov region, which borders Ukraine.

The U.S. State Department was unable to confirm the troop movement on Monday, however, spokesperson Jen Psaki did say that, “if reports that Russia is removing some troops from the border region are accurate, it would be a welcome preliminary step.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Hagel Calls North Korean Actions ‘Provocative’ and ‘Dangerous’

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called North Korea’s provocative actions over the last few weeks “dangerous,” at a Pentagon news conference on Monday.

“The provocation that North Koreans have, once again, engaged in, is dangerous and it needs to stop,” Hagel said. Early Monday, North Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells across disputed territory, including many which allegedly fell on the South Korean side of the maritime border.

South Korea fired artillery back in the direction of North Korea, but South Korean officials say they were sure not to fire projectiles too close to the North Korean side of the border.

Hagel said he had been in touch with the top U.S. and U.N. commander in South Korea on Monday about the artillery exchanges and a captured fishing vessel which had been released.

The Secretary of Defense had a similar message when asked about comments from the North Korean Foreign Minister, who said that the country could prepare for another nuclear test.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Hagel Calls North Korean Actions ‘Provocative’ and ‘Dangerous’

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called North Korea’s provocative actions over the last few weeks “dangerous,” at a Pentagon news conference on Monday.

“The provocation that North Koreans have, once again, engaged in, is dangerous and it needs to stop,” Hagel said. Early Monday, North Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells across disputed territory, including many which allegedly fell on the South Korean side of the maritime border.

South Korea fired artillery back in the direction of North Korea, but South Korean officials say they were sure not to fire projectiles too close to the North Korean side of the border.

Hagel said he had been in touch with the top U.S. and U.N. commander in South Korea on Monday about the artillery exchanges and a captured fishing vessel which had been released.

The Secretary of Defense had a similar message when asked about comments from the North Korean Foreign Minister, who said that the country could prepare for another nuclear test.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

UN Report: Climate Change Is Here Now

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s not the future: It’s here now.

Lower Manhattan underwater from rising seas during hurricane Sandy; wildfires — many more of them like the one in Colorado; droughts in the American West; and wicked hurricanes and typhoons like Haiyan, the one in the Philippines last year: All these, according to a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — a U.N. panel created to give governments reliable information on climate change — are signs of the impact of climate change.

“We are experiencing the impact here and now; Global warming is occurring,” Noah Diffenbaugh, associate professor Stanford University and coauthor of the report told ABC News. “The impact of global warming is already being felt. It is being felt across the continents; they are being felt in the ocean. This is not just about the risk of climate change a century from now but it’s really about managing the risk of the current climate.”

And while global warming is easiest to see at the poles, with ice caps being drastically reduced over the past 10 years, this new report by a United Nations-sanctioned science panel says there is no more debate: Global warming is real, here now, wreaking havoc worldwide and caused by humans.

The first two sentences of the report lays it pretty simply: “Human interference with the climate system is occurring. Climate change poses risks for human and natural systems.”

Last year alone, the U.S. suffered seven weather disaster events, costing the country $7 billion and 109 lives, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We have very clear observations of global warming, we know it is happening. We also know that is not consistent with the natural variations in the climate system,” Diffenbaugh said. “It is consistent with human activity, particularly the emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.”

While those living in the northeast corridor of the United States might find it hard to believe after a winter with record snowfall, around the world 2013 was one of the warmest years on record.

“It’s very easy to look outside one’s doorway and draw conclusions about whether the temperature is going up or down,” Diffenbaugh said. “The reality is that globally, 2013 was one of the hottest years on record, and the winter of 2014, while it was extremely cold in parts of the United States, it was actually one of the warmest Januaries on record.”

According to NOAA, Anchorage, Alaska’s above average January temperature of 29.4 degrees F was slightly warmer than the below average temperatures seen in Philadelphia (28°) and New York City (29 ºF).

And what the current and future global warming means is that the risk of climate extremes impacting lives, livelihoods, security, and crops is all too real.

“It’s very likely that if global warming continues along the current pathway, that we are likely to see more of the extreme heat that can be damaging to crops in the United States. In terms of water supply; we now know that further global warming is likely to increase how many extremely low snow years we experience in the western United States — this has important impacts for water supply in the western United States; When we look at sea level over the coming decade, this suggests we are likely to see increased risk of extremely strong storm surges in landfalling storms and extremely large flooding events.”

The good news is, if we caused it, the report says, we can fix it. In fact, fossil fuel use is dropping in the United States, but unfortunately China and India more than make up for the difference.

“There are a lots of ways I know I can improve how much I am impacting the climate system, certainly the air travel, whether or not I leave my lights on, whether or not I ride my bike or take a short trip in the car, I know that all of these activities that I engage in end up contributing CO2 to the atmosphere and when we add all that up all over the world, that is what’s causing the global warming that we are very clearly observing,” Diffenbaugh said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

UN Report: Climate Change Is Here Now

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s not the future: It’s here now.

Lower Manhattan underwater from rising seas during hurricane Sandy; wildfires — many more of them like the one in Colorado; droughts in the American West; and wicked hurricanes and typhoons like Haiyan, the one in the Philippines last year: All these, according to a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — a U.N. panel created to give governments reliable information on climate change — are signs of the impact of climate change.

“We are experiencing the impact here and now; Global warming is occurring,” Noah Diffenbaugh, associate professor Stanford University and coauthor of the report told ABC News. “The impact of global warming is already being felt. It is being felt across the continents; they are being felt in the ocean. This is not just about the risk of climate change a century from now but it’s really about managing the risk of the current climate.”

And while global warming is easiest to see at the poles, with ice caps being drastically reduced over the past 10 years, this new report by a United Nations-sanctioned science panel says there is no more debate: Global warming is real, here now, wreaking havoc worldwide and caused by humans.

The first two sentences of the report lays it pretty simply: “Human interference with the climate system is occurring. Climate change poses risks for human and natural systems.”

Last year alone, the U.S. suffered seven weather disaster events, costing the country $7 billion and 109 lives, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We have very clear observations of global warming, we know it is happening. We also know that is not consistent with the natural variations in the climate system,” Diffenbaugh said. “It is consistent with human activity, particularly the emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.”

While those living in the northeast corridor of the United States might find it hard to believe after a winter with record snowfall, around the world 2013 was one of the warmest years on record.

“It’s very easy to look outside one’s doorway and draw conclusions about whether the temperature is going up or down,” Diffenbaugh said. “The reality is that globally, 2013 was one of the hottest years on record, and the winter of 2014, while it was extremely cold in parts of the United States, it was actually one of the warmest Januaries on record.”

According to NOAA, Anchorage, Alaska’s above average January temperature of 29.4 degrees F was slightly warmer than the below average temperatures seen in Philadelphia (28°) and New York City (29 ºF).

And what the current and future global warming means is that the risk of climate extremes impacting lives, livelihoods, security, and crops is all too real.

“It’s very likely that if global warming continues along the current pathway, that we are likely to see more of the extreme heat that can be damaging to crops in the United States. In terms of water supply; we now know that further global warming is likely to increase how many extremely low snow years we experience in the western United States — this has important impacts for water supply in the western United States; When we look at sea level over the coming decade, this suggests we are likely to see increased risk of extremely strong storm surges in landfalling storms and extremely large flooding events.”

The good news is, if we caused it, the report says, we can fix it. In fact, fossil fuel use is dropping in the United States, but unfortunately China and India more than make up for the difference.

“There are a lots of ways I know I can improve how much I am impacting the climate system, certainly the air travel, whether or not I leave my lights on, whether or not I ride my bike or take a short trip in the car, I know that all of these activities that I engage in end up contributing CO2 to the atmosphere and when we add all that up all over the world, that is what’s causing the global warming that we are very clearly observing,” Diffenbaugh said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell to Resign

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US State Department/US Embassy in New Delhi(WASHINGTON) — Nancy Powell, the U.S. Ambassador to India since 2012, will resign effective at the end of May.

According to a press release posted to the website of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, Powell submitted her resignation to President Obama, announcing her resignation publicly in a U.S. Mission Town Hall meeting on Monday. She has served for 37 years as the Ambassador to Uganda, Ghana, Pakistan, Nepal and India. Powell has also worked in Canada, Togo, Bangladesh and as the Director General of the Foreign Service in Washington, D.C.

In December 2013, an Indian diplomat at the New York embassy was charged with lying about her nanny’s pay and ordered her to return to India. In response, India expelled a U.S diplomat. The U.S. State Department did not say if Powell’s resignation is connected in any way with that incident.

According to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi’s press release, Powell plans to retire to her home in Delaware.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Koreas Trade Artillery Rounds in Display of Firepower and Pique

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) — North and South Korea fired hundreds of shells into the sea Monday along a disputed demarcation line in a display of firepower and pique that sent villagers on nearby islands fleeing into bomb shelters.

North Korea did take the unusual step of issuing a warning that it would have a live fire drill off its coast before launching around 500 artillery shells over a three-hour period into the Yellow Sea. About 100 shells landed south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), which the South claims as its maritime border. South Korea responded with 300 artillery shells, but they were measured to land below the sea boundary within South Korean territory, according to Kim Min-suk, spokesman for the South’s Defense Ministry.

Residents of five South Korean islands in that area were evacuated into shelters.

Raising tensions at this time of the year has been routine during which U.S. and South Korean forces carry out annual military exercises. Pyongyang has repeatedly expressed discontent claiming that the drills pose a national security threat. In protest, it has regularly conducted live fire drills and test-fired missiles.

In Washington, White House spokesman Jonathan Lalley called North Korea’s actions “dangerous and provocative” and said they would further aggravate tensions in the region.

The poorly marked western sea boundary has been the scene of several bloody naval skirmishes between the Koreas in recent years. In March 2010, a South Korean warship sank in the area following a torpedo attack blamed on Pyongyang that left 46 sailors dead. North Korea denies responsibility for the sinking. In November 2010, a North Korean artillery bombardment killed four South Koreans on Yeonpyeong.

“The boneheads appear to have completely forgotten the fact that Yeonpyeong island was smashed by our military’s bolt of lightning a few years ago,” a North Korean military official, Yun Jong Bum, said Monday, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The bombardment came a day after North Korea warned  that it could carry out “a new kind” of nuclear test, but Seoul sees no sign of any imminent nuclear tests.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev Visits Crimea

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev arrived in Crimea on Monday to make a statement.

He pledged to rebuild the region’s crumbling infrastructure and develop its economy, but his presence was also meant to send a message to Ukraine and the rest of the world: that Crimea is Russian.

One of Medvedev’s top deputies, Dmitri Rogozin, who was sanctioned by the U.S. and Europe after Crimea’s annexation, tweeted a photo of himself along Crimea’s shores with the words: “Crimea is ours. Enough already.”

Though the U.S. and its allies are unlikely to ever officially recognize Crimea as part of Russia, it seems they have given up on the idea of changing things back.

Secretary of State John Kerry is in tense negotiations with the Russians about Ukraine’s future, but a White House statement about those talks late last week made no mention of Crimea.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Time Running Out to Find Flight 370 Black Boxes

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Jason Reed-Pool/Getty Images(PERTH, Australia) — On Day 24 in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, 10 planes and 10 ships will again comb through the southern Indian Ocean for any sign of debris from the jet that was carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing before it vanished.

In spite of all the satellite imagery of large and small objects floating in the water, nothing has been definitively linked to the plane that Malaysian officials say crashed in the ocean under mysterious circumstances.

Monday’s operation involves crews from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, South Korea and Malaysia.

One of vessels, the Royal Australian Navy ship Ocean Shield, is equipped with a black-box detector and an autonomous underwater vehicle.

Finding the black boxes from Flight 370 is critical because they may not be emitting signals for much longer than a week.

Meanwhile, the angry relatives of the airliner’s Chinese passengers turned up in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday to demand answers from the Malaysian government. Last week, the prime minister said all had died on the plane but Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s acting transport minister, has since contradicted that announcement, claiming there could be survivors.

The Chinese family members also say they haven’t gotten any straight answers from Malaysia Airlines or plane maker Boeing about what might have happened to the aircraft missing since March 8.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Court Indicts Former Pakistan Leader Musharraf in Treason Case

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) — A special court has indicted Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for high treason for suspending the country’s constitution by imposing emergency rule in 2007, when he was the president.

Contrary to all expectations, Musharraf surprised everyone by appearing before the court on Monday. He had failed to appear on previous hearings citing security and medical reasons.

The court had issued non-bailable arrest warrants on Musharraf if he did not appear before the court Monday.

A judge read five charges of treason against Musharraf, to which he pleaded not guilty.

Musharraf’s attorney pleaded that he be allowed to proceed abroad to visit his ailing mother and also for his own medical treatment. A verdict on that is expected later.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Kensington Palace Releases Photo of Prince George Ahead of Trip Down Under

Posted on: March 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Jason Bell/Camera Press (LONDON) — Even at 8 1/2 months, Prince George has the world captivated — just like his famous parents. A new photo showing The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their infant son was released by Kensington Palace Saturday.

The picture shows the family in their apartment at Kensington Palace in mid March.

The photo taken by Jason Bell, who also snapped the couple’s Christening photos, was released in advance to mark their trip Down Under next week. The Duke and Duchess plan to spend three weeks with Prince George in Australia and New Zealand, a trip William took at the same age with his parents 31 years ago

“This is about the coming out of Prince George. It’s the first time we’re going to see him internationally,” royal editor and author Robert Jobson told ABC News

Aside from the couple’s arrival at the airport in New Zealand, we should get our first real glimpse of little George at a reception at Government House in Wellington with other parents.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a repeat of him crawling around like Prince William did in Australia because it is really all about him on this trip,” Jobson said. “This is really the first time we’ll get a good look since the christening.”

The trip is tailored to the couple’s interests and they have plans to race New Zealand’s America’s Cup yachts in Auckland Harbour and to shoot the rapids on the 50 mph “Shotover Jet” in the Canyons in Queensland.

One of the most poignant moments may be their visit to Ayers Rock in Australia, where William’s parents famously took in the magnificent scenery, a tour William and Kate will also undertake.

The trip will have no shortage of glamor. The Duchess should have plenty of occasions to don the Royal Jewels, but most of the trip is expected to be more low key.

“I think Prince William is one that will try to play down the formality of occasion. He’d much prefer to go to a state barbecue than a state banquet and I think that’s what he’s going to have the opportunity to do in Australia and New Zealand,” said Jobson.

And what about a little brother or sister for George in the future?

Prince William told guests at the annual St. Patrick’s celebration in Aldershot two weeks ago that Prince George was busy crawling but “one was enough at the moment.”

The world will have to wait and see.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Aircraft Spots ‘Brightly Colored’ Objects In Search For Missing Plane

Posted on: March 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

(NEW YORK) — An aircraft has spotted three brightly colored objects in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370.

Searchers from the New Zealand Royal Air Force said that spotters on search planes have seen objects before, but never have they managed to get clear pictures or have another plane find those same objects again.

“Finally, the details seem to be lining up,” said ABC News Correspondent David Wright, who is in Perth, Australia.

But, it has still yet to be determined if the debris is connected to flight 370.

Wright says, even if they confirm debris in the water may be from the plane, searchers must still find the heavy wreckage on the ocean floor before black boxes can be retreived.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio