Iran’s Top Leader Pardons Controversial Blogger

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Report: Iran’s top leader pardons controversial Iranian-Canadian blogger sentenced to 19 years

3 Men in UK Court Over Beheading Plot

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

3 men appear in London court over terrorism charges, alleged beheading plot

Toronto Mayor Selling off Bobblehead Dolls

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Outgoing Toronto mayor to sell off remaining ‘Robbie Bobbie’ bobblehead dolls

Slain Beauty Queen, Sister Buried in Honduras

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Slain Honduran beauty queen and sister laid to rest near hometown by grieving relatives

Kerry to Join Iran Nuclear Talks in Vienna

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Secretary of State Kerry arrives in Vienna to join Iran nuclear negotiations

Iraq, Turkey Vow to Work Together Against IS Group

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Iraq, Turkey pledge closer security cooperation to counter IS, make peace over oil dispute

See Where Santa Has Lost 30 Pounds in 20 Years

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Christmas card alterations in the past 20 years show Santa has lost more than 30 pounds, according to a review of cards by U.K. retailer Clintons.

Kerry to Join Iran Nuke Talks in Vienna

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

State Dept photo(VIENNA) — Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling to Vienna on Thursday, where he’ll join the nuclear talks with Iran.

In a statement, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry is coming to the Austrian city to “check in” on the nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Psaki added that Kerry’s departure date is “not yet determined,” leaving open the possibility that he may leave before Monday’s deadline.

If Kerry goes home, it may be a sign that a deal is dead. If he travels elsewhere, he might be continuing the sidelines negotiations he’s done from London and Paris.

Officials, meanwhile, are working hard to lower expectations of a deal this week, and some are now openly debating whether an extension is necessary.

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Bahrain Elections Missing Key Shiite Players

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Bahrain’s first vote since Arab Spring unrest to proceed despite majority Shiite boycott

New Homes, Worker Ban Heighten Tension in Middle East

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) — At a time when tensions in Jerusalem are already sky-high, Israel on Wednesday approved plans to build 78 new homes in East Jerusalem.

Palestinian leaders and domestic critics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are furious. The U.S. State Department has also criticized the move.

But it’s not the only incident that has exacerbated tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. Another announcement to bar Arab Israeli workers has set off a national uproar.

Citing security concerns after Tuesday’s synagogue attack, the mayor of the southern city of Asheklon on Thursday banned Arab Israeli construction workers at pre-schools.

The decision has been publicly condemned not just by Arab Israeli leaders but by Netanyahu, the defense minister and the justice minister.

Arab Israeli lawmaker Achmed Tibi called the move, “racist” while Israeli leaders say discrimination against Arab Israelis is not just unacceptable, it’s illegal.

Israel’s attorney general and rights groups are expected to fight the mayor’s move.

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Pope Francis Takes on Capitalism at UN Conference on Hunger

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

FAO via Getty Images(ROME) — Speaking to a United Nations conference on hunger in Rome Thursday, Pope Francis once again took on capitalism.

The pope called it painful to witness how the “primacy of profit” and speculation obstruct the fight against hunger and malnutrition around the world.

In the past 12 years, hunger has fallen by about 20 percent. But millions in the West overeat to the point of obesity, while 800 million continue to go hungry, with malnutrition being linked to almost half of the deaths of young children around the world.

Pope Francis added that no form of political or economic pressure that exploits the availability of foodstuffs can be considered acceptable.

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Two US Naval Supply Ships Collide in Arabian Sea

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

File photo. U.S. Navy / Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob I. Allison(MANAMA, Bahrain) — Two U.S. Naval supply ships collided in the Gulf of Aden, according to Navy officials. 

The USNS Amelia Earhart and USNS Walter S. Diehl collided in the gulf between Yemen and Somalia early Thursday morning as they began a replenishment operation.

Both ships appeared to have only minor damage and will continue their assigned missions, the Navy said.

The Navy plans to conduct an investigation to determine the collision’s cause.

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How Russian Website Is Spying on Thousands of Private Moments

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A baby is seen sleeping in a crib in Orange, California. A woman is watched as she sits at her kitchen table reading the newspaper in Burlington, New Jersey. An office in Plano, Texas, is shown just as the work day begins.

They’re all scenes from the 4,591 webcams in the United States that are being broadcast on a Russian website. The cameras haven’t been hacked. They’re simply unsecured, making them easy targets for the Moscow-based website, which ABC News has visited but will not name out of concern for users’ privacy.

Footage from more than 100 countries, showing living rooms, home exteriors and closed circuit cameras in businesses, among other locations, is easily viewable. The website even takes it further by providing the exact coordinates of each web cam.

A message on the website’s homepage said it “has been designed in order to show the importance of the security settings.”

“To remove your public camera from this site and make it private the only thing you need to do is to change your camera default password,” the message reads.

While it was not immediately clear what could be done to shut down the website, it has caught the attention of watchdogs in the United Kingdom who said they were joining agencies in the United States, Australia and Canada, among others, to issue a warning to consumers.

Robert Siciliano, a McAfee identity theft expert, told ABC News users with webcams need to be vigilant about changing the username and password once they’re installed.

“The users of these devices often use the default user name and password that comes with the device,” Siciliano said. “Criminals know this and scan the web for these networks and cameras and then they get full access to it.”

Aside from choosing a secure password, Siciliano said he encourages people to make sure their software is always up to date so hackers can not exploit any potential flaws and make sure their home and office Wi-Fi is encrypted.

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Deadly Car Bombing in Kurdish Capital of Erbil

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images(ERBIL, Iraq) — The Kurdish capital of Erbil was rocked by a suicide car bombing Wednesday that killed at least four people and wounded 29 others.

The attack outside the governor’s compound marked the first terrorist assault in the city since Kurdish fighters began repelling the advance of Islamic State militants, who had taken over large swaths of northern and western Iraq. There are also American consular personnel in Erbil along with military staff protecting them.

There was no claim of responsibility for the bombing that occurred when the driver of the car detonated his explosives after being stopped by guards at a checkpoint.

Although the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq has avoided much of the violence caused by ISIS and its allies, leaders there are pleading for more help from the West.

Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said that while U.S. and coalition air strikes have hurt ISIS’ ability to advance in Iraq, he said the Kurds still need armored personnel carriers and heavy artillery.

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Missing Honduran Beauty Queen and Sister Found Murdered

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A massive search for Miss Honduras, María José Alvarado, and her sister, who have been missing since last week, ended tragically Wednesday when their bodies were discovered buried by a river in the northern part of the Central American country.

Police are charging the sister’s boyfriend with the women’s murders. They have also arrested another man with possible accomplices still at-large.

According to authorities, they have the gun Plutarco Ruíz allegedly used to kill Alvarado, 19, and her sister, Sofía, a 23-year-old school teacher. Police also say Ruíz led them to the place where he allegedly buried the women.

Both Alvarado and her sister attended a party for Ruíz in a spa close to the city of Santa Bárbara last Thursday. Local media reports that the suspect shot his girlfriend for dancing with another man and also struck Alvarado.

Police say that Ruíz had first planned to bring the women to the hospital but when they died, he half-buried them in order to hasten their bodies’ decomposition.

Crowned Miss Honduras earlier this year, Alvarado had planned to leave for London Thursday to prepare for the Miss World pageant in December.

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Sri Lanka President Calls Early Presidential Polls

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa calls polls, seeking 3rd term amid opposition criticism

Photos: Stunning Insect Photographs

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Extreme close ups of insects by Yudy Sauw.

Egypt Arrests Top Islamist Negotiator

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Egypt arrests Muslim Brotherhood’s top negotiator

7 Killed in Knife Attack at China Military Clinic

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

7 killed in knife attack at Chinese military clinic, staff member detained

9 Convicted in Philippines for 1996 Disco Fire

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Philippine court convicts 9 people for 1996 disco fire that killed 162 people

Los Angeles-Based ‘Dating Guru’ Banned from UK

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — A self-styled “dating guru” who has stirred up controversy in a number of countries with what many feel are offensive tactics to approach women has been banned from entering the United Kingdom.

Julien Blanc holds seminars claiming to teach men how to attract women, but his methods have been widely criticized as sexually abusive. Blanc is the Swiss-born American “executive coach for the Los Angeles based ‘Real Social Dynamics,’” according to his Twitter account. He describes himself as “an international leader in dating advice.”

A petition in Britain to deny him a visa attracted more than 150,000 signatures ahead of his U.K. tour, which was scheduled to start in February. Twitter users have used the hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld to share pictures apparently showing Blanc with his hand around the throats of women. In one recorded seminar, Blanc is seen approaching girls and forcing their heads towards his crotch. Another hashtag that has stirred up the Twitterverse is #takedownjulienblanc.

Blanc has apologized, telling CNN earlier this month that his intention was “a horrible attempt at humor” taken out of context.

Blanc has already had to cut short a recent tour of Australia because his visa was cancelled following protests there.

On its website, his company Real Social Dynamics calls itself “the world’s largest dating coaching company,” and promises customers the chance to “witness dating coaches attract beautiful women in live demonstrations.” But critics say videos and pictures of Blanc in action show that he encourages men to harass women with the aim of having sex with them.

Blanc and Real Social Dynamics did not respond to requests for comment by ABC News.

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Obama, Kerry Hold Secret Talks Amid Iran Negotiations

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Alex Wong/Getty Images(VIENNA) — Nuclear negotiations with Iran continue on Wednesday, but there is plenty of diplomacy and secret meetings going on elsewhere.

In London, Secretary of State John Kerry held a secret meeting with Oman’s foreign minister, who has emerged as a go-between with Iran.

Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., President Obama held an unannounced meeting with a Saudi prince.

On Thursday, Kerry travels to Paris to meet his French and Saudi counterparts, who are nervous about a deal.

The United Kingdom’s top diplomat fears an agreement can’t be reached by Monday’s deadline. But most officials here are tight-lipped, which is often a sign of progress.

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Security Beefed Up in Israel Following Synagogue Attack

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) — Security has been beefed up in and around Jerusalem following Tuesday’s brutal synagogue attack that left five Israelis dead, including three American Rabbis.  

Extra police and border security forces have been deployed near large synagogues, schools, public institutions, squares and transportation centers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reinstating the controversial policy of demolishing homes of Palestinians who carry out terrorist attacks. It’s a policy Israel largely abandoned almost a decade ago over questions of its effectiveness as a deterrent and its legality.

Nonetheless, on Tuesday night, Israeli forces destroyed the East Jerusalem home of the Palestinian who drove his car into a train stop on Oct. 22, killing two people, including an Israeli American baby girl.

Officials say the homes of the two synagogue attackers, who also lived in East Jerusalem, will be demolished in the near future.

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US Scaling Back Number of Ebola Treatment Units in Liberia

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Ruslan Olinchuk/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren confirmed on Wednesday that the United States is scaling back the number of planned Ebola treatment units in Liberia from 17 to 10.

That means that instead of setting up health facilities with 1,700 beds, there will actually be 650 beds.

Currently, the U.S. military has 2,591 personnel for the Ebola mission — 243 of them are in Senegal and the rest are in Liberia. 

The U.S. is also going to reduce the number of beds in the six other facilities still under construction. Those units will now have only 50 beds each, instead of the 100 originally planned.

The United States had gone into Liberia with plans to set up 17 100-bed Ebola treatment units. But once military personnel got the ball rolling, rainy weather and infrastructure problems significantly slowed down their construction. 

Only one of the 100-bed units is currently open; another two will be open by this weekend. The 10th and final unit will be up and running by the first week of December.

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Guess Which Nation Is the Most Generous in the World

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The United States and Myanmar have tied for the title of the most generous country in the world, based on factors such as helping strangers, donating money and volunteering time.

That’s according to the 2014 World Giving Index, which looks at charitable behavior across the world, involving 135 countries over a five-year period (2009-2013). The index and rankings are compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation, a nonprofit group that focuses on promoting philanthropy.

This year, the United States is the only country to be ranked in the Top 10 for all three of the charitable giving behaviors covered by the World Giving Index: helping a stranger (1st), volunteering time (joint 5th) and donating money (9th). Myanmar’s position is driven primarily by an incredibly high proportion of people donating money (91 percent).

The report attributes Myanmar’s high level of giving as a reflection of “the strong Theravada Buddhist community within Myanmar, with its estimated 500,000 monks receiving support from lay devotees.”

Canada came in at number three, followed by Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago to round out the top 10.

“This year’s report shows that giving is more than just about wealth, with only five G20 countries represented in the World Giving Index Top 20 — indeed, eleven G20 countries are even ranked outside of the WGI Top 50,” according to the report.

The least-charitable nation of the 135 surveyed? Ecuador.

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Iran Nuke Talks Continue in Vienna

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(VIENNA) — Nuclear negotiations with Iran continued in Vienna Wednesday, with Monday’s deadline looming.

Officials have been tight-lipped about how the talks are going. The most telling sign of whether a deal is close might be the stamps in Secretary of State John Kerry’s passport.

Kerry was expected to join the talks in Vienna by now, but he’s still holding in London. On Thursday, he’ll make a last minute trip to Paris for a meeting with his French and Saudi counterparts, who are nervous about a deal.

Kerry is not the only one staying away for now — his counterpart from Russia is also waiting until a deal is close.

Kerry’s spokeswoman says the secretary is still planning to come to Vienna this week. His arrival may be the biggest sign a deal is possible.

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Queen Fears Ebola Push at Expense of Other Killer Diseases

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(LONDON) — Britain’s Queen Elizabeth rarely voices her opinion on social issues, but she has publicly worried that all the attention being given to Ebola was at the expense of other killer diseases, like malaria.

The queen reportedly made her comments Tuesday while speaking with David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She told Heymann that her doctor informed her there were more people dying from malaria every week than are dying from Ebola, according to Press Association.

“She was afraid that malaria will have a comeback because of the fact people are not paying enough attention to it,” Heymann later said.

The professor described the queen as “very perceptive,” but added this should not detract attention from Ebola.

“It’s a very terrible disease,” Heyman said, but what “the queen has done is call attention to other infectious diseases.”

The palace told ABC News the queen believes that while the response to the disease which has claimed more than 5,000 lives is essential and critical, it should not be to the detriment of fighting other deadly diseases. The queen was accompanied by Prince Philip on Tuesday making the remarks while visiting Chatham House to launch a new leadership academy and unveiling a plaque to mark the occasion.

Her concerns come on the heels of another royal whose made headlines about the disease recently. Prince William recorded an emotional and poignant video message saying, “I’ve been watching with great concern what’s been happening in West Africa due to Ebola.”

In the video which was recorded at Kensington Palace, the prince said, “I wanted to take time to add my name to this video by Future View called Ebola is Real. It’s an educational piece that will keep you guys safe on how to treat and prevent the spread of Ebola.”

“Stay safe,” the prince told people living in area hard hit by Ebola. “The world is thinking of you.”

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Last Call for Free Rum at Puerto Rico Distillery

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Last call for free drinks, tours at Puerto Rico’s Bacardi distillery

Greek Ex Minister Convicted Over Swiss Account

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Court convicts former Greek finance minister over failure to declare money in Swiss account

Spain Symbolically Recognizes Palestinian State

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Spain’s Parliament votes nearly unanimously to symbolically recognize Palestinian state