Locust Swarm Descends Upon Madagascar’s Capital

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

iStock/Thinkstock(ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar) — A swarm of millions of locusts descended upon Madagascar’s capital of Antananarivo on Thursday, slowing traffic and blotting out the skies over the city.

Fully-formed clouds of the insects, which have plagued the African nation for more than two years, whizzed through the city’s streets after an urban heat wave attracted the bugs away from their usual rural surroundings.

“It reminds us of the 10 plagues of Egypt,” said Ronald Miller, a missionary working in Madagascar with his family.

The current plague began in April 2012, leading to a national disaster declaration in Madagascar in November of that year, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The island nation’s government announced a three-year emergency plan in September 2013, when the locusts threatened food security of more than 13 million people, almost 60 percent of Madagascar’s population.

FAO officer Annie Monard told Voice of America that the locust swarms in the city were caused by unusually high temperatures, not a new surge in the pest population. So far, the FAO and Madagascar’s government have succeeded in controlling the pests in over 4,600 square miles of agricultural land. Madagascar’s emergency plan will continue until 2016 and is expected to cost more than $41 million.

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Space Shuttle Discovery First Launched 30 Years Ago

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

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Saturday marks 30 years since Space Shuttle Discovery’s first launch.

Discovery, the third space shuttle to join NASA’s fleet, left for its first mission on Aug. 30, 1984, to deploy three communication satellites.

Discovery finished more than 30 missions afterwards, including one to launch the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit in 1990 and a trip to the International Space Station in 2005. According to NASA, it received its name from several exploration ships, including one used to search for a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Discovery completed its final mission in 2011. It now resides at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

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Housing Group: 20 Years to Rebuild Gaza

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

International group says Gaza housing reconstruction to take 20 years

5 International Stories You’ll Care About Next Week

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

President Obama visits Wales, Air Guitar World Championships final held.

Obama’s Delicate Balance: Taking on ISIS While Keeping Assad at Bay

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

Analysts say that Aleppo would be the most effective place for the U.S. to strike ISIS. But it could prove politically impossible.

Ukrainian Civilian Plane Crashes in Algeria

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

Ukrainian plane crashes in Algeria; search on for 7 crew members

Somalia Launches Offensive Against Extremists

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

Somalia launches offensive against Islamic extremists in country’s south

UN Received Reassurance that Kidnapped Peacekeepers Are ‘Safe and in Good Health’

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

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(GOLAN HEIGHTS, Syria) — The United Nations said on Friday that it had received assurances that the 44 peacekeepers kidnapped from their positions on Thursday are safe and in good health.

According to a statement from the U.N. spokesperson, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force has not had direct contact with the peacekeepers. They were informed, however, that the intention behind the holding of the peacekeepers was to remove them from an active battlefield for their own protection.

The UNDOF has been in contact with the other groups of peacekeepers who are being confined to their current positions and confirm that they have not been harmed.

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Sanctions Imposed on Six Companies Accused of Supporting Proliferation of Iran WMDs

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

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Obama and his administration imposed new sanctions on six companies, including four based in Iran on Friday, citing their having engaged in activities that support Iranian weapons of mass destruction.

A statement from Caitlin Hayden, National Security Council spokesperson, noted that the companies and individuals sanctioned on Friday have supported terrorism or aided Iran’s evasion of existing sanctions. The U.S. and its P5+1 partners will continue to work towards a solution, Hayden said, to ensure the Iranian nuclear program is “exclusively peaceful.”

Among the companies sanctioned was the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, which was started by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, considered the father of Iran’s nuclear research program. He has been on the United Nations sanctions list for about six years. The company was created in 2011, and was not subject to sanctions until Friday.

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Jamaican Ends Legal Challenge to Anti-Sodomy Law

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

Citing safety concerns, gay rights activist withdraws court challenge to Jamaica anti-gay law

Mexico’s Pemex Says Production to Increase in 2015

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

Mexico’s Pemex estimates crude production will increase to 2.4 million bpd in 2015

State Department Issues Updated Travel Warning for Ukraine

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

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. State Department issued an updated travel warning on Ukraine on Friday, citing the latest clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian military.

The memo from the State Department warns U.S. citizens that travel to eastern Ukraine is dangerous and that all travel to the area should be deferred. The warning covers both Crimea, which was annexed by Russia earlier this year, as well as the area near the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Americans who opt to remain in those regions are urged to keep a low profile and avoid large crowds and gatherings. because the situation in Ukraine is unpredictable, Americans should be prepared to remain indoors and sheltered for extended periods of time if clashes occur in their region.

Additionally, the State Department notes that U.S. government personnel have had their travel to the regions in question restricted, making it more difficult to respond to emergencies involving U.S. citizens.

Photos: The Land of Fire and Ice from Above

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

Photographer Lukas Gawanda takes stunning photos of Iceland

Colombian Accused in 5,000-Plus Killings Arrested

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

Colombian paramilitary accused in more than 5,000 killings arrested in Panama

Mexico Authorities Stage Midnight Migrant Raid

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

Mexico authorities stage midnight raid on migrants heading north on freight train ‘The Beast’

Four More Airstrikes Conducted by US Military Near Mosul Dam

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

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOSUL, Iraq) — U.S. fighter and attack aircraft were involved in four more airstrikes in the area of the Mosul Dam, the U.S. Central Command said on Friday.

The latest strikes bring the total since Aug. 8 to 110 within Iraq. The most recent strikes destroyed four armed vehicles and three support vehicles, while severely damaging another armed vehicle, all controlled by militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

As with other strikes conducted in Iraq in recent weeks, the U.S. military says it has acted to support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense forces, as well as in the interest of protecting key infrastructure and U.S. interests in the region.

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Poland Bars Russian Plane From Its Airspace

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

Poland bars Russian government plane from its airspace at time of tension between 2 nations

US: Too Soon to Evaluate Pakistan Offensive

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

US military leaders say it’s too soon to evaluate Pakistan offensive in N. Waziristan

Families of Russian Troops in Ukraine Want Answers

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

Families of Russian troops captured, killed or missing in Ukraine want answers on their fate

French Girl Investigated Over Alleged Jihad Plan

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

14-year-old French girl investigated for allegedly planning jihad with 2 others

Why US Air Strikes in Syria Would Damage But Not Destroy ISIS

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

While military action could put the group on its back foot, it is ideology-driven and would continue to attract fighters – and carry out its brand of brutality.

Dutch Prosecutor in Ukraine for Crash Inquiry

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

Dutch, Australian police in Ukraine for Malaysia Airlines disaster investigation

Zimbabwe 1st Lady Roils Political Scene With Entry

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

Zimbabwean president’s wife causes stir as she enters politics; dynasty in offing?

Boat Flips Near Dominican Coast; at Least 1 Death

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

At least 1 dead as migrant boat flips near Dominican coast; survivor says others reached shore

SAfrica: 4 Guilty in Murder Try on Rwandan General

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

South African court finds 4 guilty in murder attempt on exiled ex-Rwandan general; 2 acquitted

Amazing Video Shows Bird’s-Eye View of Iceland Volcanic Eruption

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

Here’s a special look at a volcanic eruption in Iceland – from above.

Britain Raises Terror Threat Level to ‘Severe’

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

Bethany Clarke – WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) — The British government Friday raised the threat level for international terrorism to “severe,” indicating a terrorist attack is “highly likely” but based on intelligence not necessarily “imminent.”

U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May released a statement Friday saying the increased threat is “related to events in Syria and Iraq where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the West, and that some of those attacks are likely to involve fighters who have travelled from the U.K.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron said it was the first time in three years the threat has been raised to such a level in the U.K.

“What we’re facing in Iraq now with ISIL is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before,” Cameron said in an address to the nation, noting that the terrorist group, also known as ISIS for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has recruited hundreds of British citizens to its ranks.

Western security officials have been concerned for months that ISIS recruits with Western passports could travel to Syria and Iraq and then return home with deadly skills to wreak havoc.

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Fort Hood Gunman Wants to Join ISIS

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

Bell County Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people in a 2009 Fort Hood shooting, wrote a letter expressing interest in becoming a citizen of the Islamic State, his attorney told ABC News.

Hasan, a former major, wrote a two-page letter to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.

Hasan, a Muslim-American whose Palestinian-immigrant parents raised him in Virginia, has described himself as a “mujahedeen,” or Muslim holy warrior in carrying out his attack.

Hasan, 43, was sentenced to death after the Texas shooting and is on the military’s death row at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

News of Hasan’s letter comes days after Minnesota native Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, was said to have died while fighting with the brutal al Qaeda breakaway organization.

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4 Iraqi Soldiers Killed in Clashes With Militants

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

Iraq officials: military clashes with Islamic State militants kill 4 soldiers and 14 militants

Pro Wrestlers Take Antics to Streets in Pyongyang

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

Ex NFL player, foreign pro wrestlers take ring antics to the streets of Pyongyang