US Forces Launch 12 More Airstrikes in Iraq, Syria

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

Michael Fitzsimmons/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) — U.S. military forces conducted at least six more airstrikes near Kobani, Syria on Sunday night and Monday, and six more in Iraq.

According to U.S. Central Command, one of the strikes in Syria was aimed at a stray resupply bundle from Sunday’s U.S. airdrops of Kurdish arms and ammunition. In order to prevent those supplies from falling into the hands of members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the bundle was struck by U.S. forces.

Five other airstrikes in Syria hit ISIS fighting and mortar positions and an ISIS vehicle.

The strikes in Iraq took place near Fallujah and Bayji. Those sorties destroyed ISIS vehicles and buildings.

France and the United Kingdom also participated in the most recent strikes.

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Pentagon Calls Possible Turkish Aid in Kobani ‘Welcome News’

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

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — After the Turkish foreign minister said on Monday that his country would aid Iraqi Kurdish fighters in crossing into Syria to support Kurdish fighters in the town of Kobani, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren called the statement “welcome news.”

“The more fighters that are available to combat [ISIS] fighters, the better,” Warren said.

Turkey had kept Kurdish fighters out previously due to a 30-year Kurdish insurgency in Turkey. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said Monday that President Obama spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the weekend to discuss the situation in Kobani, a town that has been threatened by ISIS advances for weeks.

Turkey has also taken in over one million refugees, including about 180,000 from Kobani.

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NOAA: Global Temperature in September Hottest on Record

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

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released data on Monday that shows the average global temperature in September reached a new high, and marked the 38th consecutive September where the global average temperature finished above the 20th century average.

September’s temperature, the highest ever for the month since record keeping began in 1880, marked the fourth time this year the world temperature has set a new all-time high in a given month. May, June, and August also saw record high temperatures.

The NOAA notes that, “with the exception of February, every month to date in 2014 has been among its four warmest on record.”

The global average temperature over land and ocean combined was 60.3 degrees Fahrenheit, the NOAA found, 1.3 degrees higher than the 20th century average.

The period between January and September also tied with the same timeframe in 1998 for the warmest January-to-September period on record, with an average temperature of 57.5 degrees Fahrenheit globally.

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Cuba Willing to Work with US to Stop Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

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

Daniel Loncarevic//iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HAVANA) — Cuban President Raul Castro says that Cuba and the United States can work “side-by-side” in the effort to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

At the ALBA-TCP Summit on Ebola, Castro called the situation “a dreadful epidemic,” and noted that the outbreak, “poses a huge challenge to humanity, one that should be met with utmost urgency.”

“At the moment,” Castro highlighted, “more than 4,000 Cuban healthcare collaborators are working in 32 African countries and…they are all joining in the preventive effort against Ebola.”

Over the weekend, Fidel Castro wrote in the state-run newspaper Granma, that ,”the hour of duty has arrived,” for Cuba, and that Cuba, “did not hesitate one minute in responding to the request made by international bodies for support to the struggle against the brutal epidemic which has erupted in West Africa.”

“We will happily cooperate with U.S. personnel in this task,” the former Cuban president wrote, “not in search of peace between these two states which have been adversaries for so many years, but rather, in any event, for World Peace, and objective which can and should be attempted.”

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Valuable Ebola Lessons the US Can Learn From Nigeria

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

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Ebola virus continues to rage through West Africa, but a few countries in the region have managed to contain the outbreak. Case in point: After six weeks with no new cases, the World Health Organization declared Nigeria Ebola-free on Monday.

Ebola entered Nigeria, a country of 178 million people, in July when a sick passenger flew from Liberia into Lagos, Nigeria’s largest and busiest city. Once Nigerian health officials confirmed the traveler — Liberian-American financial consultant Patrick Sawyer — had Ebola, they acted quickly to contain it, said Erin Hohlfelder, the global health policy director for U2 frontman Bono’s ONE Campaign.

“From the minute they were aware of the first case, they established an emergency operations center with a coordinated effort by a central body with clear lines of accountability rather than a dispersed response,” Hohlfelder said.

John Vertefeuille, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Ebola response team in Nigeria, said contact tracing also played a key role in stopping the spread of the virus.

“Tracing was central to the success of the response,” he said.

Health officials set up a case management system to track and monitor patient contacts, Vertefeuille said. They followed nearly 900 people who were potentially exposed to Ebola, making 18,500 visits to check for symptoms, he pointed out.

And unlike many other West African countries where the virus has spread rapidly, Nigeria has a robust health care system in place, Vertefeuille said.

“Lagos has a lot of health assets including a large hospital system and a fleet of ambulances. It has a large health care workforce,” he said.

To strengthen its response even further, the government enlisted the help of international nonprofits such as ONE, Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders, groups that already had a presence in Nigeria with a staff experienced in responding to disease outbreaks. It also relied on the expertise of groups such as the CDC and WHO.

However, there were some missteps. One person infected with Ebola was too scared to come forward, evading a manhunt for several days before public health authorities were able to track him down. He eventually recovered from the virus but not before being treated by a doctor who later died.

Another setback: an elaborate social media prank urging Nigerians to drink excessive amounts of salt water to avoid catching the Ebola virus. The hoax spread like wildfire for several days in August. Two people died and at least 20 people were hospitalized as a result, according to the Nigerian newspaper Vanguard News.

To clamp down on the hysteria, the government asked politicians, teachers, religious leaders and celebrities to help communicate accurate information, said Edwin Ikhuoria, the Nigerian representative for the ONE campaign.

“Information on the dangers and method of spread of the virus was on radio, TV, billboards and SMS [text messaging] platforms,” he said, adding that the government also began promoting a message of anti-stigma to prevent any potentially infected people from going underground, which would have allowed the disease to spread off the public health radar.

In total, Nigeria had 20 confirmed cases before the outbreak was contained. Eight died of Ebola.

Vertefeuille said if there are lessons for the United States and the rest of the world for how they deal with Ebola, it’s that it can be controlled with standard public health efforts.

“What we saw was two outbreaks in Nigeria –- we saw an Ebola outbreak and an outbreak of fear,” he said. “Countries can communicate the basics before there is an outbreak so that the public and health care workers know how to respond ahead of time.”

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Millions in Social Security for Expelled Nazis

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

AP Investigation: Millions of dollars in US Social Security went to Nazi war crime suspects

US Lawmaker Demands Probe of Nazi Benefit Payments

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

AP Investigation: US lawmaker demands government inquiry into Nazi Social Security payments

Report Oil Found in Paraguay; Gov’t Cautious

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

British company reports oil find in Paraguay’s Chaco Basin, but government cautious

Submarine Hunt Sends Cold War Chill Across Baltic

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

Swedish submarine hunt sends Cold War chill across Baltic Sea region

Photos: This Week in Pictures: Top Photos from Around the Globe

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

Find this week’s top photos from around the globe in ABC News’ This Week in Pictures slideshow

UK Trash ‘Skipping’ Turns Food Waste into Meals

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

ABC News(LONDON) — It’s no secret that millions of tons of food are wasted every day, but solutions to this issue are few.

But one response can be found at a pop-up café that opened this month in Bristol, United Kingdom, exclusively serving intercepted waste food. Launched by a group of volunteers, the purpose of the café is to serve food to the needy and raise awareness about food waste.

One-third of all food produced worldwide gets lost or wasted, according to a recent report by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Resources Institute. Consumers in industrialized countries waste almost as much food annually as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.

The food served at the Skipchen varies, according to what the volunteers are able to rescue. In the evenings, teams go out and do “skipping,” or finding edible food from the trash. Some of the food is also donated from restaurants and food banks or collected from farms.

Volunteers wash and peel discarded foods, and don’t used anything that “doesn’t look or smell right.”

Sam Joseph, one of the co-founders, took an official course on sanitary practices that allows him to handle and serve food. He makes sure his volunteers use appropriate tools and cutting boards and have “a high level of personal hygiene,” washing their hands regularly, he told ABC News.

He said they only use meat that comes under sealed packets and checks for any holes. Everything is refrigerated and cooked as soon as possible.

Customers who came in the café were overwhelmingly people already sensitive to the issue of waste, sometimes doing “skipping” themselves.

Customers are not charged a set price and asked to “pay-as-you-feel.”

Until December, Skipchen will be operating daily at The Crofter’s Rights, a pub that is leasing its 20-seat space for free.

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Sweden Expands Hunt for Suspected Russian Sub

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

iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — Sweden is widening its search for what may be a distressed Russian submarine in the waters near Stockholm.

On Monday authorities ordered all ships to leave the large cluster of some 30,000 islands where the vessel was possibly spotted. A no fly zone has also gone into effect over the area.

The Swedish military has been searching for the mysterious vessel from the air and on the water since Friday.

“It’s likely that foreign underwater activity is taking place in the Stockholm archipelago,” Sweden’s Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad said at a news conference on Sunday.

Grenstad notably did not identify the origin of the suspected vessel, despite a Swedish newspaper report that says an emergency message in Russian was intercepted on a Russian emergency frequency.

Swedish authorities maintain this is an intelligence operation. They said object may have been seen three times in recent days and released a grainy photo that may show it on the surface.

“We consider all those observations to be very credible,” Rear Admiral Grendstad said.

Russia has denied any involvement. Instead, the Russians suggested it was actually a Dutch submarine.

The Dutch Defense Ministry spokeswoman, however, told the BBC that “it was definitely not a Dutch submarine.”

With renewed Russian military aggression in the region, the incident has sparked Cold War memories of when Sweden regularly combed its waters for Russian submarines.

In 1981, a Soviet submarine ran aground in southern Sweden, sparking a diplomatic standoff that lasted ten days until Sweden towed it back out to sea and handed it over.

If this incident does turn out to be a Russian submarine, the first question will be what it was doing there. But equally concerning may be how Russia decides to respond.

In 2000, the Kursk, a large nuclear-powered Russian submarine, sank in Russian waters in the icy Berents Sea. The country’s new president Vladimir Putin ignored international offers for rescue and all 118 men on board died.

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Prince William and Wife Kate Expecting a Baby in April 2015

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

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) — Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are expecting a baby in April 2015, Palace officials confirmed in a press release.

Kate continues to be affected by acute morning sickness, but her condition is steadily improving, according to the release.

Her pregnancy was announced in September after she was forced to skip a number of public events.

The baby will be the second for the royal couple, joining 1-year-old George. The baby will be fourth in line to the British throne after grandfather Prince Charles, father Prince William and big brother George.

It is playfully called “an heir and a spare,” with George in direct line to the throne and the new baby his alternate. Second-born royal babies can end up as monarch. Britain’s last King, George VI, acceded to the throne in 1936 when his older brother Edward VII abdicated.

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Attacks on Afghan Checkpoints Kill 4 Troops

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

Afghan officials: Attacks by insurgents on army, police checkpoints kill at least 4 troops

Japan Trade, Justice Ministers Quit Amid Scandals

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

In blow to Japan’s Abe, trade and justice ministers both resign over election fund allegations

Nepal to End Rescue Operation on Trekking Route

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

Nepal says it will end rescue operation on popular trekking route where 38 died in snowstorms

Pilots at Lufthansa Long-Haul Fleet to Strike

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

Lufthansa pilots’ union expands strike to include walkout Tuesday at airline’s long-haul fleet

US Airdrops Arms to Kurds in Kobani Despite Turkish Opposition

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

The United States has airdropped small arms, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish militia forces in the besieged city of Kobani who have been fighting back an ISIS assault for weeks. The airdrops will likely stir controversy with the Turkish government, which has opposed support for Kurdish military groups in Syria that it believes are affiliated with a Kurdish group that has conducted terrorist attacks inside Turkey for decades.

North and South Korea Exchange Gunfire at Border

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

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) — North and South Korea exchanged gunfire at the border Sunday.

After about 10 North Korean soldiers approached the military demarcation line Sunday morning, South Korean soldiers gave a pre-warning broadcast and then fired warning shots.

The shootout went on for about 10 minutes Sunday afternoon.

This was the second shootout in less than 10 days.

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Speculation Runs Wild Over Air Force’s Mysterious X-37B Spacecraft

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

Dustin Franz/For The Washington Post via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — After nearly two years in space, the small, mysterious spacecraft X-37B landed this week amid rampant speculation about just what it was doing in orbit.

Run by the Air Force, the X-37B has fascinated space enthusiasts since it first launched in 2010.

The ship looks like a miniature version of the recognizable NASA space shuttle. Only 29 feet long, it has a wingspan of just 15 feet, making it look practically miniscule next to the wingspan of a commercial jet.

The military has kept the mission of the X-37B, leaving spacecraft fans to run wild with their guesses.

Brian Weeden, a former Air Force officer who worked as an orbital analyst, said many space enthusiasts have been curious about the mission of the X-37B spacecraft and some have even attempted to track it in orbit.

Weeden, now a technical advisor for the Secure World Foundation, said speculation seemed to run rampant specifically because so little has been disclosed.

“Because it is a secret military space plane, there is tons and tons of speculation about what it’s doing in orbit,” Weeden said.

Popular online theories included that “it’s testing the ability to drop bombs in orbit or covertly going up and disabling satellites,” he said.

Weeden said looking at past instances of American spacecraft, he believes the spacecraft is more likely involved in something less shocking.

“What I think is more practical is that it’s setting up technology for surveillance,” said Weeden, who pointed out the military has relied heavily on satellite surveillance for decades.

Weeden also said the fact that the spacecraft can be reused and can return unmanned can allow faster turnaround on experiments.

Weeden said the ship might provide a kind of fast-track space for the military to try out new equipment in orbit before it is sent via satellite. If new equipment breaks on a satellite in orbit, it can be difficult to fix. However, if it breaks in on a returnable spacecraft, engineers can make changes before it returns to orbit.

The Air Force as an online page listing general areas of study for the spacecraft, including advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems, and aircraft electronic systems, but has not released detailed information about these experiments.

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Hurricane Gonzalo Knocks Out Power in Bermuda

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

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Hurricane Gonzalo made a direct hit on Bermuda Friday night, unleashing pounding rains and dangerous winds.

Though Gonzalo weakened to a Category 2 storm before landfall, the large system was still one of the largest to hit the island. Winds reached up to 105 miles per hour, taking out trees and power lines in its path.

The storm left approximately 28,850 customers without power.

On Saturday Bermuda Governor George Fergusson tweeted that there have been no deaths or serious injuries.

This is the second storm in a row to hit Bermuda, following tropical storm Fay last weekend.

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Lebanon Pulled Into War With Islamic State Group

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

Beyond battlegrounds of Iraq and Syria, Lebanon gets pulled into war with Islamic State group

Prominent Thai Scholar Faces Anti-Monarchy Charge

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

Prominent Thai scholar faces anti-monarchy charge for comments about 16th-century king

Germany Arrests 2 Suspected IS Supporters

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

Germany arrests 2 suspected supporters of Islamic State group, searches homes of others

Rights Group: Few Abuses Inside West Sahara Camps

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

Human Rights Watch: Polisario generally respects rights in Western Sahara refugee camps

US Airstrikes Against ISIS Have Hurt Moderate Rebels

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

Faysal Itani, a fellow at the Atlantic Council, gives his analysis of the U.S. strikes on ISIS and how they have shifted dynamics on the ground.

US Forces Launch Seven More Airstrikes Near Kobani

Posted on: October 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Michael Fitzsimmons/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KOBANI, Syria) — U.S. military forces launched seven more airstrikes around Kobani on Friday, striking operations headed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Fighter aircraft struck six targets near Kobani where reports indicated they destroyed two ISIS fighting positions and two vehicles and struck three buildings. The strikes also suppressed three more ISIS fighting positions.

A separate airsrike took place near Shadadi. That strike was the first to target an ISIS oil operation, which consisted of tanks of petroleum, oil and lubricants and a pump station — “part of the terrorist group’s oil producing, processing and transportation infrastructure.” That operation aimed to “destroy a portion of [ISIS]‘s ability to operate oil tanker trucks at oil collection points,” said a release from U.S. Central Command.

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Nigeria, Boko Haram Agree to Immediate Cease-Fire

Posted on: October 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Nigeria says Boko Haram extremists agree to immediate cease-fire, amid doubts

Slain Paraguayan Journalist Was Probing Drug Gangs

Posted on: October 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Paraguay newspaper says slain journalist was investigating drug gangs for ties to politicians

Activists: Islamic State Group May Have Warplanes

Posted on: October 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Activists say Islamic State group may have fighter jets; offensives continue in Iraq, Syria