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Monday
Jul242017

Taliban claims responsibility for Kabul suicide bombing that killed 24, injured 42

@tolonews/Twitter(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- At least 24 people were killed and 42 others injured in a suicide bombing on Monday in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, officials said.

The bombing was carried out by a suicide attacker who rammed a Toyota Corolla into a commuter bus carrying government staff during the Monday morning rush hour, according to officials.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it targeted intelligence service officials.



The blast happened in a neighborhood where many prominent political leaders live, including Afghan Deputy CEO Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq.

The neighborhood, located on the city’s west side, has been targeted in several past suicide attacks.

Local news media outlets posted video of the aftermath on Twitter as security officials cordoned off the area.

Eyewitnesses said the attack left behind large plumes of smoke and shattered glass all over the neighborhood's streets.


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Sunday
Jul232017

American student detained in China has been released, according to US senator

iStock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- An American college student who was arrested in China one week ago after allegedly injuring a taxi driver who was roughing up his mother in a dispute over a fare has been released, according to a U.S. senator.

Steve Daines, the U.S. Senator from Montana, released a statement Sunday announcing the release of Guthrie McLean, 25, at 2 a.m. local time in China.

"I am thrilled to report that we just received an email from Guthrie McLean's mother that 'prayers answered, Guthrie is home,'" Daines said in a statement. "After days of working the phones with top Chinese and American officials to secure Guthrie's freedom from a Chinese detention facility, he has been safely reunited with his mother."

Daines' office said in a statement that he had been working with Chinese and U.S. embassies as well as Jennifer McLean in an effort to coordinate the student's return to the U.S.

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Sunday
Jul232017

William and Harry open up about their last phone call with Princess Diana

Tim Graham/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince William and Prince Harry spoke out about the regret they felt at the last phone call they had with their mother, and how they are still haunted by it today.

In the most candid and intimate interview Prince William and Prince Harry have ever given, the brothers shared their happiest memories of life with Princess Diana, but also shared their overwhelming grief and how they coped with her death.

Harry admitted it was "a little bit too raw until this point. It's still raw."

"If I'd known what would happen, I wouldn't have been so blasé about it. But that phone call sticks in my mind quite heavily," William said. When asked about his last words with his mother, he said he remembers the conversation, saying "I do, I do," but he did not elaborate.

The morning after the conversation, the boys were awoken by their father to learn their mother had died at the age of 36, just a year older than William is today.

Harry, who has admitted dealing with the grief over his mother's death for the last 20 years, said that he will have regrets "for the rest of my life, how short the phone call was. And if I'd known that was the last time I'd speak to my mother, the things I would have said to her. ... Looking back on it now it is incredibly hard."

The documentary, "Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy" airs on Monday on ITV. It also includes interviews with family friends who have never before spoken, and Sir Elton John also speaks about the late Princess of Wales and her work.

Harry and William also reflected on their happiest memories with their mother, with Harry sharing that he is still comforted by his mother's laugh, which stands out in his mind to this day, and how she would smuggle candy to them during soccer matches, presumably while they were boarding students at Eton College.

William also recalled his mother's sense of mischief. He said she would send both boys "the rudest cards." William recalled one night supermodels Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell were at their Kensington Palace home, as his mother knew Prince William harbored a massive teenage crush.

"I was probably a 12 or 13-year-old boy who had posters of them on his wall. I went bright red, and didn't know quite what to say," he said. "I think I pretty much fell down the stairs on the way up. I was completely and utterly awestruck."

Today, 20 years later, the brothers are still coming to terms with their mother's death. William, Kate and Harry are all trying to preserve Diana's memory for the two newest members of the family, Prince George, 4, who celebrated his birthday Saturday, and Princess Charlotte, 2.

William said that his mother would be a "nightmare grandmother, absolute nightmare. She'd love the children to bits but she'd be an absolute nightmare ... she'd come in probably at bath time, cause an amazing amount of scene, bubbles everywhere, bath water all over the place and -- and then leave."

As a result of his mother's death, William has vowed to spend as much time as possible with his children, saying, "I want to make as much time and effort with Charlotte and George as I can because I realize that these early years are particularly crucial for children, and having seen, you know, what she did for us."

The brothers recently took George and Charlotte for a re-dedication of Princess Diana's grave at Althorp. As the world starts commemorations for the 20th anniversary of her death, William and Harry still reflect on what more their mother might have accomplished had she lived.

"There's not a day that William and I don't wish that she was ... we don't wish that she was still around, and we wonder what kind of a mother she would be now, and what kind of a public role she would have, and what a difference she would be making," Harry said.

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Sunday
Jul232017

Congress strikes deal on bill to slap new sanctions on Russia

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House and Senate have struck a deal that could send to President Trump's desk this summer a bill that slaps new sanctions on Russia.

In addition to the new sanctions on Russia for its interference in the U.S. 2016 election and its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, the bill also gives Congress the power to review any effort by the Trump administration to ease or end sanctions against Moscow.

The bill also includes stiff economic penalties against Iran and North Korea.

"The legislation ensures that both the majority and minority [parties] are able to exercise our oversight role over the administration's implementation of sanctions," said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat.

The deal on the legislation comes amid concerns expressed by both Democrats and some Republicans that the Trump administration may be considering returning to Russian control two compounds in Maryland and New York that were seized by the Obama administration in December as punishment for the election meddling.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced Saturday morning that a vote on the bill -- the Russia, Iran and North Korea Sanctions Act -- will take place Tuesday.

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Saturday
Jul222017

William and Harry share most intimate memories of life with Princess Diana

Tim Graham/Getty Images(LONDON) -- For the first time, Prince William and Harry have opened up about the last days of their mother's life, and also talked about their regrets at not having more time with her, and how they continue to keep her memory alive.

In a new documentary for ITV, the brothers reveal details of their happiest memories with the late Princess of Wales, their parents' divorce, and how they've coped with their loss. William and Harry also discuss their last conversation with Princess Diana before her death in August 1997.

"It was -- and it was her speaking from -- from Paris. And, you know, she ... I can't really necessarily remember what I said, but all I do remember is -- is probably, you know, regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was," Prince Harry reflected on that last conversation with Princess Diana.

"And if I'd known that that was the last time I was going to speak to my mother the things that I would -- the things I would have said to her. I have -- I have to sort of deal with that for the rest of my life. Not knowing that that ... was the last time I was going to speak to my mum, and how differently that conversation would have -- would have panned out if I'd had even the slightest inkling that that was, that, that, you know, that her life was going to be taken that night," he said.

"There's not many days that go by that I don't think of her, you know -- sometimes sad, sometimes very positively," Prince William said. "You know, I have a smile every now and again when someone says something and I think that's exactly what she would have said, or she would have enjoyed that comment. So they always live with you people, you know, you lose like that. And my mother lives with me every day."

As heartbreaking it is to hear the princes share their grief about their mother's tragic death, they also reflect on their happiest moments with their mother and her wicked sense of humor.

"It was that love that, that even if she was on the other side of a room, that you as a son could feel it," Harry said.

Harry still fondly remembers the distinct sound of her laugh when he thinks about the joyful times with his mother.

"All I can hear is her laugh in my head and that sort of crazy laugh of where there was just pure happiness shown on her face. One of her mottoes to me was you know, 'You can be as naughty as you want, just don't get caught,'" he said.

Harry, who is famous for his hugs and is often referred to as the 'People's Prince' after Princess Diana, spoke about the affection he remembers from his mother.

"She would just engulf you and squeeze you as tight as possible. And being as short as I was then, there was no escape, you were there and you were there for as long as she wanted to hold you," he said. "Even talking about it now I can feel the hugs that she used to give us and, you know, I miss that, I miss that feeling, I miss that part of a family, I miss having that mother ... to be able to give you those hugs and give you that compassion that I think everybody needs," he said.

Diana was aware that her sons lived in a rarified world and it was important that they experienced the challenges people in the real world were also facing.

"She was very jolly and she really always enjoyed her times making a lot of mischief. But she always understood that there was a real life outside of the palace walls," Prince William said.

Both young princes have vowed to keep their mother's love alive and have thrown themselves into various charitable projects that reflect her interests and passions. They have rarely, however, let the public get a glimpse into their most intimate memories of their mother, until now.

"She was our mum. She still is our mum. And of course, as a son I would say this, she was the best mum in the world. She smothered us with love, that's for sure," Harry said.

William, like his brother was grateful for the short time they both had with their mother. He was just 15 when his mother died on August 31, 1997. Harry was just 12.

"I give thanks that I was lucky enough to be her son and know her for the 15 years that I did. She set us up really well. She gave us the right tools and has prepared us well for life not obviously knowing what was going to happen," William said.

The princes said their mother wanted to them both to have as normal a life as possible.

"My mother cherished those moments of privacy and being able to be that mother rather than the Princess of Wales," William said.

They have channeled their grief into carrying on their mother's work. William is now Patron of Child Bereavement UK, a charity founded by one of his mother's closest friends, which helps families and children cope with the death of a family member. In the new ITV film, William reveals for the first time the despair he and Harry felt when Princess Diana died.

"You know, losing someone so close to you is utterly devastating, especially at that age. I think it sort of really spins you out, you don't quite know where you are, what you're doing and what's going on," he said. "My heart goes out to all the people who have lost all their loved ones in the world. You know it does connect you. It's a very sad club you don't want to be a member of. But you do all have a shared sort of pain that you immediately understand and see in any one when you meet them."

William and Princess Kate formed their charity, Heads Together, with Prince Harry to help break down the stigma around mental illness.

In the last several months, Harry opened up about the sheer "chaos" he felt after his mother's death and that he struggled for nearly 20 years coming to terms with his grief. He finally turned to his brother, who encouraged him to seek help. It is that courage that the two young princes have displayed and to share their own vulnerabilities dealing with their mother's death, that has allowed thousands of other people to seek help themselves

"The first time I cried was on the island," Harry said. "And probably like -- and only since then maybe, maybe once. So there's, you know, there's a lot of, there's a lot of grief that still needs to be let out."

"You know, losing someone so close to you is, is utterly devastating, especially at that age," William said.

Twenty years later, William and Harry still harbor resentment towards the paparazzi, who they feel are responsible for their mother's death.

"If you are the Princess of Wales you're a mother, I don't believe being chased by 30 guys on motorbikes who block your path, who spit at you, who shout at you, and who react really badly to get a reaction from you, and make a women cry in public to get the photographs, I don't believe that is appropriate," William said, still obviously troubled by the treatment of the paparazzi. "I sadly remember most of the time she cried about anything was to do with the press intrusion "

Like Diana, their every move is documented by the camera lens. William and Harry guard their privacy fiercely and have recently aggressively defended those rights when they fear the press has gone a step too far.

With the 20th anniversary of the Princess of Wales' death, the princes decided it was the appropriate time to remind people of her legacy.

"There's not many days that go by that I don't think of her," William said. "Her 20th anniversary year feels like a good time to remember, you know, all the good things about her and hopefully provide maybe a different side to her that others haven't seen before."

They have participated in a series of projects to commemorate their mother's life. A special garden has been created in Kensington Palace and and an exhibition at Buckingham Palace and another at Kensington Palace give the public an opportunity a glimpse of Diana's life

One of their biggest challenges now is keeping Diana's memory alive for Prince George and Princess Charlotte. On July 3, on what would have been Diana's 56th birthday, William and Harry held a service of re-dedication at Diana's grave on the island in Round Lake at Althorp, the Spencer family home. Prince George and Charlotte attended the service with Prince William, Princess Kate, and Prince Harry.

"I think constantly talking about Granny Diana. So we've got more photos up 'round the house now of her and we talk about her a bit and stuff," William said. "And it's hard because obviously Catherine didn't know her, so she cannot really provide that -- that level of detail. So I do regularly, putting George or Charlotte to bed, talk about her and just try and remind them that there are two grandmothers, there were two grandmothers in in their lives, and so it's important that they know who she was and that she existed."

Even today William and Harry still struggle with their mother's death.

"It's been hard and it will continue to be hard," Harry said. "There's not a day that William and I don't wish that she was -- we don't wish that she was still around, and we wonder what kind of a mother she would be now, and what kind of a public role she would have, and what a difference she would be making."

"Diana, Our Mother: Life and Legacy" will air on ITV on Monday, July 24.

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Saturday
Jul222017

Spanish wax museum recreates Melania Trump's RNC moment

Robyn Beck/Getty Images(MADRID) -- First lady Melania Trump's wax doppelganger was unveiled Thursday at Spain's Museo de Cera de Madrid.

The wax museum recreated Trump's look from last year's Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where she took to the stage and spoke to party delegates in a rousing speech. The wax figure's debut was timed to the one-year anniversary of the convention.


Trump's wax figure, which stands next to an existing wax figure of her husband, President Donald Trump, wears the same Roksanda dress with puffed sleeves she wore at the RNC. The wax figure also dons a pair of nude heels, similar to the Louboutins she wore at the convention.

The museum first promoted the first lady's upcoming wax figure on the Fourth of July, tweeting a photo of an artist working on it, writing, "July 4, the national holiday of the USA. Soon at the museum, a figure of first lady Melania Trump."

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Friday
Jul212017

New photo of Prince George released for his 4th birthday

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Kensington Palace has released a new photo of Prince George to mark the third-in-line's fourth birthday.

The photograph was taken at Kensington Palace at the end of June by Chris Jackson, Getty Images' royal photographer.

Kensington Palace shared in a statement: "The Duke and Duchess are very pleased to share this lovely picture as they celebrate Prince George's fourth birthday, and would like to thank everyone for all of the kind messages they have received."

George’s parents, Prince William and Princess Kate, both 35, revealed George's excitement about his upcoming birthday with well-wishers in Germany. William told a group of students in Hamburg, "George has got a big tummy. He'll probably end up eating all his cake himself."

The royal couple joked that George would also be on "sugar overload" in Heidelberg after trying their hands at candy-making and sharing they planned to bring the sweets back to their children.

George will celebrate his birthday on Saturday in the U.K. after returning home from a five-day royal tour of Germany and Poland with his family.

George received an early birthday gift from his German hosts as the family boarded their plane home. He was also surprised with a special treat, climbing into the cockpit of two Airbus helicopters. The little prince got behind the controls and donned a helmet shortly before the family's departure for the U.K.

The public caught glimpses of a growing George as he held his parents’ hands as the family arrived in and departed from Poland and Germany. George, who loves planes, was seen at one point pulling the hand of his father to be able to board the plane faster.

In other photos, George and Charlotte were seen looking outside the plane’s windows.

George’s trip to Poland and Germany marked his third royal tour. He traveled with his parents and Charlotte to Canada last fall and accompanied his parents to Australia and New Zealand in 2014 as a toddler.

This year will be one of change for George, who will begin school in September at Thomas's Battersea School, a private school in Battersea, South London.

George attended preschool at a Montessori school near the family’s country home, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk. The family will now be based in London and George be a full-time student at Thomas's Battersea, a coeducational school not far from the family's Kensington Palace base.

Kensington Palace said in a statement coinciding with the announcement that William and Kate were looking forward to George's next milestone: "Their Royal Highnesses are delighted to have found a school where they are confident George will have a happy and successful start to his education."

Thomas's Battersea enrolls around 500 students from a variety of backgrounds whom George will one day lead when he is king.

The photo from Kensington Palace is the latest of several images released on George and Charlotte’s birthdays, many of which were taken by the Duchess of Cambridge. Take a look back at the official photos released for George’s three previous birthdays.

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Friday
Jul212017

Prince George climbs in helicopter cockpit as Prince William and Princess Kate depart Germany

PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- After five days of city hopping through Poland and Germany with his family, Prince George stole the spotlight on Friday from Prince William, Princess Kate and Princess Charlotte.

George, who will celebrate his fourth birthday on Saturday, had been a bit sleepy and shy as his parents shuttled him from city to city on the five-day royal tour but he could not conceal his excitement on Friday as he stepped into the cockpits of two helicopters.

George saw the helicopters as the royals toured the Airbus facility in Hamburg on their final day in Germany.

George, who never misses a chance to watch his father and his uncle, Prince Harry, both helicopter pilots, depart Kensington Palace on the royal helicopter, was in his element.

Charlotte, 2, who has charmed the crowds with her natural diplomacy -- including ducking into a curtsy earlier this week -- took a tumble and needed some reassurance from her parents on Friday.

She rubbed her eyes and quickly recovered, and both children were dancing about as they received gifts from their German hosts. The Cambridges were given a royal send-off by officials, including Airbus Helicopter CEO Wolfgang Shoder.

Earlier in the day, William and Kate, both 35, paid a visit to Hamburg's new Elbharmonie Symphony Hall, where they met with 250 children enrolled in a music immersion education program in Germany's second largest city.

When asked about her exposure to music, Kate, wearing a lavender bespoke Emilia Wickstead dress, revealed she played flute, "throughout my school years until the age of 18."

Kate, obviously able to read music, had a hand with the conductor's baton, directing the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra in a rendition of Beethoven's famous Fifth Symphony.

It wouldn't be a royal tour without a walkabout and William and Kate did not disappoint as they held an unscheduled meet-and-greet with around 3,000 of Hamburg's residents who came out to try and catch a glimpse of the royal couple. A group of well-wishers even asked about George's upcoming birthday.

William joked in reply, "George has got a big tummy. He'll probably end up eating all his cake himself."

In an impromptu addition to their planned visit to Hamburg's Maritime Museum, William and Kate tried a recently installed cargo ship simulator. William took the helm joking that perhaps he might hit one of the other yachts in the harbor.

The museum exhibition administrator in charge of the simulator reminded William, as Kate sounded the fog horn, that William will be the future King of England but his wife is still sometimes the boss.

"He is just the helmsman," the administrator, Hans Trey, told Kate as William steered the ship simulator. "You are the captain."

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Friday
Jul212017

Inside a formerly ISIS-occupied building in the western suburbs of Raqqa, Syria

ABC News(RAQQA, Syria) -- A formerly ISIS-occupied building in Raqqa, Syria, sheds light on the pressures its militants face as the U.S.-led coalition attempts to retake the war-ravaged city.

ABC News ventured into the building in the western suburbs of Raqqa that had been in the hands of ISIS just days before, where there was evidence of drug abuse on the grounds.

The ground of an outdoor area of the home was littered with syringes, vials and packages for Oxycodone. One of the vials had a label for Diazepam, which is typically used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, seizures and muscle spasms.

The drugs possibly indicate that ISIS fighters faced such intense pressure that they felt the need to self-medicate, whether to calm themselves or, perhaps, relieve pain.

ISIS fighters in Raqqa and throughout the region are in a struggle to the death against U.S.-led coalition forces and local allies who have provided the boots on the ground to fight street by street against the militants. ISIS is estimated to have lost tens of thousands of fighters and thousands of square miles of land they once controlled in Iraq and Syria, but it will continue to present a significant threat to America, Europe, the Middle East and beyond.

This particular building, which is in relatively fair condition given the war-torn circumstances, seems to have been used by ISIS as a mosque, although apparently not before the terrorist group occupied it.

It bore hallmarks of ISIS occupation, including dark stains on the ground that appear to be blood, windows that had been shot through and a sniper hole.

Graffiti on the walls featured multiple ISIS flags, writing referring to various ISIS brigades, talk of supporting Palestinians and an excerpt of poetry.

Shreds of clothing and a burned propaganda pamphlet were found in another room.

Blocks away from the building, the battle with ISIS continues as the coalition -- made of both U.S.-led and Syrian Democratic Forces fighters -- moves in on Raqqa from all sides and pushes toward the city's center.

Raqqa is the de facto capital of ISIS and holds a particular degree of significance to the terror group because it is the first city ISIS seized in 2014 during its rapid accumulation of ground in 2014.

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Friday
Jul212017

Powerful earthquake strikes near Greece, Turkey

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A strong earthquake in the Aegean Sea overnight leveled buildings and injured hundreds of people in Greece and Turkey.

The 6.7 magnitude quake's epicenter was just 6.4 miles from Turkey's coastal city of Bodrum and 10.1 miles from the Greek island of Kos. The powerful seismic event occurred at a relatively shallow depth of about 6.2 miles below the water's surface on Thursday night around 10:31 p.m. UTC, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Dramatic images from Greece and Turkey show the devastating aftermath of the earthquake:

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