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Monday
Aug212017

Suspected driver in Barcelona attack shot and killed, appeared to be wearing explosive belt: Police

ABC News(BARCELONA) -- Spanish authorities announced that Younes Abouyaaqoub, the suspected driver in a deadly vehicle attack in Barcelona that killed 13 people, was shot and killed Monday. He was wearing what appeared to be an explosive belt at the time, police said.

Earlier this morning, police named Abouyaaqoub as the driver of a van that plowed down Barcelona's crowded Las Ramblas promenade Thursday, killing 13 and injuring many more.

Authorities say Abouyaaqoub escaped the scene on foot, then carjacked a vehicle, killing the driver, authorities said.

He then ran up against a roadblock south of Barcelona and abandoned the car in Sant Just Desvern, a town not far from the city, authorities said.

This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates.

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Monday
Aug212017

Vladimir Putin appoints new Russian ambassador to the United States

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- The Kremlin announced Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Anatoly Antonov as Russia’s ambassador to the United States, replacing Sergey Kislyak.

The move comes as the U.S. embassy in Moscow has announced it is suspending all non-immigrant visa processing for Russians until Sept. 1 in response to the staff cuts ordered by the Kremlin.

In a statement on its site, the embassy said operations for all visas applications in Moscow will resume after Sept. 1 but that they will remain suspended indefinitely at the three U.S. consulates elsewhere in the country.

The embassy statement says the step is necessary “due to the Russian government-imposed cap on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded to the announcement today during a press conference, saying, "I think a political factor is obvious to everyone here.” He said he had “just familiarized” himself with the decision and that “we will certainly look into it."

"As for our countermeasures, as I've said, we should take a closer look at the decisions that the Americans have announced today,” Lavrov said. “We'll see. I can only say one thing: We won't take it out on American citizens.”

He added: "That is, if someone hoped that a bad example would be contagious in this case, they are mistaken.”

On July 28 Russia ordered the U.S. embassy to cut its staff by 755 in retaliation for the U.S. sanctions imposed on Moscow by Congress. The State Department hasn’t confirmed the numbers, but it’s believed that the embassy employs around 1,300 people; however, only around 400 employees are American. U.S. officials have said the cuts would fall primarily on Russian local hires and that this would almost certainly affect visa operations at the embassy.

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Sunday
Aug202017

Ten missing after US Navy destroyer collides with merchant ship off Singapore

US Navy/Petty Officer 3rd Class James Vazquez(WASHINGTON) -- A Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, collided with a commercial vessel east of Singapore early Monday morning local time, the Navy said.

There were 10 sailors missing and five injured, the Navy said.

The collision with the merchant ship Alnic MC occurred east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, as the McCain was on its way for a routine port visit in Singapore, the Navy said.

"Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft," the Navy said, adding that a search and rescue mission was already underway.

The ship is currently sailing under its own power and heading to port, according to a Navy statement.

The search and rescue effort was being aided by tug boats out of Singapore, as well as the Singapore Navy ship RSS Gallant, Singapore navy helicopters and a Police Coast Guard vessel.

MV-22 Ospreys and SH-60 Seahawks from the USS America are also responding, the Navy said.

Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, tweeted: "Our first priority is determining the safety of the ship and crew. As more information is learned, we will share it."

Malaysia's navy chief Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin tweeted a photo of the damaged ship on its way to Singapore after the collision, and announced that the country was sending ships and aircraft to assist in the search and rescue.

 

 

The John S. McCain, which has a crew of 23 officers, 24 chief petty officers and 291 sailors, is based at the 7th Fleet's homeport of Yokosuka, Japan, according the Navy's website.

Sen. John McCain tweeted that he and his wife Cindy McCain "are keeping America's sailors aboard the USS John S McCain in our prayers tonight - appreciate the work of search & rescue crews." The ship is named for both his grandfather, John Sidney McCain Sr., and his father, John Sidney McCain Jr.

This latest incident comes just two months after the USS Fitzgerald's collision with a Philippine-flagged container ship in the middle of the night off the coast of Japan. Seven U.S. sailors lost their lives in that incident and just last week the Navy relieved the USS Fitzgerald's commanding officer, executive officer and senior enlisted sailor for mistakes that led to a deadly crash.

In May, the USS Lake Champlain, a guided missile cruiser, collided with a fishing boat in the Sea of Japan. There were no injuries. The Navy ship tried to alert the fishing boat before the collision but it was too late.

In February, the USS Antietam, also a guided missile cruiser, ran aground off the coast of Japan, damaging its propellers and spilling oil into the water.

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Sunday
Aug202017

Trump's military options in Afghanistan

JAVED TANVEER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump is set to deliver a primetime address to the American people on Monday night, outlining the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

The president was presented with a variety of options, including withdrawing all American troops or adding 3,900 more to the current 8,400 total.

Here is a look at the options considered by the Trump administration for what is now being called the South Asia strategy.

What is the South Asia strategy?

The Trump administration has been debating for months what strategy to pursue in Afghanistan. The debate originally focused on the U.S. military's role in Afghanistan and a request for additional American troops to advise and assist the Afghan military fighting the Taliban and the ISIS affiliate in that country.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress in June that he believed the administration would formulate its Afghanistan strategy by mid-July.

But that deadline came and went because Trump's national security team debated whether the strategy should be broader in scope.

It has evolved into what is now known as the South Asia strategy, and it includes the regional implications for neighboring countries like Pakistan, India, China and Russia. The strategy would also look at what role these countries can play in reversing Taliban gains on the battlefield.

Mattis told reporters Thursday that a Camp David meeting with Trump's national security team will "move this toward a decision." Mattis, however, did not say that a final decision would be made on Friday, only noting that a decision will occur in "the very near future."

Will more American troops head to Afghanistan?

A lot of the attention initially focused on whether the Trump administration would add more U.S. troops.
In February, Gen. John Nicholson, the senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told Congress the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan was "a stalemate" and that he would like additional troops to enhance the advise and assist mission being carried out by 8,400 American troops and 5,000 NATO forces.

Those troops would buttress the advise and assist mission helping the Afghan military fighting the Taliban, as well as add additional firepower to the counterterrorism mission against ISIS and al Qaeda.
U.S. officials have said that Mattis favors a Pentagon proposal to send 3,900 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

One official said as recently as this week that recommendations were still being made as to what kinds of U.S. military support those additional troops could provide.

But Mattis has been firm that the debate over an Afghanistan strategy should be more than just a decision about whether or not to send more American troops.

Military officials are now evaluating whether neighboring countries can play a role in the strategy. For example, it’s clear the administration wants Pakistan to do more on its side of the border to take on the resurgent Taliban and ISIS-Khorasan.

The internal debate has also broadened into a discussion of whether American troops should remain in Afghanistan.

What are the options?

Last week, Trump said he would be making a decision soon on Afghanistan.

"I've been looking at it," he said. "It's our longest war in history, 17 years. That's unacceptable."
Trump is said to have been dissatisfied with the original strategy review and the request for more American troops, one reason why his national security team has developed additional options.

Mattis said on Monday the Pentagon is still working on options for the president.

"We're sharpening each one of the options, so you can see the pluses and minuses of each one," Mattis said. "So that there's no longer any new data you're going to get."

Another option would shift a portion of the U.S. military role to private military contractors.

When asked specifically about that option, Mattis responded, "It's part of the options being considered, and the president's open to the advice of the secretary of state and myself and the director of the CIA."

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Sunday
Aug202017

Barcelona terror suspect may have fled the country

iStock/Thinkstock(BARCELONA) -- Spanish authorities are still searching for the man they suspect of driving the white van that plowed down pedestrians in Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday, killing more than a dozen.

An official said clothing seen on Younes Abouyaaqoub on CCTV 18 hours before the attack matched descriptions given by eyewitnesses, which led police to believe he was the driver in the attack.

Authorities believe the suspect may have fled the country after allegedly using his credit card to pay for the three vehicles involved in the attack. According to police, Abouyaaqoub's ID was found in the van that crashed into a crowd of people.

Police have heightened security on both sides of the border with France as the manhunt continues, with a greater police presence at major tourist spots.


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Sunday
Aug202017

Hong Kong protestors march in support of jailed pro-democracy activists

Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images(HONG KONG) -- Tens of thousands of protestors marched through the streets of Hong Kong after three pro-democracy advocates were sentenced to jail.

Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were given jail terms between six and eight months on charges of "unlawful assembly." They were previously given non-custodial sentences after being involved with the 2014 mass protests.

Supporters of the three activists said the judicial process was influenced by politics.

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Saturday
Aug192017

USS Indianapolis wreckage found

U.S. Navy photo/Released(NEW YORK) -- The wreckage of the USS Indianapolis has been located more than 70 years after it was sunk by Japanese torpedoes during World War II

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen announced Saturday that the research team from his company, Vulcan, searched 600 square miles of ocean using information discovered by a Navy historian who found records of the last recorded sighting of the Indianapolis. 

The sinking of the Indianapolis in July 1945 was one of the worst naval disasters in American history.
Torpedoed by a Japanese submarine after delivering atomic bomb components, the ship sank in only 12 minutes, so was unable to call for distress or deploy lifesaving equipment, according to a Navy press release.

Only 316 members of the crew survived while the other 880 sailors and Marines died either when the boat sank or after spending days in the water.

Survivors from the Indianapolis told harrowing stories about the days they spent in the water after the ship sank. Former Marine Corp. Edgar Harrell told the Indianapolis Star that many of the survivors were hurt, badly dehydrated, and that some were killed by sharks.

The story has inspired several books and movies and was the subject of a speech by Robert Shaw's character in the movie Jaws.

Allen's research team found the wreckage 18,000 feet underwater in the North Pacific Ocean using a specialized submarine-like research vessel and has located several other historic ships. Allen has been called one of the world's top philanthropists for his contributions to research and conservation, according to his website.

The research team will continue to survey the site in collaboration with the Navy but the location will not be released, according to the Navy. It is being treated as a sunken war grave and the team will work with the Navy on plans to honor the families and the 22 surviving crew members.

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Saturday
Aug192017

Finland stabbing now being investigated as act with 'terrorist intent'

iStock/Thinkstock(TURKU, Finland) -- A stabbing in the Finnish city of Turku on Friday that left two people dead and eight others injured is now being investigated as acts "with terrorist intent," Finland's national police announced Saturday morning.

The suspect -- whom police identified as an 18-year-old Moroccan citizen but did not release his name -- stabbed the 10 individuals with a weapon, police said.

Authorities fired a single shot that hit the suspect in the thigh. The suspect is in police custody and is being treated at the hospital, police said.

Finnish police later declared that it's "now safe to be in the city."

Police announced Saturday morning that the deceased victims were Finns, while the injured included one Italian and two Swedes.

Finland's interior minister said security is being stepped up across the country.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the case, including the suspect’s identity and motive.

Meanwhile, one person was killed and one person was injured in a stabbing attack in the German city of Wuppertal-Elberfeld on Friday, according to police. Wuppertal police are still searching for the suspects related to the stabbings.

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Saturday
Aug192017

Emmanuel Macron's wife speaks out on 25-year age gap

Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images(FRANCE) -- French first lady Brigitte Macron is speaking out about the 25-year age difference between her and husband Emmanuel Macron, France's 39-year-old president.

"There are times in your life where you need to make vital choices," Brigitte, 64, tells Elle France's September issue of her relationship with her husband, whom she first met about 20 years ago and married in 2007. "And for me, that was it. So, what has been said over the 20 years -- it's insignificant."


She added, "Of course, we have breakfast together -- me and my wrinkles, him with his youth -- but it's like that. If I did not make that choice, I would have missed out on my life. I had a lot of happiness with my children and, at the same time, felt I had to live 'this love,' as Prévert used to say, to by fully happy."

Brigitte Macron appears on the cover of Elle France wearing a cream-colored Dior blazer over a white T-shirt, faded blue Saint Laurent jeans and a pair of pointy-toe blue suede stilettos. She was photographed by Mark Seliger at the Élysée Palace.

The age difference between the Macrons is similar to that of President Donald Trump, 71, and wife Melania Trump, 47.

Brigitte Macron told Elle France that she had a tough time with the criticism her marriage received during the French election.

"I ended by telling myself, 'OK, I do not take it well, but I have to deal with it. After, it will pass,' " said Brigitte Macron, in her first major interview since her husband became France's leader.

The Macrons are also currently under scrutiny, as they are experiencing resistance to Emmanuel Macron's push to formalize his wife's role as first lady.

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Friday
Aug182017

Father of American killed in Barcelona confirms death, opens up about tragedy 

Pau Barrena/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- American Jared Tucker was among the 13 people killed in Thursday's vehicle-ramming attack in Barcelona, his family has confirmed.

A spokesperson for Tucker's family said in a statement Friday, "At present Jared's wife Heidi is not issuing a statement and will issue a formal statement tomorrow. For now, she asks that the community and media hold their family up in prayer and asks for the privacy during this difficult time."

Tucker's father later revealed in an emotional interview with ABC News how the family learned of his death.

Dan Tucker said his son was vacationing with his wife Heidi in Barcelona where they were staying with a good friend. All three were out walking along the city's Las Ramblas boulevard when Jared separated from them to find a bathroom. Minutes later, a white van veered onto the crowded street and mowed down pedestrians.

Heidi and the friend weren't injured in the attack, Dan said, but Jared was nowhere to be found. Later, the Tucker family saw a video of a person laying on the ground after the attack who was wearing a blue shirt and tan pants, and Heidi told them that's what Jared was wearing at the time.

"There was a person kneeling beside him and so we thought, 'That's a good sign. He's probably hurt but not seriously injured,'" Dan told ABC News with tears in his eyes. "But ... it became more and more obvious that Jared couldn't be found."

The Tucker family learned Friday morning that Heidi had been called into the U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona where officials showed her pictures of a body and she confirmed it was her husband Jared.

"Now she's on her way over to the morgue," Dan said.

The grieving father told ABC News he and his son were "really close," and their family is struggling to make sense of the tragedy.

"It's been hard, it's been bitter. But I don't know what my feelings are," Dan said." I'm not angry so much, I just don't understand it. And my wife's in shock; it's a lot harder for her."

Dan said he and his wife are grateful to be surrounded by family, friends and members of their church who are helping them get through this difficult time.

"I don't know how people handle something like this when they don't have a support group," he told ABC News. "We've got a huge support group and it's been really nice to have that."

Earlier Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed that the Department of State had "received word and confirmed the death of one American citizen in the terrorist attack in Spain." U.S. officials are "still confirming the injuries and deaths of others," he added.

"Hate is not an American value," Tillerson told reporters.

Spanish authorities said they have detained four people in connection to both the incident in Cambrils early Friday that killed at least one person and the vehicle attack Thursday in Barcelona that killed 13. More than 100 others were injured.

A State Department official told ABC News another American citizen was injured in Spain.

"The U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona continues to work with local authorities to identify and provide assistance to U.S. citizens affected by the terrorist attacks in Las Ramblas and Cambril. At this time, we can confirm that one U.S. citizen was killed," the official said in a statement Friday. "We also can confirm that another U.S. citizen sustained a minor injury. Spanish authorities report that there are still several casualties who are not yet identified. Out of respect for the families’ privacy in their time of grief, we have no further comment."

According to a preliminary assessment by Spanish authorities, those injured and killed in the attacks represented at least 34 different nationalities.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Thursday expressed solidarity with the victims and their families, describing the attack in Barcelona as "jihadist terrorism."

Those responsible for the rampage will be brought to justice, he said, stressing that the response to terrorism must be global.

Rajoy said Barcelona residents are suffering "the same pain and the same uncertainty" as their neighbors in Madrid, Paris, Nice, Brussels and London, referencing other European cities that have also been subject to deadly terror attacks.

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