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Friday
Sep302016

Hurricane Matthew Gaining Strength in Caribbean

ABC News(MIAMI) -- Hurricane Matthew gained strength over the Caribbean Sea on Friday, and with its eye beginning to form became a major category 4 hurricane with winds up to 150 mph. This is the second major hurricane in Atlantic Basin in 2016.

The hurricane is on path to travel west-by-southwest through the central Caribbean on Friday afternoon and to retain its strength as a major hurricane, the National Hurricane Center showed.

By early Sunday morning, Matthew is forecast to begin to turn north toward Jamaica, with sustained winds that could be as high as 120 mph with even stronger gusts. A Hurricane Watch was issued for Jamaica, a Tropical Storm Watch for eastern Haiti, and a Tropical Storm Warning for the border of Columbia and Venezuela.

Matthew is expected to make landfall or come close to Jamaica early Monday morning. On Monday night, the eastern part of Cuba could see a direct hit from Matthew with damaging winds, flooding rain and large waves.

"As Matthew moves over Cuba it will lose some strength due to the friction with the land mass," ABC News meteorologist Max Golembo said. "As it re-emerges north of Cuba in the Bahamas it could regain its strength back."

"At this time, most forecast models keep Hurricane Matthew east of Florida, and only a few models have it hitting Florida by the middle of next week," Golembo said.

Matthew developed very quickly from a tropical wave into a tropical storm with sustained winds of 60 mph around 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The only other storm that has done this was Hurricane Debbie in 1961, Golembo said.

As Matthew moved over the eastern Caribbean, it brought wind gusts from 50 mph to 60 mph from Dominique to St. Lucia and Barbados. Heavy rain of up to 3 inches fell on the islands, producing landslides and flash flooding. Landslides were so severe that one person was killed by a boulder in St. Vincent.

Matthew became a hurricane at 2 p.m. on Thursday and as it moved west Thursday night, it strengthened into category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and gusts up to 120 mph.

At this time, most forecast models keep Hurricane Matthew east of Florida and only a few models having it hit Florida by the middle of next week. Because of the uncertainty of the long range forecast, we should all be watching for the track of the storm.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep302016

Baby Panda Falls Flat on Its Face During Public Debut of 23 Giant Panda Cubs in China 

VCG/VCG via Getty Images(CHENGDU, China) -- A group of baby pandas made their public debut at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, China, on Thursday.

The sight was one to behold -- 23 adorable lumps of black-and-white fuzzballs with endearing rounded ears.

At first, all was going well. One little panda worked the camera during a photo-op with its irresistibly cute yawn. Another stole the spotlight with its playful antics with a handler.

But then, one clumsy cub came tumbling down.

A handler appeared to try and catch the lil' fluffball, but he was a just a little too late. The baby had its face in the ground and its stubby legs waving in the air

No worries, though! The panda was perfectly fine. It was promptly picked up and plopped back on the platform.

Even better news: Despite being especially clumsy creatures, pandas were taken of the endangered species list earlier this month by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

“For over fifty years, the giant panda has been the globe’s most beloved conservation icon as well as the symbol of WWF," said WWF Director General Marco Lambertini in a statement. "Knowing that the panda is now a step further from extinction is an exciting moment for everyone committed to conserving the world’s wildlife and their habitats."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep302016

Rescue Worker Cries as He Pulls Baby Alive from Rubble in Syria

ABCNews.com(IDLIB, Syria) -- A rescue worker in Syria broke into tears as he rescued a baby from a building destroyed by airstrikes.

After an hours-long operation in Idlib in the northwestern part of Syria, members of the Syrian Civil Defense were able to pull out a baby girl and a woman alive from under the rubble of a building on Thursday.

In an emotional video, the rescue worker cries as he embraces the baby. He says in the video that the baby had been under the rubble for about two hours but didn't have any wounds.

“Oh God, oh God,” he says between sobs in a video released by the Syrian Civil Defense, known as the White Helmets, a group of unarmed, nonpartisan rescue workers in Syria.

“Thank God, she doesn’t have one wound, no wounds at all," the rescue worker says in the video. "Thank God. When I carried her I felt like she was my daughter. The guys and I, the team that worked with me, we were three or four who took her out and then I carried her on my own and brought her to the hospital. I felt like she was my daughter. I hugged her tight. She moved me deeply.”

The rescue workers said that the baby was on the fourth floor of the building when airstrikes hit.

Airstrikes over Idlib killed at least six people including four children and an elderly man on Thursday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep302016

Principal Vows to Open School in East Aleppo Despite Violence

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Airstrikes on east Aleppo have forced most schools to close, but one school in the besieged city is due to open Saturday on the first day of the new school year.

“We risk death and attacks and experience many difficulties, but that doesn’t prevent us from doing our job,” Principal Mohamad Faisal told ABC News. “At the end, these are our children and we are responsible for them. The least we can do is to teach them how to write and count.”

The school is located inside a mosque and its classrooms are lit by battery-powered lamps because there’s no electricity, he said. School supplies like pencils and notebooks are very limited and there’s not enough drinking water.

The sound of warplanes overhead can bring everything to a halt.

“When there’s any sound of planes, the teacher and the students become very anxious and concerned. If it continues like this, we will have a whole generation deprived of an education,” said Faisal, adding that many parents keep children home from school out of fear for their safety.

When warplanes are flying back and forth across the sky, they move the lessons down to the ground floor, Faisal said. Other times, when airstrikes are heavier than usual, they move to students’ homes and lecture some 10 to 20 children at a time.

What's most difficult, said Faisal, is seeing students who "live in poverty, with no mom or dad. Many of them have had health issues and contagious diseases like scabies."

The school itself has not been bombed, he said, but some of the surrounding buildings have been completely destroyed by airstrikes. In 2014, about seven students were killed in their homes in airstrikes, he said.

The school year in east Aleppo was supposed to start earlier this month, but due to the dangers of the war, the beginning of the school year was postponed until Saturday. Now, a recent upsurge in violence has forced most schools to remain closed, according to Save the Children, an international organization that supports children.

Locals and activists say that government forces and Russia have used bunker-buster bombs to target people sheltering underground, forcing even schools that have been moved to basements to close. More than 300 children have been killed or injured in eastern Aleppo in the past five days, said Save the Children.

“We’re now more likely to see children being pulled from the rubble or treated on the floor of a hospital than sat at a school desk. Children deserve the right to play, to learn, to be children. The use of bunker-busting bombs means there is literally nowhere we can keep children safe, and we want to see the use of these weapons investigated as a potential war crime,” said Nick Finney, Save the Children’s country director for northwest Syria, in a statement.

Even before the latest escalation in violence, most children in east Aleppo were out of school. The official enrollment figures have fallen to 6 percent. Up to 100,000 children are missing out on school, according to Save the Children.

“We are not going to school because the airplanes bomb any gathering,” a 12-year-old boy told Save the Children under the pseudonym Amjad. “When the plane comes we sit on the floor, afraid that things might fall above us. One of my friends died in the bombing -- he was my best friend. I love to go to school to study and I wish I could become a civil engineer to rebuild the houses that were destroyed.”

Airstrikes intensified after the Syrian military declared an offensive against eastern Aleppo on Sept. 22 -- a few days after announcing that a U.S.-Russia-brokered cease-fire had ended. Activists say that government and Russian forces have used bunker-buster bombs to target people sheltering underground and cluster bombs to maximize the number of injured and killed in Aleppo.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep302016

Mystery Surrounding Deaths of US Sisters at Luxury Seychelles Resort

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The discovery of two American sisters dead in their hotel room turned the vacation of a lifetime in Africa into a heartbreaking tragedy.

The bodies of Robin Korkki, 42, of Chicago and Annie Korkki, 37, of Denver were discovered last week in the same hotel room of their luxury $2,000 a night resort in the Seychelles, off the coast of East Africa.

An autopsy determined the cause of death for both sisters as "acute pulmonary edema," a build up of fluid in the lungs. The autopsy determined that Annie also suffered a "cerebral edema," a swelling in the brain.

"When you are talking about pulmonary edema, that's a really big deal," said ABC News consultant and former FBI agent Brad Garrett said. "I would look primarily at drug use directly or indirectly by somebody else."

Their trip to the Seychelles, a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean known for its stunning beaches and resorts, was part of a nearly month-long African vacation.

Both sisters worked in banking. Robin's LinkedIn account showing she was a commodities trader, and younger sister Annie worked at JPMorgan Chase, according to her Facebook page.

The sisters were described as "loving sisters and best friends." They often shared details of their travels to exotic locations on social media, and Annie had posted photos on Facebook just days before the hotel announced the tragic discovery.

The sisters were discovered "when an employee of the hotel tried to wake them" in their villa, according to a statement from the hotel.

The day before their bodies were discovered, the pair had been seen drinking at the resort until about 6:45 p.m. and were later helped to their rooms by staff at 8:15 p.m., according to local news reports.

When the sisters were discovered the next morning, on Sept. 22, "no visible signs of injuries were found on the bodies," according to the police report.

"If this is a murder then it is somebody that gave them something," Garrett said. “Based on their apparent health and age, that it’s something that they ingested and/or inhaled that caused their death.”

Medications found in the sisters' room have reportedly been confiscated as part of the investigation, which will also include a toxicology analysis.

ABC News has confirmed the sisters' mother and brother have traveled to the Seychelles to bring home the bodies of Robin and Annie.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep302016

Hurricane Matthew Gaining Strength in Caribbean

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Hurricane Matthew gained strength over the Caribbean Sea on Friday, and with its eye beginning to form became a major hurricane with winds up to 115 mph and gusting to 140 mph. This is the second major hurricane in Atlantic Basin in 2016.

The hurricane is on path to travel west-by-southwest through the central Caribbean on Friday afternoon and to retain its strength as a major hurricane, the National Hurricane Center showed.

By early Sunday morning, Matthew is forecast to begin to turn north toward Jamaica, with sustained winds that could be as high as 120 mph with even stronger gusts.

Matthew is expected to make landfall or come close to Jamaica early Monday morning. On Monday night, the eastern part of Cuba could see a direct hit from Matthew with damaging winds, flooding rain and large waves.

"As Matthew moves over Cuba it will lose some strength due to the friction with the land mass," ABC News meteorologist Max Golembo said. "As it re-emerges north of Cuba in the Bahamas it could regain its strength back."

"At this time, most forecast models keep Hurricane Matthew east of Florida, and only a few models have it hitting Florida by the middle of next week," Golembo said.

Matthew developed very quickly from a tropical wave into a tropical storm with sustained winds of 60 mph around 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The only other storm that has done this was Hurricane Debbie in 1961, Golembo said.

As Matthew moved over the eastern Caribbean, it brought wind gusts from 50 mph to 60 mph from Dominique to St. Lucia and Barbados. Heavy rain of up to 3 inches fell on the islands, producing landslides and flash flooding. Landslides were so severe that one person was killed by a boulder in St. Vincent.

Matthew became a hurricane at 2 p.m. on Thursday and as it moved west Thursday night, it strengthened into category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph and gusts up to 120 mph.

At this time, most forecast models keep Hurricane Matthew east of Florida and only a few models having it hit Florida by the middle of next week. Because of the uncertainty of the long range forecast, we should all be watching for the track of the storm.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep302016

Obama Remembers Shimon Peres, Says Mideast Peace 'Unfinished Business'

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(JERUSALEM) — In remarks at Shimon Peres's funeral in Israel on Friday, President Obama eulogized the former president for showing that "justice and hope are at the heart of the Zionist idea."

Obama began his remarks by being the only speaker to acknowledge the attendance of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, calling it "a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace."


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Obama then went on to paint Peres as a man whose vision for Israel at times seemed trapped between critics on the far left and far right.

"Whatever he shared with his family or his closest friends, to the world he brushed off the critics, and I know from my conversations with him that his pursuit of peace was never naive," Obama said.

Obama chronicled Peres’ work to attain security for the state of Israel, as well as peace with the Palestinians, pointing out to the attendees that "of course we gather here in the knowledge that Shimon never had his dream of peace fulfilled."

"The region is going through a chaotic time. Threats are ever present," Obama said. "And yet he did not stop dreaming and he did not stop working."

Obama continued to draw parallels with himself and Peres throughout the speech by recounting their meetings together, saying, "I could somehow see myself in his story and maybe he could see himself in mine."

"In many ways, he reminded me of some other giants of the 20th century that I've had the honor to meet," Obama said. "Leaders who have seen so much, whose lives span such momentous epics that they find no need to posture, or traffic in what's popular in the moment, people who speak with depth and knowledge, not in soundbites. They find no interest in polls or fads."

"He knew better than the cynic that if you look out over the arc of history, human beings should be filled not with fear but with hope."

In 2012, Obama honored Peres at the White House with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, praising him for his efforts to broker peace with the Palestinians and his status as one of the founding fathers of the state of Israel.

During the ceremony, Obama was seated alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders met earlier this month for what was assumed to be their final formal meeting of Obama's tenure, capping off years of a tenuous relationship by announcing a new military aid package to Israel, the largest in U.S. history.


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Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Sep292016

University of Alberta Responds to Racist Signage

jonathansemrok/iStock/Thinkstock(EDMONTON, Canada) -- The University of Alberta found a unique way of responding to a racist incident.  

Students and faculty were shocked when someone put up posters of a Sikh man with the phrase “F*** your Turban” and wanted to do something to flight such blatant racism.

Rafaela Mancuso and hundreds of others put together and event called “Turban, eh?”

“This is more than I thought, they brought everyone,” Mancuso said.

People of many ethnic backgrounds had colorful Sikh turbans wound around their heads.

“Right now, we’re putting forward our vision of Canada, and I feel our vision is a little more popular than theirs,” fellow organizer Arundeep Singh Sandhu said.

University of Alberta President David Turpin said the event better represents the school and the country.

The university is still trying to find out who was responsible for the anti-immigrant posters.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Sep292016

Syrian Military Video Shows Destruction of Aleppo as City Awaits Aid

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A new video shows parts of Aleppo in ruins, as humanitarian organizations call for an end to the Syrian government's recent offensive on the eastern part of the city.

In the video, released by the Syrian military, Syrian soldiers are walking around damaged areas and aiming with guns. Buildings in the neighborhood have been reduced to rubble.

Meanwhile, the besieged part of eastern Aleppo is still waiting for humanitarian assistance amid an upsurge of violence. For weeks, the United Nations has had aid loaded on vehicles parked by the Turkish border waiting for a green light to enter the besieged city, where up to 275,000 people are in need of food, water, shelter and medical supplies, according to the U.N.

Initially, 40 aid trucks were ready to enter -- but due to increased violence and an attack on an aid convoy, the aid was suspended. Only 20 of the 40 trucks now remain at the border, according to the U.N. The other 20 had to move to make room for other traffic. The aid will instead be distributed in other places inside Syria.

“Obviously, the humanitarian situation inside east Aleppo is going from bad to worse,” David Swanson, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told ABC News. “The situation even before this recent upsurge in violence was dire with many people lacking access to food, health, shelter and water. Between 250,000 and 275,000 people are now living without proper access to running drinking water. Right now, 20 trucks are standby and ready to enter as soon as the latest round of violence improves.”

Airstrikes intensified after the Syrian military declared an offensive against eastern Aleppo on Sept. 22 -- a few days after announcing that a U.S.-Russia-brokered cease-fire had ended.

On Tuesday, a girl was rescued from under the rubble of a destroyed building in east Aleppo’s al-Shaar neighborhood. It took four hours to get her out of the building and she was the only survivor, according to the White Helmets, a group of unarmed, nonpartisan rescue workers in Syria. At least 24 people were killed and 15 wounded, said the White Helmets. Activists said the girl lost 16 members of her family in the attack.

Thursday morning, warplanes dropped bombs on the only bakery in the town of Anadan in the northern countryside of Aleppo. The bakery is now out of service, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Most of the residents have already left the town due to persistent government airstrikes, the observatory said.

On Wednesday, two major hospitals in east Aleppo were attacked and are now out of service, including the besieged area’s largest trauma and ICU center.

“Let us be clear. Those using ever more destructive weapons know exactly what they are doing. They know they are committing war crimes,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a speech Wednesday. “Imagine the destruction. People with limbs blown off. Children in terrible pain with no relief. Infected. Suffering. Dying, with nowhere to go and no end in sight. Imagine a slaughterhouse. This is worse. Even a slaughterhouse is more humane. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances and medical staff in Aleppo are under attack around the clock.”

According to Physicians for Human Rights, 95 percent of medical personnel who were in Aleppo before the war have fled, been detained, or were killed. Only some 30 doctors are believed to be left in the rebel-held part of Aleppo.

“Attacking hospitals, aid convoys, and rescue workers is beyond horrific," said Zaher Sahloul, a doctor and founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria, a coalition of humanitarian organizations that provide assistance in Syria. “Every day brings new levels of horror for the people of Aleppo. By standing by and letting these attacks continue, it tells us the world has lost its moral compass.”

Activists say that government and Russian forces have used bunker-buster bombs to target people sheltering underground and cluster bombs to maximize the number of injured and killed in Aleppo.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Sep292016

Princess Charlotte Walks, Talks at Military Children's Party in Canada

Samir Hussein/WireImage(VICTORIA, British Columbia) -- Prince George and Princess Charlotte made their second appearance of their family’s eight-day tour of Canada Thursday at a children’s party for military families.

The 3-year-old prince and 16-month-old princess could hardly contain their excitement at the party, where Charlotte was seen walking and talking for the first time in public. The toddler exclaimed, "Pop!," as she hugged a balloon arch on the ground and later called her father, "Dada." Charlotte also excitedly bounded towards a dog named Moose while she and her big brother, George, played with a bubble squirt gun.

George and Charlotte were accompanied by their parents, Princess Kate and Prince William, at the event held at Government House in Victoria, British Columbia.

George, who seemed a bit subdued next to his boisterous sister, climbed aboard a pony with the help of his parents and hugged his baby sitter while they examined the balloons. When Kate took Charlotte to have a balloon animal made, George, who was playing with a rabbit, quickly ran over saying, "But I want one. Can I have one?"

Charlotte wore a Pepa company blue smocked dress, which retails for $100, and a tiny blue sweater with a tiny blue bow holding back her brown hair. George was in his trademark shorts in maroon with a blue sweater.

Government House has been the family’s main base since arriving in Canada last Saturday. George and Charlotte have stayed there in Victoria with their nanny, Maria Teresa Borallo, while their parents traveled to different cities nearby for engagements.

William and Kate's whirlwind tour of Canada has seen them dazzle at a diplomatic reception at Government House and travel to Vancouver and Bella Bella, British Columbia. They also traveled to Kelowna, in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, where they met with University of British Columbia students and sampled local delicacies at the "Taste of British Columbia" festival at a local winery.

Charlotte and George stole the show in their only prior appearance in Canada, when the family arrived in Victoria on Saturday. Charlotte, on her first royal tour, was carried down the plane’s steps by her mother, while George, on his second royal tour, walked on his own, holding his parents’ hands and watching the planes and gathered crowd in awe.

The family will depart from Canada on Saturday. They visited the country on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and at the invitation of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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