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Tuesday
May262015

Galapagos Island Volcano Erupts, Threatening Fragile Ecosystem

iStock/Thinkstock(QUITO, Ecuador) -- A volcano atop one of the Galapagos Islands has erupted for the first time in 33 years, spewing fire, smoke and lava into the night sky -- and threatening a fragile ecosystem that inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

On its Facebook page, Ecuador's Galapagos National Park administration said the Wolf volcano, located on the northern tip of Isabela Island, erupted at 1:30 a.m. Monday.

The volcano is home to the world's only population of pink iguanas, which, at the moment, do not appear to be in danger. The administration also said the eruption so far has not impacted tourist operations.

Darwin visited the eastern Pacific island chain in 1835, and the trip influenced his findings presented in the book The Origin of Species.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May252015

Deadly Tornado Destroys Homes, Overturns Cars in Mexico

Coahuila State Government (CIUDAD ACUNA, Mexico) -- At least 13 people were killed on Monday when a tornado struck the town of Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, near the Texas border.

The town is just two miles from Texas' Laughlin Air Force base, the largest pilot training base in the United States.

No injuries or damage were reported at the Air Force base, an official told ABC News.

Facebook photos posted by Del Rio Community Spotlight showed the devastation, including destroyed homes and overturned cars.

About 300 homes were affected, according to a press statement from the Coahuila Government.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May252015

Magnitude 5.3 Earthquake Rattles Tokyo

SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- A magnitude 5.3 earthquake rattled the Japanese capital of Tokyo and its suburbs on Monday.

The strong quake was felt in and around the capital, shaking buildings, and rattling nerves. The quake was centered north of Tokyo in neighboring Saitama Prefecture, and was located 31 miles below ground.

Despite the shaking, there were no extensive damage or injuries reported.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said on Monday that aftershocks may continue for up to a week, and warned residents in the region to reinforce loose appliances along other items which might fall.

Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone nations in the world.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May252015

Malaysian Police Find 139 Migrant Graves

fendytsb/iStock/Thinkstock(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) -- Malaysian authorities have discovered numerous graves in a series of abandoned camps used by human traffickers on the border with Thailand.

The camps are where Muslims fleeing Myanmar were believed to have been held.

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said on Monday an initial sweep of the hilly, jungle area found at least 28 camps along a 30-mile stretch of the border.

“The operations which we have been conducting from the 11th of May, we have discovered 139 which we believe to be graves,” Bakar said. “We don't know what are underneath. The first team has gone in, our forensic and medical team, to exhume whatever remains there and besides that we also discovered one highly decomposed body.”

The task of searching through the area by hand will take time, according to Bakar.

“So to bring out the remains is another problem, another big issue for us. So we are making all the arrangements now on how to bring out all the remains respectfully,” he said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May252015

At Least Seven Killed in Tunisia Barracks Shooting

Janabi/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(TUNIS, Tunisia) -- At least seven people are dead in the wake of a shooting spree by a soldier in Tunisia’s capital.

The gunman opened fire at a military barracks in the capital of Tunis just a half mile away from the National Bardo Museum, where 22 people were killed in a terror attack in March.

Over a dozen soldiers have been moved and are being treated for gunshot wounds in a nearby hospital.

Officials said it’s too early to tell the motivation behind the attack.

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Monday
May252015

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Faces Additional Jail Time

Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is facing more time behind bars in a new sentence handed down by Jerusalem's District Court.

Olmert was sentenced on Monday to eight months in prison for his graft conviction in the retrial of the so-called "cash envelopes case." 

Secret recordings by Olmert's top aide revealed he'd lied to the court about taking bribes of more than half a million dollars from American businessman Moshe Talansky.  

The judges said jail time for Olmert was justified because a "black flag of immorality and corruption waves above his actions."

Olmert's lawyers said they will appeal the recent decision. They are already appealing a six year prison sentence Olmert received in a real estate corruption case.

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Monday
May252015

Susan Sarandon Urges Tourists to Visit Nepal After Deadly Earthquake

US actress Susan Sarandon speaks with Nepalese resident Saili Tamang as she visits an area damaged in an earthquake at Ramkot on the outskirts of Kathmandu on May 24, 2015. S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images(KATHMANDU, Nepal) -- Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon is visiting quake-damaged Nepal and is urging other tourists to follow in her footsteps.

The country was terribly damaged by two powerful earthquakes last month that killed nearly 9,000 people and made hundreds of thousands homeless.

The country's economy is deeply dependent on tourism, and Sarandon says a great way to help Nepal's recovery is to book a trip now for the time after the rainy season ends in September.

“Think of Nepal not as an on-going disaster, but as a country that has found its way back and has many  monuments that haven't fallen and many beautiful areas that could still be safe to travel,” Sarandon said on Sunday.

Sarandon is in Nepal for five days, staying in a Buddhist monastery and visiting an orphanage that suffered damage.

“People should make their reservations now if they want to help and they want to come and visit, because there is, it's very very important to keep all these jobs alive,” she said.

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Sunday
May242015

US Defense Chief: Iraqis 'Showed No Will to Fight' ISIS in Ramadi

zabelin/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces have "showed no will to fight" in recent battles with ISIS, resulting in the group's alarming recent territorial gains, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

"We have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight [ISIS] and defend themselves," Carter said in an interview on CNN. "We can give them training, we can give them equipment; we obviously can't give them the will to fight."

The unusual public rebuke of the Iraqi military, which the U.S. has been training and equipping for years, comes after a week of significant ISIS victories. The jihadist group took control of the key provincial capital of Ramadi and the ancient city of Palmyra. ISIS is now estimated to control half of Syria and broad swaths of Iraq.

In Ramadi, the Iraqi forces "were not out numbered, but in fact they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight," Carter said.

The Pentagon has said the decision to withdraw from Ramadi was made by a local Iraqi commander for reasons that are not entirely clear.

"I don't believe anybody felt that Ramadi would fall, and I think it's of great concern to everyone," retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli, former Army vice chief of staff, said on ABC News’ This Week.

The White House called the episode a "tactical setback" and vowed that there will be a counteroffensive. Republican critics of the administration say the ISIS gains reflect as much a lack of coherent U.S. strategy in Iraq as alleged weakness of the country's security forces.

The "will to fight" issue among ISF is at the heart of President Obama's approach to Iraq, and one key reason why he's resisted calls for more aggressive U.S. military intervention to confront ISIS.

"I know that there are some in Republican quarters who have suggested that I've overlearned the mistake of Iraq, and that, in fact, just because the 2003 invasion did not go well doesn't argue that we shouldn't go back in," Obama told The Atlantic this week.

"I will continue to order our military to provide the Iraqi security forces all assistance that they need in order to secure their country, and I'll provide diplomatic and economic assistance that's necessary for them to stabilize. But we can't do it for them," Obama said.

A majority of Americans support U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but fewer back deployment of more boots on the ground, according to the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.

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Sunday
May242015

Iran Deputy Foreign Minister Denies ‘Managed Access’ Comments

Photo by Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has denied earlier reports that he and Foreign Minister Zarif had told the parliament that Iran agreed to grant UN inspectors “managed access” to military sites as part of a future deal over its contested nuclear program.

Instead, TASNIM news agency reports that Araghchi and Zarif have emphasized opposing any inspection of military sites or interviews with nuclear scientists by inspectors.

Earlier on Sunday, lawmaker Ahmad Shoohani, a member of parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee who attended the closed door session of parliament with Araghchi and Zarif, cited Araghchi and said "managed access will be in a shape where U.N. inspectors will have the possibility of taking environmental samples from the vicinity of military sites"

The comments raised a few eyebrows as Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed on Wednesday to not allow international inspection of Iran’s military sites or access to Iranian scientists under any nuclear agreement.

Iran's military leaders also angrily have refused such demands.

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Sunday
May242015

Gloria Steinem, Female Peace Activists Cross Korea Border 

ABC News(PANMUNJOM, South Korea) -- Female activists including Gloria Steinem, Medea Benjamin, and two Nobel Peace laureates crossed the border between North and South Korea on Sunday, calling for peace and for more women to be involved in that process.

The group of 30 women arrived at Dorasan Station dressed in white with colorful traditional Korean scarves wrapped around them.

“It was an enormous, enormous triumph,” Steinem said of their trip inside North Korea. “We feel very celebratory and positive that we have created a voyage across the DMZ in peace and reconciliation that was said to be impossible.”

Some anti-North Korean groups heavily criticized the event, saying the women were naive and ignored raising human rights issues by the communist state.

“They don’t deserve to come here,” one woman shouted at a small protest near the border. “There’s no peace in North Korea and they go and praise Kim Jong-un and his family? There are millions starving to death but these women are blind to reality.”

The group repeatedly stressed that this was not a political event and the purpose was to open dialogue on the civilian level.

“It’s a very repressive country, but it was great for us to go there … and have some real dialogue and some interactions with women,” said Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink, a left-wing peace activist group. “I met women who’ve never met an American before in their lives and they had such terrible ideas about us and we became close friends. We were all crying when we left this morning saying goodbye.”

Hundreds of South Korean women greeted the activists at the southern part of the Unification Bridge and together marched over a mile by the barbed wire fences to a peace festival at nearby Nuri Peace Park.

The women originally planned to cross the border through the truce village of Panmunjum, where North and South Korean soldiers stand guard on each side of the military demarcation line. But the South Korean government had refused to give authorization, citing concerns over their safety.

The organizers expressed disappointment but said the crossing itself was a successful “historic event” getting “both Korean governments to communicate.”

The group made entry into South Korean by a bus instead, as recommended by the South Korean government, through a road that connects South Korea and the North Korean city of Gaesong.

This is not the first time a non-political group crossed the inter-Korean border. Bikers from New Zealand took the same route in 2013 and another group of Korean-Russians drove SUVs through the DMZ last year.


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