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Monday
Oct162017

Rescued hostage Joshua Boyle says children are 'improving'

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Rescued Canadian hostage Joshua Boyle said his children are "improving" after spending their entire life being help captive in the mountains of Afghanistan.

“The children are improving, we mentioned before that the eldest Najaeshi Jonah was doing well but that his younger brother Dhakwoen Noah was still struggling as much as ever with even just being able to look at his grandparents faces without terror,” Boyle told CP24 in an emailed statement last week.

Boyle arrived in Toronto with his wife, Caitlan Coleman, and their three children on Friday after being held hostage for five years by a Taliban-affiliated terrorist network. The family was rescued in Pakistan on Wednesday in a dramatic operation orchestrated by the U.S. and Pakistani governments, officials said last week.

He said Dhakwoen was initially afraid of his grandparents, but he warmed up to them “literally overnight” after his grandmother made him a hearty pancake breakfast.

“Obviously he's still incredibly troubled and stressed over everything, but it's a major step,” Boyle said, speaking of Dhakwoen’s newfound love for his grandma. “She's the first person he's accepted since 2015.”

He said his daughter, Ma'idah, still finds it hard to be around other men.

“She still can't be within a metre of any man except her father but if she sees a woman she starts squirming and trying to get over to her, regardless of who it is — to nestle in the love,” Boyle said.

Boyle and his wife, who was pregnant with their first child at the time, were kidnaped while on a backpacking trip in Afghanistan in October 2012.

The couple had four children while in captivity, but Boyle said their fourth child, an infant daughter, was murdered by their abductors. The Taliban has denied those claims.

Boyle said the family is currently living with his parents in Smiths Falls, Ont., located about an hour south of Ottawa, which he his children's "first true home."

"We have reached the first true “home” that the children have ever known – after they spent most of Friday asking if each subsequent airport was our new house hopefully," Boyle said in a separate statement on Saturday.

"Full medical work-ups for each member of my family are being arranged right now, and God-willing the healing process – physically and mentally can begin," he added.

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Monday
Oct162017

US father of 3 killed in Somalia was refugee who arrived in hometown hours before terror attack

KSTP.com(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- A Minnesota father of three was one of more than 270 people who were killed in Somalia over the weekend when a pair of truck bombs went off in the country's capital, his family said. Authorities are calling it the deadliest terrorist attack in the nation’s history.

The attack left 276 people dead and around 300 others injured, the country's information minister, Abdirahman Osman, said late Sunday. The death toll is expected to rise.

Fifty-year-old Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow arrived in his hometown of Mogadishu just hours before the deadly bomb went off, according to his family. He was resting in his hotel room when the blast struck, destroying the hotel and many other buildings in the surrounding area.

"We miss him so much,” Eyow's widow, Ruun Abdi Eyow, said at a press conference on Sunday. "I want people to know that he was a great father. He has two jobs, and my husband works very hard."

Born in Somalia, Eyow became a refugee when he fled the East African nation after its government collapsed in 1991, according to his mosque. He eventually settled in Minnesota in 1998.

"Ahmed was one of our most effective and active community members in our center," Mohamed Omar, executive director of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center, said at the news conference on Sunday.

Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow leaves behind three children: Yonis, 14; Yusra, 13; and Yahya, 10.

Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow left for Somalia on Oct. 7 “with great hope, looking forward to a chance to make a difference in his home country,” according to the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., where Eyow attended daily prayer services.

“He was working as a welder but longed to return to his homeland of Somalia,” the center said in a statement on Sunday. “He thought that he could help bring back stability to Somalia by applying for a job as a representative with the UN.”

The Islamic center has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for the Eyow family.

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Sunday
Oct152017

Met Police investigating new assault claims against Harvey Weinstein

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Harvey Weinstein is facing new sexual assault allegations that could lead to criminal charges in London.

Police in London are investigating claims against the movie mogul that go back more than 20 years, ABC News has learned.  Metropolitan Police confirmed at least three alleged victims have come forward, but they would not confirm Weinstein's involvement nor the women's names.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Lysette Anthony, a British actress and soap opera star, said she told police she was raped by the Miramax co-founder in the late 1980's and reportedly gave evidence to officials last week.

There is no statute of limitations for sex crimes and other serious cases in the U.K.  In the U.S., the law varies by state. The state of New York does not have a statute of limitations for rape claims and the New York Police Department said it is conducting a review of incidents related to Weinstein.

More than 35 women have have accused Weinstein of sexual harrassment or assault.  In a previous statement to the New Yorker, Weinstein denied "any allegations of non-consensual sex."


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Sunday
Oct152017

Hundreds killed in Mogadishu truck bomb attack

Sadak Mohamed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- Hundreds are dead after a truck packed with explosives detonated in the capital of Somalia on Saturday.

At least 276 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in the explosion near the entrance of the Safari Hotel in Mogadishu, according to a government spokesperson. The death toll is expected to rise.

Abdirahman Osman, spokesperson to Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, said on Twitter that Al-Shabaab was responsible for the "barbaric attack."  No terror group has claimed responsibility.

The president declared three days of mourning for the victims of the blast.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert condemned the attack in a statement on Sunday: "In the face of this senseless and cowardly act, the United States will continue to stand with the Somali government, its people, and our international allies to combat terrorism and support their efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Oct152017

Freed hostage says Taliban-linked captors killed infant daughter, raped American wife

Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images(TORONTO) -- After being held hostage for five years by a Taliban-affiliated terrorist network in the mountains of Afghanistan, a Canadian man, his American wife and their three children born in captivity arrived in Toronto Friday night.

Joshua Boyle -- who arrived at Toronto's Pearson International Airport with his wife Caitlan Coleman and their children -- told reporters inside the Air Canada terminal that the Haqqani network killed a fourth child born in captivity, an infant daughter, and raped his wife.

"The stupidity and the evil of the Haqqani networks, kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorizing the murder of my infant daughter, Martyr Boyle," Boyle said, revealing the murder of his daughter.

He added, revealing the rape of his wife, "As retaliation of the repeated refusal to accept an offer that the criminal miscreants of the Haqqani had made to me. And the stupidity and evil of the subsequent rape of my wife, not as the lone action of one guard, but assisted by the captain of the guards and the commandant."

Speaking about the couple's children, Boyle said, "Obviously it would be of incredible importance to my family that we are able to build a secure sanctuary for our 3 surviving children to call a home, to focus on edification," Boyle told reporters. "And to try to regain of the childhood that they had lost."

The Government of Canada issued the following statement on the arrival of Joshua Boyle, his wife Caitlan Coleman and their children at Toronto's Pearson International Airport: "Today, we join the Boyle family in rejoicing over the long-awaited return to Canada of their loved ones. Canada has been actively engaged on Mr. Boyle’s case at all levels, and we will continue to support him and his family now that they have returned."

The couple and their children were rescued in a dramatic operation orchestrated by the U.S. and Pakistani governments, officials said Thursday.

The couple were abducted in October 2012 while in Afghanistan as part of a brief backpacking trip and held by the Haqqani network, which has ties to the Taliban and is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. Coleman was pregnant at the time.

The operation came after years of U.S. pressure on Pakistan for assistance. It unfolded quickly and included what some described as a shootout and a dangerous raid. U.S. officials did not confirm the details.

The family arrived in Toronto after flying from Islamabad, Pakistan, with a stopover in London. The family was seated in business class next to U.S. State Department officials.

Boyle also expressed his displeasure with U.S. foreign policy by gesturing to one of the U.S. State Department officials and saying, "Their interests are not my interests."

Boyle said one of his children is suffering from health issues and needed to be force-fed by rescuers.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Oct152017

Astronaut tweets photo of 'beautiful' Puerto Rico from International Space Station

Joseph M. Acaba/Twitter(NEW YORK) -- For astronauts onboard the International Space Station, there are countless magnificent sights to see as they orbit the Earth.

But NASA's Joe Acaba, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, was waiting for the moment that the International Space Station would pass over his family's hurricane-ravaged homeland -- and that moment was finally realized on Saturday.

Acaba, 50, tweeted a pair of photos of the island, along with a message to the people still recovering from the destruction of Hurricane Maria.

 Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Oct142017

One hundred ISIS fighters surrender in Raqqa

Rick Findler/Getty Images(RAQQA, Syria) -- About 100 ISIS fighters have surrendered in Raqqa, Syria, in the last 24 hours and have been removed from the city, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS told ABC News.

The mass surrender is viewed as a sign that the coalition's battle to retake Raqqa could be nearing its end, with 85 percent of the city now under the coalition's control.

"This is consistent with the trend we have seen in the past month, both in Syria and Iraq. A good number of ISIS fighters are giving up," said Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition.

In addition, over the last week, about 1,500 civilians in the area have safely made it to locations controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, Dillon said.

An estimated 300 to 400 fighters remain in Raqqa.

"We still expect difficult fighting in the days ahead and will not set a time for when we think ISIS will be completely defeated in Raqqa," Dillon added.

Separately, the Raqqa Civil Council and local Arab tribal elders have brokered a deal in which they are allowing a convoy of vehicles to leave Raqqa Saturday.

In a press release Saturday morning, the coalition, which was not involved in the discussions that led to this deal, said people who are being allowed to leave Raqqa are subject to search and screening by Syrian Democratic Forces.

The coalition also states in the release that the arrangement is "designed to minimize civilian casualties and purportedly excludes" foreign fighters.

However, the coalition's director of operations, Brig. Gen. Jonathan Braga, said the coalition is concerned about ISIS fighters fleeing the area.

"We do not condone any arrangement that allows Daesh terrorists to escape Raqqah without facing justice, only to resurface somewhere else," he said in the press release.

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Saturday
Oct142017

Global fund championed by Ivanka Trump to help women entrepreneurs begins operations

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A global fund that aims to empower women entrepreneurs in developing countries -- and which was spearheaded in part by first daughter Ivanka Trump -- is now open for business.

The Women Entrepreneur Finance Initiative (WeFi), announced at the G-20 Summit in July and operable as of this week, will leverage more than a billion dollars in financing for women’s small- and medium-size enterprises in the developing world, where women are often cut out from accessing loans through traditional banks or struggle to gain access to adequate financial resources.

Anta Babacar -- a pioneering woman entrepreneur in Senegal, who manages the largest agricultural business in West Africa -- called the fund “the biggest opportunity one could dream of.”

Babacar said women often struggle to get loans from banks for business projects because the very fact that they are a woman makes them “more risky.”

Coming up in her own family business -- starting from the bottom and working her way up -- Babacar said she was unable to find a woman role model.

“The whole time I was wondering: Is there a woman in Senegal, in the agricultural sector, who has actually made it, who I can look up to? And I was sad to look around and see nobody,” she said.

The World Bank estimates that the unique challenges facing women have led to $300 billion credit deficit for women-owned, small- and medium-sized enterprises in the developing world.

Caren Grown, senior director for gender at the World Bank Group, said the new fund is the first of its kind and will take a “multi-pronged, eco-system approach” to tackle the collection of constraints facing women entrepreneurs, ranging from access to capital to training and support.

“I’ve been working on this topic for many years, and having a facility dedicated specifically to women with this level of finance -- we’ve never had something to this scale, something that really brings together the commercial private sector with governments,” Grown said.

Fourteen countries have collectively contributed $340 million to the fund -- $50 million of that is from the United States -- which will be used to enable at least an additional $800 million in international financial institutions and commercial financing.

Grown said one of the keys to getting the new fund off the ground has been the advocacy on the part of the first daughter, along with Chancellor Angela Merkel and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine LaGarde.

“The high-level advocacy has been really important,” Grown said. “We needed that push, and also the environment is right.”

The concept of the fund grew out of a conversation between the first daughter and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim early in the Trump administration, according to senior officials from the White House and World Bank, with the two identifying that there is not a comparable initiative. While the first daughter has no role in running the facility, she will continue to play an outside advocacy role going forward.

“The progress that the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative has made over the past few months is encouraging and exciting,” Ivanka Trump said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing my work with the World Bank Group via this facility to support women entrepreneurs around the globe and remove existing barriers to their growth and success.”

The fund will seek to create more independent entrepreneurs such as Babacar, whose unique success story was made possible in large part thanks to the foresight of her father. When given the choice to invest in Babacar’s education or one of her two older brothers, he chose to invest in his daughter.

“In Senegal, back then, most girls did not go to school. For my dad to make that choice was really not understandable at that time, but he followed his gut that there are no limits for girls,” Babacar said.

Her father’s investment paid off.

Now in her early 30s, Babacar manages her family’s business that her father started in the 1970s with $120 he received from Anta’s grandfather to buy 100 chicks. After multiple setbacks, the poultry-focused business has grown into an empire that also produces flour.

The idea to break into the flour market was Babacar’s idea. And she’s made another change too: Hiring more women to positions of power within the company.

Babacar said women often face discrimination in the hiring process because of their gender.

“For certain positions, they will not even look at the resume. They will just look at the picture -- man on one side, woman on the other -- and they will pick the man,” she said, adding that pregnancy is viewed as “a sickness.”

“If it was a man, we would not be missing four or five months. For that reason, they would have chosen to put a man in that position, which I think is really unfair,” she added.

Now in a position to hire herself, Babacar sees it as her responsibility to not only help other qualified women advance in her business, but also to serve as the role model she never had for other aspiring women entrepreneurs.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Oct142017

Freed Canadian hostage says Haqqani extremists killed infant daughter, raped US wife

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  After being held hostage for five years by a Taliban-affiliated terrorist network in the mountains of Afghanistan, a Canadian man, his American wife and their three children born in captivity arrived in Toronto Friday night.

Joshua Boyle -- who arrived at Toronto's Pearson International Airport with his wife Caitlan Coleman and their children -- told reporters inside the Air Canada terminal that the Haqqani network killed a fourth child born in captivity -- an infant daughter -- and raped his wife.

"The stupidity and the evil of the Haqqani networks, kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorizing the murder of my infant daughter, Martyr Boyle," Boyle said, revealing the murder of his daughter.

He added, revealing the rape of his wife, "As retaliation of the repeated refusal to accept an offer that the criminal miscreants of the Haqqani had made to me. And the stupidity and evil of the subsequent rape of my wife, not as the lone action of one guard, but assisted by the captain of the guards and the commandant."

Speaking about the couple's children, Boyle said, "Obviously it would be of incredible importance to my family that we are able to build a secure sanctuary for our 3 surviving children to call a home, to focus on edification," Boyle told reporters. "And to try to regain of the childhood that they had lost."

The Government of Canada issued the following statement on the arrival of Joshua Boyle, his wife Caitlan Coleman and their children at Toronto's Pearson International Airport: "Today, we join the Boyle family in rejoicing over the long-awaited return to Canada of their loved ones. Canada has been actively engaged on Mr. Boyle’s case at all levels, and we will continue to support him and his family now that they have returned."

The couple and their children were rescued in a dramatic operation orchestrated by the U.S. and Pakistani governments, officials said Thursday.

The couple were abducted in October 2012 while in Afghanistan as part of a brief backpacking trip and held by the Haqqani network, which has ties to the Taliban and is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. Coleman was pregnant at the time.

The operation came after years of U.S. pressure on Pakistan for assistance. It unfolded quickly and included what some described as a shootout and a dangerous raid. U.S. officials did not confirm the details.

The family arrived in Toronto after flying from Islamabad, Pakistan, with a stopover in London. The family was seated in business class next to U.S. State Department officials.

Boyle expressed his displeasure with U.S. foreign policy by gesturing to one of the U.S. State Department officials and saying, "Their interests are not my interests."

Boyle said one of his children is suffering from health issues and needed to be force-fed by rescuers.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Oct132017

How many nuclear weapons does the US have?

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump has said that, while he would prefer that no country have nuclear weapons, he would like to see the U.S. have superiority in the number of weapons and that they be in "tip-top shape".

So, exactly how many nuclear weapons does the United States have? And what is the U.S. doing to modernize its arsenal?

As of September 2015, the United States has a total of 4,571 warheads in its nuclear weapons stockpile, according to a State Department official. The United States has retired thousands of nuclear warheads that are removed from their delivery platform that are not included in this total, the official said, noting those warheads are not functional and are in a queue for dismantlement.

The 2011 New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) nuclear weapons agreement limits to 1,550 the number of nuclear warheads that can be deployed on ICBMs, submarines or heavy bombers by the U.S. and Russia. Both countries have until February 2018 to meet the New START’s reduction target levels for deployed warheads.

The U.S. currently has 1,393 deployed nuclear weapons while Russia has 1,561. The larger Russian number is a temporary increase as Russia replaces older warheads with new ones.

The components of America's nuclear triad of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM's), strategic bombers, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles are decades old. While the Pentagon has undergone a modernization process to keep these systems intact over that time, the Pentagon has plans to replace each leg of the triad in the coming decades.

The Pentagon will soon release the results of a Nuclear Posture Review requested by President Trump soon after he was sworn in. That review will help guide the administration's future plans for the modernization of the nuclear force.

But the Pentagon's plans to update and modernize the nuclear triad will be a lengthy and costly enterprise. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Congress earlier this year that it will cost $350 billion to $450 billion to update and modernize beginning in 2021. But there are some estimates that a 30-year modernization program could cost as much as $1 trillion.

And that process has gotten underway since the lifespan of the existing delivery systems ends in the next 15 to 20 years. Replacement systems are currently in the phase of research, development, testing and evaluation.

The U.S. Air Force maintains a fleet of 406 Minuteman III ICBM missiles located in underground silos across the plains states, each carrying multiple nuclear warheads. A key leg of the nuclear triad, the Minuteman III missiles went into service in the 1970's and have been upgraded ever since to keep them mission ready. No new ICBM missiles have gone into service since the MX missile was deployed in the 1980's, but those missiles were retired a decade ago.

Last summer, the Air Force began the process of soliciting designs for a new ICBM to replace the Minuteman III, with the first new missile scheduled to enter service by 2029.

The Air Force has already begun the process of replacing the 76 B-52 strategic bombers that have been flying since the 1960's with the new B-21 "Raider" that will begin flying in 2025. Upgrades to the B-52, designed in the 1950's, have allowed the aircraft to continue serving as a nuclear-capable aircraft and also allowed it to conduct airstrikes against ISIS.

The Navy has also begun the process to find a replacement for its 14 Ohio Class ballistic missile submarine fleet that first went into service in the 1980's. But the first Columbia Class submarine is not slated to enter service until 2031.

But it is important to point out that a replacement of these systems, while incredibly expensive, does not equate to an overall growth of the nuclear arsenal.

In other words, the U.S. is looking to become more efficient -- it’s not looking for more nuclear weapons. As one defense official put it, with the cost of the new systems, the Pentagon is simply not able to do a one-to-one replacement.

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