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Saturday
May272017

Manchester police make two more arrests in connection with concert terror attack

ABC News(MANCHESTER, England) -- British police made two more arrests early Saturday in connection to Monday's terror attack at a crowded concert hall in Manchester that killed 22 people.

Officers executed a search warrant and used a controlled explosion to gain entry to an address where two men -- ages 22 and 20 -- were arrested.

A total of 13 people have been arrested in the terror investigation, two of whom have been released without charge, the Greater Manchester police said.

Eleven people remain in custody in connection with Monday night's suicide bombing at Manchester Arena, where American singer Ariana Grande had just finished performing.

The ages of the detained men range from 18 to 38, police said.

On Friday, the police said a man was arrested in Moss Side, an impoverished neighborhood nestled south of Manchester city center.

The Friday-evening arrest targeted a 44-year-old man in the Rusholme area who was taken into custody on suspicions related to the attack.

Authorities have said Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old suspected suicide bomber who died in the explosion, grew up in an area near Moss Side.

There are 12 locations police are continuing to search and police activity will continue throughout the weekend, according to Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins. Manchester Arena is still cordoned off.

Britain's top counter-terrorism police officer, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, said in a statement that police have made "significant arrests and finds" in the investigation, adding that they had gotten "hold of a large part" of Abedi's network.

"We are focusing on understanding Abedi's life; forensically examining a number of scenes; reviewing hours of CCTV from the night itself and the hours before; financial work; communication; digital exhibits; the accounts from hundreds of witnesses; and, of course, enquiries internationally," Rowley said.

Rowley said "immense" progress has been made and that more arrests are likely.

"It has been a challenging week, and we are still in the middle of a live investigation," Hopkins said in a statement on Friday. "We have hundreds of officers that are working on this investigation from across the national counterterrorism policing network, and we have seized thousands of exhibits that are now being assessed."

A senior security source told BBC News that the threat level was raised to "critical" partly because of concern about the possibility of copy-cat attacks.

Manchester police said they have seen an increase in reports of hate incidents this week, from 28 on Monday -- which Hopkins said is what they receive on an average day -- to 56 on Wednesday.

"We can't directly link these to the events of Monday night and are continuing to monitor the situation," he said.

In addition to those killed, 116 people have been treated for injuries from Monday's attack and 75 were hospitalized, including 23 patients who are currently in critical care, according to the National Health Service in England.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
May272017

President Trump concludes whirlwind overseas tour

Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images(TAORMINA, Italy) -- Before President Trump boards Air Force One on Saturday, he is concluding his whirlwind eight-day trip overseas at the Group of Seven, or G7, summit in Taormina, Italy.

His agenda includes discussions about emerging markets and global issues, specifically migration, food security and gender. He will be seated between the leaders of Niger and Tunisia, according to White House Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn.

Trump tweeted Saturday morning, "Big G7 meetings today. Lots of very important matters under discussion. First on the list, of course, is terrorism. #G7Taormina."

The president then tweeted, "Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in -- NATO will be much stronger."

This tweet comes after Trump lectured member countries on payments at NATO headquarters on Thursday, where he said that 2 percent of a country's GDP is the minimum in terms of necessary contributions.

Trump's third and final session at the summit will be a closed meeting with seven heads of state.

The annual event brings together the leaders of the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy and Canada to discuss and promote solutions for major world issues.

On Friday, Trump sat down with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss North Korea, among other issues.

"It's a big problem. It's a world problem," the president said. "It will be solved at some point. It will be solved -- you can bet on that."

Just before departing for Washington, D.C., Trump will speak to American and allied servicemen and their families, recapping highlights and accomplishments of the trip.

Trump took to Twitter on Friday to say that the trip has been "very successful" and that the United States has made and saved "billions of dollars and millions of jobs."

"Any improvement on trade would save untold numbers of jobs. Stopping even one bad trade deal can save millions. Changing the infrastructure of global trade to tilt it back toward the U.S. would save and create millions, easily," a White House official said, explaining the president's tweet. "This is, of course, in addition to all of the jobs from the deals made in Saudi Arabia."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
May272017

Britain reduces terror threat level from 'critical' to 'severe'

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May said Saturday morning that the country's terrorism threat level has been reduced from its top level of "critical" to "severe."

The change indicates an attack is highly likely but not imminently expected.

The level was raised to "critical" after Monday's bomb attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, which left 22 people dead.

May cited progress in the investigation for the change in threat level, but urged people to remain vigilant.

Following May's announcement, London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted, "Security plans will remain in place this weekend -- including additional policing for major events and the army helping with police guarding duties."

Khan continued, "I encourage all Londoners to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to the police."

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Friday
May262017

Masked gunmen attack bus carrying Egyptian Christians

iStock/Thinkstock(CAIRO) -- Masked gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt on Friday, killing at least 28 people and wounding another 25 people, according to BBC.

No group immediately claimed responsibility. Coptic Christians make up just 10 percent of Egypt's population of 92 million.

Last month, ISIS claimed responsibility for attacks on Coptic churches on Palm Sunday in which 49 people were killed.

President Donald Trump condemned the attacks on Friday and said the U.S. stands in solidarity with Egypt.

"Terrorists are engaged in a war against civilization, and it is up to all who value life to confront and defeat this evil," Trump said. "This merciless slaughter of Christians in Egypt tears at our hearts and grieves our souls. Wherever innocent blood is spilled, a wound is inflicted upon humanity."

Trump said the attack "steels our resolve to bring nations together for the righteous purpose of crushing the evil organization of terror, and exposing their depraved, twisted and thuggish ideology."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
May262017

Pentagon to conduct first-ever ICBM intercept test

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency will conduct its first-ever intercept test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) next week, a nod to the growing threat from North Korea.

The test, scheduled for Tuesday, will involve launching an ICBM-class target from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and a ground-based interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

If successful, the "kill vehicle" or intercept will collide with the ICBM test target mid-course over the Pacific Ocean. This is different than the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system located in South Korea which would intercept the kill vehicle at a lower altitude in the missile's terminal stage.

This will be the 18th test of the ground-based interceptor. The last one, in June 2014, was the first success since 2008. The system is nine for 17 since 1999 with other types of target missiles. An ICBM target has never been tested before.

There are 32 ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska and four at Vandenberg.

The Missile Defense Agency said in its FY2018 Budget Overview that it would deploy eight additional ground-based interceptors in Alaska by the end of 2017, for a total of 44 overall "to improve protection against North Korean and potential Iranian ICBM threats as they emerge."

The U.S. tests its ICBMs about twice every year. Earlier this month, Air Force Global Strike Command test launched an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM equipped with a single test reentry vehicle from Vandenberg. The reentry vehicle landed 4,200 miles away to the Kwajalein Atoll.

"These test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent," the Air Force Global Strike Command said in a statement.

North Korea has spent the last decade working to develop an ICBM capable of reaching the continental United States. Though the country has conducted eight missiles tests thus far in 2017, none have proven to be an ICBM.

The last test North Korea conducted on May 21 was the successful launch of a KN-15 medium range ballistic missile that traveled just over 300 miles into the Sea of Japan.

But one week earlier, North Korea tested a KN-17 medium range ballistic missile, the first successful launch of its kind for the nation.

The Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada told reporters that the missile reached an unprecedented altitude of 1,245 miles. Experts claim the missile would have flown a much greater distance if launched on a maximum trajectory, perhaps reaching military bases in Guam.

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Friday
May262017

Chinese jets come within several hundred feet of US plane over South China Sea

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Meranda Keller/Released(NEW YORK) — Two Chinese J-10 fighter jets came within several hundred feet of a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion over the South China Sea on Thursday local time, U.S. officials said.

The fighters flew 200 yards in front of the P-3 maritime surveillance aircraft with an altitude separation of 100 feet, an encounter the commander of the U.S. aircraft determined as "unsafe and unprofessional," U.S. officials said.

According to a U.S. official, the Chinese jets were weaving ahead of the American plane, an action that concerned the U.S. pilot.

The activity occurred 150 miles southeast of Hainan Island in the northern part of the South China Sea.

A U.S. official said the U.S. plans to address the incident with China through diplomatic and military channels.

This encounter appears to have occurred the same day that the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Dewey sailed within 12 miles of Mischief Reef in the South China Sea, conducting a Freedom of Navigation Operation by the artificial island claimed by China.

The U.S. military conducts Freedom of Navigation Operations worldwide to challenge what the U.S. sees as excessive maritime claims and to ensure free and open waterways under international law.

The Dewey's trip was the first such operation near a South China Sea island claimed by China since October and the first under the Trump administration.

Mischief Reef is one of the manmade islands that China has built up in the Spratly Islands chain and turned into airstrips and facilities that could be used by China's military.

Last week, the Chinese conducted a barrel roll over a U.S. Air Force WC-135 radiation “sniffer” aircraft, known as Constant Phoenix, flying in international airspace in the Yellow Sea west of the Korean peninsula.

That incident was also characterized as "unprofessional," a U.S. official said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
May262017

US service member killed in accident in Syria

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. service member was killed in a vehicle accident in northern Syria on Friday, according to a statement from the anti-ISIS coaliton.

"A U.S. service member died of injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover in northern Syria, May 26, 2017," said a statement from Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, the formal name for the military coalition helping to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

"Further information will be released as appropriate," the statement added, saying it is the coalition's "policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities."

The United States has slightly more than 900 military personnel in Syria to advise and assist Kurdish and Arab rebel forces fighting ISIS.

Two other American service members have died in Syria since U.S. troops arrived there in early 2016.

Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton, 42, was killed by an improvised explosive device in northern Syria on Nov. 24, 2016.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Austin L. Bieren, 25, died from suspected natural causes while deployed to northern Syria on March 28.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
May262017

Understanding the G7 ahead of Trump's Italian summit

iStock/Thinkstock(TOARMINA, Italy) — President Donald Trump is in Taormina, Italy, where he will attend his first of the Group of Seven (G7) summit.

The meeting comes a day after the U.S. president faced other world leaders at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, where he called out NATO leaders for "chronic underpayments" to the security alliance. Whether points of contention loom for Trump at the G7 summit is unclear, but among possible areas of discussion will be whether the U.S. will withdraw the from the Paris climate accord signed between by nearly 200 nations during the Obama administration. Trump has publicly blasted the agreement in the past.

But coordinating and discussing international politics and economics is why the group of advanced industrialized countries exists. The group consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S., and it has been meeting regularly since its founding in 1975. While not a country, the European Union is also represented at G7 meetings.

The consultative diplomatic grouping was founded by six of the countries to discuss international economic policies following a period of global economic stagnation caused by the 1970's oil crisis. Canada was added the following year, and in the 1980s the group expanded its purview to discuss foreign and security policy issues.

For nearly two decades beginning in the mid-1990s, the addition of Russia made the G7 the G8. But after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the other member countries disallowed Russia from attending the summit "as a result of Russia's violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," according to the G7 organizers from the following year.

The G7's meetings are hosted by one of the member countries in different cities every year. This year's summit will span Friday and Saturday, with scheduled sessions covering foreign policy about cybersecurity, terrorism, trade, climate and migration.

There will also be a closed meeting on Saturday with no agenda for the seven leaders to discuss.

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who is expected to attend some portions of the summit with Trump, told reporters Thursday that in addition to other topics, there will be a "fairly robust discussion" about climate but that the president will "ultimately make a decision on Paris and climate when he gets back" to the U.S.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
May262017

President Trump attends G7 meetings in Italy

ABC News(TAORMINA, Italy) — President Donald Trump continued his marathon of meetings with world leaders Friday on the fifth stop of his overseas trip in Taormina, Italy, where he is attending his first Group of Seven (G7) summit.

The annual meeting convenes the leaders of the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy and Canada to discuss and promote solutions for major world issues.

Ahead of his meeting with G7 leaders Friday morning, Trump met with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss North Korea, among other issues.

"It's a big problem, it's a world problem," the president said. "It will be solved at some point. It will be solved, you can bet on that.”

Abe, who joined Trump at Mar-a-Lago in February, joked about playing golf.

“There is one unfortunate thing I have to confess, this time around we will not be able to play golf together,” said Abe.

But in contrast to the collaborative and at times even playful demeanor leaders would assume during the eight years President Barack Obama was in office, Trump's emergence so far on the diplomatic circuit has shown his willingness to use the meetings to confront world leaders and openly express his grievances.

Trump's speech at the opening of a new NATO memorial Thursday aimed to publicly call out countries who may not have paid their full share in recent years. It also rattled some diplomatic experts over the president's decision to not explicitly express the U.S. commitment to NATO's Article 5 collective defense treaty.

A key issue expected to be on the summit's agenda is Trump's weighing of whether to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, a decision that several leaders of the G7 countries have expressed could significantly undermine global efforts to combat climate change.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters aboard Air Force One Wednesday that the president would make his decision whether to exit the treaty upon his return to the U.S.

Also under the microscope during Trump's meetings have been his body language and interactions with other heads of state. In particular reporters and social media have pointed out his lengthy handshake with newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron, his alleged "shove" to move in front of Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and his face-to-face with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who expressed dismay over an alleged U.S. leak of British intel from the investigation into the Manchester bombing.

In the evening following his meetings, Trump and the first lady will attend a G7 concert by La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra before the leaders and their spouses sit down for dinner.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
May262017

What to know about the Trump administration and the Paris climate agreement

ABC News(NEW YORK) — President Trump is in Italy for the G7 summit with uncertainty over the U.S.'s commitment to the Paris accord. During his campaign, Trump said he would “cancel” the Paris agreement but has yet to take action since entering office. Experts are anticipating that some European parties at the G7 will try to get the U.S. to affirm its commitment to the deal at the summit. Here’s what you should know ahead of the meeting.

What is the Paris Climate Agreement?


The Paris Agreement is an accord sponsored by the U.N. to help slow global climate change. The 145 parties who ratified the convention set a goal to ensure global temperatures do not increase more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It also aims to limit temperature increases by only 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

After the conference, each country set their own "Nationally Determined Contributions" (NDCs) and agreed to report their progress regularly on decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. To remain in the deal, the U.S. must cut its emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

Learn more about the specifics of the agreements here.

Where does the Trump administration stand on the agreement?


Throughout his campaign for the presidency, Trump said he would roll back environmental protections and regulations. He threatened to "cancel" the deal, but since taking office has said he's studying it. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said the Paris Agreement is bad for America because it’s bad for jobs. However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon, said he supports staying in the deal. White House adviser Ivanka Trump set up a review process to make sure her father received information from experts in both the public and private sector before making a decision on the agreement. President Trump and Ivanka Trump have both postponed meetings with consultants about the agreement.

Are the Paris accords binding?


The U.S. can decide to withdraw from the agreement but stipulations outlined in the deal would require the U.S. to remain in the pact until November 2020. However, the Trump administration can adjust the U.S.'s Nationally Determined Contributions very simply.

“The Paris agreement was designed to be flexible so that parties could respond to changing domestic circumstances,” Andrew Light, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute told ABC News.

The agreement was signed on the U.S.’s behalf by former Secretary of State John Kerry, with his granddaughter on his lap on Earth Day April 22, 2016. President Obama signed it into law via executive action, bypassing the then Republican-controlled Senate.

What are the consequences of withdrawing?


Light said that the Trump administration could face a fallout if it withdraws from the agreement.

“It could potentially harm U.S. businesses who are trying to compete with businesses from other countries in the exploding global market in renewable energy,” Light told ABC News. He went on to explain that withdrawal could look like “Trump is turning his back on the world” by walking away from the spirit of global cooperation that the Paris agreement created.

For example, the Pope gave Trump copies of his published works on climate change as a parting gift following their meeting on May 24, 2017. Some are inferring the Pope was trying to convince Trump to support the Paris agreement.

If Trump manages to avoid taking a stance at the G7 meeting this weekend, his team will most likely try to settle the issue ahead of the G20 meeting in July.

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