New Hampshire man vanishes during swim in Guatemalan lake

Booska Family(NEW YORK) -- Justin Booska is an avid swimmer. So much so, his brother said, that he used to routinely paddle in his parents' pond to rivers and lakes wherever he roamed.

That's why when Justin Booska mysteriously vanished earlier this month while attempting to swim across a crater lake in Guatemala, Benjamin Booska couldn't believe it.

"He's an athlete and a very strong swimmer," Benjamin Booska told ABC News in a phone interview from his Denver home.

Justin Booska, 27, has been missing since Jan. 6. He was with friends in Santa Rosa enjoying a beach day at Laguna de la Arza.

Booska was "hanging on the beach" on the north side of the area and took a dip to "get to the south side" where he believed a coffee plantation was, his brother said.

The waters of the lake, Benjamin said, are not known to be turbulent.

"It's not known for strong tides," Benjamin added. "It's all fresh water, no predators -- it's calm."

As Justin was "most of the way across" to the other side of the lake, Benjamin said, a boat carrying one of his friend's relatives headed out to "check on him and make sure he wasn't hungry."

And Justin, Benjamin learned later, gave no signs he was in any distress.

"He waved back that he was okay," he said.

Somewhere between 3 and 5 p.m. local time, Benjamin said Justin's friend and his family realized he was nowhere to be found.

"His friend alerted local authorities...they got a hold of my parents," he said.

A local firefighting brigade was dispatched and a search party began that night and into Sunday around the lake and the feral land around it.

The response swelled with police, soldiers in the military, drones, a helicopter and dive teams, all directed with efforts by both the Guatemalan and U.S. embassies.

Back home, Justin Booska as a child attended the prestigious Holderness boarding school before going Brandeis University, where he graduated with a degree in women and gender studies.

The outgoing traveler stayed local for a while advocating for women who suffered from domestic violence, his brother said.

Recently, Justin shifted gears and tended bar at a local tavern in Waltham, Massachusetts, and worked as a representative to a microbrewery, his older brother said.

It also meant more time and energy to travel, even though his brother said he was frugal.

"He wanted to live life and had always been interested in South and Central America," Benjamin said.

His disappearance has drawn interest from many supporters, including New Hampshire Congresswoman Carole Shea-Porter.

“I was heartbroken to learn that Justin is missing in Guatemala," she said in a statement. "I am praying for his safe return, and I am thinking of him and his family every day. This search must continue, and I will do everything that I can to make sure that it does.”

The U.S. State Department, too, said it has been briefed on Booska's disappearance.

"When a U.S. citizen is reported missing overseas, we cooperate with search efforts by local authorities," an official said in a statement. "We stand ready to provide appropriate assistance to U.S. citizens in need."

Beyond the reach of diplomats and public servants, Guatemalan locals have also dedicated whatever they can to track down Justin.

"There was one lady and she had seven Guatemalan dollars, and that was all she had and she gave it up to help find my brother," he said.

A local newspaper, Prensa Libre, reported that volunteer firefighters had still been looking for Booska at least eight days after his disappearance.

The family has started a crowdfunding campaign to keep the effort going to recover Justin, and repay that woman and others who have made it their mission to find him.

"We want to help these Guatemalan firefighters and the community there that are dedicating themselves to finding Justin," Benjamin Booska said. "Whatever money is not used in the search will go to the local Guatemalan community... to help them get back to where they were before the search.

"And get them ready for it if this ever happens again."

And his parents are preparing to head to Guatemala to help find their youngest son and not give up on the chance that Justin is still alive.

"We hope he made it to the other side and he fell and hurt himself and couldn't extricate himself from that situation," Benjamin said. "That he couldn't help himself."

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Deep freeze in Siberia pushes temperatures down to 85 degrees below zero

iStock/Thinkstock(YAKUTSK, Russia) -- If you thought the recent cold snap in the United States was bad, try telling that to some residents of Siberia.

On Tuesday, in Russia's Yakutia region, temperatures dropped to an unbelievable 85 degrees below zero. Temperatures are so low that thermometers are freezing and bursting.

For the Yakutians, cold Januarys are normal, so life typically goes on.

But Tuesday's temperatures were so cold, schools were closed and people had been advised to stay indoors.

The government has warned of emergencies at energy plants due to increased loads and warned everyone about the increased danger of fires from indoor heaters.

But for those with jobs to do, it’s on with that extra layer, brave the freezing fog and get on with the day.

In the Magadan region, further to the south, it was a little warmer -- a balmy 67 degrees below zero. Farther south, in the Krasnoyarsk region, it was a milder minus 40, although with wind chill it felt like 58 degrees below zero.

Even by Siberian standards, this year has been extremely cold, and the bad news is that these extreme temperatures are expected to last until the end of the month.

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Pope Francis begs forgiveness for harm caused by sex abuse in Chile

Giuseppe Ciccia/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images(BUENOS AIRES, Chile) -- On his first full day in Chile today, Pope Francis immediately confronted the issue of sex abuse by the clergy in Chile and apologized and said he felt ashamed.

"Here I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the Church," Francis said while addressing Chilean government officials, including President Michelle Bachelet, other officials, representatives and the diplomatic corps in the capitol city of Santiago. "I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask for forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensuring that such things do not happen again."

Thousands of Chileans have reportedly left the church recently, which many believe is a a result of both the country's increasing secular beliefs and scandals involving sex abuse by the clergy that were finally made public.

In 2010, information came to light that a well-known and powerful priest known as a father figure for the Chilean elite had been sexually abusing minors in his high-class Santiago parish for decades and the church hierarchy allegedly protected him.

After many complaints, the church carried out an internal investigation and found the priest, Father Karadima, guilty of sexual abuse of minors and psychological abuse. In 2011, he was ordered to live a "life of prayer and penitence" that banned him for life from public duties as a priest, especially giving confession and spiritual guidance to parishoners.

In 2015, many of the country's Catholics were angered by the Pope’s decision to appoint a bishop to the southern city of Oserno who had been one of Karadima’s followers. Bishop Juan Barros has denied knowledge of Karadima’s behavior as a sexual predator.

Tensions have flared ahead of the Pope’s arrival in Chile; his trip has already been marred by attacks on churches carried out by political groups and campaigners for indigenous rights. Nine churches were attacked in recent days, with three attacked on Monday night, including two in Araucania, an economically disadvantaged region the pope is scheduled to visit on Wednesday.

After his speech this morning, Francis went to O’Higgins Park where he celebrated his first open-air mass in Chile. An estimated 400,000 people attended, according to Chilean authorities; thousands of Argentines came from the pope's native Argentina to see him. A colorful, pious crowd, many dressed in traditional costumes, sang and clapped at the sight of the pope.

The pope arrived in Santiago on a flight from Rome Monday and was scheduled to stay in Chile for three days before moving on to Peru for another three days.

On Wednesday, he is scheduled to travel south to Temuco to meet the Mapuche native people, listen to their grievances and celebrate mass there. The following day, he will travel north to Iquigue where he plans to celebrate mass again and speak about immigration.

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Texas-based company is latest hope for the recovery of MH370

Richard Polden - Pool/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- A Texas-based oceanic exploration company will launch a high tech search in the southern Indian Ocean on Wednesday as part of a new international effort to find Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

Almost four years after the Boeing 777's disappearance with 239 people on board, Ocean Infinity has agreed to a 90-day contract with the Malaysian government that only rewards the company if they find the aircraft.

A 378-foot vessel named Seabed Constructor departed Durban, South Africa last week with 65 crew members from Ocean Infinity, two Malaysian Navy officials and 8 autonomous underwater vehicles armed with cameras and sensors.

Officials said that on Wednesday, exactly a year after the last search was called off, the ship will reach the new 25,000-square-km search area. The plan is to launch multiple drones at a time that will search the seafloor in a grid, using cameras and sensors to detect aircraft debris.

A previous Australian-led search covered more than 120,000 square kilometers of seabed, but officials came up empty before deciding they were likely looking in the wrong place the whole time.

Ocean Infinity and the Seabed Constructor will remain at sea for two to three weeks at a time before returning the Perth to refuel and refresh the crew. They believe they can cover more than the entire search area in the agreed upon 90 day period with the underwater drones.

These untethered vehicles have the ability to dive to nearly 20,000 feet and bring back HD images and troves of data to the scientists onboard the vessel.

According to Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, Ocean Infinity's potential reward is on a sliding scale between $20 million and $70 million, depending on what is found and how long it takes to find it.

The only search comparable to the one for MH370 was the search and eventual recovery of 2009's Air France Flight 447 that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean on its way to Paris, killing all 228 people on board. According to the CEO Oliver Plunkett, Ocean Infinity has two staff members who were involved in that investigation.

"What I can say is we have as much experience as is possible to have," Plunkett said at a news conference in Malaysia.

It's unclear how much investigators could learn in the event Ocean Infinity finds the jet. Even if the black box is retrievable and functional after years on some the ocean's deepest floors, the cockpit voice recorder operates on a loop and the mysterious early moments of the flight likely would have been erased.

One key question however may be answered upon discovery of the cockpit: who was in control during the plane's final moments?

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Princess Charlotte bosses her big brother Prince George, Queen Elizabeth reveals

@KensingtonRoyal/Twitter(LONDON) -- Queen Elizabeth gave a peek into the royal family, revealing that Princess Charlotte, 2, is the boss of her older brother, 4-year-old Prince George.

Queen Elizabeth, 91, made the remarks Sunday as she was presenting a bible to a 10-year-old girl, Emily Clay, and her mother at Sandringham, the queen's estate in Norfolk.

Queen Elizabeth asked Emily if she “looked after” her younger sister.

When Emily's mom said, “It’s the other way around," Queen Elizabeth replied, "It's like that with Charlotte and George."

The remarks from Queen Elizabeth, Charlotte's and George's great-grandmother, are consistent with what Princess Kate has said about her two children's relationship. Last year, Kate said that Charlotte is "the one in charge."

Charlotte already enjoys ponies and is understood to have started riding lessons along with George, just like their father, Prince William, and uncle, Prince Harry, did when they were young.

On her family's tour of Germany and Poland last year, Charlotte proved she had already mastered her future role as fourth in line to the throne. She was seen curtsying and shaking the hand of her Polish and German hosts.

Charlotte, who will turn 3 in May, also recently started preschool at Willcocks Nursery School, near Kensington Palace in London.

Charlotte showed her confidence, beaming with pride and donning a pink backpack and red coat, in photographs taken by Kate on her first day of school.

George started school at St. Thomas's Battersea School in September. Prior to that, George attended Westacre, a local Montessori school near the family's country home, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk.

The two siblings will soon have a new addition to their relationship. William and Kate are expecting their third child in April.

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Top dignitaries set to convene, with a focus on North Korea

Alex Wong/Getty Images(VANCOUVER) -- Top dignitaries ranging from foreign ministers to ambassadors will convene in Vancouver, Canada, Tuesday to discuss the ongoing diplomatic efforts to contain North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The summit, known as the “Vancouver Group,” is being held as North Korea and South Korea continue historic talks at their border about how North Korea will participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea in February.

The Vancouver Group was announced last month, prior to the development of North and South Korea’s Olympic talks. It is being co-hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Canadian counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.

Attendees include the foreign ministers for the United Nations Command Sending States –- the countries that provided troops and supplies to UN forces to defend South Korea –- as well as allies like South Korea, Japan, Sweden and India.

“The meeting will bring together nations from across the globe to demonstrate international solidarity against North Korea’s dangerous and illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a press release last week. “Discussions will focus on advancing and strengthening diplomatic efforts toward a secure, prosperous and denuclearized Korean Peninsula.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was scheduled to attend a so-called welcome dinner with Tillerson, but is not expected to attend Tuesday’s summit. The Pentagon said Thursday that Mattis was attending the dinner “in support of Secretary Tillerson,” demonstrating a “comprehensive approach” to North Korea.

Noticeably absent from the summit will be representatives from China and Russia. According to U.S. Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein, Canada and the U.S. jointly agreed to not invite those nations.

Brian Hook, the U.S. State Department’s policy planning staff director, said the U.S. has been “in discussions” with China and Russia leading up to the Vancouver Group and will provide them a “readout” at the summit’s conclusion.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman criticized the summit last week, saying, “It will only create divisions within the international community and harm joint efforts to appropriately resolve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue,” according to Reuters.

But Hook defended their absence, saying the two countries weren’t UN Command Sending States during the Korean War. He also pushed back on the charge that not including them would hinder global efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

“This is not an alternative to everything that we are doing,” Hook said of the summit, adding that China is “working with us” and “has the same policy goal.”

Just last week, the White House released a statement saying China was “sharply reducing its trade with North Korea” –- an action that supported “the United States-led global effort to apply maximum pressure until the North Korean regime ends its illicit programs, changes its behavior, and moves toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

The Trump administration has only recently been more complimentary toward China. In late December, President Trump slammed Beijing over reports that Chinese ships had been caught secretly selling oil to North Korea.

As for the Vancouver Group, Hook said it would focus in part on how to increase pressure on North Korea, especially maritime interdiction to cut off resources and disrupt financing streams. This would include pushing the UN to name ships trading with North Korea to ban them from entering ports.

Tillerson told reporters in December the global pressure campaign “is intended to lead to talks,” but “we can’t talk unless North Korea is ready to talk, and I think, as we’ve indicated, we’re waiting for them to indicate a readiness to talk.”

In a statement about Trump’s call with South Korean President Moon Jae-In last Wednesday, the White House said the president “expressed his openness to holding talks between the United States and North Korea at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances.”

The U.S. has also expressed support for the bilateral discussions between North Korea and South Korea regarding the Winter Olympics.

In a continuation of those conversations this week, the two countries agreed that the North would send a 140-member orchestra, according to the head of South Korea’s delegation Lee Woo-sung.

North and South Korea will meet with the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland on Saturday.

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Hijab-cutting incident did not happen, Canadian police say

iStock/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Police are now disputing a report by an 11-year-old girl that a man cut her hijab while she was walking to school.

On Friday, Toronto Police Service officials said in a press release that the girl, later identified as Khawlah Norman in a press conference, reported that she was en route to school when a man came up behind her and cut her hijab with a pair of scissors.

“We collected a lot of evidence including security camera video and interviews,” Mark Pugash, the director of corporate communications with the Toronto Police, said to ABC News. “It led to the only possible conclusion that what was claimed on Friday did not happen.”

When asked if the department would file charges in the case, Pugash said, “Our view is the investigation is concluded and nothing more will come of it.”

In a press conference last week, Noman said she was "scared and confused" after the alleged incident, saying the man tried to cut her hijab twice. The girl's mother said she "was very sad" and thanked the community for their support. She called upon police to treat the incident as a hate crime.

Reports of the alleged incident reached Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who tweeted Friday, “My heart goes out to Khawlah Noman following this morning’s cowardly attack on her in Toronto. Canada is an open and welcoming country, and incidents like this cannot be tolerated.”

Ryan Bird, a spokesperson for the Toronto District School Board, said, “We are very thankful that this assault did not in fact happen. We won’t be commenting further.”

The Noman family could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Twin suicide bombings in Baghdad leave at least 27 dead

iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- A pair of suicide bombers shattered three months of relative calm in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, killing more than two dozen people and apparently signaling that the Islamic State has not been completely uprooted from Iraq.

The twin bombings erupted around sunrise in busy Tayran Square, in the heart of the country's capital. Witnesses said the bombers, wearing explosive belts, appeared to target day laborers and shopkeepers gathered in the square to begin work.

Brig. Gen. Saad Maan of the Interior Ministry released a statement confirming that at least 27 people were killed in the attack. He said another 90 people were wounded, but a Health Ministry spokesman put the number of injured at 102.

While no group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, they bore the hallmarks of Islamic State terrorism.

One witness, Jawad Al-Zaidi of Nasiriyah, about 110 miles south of Baghdad, told ABC News that two of his cousins were killed in the bombings, the first coming about 6 a.m., followed a short time later by the second deadly blast.

Al-Zaidi said his cousins, both 25-year-old married fathers, were also from the Nasiriyah area. He said his cousins were day laborers.

"Who is going to look after those poor children?" Al-Zaidi said of his cousins' offspring.

He said the two suicide bombers simply walked into the crowd of people and detonated their explosive belts without warning. Within minutes, sirens sounded across the city as ambulances raced to the area from all directions and medics began treating bloodied and maimed victims strewn throughout the open-air market.

The attack came about a month after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the leader of Iraq's Shiite majority, declared victory over the Islamic State, which overran the country in 2014 and took over large territories.

"Our battle was with the enemy that wanted to kill our civilization, but we have won with our unity and determination," al-Abadi said at the time.

Following the suicide bombings, al-Abadi met with security officials overseeing Baghdad. His office issued a statement saying the prime minister ordered security to be boosted and for military forces to focus on hunting down and eliminating militant sleeper cells in the country.

On Saturday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a security checkpoint near the northern edge of Baghdad, injuring at least 10 people. The last surprise attack within Baghdad was a car bombing on Sept. 27 that killed two people and injured four. Two other car bombings on May 5, one at a central Baghdad ice cream shop, killed 26 people.

There was no immediate word if Monday's bombing will delay national elections scheduled for May. The attacks occurred just two days after al-Abadi said he plans to lead a "cross-sectarian" list in national elections.

Sunni leaders have called for the elections to be postponed to allow the more than 3 million people displaced by fighting to return to their homes.

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15 hurt in stabbing incident at Russian school

iStock/Thinkstock(PERM, Russia) -- At least 14 children have been hurt in a stabbing incident at a school in the Siberian city of Perm. Russian police said the stabbings began after two boys at the city’s School No. 127 started fighting with knives.

According to police, a teacher and other pupils tried to break up the fight, after which the two students began attacking them.

Police said they have detained the two alleged attackers. One of them also suffered injuries and has been hospitalized, the TASS state news agency reported.

The local health ministry said of the 15 people hurt, 12 had been hospitalized, among them the teacher, who suffered severe injuries. Doctors at the hospital where the victims were being treated told the Russian news agency Interfax that two children were in a serious but stable condition in intensive care after an operation. Seven others were being treated for less severe injuries.

Dmitry Antonov, the chief doctor at the hospital, the Perm Territory Children's Clinic, told Interfax that none the children's lives were now in danger.

Early accounts of the incident itself were confused, with some media reporting that the students had been wearing masks and suggesting it might have been a premeditated attack. A statement released by the regional branch of Russia's Investigative Committee, which handles serious crimes, however, made no mention of that.

Local news sites reported the injured children were in fourth grade, in which students would typically be 9 or 10 years old. Several Russian news agencies quoted an account that the two students had begun fighting in the hallway before bursting into the classroom, where the teacher tried to separate them.

Witnesses told the state news agency RIA Novosti that children came running out of the school, some covered in blood and calling for help.

Some of the children ran into a local shopping mall, where workers called the police.

“They explained, talking over each other, that there had been an attack on them at school,” an unnamed representative of the "Whale" mall told RIA Novosti.

"The shopping mall’s workers immediately pressed the alarm button and called security and called all the emergency services. The paramedics arrived very quickly, practically in 10 minutes," the representative said.

The regional Investigative Committee branch said it has opened a criminal case on charges of attempted murder of two or more people. The committee said it was still investigating the motives behind the stabbings.

The newspaper Kommersant reported that one of the boys was a former pupil at the school, now studying at a college in Perm.

Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered Russia's Education Minister Olga Vasilyeva to fly to the city to assist in establishing the reasons for the incident, RIA Novosti reported.

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910-carat colorless diamond found in Lesotho

iStock/Thinkstock(LESOTHO, Africa) -- A whopping 910-carat diamond was discovered in Southern Africa, one of the biggest gems ever found, the mining company that uncovered it said Monday.

The colorless diamond was extracted from the Letseng mine in Lesotho, a small nation completely surrounded by South Africa, and is believed to be the fifth largest diamond to be unearthed, said Clifford Elphick, chief executive of the Gem Diamonds, which runs the mine in partnership with the government of Lesotho.

Elphick released a statement describing the gem as an "exceptional top quality diamond." He said the precious stone is rated D color, the top-rated color for diamonds.

The largest diamond ever excavated is the Cullinan Diamond, a 3,106.75-carat gem found in Cullinan, South Africa, in 1905. The diamond, which is also known as as the Star of Africa I, was cut and used in the British monarchy's crown jewels.

Letseng is the same mine where the 603-carat Lesotho Promise diamond was discovered in 2006, Elphick said. The uncut Lesotho Promise diamond was auctioned off in Belgium that same year for $12.4 million.

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