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Monday
Jan092017

Russia, Wikileaks Push Back on US Report on Hacking

iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- Russia's government responded for the first time Monday to a U.S. intelligence report last week on alleged Russian hacking, calling the claims "absolutely unfounded" and "amateur."

"From our point of view, absolutely unfounded accusations continue to be made on a rather amateur, emotional level, which is hardly applicable to the highly professional work of truly top-notch security services," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

"We are really tired of these accusations," Peskov told reporters on Monday. The accusation against Russia "actually resembles a 'witch hunt' to the utmost."

The declassified U.S. intelligence report released Friday said that Russian President Vladimir Putin "ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election" with the aim to "undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency."

Peskov said the part of the report released to the public contains no proof of Russia's involvement in the hacking.

"The public part of this report, which is clearly adapted to a large extent, this publication does not add any substance," he told the press.

Similarly, Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of the WikiLeaks website, says the Russian government was not the source for the hacked emails published by WikiLeaks.

In a press conference through the live-streaming Periscope app Monday, Assange called the U.S. intelligence report "embarrassing" and suggested it may have been politically motivated. "It does not have the structure of an intelligence report," he said.

Trump has not rejected the report's findings that Russia ordered hacking to affect the outcome of the 2016 election, but has asserted that any such effort had no impact on the outcome of the race.

The president-elect has also criticized the Democratic National Committee, saying it showed "gross negligence" in allowing itself to be hacked.

President Obama told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview that aired Sunday, "The Russians intended to meddle and they meddled.”

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Monday
Jan092017

Suspected Shooter of US Consulate Officer in Mexico from California

iStock/Thinkstock(MEXICO CITY) -- An American suspect in the shooting of a U.S. consulate officer in Guadalajara, Mexico, is headed back to the U.S. after his arrest on Sunday.

The suspected shooter, Zia Zafar, is a medical student who was studying at the Guadalajara Autonomous University (UAG), according to his landlord. Zafar's former neighbors told ABC affiliate KABC-TV he lived in Chino Hills, California, with his mother and sister until three weeks ago.

Zafar was allegedly captured on surveillance video following the official-- Christopher Ashcraft-- in a parking garage, Mexican officials said, and then reportedly shooting him as he exited the lot.

The suspect lived in an upper-middle class neighborhood of Providencia, near the medical school, in Mexico with about four others, Zafar's landlord said. He was arrested when Mexican Special Forces raided the home on Sunday morning.

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Monday
Jan092017

US Navy Destroyer Fires 'Burst' of Warning Shots at Iranian Small Craft

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan B. Trejo/Released(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. Navy destroyer fired a "burst" of warning shots at four Iranian small craft that were approaching at a high rate of speed, according to a U.S. defense official.

The destroyer, the USS Mahan, and other U.S. ships were traveling in the narrow Strait of Hormuz, heading into the Persian Gulf, when the incident occurred Sunday.

The Iranian craft were 890 yards away from the Mahan when the destroyer fired three rounds of warning shots, after which the Iranian craft backed away from the U.S. ship, the official said. Prior to the shots, the crew of the Mahan made repeated attempts to warn the Iranian craft, including by firing flares from the ship's deck and dropping smoke flares from a helicopter.

The defense official said the Iranian craft had contacted the Mahan via radio to ask for its hull number prior to the firing of the shots, then ceased voice communications entirely. However, another defense official told ABC News that after the Iranian craft backed away, they established radio communications with the Mahan to ask its course and speed.

No one was injured in the incident.

While close encounters in the Persian Gulf between U.S. Navy ships and Iranian small craft are common, it’s rare that an American ship fires warning shots.

The only recent occurrence was in late August in the Persian Gulf when the USS Squall fired warning shots into the waters ahead of a speeding Iranian boat to warn the small craft that it had come as close as 200 yards to a U.S. Navy ship.

The Pentagon called that encounter "unsafe and unprofessional."

During a September campaign stop in Florida, Donald Trump addressed Iran's naval aggression toward the U.S., saying an Iranian craft "will be shot out of the water."

“With Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water, OK? Believe me," Trump told the crowd.

In the same speech, Trump promised to expand the U.S. Navy's fleet to 350 ships and to procure “modern destroyers.”

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Monday
Jan092017

Israeli Soldier Killed in Jerusalem Truck Attack Was US Citizen

iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- One of the four Israeli soldiers killed this weekend when a Palestinian man rammed a truck into a crowd was a U.S. citizen, officials say.

Erez Orbach, 20, also had Israeli citizenship, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Israel told ABC News.

The other three soldiers have been identified as Yael Yekutiel, 20, Shir Hajaj, 22, and Shira Tzur, 20.

They were getting off a bus during a sightseeing tour Sunday when the truck hopped the curb and crashed into them, killing all four. Seventeen other people were injured.

The 28-year-old Palestinian attacker, Fadi Qunbar, was shot dead at the scene, officials said.

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Monday
Jan092017

How Duchess Kate Is Celebrating Her 35th Birthday

Danny Martindale/WireImage(LONDON) -- Duchess Kate will spend her 35th birthday Monday privately at her home in Norfolk, Anmer Hall, with Prince William and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

William and Kate joined Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II, making her first public appearance after suffering a cold for nearly a month, at St. Mary Magdalene church on Sunday. Michael and Carole Middleton, James Middleton and Pippa Middleton and her fiance, James Matthews, made the short walk to the church with William and Kate, who recycled her green, belted Sportmax coat and black pumps.

William and Kate's Anmer Hall home, which was a gift from Queen Elizabeth, is located on Her Majesty's Sandringham estate near the church.

Later this week, Kate will return to work when she visits the Anna Freud Center's early parenting unit. Kate is a patron of the Anna Freud Center, which provides pioneering mental health treatment, training and care for families and mental health professionals.

Kate and William will also attend an event at Child Bereavement UK for families struggling with the loss of a loved one. Kate has been an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness and will continue to lend her profile to programs that support vulnerable children and adults in the coming year.

The year ahead is expected to bring substantial changes for William and Kate, who are likely to give up country life and make Kensington Palace in London their full-time residence. With Prince George turning 4 in July, and with the Cambridges’ royal responsibilities growing, the couple has been searching for a school for their eldest child.

While no official announcement has been made, George, the third in line to the British throne, will likely follow his father's footsteps and take a place at Wetherby School in Notting Hill, nearby Kensington Palace.

Prince Harry also attended Wetherby before both William and Harry departed for Ludgrove and later attended Eton. It's assumed that George may follow the same path.

With Charlotte turning 2 in May, it is unclear if Charlotte will attend Westacre Montessori near Norfolk a few days a week, like George, or choose a school in London closer to the family's Kensington Palace base.

Kate also will be making decisions on whether to expand their family in the coming year. With Charlotte nearly 2, royal watchers are speculating whether Kate will add to her brood. The young mother is close to her two siblings, Pippa and James Middleton, and time will tell if she adds a baby brother or sister for George and Charlotte.

Kate will be at Pippa Middleton's side in May as she marries financier James Matthews. George and Charlotte are expected to play roles in the wedding. Middleton and Matthews are expected to tie the knot at the Middleton's family church, with a private reception following at the family's house in Bucklebury.

William and Kate, who made two overseas royal tours last year to India and Bhutan and to Canada, are also likely to go on another overseas royal tour in the late spring. George and Charlotte are not expected to join their parents abroad.

This year will also be a somber year for Kate and William as William makes final plans to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the tragic 1997 death of his mother, Princess Diana. Kate will be supporting William as Kensington Palace debuts both the installation of a white garden in Diana's honor and a new public exhibition, "Diana: Her Fashion Story."

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Monday
Jan092017

Police: 17 Arrested in Brazen Paris Fashion Week Robbery of Kim Kardashian West

iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) — Paris police said Monday that numerous people have been arrested in connection with the October robbery of Kim Kardashian West in Paris.

The number of arrests was originally confirmed at 16, but a French police source told ABC News that the number arrested is 17, not all of whom were involved to the same degree in the robbery.

Sixteen were arrested in Paris and its suburbs, and one additional arrest was made in the south of France, the source added. Another French police source told ABC News that at least one woman is among those arrested and the oldest person in the group is over 70 years old.

Two traces of DNA found at the scene of the robbery helped lead investigators to those arrested, the sources said.

Kardashian West was held up at gunpoint and robbed in a private mansion on Oct. 4 during Paris Fashion Week, a brazen burglary in which multiple suspects made off with approximately $10 million worth of jewelry.

Five individuals dressed as policemen entered the private residence where Kardashian West was staying in the Oct. 4 heist. Police said Kardashian West was tied up and locked in a bathroom as the assailants made off with her jewels.

A spokesperson for Kardashian West said in October that "armed masked men dressed as police officers," were behind the theft, and added that the holdup left the TV personality "badly shaken but physically unharmed."

The thieves stole a jewelry box that contained valuables reportedly worth more than $6 million and a ring worth about $4 million.


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Monday
Jan092017

Suspect in US Consulate Shooting Is American, Mexican Officials Say

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The man suspected of shooting a U.S. consulate officer outside the consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico, has been captured and is from the United States, Mexican officials said.

The man was captured by the special forces of the state of Jalisco, and handed over to federal prosecutors, according to a tweet from the state of Jalisco.

The Mexican attorney general's office and Mexico's Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement this evening that "an individual from the United States, allegedly involved in this incident was located and detained. The same individual will be expelled and repatriated to the United States of America where his legal status will be determined."

The officer, identified by Mexican prosecutors as Christopher Ashcraft, was shot in his car on Friday as he was leaving the consulate. He was listed in stable condition.

Surveillance video of the attack shows the shooter following the official in a parking garage. A second video shows the attacker waiting until the victim arrives at the exit to the garage, then fires a round through the car's windshield and immediately runs away.

A Mexican official has called the shooting a "direct attack," but authorities have said they do not know the motive. The State Department said it is working closely with Mexico on the case.

Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Mexico for the quick work making an arrest in the shooting.

"On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I want to thank the Government of Mexico for their swift and decisive arrest of a suspect in the heinous attack against our Foreign Service Officer colleague in Guadalajara, Mexico," he said. "My thoughts and prayers remain with this officer and his family during this difficult time. I wish him a speedy recovery."


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Sunday
Jan082017

Four Killed, 15 Wounded After Truck Runs Over Israeli Soldiers, Officials Say

iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- Four people were killed and more than a dozen wounded in West Jerusalem Sunday when a truck ran over a group of Israeli soldiers, authorities said.

The Israeli police are calling the incident a terror attack. The driver of the vehicle, whom police said was a resident of East Jerusalem, was shot dead at the scene.

The soldiers targeted by the assailant were on an educational trip along with several other groups, according to the Israeli paper Haaretz.

The mayhem occurred when the truck appeared to veer off course and barreled into the soldiers, who had just gotten off a bus, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

An instructor who was escorting the soldiers on the trip told Israeli media that he shot and killed the truck driver before anyone else was hurt. Other soldiers also opened fire, he said.

Trucks have been used as weapons in several high-profile terrorist attacks in recent years, including the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, last July that killed over 80 people, and the Christmas market attack in Berlin, Germany, that killed a dozen people in late December.

 Mark Toner, a deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, issued a statement on today's truck attack.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms today's horrific vehicular attack by a terrorist in Jerusalem. There is absolutely no justification for these brutal and senseless attacks," the statement said. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the four Israeli soldiers who were killed, and we hope for a full and fast recovery of those injured."

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Sunday
Jan082017

Turkey's Tourism Industry Suffers After Recent Terror Attacks

iStock/Thinkstock(ISTANBUL) -- Stunning architecture, a rich and ancient history, beautiful beaches and a bustling urban nightlife have long drawn tourists from around the world to Turkey and its capital, Istanbul.

But after a recent spate of violence and terrorism in the country, its tourism industry, an important part of the nation's economy, is suffering.

Tourism accounted for a little more than 12 percent of Turkey's gross domestic product in 2014, significantly higher than the global average of roughly 9 percent, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

But, according to a bulletin published by the Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the country saw a massive, 30 percent dropoff in the number of visits by foreigners in January through November 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.

In contrast, the 2015 period was down just 1 percent from January to November 2014.

Gül Taner, a sales manager for GurTur Travel, an agency based out of Harbiye, a neighborhood in Istanbul, told ABC News that in the 25 years her company has been in business, the country has never gone through anything like the violence in 2016.

"Until last year we never seen attacks like this," Taner said. "This is a different chapter in Turkish history."

"Terrorist attacks are negatively affecting all sectors of Turkish life right now and not just tourism," she said.

A New Year's attack in an Istanbul nightclub left 39 dead, a massacre for which ISIS claimed responsibility. ISIS was also blamed by Turkish authorities for an assault at the Istanbul airport in June that killed 41 and the terror group claimed responsibility for at least two other deadly bombings in the city in 2016.

In the mass shooting at the Reina nightclub on New Year's morning, many of those killed or injured were foreigners from a diverse array of countries including Belgium, France, India, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, according to Turkish media.

Taner said she's hopeful that the spate of terror attacks will slow that visitors hesitant visiting the country now will change their minds.

"I will always wish good things for my country," she said.

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Sunday
Jan082017

Queen Elizabeth Attends Sunday Church Service

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) --  Queen Elizabeth II made her first public appearance in a few weeks this morning after suffering from a bad cold, arriving for the morning church service at St. Mary Magdalene Church near her Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

Wearing a royal blue coat, she arrived by car with Prince Philip and was greeted by applause from loyal well-wishers who stood by hoping to catch a glimpse of their beloved monarch.

Prince Philip and The Queen were forced to delay their departure by a day after a heavy cold sidelined the couple just before Christmas. They took the Royal Helicopter a day later rather than boarding the Royal train, which they usually take.

They were joined this morning by Prince William and Princess Kate who is celebrating her 35th birthday Monday.

The Cambridges were joined by Kate's parents. Their country home Anmer Hall is located on the Queen's Sandringham estate.

The public had hoped to see Queen Elizabeth on New Year's Day but concerns grew when she was a no-show.

"The Queen does not yet feel ready to attend church as she is still recuperating from a heavy cold," Buckingham Palace said in a statement last Sunday.

Princess Anne later confirmed to well-wishers that her mother was feeling "better."

The Queen was on the mend and "up and about" attending to her government boxes, but despite bestowing an honor on a staff member she still hadn't been seen in public.

The public will breathe a sigh of relief she is doing well and looks healthy at church this morning.

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