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How Girls in Afghanistan Are Skateboarding Their Way to Empowerment

How Girls in Afghanistan Are Skateboarding Their Way to Empowerment

Skateistan(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Young girls in Afghanistan are empowering themselves through an unexpected sport: skateboarding.Non-profit organization Skateistan is cruising through the country's streets, getting children to sign up for their skateboarding lessons followed up with educational time in classrooms -- and it's all for free.The unconventional charity was founded by Australian Oliver Percovich, who wanted to do something about the lack of proper role models for working street children, Skateistan's communications director Rhianon Bader told ABC News."We want the girls to see one another as role models instead of the war lords who would drive around town with a car load of men who are waving guns around," Percovich told the Daily Mail.But why skateboarding?Simply because it's one of the few, if any, sports that are socially acceptable for Afghanistan girls to participate in."Traditional sports and activities like bike riding, [soccer] and kite flying are really popular in Afghanistan, but they're only appropriate for boys," Bader told ABC News. "Skateboarding didn't exist in the Afghan context at all, so there weren't any social constraints for girls to take part in skateboarding."Skateistan serves both girls and boys, but the organization has gone to especially great lengths for its girls."We've done everything to make our program culturally appropriate to reach as many girls as possible," Bader told ABC News. "In Afghanistan, girls can only be around other girls, so we host all-girls classes taught only by female teachers. We have a separate safe facility for them and provide free, safe transportation for them."Skateistan is currently helping over 800 children pursue their dreams in the war-torn country, the Daily Mail reported."We are reaching out to kids internally displaced in camps, poor working street children and even middle class kids," Bader told ABC News. "It's really important to have this mixing of different backgrounds to build up a civil society that has been devastated by decades of war."Their new outdoor skate park is the first in the war-torn country that's seen more than 21,000 killed in past 11 years.Skateistan's "Back to School" program attached with its skateboarding classes also helps their students get enrolled or re-enrolled in the country's public school system.The non-profit also has a youth leadership program, where older students can transition into significant full-time roles as instructors, teachers and speakers.One student in the program, Madina Saidy, 16, is now a teacher and recently represented Skateistan in Colombia at the United Nations Habitat's World Urban Forum, where she spoke in front of 25,000 participants on urban equity, Bader told ABC News.This was Saidy's first trip outside of Afghanistan."It's amazing to see a girl from Afghanistan who has been working since eight years old to come this far," Bader said. "She basically taught herself English, and now she's an amazing role model and leader who has even flown internationally."

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Iraq Pumping More Oil than Ever

Iraq Pumping More Oil than Ever

Hemera/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) — Iraq's security situation may be tenuous due to the rise of the Islamic State but even resurgent violence hasn't stopped its booming oil industry.According to Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mehdi, Iraq produced approximately four million barrels a day in December, a record amount for the country.The last time it got even close to that number was in 1979 when 3.56 million barrels were produced in a single month. That same year, the late dictator Saddam Hussein rose to power.This makes Iraq OPEC's second largest oil producer behind Saudi Arabia.Mehdi announced that 375,000 barrels would be exported monthly from the northern Kurdistan region and the city of Kirkuk with the plan to produce 600,000 barrels daily, beginning in April.The central government and the semiautonomous Kurds arrived at the deal after years of haggling, primarily due to the threat posed by ISIS in northern and western Iraq.

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Muslim Group Disputes Claim British Mosques Radicalize Members

Muslim Group Disputes Claim British Mosques Radicalize Members

Hemera/Thinkstock(LONDON) — A top British official and a leading Muslim group are at odds over what should be done to counter the radicalization of young men in that country.In a letter to the Muslim Council of Britain, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles wrote that while Muslims have made contributions to society, mosques and local leaders “bear a special responsibility” to keep young members from joining Islamic extremists groups.Apparently angered by the tone of the letter, Harun Khan, the council's deputy secretary-general, disputed the implication that members have been radicalized by British mosques.Khan then fired back that Muslims who obey the law should not have to "go out of their way to prove their loyalty” to Britain.Later, Prime Minister David Cameron backed up Pickles' letter, calling his plea for help from Muslim leaders "reasonable, sensible, [and] moderate."

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Ultimate US Withdrawal from Afghanistan Not Set in Stone

Ultimate US Withdrawal from Afghanistan Not Set in Stone

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — America's top commander in Afghanistan suggests that the security situation in the country will dictate whether to move forward on cutting the number of U.S. troops in half by the end of 2015.General John Campbell, head of the Resolute Support mission, told the Army Times that there are 10,600 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan at present with plans to bring down the level to 9,800 on May 1 and 5,500 eight months later.However, inasmuch as Afghan National Security Forces have grown increasingly capable of fighting the Taliban, which shows no sign of surrendering, Campbell said he would be regularly assessing the Afghan military's progress and that of the government and "if we can really get after the objectives that we set."It will be up to Campbell to decide whether a planned drawdown is realistic or if it will be necessary to extend the U.S. mission, which is due to wrap up in December 2016.American forces presently act in training and advisory roles only, with some involved in counterterrorism measures.Campbell acknowledged that the Islamic State, which has thus far focused its efforts in Syria and Iraq, has been active in recruiting new members in Afghanistan although most Taliban members still pledge allegiance to their leader, Mullah Omar, who has hid in Pakistan since late 2001.

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NASA Probe Gets Up-Close and Personal with Dwarf Planet Ceres

NASA Probe Gets Up-Close and Personal with Dwarf Planet Ceres

IDA/DLR/MPS/UCLA/JPL-Caltech/NASA(NEW YORK) — NASA's Dawn spacecraft is closing in on the dwarf planet Ceres, and the space agency Monday released new photos showing what the gigantic cosmic mass looks like up close.Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, has an average diameter of 590 miles. The images are relatively grainy compared to the power of the Hubble Telescope, but even so, they'll be used to help guide Dawn closer to the dwarf planet.The photos, which were taken Jan. 13 but released Monday, show Dawn's view of Ceres from a distance of 238,000 miles, according to NASA.The space agency said the images will continue to improve as Dawn draws closer to Ceres, with the eventual goal of placing the satellite in orbit on March 6. It will be the first time the spacecraft has visited a dwarf planet.The mission is expected to continue for 16 months as researchers analyze data about Ceres, which is thought to be icy and possibly feature an ocean. Researchers said the current images already show what appear to be craters -- something they're eager to get a closer look at as Dawn edges toward its destination.

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European Union Aims to Strengthen Cooperation with Arab Nations

European Union Aims to Strengthen Cooperation with Arab Nations

PaulGrecaud/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini said on Monday that European nations need to strengthen cooperation with nations around the world, primarily mentioning Muslim nations.Mogherini's statement comes one day before the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to meet with Nabil El Araby, the Secretary General of the League of the Arab States. That meeting is expected to cover "recent developments in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East, including Libya, Egypt, Syria and Iraq," the European Parliament said. In the wake of the terror attacks in Paris, Mogherini said that "the threat is not only the one we faced in Paris but also spreading in many other parts of the world, starting with Muslim countries." "We need to strengthen our way of cooperating together," Mogherini said, "first of all with Arab countries but also internally.""I've always said it is not an issue between Europe or the West and Islam," Mogherini continued. "Terrorism and terrorist attacks are targeting most of all Muslims in the world so we need an alliance, we need a dialogue there to face the issue together. She called for all people to "take full responsibility for what we do and what we say," urging respect. "Drawing the line between the freedom of expression and respect has always been one of the main philosophical dilemmas," said Mogherini, "but I think we need to look very carefully these days as we see what is happening in many parts of the world. What we need to do is face terrorism while respecting Islam."BBC News reports that the anti-terror "projects" would involve intelligence sharing and improved communication, particularly by improving the capacity of the EU to communicate in Arabic.

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Pope Announces Which US Cities He’ll Visit in September

Pope Announces Which US Cities He’ll Visit in September

neneos/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A number of U.S. cities are preparing to roll out the welcome wagon later this year, when Pope Francis is expected to make his first U.S. trip.The pope announced in November 2014 that he intended to visit Philadelphia in September 2015, expected to coincide with the World Meeting of Families organized by the Catholic Church. That event, which invites attendees from all over the world, focuses on strengthening family bonds.In addition to Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C. are also preparing for papal visits. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement on Monday saying that his city "will be excited and delighted to host Pope Francis during his visit to the United States this September." De Blasio said that he invited the pope to visit New York during a trip to the Vatican in 2014. "Pope Francis is the leading global voice on issues of social justice and income inequality, and New Yorkers from all backgrounds will be tremendously humbled and honored to hear his message right here in our city later this year," de Blasio added.Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser looks forward to the pope visiting her city as well, a sentiment she shared in a post to her Twitter account. She called the September visit "a historic event for all Washingtonians."

 

I look forward to welcoming His Holiness @Pontifex to the District. It will be a historic event for all Washingtonians.

— Muriel Bowser (@TeamMuriel) January 19, 2015

The pope announced the three stops on his U.S. trip during a flight back to Rome from a weekend trip to the Philippines.

 

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Congressional Democrats Meet with Cuban Officials to Discuss Normalizing Relations

Congressional Democrats Meet with Cuban Officials to Discuss Normalizing Relations

Marcio Silva/iStock/Thinkstock(HAVANA) -- Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., led a delegation of U.S. politicians to Cuba this past weekend to support President Obama's announcement last month of normalizing relations between the two nations.The trip began on Saturday, with Sens. Leahy, Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. and Reps. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Peter Welch, D-Vt. traveling to the island nation. While in Cuba, the group, all of whom have been to Cuba before, hoped to "discuss our expectations, and the Cubans' expectations, for the normalization of relations."We want to explore opportunities for greater cooperation, and to encourage Cuban officials to address issues of real concern to the American people and to their representatives in Congress," a statement from Leahy's office read.The trip included meetings with Cuban government officials and other nations' ambassadors to Cuba.The congressmen are scheduled to return to Washington on Monday.

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Duchess Kate Says She Can Feel the Baby Kicking

Duchess Kate Says She Can Feel the Baby Kicking

Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The Duchess of Cambridge made her third public appearance in as many days and made some young people very, very happy.The blooming Kate was dressed in a baby blue Seraphine maternity coat, which retails for about $300 and prompted a run on the merchandise on the company's website. And despite the baby blue color, royal-watchers shouldn't read too much into that. She was not giving the crowd any hints on the gender of her new little prince or princess, as she and Prince William have decided to keep the sex of the baby a surprise.However, she did reveal her little bundle of joy is a ball of fire, just like Prince George."It's moving all the time. I can feel it kicking now,'" she told teenager Martina McDonagh, as she inaugurated the newly reopened Kensington Leisure Centre.Kate is about six months along and, according to Kensington Palace, is due in mid-April.The duchess didn't go home empty-handed. Prince George received an inflatable rubber ducky and a swimming bag, which will surely be used: Kate apparently loves to take her son, the third in line to the throne, swimming at the Buckingham Palace pool.The gift was an appropriate one, as Princes William and Harry both learned to swim in Kensington Leisure Centre when they were pupils at nearby Wetherby Prep School. The new center Kate opened replaces one built in the mid-1970s, which was updated in 2001. It now includes three state-of-the-art swimming pools and other athletic facilities.George, who is almost 18 months old, is expected to follow in his father's footsteps by going to the same leisure center when he is a bit older."The duchess was talking about Prince William learning to swim here and she said she hoped Prince George can come here to learn too," said Tim Ahern, the council's cabinet member for environment and leisure.Swimming wasn't the only topic of conversation, however. Kate also admitted she loves to read picture books to Prince George. And when questioning the students about what they enjoyed eating at school, she told the kids she liked fish and chips.The visit capped a day that started with a visit to a volunteering charity Family Friends, which provides mentoring, and a visit to the Kensington Aldridge Academy school. The seventh-grade students were thrilled with their special guest and treated their future queen to a dance performance and some singing on stage.At one point, as Kate stood on stage, an announcement said that they would now sing the school song, which prompted a brief moment of panic on the duchess' face.“I thought you were going to ask me to sing then,” she said.One two-year-old boy was so struck by meeting Princess Kate that despite practicing all weekend to present her with a posy of flowers, he burst in to tears when she finally arrived.

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Truce Implemented After Hours of Fighting in Yemen, No Plans to Evacuate US Embassy

Truce Implemented After Hours of Fighting in Yemen, No Plans to Evacuate US Embassy

Jon Gorr/iStock/Thinkstock(SANA'A, Yemen) -- The Group of Ten Ambassadors on Monday released a statement describing the concern as a truce was implemented in Yemen's capital city after hours of fighting.The Group of Ten Ambassadors, representing the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the European Union called on the parties involved to "implement an immediate and enduring ceasefire."According to the U.S. Embassy in Yemen, a group called Ansar Allah have claimed responsibility for the abduction of Dr. Ahmed bin Mubarak, the secretary of the National Dialogue Secretariat and the head of the President's Office. BBC News reports that a cease-fire has taken place in the capital city following clashes between the Presidential Guard and a rebel group. Senior U.S. military officials say that there was "no specific planning underway" to evacuate the embassy. While another official said that they believe the embassy is in no immediate danger, "the situation remains tenuous."

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Watch Sea Lion’s Hilarious Visit to an Oceanside Resort

Watch Sea Lion’s Hilarious Visit to an Oceanside Resort

PureDynamics/iStock/Thinkstock(DUNEDIN, New Zealand) --  The St. Clair Salt Water Pool in Dunedin, New Zealand, had a special unexpected visitor this weekend when a sea lion managed to make its way into the resort.In the video of the incident, a man attempts to herd the sea lion but the it gets into the kiddie pool, and then minutes later get by its captors and into the larger public pool for a swim.The sea lion was eventually removed unharmed by the Department of Conservation.

World News Videos | ABC World News

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UK Police Take Action to Improve Protection of Officers

UK Police Take Action to Improve Protection of Officers

Raylipscombe/iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Police in the United Kingdom are being advised how to keep themselves safe following the terror attacks in Paris earlier this month.On Friday, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Mark Rowley said that assessments were being done to determine how best to strengthen the protection of officers. Following that review, the Metropolitan Police Service has offered security advice to officers and staff, made changes to the security measures around buildings, altered risk assessments impacting the means of deploying officers to certain incidents, and added additional levels of specialist support. The MPS says it will not issue a blanket response to "concerns about the risk of an attack on officers." Further, no decision has been made to end solo officer patrolling and to require two officers or more in every vehicle."Our officers always face a range of threats when they undertake their work, not just from terrorism but also from those who use violence to further criminality" the MPS statement reads. "They are trained and experienced in assessing risk and maximising the safety of the public and colleagues."

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International Criminal Court Opens Investigation Into Situation in Palestine

International Criminal Court Opens Investigation Into Situation in Palestine

Pawel Gaul/iStock/Thinkstock(THE HAGUE, Netherlands) -- The International Criminal Court has opened a preliminary investigation into the situation in Palestine, an inquiry that could lead to charges against Palestinian and Israeli officials.In announcing the investigation, the ICC states definitively that Palestine is a member state, thus allowing them to bring war crimes allegations against Israeli officials. Palestine, the Jerusalem Post says, previously tried to bring such charges, but was unable to do so, as only member states can see intervention from the court.The Post notes that the announcement does not necessarily mean that war crimes trials are imminent.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the investigation "absurd," according to the Post, and that "we do not believe that 'Palestine' is a state and therefore do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC." He further called it "a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC."

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Sen. McCain Leads US Delegation on Middle East Trip

Sen. McCain Leads US Delegation on Middle East Trip

GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images(RIYADH, Saudia Arabia) -- Sen. John McCain led a U.S. delegation in meeting with numerous Middle Eastern leaders this weekend.According to the senator's Twitter account, the delegation met on Friday and Saturday with Saudi Crown Prince and other leaders from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Qatari prime minister and defense minister, Syrian Opposition Coalition President Ahmed Jarba and commander of Saudi Train and Equip program and the Emir of Qatar. McCain led a delegation including a number of U.S. senators.

Good meeting and dinner w/ HRH Prince Khalid bin Bandar and US delegation last night in #Riyadh #KSA #SaudiArabia pic.twitter.com/YcQhSOz9gA

— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) January 17, 2015

Interesting discussion at Friday majlis hosted by HRH Prince Khalid bin Bandar, attended by leaders from across #KSA pic.twitter.com/djZmhcTwUN

— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) January 17, 2015

Delegation met with #Qatari Prime Minister and Defense Minister today in #Doha pic.twitter.com/nr09f1xM02

— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) January 18, 2015

In #KSA delegation met w/ #Syrian Opposition Coalition Pres Ahmed Jarba & commander of Saudi Train & Equip program pic.twitter.com/gIXn5MPgHn

— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) January 18, 2015

Delegation meeting today w/ the Emir of #Qatar, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani pic.twitter.com/4pfRdCY5QU

— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) January 18, 2015 Among the most pressing topics of conversation during the trip was the training of moderate Syrian rebels. On Saturday, the Pentagon said that that training could involve as many as 1,000 U.S. troops.On Sunday, the U.S. delegation laid a wreath in memory of the victims of the terror attacks in Paris earlier this month at Yad Vashem, a world center for Holocaust research in Jerusalem. Following a tour of the facility, McCain visited with members of the Israeli Defense Forces. The delegation also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

US delegation laid a wreath in memory of #ParisAttack victims today @YadVashem in #Jerusalem #Israel pic.twitter.com/PVQiC2KM9Q

— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) January 18, 2015

Touring @YadVashem today - always a powerful and moving experience #Israel pic.twitter.com/vy4zze5Faz

— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) January 18, 2015

Visiting with young #IDF soldiers today in #Jerusalem #Israel pic.twitter.com/Rj6NsVwoKl

— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) January 18, 2015

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President Obama Announces Delegation to Attend Event Marking 70th Anniversary of Liberation of Auschwitz

President Obama Announces Delegation to Attend Event Marking 70th Anniversary of Liberation of Auschwitz

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will lead delegation to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp later this month. Photo Credit: HASSAN AMMAR/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama announced on Saturday the delegation that would represent the United States at the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau later this month.The anniversary, on Jan. 27, celebrates the liberation of perhaps the most notorious concentration camp during the Holocaust.The delegation will be led by Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew and will include two individuals who survived the camp. Israel Arbeiter and Irene Weiss, who were held at the camp years ago, will travel to Poland for the event, as will David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee.Also making the trip will be U.S. Ambassador to Poland Stephen Mull, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Crystal Nix-Hines, and representatives from the Departments of State, Health and Human Services and the National Security Council.

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Hezbollah Claims Israeli Strike Killed Fighters

Hezbollah Claims Israeli Strike Killed Fighters

MatthewBrosseau/iStock/Thinkstock(GOLAN HEIGHTS, Syria) -- An Israeli air strike may have killed five Hezbollah fighters in the Syrian area of the Golan Heights.According to BBC News, Hezbollah announced that several of its fighters had been killed through its media arm al-Manar TV. Hezbollah said that the fighters were conducting field reconnaissance. BBC News reports that Israel claims those targeted were doing reconnaissance for an attack.The strike comes just days after Hezbollah's leader warned that his forces might retaliate in response to what he deemed Israeli strikes inside Syria.

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Two Members of Royal Canadian Mounted Police Shot, Suspect Found Dead

Two Members of Royal Canadian Mounted Police Shot, Suspect Found Dead

John Roman/iStock/Thinkstock(EDMONTON, Alberta) -- Authorities said two members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were shot on Saturday morning, and the suspected shooter was found dead.According to the RCMP, the two members of the police force were shot during an unspecified investigation. At the time of the shooting, the members were interacting with a civilian in southeast St. Albert. RCMP said the shooting took place at a St. Albert casino.Police tracked the suspect to an unoccupied private residence in a rural area east of St. Albert on Saturday. After containing the scene, police entered the building, only to find the suspect dead.The two officers, identified as RCMP Constable David Matthew Wynn, 42, and Auxiliary constable Derek Walter Bond, 49, remained hospitalized on Saturday evening. One of the officers was in grave condition, while the second was in serious but stable condition.

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US Leads 29 More Airstrikes in Iraq, Syria

US Leads 29 More Airstrikes in Iraq, Syria

Michael Fitzsimmons/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S.-led forces continued airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria targets on Friday and Saturday.U.S. Central Command announced 16 strikes in Iraq and 13 more in Syria in a 24-hour span. The majority of the strikes in Syria took place near the town of Kobani, where an ISIS-owned tank and eight fighting positions were destroyed and a second tank, three additional fighting positions and four tactical units were hit. Additional airstrikes near Abu Kamal and Dawn az Zawr hit an ISIS checkpoint, a vehicle and a tactical unit.The heaviest airstrikes in Iraq were centered around thw town of Taji, where five strikes hit five tactical vehicles and destroyed three buildings. Additional strikes near Hit, Al Qaim, Bayji, Al Asad, Sinjar and Mosul destroyed a construction vehicle, seven buildings a vehicle and two fighting positions. Also hit in the strikes were six ISIS tactical units, two vehicles, an ISIS checkpoint, a large ISIS unit and two fighting positions. Twelve nations took part in the latest strikes, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France and the United Kingdom.

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Channel Tunnel Service Disrupted by Fire

Channel Tunnel Service Disrupted by Fire

Photo by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images(LONDON) -- All passenger and freight train service between France and Britain was disrupted on Saturday, due to a fire on a freight train in the tunnel beneath the English Channel.Eurostar and Eurotunnel, which run services through the Channel Tunnel, cancelled all trains on Saturday.Some passengers said they were evacuated from trains in the tunnel and given gas masks, the BBC reports.“We crawled through the tunnel and were told that it was some type of technical difficulties with the train in front of us,” Kristin Davis told the BBC as she was attempting to travel to France. Officials say the smoke was caused by a fire on a freight train near the French end of the tunnel, but the incident rattled nerves, as France recovers from deadly terror attacks and Europe remains on edge.

Eurotunnel, which runs vehicle and freight shuttles through the tunnel, said an inspection was under way and that it anticipated resuming services late on Saturday.

We confirm that the earlier fire on a Freight train in the Tunnel was quickly brought under control by the emergency services 1/2 ^LD

— Eurotunnel LeShuttle (@LeShuttle) January 17, 2015

A Tunnel inspection is currently underway and we anticipate that we will be resuming services this evening. Further info to follow ^LD

— Eurotunnel LeShuttle (@LeShuttle) January 17, 2015

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Approaching Storm Cuts Short Pope Francis’ Visit to Tacloban

Approaching Storm Cuts Short Pope Francis’ Visit to Tacloban

JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images(TACLOBAN, Philippines) -- A storm has forced Pope Francis to cut short a visit to survivors of a typhoon that devastated the city of Tacloban. During his trip to Asia, the pope travelled to the eastern Philippines to comfort survivors of last year’s Typhoon Haiyan. On Saturday, he had to cut his own trip short because of another approaching storm.The pope did manage to celebrate mass in Tacloban wearing a yellow raincoat in the wind and pouring rain. After the mass, the pope was scheduled to have lunch with some survivors of last year’s typhoon, which was the strongest storm ever recorded on land. 15 million people were affected by the storm, and about a million lost their homes.Pope Francis apologized to the crowds for having to leave the eastern city early, saying "I am truly saddened, because I had something prepared especially for you."

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