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Thousands of Iraqi Families Flee Ramadi as Islamic State Militants Advance

Thousands of Iraqi Families Flee Ramadi as Islamic State Militants AdvanceFile photo. Paula Bronstein/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) — An Iraqi official says more than 2,000 families have fled the city of Ramadi to escape Islamic State militants who are advancing on the provincial capital of western Anbar province.Those families are now settling on the outskirts of nearby Baghdad.ISIS fighters have seized several villages around Ramadi in recent days, but Iraqi military officials say their forces still control the center of the city.The extremist group has controlled the nearby city of Fallujah for more than a year.Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey said Thursday that Iraq “has made gains” against the militant group.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Putin Defends Missile Sale to Iran; Denies That Russian Troops in Eastern Ukraine

Putin Defends Missile Sale to Iran; Denies That Russian Troops in Eastern UkraineSean Gallup/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday defended his decision to sell a long-range missile defense system to Iran and continued to insist there are no Russian troops in Ukraine.During his annual marathon phone-in, where ordinary Russians have the chance to ask their president to help solve their problems, Putin explained his decision to allow the delivery of advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, saying there was no reason for Russia to not complete the sale of the S300 missiles now that a framework for a nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers was agreed to last week.On the subject of Ukraine, Putin blamed the Ukrainian government for failing to find a peaceful way out of the conflict and accused it of installing an economic blockade on the regions occupied by pro-Russian rebels.Putin also flatly denied there were Russian troops in Eastern Ukraine, despite strong evidence to the contrary.State Department spokesperson Marie Harf says the U.S. knows that is simply not true. “I think we know as of early April that Russian military forces continue to operate in Eastern Ukraine. This isn't just our word for it. There are pictures. There is evidence out there,” Harf said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Iraqi Leader Confirms Investigation Into Human Rights Abuses, Offers No Specifics

Iraqi Leader Confirms Investigation Into Human Rights Abuses, Offers No SpecificsObtained by ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Thursday perpetrators of human rights abuses among his security forces and Shi'a militia allies will be “held accountable,” but he offered no evidence that any of Baghdad's fighters guilty of ISIS-like atrocities have yet been brought to justice. "We must continue to crack down on the abuses and excesses of a small minority of fighters that stand in dire opposition to the government's clear policies. We are investigating all of these allegations of criminal conduct," Abadi said in a speech before an audience that included many from Washington's national security braintrust. Appearing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Iraqi leader -- himself a Shi'a Muslim -- insisted that he will strive to end sectarian fighting between Shi'as and Sunnis, in part by arresting those accused of war crimes, but he offered no examples. "Once corroborated, people involved are held accountable and prosecuted with the fullest weight of the law. Let me be clear. Let me be as clear as I can on this. Our government's priority on this is reducing ethnic, secretariat tensions and divisions in Iraq," Abadi said. Brig. Gen. Saad Maan, spokesman for the Iraqi military, said in February that Baghdad would investigate dozens of photos and videos found on social media sites by ABC News in a six-month investigation. The horrifying imagery depicted men who appeared to be from the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Forces, Special Forces and Interior Ministry counter-terrorism units committing what many experts called war crimes, such as beheadings, torturing detainees and summarily executing prisoners -- including, in one case, a young boy gunned down in cold blood. In response to requests by ABC News about the results or status of the Iraqi investigation, Gen. Maan this week again promised an "update" without offering any details or timelines. Asked on Thursday if he'd be willing to refer any war crimes cases involving militias to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Abadi replied, "Well, I think we have a good Iraqi justice system and I'm already referring some of these to the Iraqi justice system." The Iraqi leader also appeared dismissive of the exit from Baghdad of Reuters bureau chief Ned Parker, a veteran of 12 years of Iraq war coverage who left after Shi'a paramilitaries threatened to kill correspondents from the news agency who reported this month witnessing the mob execution of an ISIS prisoner by national police in Tikrit. "Now I'm not sure if Mr. Parker -- why he has left, to be honest with you," Abadi said. "I cannot see why he left. Was he really threatened? Or, he felt he was threatened?" Among those in the audience was Parker's wife, Erin Evers, who has been the lead war crimes investigator inside Iraq for Human Rights Watch. Abadi is in Washington to request further military support from President Obama and Congress in the fight against ISIS. The issue of increased military aid to Iraq has been thorny because the Pentagon disclosed to ABC News in March that "certain units" of the Iraqi Security Forces had been barred since last summer from receiving aid such as weapons and training because a federal law, known as the Leahy Law, prevented it on the grounds of "credible information" of gross human rights violations "in the past." Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters on Thursday that the U.S. is “continuing to watch” reports of abuse, specifically emerging from Tikrit, but said so far, “there is no evidence of widespread activity.” Speaking of the Leahy Law, Dempsey said that should the Iraqi investigations “reveal that a particular part of either the Iraqi security forces or the popular mobilization force [militias] did not behave appro[priately], we would not support it.” Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Baby Echidna Makes a Recovery at Australian Zoo

Baby Echidna Makes a Recovery at Australian ZooTaronga Zoo(SYDNEY) -- A baby echidna, after being seriously injured when a bulldozer dug up its burrow, is making an impressive recovery, according to the Taronga Zoo in Australia.Zookeepers believe the echidna, also known as a puggle, was two months old at the time of its rescue. It needed weeks of antibiotic treatment and a temperature-controlled artificial burrow to sleep in, the zoo said in a statement.Taronga Keeper Samantha Elton has had to feed the puggle from the palm of her hand so it can lap up the food as it would do in the wild. Echidnas don’t have teats like most mammals but patches on their abdomen that excrete milk.   Newman's made a remarkable recovery at Taronga after being accidentally dug up by a bulldozer http://t.co/GsQuY8yIMh pic.twitter.com/dRrkDiocL7 — Taronga Zoo (@tarongazoo) April 16, 2015 The puggle has been named Newman after the Seinfeld character.Elton, who has been serving as the surrogate mother for Newman, said in the statement that “it is still quite small for its age, but it has almost doubled in size since February and the wound has healed perfectly.”   Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Vladimir Putin Fields the Strangest Questions from Russians

Vladimir Putin Fields the Strangest Questions from RussiansOLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW)— Three million Russians tried to call Vladimir Putin Thursday for his annual marathon phone-in, where ordinary Russians have the chance to ask their president to help solve their problems.This year was maybe more remarkable for the odd questions and favors Russians asked him than for his bullish comments on international politics. While some of the questions dealt with big issues like Russia’s isolation in the world over the Ukraine crisis most callers were concerned with problems closer to home -- in particular the economy, which has been battered by Western sanctions and falling oil prices.After a solid 20 minutes of mostly statistics, in which Putin reeled off lists of stats for Russian oil production, agricultural production and then life-expectancy -- all of which were up, he said -- the mic was thrown to the audience and the questioning began.Why hasn’t the government kept the price of apples down?Would you like to be the head of the UN?A 4-year old girl asked Putin, “Is it hard being president? How many hours do you sleep a night? Because actually I do love to sleep.”As is usual, many ordinary callers had favors to ask. Elena wanted to buy her friend a dog for her birthday but her friend’s husband, Boris, was against it. Elena asked that Putin intervene to persuade Boris, a former police colonel, to let her friend have the dog.Putin laughed and said it put him in a difficult position but suggested perhaps he could help arrange a meeting where Boris could be convinced.One of the stranger exchanges came early when the mic was given to John, an English man who had run his own dairy farm in Russia for the past 25 years. Wearing a Russian Orthodox beard and a green ‘70s shirt, John pressed Putin on why there was so little state support for small farmers.Before getting into it, Putin asked how John had ended up in Russia? “Cherchez la femme,” Putin inquired using the proverbial French phrase meaning “to chase women.” John replied, “I don’t speak French.” It turned out John was married to a Russian woman. John appears to have been the first foreigner ever to ask a question in the phone-ins.The call-in is in large part a way for Putin to show his interest in the life of the ordinary man. He takes notes throughout, asking people’s names, assuring them their problems will be solved. It’s a uniquely Russian event, recalling when poor Russians would write letters to the Tsar asking for him to personally intervene to help them.At one point, the anchor showed Putin the picture of a squalid house where an 85 year-old veteran was living. Putin took the picture with the woman’s details and said he would deal with it.There was still time for Putin to make some typically pugnacious comments on foreign policy, with some sharp words reserved for the U.S.“The U.S. doesn’t need allies, but vassals,” Putin said. “Russia cannot exist in this system of relations.” He accused the U.S. of acting like the Soviet Union by imposing its social model on Eastern Europe.But he held back from declaring the United States or other Western countries to be Russia’s enemies, avoiding the question when one of the anchors bluntly asked who Russia’s enemies were.“We don’t consider anyone to be our enemy,” Putin said. “And we don’t recommend that anyone consider us to be.”Putin also talked at length about Ukraine, blaming the Ukrainian government for failing to find a peaceful way out of the conflict and accusing them of installing an economic blockade on the regions occupied by pro-Russian rebels. He also flatly denied there were Russian troops in Eastern Ukraine, despite strong evidence to the contrary.The Russian leader also explained his decision to allow the delivery of advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, which has angered the U.S. and Israel, saying that there was no reason for Russia to not complete the sale of the S300 missiles following the deal struck two weeks ago between the U.S. and Iran in Switzerland.The phone-in lasted for four hours in the end, short of the record four and a half Putin has done previously. But the three million callers were by far the most the show has ever received, reflecting how many Russians believe their president can solve their problems if only he knew of them.One caller asked Putin whether he would like to be cloned, because he was the only official people trusted. Putin said "no."Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

NASA’s MESSENGER Probe Prepares for Collision with Mercury

NASA’s MESSENGER Probe Prepares for Collision with MercuryNASA(NEW YORK) -- NASA's MESSENGER probe will run out of fuel and smash into the surface of Mercury, creating a new crater on the surface of the planet closest to the sun.The collision is expected to happen sometime near the end of April, marking the end of the decade-old MESSENGER mission. NASA expects the probe will hit Mercury at a speed of around 9,000 mph."Messenger is going to create a new crater on Mercury sometime in the near future," John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator, said Thursday in a video conference.MESSENGER recently completed its 4,065th orbit and has about 40 left before NASA expects the spacecraft to run out of fuel and crash into the planet nearest the sun.Launching in 2004, MESSENGER traveled nearly 5 billion miles on a route that included 15 trips around the sun, whizzing past Earth once, Venus twice and Mercury three times.It began orbiting Mercury in 2011 and has since been collecting data about the planet to send back to Earth.Among MESSENGER's discoveries about the planet are hollows on its surface, evidence of volcanism and polar deposits of water ice. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Death Toll in Syrian Conflict Exceeds 220K, Says Human Rights Group

Death Toll in Syrian Conflict Exceeds 220K, Says Human Rights GroupiStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — The casualties from the war in Syria continue to mount, and now the death toll for the ongoing conflict has surpassed 220,000, according to a Syrian human rights group. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that among those killed, some 67,000 were civilians. Of those, about 11,000 of the victims of the fighting were children. Violence in Syria began shortly after the March 2011 demonstrations, which then turned into an armed revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.Though many have blamed the Syrian president, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is not letting the international community off the hook. "Despite our loss of hope in an international community capable and willing to put an end to the ongoing atrocities in Syria, we in the Syrian Observatory call upon all sides that claim to defend the freedoms of the people and their rights, to take a serious and responsible stance in order to end the bloodshed in Syria amid the increasing violence and the escalating number of casualties," the group said on its website.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Victims of South Korean Ferry Sinking Remembered a Year Later

Victims of South Korean Ferry Sinking Remembered a Year LaterJUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- In South Korea Thursday, grief, sadness and anger filled a memorial site for those who lost their lives in the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry one year ago.It was one of South Korea's most heartbreaking disasters: 304 people died, with nine still missing. Many of the passengers were high school students on a field trip.South Korean President Park Geun-Hye briefly visited the site and promised to raise the remains of the ship as the victims' families have demanded. That process could cost anywhere from $90 million to $180 million. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

More Americans Who Fled Yemen Arrive in Djibouti

More Americans Who Fled Yemen Arrive in DjiboutiiStock/Thinkstock(DJIBOUTI) -- Fifty-nine American citizens docked at the Djibouti Port Thursday -- the largest group yet of American evacuees from Yemen to arrive there, according to the U.S. Embassy.The Indian Navy Vessel carrying 403 people, was sturdier than most boats that arrive from Yemen, but those disembarking recall a harrowing 16-hour trip.“It was terrible!” says Rashad, an American citizen traveling with his wife, Summer, and their two young children.Men were crammed on the upper deck and women below, passengers say.Americans, who made their way down the gang plank first, were handed a bottle of water as they turned in their passports to immigration and U.S. Ambassador Tom Kelly and his staff greeted each and every American citizen off the boat.Assuming the visa process goes smoothly, families told ABC News they’re planning to head stateside, from McLean, Virginia, to Fresno, California. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Rogue Wave Sweeps Woman off Ireland Cliff’s Edge

Rogue Wave Sweeps Woman off Ireland Cliff’s EdgeiStock/Thinkstock(DUBLIN) -- A woman visiting Ireland’s Aran Islands was saved by a young couple after a giant wave knocked her off a cliff and into the sea.Apu Gupta, 21, from London, was taking video from the cliff’s edge last week when she was knocked 40 feet down onto rocks by the wave.“I tried to run, but it pushed me straight down. It was like being in a waterfall and that probably cushioned the fall,” Gupta told the Irish Times. “I was so scared because I thought the wave was going to come again.”“My ankle was completely smashed and the pain was bad,” Gupta, who was visiting the islands with her mom, told the newspaper.Two other tourists visiting the island saw Gupta’s fall and immediately sprang into action, according to the Times.“We could see her almost being swept out to sea, so I took out my phone to dial 999 but there was no reception,” Seamus McCarthy, a paramedic, told the newspaper.The other tourist, identified by the Times as Fionnuala Quigley, a teacher, ran to the nearest house to get help. The pair, by now aided by others, fashioned a rope out of a jacket and a backpack and lowered it down to Gupta.Gupta tightened the backpack around her waist while her rescuers pulled her up the cliff to safety.“It was still dangerous on the cliff ledge and we sat her down to calm her before getting her all the way to safety,” McCarthy told the Times.Gupta’s fall was captured on camera and posted to YouTube Wednesday.The economics student is now recovering at a local hospital and thanks the good Samaritans for her safe rescue.“Seamus saved my life and the policeman there was also wonderful,” Gupta told the Times. "Everyone was so helpful to me.” Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Search Area for MH370 to Expand If Plane Not Found

Search Area for MH370 to Expand If Plane Not FoundAn expanded search zone for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is seen in a map released April 16, 2015. (Australian Government handout)(NEW YORK) — Authorities plan to expand the search zone for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 if the plane is not located in the coming months.Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Chinese Transport Minister Yang Chuantang appeared at a press conference Thursday to discuss the search for the plane, which went missing in March 2014 with 239 people on board.No physical evidence has ever been linked to the lost plane.The current search zone in the southern Indian Ocean covers 23,000 square miles -- roughly the size of West Virginia. More than 61 percent of that search zone has been covered so far, the officials said.A search of the current zone should be completed by May.If the plane isn’t found, the search area will be expanded to cover more than 46,000 square miles, the officials said. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Islamic State Launches Spring Offensive, Captures Several Iraqi Villages

Islamic State Launches Spring Offensive, Captures Several Iraqi Villages iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Despite continued coalition airstrikes, the Islamic State has launched a spring offensive in western Iraq and has already captured three villages near the provincial capital of Ramadi.The ISIS fighters are reportedly battling against Iraqi forces in Anbar Province.The fighting follows Islamic State losses in northern Iraq earlier this month when Iraqi troops forced the militants out of Tikrit, the birthplace of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Six Arrested at Manchester Airport in Terror Investigation

Six Arrested at Manchester Airport in Terror Investigation jeff gynane/iStock/Thinkstock(MANCHESTER, United Kingdom) -- Four people were arrested at Manchester Airport in the United Kingdom on Wednesday as part of an terrorism investigation.A Greater Manchester Police press release said that the latest arrests are part of the same investigation that saw two people taken into custody on Tuesday. The four people arrested Wednesday were between the ages of 22 and 47, while the two arrested previously were identified only as a 21-year-old man and a 31-year-old man.All six individuals were charged with commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. They remain in policy custody and are being questioned, the press release said.The investigation began after nine people were stopped at the Turkey/Syria border by Turkish officials earlier this month, the police said. Officers are working to establish the reason those nine people -- five adults and four children, part of one family -- were attempting entry into Syria. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Egyptian President Calls Security in Region ‘Red Line’ in Discussing Operations Against Houthi Rebels

Egyptian President Calls Security in Region ‘Red Line’ in Discussing Operations Against Houthi Rebels Photo by Ebrahim Hamid /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said Tuesday that security in the Gulf region is a "red line" during a meeting with Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.The two leaders met to discuss the latest developments in the Saudi-led operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Saudi minister hailed Egypt's support for the operation, according to the Egyptian State Information Service, in particular, the role of the Egyptian navy in the Red Sea.Al Ahram Online reports that El-Sisi said that Egypt, "would always help its brothers and defend Arab rights."El-Sisi and Bin Salman also discussed measures adopted to maintain the rights and identity of the Yemeni people, the SIS said. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Protester ‘Glitter Bombs’ ECB President

Protester ‘Glitter Bombs’ ECB President DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images(FRANKFURT, Germany) -- The European Central Bank's president was taken by surprise at a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, Wednesday when an activist seemingly came out of nowhere and "glitter bombed" him.President Mario Draghi had just began explaining how smoothly the ECB's stimulus program was going when, suddenly, an apparent activist rushed down from the front row, leaped onto the table in front of Draghi and threw what looked like confetti and glitter at him."End ECB dictatorship," the protester yelled.A Twitter user under the name Josephine Witt claims to be the woman who carried out the surprise "glitter bomb" attack on the Italian economist.The ECB said in a statement that the activist registered as a journalist for a news organization she didn't represent."Like all visitors to the ECB, she went through an identity check, metal detector and X-ray of her bag, before entering the building," the ECB added. "ECB President Mario Draghi remained unharmed and calmly proceeded with the press conference." ABC Breaking US News | US News Videos Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Family Survives Terrifying Ordeal, Flees Yemen by Boat

Family Survives Terrifying Ordeal, Flees Yemen by Boat Hafez Alawdi is reunited with his wife and two kid after they fled Yemen by boat in a journey that took 16 hours. ABC News(DJIBOUTI) -- Reuniting with his family after a terrifying ordeal on the high seas "was my life starting all over again,” Hafez Alawdi says.Hafez is a chemistry professor at Cal State Fresno in California and his wife Samiha, son Shaker, 10, and daughter Sara, 4, braved the 16-hour boat trip from the Red Sea port city of Mocha, Yemen, to Djibouti earlier this week, fleeing the intensifying violence there.Hafez and his daughter Sara are both U.S. citizens but his wife and son are Yemeni nationals.“If you have connections, you can provide for your family -- if you don’t have connections, I’m sorry, but you’re out of luck.”Hafez had connections and thanks to the tip on the U.S. Embassy in Sana’s website, he tracked down a boat departing from Mocha, paid for three spots and his family was on the road at 3 a.m. the following night.For Samiha, it’s been a terrifying few weeks. The young mother, parenting alone in the city of Taiz while her husband works in California, describes her average day: “Waking up in the morning, I don't send the kids to school -- we eat minimal food because you don’t want it to run out -- then we take shelter, always take shelter -- hide from all the bombings -- and then once the night hits that’s when the airstrikes get worse. The electricity goes out. And more shelter."As Samiha and the children boarded the boat, Hafez boarded a plane to come meet them.“I didn’t know whether I’d see my family again -- if God forbid the ship sinks,” he says. Sitting on the plane, “tears start running down my eyes and a passenger next to me was just looking at me like -- Okay they’re probably thinking that I’m crazy -- I probably am at this point.”When he landed in Djibouti, he borrowed a phone, dialed the U.S. Embassy Djibouti emergency number and the consular officer handed the phone to his wife.“He handed the phone to my wife, and as soon as I heard her voice, that was the happiest moment that I had,” he says, choking up. "I knew that my family were here and they were with a fellow American who’s taking care of them."He starts to describe how the kids leaped out of the consular car but stops. “I can’t find the words to describe that moment," he said.“I’m glad that I took this risk, and if I have to take that all over again, I will,” he said. “It’s a gamble. ...I did not know what to expect, it’s definitely better than staying in Yemen.” He advises any Americans still in Yemen to get out -- and "get out now."If all goes according to plan, the Alawdis will remain in Djibouti until U.S. visas come through for Samiha and Shaker, and then the whole family is Fresno-bound.Asked if he’s excited to go to America for the first time, 10-year-old Shaker flashed a big smile, head nodding. But for now, his dad says, he wants to take a nap. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Iraqi Leader Admits Atrocities in ISIS Fight, Promises Justice

Iraqi Leader Admits Atrocities in ISIS Fight, Promises JusticePete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed Tuesday that atrocities have been committed by government forces battling ISIS, but in a White House meeting with President Obama he also insisted the incidents were not widespread."I have to admit that there are some violations -- human rights violations being committed by some criminal parties and outliers, but we have zero tolerance for any violations of human rights," al-Abadi told reporters as he met with Obama in the Oval Office.The Iraqi leader's unprompted remarks came on the heels of at least one well-documented revelation: an ABC News six-month investigation in March that revealed dozens of ISIS-like atrocities perpetrated by government security forces and posted across Iraqi social media sites. In this case as well as at least one other, Iraqi officials promised to investigate.Obama said probing those within the Iraqi Security Forces responsible for such war crimes will "ensure that the government is accountable for the actions of armed forces so that if there are criminal acts or sectarian retributions that are carried out, that ultimately Prime Minister Abadi is able to call those forces to account and to control them."Abadi said "criminal elements and some individuals" have been brought to justice for isolated incidents -- though the Iraqi government under the former prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, was strongly criticized by the Obama administration last year for a culture of impunity among Iraqi security forces accused of torturing and executing terror suspects.The two leaders in their private Oval Office meeting continued discussing the problem of Iraqi Army, Special Forces and other counter-terrorism units mimicking ISIS with atrocities, according to an administration official.“The issue of rights abuses did come up. The Prime Minister noted that the Government of Iraq is taking steps to address human rights abuses and will hold those responsible for these abuses accountable," the administration official told ABC News.Abadi is in Washington to request more guns and bullets, even though Congress in December approved a $1.5 billion gift of more than 50,000 light infantry arms and equipment to Baghdad to fight ISIS. There is ample evidence in social media and news photos that countless American weapons such as M4 rifles have ended up in the hands of those committing atrocities, including Shi'a militias.The videos and images uncovered in the ABC News investigation have been circulating within the dark corners of Iraqi social media for months. In some U.S. military and Iraqi circles, the Iraqi units and militias under scrutiny are referred to as the "dirty brigades.”ABC News came upon the first such images last September, when a reporter following personal Instagram accounts of Iraqi counter-terrorism troops spotted a video of a handcuffed prisoner shot in the head by a man in camouflage -- which more than 600 users "liked." The English and Arabic captions by a self-identified member of the Iraqi security forces said, “We have arrested this terrorist yesterday and we killed him after completion of interrogation."A separate photo posted in September showed the severed head of a long-haired and bearded alleged ISIS fighter lashed to the grill of a U.S.-donated Humvee bearing an Iraqi Army license plate. A second related photo eventually surfaced of what appeared to be an Iraqi Army soldier holding up the same severed head next to the gun truck. Desecration of war dead and extrajudicial killings are violations of the Geneva Conventions."You don’t behead someone and place their head on the front of your Humvee. That’s unacceptable -- because it’s a war crime. And it’s an atrocity," retired U.S. Army Special Forces Lt. Col. James Gavrilis told ABC News in the original report.As a senior officer in 5th Special Forces Group in Iraq a decade ago, Gavrilis was deeply involved in counterinsurgency during the U.S. war and creating Iraqi counter-terrorism units from Special Forces and special police teams."I think it’s horrible. I think this really shows a failure of our policy for Iraq," Gavrilis said, confirming that the imagery looked authentic and too plentiful online to be faked. "Both sides are committing war crimes," he said. "This is widespread, it’s endemic."An Iraqi government spokesperson previously said while the dozens of photos could be ISIS propaganda, a full investigation was warranted.“Yes, of course we will investigate these pictures,” the spokesperson, Gen. Saad Maan, said as he viewed a selection of images provided by ABC News in an interview in Baghdad that aired last month."We don't have anything to hide,” the general said. “We don't have anything to be in, let's say, in a black corner." Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Seven Hundred Owl-Lovers Flock to London Secret Viewing

Seven Hundred Owl-Lovers Flock to London Secret Viewing iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Everyone has heard of owls, but very few people have actually seen one. That’s about to change, at least for a few days in London.A cultural events planner offered lucky visitors a chance to spend two hours with owls in a secret location in East London. More than 100,000 applied for tickets to the empty space on Bethnal Green Road but only 700 were able to get one.Some visitors like Evin Morrison came from as far away as California to be part of the experience. “They’re just really majestic,” Morrisson said. “They’re on sweaters, necklaces and home furnishings, everywhere. I think that’s given them a little bit of notoriety.”Seb Lyall, founder of the five-day gig, told ABC News the aim of the event was educational: Falconers walk around the room with the owls and give information about them.While there are strict rules such as no standing and no stroking, everyone is allowed to take a picture with an owl or even hold one on the arm for a few seconds. The fun part, Lyall says, is simply being around owls and learning about them. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

New Horizons Space Probe Sends Back First Color Image of Pluto

New Horizons Space Probe Sends Back First Color Image of Pluto Artist’s impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, in July 2015. NASA/Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute(NEW YORK) -- NASA's New Horizons space probe sent its first color image of Pluto back to Earth after a nearly decade-long journey through space to reach the dwarf planet.Taken from 71 million miles away, the photo shows two bright specs -- Pluto and its largest moon Charon, which NASA said is about the same size as Texas.New Horizons is preparing for a July 14 rendezvous with Pluto. When it reaches its destination, NASA said it expects New Horizons will send back detailed color images showing surface features as close as a few miles across. After a journey stretching three billion miles, New Horizons probe woke from hibernation in December to prepare for the final stretch of its trip.New Horizons blasted off for its long haul mission on Jan. 19, 2006, atop an Atlas V rocket, back when Pluto still enjoyed status as a planet. Scientists later that year voted to demote Pluto to a "dwarf planet."During its epic trip, New Horizons has spent two-thirds of the time sleeping, taking a total of 18 naps, which helps NASA preserve the systems on board. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pope Francis’ iPad Fetches $30,500 at Auction

Pope Francis’ iPad Fetches $30,500 at AuctionBuda Mendes/Getty Images(MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay) — Pope Francis' old iPad sold for $30,500 at an auction in Uruguay this week with the proceeds benefiting a high school in the country.Castells, the Uruguayan auction house that handled the bidding, told ABC News the pontiff gave the iPad to a Uruguayan priest with the hope that he would find a way to do something good with the tablet.The priest donated the iPad to the Francisco de Paysandu high school, which will receive the $30,500 windfall from the holiest iPad.Castells declined to disclose who purchased the device or the nationality of the winning bidder.Pope Francis said during a Google+ Hangout in February that he doesn't know how to work a computer, but that hasn't stopped the Argentinean from being a technology evangelist.Aside from tweeting and participating in two Google+ Hangouts, Pope Francis has also proclaimed the Internet to be a "gift from God."Let's just hope he remembered to disable his iCloud before handing over that iPad.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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