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Costa Condcordia Shipwreck Re-Floated for Towing

Costa Condcordia Shipwreck Re-Floated for Towing

Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images(ROME) — Remnants of the Costa Concordia cruise ship are prepped for the vessel’s final journey after crews raised the Italian ship from an underwater platform Monday. The vessel, which struck an island off the coast of Tuscany in January 2012, is set to be towed away from the area in a process that is expected to take at least four days.
The crash killed 32 people, with one body still unrecovered from the disaster. Italian officials say the search for the victim will resume once the ship is removed. The stakes are high, however, as fuels and chemicals are still onboard. If the vessel should break apart, it could prompt a potential environmental disaster with pollution. Operations to bring the ship above water included pumping air into the luxury liner, forcing seawater out and raising one deck at a time. Crews will begin the next steps in towing, traveling two miles per hour with the help of tugboats, to drag the Costa Concordia to a port more than 190 miles away for scrapping. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Oscar Pistorius Involved in Club Scuffle

Oscar Pistorius Involved in Club Scuffle

Jemal Countess/Getty Images(JOHANNESBURG, South Africa) — Oscar Pistorius, currently on trial for the shooting death of his girlfriend, was involved in an argument at a trendy Sandton nightclub in South Africa, his rep confirmed Monday.The incident took place at the VIP Room on Saturday night, a venue known for its high-end clientele and A-list guests. Pistorius’ media representative Anneliese Burgess has confirmed that there was an altercation, but denied it was a case of a “bar brawl,” as some media outlets reported. Jared Mortimer, who was the other party to the squabble, told EWN that Pistorius was drunk and insulted his friends before poking him in the chest. Mortimer said he pushed the athlete backwards off his feet and onto a chair when bouncers intervened to stop an all-out brawl. “We can confirm that Oscar was at the said venue with one of his cousins. They sat in a quiet booth in the VIP section when they were approached by an individual who has now been identified as a Mr. Mortimer,” said Burgess. “The individual, according to my client, started to aggressively interrogate him on matters relating to the trial,” Burgess added. “An argument ensued during which my client asked to be left alone. Oscar soon thereafter left the club with his cousin. My client regrets the decision to go to a public space and thereby inviting unwelcome attention.”The Olympic and Paralympic athlete is on trial in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria for murdering his 29-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.
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Afghans to Work on Forming New Type of Government: Official

Afghans to Work on Forming New Type of Government: Official

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Over the next few months, Afghans are not only going to see a new president announced but also, U.S. officials said Monday, the blueprint for an entirely new form of government. Part of the plan agreed to over the weekend when Secretary of State John Kerry was in Kabul was that when a president is announced, there will also be some mechanism put in place for the loser to be a strong part of the government — at least in the short term.  In the long term, the Afghans will be working towards forming a new type of government altogether that offsets the strength of the president, as wielded by current president Hamid Karzai since he came to power, a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call Monday. The details provided on the call were very vague but the impetus for it was a New York Times report that said the loser of the Afghan elections would be appointed an interim “chief executive” that would eventually turn into a prime ministerial role, and that two or three years after the election, there would be a process to revise the Afghan constitution, with details worked out by the Afghans. But the official on Monday pushed back on technical terms like “parliamentary,” saying that only the broadest strokes of a new government structure had been worked out while Kerry was in town, in the form of a one-page statement agreed to by both the Ghani and Abdullah campaigns. “It provides a kind of short term basis for what the president will do and how they will get through that transition period and then it will segue into something that has the full support and is institutionalized by the Afghan people,” the official said. The reason for this change, the official said, is because the Afghan election was so deeply divided along sectarian lines. The official said both candidates — Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah — were very concerned about having a strong electoral mandate when elected, and that this was the way they agreed they could make the largest number of Afghan voters feel included in the new government. The United States will continue to help the Afghans with this process, along with the United Nations, but it will ultimately be up to the Afghans to decide on the specifics of a new government, including whether and how they want to reform the constitution. The official would not give a timeline for interim steps being announced but said both candidates knew they would have to come up with something soon. Asked how difficult this government reform process will be, given all the problems inherent with just putting on an election in Afghanistan, the official gave a grimly humorous response. “As a veteran of the 2000 recount in Florida, I can assure you there will be any number of issues that come up,” the official said.
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Russia, Ukraine Trade Accusations of Attacks Across Border

Russia, Ukraine Trade Accusations of Attacks Across Border

iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — Tensions are flaring between Russia and Ukraine. Ukrainian officials say a military transport plane was shot down Monday near the Russian border and the shot may have come from the Russian side. The accusation comes after Russian authorities said a man was killed in Russia over the weekend by an errant rocket from Ukraine. It’s all led to renewed fears of a military clash. NATO says over 10,000 Russian troops are back on the border.
A Kremlin spokesman on Monday, however, said fears of a Russian attack are “nonsense.”
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Malala’s Mission: ‘Bring Back Our Girls, Now and Alive’

Malala’s Mission: ‘Bring Back Our Girls, Now and Alive’

ABC News(ABUJA, Nigeria) — The most famous schoolgirl in the world, Malala Yousafzai, is bringing worldwide attention to the plight of the more than 250 young girls kidnapped by terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria.Arriving in Abuja on her 17th birthday, Malala had a series of meetings Sunday with desperate parents and with girls who had escaped the kidnapping. Her one birthday wish: “Bring back our girls, now and alive.”Parents of the missing girls made a 20-hour journey through dangerous territory in northern Nigeria, risking their lives to meet with the Pakistani teen who was shot by the Taliban for wanting to go to school.In an emotional meeting, 11 fathers and one mother shared their grief and frustrations that their daughters had not been found after 90 days in the forest. They described going into the forest themselves, with bows and arrows, to rescue their daughters, but being told to turn back because they might not come back alive.”All they are asking for is for the government to search for their daughters,” Hadiza Usman of the Bring Back Our Girls movement said. “They feel neglected and abandoned.”Many of the parents sobbed as they talked of their missing daughters, saying they were so worried they couldn’t work or even eat. Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, cried, too, remembering how it felt to almost lose his own daughter.”When she was shot, her mother said it would have been worse if they had kidnapped her,” he said. “But there is hope. We must be hopeful.”Malala said, “When I was hearing the story of the girls being kidnapped on Twitter, it was everywhere, but I did not really know what the parents would be feeling. And then I came here and I met the parents and all of them crying. And it just made me cry and my father was crying as well.”Malala, who now lives in Great Britain for her safety, promised the desperate parents that she would be their voice when she meets with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday.The president has been widely criticized for being unable to contain a string of terrorist attacks by Boko Haram, or find any of the more than 250 missing schoolgirls.Despite the pressure of being just a 17-year-old girl going before the president of a country to speak her mind, Malala expressed optimism that she will be able to have an effect.”I’m very hopeful that my voice will have an impact and it will reach to the President and he will take action, and I’m hopeful that the voice of those parents who were crying and those girls who were sharing their feelings with me,” Malala said. “I’m hopeful that he will listen to it carefully and I’m feeling a bit confident because these people are with me. And I’m representing the people — the people of Nigeria.”Malala was also representing the girls abducted by Boko Haram. On Sunday she spoke with five school girls, ages 16 to 18, who escaped shortly after they were kidnapped. They shared their devastating stories.Kauna Bitrus, 16, described how her father was shot and killed by Boko Haram; her mother and sister were also shot and injured. Hauwa, 18, said she still limps after jumping from the speeding Boko Haram truck that was taking her away. She says she has nightmares every night, but wants to go back to school to become a lawyer.Rebecca Ishaku, 18, said she is afraid to go to school, even though she wants to learn. She said she still has hope that her classmates will be found.She also talked about what it meant to her and the others who escaped the kidnappers to have Malala speaking to the president.”She makes us happy because of what she said,” Ishaku said. “She goes and tell our president, ‘Bring back our girls.’”But Malala said that she not only had a message for the president, she had one for Boko Haram, if they were listening to her words.”My simple message to Boko Haram is to think about your own sisters. …They should understand that what they are doing is badly impacting, badly affecting the name of Islam,” Malala answered. “It’s not the real Islam. So they should think about their own sisters and they should release those girls. It’s a request. It’s a request. Please.”But instead, Boko Haram marked the third month of the girls’ captivity by releasing a video Sunday showing its leader, Abubakar Shekau, standing in front of armored vehicles, flanked by masked militia, mocking the Bring Back Our Girls movement.He claimed responsibility for three bombings last month, and said the schoolgirls would not be freed until the Nigerian government released the “army” of Boko Haram extremists in jail, saying sarcastically, “Oooh, bring back our army.”In the end, Malala said she believes words are stronger than armies.She is launching a new hashtag, #StrongerThan, celebrating the courage and sacrifice of the kidnapped girls.”My voice and the voice of these girls here in Nigeria and the voice of the parents is more powerful than any weapon here on earth,” Malala said. “And it was our voice that defeated terrorism in Pakistan in Swat Valley and here it is going to be our voice that will defeat all the terrorist activities and all the terrorism here.”
 

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Oscar Pistorius Returns to Twitter in Prayerful Way

Oscar Pistorius Returns to Twitter in Prayerful Way

Alon Skuy/The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) — Oscar Pistorius has broken his silence on Twitter for the first time since the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, by quoting from the Psalms.The Blade Runner marked his return to Twitter on Sunday with a psalm that reads: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”Later, Pistorius tweeted a collage of photographs showing him posing with amputee children and the message, “You have the ability to make a difference in someones [sic] life.”

pic.twitter.com/9e2fykp2E8
— Oscar Pistorius (@OscarPistorius) July 13, 2014

He followed up with a passage from a book, including the words: “The salvation of man is through love and in love.”

pic.twitter.com/UFxSHfpavj
— Oscar Pistorius (@OscarPistorius) July 13, 2014

He returned to Twitter Monday, posting the message:

pic.twitter.com/eMBkHjAqQ3
— Oscar Pistorius (@OscarPistorius) July 14, 2014

Pistorius, 27, is accused of murder in the 2013 shooting death of Steenkamp. The athlete has argued that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.
Pistorius has invoked his faith during the trial. He has been seen holding a rosary during the trial and underlining sections of a religious book.
When he was on the stand, Pistorius called Steenkamp “a very good Christian.” “She would pray about my traveling and all of the small things in my life,” he said through tears as he broke down crying during testimony in April.”My religion is what’s gotten me through this last year…my God is my refuge,” he told the court.Final arguments in Pistorius’ trial are scheduled for Aug. 7 and 8. If convicted of the most serious charge Pistorius could be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.
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Buzz Aldrin: Commercial Space Exploration Next Logical Step

Buzz Aldrin: Commercial Space Exploration Next Logical Step

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Astronaut Buzz Aldrin is celebrating the 45th anniversary of the historic Apollo moon landings, but thinks there is plenty more space exploration to be done.Aldrin, 84, told ABC News he thinks commercial space travel, including Elon Musk’s Space X plan, is the next logical step in exploring space.The space pioneer, who was the second person to set foot on the moon after Neil Armstrong, is celebrating the 45th anniversary of the July 20, 1969 moment with a social media campaign asking people to send videos of how Apollo 11 inspired them.

Where were you for the Apollo 11 moon landing? Share your story w/ @TheRealBuzz: http://t.co/o8qunGOQqM #Apollo45 pic.twitter.com/shW5rBfp4m
— NASA (@NASA) July 8, 2014

More than half a billion people watched Armstrong become the first man to set good on the moon, proclaiming the now infamous words: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
He was joined a short time later by Aldrin, who described what he saw on the lunar surface as “magnificent desolation.”
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Mother of Missing American ‘Wants Answers’ After Possible Remains Found

Mother of Missing American ‘Wants Answers’ After Possible Remains Found

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The mother of an American missing in Mexico “wants answers” after authorities found the motorcycle belonging to her son and human remains buried nearby, a family friend said.Ann Devert, of Pelham, N.Y., has been in and out of Mexico several times in the last few months since her son Harry Devert went missing in mid-January, and she returned to the country Saturday, according to Ann Devert’s lawyer Darren Del Sardo.This week, authorities in Mexico matched Harry Devert’s motorcycle VIN plates with a rusted bike found by the side of the road. Human remains were found partially buried near the bike, Del Sardo said.Jackie Burrell, a family friend of the Deverts, said that Ann Devert was working with the U.S. Embassy, French Embassy and Mexican authorities during the search for her son.”She’s down there and she continues the search,” said Burell. “This is not confirmed. She’s in complete control, she wants answers.”Harry Devert started a lengthy road trip on a motorcycle last fall that would take him across the U.S. and through parts of Central and South America. Devert, 32 when he disappeared, had planned to end the trip at the World Cup in Brazil.Del Sardo said that Ann Devert was working to expedite the process of getting the body DNA tested.”She’s remaining optimistic and you know as she’s doing the best she possibly could in this very trying time,” Del Sardo told ABC News. “There’s still many questions unanswered. She’s trying to act on a serious lead, where in [his] motorcycle was found or to get some sort of closure if in fact the remains are Harry’s.”Harry Devert was an avid traveler who documented his travels on his website, A New Yorker Travels. Burrell said at the end of this last trip, he had planned to take a break from travelling and write about his experiences.For his roadtrip into Mexico, Devert wrote on his website that he learned how to ride a motorcycle because, “You get a much different sense of connection to your surroundings when you’re riding through them on a bike.””Life is short, if you’re going to do something, like my mother always told me, do it right,”Devert said of his plan to spend a year on the road.
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Iraqi Parliament Fails to Select New Leaders

Iraqi Parliament Fails to Select New Leaders

iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) — The Iraqi government made no progress Sunday in determining its next wave of political leaders, as a session of parliament was over just about as quickly as it began.Baghdad’s failure to come to an agreement on picking a new speaker is indicative Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s regime, as Iraq faces the threat of Islamic extremists bent on taking control of the entire country.Following its April elections, the Iraqi parliament was supposed to have selected a speaker, president and, ultimately, a prime minister, who may or may not be Maliki, depending on how much support he has among lawmakers.However, the Shiite leader’s continued marginalization of Sunnis and Kurds, along with his reluctance to establish a unity government, has plunged the country further into chaos, with the Islamic State enjoying success against Iraq’s fragile military.Meanwhile, another session of parliament is planned for Tuesday. Once lawmakers decide on a speaker, they have 30 days to pick a president. Following that, the leader of the majority party will then form a new government, whereupon the next prime minister will be chosen.
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Russia Prepares to Host 2018 World Cup as Costs Mount

Russia Prepares to Host 2018 World Cup as Costs Mount

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — Even as the World Cup wraps up on Sunday in Rio de Janiero, preparations are well under way for the next tournament, which Russia will host in 2018.President Vladimir Putin will be on hand for Sunday’s final match between Germany and Argentina to take the baton, another step in his quest to use mega-sporting events as part of his effort to restore his country’s prestige in the world.Yet even four years out, alarm bells are blaring that Russia has not learned from its experience in hosting this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.The Sochi Olympics were the most expensive Winter Games in history, amid cost overruns and allegations of massive corruption. The 2018 World Cup is already following a similar pattern.The projected cost has already nearly doubled the original budget — and is nearing twice what Brazil spent for this year’s World Cup. In fact, at more than $20 billion, the current estimate would make Russia’s World Cup the most expensive in history.Russia plans to host the games in 12 stadiums in 11 cities. Beyond two stadiums in Moscow, venues for the matches will stretch from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea to Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains.Some stadiums are being built from scratch just for the World Cup. Others, like Sochi’s Fisht Stadium, which hosted the Olympics’ Opening and Closing Ceremonies, will be nearly new. The rest are aging Soviet-era arenas that will be upgraded for the World Cup to add seats and modernize the interior.Some of those renovations are of questionable need. Yekaterinburg’s Central Stadium had just had an $82 million renovation in 2011 and will undergo another costly renovation for the World Cup.Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium has a storied history as the host of the 1980 Summer Olympics and just last year hosted the World Athletics Championships. Yet after that competition ended, the stadium was closed for a gut renovation that will cost more than half a billion dollars. Organizers decided to preserve its historic façade, but the interior is a giant construction zone.According to Martin Muller of the Unviersity of Zurich, who has studied Russia’s preparations for the World Cup, the $7 billion price tag for the 2018 tournament’s stadiums is already 50 percent higher than Brazil’s much criticized budget and 3.5 times higher than what Germany paid when it hosted in 2006.“Rather than building a ‘new Russia,’ as proponents claim, the mega-event magnifies the problems of the old Russia,” Muller wrote in his comprehensive study, pointing to creeping costs, diversion of resources from other civilian projects, and unnecessary expenses.Russia’s economy is stalling and massive state spending on the World Cup is likely to strain the country’s budget. What’s worse, Russia’s sports minister recently warned that some of the projects are already falling behind schedule, despite oversight by FIFA, soccer’s main governing body, which organizes the World Cup.Yet the problem may not end after the final whistle blows in 2018, according to Muller.Visitors to Sochi just weeks after the Winter Olympics ended witnessed a ghost town. The gleaming new stadiums, hotels, and housing complexes sat empty, with few viable plans for their use in the works.With little local need for giant stadiums, Muller notes, the World Cup venues that will only host a few games each may only serve as a hulking, costly reminder of extravagance once the fans have gone home. The economic costs, he says, may last much longer.
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Kerry Calls Netanyahu to Express Concern Over Escalating Tension

Kerry Calls Netanyahu to Express Concern Over Escalating Tension

Photo by Israel Premiership Press Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(VIENNA) — Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Sunday to express concern about escalating tensions in Gaza.Kerry “condemned the rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and stressed Israel’s right to defend itself,” according to a readout from a senior State Department official. After Israel sent ground troops into Gaza on Sunday to destroy Hamas missiles, Kerry expressed concern about escalating tension.He also described his engagement with leaders in the region, trying to restore calm and prevent civilian deaths. Once again, the secretary of state also noted the United States’ willingness to facilitate an end to hostilities.
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North Korea Launches Missiles into Ocean from Near Border with South Korea

North Korea Launches Missiles into Ocean from Near Border with South Korea

Photodisc/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korea fired two more long-range ballistic missiles into the ocean from Kaesong on Sunday. This is the 14th time that North Korea has test-fired rockets this year. The launch took place from just about 12 miles north of the border between North Korea and South Korea, closer than is normal.North Korea has used similar launches in the past as a way to protest international happenings. The U.S.S. George Washington, a massive super carrier, is in South Korea as part of joint military exercises planned for later in July. North Korea has protested those exercises, threatening to increase its nuclear forces as a means of self-defense.
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Kerry Meets with German Foreign Minister On Heels of Spy Drama

Kerry Meets with German Foreign Minister On Heels of Spy Drama

Credit: US Department of State(VIENNA) — Three days after Germany expelled the CIA’s top official in Germany, Secretary of State John Kerry met with his German counterpart, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, along with U.S. and German delegations in Vienna.The meeting was not called to address the intelligence controversy, which arose after new allegations of U.S. spying on Germany, after the NSA’s reported eavesdropping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel drew a sharp reaction last year.As the meeting got under way, Kerry wished Germany good luck in Sunday’s World Cup final, and he made no mention of spying as he addressed reporters after the meeting ended.“Let me emphasize, the relationship between the United States and Germany is a strategic one. We have enormous political cooperation and we are great friends and we will continue to work together in the kind of spirit that we exhibited today,” Kerry said, according to a pool reporter traveling with him. Steinmeier spoke in German without translation after the meeting.The two men and their teams had traveled to Vienna for a round of talks with the P5+1 (the U.S., Germany, France, the UK, Russia, and China) and Iran over the Iranian nuclear program. Earlier this week, the State Deptartment said the meeting with Germany’s foreign minister would provide an opportunity to discuss “bilateral issues.”At the moment, that would almost certainly include the recent allegations of spying, as a 31-year-old German man was arrested this month on suspicion of spying for a foreign power. German news outlets identified him as a German intelligence employee accused of passing secrets to the U.S. A week later, German authorities reportedly searched the home of a defense-ministry employee suspected of spying for the U.S.The White House has not denied that the U.S. sought to obtain secrets from Germany, and spokesman Josh Earnest refused to discuss the matter on Friday, insisting that the U.S. and Germany enjoy a “strong and enduring relationship.”
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Americans Flee Gaza Amid Unrest

Americans Flee Gaza Amid Unrest

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) –  At 7 a.m. local time Sunday, 144 American citizens waiting to evacuate the Gaza Strip boarded buses at a United Nations compound and headed for the border with Israel.On one of the buses was the Akasha family, made up of a mother, Rania Akasha, and her four kids, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They were in Gaza on vacation visiting relatives when the conflict started.All four kids were born and raised in Louisiana. Rania Akasha has been there for 20 years. They have a family restaurant, the Akasha Market, known for its burgers, next to Louisiana State University.The departure from Gaza was an orderly one, and the buses contained empty seats.Once at the Erez border crossing area, the group started the long walk through a tunnel to the crossing.Rania Akasha told ABC News her family made a last-minute decision this morning to get out, saying she was very relieved to be leaving but that she felt guilty to leave other family members behind.That number of Palestinian-Americans leaving is fewer than the 300 who had expressed interest. But that 144 was all they expected for the time being, a U.S. official told ABC News, adding that the Americans were being processed steadily and getting on buses that would take them to Amman, Jordan.“A little bit of mayhem,” he said.Once the 144 were through, they would head to the Allenby Bridge border with Jordan and, from there, could go wherever they want.The Akasha family was heading back to Baton Rouge.“Oh my God, happy,” Rania said. “Very happy.”
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Israeli Troops Enter Gaza to Take Out Missile Sites

Israeli Troops Enter Gaza to Take Out Missile Sites

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) — Israeli ground troops entered northern Gaza Saturday night to take out a number of missile launch sites, according to the Israeli military.The move comes after weeks of growing tensions and nearly a week of escalating missile strikes from both sides.The mission was launched early Sunday local time comes after the U.N. Security Council urged the two sides to reach a cease fire, and the Israeli government said it hit northern Gaza “with great force” to prevent more Hamas rocket attacks.The IDF, the Israeli military, said its goal in crossing into northern Gaza was to dismantle some of the sites that Hamas militants have been using to launch rockets into northern Israel.During the incursion there was an exchange of fire with militants that left four Israeli soldiers lightly wounded, according to the IDF.The IDF troops returned to Israel after the mission, and no soldiers were left in Gaza, the Israeli military said.The Israeli naval commando raid in Gaza reported earlier occurred in the Al-Sudaniya beach to the northwest of the Strip, Al Jazeera reported.The Israeli force encountered Palestinian gunmen, and a battle ensued that included the use of heavy arms.
What is not clear is whether this brief surge into northern Gaza by the Israeli military is a pre-cursor to a full scale ground invasion, but all along the road toward northern Gaza ABC News correspondents have seen what appear to be the preparations for one. There are tanks and troops amassed by the border.The Israeli military has been saying for a couple of days that it is ready, and tens of thousands of troops have been mobilized in support of a potential ground invasion.The IDF had earlier warned residents of the northern Gaza Strip to leave their homes, saying it was for their own safety.The conflict had already escalated Saturday, with Hamas bombarding Tel Aviv with the most rockets yet, and Israel responding by pummeling the Gaza Strip.In the five days of bombardment by Israeli missiles, more than 156 Palestinians have been killed, according to officials there.One of the Israeli strikes hit a center for the disabled where Palestinians said two patients were killed and four people seriously hurt. In a second attack, on Saturday evening, an Israeli warplane flattened the home of Gaza’s police chief and damaged a nearby mosque as evening prayers ended, killing at least 18 people, officials said.
An IDF spokesman said the incursion was the first time Israel has used ground troops in Gaza since 2009. More small scale ground incursions are expected, as the IDF believes it has only destroyed about 20 percent of Hamas rockets.
 

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John Kerry: All Votes in Afghan Presidential Election To Be Audited

John Kerry: All Votes in Afghan Presidential Election To Be Audited

US State Department(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Afghanistan is set to conduct an audit of the total votes cast in the recent presidential election, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Saturday. The ballot boxes will be evaluated immediately once they are brought from area provinces into Kabul, and the audit is expected to take several weeks. Originally, United Nations observers suggested specific polling locations for the evaluation, but now, all 8 million votes are set to be scrutinized. As a result, Kerry also requested that President Hamid Karzai delay the inauguration scheduled for Aug. 2. The two candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, spoke in support of the decision.
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UN Security Council Calls for Ceasefire Between Israel, Hamas

UN Security Council Calls for Ceasefire Between Israel, Hamas

Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The United Nations Security Council called for a ceasefire Saturday in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has resulted in rising casualties in the Gaza Strip. As bombs continue to fall in Israel and Gaza, Security Council President Eugene Richard urged for a comprehensive peace agreement based on a two-state solution between the groups. “The Security Council members expressed serious concern regarding the crisis related to Gaza and the protection and welfare of civilians on both sides.,” Richard said. Officials also emphasized “respect for international humanitarian law.”The unanimous statement by the 15-member council called on Israel and Hamas to stop the rocket lobbies and resume peace talks. “We hope that the Israeli side would abide by it,” said Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN.  “We were ready and we worked very hard in order to see the Security Council acting and stopping this carnage earlier.”Israel is targeting civilians, according to Mansour, with 78 percent of those killed including children, women, and the elderly. Amid the attacks, Americans are being evacuated from Gaza. Around 300 American citizens expressed interest with the Jerusalem consulate to leave the area, an official told ABC News. Hundreds of Palestinians with foreign passports will also start the process of evacuating Sunday.
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Hamas Announces “Fierce Missile Strike” Warning for Tel Aviv

Hamas Announces “Fierce Missile Strike” Warning for Tel Aviv

ABC News(TEL AVIV, Israel) — Hamas leaders issued a warning Saturday night, giving an hour notice that it would release “fierce missile strikes” on Tel Aviv. With a statement posted on its website, the alert marks the first time the group announced timing for its slew of attacks. Hamas sent three rockets over the city just after 9 p.m., according to Israel Defense Forces. Iron Dome defense tracked rockets over the center of Tel Aviv to intercept the missiles. Military officials say the Israeli Air Force targeted the rocket launcher in the recent attack to Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. Authorities are expected to ask residents of northern Gaza to evacuate their homes for safety precautions.
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Chinese National Charged in Plot to Steal US Military Data

Chinese National Charged in Plot to Steal US Military Data

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — American officials charged a Chinese citizen in a plot to steal data from U.S. defense contractors. Su Bin, owner of a Chinese aviation technology company, is accused of hacking into computer networks of American contractors and retrieving information linked to military aircrafts and weapons, according to the Department of Justice. The businessman, who has an office in Canada, was arrested in British Columbia on June 28. He allegedly conspired with two others in China to access the computer networks of American companies and steal data from Boeing. Boeing is cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement in addressing the incident. “We remain deeply concerned about cyber-enabled theft of sensitive information and we have repeatedly made it clear that the United States will continue using all the tools our government possesses to strengthen cyber security and confront cybercrime,” DOJ officials told ABC News.
The U.S. is attemting to extradite Bin.
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Netanyahu Vows to Continue Strikes Until Israeli People Are Safe

Netanyahu Vows to Continue Strikes Until Israeli People Are Safe

GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) — Israeli Prime Minister spoke on Friday in Tel Aviv, Israel regarding the ongoing crisis in Gaza and the missile and rocket launches between Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.Netanyahu, echoing his statements from throughout the last week, said that Israel would not put up with continued attacks on Israeli civilians. He noted support from Western leaders including President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande, and said that there is no terror target in Gaza that the Israeli Defense Forces will not attack.Netanyahu said that Israel plans to keep up its attacks for as long as its people are under attack.He also said that he was against the Israeli pullout from Gaza in 2005, and that he considers the current tension a direct result of that pullback. He used that cause and effect to argue against a similar pullback in the West Bank.Netanyahu said Friday that his aim was to cover all of Israel with defense systems that can intercept missiles from any distance. The Israeli prime minister said that he was proud of the Israeli citizens for the way they have conducted themselves during the crisis.
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