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Truce in Gaza Holding for Now

Truce in Gaza Holding for Now

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) — For now, all is in quiet in Gaza as the Israelis and the militant group Hamas observe a 72-hour truce that allows Palestinians to gather essential items just in case there is another violent siege.The temporary truce that began 10 p.m. Sunday has also prompted Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to resume talks in Cairo in an effort to form a more lasting peace.Ominously, however, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the new talks would be “the last chance” for an agreement that would end the conflict that has cost the lives of more than 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, insists that Israel lift its blockade and allow the opening of a seaport.The Israelis, who want assurances that Hamas will stop firing rockets at their homeland, say these conditions can only be addressed during ongoing peace talks with Palestinians from the West Bank who are seeking their own state.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Aid Will Flow to Rebel City in Ukraine

Aid Will Flow to Rebel City in Ukraine

iStock/Thinkstock(GENEVA) — Amid fears that Moscow is ready to launch an invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian and Russian governments have nonetheless agreed upon a humanitarian aid mission to Luhansk, a city under the sway of rebel forces.The operation is being overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which says both countries have to adhere to strict guidelines in order for aid to reach civilians caught in the crossfire.Kiev, Washington and Western allies previously worried that Russia could use the delivery of aid to launch unilateral military action in eastern Ukraine. Although the mission itself appears to be benign, NATO expressed concerns Monday that Russia might still invade as Ukrainian government forces have surrounded Donetsk, the epicenter of the insurgent uprising.NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen went as far to say there is a “high probability” Moscow will respond militarily, given that at least 20,000 Russian troops are standing by just over the border from Ukraine.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Bright Red Supermoon Glows over Madrid

Bright Red Supermoon Glows over Madrid

NASA/Bill Ingalls(MADRID) — A bright red supermoon dazzled stargazers in Spain Monday night, captured glowing between Madrid’s Four Towers in an incredible photo.The spectacular sight came a day after the world watched a rare supermoon rise.
Supermoons happen a few times a year, when the moon is at its brightest and closest to Earth.
Sunday night’s supermoon was the biggest and brightest of the year.Changes in Earth’s atmosphere can cause the moon to appear a dramatic red or orange, experts said.
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US Has Launched 17 Targeted Airstrikes Against Iraq Militants

US Has Launched 17 Targeted Airstrikes Against Iraq Militants

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — So far, the United States has launched 17 targeted airstrikes against militant extremists in Iraq.On Monday, Lt. Gen. William Mayville briefed reporters on the effectiveness of the airstrikes. Mayville said, “We assess that U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq have slowed ISIL’s operational tempo and temporarily disrupted their advances towards the province of Erbil. However, these strikes are unlikely to affect ISIL’s overall capabilities, or its operations in other areas of Iraq and Syria.”
The Pentagon said humanitarian airdrops have helped those fleeing militant extremists in Iraq by providing food and water.
Mayville said U.S. and U.K. air crews have flown 14 successful missions over the last four nights and have delivered almost 16,000 gallons of water and 75,000 meals.
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George Clooney’s Fiancée Turns Down UN Job Investigating Gaza War Crimes

George Clooney’s Fiancée Turns Down UN Job Investigating Gaza War Crimes

Karwai Tang/WireImage(GENEVA) — George Clooney’s fiancée, Amal Alamuddin, has turned down a position with the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate allegations of war crimes in Gaza.
U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq confirmed to ABC News that the 36-year-old lawyer pulled out of the job, but offered no additional explanation.
The U.N. had posted a statement earlier on Monday, saying that Alamuddin would serve as part of a three-person commission to “investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014.”
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Fascinating Facts About Ebola-Weary Liberia’s Rich History

Fascinating Facts About Ebola-Weary Liberia’s Rich History

iStock/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) — No one would mistake Liberia for a model of prosperity, but the Ebola-weary West African nation certainly has a rich history like no other: It was colonized by freed U.S. slaves.Here are some details about its intriguing origins:1. The sight of freed slaves so unnerved one particular group of white Americans in the early 1800s that they concocted a plan to resettle them in Africa. It worked, and the American Colonization Society, as the members called themselves, found a partial solution to their “problem” by developing a colonization project that would eventually produce the West African nation of Liberia, according to the U.S. State Department Office of the Historian.By 1821, the U.S. Navy even helped in the search for land to accommodate what remained of the 88 free black settlers and three society members who had set sail for Sierra Leone the year before in search of territory to claim. “The Navy officer in charge, Lieutenant Robert Stockton, coerced a local ruler to sell a strip of land to the Society,” according to the State Department.The indigenous Africans initially staged violent resistance against the colony before other U.S. colonization societies bought additional land, and most of those settlements combined up to 20,000 people into a single organization that forged a rocky path toward a sovereign state, declaring its independence from the American Colonization Society in 1847, the State Department website says.2. U.S. President James Monroe committed so many government resources to the project that Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, was named in his honor. 3. Despite helping to establish Liberia, however, the U.S government didn’t recognize the nation until 1862, “because of fears of the impact this might have on the issue of slavery in the United States,” according to the State Department.4. Liberia’s first president, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, was born and raised in the U.S., overseeing a U.S.-style of government that excluded indigenous Africans from citizenship until 1904, according to About.com.
5. With an eye toward home, the founders designed the Liberian flag with red and white stripes and a blue square resembling the U.S. flag, but only one white star that “symbolizes the freedom that the ex-slaves were given and the blue square stands for the African mainland,” according to the Maps of the World website. “The eleven stripes on the flag of Liberia represent the eleven signatories of the Liberian Declaration of Independence.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Watch the Yo-Yo World Champion’s Amazing Routine

Watch the Yo-Yo World Champion’s Amazing Routine

iStock/Thinkstock(PRAGUE) — Top yo-yo competitors gathered in Prague over the weekend to compete for the chance to be named a World Yo-Yo Champion.
A California native took home the title, and his winning routine is mind-blowing and a must-see.
Gentry Stein, 18, beat out more than 300 competitors from more than 35 countries in a close race, winning with 88.2 points, just 1.5 points ahead of runner-up Takeshi Matsuura.
Check out his routine here.
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Couple Dies After Trying to Take Selfie on Cliff Edge in Portugal

Couple Dies After Trying to Take Selfie on Cliff Edge in Portugal

iStock/Thinkstock(CABO DA ROCA, Portugal) — A Polish couple was killed after they tried to take a selfie on a cliff in Portugal and fell hundreds of feet, Polish Radio reports.The couple fell from the rocky edge of a cliff in Cabo da Roca, Portugal, on Saturday. They would have had to cross a safety barrier in order to reach the cliff edge, according to Polish Radio.Their young children, ages 5 and 6, were with them and witnessed the accident. They are currently under psychiatric care, Polish Radio reports.A Spanish couple that was also at the location called emergency crews, and rescuers tried to recover the bodies using a helicopter, but had to give up because of the rising tide on Saturday. The bodies were recovered on Monday.
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Yazidi Refugees from Iraq Flee to Camps

Yazidi Refugees from Iraq Flee to Camps

iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) — Members of the Yazidi minority group who were forced onto a mountain in order to escape from ISIS in northern Iraq have started fleeing to refugee camps and telling their stories.The Yazidis, a religious minority in Iraq, have been targeted by the Islamic army for being what they call “devil worshipers” who were forced to flee when they didn’t agree to convert to Islam.At a refugee camp in Dahuk, Iraq, 21-year-old Haifa Naif told ABC News that she had a phone call with her aunt who ISIS reportedly took as one of its captives. Her aunt said that ISIS separated the men and women, and then took the young girls — specifically the virgins — into a different undisclosed location. “I would rather all the girls of my family be killed,” Naif said sobbing, “than lose their honor by being made playthings for ISIS.”Air drops of emergency aid helped some stave off starvation and dehydration over the weekend, and now many have made it to refugee camps in Dahuk where they are cramped among dozens of relatives.Among the refugees are two Yazidis who previously worked as interpreters for the U.S. Army on the front lines.”I still believe they will come save us,” one of the men told ABC News of the American forces, without giving his name. Some of the missing may have been gunned down by militants during the escape. Others were lost as families scattered in panic under gunfire from extremists chasing them into the mountains.The Yazidis are an ethnic minority in Iraq made up mostly of ethnic Kurds and isolated from the rest of the population due to their ancient beliefs. Their belief system is thought to be a mix of different religions, including Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism, a Persian religion that was once the state religion in parts of ancient empires in what is now Iran.ISIS, which now calls itself the Islamic State, issued an ultimatum to tens of thousands of Yazidis on Saturday to convert to Islam, pay a religious fine, flee their homes or face death.

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Kerry Gives Stern Warning to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

Kerry Gives Stern Warning to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

State Department photo/Public Domain(SYDNEY) — Iraq’s government is expected to pick a new prime minister on Monday, but current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refuses to step down.Maliki says new Iraqi President Fuad Masum violated constitutional rules by failing to pick a successor by midnight Monday, Baghdad time.While in Australia Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry warned Maliki of “stir[ring] those waters” by interfering with the constitutional process of picking a new prime minister. “There will be little international support of any kind whatsoever for anything that deviates from the legitimate constitutional process that is in place and being worked on now,” Kerry said in Sydney.”They need to finish that and give a new government an opportunity to be voted on, and move forward,” he said.Kerry added that the U.S. backs Masum as the person responsible for carrying out the constitution, and that Maliki should abandon his hopes of a third term.Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, called Haider al-Abadi on Monday to congratulate him on being selected as Iraq’s new prime minister.Earlier, Biden called Masum and expressed the United States’ “full support for his role as guarantor of the Iraqi constitution,” according to a readout of the call.
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Obama Authorizes Military Aid to France for Counter-Terrorism Efforts

Obama Authorizes Military Aid to France for Counter-Terrorism Efforts

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has authorized up to $10 million in military assistance to France to assist the country in its counter-terrorism efforts in Chad, Mali and Niger.In a memorandum Monday, Obama said, “I hereby determine that an unforeseen emergency exists that requires immediate military assistance to France in its efforts to secure Mali, Niger, and Chad from terrorists and violent extremists.”The president noted that these requirements “cannot be met under the authority of the Arms Export Control Act or any other provision of law.””I, therefore, direct the drawdown of up to $10 million in defense services of the Department of Defense for these purposes and under the authorities of section 506(a)(1) of the Act,” he continued.
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Storm Capsizes Boats at International Boating Event in Ireland

Storm Capsizes Boats at International Boating Event in Ireland

iStock/Thinkstock(STRANGFORD LOUGH, Ireland) — At least 10 people were injured Monday when stormy weather struck an international boating event in Northern Ireland, causing boats to capsize.The Belfast Coastguard was first contacted before 2 p.m. local time to alert authorities about the strong winds and capsized vessels in Strangford Lough, officials said in a release. Bangor and Portaferry rescue teams, the Irish Coastguard and the RAF Valley also responded to the scene.Authorities believe all those in the water have been accounted for, but continue to search the area to be sure. Most of the injured who were treated on the scene showed signs of hypothermia.  The GP14 world championship is one of Northern Ireland’s largest events for single class twin crew dinghies. According to BBC News, more than 200 competitors come from as far as Australia to participate.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

US Airstrike Targets ISIS Convoy in Irbil

US Airstrike Targets ISIS Convoy in Irbil

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The United States successfully carried out another airstrike late Sunday near the Iraqi city of Irbil. U.S. military forces were targeting ISIL/ISIS vehicles that were part of a convoy attacking Peshmerga forces defending the city where U.S. personnel and citizens are located, the Defense Department said Monday.The military’s central command, or CENTCOM, says all aircraft exited the strike zone safely.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Israel, Hamas Agree to New 72-Hour Cease-Fire

Israel, Hamas Agree to New 72-Hour Cease-Fire

David Silverman/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) — Israel and Hamas agreed to another Egyptian-brokered three-day cease-fire in Gaza, officials announced Sunday. Egyptian representatives succeeded in getting Hamas to lay down their arms and return to the negotiating table, while Israel accepted attempts to try at talks for a permanent cease-fire. The hold is anticipated to go into effect at midnight local time Monday. Israel is expected to send a delegation to Cairo to discuss a more comprehensive truce. Hamas has reportedly given up on some of its previous demands, according to Egyptian sources, as discussions for a Gaza airport and seaport have been postponed for a future date.
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UN Assists ‘Sudden Influx’ of Refugees in Kurdistan Region

UN Assists ‘Sudden Influx’ of Refugees in Kurdistan Region

iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) — Thousands of displaced Iraqis are flooding into the Kurdistan region, prompting the assistance of international aid organizations who say more food and water is needed. Supplies are running low for organizations in northern Iraq who are looking to help provide food and water for those fleeing ISIS militants. Great Britain and Australia are assisting the United States military in airdropping humanitarian aid to religious refugees, also reinforced by efforts from United Nations agencies. “We are responding to the sudden influx of displaced into the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government] and bordering areas,” a U.N. envoy said in a statement. Hundreds of thousands have fled to the Dahuk Governorate in the Kurdistan region or to “disputed border areas” in the past days, where the World Food Programme has distributed more than 1,600,000 meals. Meanwhile, Iraqis remained trapped on a desert mountain, surrounded by ISIS fighters. U.S. cargo jets have delivered more than 3,800 gallons of water, along with 1,600 meals. “The U.N. will continue to do what it can to provide relief to those who have fled with little but the clothes they are wearing,” said U.N. Secretary-General for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov said Sunday. “The situation is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future and the U.N. will work with both the Central and Regional government to meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands already displaced and make preparations to receive many more who will arrive over the next few days.”
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US Officials Warn Against Travel to Iraq

US Officials Warn Against Travel to Iraq

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of State is warning American citizens against “all but essential travel” to Iraq as a result of ongoing security situations in the region. The Department of State relocated staff members from the Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Erbil to the Consulate General in Basrah and the Iraq Support Unit in Amman, officials announced Sunday. However, the Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Erbil are still operating.
In a statement, the agency cited the growing threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, along with cases of kidnapping and terrorist violence in the country. “The ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited,” representatives said. U.S. citizens in Iraq face the risk of roadside improvised explosive devices on both people and cars, concealed mines, mortars, rockets, and shootings from direct fire weapons. Officials caution that such attacks occur in public places including cafes and markets. Citizens are also advised to avoid areas near the Syrian, Turkish, or Iranian borders due to “skirmishes with smugglers” that have become commonplace.
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At Least 46 Killed in Tehran Plane Crash

At Least 46 Killed in Tehran Plane Crash

iStock/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) — A passenger plane crash en route from Tehran to Tabas, Iran killed at least 46 people, according to Iranian relief organization Red Crescent. The incident occurred near Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport around 9:20 a.m. local time Sunday. The Antonov-140 aircraft was carrying 40 passengers and eight crew members. The plane, assembled in Iran, crashed four miles outside the airport after one of its engines caught fire, eyewitnesses reported.
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Kerry Proposes Action to Ease South China Sea Tensions

Kerry Proposes Action to Ease South China Sea Tensions

U.S. Department of State(NAYPYITAW, Myanmar) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Southeast Asian foreign ministers Saturday, calling on nations with claims to the South China Sea to refrain from provocative actions. Addressing representatives at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Kerry put forth the proposal to ease tensions over the maritime dispute. The Secretary of State urged China and its smaller neighbors to halt actions related to the conflict. “We’re encouraging claimant states to consider voluntarily agreeing to refrain from taking certain actions, which in the words of the 2002 Declaration of Conduct ‘would complicate or escalate disputes’,” he said. “The United States and ASEAN have a common responsibility to ensure the maritime security of critical global sea lanes and ports. We need to work together to manage tensions in the South China Sea and to manage them peacefully.”
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WATCH: Video Shows Air Strike in Iraq

WATCH: Video Shows Air Strike in Iraq

iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) — The Defense Department released video of an air strike that took place Friday in Iraq.The video shows two F/A-18 fighter jets dropping laser-guided bombs on mobile artillery near Erbil. It begins with an overhead view over a target as a bomb drops before a flash of what appears to be a large cloud of smoke. Another shot, most likely from land, shows rising smoke from afar.The United States military carried out three rounds of air strikes on Friday against ISIS militants in Iraq in its renewed effort to bolster the Iraqi and Kurdish forces against Islamic militants. The strikes targeted ISIS fighters, a stationary convoy, mortars and artillery, according to statements on Friday from Pentagon’s press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby.Later on Friday, an armed drone struck an ISIS mortar position shortly after 10 a.m. local time. A follow-up attack was launched on the ISIS fighters when they returned to the location “and successfully eliminated” the target, Kirby said.A little more than one hour later, four F/A-18 aircraft hit a stationary convoy of seven vehicles and a mortar position near Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region. According to Kirby, the fighter jets conducted two passes, dropping a total of eight bombs on the target, wiping out the mortar and convoy.The attacks come one day after President Obama authorized air strikes in Iraq if necessary, adding that there will be no U.S. troops on the ground.

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Obama: No Timetable for US Airstrikes in Iraq

Obama: No Timetable for US Airstrikes in Iraq

White House(WASHINGTON) — U.S. airstrikes will continue against ISIS fighters in Iraq, President Obama announced Saturday, adding that humanitarian air drops will be sustained for minority refugees.”I’m not going to give a particular timetable because as I’ve said from the start, wherever and whenever U.S. personnel and facilities are threatened, it’s my obligation, my responsibility as Commander in Chief, to make sure they are protected,” Obama said.Before departing for Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, the President addressed the ongoing situation in Iraq, stressing that the U.S. will not be putting boots on the ground.Still, the threat of ISIS will not be solved in weeks, Obama said, emphasizing the importance of establishing a long-term peaceful solution through a stable and inclusive Iraqi government with Shiites and Sunnis.”It is very hard to get a unified effort by Iraqis against ISIL [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant],” he said. “We can conduct air strikes, but ultimately, there’s not going to be an American military solution to this problem.”For the short term, the president said Great Britain and France will move in to handle humanitarian air drops. The area of Erbil, where American government employees work, will remain under U.S. responsibility, along with the task of targeting ISIS convoys as they move across Iraq. “Ultimately only Iraqis can ensure the security and stability of Iraq. The United States can’t do it for them, but we can and will be partners in that effort,” Obama said.Obama rejected criticism that his administration could have prevented new violence in the country, saying that the decision to pull out from Iraq was made by the previous administration and the Iraqi government refused to sign the Joint Forces agreement allowing a small U.S. troop presence. “That entire analysis is bogus and is wrong, but gets frequently peddled around here.”
 

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