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Jet Carrying Pastors in Bahamas Crashed Four Miles from Airport

Jet Carrying Pastors in Bahamas Crashed Four Miles from Airport

File photo. (iStock/Thinkstock)(FREEPORT, Bahamas) -- A private jet carrying a prominent Bahamian pastor and eight others en route to a religious conference crashed at a shipyard recycling facility about four miles away from the airport where they were scheduled to land.Dr. Myles Munroe and his wife Ruth, who were the co-leaders of the Bahamas Faith Ministries, were two of the nine people on board the plane that crashed Sunday evening. It appears that they were making their descent around the time of the crash.The investigation into the fatal crash started Monday morning, but the Grand Bahamas Shipyard confirmed the site of the crash in a statement released Monday afternoon. It said the plane crashed at a recycling facility just east of the shipyard that is used to collect "recycled waste material, scrap metal and construction debris."Bahamas Faith Ministries International released the identities of six of the other fatalities, three of whom were leaders in the church. The group's senior vice president, Dr. Richard Pinder, and two newly installed youth ministers -- Pastors Lavard and Radel Parks and their son, Johann -- died in the crash. There was one other passenger who has still not been named. Other victims included pilot Frakhan Cooper and Munroe's longtime personal pilot Stanley Thurston."Words cannot express our profound sense of loss for all of the team members on this tragic flight," the group said in a statement. "Dr. Munroe was our visionary, our founder, our mentor, adviser, father figure and friend. He was a global leader and icon and was respected worldwide."Munroe was scheduled to give the opening address at the conference and Pinder was also slated to speak to the hundreds of followers gathered in Freeport for the four-day event."As a Church body and organization we will move forward as Dr. Munroe would have wanted us to. We recognize that there will be challenges but we have full confidence that God will see us through and we intend to make our founding leaders proud," Bahamas Faith Ministries International said in their new statement.

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Oscar Pistorius Appeal to Be Heard in December

Oscar Pistorius Appeal to Be Heard in December

Jemal Countess/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- The application to appeal Oscar Pistorius' conviction and sentence will be heard on Dec. 9, the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed on Monday.The appeal comes two months after the Olympian was found guilty of culpable homicide -- the equivalent of manslaughter -- in the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot through a locked bathroom door on Valentine's Day 2013.State prosecutor Gerrie Nel wants to appeal both the conviction on culpable homicide and the five-year sentence. He also wants to challenge the acquittal on a charge of illegal possession of ammunition.The defense will oppose the application. The application for leave to appeal will be heard by Judge Thokozile Masipa, who found Pistorius could not be convicted on a murder charge. Masipa has to give permission for the appeal to be heard. The prosecution would have to convince her that another court might have come to a different conclusion. This could happen in an open court, but the judge has the discretion to hear the matter in chambers.If Masipa does not grant permission for the appeal to go ahead, the NPA can still petition the Supreme Court of Appeals to hear the matter. The decision to appeal could see Pistorius face a murder conviction again for shooting Steenkamp, and a minimum of 15 years in prison if he is found guilty on appeal.

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Why Moscow Smells Like Burned Popcorn

Why Moscow Smells Like Burned Popcorn

iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- For much of the day Monday, Moscow has smelled like a mixture of sulfur and burned popcorn.Russia’s Emergencies Ministry eventually said the cause was a leak at a sulfur dioxide processor at an oil refinery outside town, according to Russian media reports.While Muscovites vexed about safety and searched for answers on social media, authorities were initially silent. They then suggested people stay indoors, before insisting the vapors are harmless.The Emergencies Ministry said that while the amount of hydrogen sulfide in the air was above acceptable levels for a short while, levels of sulfur dioxide are within the acceptable range.Near the plant, a thick, hazy cloud hung in the air. A local resident posted a video, complaining that they suffer from these kinds of emissions often.

Gazprom Neft, which runs the plant, however, reportedly denied there was an accident.Amid the conflicting and shifting statements, Moscow’s over 11.5 million residents have been left wondering who to believe.

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Israeli Soldier Stabbed in Tel Aviv

Israeli Soldier Stabbed in Tel Aviv

iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- Tensions increased in the Middle East on Monday as an Israeli soldier was critically wounded after being stabbed at a train station in Tel Aviv. A Palestinian man in his 20s has been arrested, according to police. The suspect is a resident of the West Bank city of Nablus.In a separate incident on Monday, three Israelis were stabbed near a cluster of settlements in the West Bank. Israeli media report a teenage girl was killed.Police say the attacker in this incident was shot by a security guard. It is unclear if the suspect is dead.Both attacks follow a weekend of violent clashes after Israeli police shot and killed a young Israeli Arab man on Friday in what his family says was a racist attack. The growing number of attacks and the sky-high tension in Israeli and Palestinian territories has many afraid the region could be on the cusp of widespread conflict.

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No Indication of Policy Changes from North Korea with Prisoner Release

No Indication of Policy Changes from North Korea with Prisoner Release

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(BEIJING) — President Obama Monday said there was no indication that the release of two American prisoners from North Korea signaled a broader change in relations, noting that North Korea’s nuclear program did not come up in negotiations. “We had an indication that there was a possibility of a release of these two hostages or prisoners, and we pursued it,” the president told reporters. “We did not touch on some of the broader issues that have been the source of primary concern when it comes to North Korea; in particular, it’s development of a nuclear capacity.”  “There were not high level policy discussions between Jim Clapper and the North Koreans, but we have been consistent in saying that when and if North Korea becomes serious about denuclearization on the peninsula and is prepared to have a conversation on that topic, then the U.S. is going to be very open to trying to arrive at a solution that over the long term could lead to great prosperity and security for North Korea. Until that time, there is going to be a core problem between us,” he added. Speaking to reporters following a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Obama said he was “incredibly thankful” to Clapper and “couldn’t be happier for the families” of the two released Americans. “We continue though to have a broader fundamental conflict with the North Koreans and it’s going to take, I think, in addition to small gestures, like the ones that we saw with the release of these individuals, a broader understanding on the part of the North Koreans that all of the countries in the region, including China, including the Republic of Korea, including Japan, consider this to be their number one security priority, making sure that we don’t have a nuclearized Korean peninsula. Up until this point at least we have not seen serious engagement on the part of Pyongyang to deal with that problem.”

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US Military Conducts 41 Airstrikes Against ISIS over Weekend

US Military Conducts 41 Airstrikes Against ISIS over Weekend

Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The U.S. military continued its attack against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in Iraq and Syria, launching 41 airstrikes between last Friday and Monday.According to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), 13 of the strikes were near Kobani in Syria. They destroyed an ISIS-occupied building, a command and control building, and seven fighting positions. They also damaged two fighting positions, and hit a vehicle along with five small units.Ten other airstrikes in Syria damaged several structures of an ISIS oil collection facility and an oil collection point near Dayr Az Zawr.The remaining 18 airstrikes in Iraq destroyed a sniper position and two vehicles and hit three small units near Bayji; destroyed a vehicle and struck two small units in Fallujah; destroyed an armed truck and vehicle convoy and hit a small unit near Mosul; destroyed an armored vehicle and two checkpoints near Al Qaim; destroyed two Humvees near Haditha; hit a small unit near Ramadi; and destroyed a checkpoint near Ar Rutbah.CENTCOM said all the aircraft used in the attacks managed to exit the areas safely.

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Jesus Christ, Wife Mary Magdalene Had Two Kids, New Book Claims

Jesus Christ, Wife Mary Magdalene Had Two Kids, New Book Claims

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new book based on interpretations of ancient texts features an explosive claim: Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene, and the couple had two children.In The Lost Gospel, set for release Wednesday, authors Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson argue that the original Virgin Mary was Jesus’ wife -- not his mother -- and that there was an assassination attempt on Jesus’ life 13 years before he was crucified.The writers say they spent six years working on the book. Their arguments are based on an ancient manuscript dating back nearly 1,500 years, one they say they found in a British library, translating the text from an Aramaic dialect into English.Mark Goodacre, a professor of religious studies at Duke University, is skeptical of the book’s findings.“I don’t think that there is any credibility in these claims at all,” Goodacre said. “There is simply no evidence in this text or anywhere else that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, much less that they had a couple of children.”This is not the first assertion that Jesus was married. A fragment of an ancient Egyptian papyrus known as the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” was unveiled in 2012, containing the phrase “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife,” although the document was written centuries after Jesus died.The 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown also highlighted the possibility of Jesus’ having been married to Mary Magdalene.

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‘Dude, This Is Amazing!’ See the Space Station from Inside a Water Bubble

‘Dude, This Is Amazing!’ See the Space Station from Inside a Water Bubble

NASA(NEW YORK) — NASA astronauts have made a new discovery: A GoPro camera in a floating sphere of water takes "wild," awesome footage.A video uploaded by NASA last week showing a group of astronauts on the International Space Station having some fun with a GoPro, placing it inside a floating bubble of water in the space station's weightless environment."Dude, this is amazing!" a voice aboard the station can be heard exclaiming. "Look at that! Whoa! Holy smokes! Oh, my gosh!"The GoPro footage stays clear -- but freaky -- even when astronauts play around with the bubble by squeezing and pulling on it."That is absolutely fascinating," one crew member says.The video has reached more than 1.5 million views on YouTube and has an added bonus: it comes in both 2-D and 3-D versions. See the 2-D version above and watch the 3-D footage by clicking here.NASA did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

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Parents Play Matchmaker in Beijing Single Market

Parents Play Matchmaker in Beijing Single Market

Mary Bruce/ABC News(BEIJING) — Most Americans are horrified at the thought of their parents setting them up, but in Beijing there’s a whole market for it, literally.Parents gathered by the hundreds this weekend at the Temple of Heaven Park to advertise their single children with the hope of marrying them off.Forget online dating profiles, these eager parents come armed with paper profiles listing their children’s key attributes, likes, dislikes and what they hope to find in a future mate.Most of the profiles get the basics out of the way upfront, listing the candidates' height, weight, age, residence and job, before getting into any additional criteria. A few of the profiles have photos attached, but most are just a simple single sheet of paper.This is no-nonsense. In a culture where single men and women in their late-20s are considered over the hill, the parents’ desperate desire to match up their children is palpable.The resumes are lined up and the game begins. Parents shop around looking for a suitable match for their child, while also trying to entice other parents and promote their own child’s desirability.It’s unknown how successful this tactic really is, but the parents certainly seem to enjoy the process.The kicker: most of the children have no idea their parents are doing this!Not to miss out on the fun, middle-aged Chinese employ a similar method to find love. Just around the corner in the park, older men and women are handing out their own fliers and posters looking for their own match.

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Pastor Myles Munroe Remembered for Lessons of Leadership, Faith

Pastor Myles Munroe Remembered for Lessons of Leadership, Faith

MylesMunroeInternational/Facebook(FREEPORT, Bahamas) — Myles Munroe was prepared for a week of speeches and seminars, mentorship and inspiration.The pastor and motivational speaker, 60, had organized a Global Leadership Forum for Nov. 10-13 in his native Bahamas. The event will continue -- but under a cloud of sadness after a jet carrying Munroe and eight others crashed on approach near Grand Bahama International Airport Sunday, killing all on board.Munroe’s wife Ruth, who served as co-senior pastor of Bahamas Faith Ministries International Fellowship, also was among the victims. The two had been married for three decades. Senior vice president and pastor Richard Pinder also died in the crash, ABC News has learned.A statement was posted to Munroe’s Facebook page Sunday.“We would like to inform you that the Global Leadership Forum will continue,” the statement read. “This is what Dr. Munroe would have wanted. Please keep his family and the ministry in prayers.”Munroe's death was especially upsetting in his native Bahamas, and Prime Minister Perry G. Christie called the loss "utterly impossible to measure.""He was indisputably one of the most globally recognizable religious figures our nation has ever produced. His fame as an ambassador for the Christian ministry preceded him wherever in the world he traveled, whether in the Caribbean, North America, Asia, Europe or Africa. He was a towering force who earned the respect and admiration not only of Christian adherents but of secular leaders both here at home and around the world," Christie said in a statement.Munroe grew up in Bain Town, a suburb of Nassau, one of 11 children. He became a Christian during his teenage years and later attended Oral Roberts University, an Oklahoma-based Christian university, graduating in 1978 with degrees in fine arts, education and theology. He obtained a Master’s degree in administration from the University of Tulsa in 1980. He also served as an adjunct professor at Oral Roberts.Oral Roberts President William M. Wilson released a statement following Munroe’s death.“His energy and enthusiasm for imparting Spirit Empowered Christianity to new generations was contagious,” Wilson said in the statement. “Whether in a leadership gathering with those in highest authority or in Bahamas as a caring shepherd in a community of believers, Myles was always the same -- upbeat, positive, loving, full of faith and searching for any way possible to make Jesus known in our generation. His loss will be felt around the world as well as in our hearts here at ORU.”During his professional career, Munroe traveled to more than 100 countries and wrote dozens of books. His speeches addressed personal leadership, family structure, spiritual balance and principles.He discussed purpose in a 2003 speech.“You weren’t born just to live a life and to die, you were born to accomplish something specifically,” he said. “Matter of fact, success is making it to the end of your purpose, that is success. ...Success is not just existing, success is making it to the end of why you were born.”He also discussed the human lifespan and making the most of one’s life.“The value of life is not in its duration, but in its donation. You are not important because of how long you live, you are important because of how effective you live. And most people are concerned about growing old rather than being effective,” he said in 2003. “The people who have impacted the world didn’t live long. Martin Luther King. John F. Kennedy. These people who impact the world were not old people, but they lived so effectively that we cannot erase them from history.”Munroe and his wife had two children -- Charisa and Myles Jr., nicknamed “Chairo.”

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WATCH: China Greets World Leaders with Dancers, Lights, Neon Driveway

WATCH: China Greets World Leaders with Dancers, Lights, Neon Driveway

ABC News(BEIJING) — If you thought the 2008 Olympic opening games were impressive, wait until you see this.The arrival ceremony for global leaders at the APEC Summit dinner in Beijing was like no red carpet you’ve ever seen before.Elaborately, brightly costumed performers danced in unison with music blaring as limos drove down a street lit up in bright neon red.It was a show reminiscent of The Hunger Games.Wait until you see what President Obama and the other leaders were wearing: matching head-to-toe black with silk jackets of different colors (Obama was in a deep purple). It was a look rarely seen on international leaders.

M

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Investigation into Jet Crash That Killed Myles Munroe, 8 Others to Begin

Investigation into Jet Crash That Killed Myles Munroe, 8 Others to Begin

iStock/Thinkstock(FREEPORT, Bahamas) — A full investigation is slated to begin Monday, one day after a private Lear jet crashed on approach near Grand Bahama International Airport, killing everyone on board, including a prominent pastor and his wife.Dr. Myles Munroe and his wife Ruth were killed in the crash, according to Kelley Jackson, a spokeswoman from the Andrew J. Young Foundation. Munroe, 60, was a pastor, motivational speaker and the founder of Bahamas Faith Ministries International Fellowship. Ruth served as co-senior pastor."Ambassador Young expresses his deep sadness over the tragic death of his friends Dr. Myles and Mrs. Ruth Munroe," the organization posted on its Facebook page. "He offers condolences to the Munroe family and the families of the other souls who lost their lives as a result of this shocking plane crash."Senior vice president and pastor Richard Pinder also died in the crash, ABC News has learned.Members of Munroe’s organization sobbed and wailed when they learned of the crash.The group was traveling to the Bahamas to attend a Global Leadership Forum arranged by Munroe. That event will continue, according to a statement posted to Munroe’s Facebook page. “This is what Dr. Munroe would have wanted. Please keep his family and the ministry in prayers.”William M. Wilson, the President of Oral Roberts University, where Munroe was a student and later, adjunct professor, released a statement following Munroe’s death.“His energy and enthusiasm for imparting Spirit Empowered Christianity to new generations was contagious,” Wilson said in the statement.A spokesperson at the Bahamas Air accident investigation and prevention unit confirmed the crash to ABC News, but declined to identify the victims.It is not yet known what caused the crash.

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How Clapper’s Secret Mission to North Korea Came About

How Clapper’s Secret Mission to North Korea Came About

Alex Wong/Getty Images(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- When Director of National Intelligence James Clapper arrived secretly in North Korea this week he had no guarantees that he would be able to secure the release of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller.

In fact, all Clapper had when he arrived in Pyongyang was a brief letter of introduction from President Obama indicating he was his envoy seeking their release.

According to senior administration officials the U.S. and North Korea had been in discussions for weeks about the possibility of a visit to the reclusive country by a high-ranking U.S. official.

One of the officials said the North Koreans had sent the U.S. "very positive signals" that a visit would result in the release of the two American detainees.

One official described the North Korean outreach as a "very unique opportunity" and Obama approved Clapper's secret trip last week. The officials say Clapper had no guarantees from North Korea that he would be able to secure the release of Bae and Miller.

Despite the highly secret nature of the trip, the Obama administration briefed some members of Congress in advance and also notified the governments of Japan, South Korea and China.

Clapper cleared his schedule so he could undertake the risky trip. His cancelation of a pre-scheduled appearance at a New York think tank on Wednesday drew little attention. By then, Clapper was already enroute to North Korea aboard a U.S. military aircraft.

The officials said upon arrival, Clapper presented the North Koreans with a brief written message from Obama indicating that Clapper was his personal envoy to bring the two Americans home.

The officials said the short letter did not contain an apology "in any way, shape or form."

Clapper did not meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, instead his discussions were with North Korean security officials.

The official said Clapper's "sole purpose" was to bring Bae and Miller back to the U.S. and not to pursue any other diplomatic opening, particularly over North Korea's nuclear program.

Another senior administration official added that during his discussions with North Korean officials, Clapper was "prepared to listen to" whatever they said about the nuclear program but "he was not there to negotiate."

With Bae and Miller now back on American soil, the official said their release does still not address American concerns over the nuclear program.

North Korea has tested several small nuclear devices and last month the top U.S. commander on the Korean Peninsula said North Korea might now have the ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead that could be placed atop an intercontinental missile.

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Protestors Burn Down Front Doors of Mexico City’s National Palace

Protestors Burn Down Front Doors of Mexico City’s National Palace

Credit: Twitter/Lourdes Murguia(MEXICO CITY) -- Protests over the disappearance of 43 college students in southern Mexico turned violent Saturday night in Mexico City.

Protesters have burned down the front doors of Mexico City's national palace as a part of angry demonstrations against Mexico's corruption and drug violence.

The protests follow a comment by Mexico's attorney general on Friday, who cut off a news conference about the students' apparent murders by saying "enough, I'm tired."

The phrase has quickly become a hash tag on social networks and has appeared in graffiti, political cartoons, and YouTube videos.

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Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller Reach US

Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller Reach US

iStock/Thinkstock(TACOMA, Wash.) -- The two Americans released from captivity in North Korea have been reunited with their families in the United States.On Saturday night, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller landed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Washington. Also on the plane was National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who had traveled to Pyongyang, North Korea to secure their release.

Bae spoke briefly, saying, "It's been a tremendously difficult time for my family and then there are so many people who's been supporting them to stand strong during this time."

"Thank you for all your support and prayer and your love - that has really been encouraging for me and for others that, who are in the same shoes," he added.

Bae's sister, Terry Chung, thanked the White House for secretly negotiating her brother's release."For two years, it's been just unbelievable agony," Chung said, "We are thankful for President Obama, Secretary Kerry, for not forgetting Kenneth. They pledge their commitment to bring Kenneth home and here he is home with us."

Bae and Miller were the last two Americans who were being held by North Korea.

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Berlin Wall Came Down 25 Years Ago

Berlin Wall Came Down 25 Years Ago

iStock/Thinkstock(BERLIN) -- Sunday marks 25 years since the Berlin Wall came down.Built in the middle of the night Aug. 13, 1961, the wall divided East and West Germany for 28 years to stop East Germans from leaving the Soviet Union-occupied country for the capitalist western state.

Over the years, what began as a simple fence turned into a concrete wall that separated the capital and became a focal point of the Cold War.On Nov. 9, 1989, the East German government announced its citizens could move west. As people discovered guards were allowing crossings, East and West Germans began chipping the wall away.East and West Germany reunified into a single German state less than a year later.

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Thousands of Glowing Balloons Commemorate Fall of Berlin Wall

Thousands of Glowing Balloons Commemorate Fall of Berlin Wall

Cuneyt Karadag/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(BERLIN) -- Thousands of glowing balloons have taken over Berlin this weekend as Germany marks 25 years since the fall of the Berlin wall.

Called "Lichtgrenze 2014" -- German for "Light Border," the piece is made up of 8,000 individual glowing balloons that snake through Germany's capital.

The nine-mile chain of balloons follows the border that separated East and West Berlin.

The balloons will be released Sunday to signal the anniversary of the end of the country's 28-year division.

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A History of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller’s Captivity in North Korea

A History of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller’s Captivity in North Korea

iStock/Thinkstock(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- On Saturday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement saying Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, both U.S. citizens, have been released from North Korea.

Here is the history of Bae and Miller's captivity:

Nov. 3, 2012 -- Bae, a Korean-American missionary and tour operator, is arrested in North Korea.

April 2013 -- Bae, of Washington state, is sentenced to 15 years in a North Korean prison for allegedly trying to overthrow the North Korean state.July 3, 2013 -- Bae appears in a prison interview video. He looks "different and gaunt," says his mother, Myunghee Bae. Bae reportedly is suffering from diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems, back pain and a 50-pound weight loss.Oct. 11, 2013 -- Bae's mother, Myunghee Bae, arrives in Pyongyang. Bae and his mother were allowed to see each other for five days, according to Kenneth Bae's sister, Terri Chung.

Jan. 8, 2014 -- Bae's family members say they are "outraged" by former NBA star Dennis Rodman's comments suggesting that North Korea was right to detain Bae. "Dennis Rodman could do a lot of good by advocating for Kenneth to Kim Jong-un, but instead he has decided to hurl outrageous accusations at my brother, insinuating that Kenneth has done something sinister," said Bae's sister, Terri Chung. "He is clearly uninformed about Kenneth's case, and he is certainly not in any position to pass judgment on Kenneth Bae, who has never had any hostile intentions against the DPRK."

February 2014 -- Kim Jong-un's regime sends Bae to a North Korean labor camp in retaliation over supposed American B-52 bomber flight drills around the Korean peninsula.Jan. 20, 2014 -- Bae appears in a video from a North Korean prison calling for U.S. officials to secure his release, saying he hopes to be a "connecting bridge for the friendship” between North Korea and the western world. Bae makes the comments at what he calls a press conference held at his own request. Wearing a gray cap and inmate's uniform with the number 103 on his chest, Bae speaks in Korean. He tells reporters that he is not detained in Pyongyang without a reason and indeed he has committed a “serious crime.”

April 10, 2014 -- Miller is detained after entering North Korea in April and accused of committing "hostile acts" against the country. He is sentenced to a six-year jail term on charges of espionage.

June 30, 2014 -- North Korea prepares to bring two detained Americans to trial. Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle entered the country as tourists but stand accused of carrying out "hostile acts" against the country. "Investigation is continuously ongoing but [we are] preparing for a trial based on some already confirmed hostile acts," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reports.

Week of Nov. 3, 2014 -- Director of National Intelligence James Clapper cancels an event at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York to go to North Korea, a White House administration official told ABC News.Nov. 8, 2014 -- The Office of the Director of National Intelligence releases a statement saying Bae and Miller have been allowed to leave North Korea with U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. "We welcome the DPRK's decision to release both Mr. Bae and Mr. Miller," the statement read.

President Obama told reporters he is "grateful" for the Americans' safe return. "I think it's a wonderful day for them and their families," says Obama. "Obviously, we are very grateful for their safe return, and I appreciate Director Clapper doing a great job on what was obviously a challenging mission.”

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North Korea Releases American Prisoners

North Korea Releases American Prisoners

iStock/Thinkstock(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- Americans Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller have been released from North Korea and are on their way back to the United States.

According to U.S. officials, Bae and Miller are being accompanied by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The deal was brokered by a White House official.

Bae is a Korean-American missionary from Washington State who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for alleged anti-government acts. Miller, who is from California, was serving six years on charges of espionage and entering the country illegally. Bae had been held for two years and Miller was in captivity for seven months.

The State Department said in a statement, "The safety and welfare of U.S. citizens abroad is the Department of State’s highest priority, and the United States has long called on DPRK authorities to release these individuals on humanitarian grounds. We join their families and friends in welcoming them home."

In response to a shouted question at Loretta Lynch's Attorney General nomination Saturday, President Obama said, "I think it's a wonderful day for them and their families. Obviously we are very grateful for their safe return, and I appreciate Director Clapper doing a great job on what was obviously a challenging mission."

On Twitter Saturday, a group fighting for Bae's release thanked those who helped secure his freedom, writing, "The news IS real. We have been contacted and #KennethBae is now free. PRAISE GOD, and thanks to all who helped us #FreeKennethNow"

Bae and Miller were the last known Americans held by North Korea. A third American, Jeffrey Fowle, was unexpectedly released in October.

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Ceremonies in Philippines Mark One Year Anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan

Ceremonies in Philippines Mark One Year Anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan

iStock/Thinkstock(TACLOBAN, Philippines) -- Ceremonies are being held in the ravaged Philippine city of Tacloban Saturday, marking the one year anniversary of the devastating typhoon Haiyan.

Typhoon Haiyan leveled entire villages, leaving more than 7,300 people dead or missing in throughout the Philippines. On Saturday, candles lit up the streets, church bells rang, and sirens wailed across the central Philippine city.

Tacloban Mayor Mayor Alfred Romualdez spoke about the ongoing grieving process, saying, "Still a long way to go, but we're moving on. You know... And doing the best that we can."

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