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Firestorm in Italy over Racial Comments by Soccer Pundit

Firestorm in Italy over Racial Comments by Soccer Pundit

Jupiterimages/Creatas/Thinkstock(ROME) -- Comments by a sports commentator in Italy have caused a furor. Italy's government has called for an end to racism, after a leading soccer commentator and former coach said Italy lacked pride because there were too many young black players. Italy's social media erupted when during an awards ceremony, Milan AC coach and TV soccer pundit Arrigo Sacchi said "too many blacks" played in Italy's under-20 leagues and that Italy no longer had "dignity or pride."Sacchi's comments come less than three months after the head of the Italian Soccer Federation was barred from holding any position with the world soccer federation FIFA for six months over derogatory comments he made about black players. The latest controversy comes as British authorities investigate an incident in Paris where a video, now gone viral, shows Chelsea fans blocking a black passenger from getting on the subway while chanting, "We are racist and that's the way we like it."

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Ukraine Cease-Fire Continues to Hold, Despite Troop Deaths

Ukraine Cease-Fire Continues to Hold, Despite Troop Deaths

semakokal/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The cease-fire in Ukraine is holding up, despite the deaths of over 20 Ukrainian troops in Devaltseve, the strategic railroad town in the eastern part of the country. The Ukrainian government has made the decision to pull troops out of Devaltseve, a decision that many hope could allow that cease-fire to last just a little bit longer.A Pentagon spokesman said on Wednesday the administration is watching the situation in Ukraine closely, but ruled out U.S. military involvement.The violence is threatening the cease-fire agreement signed by Russian, Ukrainian and European leaders last week. Rear Admiral John Kirby said on Wednesday the recent violence has not changed U.S. strategy.“Our recognition here in the Pentagon is that a U.S. military solution is not going to be had here,” Kirby said. “What needs to happen is Moscow needs to abide by the agreement it signed up to.”The president of Ukraine will still have to go back to Kiev and explain why he is giving up the strategic town, which could undermine his ability to make concessions down the road.

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How Astronauts Prepare for a Space Walk at the International Space Station

How Astronauts Prepare for a Space Walk at the International Space Station

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- American astronauts Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts are preparing for their first space walk of Expedition 42 when the duo step outside the International Space Station on Friday. How does an astronaut prepare for a space walk? Practice. Terry Virts, who will be taking the first space walk of his career on Friday, tweeted a photo of himself trying out the suit he'll use when he and Wilmore embark on their six-and-a-half hour space walk. It will be Wilmore's second space walk. The duo will be working on new docking ports for future spacecraft that will arrive at the station. Friday's space walk is one of three that are scheduled to complete assembly work outside of the station. NASA said Wednesday that the duo had inspected their rescue jet packs, which would be used in the unlikely event that either astronaut became untethered from the space station. Virts, who is one of the most active tweeters at the International Space Station, also shared a snap of himself hooked up to various health monitors doing a routine health check-in before his big day.

Periodic Fitness Evaluation- riding the bike with a heart rate monitor, EKG, and blood pressure machine hooked up pic.twitter.com/m1EV8zGzlr

— Terry W. Virts (@AstroTerry) February 17, 2015

 

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Ukraine Village Pummeled, with Drone Photos as Evidence

Ukraine Village Pummeled, with Drone Photos as Evidence

iStock/Thinkstock(DEBALTSEVE, Ukraine) -- After weeks of assault from the air, Debaltseve looks like a burned-out shell of a town.Impact craters from heavy shelling pock the Ukrainian land. Several homes appear to lie in ruin, their roofs and walls collapsed or full of holes.On Wednesday, Ukraine pulled its troops out of the strategic village in the rebel-held east, home to important railway infrastructure, after they were surrounded for days by Russian-backed rebel forces.Despite a ceasefire agreed to last week, rebel forces continued to pound the village. Rebel leaders insisted that gains made before the ceasefire went into effect at midnight Sunday meant the village should be part of their territory because it was cut off from the rest of Ukraine.At least 40 Ukrainian troops were killed and another 170 injured, according to the manager of the morgue in the nearby town of Artemivsk and a doctor at the hospital there.

Reporters who attempted to reach Debaltseve over the past week were turned back at checkpoints.Now, thanks to drone footage uploaded to YouTube Wednesday, the world is getting its first glimpse of the damage from the air.The village appears nearly abandoned, with only a couple cars visible along the roads.The continued fighting there threatened to undermine the fragile peace deal.Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has painted the decision to cede Debaltseve as a strategic retreat, but leaders from the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, the main rebel body in the region, declared victory.The move comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin, long accused by the West and Ukraine’s government of arming and backing the rebels, urged President Poroshenko to pull out of Debaltseve.“I hope that the responsible figures in the Ukrainian leadership will not hinder soldiers in the Ukrainian army from putting down their weapons,” Putin told reporters.He suggested the rebels would allow that Ukrainian soldiers who turn themselves in to return to their families.Putin also took something of a victory lap, gloating over the negotiated stalemate that many believe favors the rebels.“To lose is always painful. It’s a hardship especially when you lose to yesterday’s miners and tractor drivers. But life is life,” he reportedly said.The Ukrainian withdrawal from Debaltseve gave some hope that the ceasefire might hold a bit longer, but some fighting continues elsewhere.Western journalists in Donetsk reported fresh sounds of shelling in central Donetsk, the rebel capital.An ABC News reporter crossing from Donetsk through a Ukrainian checkpoint Wednesday witnessed artillery fire and was told it was aimed at the Donetsk airport.

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Scuba Divers Discover ‘Priceless’ Gold Coins in Israel

Scuba Divers Discover ‘Priceless’ Gold Coins in Israel

File photo. (robynmac/iStock/Thinkstock)(JERUSALEM) -- Scuba divers off the coast of Israel have uncovered a treasure trove of solid gold coins dating back more than 1,000 years.“The largest treasure of gold coins discovered in Israel was found in recent weeks on the seabed in the ancient harbor in Caesarea,” Israel's Antiquities Authority said in a statement.The authority said 2,000 gold coins were discovered by chance off the northern coastal city when members of a diving club stumbled upon them and informed the Antiquities Authority's marine division.“At first, they thought they had spotted a toy coin from a game," the authority's statement said. "It was only after they understood the coin was the real thing that they collected several coins and quickly returned to the shore in order to inform the director of the dive club about their find.”Using metal detectors, the 2,000 coins were brought to the surface, weighing in at just more than 13 pounds. Experts believe the coins belonged to the Fatimid Caliphate, which ruled much of the Middle East and North Africa from 909 to 1171.The earliest coin was minted in Palermo, Sicily in the second half of the 9th century.Given the possibility of more buried coins in the area, archaeologists have launched further excavations.“I’ve been working at the authority for 23 years and I’ve never seen a cache this size," Antiquities Authority coin expert Robert Kool told Haaretz. "The preservation of the gold coins is excellent and although they were in the seabed for 1,000 years, they needed no cleaning or preservation in the lab. That is because gold is a noble metal, which is not impacted by water or air.”The authority didn't put a cash value on the coins. Instead, spokeswoman Yoli Schwartz described the record haul to AFP simply as "priceless."

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Close Call: Astronomers Pinpoint Nearest Known Flyby of a Star

Close Call: Astronomers Pinpoint Nearest Known Flyby of a Star

Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester(ROCHESTER, N.Y.) -- Astronomers have pinpointed the closest flyby ever of a dim star, which is believed to have passed through the solar system's cloud of comets around 70,000 years ago.Considering the vast abyss of space, this was a close encounter. At its nearest point, the newly discovered Scholz's star was believed to have been 0.8 light years from the solar system -- that's about five trillion miles.The only other star that has ever gotten closer to Earth is the sun. Scholz's star and the sun are now 20 light years apart, according to astronomers at the University of Rochester. The findings were published in Astrophysical Journal Letters and were a collaboration from a team spanning the globe.Eric Mamajek from the University of Rochester and the group closely studied the velocity and the path of the dim star."The small tangential motion and proximity initially indicated that the star was most likely either moving towards a future close encounter with the solar system, or it had 'recently' come close to the solar system and was moving away," he said in a statement."Sure enough, the radial velocity measurements were consistent with it running away from the sun's vicinity -- and we realized it must have had a close flyby in the past," he added.

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UN Report: Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan Up 22% in 2014

UN Report: Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan Up 22% in 2014

MatthewBrosseau/iStock/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The number of Afghan civilians who were killed or wounded as a result of the ongoing conflict in their country rose 22 percent in 2014 from the prior year, mostly due to an increase in ground fighting, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) announced on Wednesday.In its 2014 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, UNAMA says there were 10,548 civilian casualties -- 3,699 deaths and 6,849 injuries -- in Afghanistan last year, marking the highest total recorded in a single year since 2009.Another first since 2009: More civilian casualties were caused by ground engagements than by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or any other tactic. According to the 122-page report, civilian deaths and injuries from ground fighting jumped 54 percent in 2014, making it the leading cause of casualties.“In communities across Afghanistan, increased ground fighting among parties to the conflict and more IED attacks exacted a heavy toll on Afghan civilians,” United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA Nicholas Haysom said in a statement. “Rising civilian deaths and injuries in 2014 attests to a failure to fulfil commitments to protect Afghan civilians from harm." "Parties to the conflict should understand the impact of their actions and take responsibility for them, uphold the values they claim to defend, and make protecting civilians their first priority," Haysom added. "We need to see concrete steps and a real drop in civilian casualties in 2015.”Since 2009, UNAMA says the conflict in Afghanistan has killed 17,774 civilians and injured 29,971 others.

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Egypt Asking UN to Form Coalition to Defeat ISIS

Egypt Asking UN to Form Coalition to Defeat ISIS

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The United Nations Security Council is meeting Wednesday to discuss a request by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to build an international coalition to fight the Islamic State.El-Sisi's request comes after Egyptian war jets bombed ISIS targets in Libya following the group's mass execution of 21 Egyptian Christians in that country, which has been in a constant state of upheaval since dictator Muammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in 2011.Although most of the international community agrees that ISIS poses a major threat to regions outside the Middle East, creating a large coalition to fight the extremists appears unlikely.It's believed that el-Sisi probably knows this already but is using efforts to defeat ISIS as a way to smooth relations with the West following the military coup that ultimately brought him to power.Just the same, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will present his government's arguments to the U.N. Security Council. The ministry is also warning Egyptians living in Libya to return home.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Putin Tells Ukrainian Military to Surrender in Key City

Putin Tells Ukrainian Military to Surrender in Key City

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin interjected himself directly into the conflict between Ukrainian national forces and rebels in eastern Ukraine Tuesday, when he urged Kiev to allow its soldiers to surrender in the battle-scarred city of Debaltseve.Although a ceasefire that went into effect Sunday has reduced fighting elsewhere, Debaltseve has remained under siege because it links the separatist strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk with Russia, which has been providing rebels with military support.Under terms of the deal, both sides were supposed to remove heavy artillery from Debaltseve, but neither has. While conceding its troops are surrounded and confirming reports that rebels have taken control of parts of Debaltseve, Ukrainian officials contend that the city is still within its territory under terms of the temporary armistice.Putin's appeal to Kiev, which also includes a plea to rebels to allow Ukrainian soldiers to leave Debaltseve unhindered, is just the latest salvo in the conflict that has cost 5,300 lives since last April.In Washington, the State Department said it was "gravely concerned" about the situation in Debaltseve, while at the same time arguing that it makes no sense to begin a proxy war with Russia. That could be a signal that President Obama is leaning against providing Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons, as some military and political leaders are in favor of doing.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jewish Schools and Synagogues in UK Warned to Increase Security Measures

Jewish Schools and Synagogues in UK Warned to Increase Security Measures

Mapics/iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Jewish schools and synagogues in the United Kingdom have been warned to increase security measures after the shootings in Denmark, despite a recent increase of patrols in areas with large Jewish communities since the Paris attacks. "The global picture of terrorist activity does give us heightened concern about the risk to the Jewish community in the U.K.,” Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley of the National Policing Lead for Counter Terrorism said in a statement this week. “In addition to our existing security measures, we are in dialogue with Jewish community leaders about further actions that we will be taking, including more patrols in key areas,” Rowley said. British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the $3.5 million funding for security around schools would be maintained next year, and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is considering stepping up security measures around Jewish schools. The number of anti-Semitic offenses reported has more than doubled in a year -- from 535 in 2013 to 1,168 in 2014, according to the Community Security Trust, a charity that aims to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community in the U.K. However, several representatives of the Jewish community in London told ABC News that they felt safe and believe security measures are only one part of the issue. "It is very clear that Jewish institutions are targets," Rabbi Menachem Margolin, general director of the European Jewish Association, told ABC News. "Jewish institutions should be under surveillance 24/7." Vivian Wireman, president of the U.K.'s Board of Deputies of British Jews, said such a request "is not sensible.” “Jews in the U.K. are living in a safe environment," Wireman said, "although there is a danger of copycat attacks, British Jews shouldn’t be too concerned.” Rabbi Barry Marcus of London’s Central Synagogue said, "Why is security needed around religious sites in 2015? The root of the problem is not being confronted. We need preventive measures and we need strong leadership, which is not the case everywhere." In France, where 300 Jewish graves were vandalized this week, increased security measures are also being discussed. "It is important to protect sites of the Jewish community, but it is not enough," Sacha Ghozlan, leader of the French Jewish Student Union, told ABC News. "We want the government to put in place education measures. Currently, our values and the values of the French Republic are being flouted by Internet propaganda and anti-Semitism."

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Ancient Wine Discovery In Israel

Ancient Wine Discovery In Israel

alexeys/iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- A wine discovery for the ages in southern Israel.

Archaeologists digging through the ruins of an ancient garbage dump have discovered 1,500-year-old charred grape seeds. Researchers believe the seeds were used to make one of the finest wines of the Byzantine Empire, what historical records called the "Gaza Wine" after the nearby port. Excavations at the Halutza site had already uncovered wineries and storage jugs, but the seeds are the first grape seeds according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. Researchers plan to sequence the DNA of the grape seeds to determine their origin and recreate the wine that was so famous, but didn't survive the ravages of time.

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Possible American Accent Detected in ISIS Horror Video

Possible American Accent Detected in ISIS Horror Video

Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) -- U.S. intelligence officials are analyzing facial features and speech patterns of the masked man who spoke in a recent ISIS video to determine who he is, and if he could be one of ISIS’s American recruits, according to a senior U.S. official. The masked man speaks briefly in the video, which purports to show the gruesome execution of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya, declaring that ISIS’s Libyan affiliate is “on the south of Rome,” an apparent reference to ISIS’s expansion into Libya and the threat it poses to the West. Professor Erik Thomas, a linguistics expert at North Carolina State University, told ABC News that based on distinctive word pronunciations, “he sounds like an American” with some Arabic influence. Another linguistic expert from another American university, who requested he not be named, said the masked man may be a native Arabic speaker but came to learn American English likely by spending a “significant amount of time” in the U.S. As in the hunt for the ISIS fighter dubbed “Jihadi John,” U.S. officials are conducting detailed analysis of the clues on the video. In the “Jihadi John” videos, believed to have been shot in Syria, authorities say they have been able to identify that masked figure with a British accent who appeared to murder Western journalists and aid workers. He is believed to be a British citizen, officials say, though he has not been publicly named. The potential role of an American ISIS recruit – which would not be a first for the terror group -- comes as the White House on Tuesday began a three-day effort with community leaders to stem the flow of the terror pipeline from the U.S. to the Middle East. One front on which ISIS has been successful in recruitment, analysts and U.S. officials have said, is on social media. J.M. Berger, terrorism expert and author of a forthcoming book on ISIS, estimates that the group has 30,000 to 40,000 supporters active online every day. The U.S. State Department has attempted to counter ISIS propaganda by engaging would-be jihadis one-on-one online, sometimes by calling adult ISIS fighters cowards who use women recruits only for sex. Some analysts say the U.S. campaign of insults misses the mark. “It’s not impacting the people who may be inspired by the ISIS ideology and will carry out attacks on its behalf,” said John Cohen, former Counterterrorism Coordinator at the Department of Homeland Security and current ABC News consultant.

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Inside a Northern India Temple Where Women Are Exorcised to Tame Their ‘Ghosts’

Inside a Northern India Temple Where Women Are Exorcised to Tame Their ‘Ghosts’

ABC News(MALAJPUR, India) -- Screams rang out from the temple of Guru Deoji in Northern India. It was the sounds of a woman who seemed to be begging for mercy. The woman, believed by her husband to be possessed by demons, was undergoing an exorcism. And she is far from being the only one. Locals in Malajpur, India, where the temple is located, say thousands of women have been brought to the temple by their husbands or family members over the years to submit to a reclusive guru and his disciples who claim to drive off demons and restore sanity for a fee. Exorcisms can involve the women being shouted at, their hair pulled and even beaten. ABC News' Nightline obtained a video that captured an exorcism ritual at the temple in which women were beaten with a broom. To get rid of ghosts, rural India has traditionally relied on gurus claiming to have supernatural powers who the husbands or family of the possessed pay in exchange to have their loved ones exorcised. V.B. Rawat, an activist and author who has written about social development in India, said it’s all a sham. “It is an attempt to keep people subjugated for years in the name of tradition, in the name of religion, so they do not question the wrongs done to them,” Rawat said. Most often, he said, it’s the women who are wronged. “These kinds of things are used against women....A woman can easily be declared as a witch.” Rawat is a so-called “rationalist,” meaning someone who works to expose “black magic,” and it’s dangerous work in India. Last year, a rationalist named Narenda Dabholkar was shot twice in the head at close range on his morning walk by two assailants on a motorcycle, according to the Times of India. Dabholkar was mobilizing public support for a new law against superstition in the state legislature at the time. Nightline set out on a journey with Rawat to Guru Deoji’s temple in Malajpur to see what was going on. While at the temple, a woman named Krishna said she had lived there for one year because her husband believes she is possessed. He said he believes his wife’s own ghost abuses her and won’t let her have a son. “She gets aggressive, she can’t speak,” her husband said in Hindi. During an exorcism by the guru, Krishna’s eyes went wild, her body slacked, but it was over quickly. When the guru finally agreed to talk to Nightline on the second day, he said through a translator that the “temple heals,” not him, and he is more of a caretaker who channels the powers of gurus before him. He also claimed that women he performed exorcisms on later gave birth to sons. But on that day, a group of rationalists arrived, saying they were there to stage an intervention on the guru and expose him as a fraud. The guru refused to perform any exorcisms until the group left. Within minutes, the temple was shut down and the doors closed. On the third day, Nightline was allowed back as the only outsiders in the temple. Inside, men and women separated and the chanting began as the guru’s disciples prepared the exorcism on women ready to submit. “People who will watch her will say it is the ghost who is beaten up, not the woman. The problem is it is the woman who is beaten up,” Rawat said. “I call it a celebration of ignorance.” One after the other, women approached and bowed down before the temple’s altar, as they were shouted at and had their hair pulled. All the while, one of the guru’s disciples demanded demons leave the women’s bodies. It was a frantic, desperate scene. But Krishna said she will keep coming back until she is certain her demon is gone.

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Murder of Turkish Woman Sparks Debate over Death Penalty

Murder of Turkish Woman Sparks Debate over Death Penalty

iStock/Thinkstock(ISTANBUL) -- The recent murder of a young Turkish woman is sparking nationwide debate as to whether the country should reinstitute the death penalty.Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004. However, some are calling for its return amid demonstrations in remembrance of the victim, Ozgecan Aslan. The body of the 20-year-old was found burned and suffering from multiple stab wounds.So far, there are three suspects in custody in connection with her killing.

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Despite Horror in Libya, Experts Warn Against Military Action

Despite Horror in Libya, Experts Warn Against Military Action

iStock/Thinkstock(CAIRO) -- As Egypt’s Coptic Christian community mourned the 21 Egyptians beheaded by the Libyan affiliates of ISIS, Egypt’s president called for a United Nations resolution mandating an international intervention in Libya -- a move experts argue may plunge Libya deeper into crisis."We will not allow them to cut off the heads of our children,” Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi told France’s Europe 1 Radio on Tuesday.

"There is no other choice,” he added. "We have to work together to defeat terrorism."Sisi referred to the 2011 NATO campaign which launched airstrikes directed at former dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s troops and imposed a no-fly zone over parts of the country, an “unfinished mission” that "abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners to extremist militias."In the nearly four years since Gadhafi was killed in Libya, the country has been plagued by instability giving birth to those opportunistic militant groups nationwide and two rival governments locked in an escalating -- and increasingly complicated -- civil war.“The options going forward -- from a U.S. and NATO perspective -- are all bad," said Chris Chivvis, the associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center and a senior political scientist at the Rand Corporation.The U.N.-backed international intervention Sisi called for on Tuesday doesn’t appear to have the support of Libya, nor its neighbors across the Mediterranean."This is the job of the Libyan armed forces currently, what we need now is support from other countries, including arms support,” Libyan military spokesperson Col. Ahmed Al-Mosmari told Ahram Online Tuesday, lobbying for an end to an arms embargo.

Part of the internationally recognized government based out of Tobruk, Libya, Al-Mosmari stopped short of asking for foreign boots on the ground, but said all options were on the table as Libya plots its next move.Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzo played down talk of Italian involvement in a military operation, after initially warning his European allies to “stop sleeping” as the extremists grow stronger just 500 miles south from Italy’s southern tip."We've been saying at every level that Libya is out of control for three years and we'll keep doing so,” Renzi told Mediaset.He added on Tuesday, after a meeting with his top ministers: "There was renewed Italian commitment for strong diplomatic action within the framework of the U.N. and support for an urgent initiative at the Security Council to promote stability and peace in Libya."Italian and European reticence to commit to any kind of international intervention is a combination of both politics and economics, explains Frederic Wehry, senior associate, Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"Libya is bad, but they also have Ukraine to worry about," he said, questioning the details of the unlikely U.N.-backed force, where it would deploy and who would foot the bill."It is not for today to consider any contribution of the European Union to any sort of military action," EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini made clear to reporters in Madrid.

"Daesh is a threat to the entire country, to all Libyans and that will require a joint action to face the threat in Libya," she added, saying she would discuss possibilities with both the United States and Egypt later this week.But regardless of leadership, any kind of military action aimed at ISIS, Wehry says, would likely add oil to the domestic fire already blazing -- not help extinguish it. For example, each side could use the threat to take advantage, expanding the target set to include political opponents.Experts say the key is to establish a cease-fire and a unity government but the means to those ends remain murky as the battlefield lines continue to blur. Though skeptical, Wehry puts his money on the U.N.-brokered peace talks that kicked off in Geneva last month but success depends on keeping pragmatic players from all sides at the table.“Ending the civil war must be first and foremost -- but the question is how do you solve the terrorism problem without stressing existing political fissures? You don’t want to empower the militias -- you don’t want to take sides because that could derail the democratic transition,” Wehry said.He added, “the risk of failure [of an international military intervention] is very, very high."

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Taxi Drivers in Italy Protest Uber Car Service

Taxi Drivers in Italy Protest Uber Car Service

iStock/Thinkstock(ROME) -- Taxi drivers across Italy are taking to the streets to protest against Uber taking off in Europe. The drivers say the car service is thriving due to unfair competition. They are demanding authorities apply the same rules to Uber drivers as are applied to taxi drivers -- first and foremost, paying taxes on their income.The protests were sparked by a court decision against a police officer who had confiscated an Uber driver's license and fined him more than $2,000 for acting like a pirate taxi. But Italy's taxi unions are a force to contend with. Despite widespread complaints about long taxi waits due to too few cars in Rome, the unions have successfully blocked liberalizing the market.

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More than a Dozen Electrocuted on Parade Float at Haiti’s Carnival

More than a Dozen Electrocuted on Parade Float at Haiti’s Carnival

Instagram/iamtico(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) -- More than a dozen people were killed and dozens others injured in an electrical accident on a Carnival float in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Thousands of parade specatators were on the streets Tuesday and watched as a power line fell onto a packed float carrying a hip hop group called Barikad Crew in the Champ de Mars, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). One group member, who performs under the name Fantom, was hit directly by the live wire and is now in critical condition, the Haiti Press Network reports.

A doctor in charge of emergency operations for Haiti's Carnival celebration, Dr. Claude Surena, said the death toll could rise, but so far 15 are dead.

"Our teams are continuing to collect information at our health centers," AFP quotes Surena as saying.

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Life on Earth May Have Begun Earlier than Believed

Life on Earth May Have Begun Earlier than Believed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The earliest life forms may have blossomed on Earth one billion years earlier than previously thought.Working together, scientists at the University of Washington and the University of Johannesburg in South Africa found evidence that life may have thrived on Earth 3.2 billion years ago, upending the belief that Earth's atmosphere at the time was uninhabitable.The study is based on an analysis of 52 rock samples collected in South Africa and northwestern Australia and range in age from 2.75 to 3.2 billion years old.Roger Buick, a University of Washington professor and co-author of the article that was published Monday in the journal Nature, said the rock samples his team analyzed showed that there was plenty of nitrogen 3.2 billion years ago to sustain the most basic life forms, including bacteria, viruses and other organisms.While life can exist without oxygen, nitrogen is an essential building block for genes."People always had the idea that the really ancient biosphere was just tenuously clinging on to this inhospitable planet, and it wasn't until the emergence of nitrogen fixation that suddenly the biosphere become large and robust and diverse," Buick told UW Today.

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Mysterious Mars Haze Puzzles Scientists

Mysterious Mars Haze Puzzles Scientists

JPL/NASA/STScI(NEW YORK) -- A mysterious large plume that has been observed intermittently around Mars is baffling astronomers.The cloud was first observed by amateur astronomers in March 2012, quickly appearing and then vanishing. A second iteration of the haze followed the same pattern in April of the same year and stretched more than 600 miles across the thin Martian atmosphere, according to scientists.What the features had in common was how they developed over the span of just a few hours and remained visible for around 10 days, with the structure consistently changing.The haze was not photographed by spacecraft orbiting Mars at the time because of "their viewing geometries and illumination conditions at the time," the European Space Agency said.An image taken by the Hubble Telescope on May 17, 1997, reveals a similar cloud lingering high in Mars' atmosphere. Scientists are now studying the image and comparing it to the ones taken by amateur astronomers in the spring of 2012.Agustin Sanchez-Lavega, the lead author on a paper about the Mars mystery published in the journal Nature, said that while there isn't an official explanation, he has several theories about what may have caused the haze."One idea we've discussed is that the features are caused by a reflective cloud of water-ice, carbon dioxide-ice or dust particles, but this would require exceptional deviations from standard atmospheric circulation models to explain cloud formations at such high altitudes," he said.Another theory: The haze may be an auroral emission.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Why ISIS’ Deadly Attacks Could Backfire

Why ISIS’ Deadly Attacks Could Backfire

Oleg Zabielin/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Egyptian warplanes bombed ISIS positions in Libya early Monday, a day after the militant group posted a video online showing the apparent beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian hostages. The beheadings in Libya are the most recent strikes carried out by ISIS in countries once thought to be beyond their reach. But many have begun to wonder whether ISIS’ tactics will backfire: As their willingness to attack countries beyond their traditional territory grows, so too does the list of countries willing to confront the militant group. "It’s clear that it is backfiring," Matt Olsen, former Director of National Counter Terrorism Center who is now a contributor for ABC News, said "as we see more countries taking more aggressive tactics against ISIS.” Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who seized power in a 2013 military coup, vowed to “avenge the criminal killings” on Egyptian State TV Sunday night. Hours later, a spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces Command released a statement claiming they had struck four ISIS positions in the eastern city of Derna, killing about 50 militants, marking the first time Egypt had taken direct military involvement in Libya, a country still struggling to overcome a power vacuum brought on by the NATO backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. “Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them,” the statement said. With the airstrikes carried out today, Egypt added its name to the growing list of countries willing to confront the militant group that now controls swaths of Iraq and Syria. The Egyptian response closely tracks that of other countries that have been targeted by ISIS. On Feb. 3, Jordan vowed revenge for the brutal killing of Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh, and launched its own air campaign against the militants. Officials in Yemen have begun contemplating a response to ISIS’ growing efforts to recruit militants in their country. The United States, which began its air campaign against ISIS in September 2014, listed 63 countries in its coalition to fight ISIS, although the bar for inclusion is apparently low, with most countries supplying humanitarian aid or promising to curtail the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria. Australia, Bahrain, Great Britain, France, Germany, Iran (which is not formally listed in the U.S. coalition), Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan, and the Syrian Government remain the most active countries combating ISIS besides the United States. Many fear attacks like the one in Libya help spread the ISIS brand of jihad in areas already reeling from upheavals caused by the Arab Spring. More than 20,000 foreigners from more than 90 countries have joined ISIS, according to a testimony by Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counter Terrorism Center. “The whole point is to draw everyone into the conflict,” J.M. Berger, author of the forthcoming "State of Terror," told ABC News. “They thrive on chaos and see a massive multipolar war as an ideal environment from which to seed the caliphate.” While Olsen of the National Counter Terrorism Center believes the brutality of ISIS attacks helps galvanize the world against ISIS, he admitted “they may obtain some tactical gains in potentially gaining more recruits.” Olsen also cautions that air campaigns alone are unlikely to defeat ISIS: “that will require a sustained presence on the ground.” Concerns over ISIS’ attacking more countries outside their traditional territory have reached as far as Italy. In the video depicting the apparent beheading of 21 Egyptian hostages in Libya, an ISIS militant points northward and says, “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.”

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