banner banner
Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved.
South Jersey's News Talk Leader!
Radio You Can Depend On!
ABC World

Subscribe To This Feed

Hector Vivas/LatinContent/Getty Images(MEXICO CITY) — Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto and Donald Trump are now offering slightly different accounts of what happened in their closed-door meeting Wednesday afternoon.

During a joint press conference that immediately followed their meeting, Trump said, "we didn't discuss who pays for the wall," referring to Trump's campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

But Nieto took to Twitter Wednesday evening to give his account. In two tweets written in Spanish posted more than an hour after the press conference, Nieto wrote that "at the beginning of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall." From there, the conversation turned to other topics and continued in a "respectful manner," he wrote.

A spokesman for the Mexican President's office confirmed some details about how the meeting unfolded that shows that both men may technically be right. The details were first reported by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed to ABC News.

Eduardo Sanchez, Peña Nieto’s spokesman, said that the Mexican president started the meeting by making a statement which included the direct declaration that his country would not be paying for the wall. Sanchez said that Trump did not directly respond to the statement, so there was "no discussion," as Trump said later.

At the press conference, Trump was asked directly about whether or not the topic of payment plans came up when the two men met.

"We did discuss the wall, we did not discuss payment of the wall that’ll be for a later date. This was a very preliminary meeting. I think it was an excellent meeting," Trump said at the press conference.

Trump's campaign team released a statement reiterating Trump's version of events, and defending the avoidance of any money talk.

"Today was the first part of the discussion and a relationship builder between Mr. Trump and President Peña Nieto. It was not a negotiation, and that would have been inappropriate. It is unsurprising that they hold two different views on this issue, and we look forward to continuing the conversation," the campaign's senior communications adviser, Jason Miller, said in a statement.

Hillary Clinton's team reacted to the press conference, and addressed the claim that Trump and Nieto did not discuss the wall.

"What we saw today from a man who claims to be the ultimate ‘deal maker’ is that he doesn’t have the courage to advocate for his campaign promises when he’s not in front of a friendly crowd," Clinton campaign chair John Podesta said in a statement.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

JOHNNY EGGITT/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) — Wednesday marks 19 years since Princess Diana tragically died at the age of 36 inside the Pont D'Alma tunnel in Paris.

Diana, known as "The People's Princess" was not afraid to tackle the most difficult of issues, breaking down barriers as she traveled the world, attempting to end the stigma of HIV/AIDS and drawing attention to humanitarian issues for those who were voiceless. Her kind heart and common touch changed millions of lives around the world, forever changing the face of the monarchy.

The U.K. and the world loved her for it and expressed their outpouring of grief at her untimely death. Nearly two decades later, well-wishers remembered her Wednesday by laying cards, flowers and messages of love at the gates of Kensington Palace, just as they did on that fateful day in 1997.

Diana's two sons, Princes William and Harry, Wednesday remembered their mother privately.

William, 34, and Harry, 31, are carrying on their mother's charitable legacy, making sure the world never forgets their mother’s work. William has taken over his mother's role at the homeless charity Centrepoint and is president of the Royal Marsden Hospital. Harry is now patron of Diana's anti-landmine charity, the Halo Trust.

Both young princes are also supporting the Diana Award, an anti-bullying charity set up in their late mother's name.

Prince Harry spoke movingly about his mother to ABC News' Robin Roberts earlier this year.

"We will do everything we can to make sure that she's never forgotten and carry on all the special gifts, as such, that she had and that she portrayed while she was alive," Harry said of Princess Diana.

Like their mother, who changed the world in so many ways, Harry and William are harnessing that power to draw attention to their charitable work.

"I hope that a lot of my mother's talents are shown in a lot of the work that I do,” Harry told Roberts.

Prince Harry formed the charity Sentebale, or "Forget Me Not," in honor of Princess Diana to aid the vulnerable African children of Lesotho, many of whom are struggling with AIDS. Diana famously changed the perception of HIV/AIDS in her lifetime.

"I hope she's looking down, you know, with tears in her eyes, being incredibly proud of what we've established, I suppose," Harry said of his mother. "I'm sure she's longing for me to have kids so she can be a grandmother again.

"I hope that everything we do privately and officially, that it makes her proud," he added. "I think losing your mother at such a young age does end up shaping your life massively. Of course, it does, and now I find myself trying to be there and give advice to other people who are in similar positions."

William and Harry recently opened up about how difficult it was after their mother's death, in hopes of helping other children who are dealing with their own grief.

William sympathized with a 14-year-old boy last week who lost his own mother, telling the boy, "I know how you feel. I miss my mother every day. It's okay to feel sad."

Harry expressed his regret last month at a mental health event about not opening up about his mother's death sooner.

"I really regret not ever talking about it," Harry said at a Kensington Palace barbecue he hosted in support of Heads Together, a mental health charity he founded with William and Princess Kate. "It's OK to suffer as long as you talk about it."

William and Harry were just young children when Diana did but William now has children of his own. His children, 1-year-old Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, named after Diana, and 2-year-old Prince George, would have been Diana's first grandchildren. William is raising his two children much the same way Diana raised William and Harry, by giving them as normal life as possible in the glare of the royal spotlight.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New research on fossils found in Greenland suggests there was life on Earth at least 220 million years before scientists had previously thought, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Researchers found evidence for ancient life from a "newly exposed outcrop" of 3.7 billion-year-old metacarbonate rocks in southwest Greenland, according to the study.

These rocks contained stromatolites, or layered structures produced by microorganism communities that trapped and bound sediments.

Stromatolites are the most persistent evidence of life in Earth's history, according to the study by an international team of scientists.

The stromatolites found at the site in Greenland pre-date what was previously thought to be the oldest evidence of life remains by 220 million years, according to the researchers.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

1971yes/iStock/Thinkstock(HAVANA) -- For the first time in more than 50 years, a scheduled commercial flight from the United States has landed in Cuba. JetBlue Flight 387 touched down in Santa Clara, Cuba, at around 11 a.m. after departing Ft. Lauderdale earlier this morning with 150 people on board.

The passengers on board the Airbus A320 were mostly members of the media, airline executives and other VIPs, but about 60 people are regular travelers, lucky to be a part of a historic diplomatic event.

The flight was short-lived, lasting just over an hour, but the significance and fanfare surrounding it was substantial.

Before departing, the plane received a water cannon salute, a long tradition in celebrating a ship's or aircraft's special occasion.


And the water cannon salute for the inaugural commercial flight to Cuba. JetBlue 387 departing momentarily.

— Jeffrey Cook (@JeffreyCook) August 31, 2016

JetBlue said passengers will enjoy an in-flight bingo game and giveaways. JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes is also expected to give remarks.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced on Twitter Tuesday that he too would be on board the flight.


Today, I'm excited to announce that I'll be on the first scheduled commercial flight in more than half a century. #Cuba

— Anthony Foxx (@SecretaryFoxx) August 29, 2016

Remarks and receptions will bookend the outbound flight before JetBlue Flight 388 makes its return to the U.S., where it is scheduled to land at 3:35 p.m. in Fort Lauderdale.

The pilots in charge of the first pair of flights between the countries are Captain Mark Luaces and First Officer Francisco Barreras.

Luaces, born in Miami, is the son of Cuban parents who came to the U.S. as teenagers. Barreras is also the son of two Cuban parents who came to the U.S. in 1961. His great-uncle was a general manager for Pan Am in Havana. Another family member was a pilot for the Castro family.

American Airlines, the U.S.'s largest carrier, will fly to Cuba on Sept. 7.

Ten U.S.-based airlines that have now been approved for scheduled service to the island are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country and United Airlines.

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Calling it a “joke,” U.S. defense officials pushed back strongly against the Russian Defense Ministry's claim that a Russian airstrike, not an American one, killed a top ISIS leader in Syria.

Russia’s defense ministry said Wednesday in a statement that Abu Muhammad al-Adnani was among roughly 40 ISIS fighters killed when a Russian Su-34 bomber struck a large group of ISIS militants in Maaratat-Um-Haush in northern Aleppo province.

But Russia’s version of events is at odds with the Pentagon's statement Tuesday that al-Adnani had been targeted by a "precision airstrike" near Al-Bab in Aleppo Province.

Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, said the United States was "still assessing the results of the strike.”

“The report is not credible,” a U.S. defense official said of the Russian claim of credit.

“It’s a joke” another defense official said bluntly. "It would be funny if not for the character of the campaign the Russians have undertaken in Syria.”

U.S. officials have often criticized Russia's use of non-precision weapons in Syria that have resulted in civilian casualties.

Al-Adnani was targeted Tuesday in a daylight drone strike as he rode in a vehicle with at least one other ISIS combatant,” according to two U.S. defense officials.

That contradicts the Russian claim that he was killed among a large group of ISIS fighters.

The U.S. officials said the assessment of the results of the drone strike will continue.

ISIS's media arm, the Amaq news agency, first reported al-Adnani's death Tuesday in a social media post, stating he had been killed while inspecting troops in Aleppo.

Al-Adnani was one of the U.S. top targets among ISIS's leadership, overseeing the group’s elaborate propaganda operations and credited with masterminding its strategy of staging terror attacks abroad, including the Nov. 13 Paris attacks and the airport attacks in Brussels and Istanbul.

Al-Adnani’s death would be a coup for both sides fighting to destroy the Islamic State, also known as ISIL. Russian and U.S. aircraft have delivered thousands of strikes against the group, though U.S. bombing has been more focused on its fighters in Iraq.

“Al-Adnani’s removal from the battlefield would be a significant blow to ISIL,” Cook said Monday.

Cook described Adnani as the “principal architect” of ISIS’s external operations.

A Syrian national born Taha Sobhi Falaha, al-Adnani was a core member of ISIS, considered by some as second only to leader Abu Bakir al-Baghdadi.

Al-Adnani shaped the terror group’s use of gruesome propaganda that has become its hallmark, as well as its calls for attacks abroad, including by so-called lone-wolf attackers, according to terrorism experts and U.S. intelligence officials.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images(SAO PAULO) -- Embattled Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was booted from office once and for all after a Senate impeachment vote Wednesday.

Sixty-one senators voted in favor of permanently removing Rousseff from office; 20 voted against her impeachment.

She had been suspended from office since May.

Once praised for “setting a global standard” on fighting corruption, Rousseff has faced an uphill battle to maintain her seat after she allegedly manipulated government finances to hide a growing deficit.

Rousseff, 68, was accused of violating fiscal laws by using loans from public banks to cover budget shortfalls, which artificially enhanced the budget surplus.

She is alleged to have done this to enhance the government’s performance to help her win re-election to a second term in office in 2014.

Rousseff was also accused of obstructing investigations into the semi-public Brazilian oil company Petrobras. Rousseff chaired the company’s board of directors from 2003-2010.

She has denied breaking any laws.

She took the stand Monday in a last-ditch effort to save her presidency, reportedly telling her former colleagues in the Senate: “Don’t expect from me the obliging silence of cowards.”

After more than two-thirds of the 81 senators back her removal, interim president Michael Temer was confirmed as the country’s leader.

Rousseff was peppered with questions from legislators for 14 hours Monday in a marathon session during her impeachment trial.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

dk_photos/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The top American general in the Middle East said Tuesday that the Iraqi military is on track to launch an operation to retake Mosul by the end of the year.

At a Pentagon briefing, Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said that the training of Iraqi forces is on track to realize Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's timeline of launching an operation to retake Mosul by the end of this year.

"My assessment is in over the course of my visits I think is that they are on track to achieve that objective," said Votel. "They own the timeline here for this, and so we'll continue to work very, very closely with them and insure that we can support their operations where they're ready to go. But I think we are proceeding apace exactly where we hope to be at this particular time."

Votel believes ISIS could employ different strategies to defend the city when Iraqi forces eventually launch an offensive to retake it. He thinks ISIS may cede some parts of the city willingly, as it has done most recently in Jarabulus, and put up stiff resistance in other parts of the city, as it did in the battles for Manbij and Ramadi.

An Iraqi offensive on Mosul would be the culmination of a two-year Iraqi military campaign to remove the ISIS military threat from northern Iraq.

Much of the U.S. military presence in Iraq has been geared toward training and advising Iraq’s security forces to defeat ISIS militarily and take back the cities controlled by ISIS, particularly Mosul.

ABC News takes a look at why Mosul is so important in the fight against ISIS.

What Is Mosul?

Located along the banks of the Tigris River in northern Iraq's Nineveh Province, Mosul is Iraq's second largest city with a population of more than two million residents. The population represents a mix of the diverse ethnic groups in northern Iraq, though the majority are Sunni Arabs and Kurds.

Mosul is the main industrial city in northern Iraq and a vital transportation hub in the flow of goods to and from Turkey and Syria. It is also located near significant oil fields in northern Iraq and the major oil pipeline into Turkey.

ISIS surprisingly seized Mosul in June 2014 in a matter of days after the retreat of a large number of Iraqi security forces from the city. American officials have blamed that retreat on the Sunni Arab soldiers and police based in the city who abandoned their posts after growing disenchanted with the increasing sectarianism of the Shiite-led government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The city's capture left ISIS with large amounts of Iraqi military equipment and supplies that it quickly used to push toward the Iraqi capital of Baghdad 250 miles to the south. ISIS also seized an estimated $500 million in cash taken from the Central Bank of Mosul that is has used to fund its military and terror operations.

Why Is It Important to Retake Mosul?

ISIS’s seizure of Mosul was a blow to Iraq’s political stability and a propaganda coup for a terror group that wanted to demonstrate it was gaining territory to establish a new caliphate.

A successful offensive on Mosul will take away from ISIS its last strategic stronghold in Iraq and end the territorial dominance it commanded over large areas of northwestern Iraq for the past two years.

The group’s control of territory there was made easier by the flow of ISIS fighters from its de facto capital of Raqqah in north central Syria. An ISIS defeat in Mosul would cut off that route and leave the terror group’s military operations effectively contained to Syria.

What Is the Iraqi Military Plan for Mosul?

For more than two years, the Iraqi military offensive on Mosul has been expected to be the most important battle against ISIS.

Much of the training of Iraqi and Kurdish security forces by American and coalition trainers has effectively been directed at generating the more than 25,000 troops believed needed for an offensive on Mosul.

From early on, American military officials have telegraphed that the city would be enveloped from the north and south by as many as eight Iraqi Army brigades.

The expectation has always been that ISIS would mount a stiff defense to hold the city with the possibility of fierce street-to-street fighting on a grand scale.

If Iraqi forces successfully retake the city, plans call for Iraqi police to quickly step in to help establish order.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

Purestock/Thinkstock(SHANNON, Ireland) -- A United Airlines flight bound for London was diverted to Ireland early Wednesday morning when turbulence left multiple passengers in need of medical treatment.

The flight departed Houston on Tuesday evening and landed at Shannon Airport in Ireland at 5:55 a.m. local time. Ambulances met the plane at the airport, and ten passengers and two crew members were hospitalized. The injuries mostly consisted of soft tissue injuries, minor head injuries and cuts. One patient remained at the hospital at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, while the remaining 11 were discharged.

More than 200 passengers and crew were on board the flight, which was about 300 miles southwest of Ireland at the time of the turbulence.

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- ISIS's official news agency claimed Tuesday that its senior leader and top spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani has been killed in Aleppo, Syria, but it did not detail the circumstances of his death. The Pentagon later confirmed that coalition airstrikes on Tuesday had targeted al-Adnani but that the results of the airstrike are still being determined.

The Amaq News Agency, affiliated with ISIS, first posted news of al-Adnani's death in a social media posting on Tuesday.

"#Breaking Military source to #AmaqAgency: Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the spokesman of the Islamic State, was martyred while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns against #Aleppo," read an English translation of the post from SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremists on the internet.

Later on Tuesday the Pentagon confirmed that an airstrike had targeted al Adnani earlier in the day.

"Today coalition forces conducted a precision strike near Al Bab, Syria, targeting Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani, one of ISIL's most senior leaders," said Peter Cook, the Pentagon Press Secretary, in a statement Tuesday. ISIL is another acronym used to describe ISIS.

"We are still assessing the results of the strike, but Al-Adnani's removal from the battlefield would mark another significant blow to ISIL" said Cook who described al-Adnani as the "principal architect of ISIL's external operations" in addition to his prominence as the group's top spokesman.

"He has coordinated the movement of ISIL fighters, directly encouraged lone-wolf attacks on civilians and members of the military and actively recruited new ISIL members," said Cook. The U.S. military will continue to prioritize and relentlessly target ISIL leaders and external plotters in order to defend our homeland, our allies and our partners, while we continue to gather momentum in destroying ISIL's parent tumor in Iraq and Syria and combat its metastases around the world."

Al Adnani's stature in the terror organization was so important that only top ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ranked higher in importance.

Because of his high rank within the ISIS organization, the U.S. Department of State's Rewards for Justice program had placed a $5 million reward for information leading to his death or capture.

"Al-Adnani is ISIL’s main conduit for the dissemination of official messages, including ISIL’s declaration of the creation of an Islamic Caliphate," reads the program's website of al-Adnani, born in Syria in 1977. "Al-Adnani was one of the first foreign fighters to oppose Coalition Forces in Iraq before becoming ISIL’s spokesman."

In September, 2014 al-Adnani released an audio recording where he called on ISIS sympathizers in the western world. That message has been seen as an inspiration to lone-wolve attacks that have occurred in the United States and France. A U.S.official tied several high-profile ISIS attacks outside of Syria and Iraq to al Adnani's role as the head of external operations.

"Significant operations carried out on his watch include the Paris attacks, the Brussels airport attack, the Istanbul airport attack, the downing of the Russian airliner in the Sinai, the suicide bombings during a rally in Ankara, and the attack on a café in Bangladesh" said the official. "In total, these attacks killed over 1,800 people, and wounded nearly 4,000. Al-Adnani was a legacy AQI member, a Shura council member, and the most publicly recognizable official in ISIL."

"If confirmed, this is a very significant blow for ISIL, and will degrade its ability to direct and inspire terror attacks on the West," said the official.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement following reports of al-Adnani's death:

“If the death of Abu al-Adnani is confirmed, it would be a significant blow to ISIS at a time when they are on retreat on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Cal), the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in a statement. "Al-Adnani has long been one of the most highly targeted ISIS figures due to his responsibility for external operations, his prominent role as an ISIS spokesman, and his advocacy of lone wolf attacks in the West."

The initial post from Amaq stated that al-Adnani had been killed in Aleppo, but provided no details on how he had died. If al-Adnani died in an airstrike it would also be unclear if he was killed in a targeted strike or of happenstance from an airstrike targeting an ISIS position.

Russian and Syrian regime aircraft conduct airstrikes in the city of Aleppo, but U.S. military aircraft do not fly over the city because U.S. military officials say there is not a large ISIS presence there.

However, American military aircraft conduct airstrikes in eastern Aleppo province that stretches east of the Euphrates River. Recently American airstrikes there have helped with offensives that have retaken the ISIS-held cities of Manbij and Jarabulus.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

Obtained by ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A Pennsylvania woman held by the Taliban since 2012 appeared in a new video posted online Tuesday, looking dazed but healthy with her Canadian husband and saying their captors will kill the couple if the Afghanistan government doesn't stop executing militant prisoners.

The 2 1/2-minute video with Caitlan Coleman, 30, of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, 33, is the first glimpse of the couple since 2014, when her parents released two short video clips of them speaking in captivity.

"We have been told that the Afghan government has executed some of their prisoners of these men that are holding us, and that our captors are frightened of the idea of further executions and further death, and that because of their fear they are willing to kill us, willing to kill women, to kill children, to kill whomever in order to get these policies reversed or to take revenge," Coleman says in a slow, halting voice, almost never raising her gaze from the floor.

Dressed in a black dress and head covering, with her left hand holding what appears to be an earpiece to the side of her face, Coleman speaks directly to her parents and says she knows it is "terrifying and horrifying" for them to hear that she might be executed herself. A counterterrorism analyst studying the video said Coleman and Boyle appeared "out of it."

Near the end of her short statement, as she asks for their help, the video camera light illuminating the couple switches off suddenly.

"So, if you are willing, if you are able to do anything to help," Coleman tells her family, just as the light plunges the couple into a dark shadow and she looks up into the lens for a moment, "if you could, please try to help stop this depravity."

Last month, Jim and Lyn Coleman revealed that they had received a letter from their daughter in November through a neutral party. Caitlan, who was pregnant when she and Boyle went missing during a trip to Ghazni, Afghanistan, four years ago, told her parents in the letter that she'd had a second son born to her, according to the Colemans. The parents also made a video addressed directly to new Taliban leader Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada.

"Thank you for sharing such wonderful news. These blessings brought us great joy," James Coleman said in the video made last June at the family's home. "Such news has also brought us great sorrow. We desperately want to be with our daughter and hold our grandsons, who we long to meet and care for."

Caitlan Coleman has been suspected of being in the custody of the Afghan Taliban's Haqqani network, which has fought U.S. forces in a lethal insurgency along the border with Pakistan while also operating a lucrative kidnapping for ransom business in both countries. Two years ago, the Obama administration carried out a controversial prisoner swap of five Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo Bay for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a prisoner of the Haqqanis for five years.

But the Coleman family in rural Pennsylvania has not received any demands for ransom since her disappearance. Senior counterterrorism officials tell ABC News that Coleman is being held as a hostage against her will and efforts have been made to secure freedom for the young mom and her kids.

The video released Tuesday is suspected by counterterrorism officials to be linked to a recent kidnapping, likely by the Haqqani network, of two people including an American in the capital Kabul a few weeks ago. Both incidents are assessed to possibly be in retaliation for the recent death sentence given to Haqqani Network leader Siraj Haqqani's brother Anas. Siraj Haqqani also serves as one of the deputy emirs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban call their shadow government.

"The Haqqanis are ticked off," a counterterrorism official familiar with hostage recovery operations told ABC News.

"Our captors are terrified of the thought of their own mortality approaching, and are saying that they will take reprisals on our family," Boyle says in the new video. "They will execute us, women and children included, if the policies of the Afghan government are not overturned. ... And therefore we ask Canada and the United States to change the policies of the Afghan government so that our captors do not have to face the fear of execution in the future, and that we will -- our family -- will be able to live safely."

State Department spokesperson John Kirby said Tuesday that American officials "remain concerned obviously about the welfare of Caitlan and her family, and we continue to urge immediate release on humanitarian grounds."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(ZELENCHUKSKAYA, Russia) -- News of a possible extra-terrestrial signal detection sent social media into a frenzy this week, but scientists remain skeptical that the signal picked up by a Russian radio telescope actually indicates alien life.

Paul Gilster reported on Saturday of a "strong signal" from the direction of HD164595, a star about 95 light years away from Earth in the constellation Hercules, on his respected deep space exploration blog.

The signal was actually picked up in May of 2015 by the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia, according to Gilster. But it wasn't until last week that researchers circulated a paper about the signal.

"No one is claiming that this is the work of an extraterrestrial civilization, but it is certainly worth further study," Gilster wrote for Centauri Dreams.

Based on the strength of the signal, "researchers say that if it came from an isotropic beacon, it would be of a power possible only for a Kardashev Type II civilization," Gilster noted, referring to a type of beacon that transmits in all directions, with the intent, in theory, of making contact with alien civilizations.

The Kardashev scale measures how technologically advanced a civilization is, and Kardashev Type II ranking would indicate the civilization is more advanced than our own. News of the promising signal sent social media into a tizzy.

The discovery is scheduled to be discussed at a meeting during the 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sept. 27, Gilster added.

Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California, told ABC News Tuesday that the institute was investigating the signal with its Allen Telescope Array in northern California, and had swung it in the direction of HD164595 on Aug. 28 but did not detect any signal.

Shostak said he has no idea why it is only being reported on now. "Total supposition, but it could be they may have thought they just saw it once so they won't get too excited. That's me guessing," Shostak said.

Shostak added on the institute's website that it was unusual that this kind of discovery would not be shared immediately with the scientific community.

"One particularly noteworthy thing about this discovery is the fact that the signal was apparently observed in May, 2015 (it seems that this was the only time in 39 tries that they saw this signal). The discoverers didn’t alert the SETI community to this find until now, which is not as expected," Shostak wrote. "According to both practice and protocol, if a signal seems to be of deliberate and extraterrestrial origin, one of the first things to do is to get others to attempt confirming observations. That was not done in this case."

A SETI Signal? - @SethShostak gives a technical analysis of what we know about HD 164595

— The SETI Institute (@SETIInstitute) August 29, 2016

Shostak said that the institute is still looking into the signal, but that he does not think it is a significant discovery.

"We looked again at the source last night using our antennas, the Allen Telescope Array, and nothing," Shostak told ABC News. "The Russians themselves looked 39 times and only saw it once."

Shostak added that there is a long list of other possibilities that could have caused the signal.

"It could have been a military or a commercial aircraft with radar," Shostak said, "or telecommunication satellites. The laundry list for things that could fool you is not very short."

"I think the fact that we didn't find it last night has me convinced that this is not a significant discovery," Shostak said. "If you find the cure for cancer but you only cure one patient, then you would not say you have found the cure for cancer."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

MSF(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Twins who were only five days old and born prematurely were among the thousands of migrants who were rescued on Monday in the Mediterranean, according to a humanitarian group.

The mother was traveling alone with her two infant boys. One of the babies was sick -- he was vomiting and had a dangerously low body temperature, according to Doctors Without Borders, an international nonprofit agency also known by its French acronym, MSF.

"After a first triage, our medical team decided to request an evacuation due to the fact that his health was so fragile that he would not have survived the long journey to Italy in our boat. We transferred both mother and twins to another vessel that could evacuate them to shore,” Antonia Zemp, medical team leader with Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement.

Around 6,500 migrants were rescued on Monday in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya's coast in 40 rescue operations, according to the Italian coastguard, making it one of the largest numbers of people rescued in a single day. Doctors Without Borders assisted in rescues of 3,000 people in one day, among them the twins and their mother, the group said.

People who were rescued and treated were experiencing health issues such as bloody diarrhea, dehydration, fever, hypothermia, skin diseases and exhaustion, according to Doctors Without Borders. One boat called Dignity I, carried 435 people -- among them 92 unaccompanied minors and 13 children under the age of 5.

Last year, more than 1 million migrants, many fleeing the war in Syria, arrived in Europe, igniting an unprecedented migration crisis. In 2015 and in the first half of 2016, over 6,600 refugees and migrants drowned or went missing in the Mediterranean after their boats capsized while trying to reach Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration. Many of the bodies have not been identified, and families at home might never find out what happened to their loved ones, according to a new report by the IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Center in Berlin, the University of York and the City University London.

“Behind the visible catastrophe of shipwrecks and deaths in the Mediterranean is an invisible catastrophe in which bodies are found and not enough is done to identify them and inform their families,” Dr. Simon Robins, lead author of the report and a senior research fellow at the Center for Applied Human Rights at the University of York, said in a statement.

“This is devastating for their families back home. They likened it to a form of torture where they are caught between hope and despair, not knowing whether they would ever see their loved one again, not knowing if they should give up hope and focus on the rest of their lives," Robins added.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(HAVANA) -- The first scheduled U.S. commercial flight to Cuba in more than 50 years takes off this week.

The JetBlue flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Santa Clara, Cuba, departs Wednesday morning. The new flights make it easier than ever to get to the Communist-run island.

Here is everything you need to know about making the trip.

How Do I Get There?

Book a flight or take a cruise.

JetBlue will eventually offer seven daily flights between the two countries.

Overall, 90 daily round-trip flights will pick up slowly over the next few months to nine different Cuban cities, for which six U.S. airlines were initially approved. American Airlines, which has facilitated charter flights to Cuba for years, begins its scheduled service Sept. 7.

And while dates for the start of the 20-daily round-trip flights from the United States to Havana have yet to be set, the U.S. government has now approved 10 total airlines for those flights, but Cuba must sign off.

Charter service is also still available, so if you have your heart set on the capital city, you can still fly there directly. It just may cost more.

After all the approvals are in place, 10 U.S. airlines will travel to 10 Cuban cities from 13 U.S. cities.

But if flying isn’t your thing, cruise on over to the island, only 90 miles away from Florida.

Carnival Cruise Line launched its first trip to the island earlier this summer. Fathom cruise line’s seven-day trips take you to Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

And ferry service is also in the works, meaning travelers would be able to make the quick hop from Florida for day trips.

Can I Go as a Tourist?

No, you still cannot travel to Cuba as a tourist. That means no “sun-and-sand” vacations to those white sand beaches.

In order to go to Cuba, you must verify that you meet one of the 12 pre-approved categories allowed by the U.S. government. This includes family visits and research, journalistic, religious or educational activities.

The most common form of travel is “people-to people.” That is a term for cultural exchanges: meeting the Cuban people in their everyday life, seeing schools or community projects and museums, maybe even take in a favorite Cuban (and American) pastime, baseball. But you must keep records of your activities while there.

You used to have to do this as part of a tour group, but President Obama changed that requirement earlier this year. And pre-approval is no longer necessary from the U.S. government.

“That’s why we’re encouraging travel -- which will build bridges between our people, and bring more revenue to those Cuban small businesses,” Obama said while traveling in Cuba earlier this year.

Do I Need a Visa?

You do need a Cuban visa to visit. But Cuba does not issue visas that match perfectly the requirements of the 12-categories approved by the U.S. government for travel.

That means if you are traveling for a “people-to-people” cultural exchange, you would still get a tourist visa from Cuba.

The Cuban government issues five main types of visas -- family, press, business, tourist and “other” -- that include student or event visas.

If you travel via air and fall into one of the categories for a Cuban Tourist Visa, like a “people-to-people” trip, airlines are making it possible to purchase directly from them at the airport. Such requests don’t need to be made in advance and you can work through the charter companies or airlines, the Cuban embassy told ABC News.

It is best to check with your airline or cruise ship, though, and make sure they will provide this at time of booking.

Where Do I Stay?

Cuba has roughly 60,000 hotel rooms, which is below the number of visitors they host.

Starwood announced a deal earlier this year to become the first U.S. hotel chain to operate on the island in decades. Their first Havana location, Four Points by Sheraton, opened in June at the former site of the Hotel Quinta Avenida in the Miramar District.

Starwood plans to convert two other Cuban hotels into its property brands.

Another popular option is to stay at what is known as “Casa Particulares,” which are similar to a bed and breakfast.

Airbnb has partnered with many home owners as a way to make it easier for Americans — and other travelers — to book stays on the island.

Tourism in Cuba is still growing; a nearly 12 percent increase in the first half of 2016 when compared to the same time last year.

What About the Embargo?

That is still in effect, and don’t expect it to go away anytime soon.

Obama called on Congress to lift the embargo when he was in Cuba earlier this year, going so far as to say, "The embargo’s going to end. When, I can’t be entirely sure."

And “when” still remains the big question.

Can I Bring Back Cigars?

Yeah, we know! You just want to go to Cuba to try those famous cigars and rum. And while in Cuba enjoy it. But what you can bring back still faces limits.

You can only return “with up to $100 worth of alcohol or tobacco or a combination of both,” according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

You can bring back other mementos from your trip but no more than $400, according to CBP.

Don’t Forget Your Cash

Major credit cards like Amex and MasterCard are approved for use in Cuba. But that doesn’t mean you should plan on using them. Most Cuban businesses aren’t prepared or set up to accept them.

The U.S. Embassy reminds all citizens traveling to “arrive with enough cash to last you through the end of your trip.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Tasmanian devils are evolving genetic resistance to a contagious and deadly cancer that's been pushing the endangered species to the brink of extinction, an international team of scientists has found.

Devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), a nearly 100 percent fatal cancer first detected 20 years ago, has wiped out an estimated 80 percent of the Australian marsupials, according to a news release from Washington State University.

Because Tasmanian devils often display aggression by biting each other's faces, DFTD -- one of only three known transmissible cancers -- is easily spread among the animals, WSU said.

But now, scientists mining a vast trove of devil DNA have discovered that two regions in Tasmanian devils' genomes are changing in response to the rapid spread of the cancer.

"Our study suggests hope for the survival of the Tasmanian devil in the face of this devastating disease," Andrew Storfer, a professor of biology at WSU and one of the study's authors, said in the news release.

Storfer said that he, along with other researchers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, are hopeful they can soon breed DTFD-resistant devils to enhance the genetic diversity of an off-island captive insurance population.

He added that the genomic data could also be ultimately used to "help direct future research addressing important questions about the evolution of cancer transmissibility and what causes remission and reoccurrence in cancer and other diseases."

Storfer and his colleagues' findings were published in the scientific journal Nature Communications on Tuesday.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

Olivier Douliery/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon is calling on Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies to stop fighting America’s Syrian Kurdish allies in northern Syrian because it is taking attention away from the fight against ISIS.

The United States has called on Turkey to “stay focused on the fight against ISIL and not to engage Syrian defense forces,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at a Pentagon news conference Monday, using an alternate name for ISIS.

He said there had been various senior-level contacts in recent days with Turkey to make that point and that he would do the same in a meeting with his Turkish counterpart next week.

Last week’s Turkish offensive that captured the ISIS-held border town of Jarabulus has resulted in a chaotic situation where various Syrian and Kurdish rebel groups supported and trained by the United States have clashed in battle because of pre-existing animosities.

The Turkish force that retook Jarabulus also includes a Syrian rebel force previously trained by the Pentagon to fight ISIS. They have pushed south of Jarabulus to take on Kurdish fighters aligned with the Syrian Democratic Forces who have pushed north from the recently captured city of Manbij.

“We call on both sides to not fight with one another to continue to focus the fight on ISIL that’s the basis of our cooperation with both of them,” Carter said.

The push south of Jarabulus by Turkey and its rebel allies seems intended to prevent Kurdish fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces from pushing northward and creating a Kurdish buffer zone along the border with Turkey.

In its fight against ISIS, the United States has had to walk the fine line of training, advising and assisting the Syrian Democratic Forces, which has become its strongest partner in the fight against ISIS in eastern and northern Syria, while giving strong concern to Turkish concerns about the group.

A large number of the Syrian Democratic Forces come from what is known as the YPG, an acronym for Self Protection Units in Kurdish, a group that Turkey says is aligned with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) that conducts terrorist attacks inside Turkey.

An earlier statement Monday from Peter Cook, Pentagon press secretary, called the fighting south of Jarabulus “unacceptable” and labeled them “a source of deep concern.”

“This is an already crowded battle space,” Cook said. “Accordingly, we are calling on all armed actors to stand down immediately and take appropriate measures to de-conflict.”

Carter said one of the things the United States is talking to Turkey about is clarifying where different elements of the SDF are in the area, particularly those belonging to the YPG.

“We do understand that they have historical differences with one another, but American interests are quite clear we, like they, want to combat ISIL,” Carter said. “We’re calling on all involved, let’s keep our priorities clear in helping them to de-conflict, so to speak on the battlefield.”

Carter called on the Turks to keep prior commitments that they would not engage the Syrian Democratic Forces and remain only north and west of Jarabulus. He called on the Syrian Kurds to keep their commitment that they would move east back across the Euphrates once the Manbij operation is fully over.

The Kurds are moving across the Euphrates, according to Carter.

“They are doing that, yes,” he said. “But that’s the understanding we have with them and we want to make sure that they continue that commitment.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

LinkedUpRadio Envisionwise Web Services