(NEW YORK) -- Chemical weapons were “probably used” at five out of seven sites the U.N. investigated in Syria, according to a United Nations report delivered Thursday to Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
The findings were based on evidence that included surface-to-surface rockets, medical samples and interviews with victims and medical personnel.
The report does not make a determination whether government forces of President Bashar al-Assad or rebels had used the weapons.
The U.N. report said it did have "clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used" ...Read more
(SOWETO, South Africa) -- The man who stood just feet away from President Obama as he paid tribute to Nelson Mandela told ABC News Thursday that he was having schizophrenic hallucinations during Tuesday's memorial service in front of a crowd of tens of thousands and millions more on television.
Thamsanqa Jantjie, who has been accused of signing gibberish during the event, on Thursday described the moment he knew something was wrong during the memorial at FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa.
"It's when I see angels come into the stadium," he told ABC News in an interview at his home.
Jantjie said he felt ...Read more
(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- The North Korean official publicly purged by Kim Jong-un was set up by his own wife and has since been executed, according to experts and the North Korean state news agency.
The state news agency KCNA called Jang Song-thaek, who had been Kim's uncle and top deputy, "despicable human scum" and "worse than a dog" in a release announcing his execution.
The news agency said the country was outraged by the allegations that Jang betrayed the trust of Kim Jong-un and his later father Kim Jong-il, referred to as "peerlessly great men."
"Against the backdrop of these shouts rocking the country, ...Read more
(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department has updated its warning that U.S. citizens should not travel to Libya, except for essential travel to Tripoli.
American teacher Ronnie Smith was killed in Benghazi on Dec. 5, and the new warning includes a reference to his death:
Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted by extremist groups seeking to injure or kill U.S. citizens, and should act accordingly with extreme caution. In addition, on Dec. 5, 2013, a U.S. citizen teacher resident in Benghazi ...Read more
(WASHINGTON) -- Gen. Salim Idris’ departure from Syria is “a big problem,” but the United States continues to support him and the moderate opposition, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday.
Idris is the head of the Free Syrian Army who reportedly fled Syria to Qatar this weekend after Islamic fighters took control of his group’s headquarters and warehouses in northern Syria stocked with U.S. aid. That seizure prompted an end of U.S. non-lethal assistance to rebels in that part of Syria to prevent it from getting into the hands of extremist rebels.
At a Pentagon news conference Thursday with the visiting ...Read more
(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Ambassador to Finland Bruce Oreck has outdone himself.
Last year, the statesman flexed his bulging left bicep in his annual, unofficial winter snap, but this year he decided to pose fully clothed alongside four shirtless men in a sauna.
“Last year, the lighthearted version of my holiday card received some notoriety because I was photographed flexing the bicep of my naked arm,” he wrote. “WELL, I certainly learned my lesson.”
The photograph of Oreck, who wore a long-sleeve shirt and tie, was apparently taken in a 230-degree room at the Finnish Sauna Society in Helsinki.
(LONDON) -- Prince Harry should reach the South Pole by Friday afternoon.
After weeks on a 200-mile ice trek to benefit Wounded Warriors, Harry sees the finish quickly approaching and even joked about finishing on “Friday the 13th.”
“Second from last day, I think,” he said Wednesday during interviews. “Another 11 km to go, to setup camp. One more full day tomorrow and a half day on Friday and we’re going to the South Pole -- on Friday the 13th. Unlucky for some, lucky for us.”
What began as a race with three teams turned into everyone joining forces just to reach the South Pole ...Read more
(WASHINGTON) -- The wife of an American pastor held in an Iranian prison challenged President Obama on Thursday, saying the Iranian government is using her husband to test his resolve when it comes to protecting Americans.
"My husband is suffering because he is a Christian. He's suffering because he's an American...Yet his own government did not fight for him when his captors were across the table," Naghmeh Abedini, wife of pastor Saeed Abedini, told lawmakers Thursday, referring to recent nuclear negotiations between Iran and the U.S. "Iran is curious: How strong is our American president? How serious is he about our American security? ...Read more
(ROME) -- Rome’s famed Colosseum is now covered in scaffolding as long awaited -- and controversial -- renovations get underway.
Because of government cutbacks, Italy doesn’t have the cash to pay the $33 million cost of repairing the crumbling ancient monument. So, the country’s top luxury shoe company, Tods, is footing the bill instead.
The sponsorship plan was first announced three years ago, but work was blocked by a lawsuit by Codacons, which argued that Italy had temporarily sold the monument and its symbol for a song. The consumer group lost the lawsuit but is appealing.
In the meantime, ...Read more
(WASHINGTON) -- Congressional lawmakers seem to be giving the White House some breathing room when it come to letting the nuclear deal with Iran work but their patience may only extend through January.
President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have pleaded with the House and Senate not to impose any more sanctions on Tehran that might undermine the temporary agreement. For the next six months, Iran is supposed to be scaling back its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of some economic penalties.
It now appears that Democratic and Republican leaders are willing to hold off on any votes pertaining to sanctions at least ...Read more
(JOHANNESBURG) -- The sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial on Tuesday has been deemed a fraud.
The man who stood next to some of the most powerful people in the world was reportedly signing gibberish during the dignitaries' speeches.
The head of South Africa's Deaf Federation said the interpreter, who was seen by millions watching television around the world, was "moving his hands around but there was no meaning."
The South African government says an investigation is underway, but that they have very limited resources while they're organizing numerous events during this week of mourning.
(WASHINGTON) -- A Greek national pleaded guilty Tuesday to offering to supply high-powered weapons to a Colombian terrorist group, which he thought would use them to target American troops, in exchange for drugs. The only problem was, he was unwittingly dealing with the Drug Enforcement Administration all along, according to federal officials.
Ioannis Viglakis, also known as “Pablo,” was arrested in Panama last August but recently struck a deal with the government to plead guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or FARC. Viglakis faces up to 15 years ...Read more
(WASHINGTON) -- The United States has stopped non-lethal aid to northern Syria after the Islamic front seized a supply warehouse and headquarters facility of the Supreme Military Council, the U.S.-backed moderate opposition military group.
“We’re obviously concerned that Islamic Front forces have seized the Atmeh headquarters and warehouses belonging to the SMC, and we are, of course, in close contact with General Idris and the SMC about these events,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at Wednesday’s daily press briefing. “We’re gathering the facts, consulting with friends in the Syrian opposition on ...Read more
(WASHINGTON) -- Politicians, artists, and civil rights leaders gathered in Washington on Wednesday at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the Washington National Cathedral.
Vice President Joe Biden, a lead speaker at the service, said that Mandela was the most impressive person he had ever met in his life. Biden also noted how Mandela's influence went far beyond the borders of South Africa.
"President Mandela taught us that trust is possible. Reconciliation is possible. Justice is possible. Change can come," Biden said.
Civil rights leader and former Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young said the former South African president...Read more
(NEW DELHI) -- India has once again declared gay sex illegal.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court reinstated the original anti-gay law that had been written in the 19th century when India was still ruled by the British. In 2009, that law had been overturned by a lower court -- a ruling that the Supreme Court now says was unconstitutional.
Gay rights advocates in India are outraged and say it is a major blow to their movement, with convictions resulting in a fine and up to 10 years in prison.
After decades of discrimination, India's LGBT community had been growing in recent years, with gay pride marches in cities like Delhi and Mumbai....Read more