World News

US Airstrike Targets ISIS Fighters Near Baghdad

Hope Milam/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD, Iraq) --  There was a U.S. airstrike southwest of Baghdad Monday, a new area of operations for U.S. fighter aircraft, ABC News has learned.But this isn't an indicator of expanded airstrikes in Iraq, a U.S. official told ABC News.A request was received from the Iraqis to provide air support for an Iraqi unit that was engaged in a firefight with fighters with the Islamic militant group ISIS, the official said.An aircraft was redirected and conducted a strike to support the Iraqi ground troops, the official said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

'Everyday Taxi Driver' Is Latest Threatened with ISIS Death

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Alan Henning, the latest hostage threatened with death by militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is neither a journalist nor a professional aid worker. The 47-year-old is a taxi driver from northwest England whom friends describe as a “big man with a big heart,” according to The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom."He is the nicest of nice guys who has done so much to help other people,” fellow taxi driver Kasim Jameel told the newspaper. “He is just a normal bloke, an everyday taxi driver who wanted to do good. We are thinking about him all the time and praying that he will be allowed home to his family."Henning reportedly left his wife of 23 years, Barbara, 45, and two teenage children at home in Salford, Greater Manchester, last Christmastime to join Jameel and a group of Muslim friends in making what British newspaper The Bolton News described as a 20-vehicle, 4,000-mile journey to Syria to deliver medical supplies to refugees caught up in the country’s civil war. Masked gunmen reportedly stopped the convoy after it crossed the Turkish border on Dec. 26 and targeted Henning, separating him from the group."He was taking over old ambulances, just helping out as much as he could,” a close friend told the Telegraph newspaper. "There were a few of them that went out with him. They were just a group of mates that started it all off. They were supposed to be over there for about six months, but he was kidnapped just a few days after he left."Henning was identified as the next ISIS victim at the end of the beheading video of British aid worker David Haines released Saturday.He had reportedly previously traveled to Syria as part of two similar humanitarian aid convoys organized by the small, informal volunteer group Aid 4 Syria and the UK Arab Society. BBC journalist Catrin Nye met Henning while making a documentary about such convoys to Syria and told the Guardian how the first trip to Syria moved Henning to do more."It had been a life-changing experience," Nye said. "He had handed out the goods. He described holding the children ... and how that really affected him. He told me he had to go back."Henning even permanently inked his commitment to the cause, as convoy organizer Jameel told The Bolton News: “He loved the cause so much that when he went on holiday with his family, he had a big tattoo across his arm, saying, ‘aid for Syria.’ He was that dedicated.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Iran Claims It Rejected US Offer on ISIS Agency/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran's supreme leader says his country would never help the U.S. take on ISIS.Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted on Monday that the U.S. asked Iran for its cooperation in the fight against the militant group."I rejected US offer to #Iran abt #ISIS because US has corrupted its hands in this issue," he tweeted.The State Department admitted the U.S. did approach Iran about taking on ISIS "on the margins" of talks over Iran's nuclear program. While officials maintain military coordination is off the table, they hope to restart talks with Iran soon.The Ayatollah told reporters the U.S. has "dirty intentions" in Iraq and Syria, and Iran would never take part. Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Chinese City Creates Sidewalk for Smartphone Addicts

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Chinese city has created a smartphone lane for pedestrians where they can tweet, text and surf the Internet without having to worry about where they're walking or who they're blocking.While the 165-foot path located in Chongqing is meant to make a statement, pedestrians are warned to use them at their "own risk."A sidewalk split down the center is clearly marked with a mobile phone icon showing it is acceptable to multi-task, while the other side of the sidewalk makes it clear that smartphone multitasking isn't welcome.The inspiration for the bifurcated sidewalk is said to have come after National Geographic Television conducted a behavioral experiment in Washington, D.C., using the concept.While it may be more of a curiosity than a routine now, there are a few people who may benefit from a smartphone lane.One distracted smartphone user reportedly fell into a fountain in a shopping mall in Reading, Pennsylvania, while another was so engrossed in her phone that she reportedly walked off a pier in Melbourne, Australia, in December.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Hurricane Turns Mexico Honeymoon into Nightmare for Family

Courtesy Hess family(SEATTLE) -- A Seattle-area couple expecting their first child had just arrived in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to celebrate their honeymoon when Hurricane Odile struck, wreaking havoc on the resort area and their vacation, their family said.Siegfried Hess told ABC News that his son, Stephen Hess, and his newlywed wife, Julie, landed Saturday night at Los Cabos International Airport and arrived at the Cabo Villas Beach resort, where they planned to stay for a week. But only a day into their romantic trip, the storm walloped the coast, and Siegfried Hess hadn't been able to reach his son until Monday."I feel very relieved, and my wife, of course, is so emotional," Hess said. "Having heard his voice and talked to him. ...Of course, you can only talk for ten seconds and the line shuts off."The hurricane damaged phone lines and cellphone service is spotty. Odile, a Category 3 hurricane, slammed the southern Baja California peninsula overnight, flipping cars, downing trees and breaking windows.Stephen and Julie Hess married last weekend and this trip is Stephen's first time out of the country, his sister said. Their daughter is due in November."They sustained damage, of course, but they have plenty of food and water," Siegfried Hess said.He's glad the couple is safe, but furious that they were put in danger in the first place.The airlines shouldn't have let people land in Mexico if they knew a storm was coming, Hess said."I'm not a storm-tracker. I depend on airlines or the resorts or somebody to contact us and let us know that something of this magnitude is on its way to Cabo," he said. "They put my family in the eye of the storm."Alaska Airlines did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.Many vacations were ruined when Odile struck the Mexican coast, forcing travelers to hunker down on air mattresses or cots in shelters and designated safe areas of hotels.Sarah McKinney of Bentonville, Arkansas, live-tweeted the storm, posting updates about the deafening noise from the wind, and water seeping into her hotel room, forcing her and her 4-month-old daughter to seek shelter in the bathtub.Other vacations were ruined before they started. Valerie Cos of Maryland was supposed to leave for Cabo Tuesday morning, but her flight was canceled. On the flip side, some travelers escaped the storm just in time -- like Alexander Harris of Atlanta, who said he was on the last flight out of Los Cabos International Airport.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Migrants Feared Drowned After Boat Capsizes Off Libyan Coast

iStock/Thinkstock(ROME) -- A small fishing boat crammed with migrants -- many women and children -- capsized off the coast of Libya Monday, with more than 200 feared drowned.With Libya in chaos, the country's navy is almost non-existent, so the rescue attempt was carried out by borrowed fishing boats and tug boats from the oil industry. The incident comes just days after another migrant boat sank near Malta, with survivors saying as many as 500 drowned when traffickers purposely sank the ship.United Nations spokesperson Carlotta Sami said since the start of the year, 2,500 people -- fleeing violence in Syria and beyond -- have died or gone missing attempting the perilous crossing. "They are terrified by the violence that is spreading across country and see the only way to survive is to leave Libya by crossing the sea. They know that they are risking their life because they heard the stories of people that died," Sami said.Since January, the Italian naval operation, the largest in the Mediterranean, has rescued upwards of 100,000 people crossing on the rickety boats to Italy.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Cairo Talks on Israel, Hamas to Resume

iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- The deadline for another round of Egyptian-mediated talks between Israel and Hamas is fast approaching.  According to the Gaza truce that was signed, negotiations are to begin by Sept. 25. While no official start date has been announced, both sides are gearing up to resume negotiations.Senior sources on both the Israeli and Palestinian side tell ABC News a second round of Cairo talks will begin sometime next week.The prime minister's office in Jerusalem says Israel is ready to ease restrictions on building materials entering Gaza and that the negotiating team will recommend international organizations supervise building projects to ensure cement and steel go to housing projects and not attack tunnels.Palestinian sources said disagreements with Hamas were narrowing and would not hold up the Cairo talks.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Pope Francis Marries 20 Couples at Vatican: Why It's Important

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- In another signal that Pope Francis’ Catholic Church is not your mother’s Catholic Church, the transformative pontiff married 20 couples at the Vatican on Sunday, some of whom had lived together and one who had a child out of wedlock.Yes, you read that right. Couples who had lived together, couples who had sex before marriage, even one with a grown child were married in the Vatican by the pope himself.All of those things remain a sin in the Catholic church. But the pope's message Sunday was not one of blame. In his homily before the exchange of vows, the pope stressed forgiveness for past sins."To spouses who 'have become impatient on the way' and who succumb to the dangerous temptation of discouragement, infidelity, weakness, abandonment," the pope said to the brides and grooms, "God the Father gives his Son Jesus, not to condemn them."More ABC news videos | Latest world newsSo why is it important?1. It's another signal that Pope Francis is changing the church to be more open and inclusive. Last July, Pope Francis suggested that that he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation. The pope has also said the church is too focused on issues such as abortion, contraception and divorce. In an interview last year, the pope warned that "the church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules." The church's teaching "must be more simple, profound, radiant," he wrote. Sunday's wedding ceremony appears to be a practical application of that philosophy.2. Being married by the pope is incredibly rare. Pope John Paul II was the last pope to publicly perform the rite of marriage, when he married eight couples in 2000. So rare is the event that one couple said that "when we discovered that it was happening, that it wasn't a dream -- well, it transformed us," The New York Times reported. The marriage of those, by the pope himself, who might have been shunned just a couple years ago, sends a powerful message not only to those couples but also to the rest of the world.3. He wanted to stress the importance of marriage for all Catholics, whatever their situation. He also want to encourage local priests to follow his example and marry couples in similar situations. Pope Francis has long emphasized the importance of the family and marriage between a man and a woman and these topics will be discussed at a Vatican meeting of bishops later this year.Marriage, the pope said, "is a symbol of life, real life: it is not fiction." It's also not fiction that the Catholic Church is changing -- and changing from the top down.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Oscar Pistorius Can Still Be an Olympian Despite Homicide Conviction

Jemal Countess/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who was convicted of culpable homicide after a marathon trial, is still eligible to represent South Africa in the Olympics and the paralympics, officials from both sports bodies have ruled.The only catch may be whether Pistorius is in prison at the time of the competitions, they said.Pistorius, 27, has won six gold medals in three Paralympic Games. The next games would be held in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Pistorius was such a powerful runner on his prosthetics that he was dubbed the Blade Runner and won the right to compete in the regular Olympics as well.He was convicted earlier this month for the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2012 and a sentencing hearing will begin on Oct. 13. His sentence possibilities range from a maximum of 15 years to a fine and a suspended sentence.The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) said the conviction will not prevent Pistorius from competing."Dependent on the verdict delivered by the judge in South Africa, if Pistorius is found guilty of cuplable homicide, once he has served that sentence he would be free to compete at IPC events," IPC spokesperson Craig Spence said Friday prior to the verdict.Pistorius is not looking ahead to racing yet, his spokeswoman told ABC News."There is absolutely no talk about competing at this stage. It would be premature and inappropriate to talk about, or even think about, returning to the track, until the sentencing is behind us," spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess said.An aide said Pistorius is only training at a gym at the moment and has not spent any time on the track since his trial started in March.In another blow for the man dubbed the Blade Runner, the world's largest athletic shoe and apparel maker, Nike, terminated its endorsement contract with Pistorius after suspending it in February last year.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Australia To Send Personnel, Aircraft to Join International Coalition Against IS

iStock/Thinkstock(CANBERRA, Australia) -- Australia will send personnel and aircraft to the United Arab Emirates in an effort to assist in the international coalition against ISIS, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced Sunday. In response to a request from the U.S. government, the country's Defence Force is set to prepare a Special Operations Task Group to help security forces in the region. "We are not deploying combat troops but contributing to international efforts to prevent the humanitarian crisis from deepening," Abbott said in a statement.The announcement comes one day after the release of a video showing the apparent execution of a British hostage at the hands of the militant group."The ISIL [ISIS] death cult threatens the people of Iraq, the region and the wider world. The conflict has reached out to Australia, with at least 60 Australians fighting with ISIL [ISIS] and other terrorist groups and another 100 or so supporting these extremists," the prime minister continued. "This situation is as much a matter of domestic security as it is of international security."Australia has already provided air-lift assistance to Iraq, including humanitarian air drops to stranded residents and the movement of arms and munitions.Follow @ABCNewsRadio!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

British PM on New ISIS Beheading: 'They're Not Muslims, [But] Monsters'

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(LONDON) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday that the brutal beheading of a British aid worker by the terror group ISIS, which follows the execution of two American journalists, showed exactly why the U.K. needed to work to destroy the organization, "the embodiment of evil.""The fact that an aid worker was taken, held and brutally murdered at the hands of ISIL [ISIS] sums up what this organization stands for," Cameron said in an address to the British people. "They boast of their brutality; they claim to do this in the name of Islam. That is nonsense. Islam is a religion of peace. They are not Muslims, they are monsters."Cameron spoke hours after a video emerged online that appeared to show the murder of British citizen David Haines at the hands of a black clad ISIS militant. Before his death, Haines reads from a scripted statement, saying Cameron is "entirely responsible" for his impending murder."You entered voluntarily into a coalition with the United States against the Islamic State [ISIS], just as your predecessor Tony Blair did, following a trend amongst British Prime Ministers who can't find the courage to say no to the Americans," Haines says.Sunday, Cameron said the U.K. would not be cowed."We cannot just walk on by if we are to keep this country safe; we have to confront this menace," he said. "Step by step, we must drive back, dismantle and ultimately destroy ISIL [ISIS] and what it stands for. We will do so in a calm and deliberate way, but with an iron determination. We will not do so on our own, but by working closely with our allies, not just the United States and in Europe, but also in the region because this organization poses a massive threat to the entire Middle East."Follow @ABCNewsRadio!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Pope Francis Expected to Travel to Turkey in November

phant/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Francis is expected to travel to Turkey in November, on invitation from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.According to Rev. Federico Lombardi, head of the Press Office of the Holy See, the official letter of invitation from Erdogan was received this week. Lombardi also said that plans were underway to prepare the trip for the end of November.Lombardi said Friday that "the length and the program of the visit are still to be confirmed."Follow @ABCNewsRadio!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Retired General to Lead Coalition Against ISIS

Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- The former commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan will lead President Barack Obama's coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Retired Gen. John Allen is expected to be named the special presidential envoy for the global coalition against ISIS by Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday. Allen will report to Kerry and will work with the Department of Defense to "match specific campaign requirements and coalition needs with potential contributors, providing high-level diplomatic support to coordinate a global coalition that delivers tangible results," a State Department official told ABC News.Last month, Allen said on ABC's This Week that defeating ISIS would require a "comprehensive approach."Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Convoy Carrying Prince Harry Involved in Collision

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for Invictus(LONDON) -- A car in Prince Harry's motorcade was involved in a car crash when one of his police escorts ran head-on into another vehicle in central London, authorities said.The motorcade was traveling on Prince Albert Road on Thursday at 9:40 a.m. and the 29-year-old was riding in a Range Rover when a motorcycle officer smashed into a white Prius, according to Scotland Yard.Harry, who was not injured, was on his way to the Invictus Games at the time.The police officer had been using his lights -- standard when providing security detail. He suffered injuries and was taken to the hospital. He has since been discharged.As seen in pictures, the Prius discharged it's airbags during the crash and the roof of the car was later cut off to get the driver out. The driver of the car was also taken to the hospital for his injuries and discharged.The Invictus Games, where the cars were heading, include "Over 400 competitors from 13 nations," according to the games' website, and feature wounded, injured and sick servicemen."The event, which is championed by Prince Harry, will be a celebration of resilience and passion," the site adds.Harry is set to celebrate his 30th birthday on Monday.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Rob Ford Drops Out of Toronto Mayoral Race

Keith Beaty/Toronto Star via Getty Images(TORONTO) -- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has decided to drop out of the race for re-election amid a health scare and has asked his brother Doug to run in his place."Doug loves our city as much as I do. He believes that standing up for the average person and watching the bottom line are what matters most at City Hall," Rob Ford said in the statement. "Doug also believes in standing up for his family no matter what. His loyalty and willingness to be there for anyone, anytime is just who he is. I’ve asked Doug to finish what we started together, so that all we’ve accomplished isn’t washed away."The announcement comes after Ford was hospitalized due to a tumor in in his abdomen. A biopsy has been conducted, but the results will not be known for at least one week. In the statement, Ford said that the details about his health problem remain "unknown" but he knows he is not going to be able to serve as mayor while addressing the issue."Now I could be facing a battle of my lifetime, and I want the people of Toronto to know that I intend to face this challenge head on, and win," he said. "With the advice of my family and doctors I know I need to focus on getting better. There is much work to be done and I can’t give it my all at this point in time."There had been calls in the past for Ford to resign after he gained international notoriety for a series of drug and alcohol scandals. He also admitted to using crack cocaine in a "drunken stupor."The election is scheduled for Oct. 27.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Malala Yousafzai's Plotters Captured After Two-Year Hunt

Ida Mae Astute/ABC(ISLAMABAD) -- The terrorist gang that plotted the attempted assassination of teenager Malala Yousafzai on a school bus have been arrested after a nearly two-year search.The 10 terrorists confessed to Pakistani authorities that they were in the process of planning the murders of 22 other people at the time of their capture, Pakistani authorities said. The arrests were announced Friday but it remains unclear when exactly they were taken into custody.An army spokesman said that the group was a known offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban.The teen's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, put out a statement calling the arrests "good news for our family and most importantly for the people of Pakistan and the civilized world.""This first step of apprehending Malala’s attackers signifies the beginning of real hope for the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been affected by terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in Swat and the whole country," the father's statement read. "This is the beginning of the real restoration of the writ of the government, where the rule of law and justice prevails for everybody."Malala Yousafzai was 15 when two armed men, Israr ur Rehman and Izhar Ullah, stopped her school van while dropping children off on Oct. 9, 2012. After identifying Yousafzai, who had become an activist for educating girls, one of the men fired at her head with a 9mm pistol. They shot two other girls, Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan, during the attack but neither were injured as gravely as Yousafzai.The Taliban is opposed to educating girls and has destroyed schools and killed teachers who educate girls.Rehman was the first of the criminals to be apprehended by the joint task force comprised of local and state authorities. He confessed to his involvement and gave the names of the other members of the terrorist group, called Shura, that were involved with the planning of the attack, authorities said Friday.He revealed that the group was run by Zafar Iqbal, a furniture shop owner who allegedly passed hit lists of names to an associate named Mullah Fazlullah.During interrogation, the terrorists revealed that the plan was conceived by Fazlullah, and the Shura group was given the responsibility to execute it. The group also confessed its involvement in murder of Abdul Rasheed, watchman of Swat College of Science and Technology, in November 2012.Fazlullah was also said to be the one who came up with the new list of 22 targets that the men were planning to kill at the time of their arrest. The names of these targets have not been released.Fazlullah, who has since been chosen to head the Pakistani Taliban, is not in custody.Yousafzai survived the assassination attempt after being treated in the United Kingdom. She has become an international activist and was widely considered a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Oscar Pistorius' Ex-Girlfriend Thought 'It Could've Been Me'

ABC News(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- The ex-girlfriend of paralympian sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who was convicted Friday in the shooting death his current girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, says she believes she could have been Pistorius’ victim instead.“I definitely thought it could’ve been me,” Samantha Taylor told ABC News’ Matt Gutman in an interview for 20/20 before the verdict was delivered.After a seven-month murder trial, South African Judge Thokozile Masipa found Pistorius guilty Friday of culpable homicide, similar to manslaughter. He was also found guilty of discharging a gun in a public area, but acquitted of other charges, including murder. His bail was later extended ahead of sentencing on Oct. 13.After the verdict was announced, Taylor told ABC News in a statement, "No one besides Oscar knows what happened on the morning of Reeva's death, but having said that we all need to move forward with our lives."Steenkamp was shot and killed on Valentine’s Day 2013. Prosecutors alleged Pistorius intentionally shot his model girlfriend. The double-amputee sprinter maintained he thought there was an intruder in his home and fired his gun in self-defense, accidentally shooting and killing Steenkamp through the door while she was in the bathroom.When news of Steenkamp’s death broke, Taylor, 20, of Johannesburg, said she received many “rest in peace” messages, "because people thought it was me...It was a real shock.”Taylor said she dated Pistorius before he began dating Steenkamp. At his murder trial, Taylor served as a valuable witness for the prosecution. She said parts of Pistorius’ story about what happened the night Steenkamp died did not ring true.“There were things that didn’t match up to my experience staying at his house,” she said.For example, while Pistorius claimed during his testimony the bedroom was pitch black so he didn’t see Steenkamp go to the bathroom, Taylor said Pistorius did not typically keep his room that dark.“He usually slept with the curtains fairly open. He always had some light coming in,” said Taylor.And although Pistorius did startle easily, Taylor said he would always ask her about any sudden noises and found it odd that he said he didn't make physical contact with Steenkamp the night she was killed.Taylor said she was just 17 years old when she first met the then 24-year-old Pistorius at a rugby match in 2010.“When I met him, I actually didn't know who he was,” Taylor said. “He was very charming. He is a really good guy, you know. He was very respectful, very kind.”But over time, Taylor said Pistorius would get angry at her for little things, such as not taking her plate to the kitchen, and that he could be jealous and possessive.“He used to often look through my phone, ask me who my friends were. I think he had that control over who's in my life and who's not,” she said. “I was his.”Life with Pistorious was living on the edge, she said. Taylor recalled when he would drive his car 200 miles per hour on the highway.And, she said, Pistorius also always carried around a gun.“He definitely had a passion for guns,” she said. “It was natural that the gun was...there. It was a part of him.”Taylor claimed one time she was in the back seat of a car with Pistorius and a friend when Pistorius fired his gun out of the sunroof.“It was really loud. I got such a fright,” she said.A Pistorius spokesperson declined to comment for this story.There were also times, Taylor said, when Pistorius was an emotional wreck. She said she heard him cry about 300 times.“It was really strange to me. I haven’t really heard men cry so much,” she said.Taylor’s mother, Trish Taylor, says she became close to Pistorius over the course of his relationship with her daughter, even taking on an unexpected maternal role. In the book An Accident Waiting to Happen, co-written with Melinda Ferguson, Trish Taylor described Pistorius’ “dark side.”In July 2012, Pistorius wrote in an email to Samantha and Trish Taylor, saying, "There are often very dark areas that haunt you...most of my adult life I have had moments that I sabotage the good that I have."Trish Taylor says that he would sometimes explode with fits of anger.“I heard him screaming at Samantha once on the phone,” she told Gutman.During his Olympic training, Trish Taylor said she even suggested he seek counseling and sent him links to meditation websites.“I thought, ‘What if he commits suicide?’ I was getting really, really worried about him,” she said. “He had made all these promises on how he's going to see a psychologist, how he was going to change his life, and everything was going to change.”But nothing did change, Samantha Taylor said. Worst of all, she says she discovered Pistorius was cheating on her.“I think our whole relationship there were lies,” she said. “From what I know, or from what I found out, there were definitely a lot of other women in his life at the same time as me.”Taylor claimed she had not officially broken up when Pistorius showed up on television at an awards ceremony with Steenkamp. Pistorius testified that he and Samantha Taylor were no longer a couple when he was with Steenkamp, and denied cheating on Taylor, but all agreed that their relationship was over after that outing.“I think we were so in love. And I mean, besides our downs, we had a lot of ups,” she said.Taylor said she’s making peace with how Pistorius treated her.“Our relationship, it wasn't easy,” she said. “I’m getting there. I think it’s a journey.”In the end, Taylor said she wants Pistorius to come to terms with what he’s done.“He needs to, you know, face his consequences and not necessarily behind bars. But, you know, if he needs to go for help then I think that’ll be great for him,” she said.Watch the full interview on ABC News' 20/20 Friday at 10 p.m. ETFollow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Strong Solar Storm Expected to Hit Earth

NASA(NEW YORK) -- The energy from two back-to-back coronal mass ejections hit Earth Friday as expected, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.Coronal mass ejections are bursts of radiation that explode from the sun -- and these particular flares have been whizzing toward earth as fast as 2.5 million miles per hour. According to NOAA, the current storm level is just above the moderate threshold.While solar storms may sound alarming, harmful radiation from the flares cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere. However, a perfect storm of intense radiation can impact satellite and radio transmissions and cause flights to be re-routed due to changes in Earth's magnetic field.The solar storm is expected to strengthen as it continues through Saturday -- however no major problems have been reported so far.There is a glimmer of good news in this all: As an added bonus, the solar storm will make the northern lights expand toward the south -- providing a beautiful backdrop for star gazers.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

When Boots on the Ground Aren't 'Boots on the Ground' in Iraq

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s strategy to “degrade and destroy” ISIS comes with an additional 475 American troops gearing up to go to Iraq, bringing the total number of U.S. service members there to over 1,600 -- but don’t call those “boots on the ground.”Like the hundreds of American soldiers already in Iraq, the new crop has not been assigned to any combat duties, the military says, and on Thursday, that’s how the White House told ABC News it defines “boots on the ground” in this context: “U.S. military service members serving in combat roles.”Last year after a Syrian chemical attack, Obama proposed action but promised no American “boots on the ground” there, a policy White House spokesperson Josh Earnest reiterated for Iraq last month.In his address to the nation Wednesday night, Obama didn’t use the phrase, but emphasized the new American forces “will not have a combat mission.” On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry told ABC News the U.S. is not at war with ISIS.While the hundreds of Americans in the Middle Eastern nation serve in support and advisory roles to Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces, already American airmen and soldiers have directly engaged and killed ISIS fighters, both in Iraq and Syria. But the men and women who pulled the trigger in those cases don’t fit the bill for “boots on the ground,” according to White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden.In Iraq, the U.S. has launched more than 150 airstrikes against ISIS targets and released footage of successful strikes. Some bombs are dropped by American fighter pilots in F/A-18s operating off the USS George HW Bush in the Persian Gulf. But as Hayden pointed out, since they’re flying over their Iraqi targets, the fighter pilots are “in the air,” not on the ground.Military officials said Thursday it plans to begin using “manned and armed” aircraft taking off from Erbil in northern Iraq, but hasn’t decided on which aircraft to use.In Syria, the U.S. executed a complex rescue operation in July involving several dozen commandoes to save American hostages held by ISIS near its stronghold in Raqqah, senior U.S. officials told ABC News last month. The American commandoes flew in by helicopter, disembarked and managed to sneak to the location they believed to hostages to be, but found none there. A firefight ensued in which officials said the American forces killed several ISIS fighters, while only suffering a single minor injury in return.Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel later said that other than there being no hostages around, from a military standpoint, the mission was “flawless.” It was also, according to the White House, exempt from the broader policy of not using boots on the ground.“Again, we are not contemplating U.S. boots on the ground in Syria as part of a broader U.S. strategy against ISIL [ISIS],” Hayden said in an email. “That operation was a limited circumstance that was not related to our strategy against ISIL. It was about personnel recovery and we never rule out using our military in those circumstances anywhere in the world.”Hayden declined to say whether such a special operation would be launched to kill or capture ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a potential echo of the Navy SEAL mission that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011. A Pentagon spokesperson also declined to comment on the “hypothetical.”Late Thursday, The Washington Post reported Obama had given the U.S. military permission to specifically target al-Baghdadi and other high level ISIS figures.Richard Clarke, a former counter-terrorism advisor to the White House and now ABC News consultant, said that when administration officials say “boots on the ground,” they probably mean larger organized combat units like infantry battalions, and said Obama’s phrasing Wednesday night was a “better formulation.”Or, as the president put it on June 19: "I think we always have to guard against mission creep, so let me repeat what I’ve said in the past: American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again."Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Oscar Pistorius Guilty of Culpable Homicide, Judge Rules

Jemal Countess/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- A South African judge found Oscar Pistorius guilty today of culpable homicide in the 2013 shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He was also found guilty of discharging a gun in a public area, but acquitted of other charges, including murder.Judge Thokozile Masipa had Pistorius stand before she delivered her verdict.His bail was later extended ahead of sentencing on Oct. 13.Watch more news videos | Latest world newsCulpable homicide is similar to manslaughter in the United States, and he could receive anywhere from a suspended sentence or house arrest to a 15-year sentence, with the sentence at the discretion of the judge. Mitigating factors, such as his emotional state, anxiety levels and disability could result in a lesser sentence.Pistorius was found guilty of discharging a gun in a public area for a 2013 restaurant incident, Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled. He was acquitted in a 2012 incident in which Pistorius allegedly fired a gun out of the open sunroof of a friend's car. He was also acquitted of illegal possession of ammunition.Masipa had ruled Thursday that there was insufficient evidence to show that the athlete intentionally killed Steenkamp. Steenkamp died on Valentine’s Day 2013 when Pistorius fired four shots through a bathroom door in the middle of the night, saying he mistook his live-in girlfriend for an intruder.Pistorius didn't foresee the possibility that he would kill the model when he fired the shots, Masipa ruled. The trial has spanned five months, prolonged by several interruptions including a month-long break so the paralympian sprinter could be examined by mental health experts. Pistorius – known as “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs – served as an international inspiration after performing in the London 2012 Olympics. Watch more news videos | Latest world news Watch more news videos | Latest world news Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio