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President Obama: 'Significant' Gaps Remain in Talks Over Iran Nuke Program


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama said just days before the deadline for negotiations over Iran's nuclear program that the gaps in the talks remain "significant" and that it was too soon to tell whether the parties could reach an agreement by Monday.

"The good news is that the interim deal that we entered into has definitely stopped Iran's nuclear program from advancing. .... So it's been successful," Obama told This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview. "Now the question is, can we get to a more permanent deal? And the gaps are still significant."

Obama said if an agreement is reached, he was confident he could convince a skeptical Congress of its strength in preventing Iran from creating a nuclear weapon, even as members of the incoming Republican majority insist they'll impose additional sanctions on Iran if they don't like the deal.

"I'm confident that if we reach a deal that is verifiable and ensures that Iran does not have breakout capacity, that not only can I persuade Congress, but I can persuade the American people that it's the right thing to do," Obama told Stephanopoulos Friday.

While skeptics of the negotiations say they agree with the administration's goal for the talks -- a rollback of Iran's nuclear program -- many disagree with the idea of allowing Iran to have any nuclear capability, even for what Tehran contends is a peaceful civilian program.

But Obama laid out a more targeted objective than simply eradicating Iran's nuclear program completely.

"Our goal is to solve a particular problem here, which is making sure Iran doesn't trigger a nuclear arms race, can't threaten the United States, can't threaten allies like Israel," Obama said.

"What a deal would do is take a big piece of business off the table and perhaps begin a long process in which the relationship not just between Iran and us but the relationship between Iran and the world, and the region, begins to change," he added.

The United States and the five other world powers involved in the talks in Vienna are still deadlocked with Iran over several key issues, including the scope of Iran's ability to enrich uranium for civilian purposes, the length of the deal, and the way in which the current sanctions on Iran get phased out.

Iran wants all the sanctions rolled back immediately if a deal is reached, while the western negotiators say they should be phased out over time.

Obama said the position on sanctions was non-negotiable.

"I think Iran would love to see the sanctions end immediately, and then to still have some avenues that might not be completely closed, and we can't do that," he said.

The interview took place as negotiators remain camped out in Vienna. Secretary of State John Kerry met with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier Saturday afternoon, and also tweeted that he spent the morning making phone calls to international partners, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Kenya Bus Attack Leaves 28 Dead


Credit: omer sukru goksu/Getty Images(NAIROBI, Kenya) -- An attack on a bus in northern Kenya left 28 people dead at the hands of terror group al-Shabab.

The Kenya Red Cross confirmed the attack, for which gunmen from the Somali militant group claimed responsibility. BBC News reports that the gunmen asked passengers to read from the Koran, and those who failed were shot in the head. Some Somali passengers were shot after they pleaded with the gunmen to spare the other passengers' lives.

Al-Shabab has been responsible for numerous attacks in Kenya in recent years, including the shooting at the Westgate Mall in September 2013, in which at least 61 civilians were killed.

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British Teen Arrested at Heathrow Airport on Suspicion of Preparing for Acts of Terrorism


Credit: Caspar Benson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A British teenager was arrested earlier this week on suspicion that he was preparing for acts of terrorism.

According to the West Midlands Police, the department's Counter Terrorism Unit detained the unidentified suspect, 19 years old, at about 3 p.m. on Thursday as he was getting off a flight from Jordan at Heathrow Airport. The suspect remains in custody this weekend.

Police say the arrest was planned in advance and that the suspect did not pose any risk to the flight.

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Guantanamo Detainee Transferred to Saudi Arabia


Credit: Alex Potemkin/Getty Images(GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba) -- Another detainee who had been held at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center was released on Saturday, as the Department of Defense announced the transfer of Muhammed Murdi Issa Al-Zahrani from Guantanamo Bay to the government of Saudi Arabia.

Al-Zahrani is the sixth detainee transferred in the last three days and the seventh in two weeks. He had been subject to a periodic review process, including representatives from numerous government agencies. That board determined that Al-Zahrani does not pose a significant threat to U.S. security.

"In the past two weeks, the Department of Defense has transferred seven detainees," Paul Lewis, special envoy for Guantanamo detention closure said. "A total of 13 detainees have been transferred this year. This strikes a responsible balance and reflects the careful deliberation the Secretary of Defense brings to the transfer process, and follows a rigorous process in the interagency to review several items including security review prior to any transfer."

Approximately 142 detainees remain at Guantanamo.

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US Embassy in Mexico Issues Security Warning for Acapulco


Pedro PARDO/AFP/Getty Images(ACAPULCO, Mexico) -- The U.S. Embassy in Mexico has issued a security warning on Saturday, urging U.S. citizens to avoid Acapulco due to violence and protests.

The protests have escalated in recent weeks after the disappearance of 43 Mexican students. U.S. Embassy personnel have been told to put off all non-essential travel to the area by air or land. The embassy also notes that road travel in other areas of Guerrero state is prohibited.

The embassy notes a ban in the Mexican Constitution on political activities by foreigners, warning Americans to avoid demonstrations or other activities that could be deemed political by Mexican authorities, as such actions could result in detention or deportation.

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Earthquake Measuring Magnitude 6.2 Strikes in Central Japan


United States Geological Survey(OMACHI, Japan) -- A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck in Japan on Saturday morning.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the tremor originated from an area about 10 miles northeast of Omachi and just 6.2 miles underground. There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths caused by the quake.

The USGS said that the tremor was felt at least as far away as Tokyo, 191 miles away.

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Iran Nuclear Negotiations Near Deadline; Parties Remain Deadlocked


State Department photo/ Public Domain(VIENNA) -- With three days left until this round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program concludes, the outcome appeared so uncertain Friday that Secretary of State John Kerry reversed his travel plans, first announcing that he would be leaving Vienna, where negotiators have huddled, for Paris, and a few hours later saying he’d actually be staying in the Austrian capital.

It’s clear what the United States and its allies want from Iran: a significant and irreversible rollback of its nuclear program, plus ironclad monitoring of any remaining civilian nuclear activity, in exchange for sanctions relief. But the parties, while remaining tight-lipped in public, have not yet agreed on how to implement such a deal.

There are really only three possible scenarios that could arise come Monday: the talks conclude with a deal, no deal or an agreement to extend the talks with some outline for how to proceed.

DEAL

Most observers and some participants have said a comprehensive deal by the start of next week is probably not going to happen.

“Right now, I think it's going to be difficult to get to where we want to go. It's not impossible,” Tony Blinken, the nominee to be the next deputy secretary of state, added during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday.

Iran and the Western negotiators, made up of the United States plus five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, remain far apart on many of the core issues under discussion, including the number and kind of centrifuges Iran would be allowed to keep, under a final deal, in order to enrich uranium for a peaceful nuclear program; the length of such a deal; and the way in which economic sanctions on Iran get phased out.

But on the off chance the sides do reach a deal by Monday, members of Congress are already signaling they will seek to impose additional sanctions on Iran if it continues any nuclear activity, even for what it contends is a peaceful civilian program.

NO DEAL

Many skeptics of an Iran nuclear deal say they don’t want diplomacy to fail, but they also don’t believe the Iranian regime is sincere in its desire for a strictly peaceful nuclear program. It has become a common refrain in Washington and Israel that no nuclear deal is better than a bad one; it just depends on one’s definition of a “bad” deal. Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a video message earlier this month against “rush[ing] into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb.”

In this way, the potential failure of these talks might give relief to those doubters, like Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He testified in Congress Thursday, saying negotiation is the right way to go, but “the dispute that is taking place now is between those who are skeptical of Iran and those who may be skeptical but they fundamentally believe…that we have a chance to fundamentally change the Iranian regime's approach to its nuclear weapons program.”

Those participating in the negotiations have warned that failure to reach a deal could lead to dire consequences. “There’s no question that, if everything goes away, escalation will be the name of the game on all sides, and none of that is good,” Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, the top U.S. negotiator, said in a speech Oct. 23.

But others contend that no one really knows what would happen if these talks fail. Asked that question in the same hearing as Dubowitz, Gen. Michael Hadyen, who served as the director of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency during the George W. Bush administration, responded, “That's why we left this, an ugly baby, for the next administration. We didn't have any good answers.”

INTERIM DEAL

Secretary of State John Kerry may have tipped his hand to what the parties believe will happen when he said during remarks in Paris Thursday, “we’re driving towards what we believe is the outline of an agreement that we think we can have” -- a far cry from a comprehensive deal.

More likely is another interim agreement that extends the talks with the stipulation that Iran continue to freeze progress on aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. That’s what happened back in July, when the negotiations were originally supposed to end, and the parties decided to extend until No. 24, which is three days away.

But even in the past month, the political situation in the United States has only gotten more hostile to a deal with Iran. Forty-three Republican senators, plus 11 incoming GOP senators-elect, have already pledged they will attempt to impose additional sanctions on Iran if it's allowed to continue any nuclear development in a final agreement.

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"The Imitation Game": A Look at the Life and Legacy of Alan Turing


Weinstein Company(LONDON) -- Sixty years after his death, Alan Turing is back in the public eye.

Turing, a British mathematician who helped defeat the Nazis by cracking their codes, is played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film The Imitation Game, which is set for a Nov. 28 release.

Even if this is the first time you've heard Turing's name, chances are you've already experienced his impact.

The "Turing Machine" was the first modern computer to logically process information, running on interchangeable software and essentially laying the groundwork for every computing device we have today -- from laptops to smartphones.

Turing also predicted that computers would keep getting smarter. In 1950, he devised an artificial intelligence test that asks, "Can machines think?"

Known as the "Turing Test," it investigates whether people can detect if they are conversing with a human or a computer. In order to pass, a computer must be mistaken for a human by 30 percent of judges during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations.

Earlier this year, an artificially intelligent "teenager" became the first computer to pass the test by successfully duping enough judges into believing they were conversing with a real human, according to the University of Reading, which organizes the annual event.

Despite his tremendous contributions to computer science and his role in the war effort, Turing was arrested and charged under a law that criminalized homosexuality in the United Kingdom.

As part of a deal to avoid prison time, Turning agreed to be injected with female sex hormones. He died on June 7, 1954 -- believed to be a suicide by eating an apple poisoned with cyanide.

He was posthumously pardoned last year by Queen Elizabeth II.

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Italian Space Agency Sending First Espresso Machine to Space


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Astronauts on the International Space Station will soon be waking up to the refreshing aroma and taste of authentic Italian coffee.

ISSpresso, an espresso machine designed by engineering company Argotec and coffee roaster Lavazza in collaboration with the Italian Space Agency, is one of the many items headed to space in April 2015.

"We have been thinking about taking the espresso into space for some time...In fact, today we are in a position to overcome the limits of weightlessness and enjoy a good espresso — the indisputable symbol of made in Italy products," said the Giuseppe Lavazza, vice-president of Lavazza in a press release.

The device is the first capsule-based coffee machine to be sent to space and the first designed to handle its microgravity conditions in which the physics behind the dynamics and movement of liquids differ from that on Earth. Microgravity refers to "zero gravity" or weightless.

"The fluid dynamic in a microgravity environment is different from the one observed on Earth," Antonio Pilello, a spokesperson for Argotec told ABC News in an email. "Since you are weightless in orbit, there is no up, down, left nor right. For this reason we designed our system to be capable of making coffees without being affected by gravity."

The machine is comprised of a steel tube to transport water while being able to tolerate over 400 bars of pressure. The machine, weighing 20 kilograms, also has extra important components to maintain safety protocols issued in accordance with specific regulations set by the Italian Space Agency.

ISSpresso will also offer other options, including caffe lungo, tea, infusions and broth, allowing food to be re-hydrated. Astronauts will be able to drink these substances using small pouches with valves that are inserted into and draw coffee from the machine.

Pilello told ABC News that only instant coffee is available for astronauts right now.

Work on the machine has been percolating for a year to develop and a few months to test until it was approved for space. It was originally scheduled to leave for the ISS on Nov. 23 with Samantha Cristoforetti, the first woman from Italy to travel to space. The launch date for the device was postponed for unknown reasons.

A public relations spokesperson for Lavazza confirmed to ABC News the change in date but could not comment at this time. The Italian Space Agency did not return emails for comment.

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Powerful Al Qaeda Group Slams Door on ISIS’s Leader


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Al Qaeda's most potent affiliate, the Yemeni branch of the terror group, Friday strongly rejected the Islamic "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq declared by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in an announcement that terrorism experts said is good news for the West.

Harith bin Ghazi al-Nadhari, a top Shariah (Muslim law) official from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), slammed the door on al-Baghdadi, saying they were "surprised" in June when the former al Qaeda-Iraq leader declared a "caliphate" stretching from northern Syria across large portions of Iraq and anointed himself "caliph."

"We do not see the authenticity of the establishment of such a Caliphate, nor what follows it of consequences," al-Nadhari said in a 28-minute video released by Yemen's AQAP Friday.

He referred to al-Baghdadi and his fighters in ISIS as "brothers" but said declaring a caliphate improperly has led to rifts beyond the bloody falling out of ISIS in Syria with core al Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s replacement, and al Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. Al-Nadhari cited infighting among other jihadi groups in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and strongly affirmed AQAP's loyalty remains to Zawahiri and Taliban leader Mullah Omar, despite some groups pledging oaths of "bayat" to al-Baghdadi.

"I think it's pretty significant. It underscores the depth of the rift between ISIS and al Qaeda and that they're not going to align anytime soon," said Matthew Olsen, an ABC News contributor who served for three years as director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center.

He said the fracture among the two most lethal Islamist terror organizations is better than them joining forces against the West.

"Al Qaeda and the Islamic State [ISIS] are still potent in their own right. But they really are at odds with each other," Olsen said.

The AQAP message likely was approved by Nasir al-Wuhayshi, its top leader and Zawahiri's potential heir to core al Qaeda. It came as a response to al-Baghdadi's latest audio speech on Nov. 13, in which he boasted of the pledges of loyalty from a slew of jihadi groups.

"It's further proof that al Qaeda and the Islamic State don't work together," said Rita Katz, director of the private research firm SITE Intelligence Group, who provided a translation of the al-Nadhari speech. She said jihadis reacted angrily to the AQAP message.

"It is important that it came from one of AQAP's top Shariah officials, al-Nadhari, as the argument about the legitimacy of the Caliphate is a religious one. It is more appropriate that such rejection comes from al-Nadhari, a recognized Shariah scholar, and not from Wuhayshi," Katz told ABC News.

"Aside from keeping Wuhayshi above the fray, having their top Shariah official make the statement is also likely a way to highlight the fact that most serious jihadi scholars have come down firmly against ISIS," added terrorism expert J.M. Berger, co-author of a forthcoming book on ISIS's rise.

The announcement comes after months of anticipation after ISIS swept across Iraq in a blitz that caught the Obama administration off guard.

For months, AQAP's messages on Iraq and Syria have avoided taking sides, as many Yemeni fighters joined the estimated 16,000 foreign jihadis who have fallen in with ISIS in the region between Iraq and Syria they call "al Sham." Instead, the Yemeni terror group -- which has attempted at least four air attacks on the U.S. homeland since 2009 using undetectable bombs smuggled aboard passenger and cargo jets -- had repeatedly called on mujahideen fighters there to end their bloody infighting and focus on America and its "apostate" allies.

"We hold our brothers in the Islamic State responsible for all the consequences of these interpretations and dangerous steps [and] weakening the strength of the mujahideen, which is an inevitable result of fighting," AQAP's al-Nadhari said in the message on Friday.

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Kerry Changes Plans, Extends Stay in Vienna for Iran Talks


State Dept photo(VIENNA) -- Secretary of State John Kerry is staying put -- at least for one more night -- after initially announcing he would leave the Iranian nuclear talks in Vienna just after one day.

According to a U.S. official, Kerry has delayed his Friday departure from the Austrian city to continue consultations there.

The official said it is not yet known when Kerry will leave but he will stay in Vienna overnight.

Earlier, the State Department said Kerry was leaving to Paris on Friday to meet with European officials about the ongoing negotiations.

The travel change comes as the clock keeps ticking towards Monday's deadline.

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US Military Conducts 30 Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria, Iraq


Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The U.S. military continued its attack against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in Iraq and Syria, launching 30 more airstrikes between Wednesday and Friday.

According to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), six of the strikes were in Syria, near Kobani. They destroyed four staging areas, two buildings and two tactical units, and suppressed a fighting position.

Another airstrike in Syria damaged a barrack near Ar Raqqah.

In Iraq, the remaining 23 airstrikes were spread out between Bayji, Sinjar, Kirkuk, al Asad, Mosul, Ramadi and Tal Afar, and destroyed various targets in those areas.

CENTCOM said all the aircraft used in the attacks managed to exit the areas safely.

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Ukraine Celebrates Anniversary of Protests that Sparked Revolution


iStock/Thinkstock(KIEV, Ukraine) -- Ukraine on Friday is celebrating one year since the first student-led protests kicked off in the country, sparking a revolution that toppled the government and led to a stand-off with Russian-backed separatists in the east.

Vice President Joe Biden, visiting Ukraine on Friday, reiterated the United States' support for the country's sovereignty in the face of an encroaching Russia.

"It's simply unacceptable in the 21st century for countries to accept to redraw borders by force in Europe or anywhere for that matter," he said.

Biden said the U.S. is prepared to increase sanctions on Russia and support Ukrainian sovereignty, but the government must work towards better integrating Russian-speaking minorities.

"We're looking for opportunities to improve Ukraine's business climate and increase trade and investment. But it all depends on following through on the reforms which have begun," he said.

During his time in Ukraine, Biden met with the country's newly elected prime minister. The vice president was also scheduled to lay a wreath but pulled out of the ceremony over security concerns.

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Afghanistan Amusement Park a Relief for War-Weary Residents


Aleem Agha/ABC News(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Despite an upswing in insurgent attacks, Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul, has a new milestone: The country’s first-ever amusement park -- Kabul City Park.

Nestled between the muddy, polluted Kabul river and the city’s snow-covered mountains, it resembles the kind of smaller amusements parks that dot towns and cities across Europe and North America.

Thousands have visited the park since it opened in October, with peak visiting time on Friday afternoons, after the Islamic day of prayer. The park has a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, roller coaster, spinning tea cups and even a mascot that’s a dead-ringer for Minnie Mouse.

For Afghan families looking to spend an afternoon out, the park offers a rare respite from the ravages of decades of war. Much of the city resembles a cold, muddy maze, with row after row of 20-feet tall concrete blast walls ringing the enclaves protected inside. Many of the city’s key intersections are guarded by armed soldiers and policemen, with inspection checkpoints springing up seemingly at random.

But inside Kabul City Park, the dreariness of the city disappears. Children run to their favorite rides as test-your-skill vendors hand out prizes to game winners. Husbands and wives hold hands, walking together with their children in tow, a rare sight in a city with few entertainment options that families can enjoy together.

The park -- a joint partnership between the municipality and a private company --is the latest in a small series of developments aiming to give weary Afghans a chance to escape the harsher realities of conflict. In addition to the park, the city also now has a water park, bowling alley, paintball zone and a semi-functional golf course.

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Dresscode Required for Reporters Covering US Visit of Duchess Kate and Prince William


Danny Martindale/WireImage(LONDON) — When Prince William and Duchess Kate come to the U.S. next month, journalists covering their visit may need to dress up.

According to the official website of the British Monarchy, those covering their formal engagements must adhere to a dress code out of respect for the royals.

"Smart attire for men includes the wearing of a jacket and tie, and for women a trouser or skirt suit," the website reads. "Those wearing jeans or trainers will not be admitted and casually dressed members of the media will be turned away. This also applies to technicians."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, both 32, will visit the U.S. next month on behalf of the Royal Foundation, "other charities with which Their Royal Highnesses are closely associated" and the U.K. government. Prince William will spend part of his trip in Washington, D.C., while Kate will stay for the duration in New York City, according to Kensington Palace.


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