SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- A magnitude 5.3 earthquake rattled the Japanese capital of Tokyo and its suburbs on Monday.
The strong quake was felt in and around the capital, shaking buildings, and rattling nerves. The quake was centered north of Tokyo in neighboring Saitama Prefecture, and was located 31 miles below ground.
Despite the shaking, there were no extensive damage or injuries reported.
Japan's Meteorological Agency said on Monday that aftershocks may continue for up to a week, and warned residents in the region to reinforce loose appliances along other items which might fall.
Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone nations in the world.
fendytsb/iStock/Thinkstock(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) -- Malaysian authorities have discovered numerous graves in a series of abandoned camps used by human traffickers on the border with Thailand.
The camps are where Muslims fleeing Myanmar were believed to have been held.
Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said on Monday an initial sweep of the hilly, jungle area found at least 28 camps along a 30-mile stretch of the border.
“The operations which we have been conducting from the 11th of May, we have discovered 139 which we believe to be graves,” Bakar said. “We don't know what are underneath. The first team has gone in, our forensic and medical team, to exhume whatever remains there and besides that we also discovered one highly decomposed body.”
The task of searching through the area by hand will take time, according to Bakar.
“So to bring out the remains is another problem, another big issue for us. So we are making all the arrangements now on how to bring out all the remains respectfully,” he said.
US actress Susan Sarandon speaks with Nepalese resident Saili Tamang as she visits an area damaged in an earthquake at Ramkot on the outskirts of Kathmandu on May 24, 2015. S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images(KATHMANDU, Nepal) -- Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon is visiting quake-damaged Nepal and is urging other tourists to follow in her footsteps.
The country was terribly damaged by two powerful earthquakes last month that killed nearly 9,000 people and made hundreds of thousands homeless.
The country's economy is deeply dependent on tourism, and Sarandon says a great way to help Nepal's recovery is to book a trip now for the time after the rainy season ends in September.
“Think of Nepal not as an on-going disaster, but as a country that has found its way back and has many monuments that haven't fallen and many beautiful areas that could still be safe to travel,” Sarandon said on Sunday.
Sarandon is in Nepal for five days, staying in a Buddhist monastery and visiting an orphanage that suffered damage.
“People should make their reservations now if they want to help and they want to come and visit, because there is, it's very very important to keep all these jobs alive,” she said.
zabelin/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces have "showed no will to fight" in recent battles with ISIS, resulting in the group's alarming recent territorial gains, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
"We have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight [ISIS] and defend themselves," Carter said in an interview on CNN. "We can give them training, we can give them equipment; we obviously can't give them the will to fight."
The unusual public rebuke of the Iraqi military, which the U.S. has been training and equipping for years, comes after a week of significant ISIS victories. The jihadist group took control of the key provincial capital of Ramadi and the ancient city of Palmyra. ISIS is now estimated to control half of Syria and broad swaths of Iraq.
In Ramadi, the Iraqi forces "were not out numbered, but in fact they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight," Carter said.
The Pentagon has said the decision to withdraw from Ramadi was made by a local Iraqi commander for reasons that are not entirely clear.
"I don't believe anybody felt that Ramadi would fall, and I think it's of great concern to everyone," retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli, former Army vice chief of staff, said on ABC News’ This Week.
The White House called the episode a "tactical setback" and vowed that there will be a counteroffensive. Republican critics of the administration say the ISIS gains reflect as much a lack of coherent U.S. strategy in Iraq as alleged weakness of the country's security forces.
The "will to fight" issue among ISF is at the heart of President Obama's approach to Iraq, and one key reason why he's resisted calls for more aggressive U.S. military intervention to confront ISIS.
"I know that there are some in Republican quarters who have suggested that I've overlearned the mistake of Iraq, and that, in fact, just because the 2003 invasion did not go well doesn't argue that we shouldn't go back in," Obama told The Atlantic this week.
"I will continue to order our military to provide the Iraqi security forces all assistance that they need in order to secure their country, and I'll provide diplomatic and economic assistance that's necessary for them to stabilize. But we can't do it for them," Obama said.
A majority of Americans support U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but fewer back deployment of more boots on the ground, according to the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Photo by Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has denied earlier reports that he and Foreign Minister Zarif had told the parliament that Iran agreed to grant UN inspectors “managed access” to military sites as part of a future deal over its contested nuclear program.
Instead, TASNIM news agency reports that Araghchi and Zarif have emphasized opposing any inspection of military sites or interviews with nuclear scientists by inspectors.
Earlier on Sunday, lawmaker Ahmad Shoohani, a member of parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee who attended the closed door session of parliament with Araghchi and Zarif, cited Araghchi and said "managed access will be in a shape where U.N. inspectors will have the possibility of taking environmental samples from the vicinity of military sites"
The comments raised a few eyebrows as Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed on Wednesday to not allow international inspection of Iran’s military sites or access to Iranian scientists under any nuclear agreement.
Iran's military leaders also angrily have refused such demands.
ABC News(PANMUNJOM, South Korea) -- Female activists including Gloria Steinem, Medea Benjamin, and two Nobel Peace laureates crossed the border between North and South Korea on Sunday, calling for peace and for more women to be involved in that process.
The group of 30 women arrived at Dorasan Station dressed in white with colorful traditional Korean scarves wrapped around them.
“It was an enormous, enormous triumph,” Steinem said of their trip inside North Korea. “We feel very celebratory and positive that we have created a voyage across the DMZ in peace and reconciliation that was said to be impossible.”
Some anti-North Korean groups heavily criticized the event, saying the women were naive and ignored raising human rights issues by the communist state.
“They don’t deserve to come here,” one woman shouted at a small protest near the border. “There’s no peace in North Korea and they go and praise Kim Jong-un and his family? There are millions starving to death but these women are blind to reality.”
The group repeatedly stressed that this was not a political event and the purpose was to open dialogue on the civilian level.
“It’s a very repressive country, but it was great for us to go there … and have some real dialogue and some interactions with women,” said Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink, a left-wing peace activist group. “I met women who’ve never met an American before in their lives and they had such terrible ideas about us and we became close friends. We were all crying when we left this morning saying goodbye.”
Hundreds of South Korean women greeted the activists at the southern part of the Unification Bridge and together marched over a mile by the barbed wire fences to a peace festival at nearby Nuri Peace Park.
The women originally planned to cross the border through the truce village of Panmunjum, where North and South Korean soldiers stand guard on each side of the military demarcation line. But the South Korean government had refused to give authorization, citing concerns over their safety.
The organizers expressed disappointment but said the crossing itself was a successful “historic event” getting “both Korean governments to communicate.”
The group made entry into South Korean by a bus instead, as recommended by the South Korean government, through a road that connects South Korea and the North Korean city of Gaesong.
This is not the first time a non-political group crossed the inter-Korean border. Bikers from New Zealand took the same route in 2013 and another group of Korean-Russians drove SUVs through the DMZ last year.
bukharova/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(OTTAWA, Canada) -- A new report into last October's attack on Parliament Hill in Canada’s capital points out some mistakes police made.
The new report says that many officers acted professionally, even heroically, that day, but not all, according to CTV News.
One Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer fled, when the shots rang out, while another accidentally fired his gun, grazing his leg.
Several members of the Ottawa Police rushed to Parliament hill in plain clothes, carrying guns and covering their faces with balaclavas, but bystanders and fellow officers didn't know if they were suspected gunmen, CTV News reports.
The area around Parliament Hill was placed under lockdown for eight hours, while police searched for any other gunmen.
Supporters react outside Dublin Castle following the announcement of the result of the same-sex marriage referendum in Dublin on May 23, 2015. Credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images(DUBLIN) -- Citizens of Ireland voted on Saturday to amend the country's constitution to legalize same-sex marriage.
The nation's constitution requires a referendum to amend. The BBC News reported an "unusually high" turnout Saturday.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny tweeted saying that he had voted yes for marriage equality, and in a second tweet, said he was "amazed" by the positive turnout.
Former White House Senior Adviser under President Obama David Plouffe posted a message to Twitter calling the vote a "smashing victory for marriage equality."
Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton also tweeted her support for the vote.
Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Navy released a pair of videos taken from aboard a P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane recently as it flew a daily mission over the Spratly Islands where China has allegedly been dredging islands to increase their size and build facilities there.
The videos show both the aircraft's video consoles -- which show the construction in close-up detail -- and footage from the exterior of the plane. The Navy says that during the flight, the plane's crew documented warnings from China's People's Liberation Army Navy to leave the area.
Similar flights happen regularly, and Chinese warnings are frequently documented.
SpaceX/YouTube(NEW YORK) -- SpaceX released new point of view video on Friday showing what it was like to be on board its Crew Dragon vessel, which took its first test flight earlier this month.
The test was conducted without any crew and was designed to help SpaceX engineers test the capsule's pad abort system, a vital emergency escape system that would allow astronauts to quickly get to safety if something goes wrong shortly after launch.
SpaceX said after the test that it was a success, and had humans been on board the Crew Dragon, they would have survived the pad abort test.
A dummy stood in for a human crew, allowing SpaceX to collect data on how the emergency abort procedure could potentially affect the human body.
The Crew Dragon lifted off with the power of SuperDraco engines as it moved 5,000 feet above the launch pad, accelerating from zero to 100 mph in 1.2 seconds.
Dragon detached from its rocket, deployed its parachutes and continued a controlled descent into the Atlantic Ocean, landing a mile from shore, where it bobbed in the water and waited for a recovery vessel.
NASA last year awarded multi-billion dollar deals to Boeing and SpaceX for development of spacecraft to shuttle astronauts to and from space.
Byron Motley/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While no embassy opening was announced after a fourth round of talks between the United States and Cuba, a top U.S. diplomat called the talks "very productive" and doesn't foresee the need for a fifth round.
Instead, Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Roberta Jacobson, said the details could be ironed out by the respective diplomatic missions.
Both U.S. and Cuban sources told ABC News they are optimistic an agreement will be reached on the fine details and an announcement made from respective capitals soon.
The talks come five months after President Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro announced their intention to improve relations.
Prior to these talks, the major sticking point for Americans was the freedom for staff to move throughout the country; for the Cubans, it was courses provided to Cuban journalists by the U.S. government at the interests section in Havana, which they say fall outside normal diplomatic activities.
But both countries refused to get into the details of what remains to be worked out this time. Saying only they continue to work forward on how an embassy will function in each country.
"Fact is we are making progress on these areas," Roberta Jacobson said at a news conference. "But I'm not going to be specific on where we have to close."
"Still talking about the various aspects of the functioning of an embassy," she added. "It isn't a lack of measurement progress. Each time we have met we've made progress and made progress this time... Made great progress and I remain optimistic."
Cuban diplomat Josefina Vidal agreed, but would not comment other than to say the talks were respectful and productive.
State Department Office of Inspector General(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department hasn’t set a date for returning to its embassy in Tripoli, Libya and likely won’t “begin to consider such a return” until 2016, according to a recent State Department report, citing the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
The State Department Inspector General report, published online Wednesday, looked into what the department should do with 26 armored vehicles -- estimated to cost $200,000 each -- that were left in Tunisia after American officials in Tripoli had to make a hasty, overland escape from the Libyan capital last summer amid a quickly deteriorating security situation.
Beginning at dawn, it took five hours for the convoy’s black SUVs and other vehicles to slip out of Tripoli and drive 250 miles through the desert to an American airbase in Tunisia, a spokesperson for the Pentagon said on July 26, 2014. The whole time, F-16s, troop-carrying tilt-rotor aircraft and other American aerial surveillance assets were keeping an eye on the precarious expedition.
Officials said the operation came off without a hitch, but apparently in the intervening months no one at the State Department put a lot of thought into what to do with the more than $5 million-worth of vehicles that were eventually brought to Tunis and then left to collect dust. The IG report notes that armored vehicles can “deteriorate rapidly, particularly when they are stored outdoors or exposed to harsh weather conditions, such as those that can occur in Tunis.”
Embassy personnel in Tunis said they would take measures to help protect the vehicles from the elements so that they’d be good to go when the U.S. wanted to take them back to Libya, but that’s when the U.S. ambassador reportedly gave the IG the bad news: The U.S. isn’t going back anytime soon.
“However, according to the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, there is no established date for returning to Tripoli, and the earliest date for beginning to consider such a return would be 2016,” the report says.
A State Department official further told ABC News, "We take the security of our diplomatic institutions and personnel seriously."
"We are constantly assessing the security situation in every country around the world, as we continue to do in Libya," the official said. "We cannot predict when conditions will allow for the re-opening of our Embassy in Libya."
Libya has devolved into widespread unrest since the ousting and death of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. In 2012, the then-U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed along with three other Americans in an attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.
After the Benghazi attack, the U.S. maintained its embassy in Tripoli until last July, when rival militia groups “began vying for control” of Tripoli’s international airport -- not far from the U.S. embassy. That was enough for the U.S. to pull the plug and get its people out.
Since then, the terror group ISIS has established an affiliate in Libya, which in recent days reportedly took control of Gadhafi’s old home town of Sirte.
A stark travel warning from the State Department in January painted a dire picture of the country where control of the capital has fallen to militant groups, “military-grade” weapons are in the hands of militias and regular people, and there are repeated calls for attacks on American citizens and interests.
“U.S. citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately,” the warning says.