Karolis Janulis(VILNIUS, Lithuania) -- Drone photographer Karolis Janulis, 35, has captured rare aerial views of his native Lithuania under the snow.
“I’ve always been in love with the perspectives from above,” Jankulis told ABC News. “Before acquiring my own drone in the beginning of 2015, I was flying in air balloons, motor gliders just to capture aerial shots.”
Using a drone to take pictures is not easy, Jankulis said, and it takes a lot of time.
“You need to carry a large backpack with the drone, its batteries and accessories,” Jankulis said. “You are also dependent on weather conditions, flight restrictions, electricity source, gear price and other factors.”
Karolis believes his pictures can help foster people’s imagination while giving a new perspective to familiar objects and places.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- A small team of FBI agents has arrived in Somalia to help authorities in the East African nation investigate what caused an explosion this week inside a plane at 11,000 feet.
Authorities from Somalia, the United States and other countries believe that a bomb was detonated in mid-air, just after the Hermes Airlines flight departed Mogadishu’s airport for Djibouti, according to sources familiar with the incident.
The A-321 jetliner executed an emergency landing and returned to the airport, but two passengers were hurt, and it’s believed one person may have been sucked out of the plane through a relatively small hole left by the explosion.
It is still unclear how a bomb would have been brought on-board or who could be responsible, but authorities are looking into whether the al Qaeda-linked terrorist group al-Shabab, based in Somalia, or even ISIS may be behind it, sources said.
Many of the passengers on the flight were originally scheduled to be on a Turkish Airlines flight, but the flight was canceled "due to operational reasons" and bad weather, according to Turkish Airlines spokesman Yahya Ustun.
The U.S. government offered Somali authorities any assistance, and the team of FBI agents arrived at the scene Friday, sources said. They are there for one purpose: to help the Somalis with any expertise or other assistance they may need.
An FBI spokesman declined to comment for this article.
iStock/Thinkstock(KAGOSHIMA, Japan) -- It was a calm evening in Japan Friday, when suddenly an orange burst erupted from Sakurajima volcano covering the clear, starry sky with black clouds.
The volcano erupted around 7 p.m. local time in Japan, according to Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). About 15 minutes after the eruption, the agency issued a level-three near-crater warning, which bans people from approaching the mountain, according to the public broadcaster NHK.
The volcano sits in between two cities: Kagoshima on its west and Tarumizu on its east.
Videos and images show lightning sporadically bursting through the lava and dark clouds of smoke, creating the illusion of a storm in the sky.
"Lightning is sometimes observed in the plume associated with eruption of this type," Manabu Hashimoto, a professor at the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University, told ABC News in an email Friday.
Sakurajima has been on the watch since Aug. 15, 2015, when volcanic earthquakes caused JMA to issue a level-four volcanic warning to prepare to evacuate. There were very small eruptions recorded since Aug. 19, but by Sept. 1 the agency was able to lower the warning back down to a level three.
"Sakurajima volcano has been very active," Hashimoto said. "I think most researchers consider that Sakurajima will erupt again."
There were no immediate injuries reported, and the cause of the eruption is still uncertain. Hashimoto explained that scientists will probably collect data "to understand what went on."
Japan has 110 active volcanoes, according to JMA, which is no surprise as it sits on the Ring of Fire circling the Pacific rim, being one of the most active seismic and volcanic zones in the world. There are approximately 15 volcanic events, including eruptions, which occur every year.
Representatives at Japan Meteorological Agency could not be immediately reached for comment by ABC News.
NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI(NEW YORK) — The New Horizons probe has yielded a trove of new information about Pluto, including the existence of miniature hills that appear to be floating across the surface of the dwarf planet.
The hills, which are made of water ice, measure anywhere from one to several miles across and are located in Pluto's heart-shaped feature, according to photos and data analyzed by NASA.
"Because water ice is less dense than nitrogen-dominated ice, scientists believe these water ice hills are floating in a sea of frozen nitrogen and move over time like icebergs in Earth’s Arctic Ocean," a NASA blog post explained.
It's believed the hills are fragments of Pluto's uplands that have been carried by nitrogen-rich glaciers into Pluto's flat Sputnik Planum region. NASA also observed chains of the floating hills along the flow paths of the glaciers.
The photo is the latest to be released as New Horizons continues to send a trove of data and photos from its July 14 flyby of Pluto back to Earth. With data downlinking at a rate of about 1 to 4 kilobits per second, it's expected the entire trove of science will take one year to be transmitted back to Earth.
Launched in January 2006 on a 3-billion-mile journey to Pluto, New Horizons "phoned home" after its Pluto flyby, indicating that it had successfully navigated just 7,700 miles from the dwarf planet. It later sent back the first high-resolution images of Pluto's surface.
New Horizons conserved energy by taking "naps" during the monumental trip. The spacecraft, equipped with a battery that converts radiation from decaying plutonium into electricity, may have enough power for two more decades of exploration, according to NASA.
The piano-sized probe is speeding through the Kuiper Belt, an area at the edge of the solar system encompassing Pluto and a vast area of tiny, icy worlds.
Buda Mendes/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — Pope Francis and his counterpart in the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, will meet next week in Cuba for a historic encounter that will bring the heads of the two churches together for the first time since Christianity split almost a 1,000 years ago, both churches announced Friday.
Statements from the Vatican and the Patriarch’s office said the two will sit down during a visit to Cuba Feb. 12 for a meeting meant to help heal the millennium-old split that has divided Christianity into eastern and western branches.
The meeting will take place in Havana airport, when Francis stops there on his way to Mexico, and while Kirill is on an official visit to Cuba, according to a joint statement from the Vatican and the Patriarch’s office.
After a “personal conversation,” the two will then sign a joint declaration, the statement said. The basic subject of discussion will be the plight of Christianity in the Middle East, where religious violence has prompted a mass exodus among Christians.
Both churches said they hoped the meeting would open a new stage in relations between the two branches. The heads of the Catholic and Orthodox churches have not met since the Great Schism in 1054. Since then, the churches have viewed each other with deep suspicion and as heretical, with members of the Orthodox faith disputing the pope’s status as Christianity’s supreme leader on earth.
In a briefing in Moscow, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Ilarion, said it hoped the meeting will “open a new page in relations between the two churches.”
The joint statement issued by the two churches said next week’s meeting was taking place “with the grace of God” and asked for “all Christians to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits.”
ABC News(LONDON) — An expert United Nations panel condemned the detention of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying he has been “arbitrarily detained” by Sweden and the United Kingdom since his arrest in 2010.
The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in a statement, called on the Swedish and British authorities to “end Mr. Assange's deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation.”
Prosecutors in Sweden want to question Assange over allegations of rape stemming from a working visit he made to the country in 2010 when WikiLeaks was attracting international attention for its secret-spilling activities.
Assange has been staying at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June 2012 in an effort to avoid extradition to Sweden.
"We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention," a U.K. government spokesman said in a statement.
"Julian Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK. The opinion of the UN Working Group ignores the facts and the well-recognized protections of the British legal system. He is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy. An allegation of rape is still outstanding and a European Arrest Warrant in place, so the UK continues to have a legal obligation to extradite him to Sweden. As the UK is not a party to the Caracas Convention, we do not recognize ‘diplomatic asylum.’”
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A mass exodus is underway in northern Syria in what was once Syria's biggest city.
The US non-governmental organization (NGO) Mercy Corps says tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing Aleppo, Syria after days of regime attacks and airstrikes, supported by Russia.
For much of the civil war, most of the Aleppo province has been held by US backed rebels.
Bolstered by Russian support, in recent days, the Syrian government forces have launched a massive assult, recapturing towns and villages long held by the opposition.
In a statement, Mercy Corps says "it feels like a siege of Aleppo is about to begin...Innocent civilians are running for their lives. Right now, we are seeing tens of thousands of people make their way to the border with Turkey."
The problem is Turkey has closed its border with Syria, leaving perhaps 50,000 locked out and thousands at the border gate.
izustun/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- A blunt statement released from the United States on Thursday says Russia and the Syrian regime "have clearly signaled the intention to seek a military solution rather than enable a political one."
The Office of the Special Envoy for Syria released a statement regarding the suspension of Syria negotiations going on in Geneva. In the statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said, "We call upon the regime and its supporters to halt their bombardment of opposition-held areas, especially in Aleppo, and to lift their besiegement of civilians in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 2165, 2254 and 2258."
In the interim, Secretary Kerry urged that "the world needs to push in one direction -- toward stopping the oppression and suffering of the Syrian people and ending, not prolonging, the conflict."
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. now estimates that the number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria has decreased to between 19,000 and 25,000 resulting from battlefield deaths and a reduced flow of foreign fighters into Syria. Yet, as ISIS numbers have been reduced in Iraq and Syria, they have increased in Libya to 5,000 where ISIS has seen an increased flow of foreign fighters, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
Previous U.S. estimates for Iraq and Syria in the past year have been that ISIS has remained constant at between 20,000 and 30,000, with a peak of 33,000, according to a Defense Department official.
Thousands of ISIS fighters were killed by American airstrikes in Kobani, Syria more than a year ago, and despite battlefield losses in the Iraqi cities of Bayji and Ramadi, U.S. intelligence continued to assess that the numbers of ISIS fighters had remained constant, the Defense Department official said.
The new lower estimate for Iraq and Syria could be due to a combination of factors, such as coalition airstrikes, battlefield deaths, desertions, disciplinary actions, recruiting shortfalls and difficulties that foreign fighters face in traveling into Syria, the official said. It also could be that the U.S. intelligence community has a better handle on counting ISIS numbers.
The number of ISIS fighters in Libya was previously estimated at 2,000 to 3,000, the official said, speculating that there might be a correlation between the new ISIS estimates in Iraq/Syria and Libya as it’s getting harder for foreign fighters to get into Syria and that they may be diverting to Libya as a result.
The increasing ISIS presence in Libya has drawn increasing concern from American security officials.
Two weeks ago, the National Security Council discussed how the U.S. could target ISIS in Libya, though no military options were presented. Officials say those meetings looked at ways the U.S. could work with international partners against ISIS in Libya and supporting a new unity government. Future U.S. military options could result in airstrikes targeting against ISIS and possible support for militias opposed to ISIS, though no decisions were made.
iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- In a rare move, a court in Jerusalem doled out very strict sentences to two Jewish teenagers who carried out the gruesome murder of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy in 2014.
One of the teens faces life in prison, and the other faces 21 years behind bars. A third convicted Israeli is awaiting sentencing due to an insanity plea.
The three Jewish extremists kidnapped Mohammed Abu Khadeir and took him to the Jerusalem Forest. That’s where they doused him with gasoline and burned him to death.
Khadeir’s grisly murder shocked the country and contributed to the outbreak of the 2014 Gaza War.
Courtesy Mueller Family(NEW YORK) -- The family of slain ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller on Thursday honored the life of the young woman from Arizona and called on Americans to remember “those lives lost in terrorism and those still missing and held against their will.”
“It was one year ago this week ISIS announced the death of our only daughter, sister and friend, 26-year-old Kayla Jean Mueller after 18 months of forced captivity,” Mueller’s parents said in a statement provided to ABC News. “Kayla was given a special heart and mind not to only see suffering in its many forms but to reach out and find a way to help those God placed before her. Never deterred, yet always determined to help where she could, Kayla is honored today and always through various efforts.”
“We do not know why she was taken from us, but her uncrushable spirit and her compassionate heart, her unwavering desire to help others through peace and justice will be with us always and will lead us to the truth. We believe and will always say: ‘Kayla should be here,’” they said.
The Syria-based terror group ISIS announced Mueller’s death in early February 2015, a claim confirmed by President Obama with “profound sadness” days later. ISIS claimed Mueller had been killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike, but U.S. officials disputed that at the time.
Months later, U.S. officials told ABC News they believed that Mueller had been repeatedly sexually abused by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while being held captive in the home of another high-level ISIS figure.
Mueller, from Prescott, Arizona, was kidnapped in August 2013 after leaving a Spanish Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria, according to information provided by a family spokesperson.
She had graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2009 and “has devoted her career to helping those in need in countries around the world,” the family spokesperson said after her death was confirmed.
Mueller told her town's local newspaper, The Daily Courier, she felt called to help those suffering the most in the midst of the Syrian conflict.
“For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal,” she said in the May 2013 report. “[I will not let this be] something we just accept… It’s important to stop and realize what we have, why we have it and how privileged we are. And from that place, start caring and get a lot done.”
Mueller’s parents said on Thursday: “In honoring Kayla we also ask that you remember those lives lost in terrorism and those still missing and held against their will. Kayla would want us to lift up and celebrate all those who have been freed and their families. She would want us to honor all those who have served our country so that we may be free. We must never forget those who have sacrificed their lives, the wounded still trying to get their lives back, and their families and friends.”
“Our hearts break for Kayla and all that happened, but we know from her letters that God was with her and she is with God,” they continued. “Her letters were such a gift to us -- just like our ‘Special K’ to send us what we would need to carry on. She was a remarkable young lady who always looked to see what she could do to make this world a better place.”
Mueller’s parents said the “heartbreaking story” of their efforts to bring Mueller home and of the people who helped and “hindered” them “will be told.” The Muellers did not go into detail about who had “hindered” them, but U.S. officials have come under fire from the families of other hostages over U.S. hostage policy.
The family spokesperson said that several charitable efforts are ongoing in Mueller’s name, including The Kayla’s Hands Foundation and the Prescott Kiwanis Foundation, which is working to build a playground in Mueller’s name.
NASA/JPL-Caltech(NEW YORK) -- NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft successfully fired its thrusters on Wednesday and adjusted its path as it nears a rendezvous with Jupiter set for five months from now.
"This is the first of two trajectory adjustments that fine tune Juno’s orbit around the sun, perfecting our rendezvous with Jupiter on July 4th at 8:18 p.m. PDT [11:18 p.m. EDT]," Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator, said in a statement.
Juno is about 51 million miles from the largest planet in our solar system – and about 425 million miles from Earth, according to NASA.
The four-ton space probe was launched in 2011 and is equipped with three 30-foot-long solar arrays, along with 18,696 individual solar cells, to help it make the most of the solar power it receives on its journey.
Once it reaches Jupiter, Juno will orbit the planet a total of 33 times, coming as close as 3,100 feet above its cloud tops. NASA hopes the mission will help scientists learn more about Jupiter's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.
Ricardo Botelho/Brazil Photo Press/LatinContent/Getty Images(BRASILIA, Brazil) -- As the Zika virus outbreak continues, including in wide swaths of Central and South America, concerns are growing, especially for pregnant women because the mosquito-borne virus has been linked with a serious birth defect called microcephaly, characterized by an abnormally small head and brain.
On Wednesday, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff said in a televised address that the virus has moved from a "distant nightmare" to a "real threat."
She told residents that the government is working on a vaccine, but that right now mosquito prevention is the best course of action.
Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and health care workers were called up to help stop the Zika outbreak. Soldiers have been going door to door in hard-hit areas to look for standing water where mosquitoes could breed. More than a million people in Brazil are believed to have been infected with the virus since it was first found in the country last year.
This week, the popular Carnival festival will start across Brazil, bringing in many tourists to the country.