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Fuse/iStock/ThinkStock(TORONTO) -- A Russian adventurer survived in Arctic waters after his helicopter crashed.

Sergey Ananov was flying around the Arctic Circle in a tiny helicopter when the engine failed as he was flying over open water between eastern Canada and Greenland.

He was able to escape the helicopter and grabbed a life raft. He then swam to an ice floe.

While waiting for rescue, three polar bears came within just feet of him. Ananov said he decided to scare them by yelling and running at the bears. They then took off.

After 36 hours, he used his last flare to signal a search vessel and his ordeal was over.

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Brett Jones(WASHINGTON) -- He spent 13 years on secret missions around the world for the CIA, but when former Navy SEAL Brett Jones looked into his cell phone camera and pressed “record” earlier this month, he was scared.

“The reason I’m making this is, in the event that something happens to me, there’s evidence I’m in Afghanistan working as a contractor for the CIA,” he says quietly in the shaky video, stealing glances around him. “I don’t feel it’s very safe for me to be here. I don’t feel like I can work with these guys.”
In one of the most dangerous places on the planet, Jones wasn’t afraid of the hundreds of militants eager to kill anyone associated with the CIA, he was afraid of his own men – afraid of being the victim of an “accident” downrange – or afraid of being left behind if a mission went bad.

Jones, the only contractor with the CIA’s paramilitary Global Response Staff (GRS) who has come out publicly as gay, said that what had him so terrified was a disturbing pattern of harassment he had suffered and the homophobic, racist and sexist behavior he had seen from his own teammates – both contractors and CIA officials. It was behavior Jones felt he had to expose, even if it cost him his job, or worse.

“I just had no idea where it ended or where it began and if I was to raise my hand and say, ‘Hey, this is a problem,’ people would lose their jobs. In an environment where everyone is armed and at a heightened sense of awareness, a little stressed out, maybe a little PTSD floating in there somewhere, that’s not the environment for me to do it in,” Jones told ABC News in an exclusive interview to be broadcast on “World News Tonight With David Muir”. “When people’s livelihoods and careers and everything are threatened, they tend to do some pretty crazy things.”

So Jones said he secretly made copies of some evidence in the form of an expletive-laden mission brief from a contract company’s computer and a series of what he called racist and homophobic images from an official CIA computer, and then made up a cover story to slip out of the country. This week the CIA declined to comment on Jones' specific allegations, but did not dispute his account.

‘You Have to Know Those Guys Are Going to Have Your Back’

Jones told ABC News that in the decade-plus he has served on and off with the CIA GRS, mostly providing armed security for Agency assets in "high threat environments," he has routinely run into issues in which teammates use homophobic or racist language.

Jones is white, but says he “doesn’t tolerate racism or bigotry.” He said that in past instances, he’s managed to diffuse the situation by taking the speaker aside and politely but firmly asking them to refrain from that kind of talk. Generally, he said he always got along well with his colleagues – most of whom are well aware he’s gay.

The CIA knew Jones was gay when they hired him back in 2003 -- and Jones said he was “extremely thankful” to be able to keep doing the kind of work he had done in the Navy as a SEAL.

“I love it,” he said. “It’s a part of who I am... I get the best sleep at night when I know that I have done something that has saved somebody's life or made the world a little bit better in some way."

Last February Jones came out to the general public as the first openly gay ex-Navy SEAL on the special operations news website SOFREP.com, but even after that his next few of deployments went fine, he said.

The most recent was different.

According to Jones, it started with small incidents after he arrived in the country in June: no one coming to pick him up from the helicopter transport, a disturbing smell coming from his new sheets, no one sitting next to him in the chow hall, laughter abruptly ceasing when he walked into rooms.

“I guess I thought I was being overly sensitive and I just had to man up a little bit,” he said.

But Jones said the incidents kept piling up and getting worse. He said his team refused to let him in a truck during a vehicle test on a nearby mountain, forcing him to walk in the 120-plus degree heat.

Another time someone stole his encrypted radio, which, if actually lost, he said would have potentially compromised the security of some American military and spy radio communications around the world. After racing around and asking everyone if they had taken the radio by accident, Jones said he found it on the table in the team room, surrounded by chuckling GRS operators.

By that point Jones said he was already growing to believe that his life could be in danger – not because he thought his team would hurt him, but because they may not protect him. He said he got the message “loud and clear” that he wasn’t part of the team.

“Before you go outside the wire, you have to know that those guys are going to have your back. You have to have that confidence. You have to know that. You can’t have any doubts whatsoever because the minute something goes wrong, and it happens and it’s fast and it’s furious and it’s violent and you have to know that people are going to make smart decisions and that they’re going to have your back, just like they need to know that you’re going to have theirs,” he said. “I didn’t think they had [mine].”
CIA Briefing Slides Filled With Offensive Language

It all culminated at the end of June, just hours before Jones’ team was scheduled to go on a dangerous mission, in a pre-mission briefing. It was supposed to be a mundane briefing about communications protocols and contingency plans for the mission, but Jones said that before it started, someone had changed out most of the normal Powerpoint slides and replaced them with offensive ones – mostly extremely sexual or racist in nature.

For instance, in one of the more restrained slides titled “Actions on Contact,” meant to describe what to do in case the team comes under fire, it lists options such as “reverse cowboy/girl,” “cross dresser,” “hard on,” and “deploy genital warts.” Jones provided ABC News with a copy of the slides. The CIA declined to comment on the briefing.

Two of the slides, Jones says, were directly aimed at him. His radio call sign had been changed to “Gay Gay” and in a slide meant to discuss medical emergencies, it said, “Escorts go to NEVERLAND RANCH and GRS goes to GAYBAR medic.”

Jones said that when he looked around the briefing room, everyone was laughing except for him and two others, who apparently were not in it.

“I don’t know what to tell you. It hurts. I don’t even like looking at it now,” Jones told ABC News. “I’ve never in my entire career ever seen anyone do something like this. Ever.”

Jones said he forced himself to go on the mission anyway, and it thankfully went off without any problems. But he came back to the slideshow a day later, and then he saw something else.

On a CIA-owned computer next to the door of the briefing room, Jones saw a screensaver image of himself. Curious, Jones said he pulled up the folder that was feeding images to the screensaver and alleges he found a myriad of offensive images -- one was a racist photograph referencing President Obama and another, Jones believes, was an insult to Jones’ husband.

That’s when Jones said he knew he had to “do the right thing” and report what he had seen. And though he was never directly threatened, Jones said it was then he started thinking about what some of the men could potentially do to stop him.

“I knew at this point that I had to leave there. I had to get away from there because by me doing the right thing meant that probably some people were going to end up fired and if they knew I was leaving... And this is the thing, I couldn’t just report it up the chain of command there because I had no idea who was in on this,” he said.

Jones said he packed a bag and was ready to commandeer a car and drive to an Army outpost if necessary because he said, “If I had just the slightest suspicion that they knew the reason I was flying home, that’s what I was going to do because I’d rather risk that than stay there on that compound with people like that.”

Instead, Jones was able to vaguely explain to a CIA superior in D.C. that he felt he was in a bad situation, and was able to go home after inventing a family emergency.

Jones said he declined to report the incident through official CIA channels until after he spoke with reporters about what happened because he feared the CIA would “circle the wagons” and that nothing would change. He came forward, he said, in hopes of altering what he said can be a corrosive, closed culture in the Agency’s elite paramilitary units, not unlike the military’s special operations units.

“It’s my hope in some way that it makes a change within the organization and not just the GRS program within the CIA, but all special operations units. Like Navy SEALs or [Army] Rangers, or any of those, to where these kids that are coming through training and going into their prospective careers can go in there knowing that they’re not going to have to deal with stuff like that,” he said.

The CIA declined to comment on Jones’ specific allegations, but Agency spokesperson Dean Boyd provided a statement saying that the Agency “take[s] very seriously any allegation of sexual, racial or any other form of harassment and/or discrimination at CIA.”

“We have a Zero Tolerance Policy against such behavior and CIA leadership is committed to holding all employees accountable for living and promoting this policy,” Boyd said. “Pursuant to Agency Regulations, every CIA employee is advised that if he/she is the target of discrimination or harassment, they may initiate an allegation at any time by reporting the behavior to the appropriate supervisor, manager or OEEO [Office of Equal Employment Opportunity] counselor.”

“As we go about our vital work at CIA, we have a duty to treat one another respectfully and professionally, and to foster a culture of tolerance and inclusion. That is what our Nation expects and what all our employees deserve,” he added.

Jones praised the CIA and said he knows “for a fact” that the behavior he saw is “not sanctioned by the CIA as a whole, as a policy for that organization.”

“I know they have LGBT groups there and they’re very supportive,” he said. “They hired me knowing that I was gay.”

Still, he said, he felt it was his duty to expose his team’s behavior and now says he’s working with the CIA in their probe of the incident.


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LorenzoT81/iStock/ThinkStock(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- A Libyan court has sentenced Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and eight others to death, according to the BBC.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is the son of Libya's late removed leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

The death sentences come as a result of war crimes related to the revolution back in 2011.

According to the BBC, Abdullah al-Senussi, the former head of intelligence for the Gaddafi regime and former Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi are among those facing the death sentence as well.

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Bigandt_Photography/iStock/ThinkStock(KIEV, Ukraine) -- One of the less obvious consequences of the war in Ukraine is the refugee crisis unfolding there.

Charities in Ukraine are warning about a huge hidden refugee emergency. Fighting in the country between Ukraine's army and Russian-backed rebels has forced almost 1.4 million people to flee their homes. Charities say the Ukrainian government is failing to rehouse them.

The refugee crisis is spread out across cities in Ukraine where people are living in squalid apartments and inadequate shelters.

According to the United Nations, only 5 percent of Ukraine's refugees are in official shelters. The rest have to rely on volunteers and relatives or have to pay for apartments they cannot afford.

Although the conflict in the east has quieted down since the brokered cease-fire in February, daily shelling continues. Many people have also fled because the country has imposed economic blockades on rebel areas, making basic supplies scarce.

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Cecil, Zimbabwe's famous lion, has reportedly been killed by a hunter. (Brent Stapelkamp)(NEW YORK) -- An American dentist acknowledged Tuesday that he killed a beloved lion named Cecil during a recent hunting trip to Zimbabwe.

Dr. Walter Palmer, 55, in a statement, said, "In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.

"I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt. I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have.

"Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion."

The 13-year-old lion was found skinned and headless earlier this month outside a national park.

A professional hunter and another man, a landowner, are facing criminal poaching charges in connection with Cecil's death.


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NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute(NEW YORK) — NASA's Cassini spacecraft has spotted a huge impact basin on Tethys, one of Saturn's 62 known moons, shining brightly and spiking curiosity about the landscape of the icy world.

While the rest of the moon appears dark, the photo shows a 280-mile impact region called Odysseus, spanning near half the width of the entire moon.

"With the expanded range of colors visible to Cassini's cameras, differences in materials and their textures become apparent that are subtle or unseen in natural color views," NASA said.

Scientists believe the different coloration on Tethys could indicate differences in the composition or structure of the area exposed by the impact crater. While Tethys is believed to be largely water and ice, Odysseus isn't the first standout characteristic of the moon to be pique the interest of scientists.

The satellite also has a long canyon called Ithaca Chasma, which is believed to have formed when the water inside Tethys froze and cracked the moon's outer crust, according to NASA.

Launched in 1997, the Cassini mission arrived in the Saturn system in 2004 where it has been working ever since to study the gas giant and its dozens of moons. The probe's mission is scheduled to end in September 2017 when it will make a fatal plunge into Saturn's atmosphere.

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iStock/Thinkstock(QINGDAO, China) -- It's beach time as usual for people on vacation in eastern China -- despite a thick layer of green algae appearing at popular resorts.

More than 13,500 square miles of water along the Qingdao coast have been affected by the phenomenon, Chinese media reported, and it's been a recurring event since 2007.

Scientists say the plant does not pose an immediate risk to humans, but according to Algae World News, a professional web-based online news directory for algal business and information, it can prove dangerous as it decomposes and produced toxic hydrogen sulfide gas.

The Center for Disease Control writes on its website that algae is formed in response to changes in levels of chemicals, such as nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer, in the water.

"Algae are vitally important to marine and fresh-water ecosystems, and most species of algae are not harmful," the CDC says, but "algal blooms can deplete the oxygen and block the sunlight that other organisms need to live, and some can produce toxins that are harmful to the health of the environment, plants, animals and people."

Some scientists believe an increase in seaweed farming may be at the root of the problem, while others point towards coastal pollution as a possible cause.

According to China's national news agency Xinhua, the clean-up work at Qingdao is already underway.

It is worth noting that in 2008, Chinese authorities spent millions of dollars to clean up the beaches ahead of sailing events at the Beijing Olympic Games.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Michael Ratney will replace Daniel Rubinstein as the third U.S. special envoy for Syria since the war there began in 2011, Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Tuesday.

In a statement, Kerry said Ratney is "a Senior Foreign Service officer who is fluent in Arabic and whose distinguished career has spanned Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, and beyond."

"I am confident he will continue the important work led by his predecessor, Daniel Rubinstein, to shape our response to the complex and devastating conflict in Syria," he added.

Kerry said Ratney “will soon travel to the region to begin consultations with Syrians and other stakeholders” still seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict which has devastated the country.

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iStock/Thinkstock(BRUSSELS) -- An emergency gathering of NATO countries is taking place in Brussels Tuesday morning to discuss the increasingly volatile situation in Turkey.

In recent days, trouble in neighboring Syria has spilled over the border. Those troubles include bombings and shootings that killed police, soldiers and civilians.

Turkey has responded by launching airstrikes into Syria and Iraq.

Officials in Turkey blame ISIS for some of the violence. However, other attacks are attributed to a Kurdish rebel group.

Turkey has a long, contentious history with the Kurds, fighting a decades-long war that cost 40,000 lives. A cease-fire brokered with the Kurds in 2013 now appears to be falling apart.

The Kurds say until recently Turkey turned a blind eye to the Islamic State, who Kurdish rebels are fighting in both Syria and Iraq.

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iStock/Thinkstock(PALMERSTON NORTH, New Zealand) -- Thousands of high school students in New Zealand performed a traditional haka dance as a send-off for a beloved teacher who died.

Video shows at least 1,700 students from Palmerston North Boys' High School on the country's North Island performing the dance last Friday at the funeral service of Dawson Tamatea, who died on July 20. He was a physical education and mathematics teacher at the school for almost 30 years, a spokeswoman told ABC News.

"We are extremely proud of our boys' performance and we know that Mr. Tamatea would be, too," the school wrote on its website.

Haka is an ancestral war dance performed by the Maori people of New Zealand. The rugby team "All Blacks" are famous for performing the dance before their games.

"This complex dance is an expression of the passion, vigour and identity of the race," according to a description on the All Blacks's website, and "a custom of high social importance in the welcoming and entertainment of visitors."

According to the school, Tamatea was also involved in many extra curricular activities and sports, including tennis, basketball and softball teams at the school.

"He is very well known amongst our school community, and amongst the wider Palmerston North community," rector D.M. Bovey wrote in a statement. "We are very conscious that Mr. Tamatea's passing will be difficult for many young men with whom he has had a close association as either a teacher, coach, manager or camp leader, as well as for many of our teachers who have known him for a long period of time."

Messages of condolences have been pouring in online. In an online book dedicated to him, Tracey McKinnon, from Palmerston North, wrote: "He took my son under his wing and nurtured him like he was one of his own."

"I could see you really loved your job as an awesome teacher," Te Aroha Te Kura wrote on the school's Facebook page. "We're all gonna miss you."

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iStock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- An American Airlines Dreamliner suffered damage Monday during its flight from Beijing to Dallas due to weather.

“American Airlines Flight 88, a flight from Beijing Capital International Airport to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, returned to Beijing due to damage sustained by weather in flight,” American Airlines said in a statement to ABC News.

The aircraft was in flight for 44 minutes before it had to turn around. There were 209 passengers and a crew of 13 on board.

The nature and extent of the damage is unclear; American Airlines said the plane is currently being evaluated by their maintenance team.

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iStock/Thinkstock(ISTANBUL) --  The US government and Turkey have agreed on a new partnership to fight ISIS in northern Syria along the Turkish border that involves flying armed US aircraft out of Turkey for the first time in this war and creating a ISIS-free zones along the border region to provide relief for refugees and rebel-fighting forces.

The Pentagon said Monday it hopes it can use the strategic air bases to create “ink blots on the map” where ISIS does not exist and over time grow those safe areas in size and number.

"There are going to be different places where you will see ISIL driven out and peaceful, moderate … people moving in,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said Monday, using another word for ISIS. “And we want those areas of land to grow.”

The administration made clear that this new agreement with Turkey won’t involve the creation of military “no-fly zone.” State Department spokesman John Kirby said there would be little use in that around the border region. “There is no opposition in the air, when coalition aircraft are flying in that part of Syria,” Kirby said. “The Assad regime is not challenging us; ISIL doesn't have airplanes.”

The Pentagon would not speculate about a scenario in which Assad’s aircraft fly into one of these safe zones or ink blots, but it made clear again that the US will not be there to fight Assad nor is that part of the deal with the Turks.

The partnership could put the Obama administration in a difficult position because of Turkey's recent attacks on Kurdish militant groups, some of whom are allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS. In recent days Turkey bombed a Kurdish militant group known as the PKK in retaliation for suicide attacks it launched against Turkish soldiers.

But both the Pentagon and State Department said Monday that Turkey has the right defend itself against the PKK, which the US has designated a foreign terrorist organization.

Davis said the Secretary of Defense Ash Carter could decide to begin flight operations out of Turkey within the coming weeks.


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Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia) — President Obama met with regional leaders in Ethiopia Monday to discuss the crisis in South Sudan and counterterrorism efforts in Somalia.
 
According to senior administration officials, the assembled leaders, which included the president of Uganda, president of Kenya, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, chairman of the African Union and the foreign minister of Sudan, agreed the two parties in South Sudan must reach an agreement to a peace plan by Aug. 17.  But if they fail to reach an agreement, the parties differed in what the next approach should be.
 
Some of the options under consideration include “substantially increased sanctions and pressure to the possibility of a regional intervention force,” according to one official.   The “regional intervention force” was not proposed by the U.S. and the official wouldn’t characterize what the U.S. stance is on that option.
 
The officials said all parties expressed a “resounding and collective loss of patience” in the situation in South Sudan.
 
On Sunday, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said the U.S. has a “special responsibility” to ensure South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, succeeds.
 
“Yes, that’s absolutely the case.  And look, the United States of America, broadly, I think has a special responsibility.  The Bush administration did very good work in terms of developing a comprehensive agreement between North and South Sudan that led to the scheduling of a referendum.  We did extraordinary amounts of work in the early years of the administration to make sure that that referendum could go off peacefully and that you could have South Sudanese choosing an independent course.  And the fact that this has now spiraled into a civil conflict, I think, does call upon the United States to play a unique role,” Rhodes said.
 
“Look, you can’t fix everything in a country that has been so torn by conflict for so many decades, but I think we have an obligation to try to bring the parties to a better place and to give the people of South Sudan an opportunity for peace,” he said.

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Pete Souza/The White House(KISUMU, Kenya) — Obamamania may have seized Kenya over the weekend, but for some, the frenzy will now be life-long.

A handful of children born during the President’s visit to his father’s homeland have been named after him, his family — and even his airplane.

That’s right: Baby AirForceOne.

The boy’s full name is “AirForceOne Barack Obama,” and he’s one of three babies born Friday in the city Kisumu with Barack Obama variations in their name.

"I have been told that it is the best aeroplane because it carries a very powerful leader of America who is also a Kenyan," one mother told the AFP.

Naming people, places and things after the first African American — and first Kenyan American — president is nothing new to the country. There are two schools named “Senator Obama” after the then-freshman senator visited his father's village in 2006.

Several children born at that time share the name as well — and they’re now 7-year old students at Senator Obama Kogelo Primary School.

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State Department photo(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry formally released the State Department’s annual report on human trafficking Monday with a message of thanks to those who are fighting the issue abroad and in the U.S.

The 384-page report, titled “Trafficking in Persons,” calls attention to the $150 billion illicit trafficking industry.

“It’s a battle against money. It’s a battle against evil,” Kerry said Monday. “It’s quite remarkable that in the year 2015, we face a modern version of slavery.”

The State Department is facing criticism about the report this year, however, for upgrading Cuba and Malaysia on the list. This year’s report boosted the two countries from the worst-ranked of those categorically failing to respond.

Anti-trafficking groups are calling it a transparent political move that puts the report’s impartiality in question.

[Click here to view the State Department's full report]

Meanwhile, Kerry said the U.S. is not only pointing the finger at nations abroad.

“Like every nation, we have a responsibility to do better — a better job of protecting those who live within our own borders, whose passports are taken away from them, who are imprisoned for labor purposes or for sex trafficking,” he said.

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