Micha? Ludwiczak/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites would be required to report suspected terror messages to law enforcement authorities under a bill approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee, something U.S. and British law enforcement officials told ABC News they do not routinely do now.
The bill, which is headed for consideration before the whole Senate, is being applauded by U.S. counter-terrorism officials but opposed by civil liberties groups.
While Facebook says it works “aggressively to ensure that we do not have terrorists or terror groups using the site,” it and other social media sites are not currently required to report suspect messages to law enforcement, as they are in cases involving child pornography.
“What they do now is simply terminate the account of the person who is plotting the attack,” said Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism official and ABC News consultant. “It is very unlikely today that a social media company would turn around and call the police.”
U.S. officials say ISIS and other terror groups regularly use social media sites to communicate with followers and urge them to attack.
“ISIS is using social media for their battlefield communications,” said former British counter-terror official Michael Clarke, Director General of the Royal United Services Institute.
“In the era of social media, a phenomenon like ISIL [ISIS], unlike Al Qaeda of the old days, there doesn't have to be and won't necessarily be a command-and-control relationship between somebody who instigates an incident and ISIL as an organization," U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters on Wednesday. "They are self-radicalized, self-organized people on social media. Are we concerned about that? Absolutely, we're concerned about it."
Under the proposed Senate legislation, social media sites would have a “duty to report” any information it learns about terrorist activity.
The issue first emerged two years ago in the wake of the brutal beheading of a British soldier, Lee Rigby, on the streets of London.
Authorities say they later learned that the attackers had communicated about their intentions on a social media site reported to be Facebook.
“Let’s kill a soldier,” was one of the messages, according to a British investigation.
Officials say their accounts were closed but authorities were not notified before the attack.
“If they are saying things, like, ’I want to go out and behead a soldier,’ then that ought to alert the system,” said Hazel Blears a former leading member of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament who was part of an investigation into the failure of social media to disclose what it knew.
“There is certainly, in my view, a moral responsibility,” Blears told ABC News.
Facebook did not respond directly to criticism from authorities, but in Rigby’s case said that the company was “horrified” by what happened. A spokesperson said, “Facebook’s policies are clear – we do not allow terrorists content on the site and take steps to prevent people from using our service for these purposes.”
A U.S. Senate aide said the proposed Senate bill only requires social media sites to report information they are made aware of and does not require the specific monitoring of any particular user. Facebook previously said that it relies on its users to report misuse of its service.
Still, some civil liberties groups say the legislation creates a dangerous precedent.
“In this American democracy, we don’t want our social media providers to be acting as essentially secret police,” said Nate Cardozo, a Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “There is a first amendment right to talk about terrorism… Discussing controversial political, religious, social events of our time is absolutely protected speech. And requiring social media providers to rat out their customers for engaging in their first amendment right to debate important topics is not something that is constitutional.”
Cardozo disagreed that in the Rigby case, law enforcement should have seen the Facebook messages because they didn’t represent a “true threat.”
A spokesperson for Twitter did not respond to calls for comment on this report.
arinahabich/iStock/Thinkstock(ATHENS, Greece) -- The cash crunch in Greece may be driving some local interest in alternative currencies as one bitcoin company targets Europeans to "take control of their own wealth."
This week, there was a 35 percent increase in activity in Greece compared to average weeks for the company Coinbase, which allows people to buy and store bitcoins, the electronic currency introduced in 2009.
Based in San Francisco, Coinbase operates with banks in 24 countries with a 1 percent fee for exchanging bitcoins into the local currency and vice versa. The company announced Tuesday that it is lowering fees to zero when buying bitcoins with euros through July 5. Sending and receiving bitcoins is a free service.
People in Greece aren't able to make bank transfers after the government began limiting cash withdrawals to 60 euros earlier this week. So, activity from within Greece is "marginal" this week, a Coinbase spokesman told ABC News.
If Greeks don't already have bitcoins, it's essentially as hard to exchange for them as it is to get cash, said John Villasenor, Brookings fellow and UCLA professor of electrical engineering and public policy.
"If you’re going to take money out of a Greek bank, you could put it in a lot of places, including other currencies or bitcoin," Villasenor said.
Though there may be a stronger interest in bitcoin with the limited banking services available in Greece, Villasenor urged caution toward the digital currency.
"Bitcoin is much more volatile than the dollar. That’s a big risk with bitcoin," Villasenor said. "The dollar exchange rate is unlikely to change enormously, but the exchange in bitcoin will bounce around a little bit."
Coinbase has seen a roughly 300 percent increase in activity from European users in the last 48 hours, the company told ABC News.
"I personally wouldn't put it in bitcoin. I would put it in a traditional bank outside of Greece," Villasenor said.
iStock/Thinkstock(ATHENS, Greece) -- If Greece and its 11 million people left the European Union, it would be an unprecedented move within the monetary system that gave birth to the currency known as the euro.
A referendum, which has already been criticized as confusing and illegal, scheduled on Sunday will help determine whether a "Grexit" -- Greek exit -- from the 19-nation currency bloc could become a reality.
Here are some of the things that could happen if Greece ultimately leaves the European Union:
1. Nationalize Greece's Banking System
One source with Greece's ruling Syriza party said leaders have discussed the possibility of nationalizing the country's banking system, according to The Telgraph.
"We will shut down the banks and nationalise them, and then issue IOUs if we have to, and we all know what this means. What we will not do is become a protectorate of the EU,” the source told The Telegraph.
2. Introduce a New Currency
A country has never left the EU, so it's difficult to predict what Greece would do once the euro loses its legal tender status there, experts said.
A parallel currency could be used for a while, Hari Tsoukas, a professor of organization studies at Warwick Business School in the U.K., told ABC News.
Greece became a member of the EU in 2001 and adopted euro banknotes and coins in January 2002 after a transitional period. The dual circulation period, "when both the Greek drachma and the euro had legal tender status," ended on Feb. 28, 2002, according to the EU's website.
3. Return to the Drachma
Tsoukas said it's likely that Greece would eventually revert to the drachma if the euro is no longer its main currency.
If the Greeks reverted to the drachma, the value of the Greek currency would drop considerably, with depreciation in the level of 40 percent against the dollar due to a large sell off of the currency, Valentin Marinov, head of Group-of-10 currency research at Credit Agricole SA in London, told Bloomberg.
The Royal Mint(LONDON) -- The final countdown to Sunday’s christening of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge kicked off Wednesday with the release of the newborn princess’ christening coin.
The coin’s decoration of harp-playing cherubs surrounded by swags of lilies is a symbol of the link between 2-month-old Princess Charlotte and her nearly 2-year-old brother, Prince George, whose christening coin also featured two harp-playing cherubs and the lily font traditionally used for royal christenings.
The christening coins for both Princess Charlotte and Prince George were designed by the same engraver, John Bergdahl, the U.K. Royal Mint said on Wednesday.
At the center of Princess Charlotte’s coin is the inscription, “To celebrate the Christening of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge 2015.”
Princess Charlotte, who was born on May 2 in London, will be christened July 5 at St. Mary Magdalene Church on the queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.
The coin will retail for around $7. Its design was approved by Charlotte’s parents, Prince William and Princess Kate, and her grandmother, the queen, according to the Royal Mint.
Royal followers will have the choice to purchase the new coin in either silver -- which follows the tradition of silver to confer good health and prosperity -- or gold, which marks the royal celebration.
The christening coin is the second coin commissioned in Princess Charlotte's honor. The Royal Mint also released a commemorative coin to celebrate Charlotte’s birth.
Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Confirmation of new Ebola infections in Liberia this week have brought back fears that another outbreak could run rampant in the West African country, but experts caution that the government and aid organizations are far more prepared now to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
Officials from Liberia's Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs, and Tourism confirmed Wednesday that two people had tested positive for Ebola, after a teenager died on Sunday of the disease. Both of the confirmed cases were in the same home as the 17-year-old boy when he died, officials said.
However, experts say the cases simply show that increased surveillance is working to stop the disease before it can spread widely. While the World Health Organization declared Liberia Ebola free in May, it continued to practice heightened surveillance in the area.
Dr. Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for WHO's Ebola response, said during heightened surveillance officials continued to swab dead bodies for the virus and bury them according to safe burial practices.
"It’s very disappointing," Harris said of the virus' return to Liberia. "The positive aspect is they did find this," and they enacted a quarantine. The generally accepted incubation period for Ebola is 21 days.
Harris said hundreds of WHO staff remain in Liberia to help with both training new medical workers, maintaining surveillance of the area, and helping to ensure that medical centers have supplies like personal protective equipment for health workers.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the government appears to have implemented key precautions that will likely save lives, including safe burial practices and the quarantine of those exposed to the original patient. He explained it's possible that more cases will be found as epidemiologists trace the source of the infection for the teenage patient.
"He’s the source," Schaffner told ABC News. "We have to try to find out how he acquired his infection. Did it indeed come from Guinea or Sierra Leone? Or are there are sources in Liberia that have yet to be identified?"
Ebola cases in Guinea and Sierra Leone have continued to show up periodically since last year's outbreak.
Schaffner also said it's clear that the Liberian government has learned from the horrendous outbreak that began last year that lead to more than 10,000 infections in Liberia.
"The circumstance on the ground has matured a great deal," Schaffner said. "Here we find the Ministry of Health being very open. The response has been very prompt."
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Venus and Jupiter pulled off a grand spectacle in the night sky.
Both bright planets appeared to glide closer together over the month of June in a conjunction NASA called the "best backyard sky show of 2015."
The planets have been slowly getting closer to each other over the past few weeks. Tuesday night marked the culmination with both planets appearing one-third of a degree apart, giving them the appearance of a double star, according to NASA.
While conjunctions aren't rare, they are fun to check out in a clear night sky. Venus and Jupiter, the brightest planets in the night sky, were visible to the naked eye in clear weather.
If you missed it this time around, another Venus and Jupiter conjunction this close is set to happen on Aug. 27, 2016, according to EarthSky.
The creation comes after Trump made comments that Mexicans were bringing “drugs, crime and rapists” to the United States in a June 16 speech kicking off his 2016 presidential campaign.
The Piñateria Ramirez also has a version of the Trump piñata showing Trump wearing a crown and pageant sash emblazoned “Miss Stupid,” a nod toward Univision and NBC dropping coverage of the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants after Trump’s comments on Mexicans.
Trump filed a $500 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against Univision Tuesday after their decision.
Ramirez did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Princes Charles and Camilla, attended a special event at Lancaster House Tuesday night, hosting a poignant reception to support the charity Elephant Family where they serve as joint presidents.
The Duchess of Cornwall’s late brother Mark Shand was the driving force and founder of the charity that seeks to raise awareness for the Asian elephant, which is endangered. Ninety percent of the population has been lost to poaching and modernization that has destroyed the Asian elephant’s habitat.
Shand died in April 2014 in New York City when he slipped and fell outside a hotel near Gramercy Park.
“As joint presidents of this marvelous charity Elephant Family, my wife and I could not be more proud to support their vital work” Prince Charles told supporters who came out to raise awareness. “After all, we are all here to ensure that dear Mark's hard-won legacy is maintained and enhanced.”
They were accompanied by Princess Eugenie, who is the younger daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, who has also been an outspoken proponent for the endangered Asian elephant.
“This evening's events are designed to highlight the quest to save Asia's endangered elephants from a frighteningly precipitous decline. There may be no more than fifty thousand left in total in the wild across the thirteen countries where they are literally clinging to survival,” Prince Charles told supporters before an auction of rickshaws was opened to raise funds for the Elephant Family charity.
Photo by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge via Getty Images(LONDON) -- The Duchess of Cambridge famously snapped the first photos released of her son and newborn daughter together, but the royal family has tapped a world-renowned photographer to record their next milestone.
Mario Testino, who has photographed generations of Britain’s royal family, will take the official photographs of the christening party after the Sunday baptism of Duchess Kate’s daughter, Princess Charlotte.
A Kensington Palace spokesperson confirmed the royal family’s choice Tuesday, and pointed out that Testino, 60, also photographed the engagement photos for the princess’ parents, Princess Kate and Prince William.
“I am overwhelmed and honored to be chosen to document this occasion and to carry on the documentation of the family that is the soul of this country, a country that has given me so much,” the Peru-born Testino, whom the late Princess Diana selected to photograph her for Vanity Fair, said in a statement released by the Palace.
The nearly 2-month-old Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana will be christened July 5 at St. Mary Magdalene Church on the Sandringham Estate of her great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
The church is the same spot where her grandmother, Princess Diana of Wales, was baptized in 1961, and is near the family's country estate, Anmer Hall, that has been their home much of the time since Princess Charlotte's May 2 birth.
Kensington Palace announced Monday that the paddock outside the church will be open to the public, meaning well-wishers may have a chance to see Kate, William, Charlotte and her big brother, nearly 2-year-old Prince George, as they walk inside. Prince Harry will not be attendance because he will be in Africa.
Prince George’s baptism took place in 2013 in an intimate service at St. James’s Palace in London, with only immediate family, godparents and their spouses in attendance.
Princess Charlotte will wear the same christening gown worn by Prince George. The gown, remade by the queen's dresser, Angela Kelly, in 2004, is an exact replica of the gown first commissioned by Queen Victoria 174 years ago and has been used for every generation of royal infants, totaling 62 royal babies in all.
Since her birth last month at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, Princess Charlotte has only been seen by the public twice: once when she left the hospital with her parents, and the second time in official photos of her and Prince George together, taken by their mother, Duchess Kate.
NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An Argentinian airline has fired two pilots after they were pictured taking selfies with a Playboy model in the cockpit mid-flight, the airline said.
Model Viky Xipolitakis posted photos to her Twitter account showing her posing between two smiling pilots with the cockpit controls behind them.
In video obtained by Argentinian news program Telenoche and shared with ABC News, one of the pilots is seen explaining how various controls work to the model, who appears to be the one taking the video.
She has since apologized via social media but that has not helped save either pilot's job.
Patricio Zocchi Molina and Federico Matias Soaje were fired by Aerolineas Argentinas on June 25, three days after the flight in question, though that may not be the end of their punishment.
"Also criminal proceedings against the above-named and against the passenger involved will be initiated under Article 190 of the penal code for putting the flight’s safety at risk," the Argentinean airline said in a statement.
For her part, Xipolitakis has not taken down the pictures from her Twitter post on the evening of June 24, but has added several statements in Spanish relating to the incident.
"I sincerely and wholeheartedly did not imagine I could cause this much damage," she wrote in one of the posts.
"With respect to the extraordinary flight, being there was an unforgettable and beautiful experience, I never thought there would be this much fuss," she wrote in Spanish.
The airline, which referred to her only as "the passenger," stated that she will be banned from both Aerolineas and Austral flights for the next five years.
The Federal Aviation Administration has no jurisdiction in this matter, since the airline in question is an Argentinian company that handles domestic flights in Argentina, but the agency does have specific rules when it comes to pilots using handheld devices.
Commercial pilots are not allowed to use personal wireless devices "while at their duty station" and it is only allowed if "directly related to operation of the aircraft, or for emergency, safety-related, or employment-related communications," according to the FAA regulations. That said, these rules do not apply to anyone occupying the jumpseat.
"The FAA is unaware of incidents of pilots violating the regulation," a FAA spokesman said in a statement to ABC News, referring to carriers over which the agency has jurisdiction.
The Flag pole in front of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, D.C. stands for the first time. It cannot fly a flag, however, until after it is officially declared an Embassy. ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- United States and Cuban government officials will announce that the two countries have reached an agreement to re-establish formal diplomatic relations and open embassies in each other’s capitals, a senior administration official told ABC News.
President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are expected to make the news public Wednesday.
Sources also tell ABC News the opening could come as early as the end of July.
Preparations have been underway for weeks for the Cuban Interest Section in Washington D.C. to become an embassy. Earlier this month a new flag pole was raised outside the building for the very first time. The last time a flag flew on the property in D.C. was 1961, when diplomatic ties were broken.
Last month, the U.S. removed Cuba from the list of countries supporting terrorism, where it was listed in 1982.
State Department photo/Public Domain(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department announced Tuesday morning that Iran and the major countries negotiating a nuclear deal have extended the deadline from Tuesday to July 7 to "allow more time for negotiations to reach a long-term solution."
The announcement comes after Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for almost two hours earlier Tuesday. Zarif had just returned from a trip back to Tehran to consult with his country’s leadership.
Asked whether he was given a mandate to get a final deal, Zarif told reporters, "I didn't go to get a mandate. I already had a mandate to negotiate and I'm here to get a final deal and I think we can.”
The Obama Administration has consistently stood by statements saying negotiators would stick to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deadline of June 30, though the new deadline would still leave room for a final deal to be submitted to the U.S. Congress before a July 9 deadline.
Negotiations in Vienna between Iran and the ‘P5 1,’ made up of the United States, China, France, Russia, the U.K. and Germany, have been set back by divisions on how a final deal will be implemented.
At issue is how fast billions of dollars in sanctions relief against Iran’s economy will be implemented by the international community, as well as the level of access inspectors will have to Iranian military sites and nuclear scientists.
In recent months, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has made public statements suggesting Iran would not agree to key parameters outlined in the framework pitched by the U.S., however Khamenei tweeted his support for the country’s negotiating team Tuesday morning.
Air force chief air marshal Agus Supriatna told ABC News all 101 passengers and 12 crew members on board the plane died but the number of fatalities on the ground has not yet been reported.
The number of fatalities has steadily climbed in the hours since the crash, with Supriatna originally telling a local television station there were only 12 people on board.
He said the plane was a C-130 Hercules, has four engines and was built in 1964.
Bambang Soelistyo, the chief of Indonesia's National Search And Rescue Agency, told Indonesia's TV One the plane took off from Soewondo Air Force Base, which is less than 3 miles from the center of Medan.
The crash took place shortly after noon local time, just minutes after takeoff.
Supriatna told TV One there was communication between the pilot and the air traffic control tower, saying that the pilot wanted to return after taking off and turned right, but the exact reason why that occurred is unclear.
Local station Metro TV has reported that 50 forensic doctors will be tasked with identifying the corpses.
This is the region's second deadly crash in seven months, after 162 people were killed when an AirAsia jet crashed into the Java Sea in December.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Venus and Jupiter will appear to glide closer together Tuesday night, with the bright planets' spectacular conjunction being visible in the night sky in what NASA says could be the "best backyard sky show of 2015."
The planets have been slowly getting closer to each other over the past few weeks. Tuesday night will be the culmination with both planets appearing one-third of a degree apart, giving them the appearance of a double star, according to NASA.
While conjunctions aren't rare, they are fun to check out in a clear night sky. When the sun goes down, head outside and look west. Venus and Jupiter, the brightest planets in the night sky, should be visible in clear weather.
Since they'll be closer together than the diameter of a full moon, try outstretching your hand and covering both glowing planets with something as small as your pinky finger.