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Courtesy of 1st Lt. Andrew Yacovone and 1st Lt. Justin Wright(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Maybe it was bound to happen: After 15 years of war, two talented soldiers cross paths and discover a mutual love of music.

That’s exactly what occurred for First Lt. Andrew Yacovone and First Lt. Justin Wright, Army rangers writing and producing country songs on deployment in Afghanistan.

The pair met on their first day of infantry basic training for officers in 2014.

Andrew described the moment — a bunch of soldiers standing around after an exhausting day of training.

“I called out to the crowd and asked if anyone played guitar,” Andrew said. “Lo and behold, Justin was standing right next to me and he was like, ‘Heck yeah, I play guitar!'”

The new friends “jammed” all night.

Shortly after that meeting, they debuted their first YouTube hit, “Hometown Hero,” from Afghanistan. A full-length EP produced from a studio followed.

Now, this Memorial Day weekend, Interstate 10, as the pair are now known, has released its latest music video, “I’m Gonna Miss You,” which is dedicated to military families of fallen servicemen.

Andrew began writing the song back in 2013 before the two even met, but after their unit lost soldiers during their first deployment, they say the song took on a whole new meaning.

Despite being stationed 40 miles away at different bases for their second deployment, they were determined to finish the song.

“We’re like, ‘Dang it, we aren’t going to be together for this deployment,’” Andrew said. “But we have Skype and ways to connect.”

The pair even managed to shoot pieces of the music video in Afghanistan.

“If you could see what was behind the camera, it was interesting,” Andrew said. “Taped things over here, headlamps sitting around bunkers to light the scene using our flashlights. Just to make it all right.”

But they say they never lack inspiration to keep producing music.

“Most of our music is written on deployment,” Justin said. “You think of the restaurant where you want to eat at, and you think of where you’ll take a girlfriend on a date — what beaches you will go to, which mountain you are going to climb. You think of all these clear pictures of a dream life that most people don’t live, but you know you’re going to because you can do anything after you’ve been to Afghanistan for nine months.”

This Memorial Day, the pair encourages Americans to enjoy the weekend and celebrate the individuals who sacrificed for the country.

They would also probably encourage everyone to sing along to “I’m Gonna Miss You.”

Andrew and Justin will reunite at Bagram Airfield in the next few weeks to complete their deployment together.

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Courtesy of Shane Birkinbine(BENTONVILLE, Ark.) — One man’s creative Super Mario marriage proposal definitely earned him the top score in his bride-to-be’s eyes.

When Pam Edwards was unsuspectingly playing the game alongside her now fiancé, Shane Birkinbine, on May 21, she had no idea she’d soon be winning not only the game, but also a new sparkly diamond ring.

“You can make your own custom levels,” Birkinbine, 39, told ABC News of how he designed the game to pop the question. “I’m more of an introvert so I didn’t want to make a huge deal of it, but wanted something between us that was special and creative. So it came to my mind that I’m going make a special level just for her.”

As Edwards began playing, she was too focused on winning to realize her name was written on the screen.

“Babe, what’s that say?” Birkinbine asks Edwards in the adorable video he took to capture the moment. “The blocks, it spells out your name I think.”

Tickled enough by the fact her boyfriend programmed her name into the game, she still had no idea what was coming next.

“What’s that say?” he continues as she moves the control to see the following question.

As she reads “Will you marry me?” written in blocks on the screen, she’s overcome with emotion, giggling before replying “Yes!”

“I was really surprised,” Edwards, 30, said of the special proposal. “It was so creative and I was just happy because we’re in love and I’m just thrilled.”

Birkinbine said it took him about a week to program the personalized level, and he wasn’t concerned about her finding it on the game because “she wouldn’t just hop on herself,” he said.

“I’m kind of the avid gamer and geek,” he added. “I like a lot of different geeky stuff or science fiction movies. She’s does game with me with sometimes, but it’s not something she’d just log in to do herself.”

As soon as the video ends, Birkinbine got down on one knee with the ring, which he also planned to go along with the theme.

“I had the ring in its original box and then I had that box in a Mario question mark box,” he said. “It’s actually a Yahtzee video game container. I got up off the couch and went over to her and I just said, ‘Babe, I love you very much. You’re so kind and sweet and always taking care of me, and you’re the woman I want to be with the rest of my life.’”

The happy couple from Bentonville, Arkansas, is now planning a wedding for this fall.

As for continuing the Super Mario theme in the wedding, “We’ll incorporate some geeky aspects into it, but I want it to be just the way she likes it,” said Birkinbine.

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Leibniz University of Hannover(HANNOVER, Germany) — Robots with emotion. Robots that can do our jobs. Robotic friends. Next up: Robots that can feel pain.

Researchers in Germany are developing an artificial nervous system that would teach robots to feel and react to pain, with the intent of helping them to avoid damage to their systems and warn their human co-workers, which could help prevent accidents.

A team of researchers from Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany, described their research at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation last week in Stockholm, Sweden.

In humans, neurons transmit pain. Artificial neurons in the robot would send the same signals, allowing it to determine the scope of the pain, from light to severe.

“Pain is a system that protects us. When we move away from the source of pain, it helps us not get hurt,” Johannes Kuehn, one of the researchers, told IEEE Spectrum.

How the robot reacts is also key. Kuehn and his co-worker, Sami Haddadin, wrote in a paper published in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters they used human pain research to understand how robotic reflexes could help protect the machines.

Using a tactile fingertip sensor that can feel temperature and pressure, the researchers developed a prototype reflex controller based on how human feel when they experience physical pain. When the force on the sensor passes a certain level, the robot receives alerts, the same way humans would when they experience pain. The robot can then use its protective reflexes.

It’s only a matter of time before robots are practically human-like.

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iStock/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) — American special operations forces photographed in Syria sporting patches of a Kurdish rebel group have been ordered to remove the patches because their use was “unauthorized” and “inappropriate,” U.S. military officials said Friday.

Photos of the service members made public Thursday had outraged the Turkish government, which believes the Kurdish rebel group to be a terrorist organization in Turkey.

The photos showed American special operations forces advising Kurdish and Arab forces from the Syrian Democratic Forces near the village of Fatisah about 30 miles north of ISIS’s de facto capital of Raqqah. The service members could be seen sporting what appeared to be insignia from the Kurdish People’s Defense Forces, known by the initials YPG in Kurdish.

“Wearing those YPG patches was unauthorized and it was inappropriate and corrective action has been taken, and we have communicated as much to our military partners and our military allies in the region,” said Col. Steve Warren, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

Warren said the teams in Syria had been ordered to remove the patches from their uniforms. He said he was unaware of any official disciplinary action resulting from the incident. “The bottom line and the important thing is that the situation has been corrected and that we have communicated to our allies that such conduct was inappropriate and it was unauthorized,” he said.

According to Warren, what made the wearing of the patches inappropriate were the “political sensitivities around the organization that that patch represents.” And those sensitivities are “with a NATO ally,” said Warren, who did not specifically refer to Turkey.

Earlier Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized the wearing of the YPG patches by American troops as “unacceptable” given his government’s belief that the group is part of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey considers to be a terrorist group. Cooperation with Syrian Kurdish rebel groups to fight ISIS has been tricky for the United States which must balance the military advantage of the ground force they provide with concerns from Turkey, a fellow ally in the fight against ISIS, that sees those same groups as harmful to Turkish interests.

“In that case, we would recommend they use the patches of Daesh, al-Nusra and al-Qaeda when they go to other parts of Syria and of Boko Haram when they go to Africa,” Cavusoglu said.

Warren acknowledged that the special operations teams sporting the patches were likely building on past practice of bonding with the local force they were working, much as has happened in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. “We have to understand the guys on ground are going to do what they going to do, and they have their customs and courtesies they’ve been following for years,” Warren said. “But it’s also important to understand the larger strategic context, which I think that the inappropriateness of it, that they didn’t understand that or appreciate it as they should have.”

He said that had been recognized, corrected and communicated “to our allies that we felt the patches were inappropriate because they are unauthorized, plain and simple, they’re not authorized and we’ve made the correction so everyone is moving on.”

Warren said the primary role of the 200 or so advisers in Syria is to work with the Syrian Arab forces pressuring Raqqah under the umbrella group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is primarily Kurdish. They are there to advise and assist those forces with command, logistical and air support needs, as far as he knows no U.S. forces have engaged in combat firefights.

Earlier this week, the Syrian Democratic Forces announced a ground offensive intended to take areas north of Raqqah. Since the American military advisers may visit some of these forces they may be near what are “fluid” front lines. At times that could mean some of the American forces could come as close as 15 to 20 miles away from Raqqah.

But Warren stressed that American forces in Syria deliberately plan to stay away from “enemy contact” planning missions to “ensure that wherever it is they go, enemy contact is not likely or in fact is unlikely. So I think that’s number one.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(FALLUJAH, Iraq) — An American airstrike has killed ISIS’s top commander in Fallujah as the Iraqi military presses forward with its offensive against the ISIS-held city.

According to Colonel Steve Warren, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, an airstrike Wednesday targeting the ISIS headquarters in the city killed Maher al- Bilawi, the top ISIS commander in Fallujah.

The airstrike was “a result of intelligence that we gathered on the headquarters and his location,” said Warren. “And we had the opportunity to take the strike and we took it.”

He said al-Bilawi’s death “won’t completely cause the enemy to stop fighting, but it’s a blow. And it creates confusion and it causes the second-in-command to have to move up. It causes other leadership to have to move around.”

Warren said not much was really known about al-Bilawi’s background.

In the four days since the Iraqi offensive began, Warren said the coalition has conducted 40 airstrikes, “totaling 57 engagements” that have destroyed ISIS fighting positions and resulting in the deaths of 70 ISIS fighters.

The offensive on Fallujah includes personnel from the Iraqi Army, police, the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), and Sunni militia fighters. Shiite militias are also present as part of the operation, but have publicly stated that they will remain outside the city, easing concerns about retaliation from the Sunni-majority population.

Fallujah became the first Iraqi city to fall under ISIS control in early 2014 partly due to support from the local Sunni population that was resentful of the exclusionary policies of the Shiite-dominated central government in Baghdad.

But so far, the offensive to retake Fallujah has only progressed 10 miles outside the city. “It’s still early in the Fallujah fight, so it’s unclear how long this battle will last,” said Warren.

Some of the 50,000 residents still in the city have begun leaving, heeding the advice of Iraqi government leaflets by placing white sheets on their rooftops to prevent them from being targeted by airstrikes.

Warren said ISIS will do what it can to prevent large numbers of civilians from fleeing the city because their standard practice is to use local populations as human shields.

“This is an enemy that doesn’t want the civilian population to leave,” said Warren. “Why? Because they want to hide behind the civilian population. They know it makes it harder for us.”

Last week, Warren had told reporters that retaking Fallujah was not a military prerequisite for a future offensive on Mosul and indicated it would be a political decision to retake Fallujah.

He said Friday that with the recent rash of bombings in Baghdad, “surely that changes the political calculus for the civilian leadership of Iraq. We understand that completely and we accept it, and we’re providing devastating air power in support of the decision that the prime minister of Iraq made to liberate Fallujah.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Investors are starting to accept an impending interest rate increase ahead of the holiday weekend after comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen helped Wall Street close slightly higher.

The Dow jumped 44.93 (+0.25 percent) to close at 17,873.22.

The Nasdaq gained 31.74 (+0.65 percent) to finish at 4,933.50, while the S&P pushed up 8.96 (+0.43 percent) to close at 2,099.06.

There was little change for crude oil with prices remaining at about $49 a barrel.

Federal Reserve: Speaking at Harvard University on Friday where she received the Radcliffe Medal, Yellen hinted there could be an interest rate hike sometime this summer as long as the economy and the jobs market continued to grow.

“It’s appropriate, and I have said this in the past, I think for the Fed to gradually and cautiously increase our overnight interest rate over time, and probably in the coming months such a move would be appropriate,” she said.

U.S. Economy: Also fueling a key interest rate raise, a revised report from the Commerce Department that showed there was stronger economic growth in the first-quarter compared to earlier predictions. The agency said the GDP grew 0.8 percent in Q1, above the previous estimate of 0.5 percent. Although consumer spending increased 1.9 percent, it was much lower than the fourth-quarter’s 2.4 percent increase.

Verizon: After 13 days of negotiations, Verizon Communications Inc. reached a deal on Friday with two unions for a four-year labor agreement. According to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, the workers will be back on the job next week.

“Today, I am pleased to announce that the parties have reached an agreement in principle on a four-year contract, resolving the open issues in the ongoing labor dispute between Verizon’s workers, unions, and management,” Perez said in a statement Friday. “The parties are now working to reduce the agreement to writing, after which the proposal will be submitted to CWA and IBEW union members for ratification.”

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Courtesy Anne Austin, Stanford University (CAIRO) — Researchers at Stanford University have found intricately designed body art on the well-preserved remains of a 3,000-year-old woman’s body from Ancient Egypt.

The human remains were from Deir el-Medina, the village of artisans who built the tombs of the pharaoh during Egypt’s New Kingdom (1550 to 1070 B.C.E.), Anne Austin, an archaeologist at Stanford University, told ABC News.

“Though the site was excavated nearly a century ago, the human remains were never studied. In 2014, I identified the mummy of a woman covered in tattoos; however, it wasn’t until this year when we did infrared photography and we were able to identify all of the tattoos on her shoulders, neck, arms, and back.”

The woman, who Austin said lived in the Ramesside period, more than 3,000 years ago, is covered with tattoos that Austin said have religious meanings.

“The tattoos include important religious imagery like the cows of the goddess Hathor and Wadjet eyes — a divine protective eye in ancient Egypt. The placement in the religious iconography of the tattoos suggests that they had a deeply symbolic religious purpose.”

Courtesy Anne Austin, Stanford University

This woman is one of three tattooed mummies buried in Egyptian cemeteries, Austin said, although it is likely that more have yet to be discovered. The tattoo artistry for this one is unique, however, as it is the first to have Egyptian figures while the others had geometric tattoos.

Austin told ABC News it is not know what tools or ink Ancient Egyptian tattoo artists used.

The tattoos may also indicate the advanced roles of women in Ancient Egypt. “This mummy not only documents an Egyptian tradition of tattooing that we have not yet seen before, but the religious symbolism of the tattoos reveal important ways that women could participate in religion in this time period in ancient Egypt.”

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) — Another interest rate increase after December’s hike may be coming sooner than investors think.

Speaking at Harvard University on Friday where she received the Radcliffe Medal, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen hinted there could be an interest rate hike sometime this summer as long as the economy and the jobs market continued to grow.

“It’s appropriate, and I have said this in the past, I think for the Fed to gradually and cautiously increase our overnight interest rate over time, and probably in the coming months such a move would be appropriate,” she said.

Despite signaling a possible rate hike, Yellen still remains cautious.

“One of the reasons I believe it’s important to be cautious in raising interest rates is precisely because if we were to raise interest rates too steeply and we were to trigger a downturn or contribute to a downturn we have limited scope for responding and it is an important reason for caution,” Yellen said.

Yellen’s words echo recent comments made by other Fed officials the past week that have talked about a rate hike happening sometime this summer. Some have even suggested more than one interest rate increase before the end of the year, despite Wall Street expectations that the central bank would hold off.

The Fed will meet on June 14-15 and Yellen is scheduled to hold another speech in Philadelphia on June 6.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — While holiday travelers enjoy their time off this Memorial Day weekend, crowding highways and airports across the country, aviation security will be put to the test.

“I don’t think it’ll be a summer of misery,” Transportation Security Administration Administrator Peter Neffenger told ABC News Friday.

Despite the record number of passengers expected to take to the skies this summer, the TSA head says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that the 768 new officers — combined with a new command center that monitors checkpoint volume in real-time, airport by airport – should help the long lines passengers have been seeing at TSA checkpoints across the country.

Existing TSOs (Travel Security Officers) will also take on more hours: Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson on Thursday submitted a request to Congress to transition 2,784 Transportation Security Officers from part-time to full time — a step that Johnson said would allow an additional 82,000 passengers to be screened per day.

Lawmakers have been calling for airlines to help ease wait times by eliminating bag fees, which they say force passengers to travel with carry-on bags, rather than checking their luggage.

On Friday, Neffenger told ABC News “that option has to be on the table,” but clarified that “it’s unclear to me how much that impact would be.”

Lawmakers say TSA data indicates that checkpoints serving carriers that charge for bags see 27 percent more roller bags than checkpoints serving carriers that allow passengers to check bags for free.

“Extra carry-on bags is a challenge,” Neffenger acknowledged.

His No. 1 tip to travelers looking to avoid long waits? Enroll in PreCheck or another “trusted traveler program.” Roughly 92 percent of PreCheck members stand in line five minutes or less.

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Verizon Communications Inc. has struck a deal in principle with two unions for a four-year labor agreement, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said Friday.

The workers will be back on the job next week, Perez said.

“Today, I am pleased to announce that the parties have reached an agreement in principle on a four-year contract, resolving the open issues in the ongoing labor dispute between Verizon’s workers, unions, and management,” Perez said in a statement Friday. “The parties are now working to reduce the agreement to writing, after which the proposal will be submitted to CWA and IBEW union members for ratification.”

The deal was struck through 13 days of negotiations at the Department of Labor, Perez said, adding he has observed the parties’ “good faith commitment to narrowing differences and forging and agreement.”

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