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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Some of the most historical and consequential anti-slavery documents in U.S. history — signed by President Abraham Lincoln — fetched millions at auction.

Copies of both the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment sold for a total of more than $4 million by auction house Sotheby’s on Wednesday.

Our ‘Two Centuries of American History’ totaled $6.2 million, led by two documents signed by President Lincoln pic.twitter.com/KD2QafcgiX

— Sotheby’s (@Sothebys) May 25, 2016

Sotheby’s initially hoped the documents signed by the 16th president would fetch $5 million at auction.

The 13th Amendment, which sold for $2.4 million, was one of the 14 copies signed by Lincoln Feb. 1, 1865, according to Sotheby’s. It’s also one of three “Senate copies” that are signed by the vice president and 36 senators.

The amendment abolished slavery, stating that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist with the United States.”

Our ‘Two Centuries of American History’ totaled $6.2 million, led by two documents signed by President Lincoln pic.twitter.com/KD2QafcgiX

— Sotheby’s (@Sothebys) May 25, 2016

The amendment was ratified in December 1865, roughly six months after the Civil War ended. But Lincoln was assassinated in April and didn’t live long enough to actually see the enacted into law.

Sotheby’s copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, a limited edition print, sold for $2.17 million by a telephone bidder. It was not an original, even though it was signed by Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward.

#AuctionUpdate One of three ‘Senate’ copies, the 13th Amendment signed by President Lincoln achieves $2.4 million pic.twitter.com/jlhi9yVqXd

— Sotheby’s (@Sothebys) May 25, 2016

The document is one of 27 surviving copies of the original 48, according to Sotheby’s.

Lincoln signed the original Emancipation Proclamation Jan. 1, 1863, the third year of the Civil War, declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the Confederacy “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

The proclamation allowed liberated slaves to serve in the Union Army and Navy.

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Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images(ISE, Japan) — President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited one of Japan’s holiest sites Thursday, just a day after their awkward joint-press conference.

The president and prime minister strolled through the Ise-Jingu Shrine before meeting with other G7 leaders. The world leaders used shovels to plant trees on the grounds of the holy site.

It was a stark contrast to the icy reception President Obama received when he landed in Japan Wednesday.

Abe publicly lectured the president over the murder of a 20-year-old Japanese woman in Okinawa allegedly at the hands of a former U.S. Marine.

The president spent the rest of his days in meetings at the G7 summit, where leaders were expected to speak about terrorism, maritime security, and the global economy.

On Friday, Obama will travel to Hiroshima, becoming the first American president to visit the site where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb during World War II.

“Our visit to Hiroshima will honor all of those who were lost in World War II and reaffirm our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons, as well as highlight the extraordinary alliance that we have been able to forge over these many decades,” the president said Wednesday.

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Zoonar/Thinkstock(DOMBIVLI, India) — Three people were killed and dozens more were injured in an explosion at a chemical factory in India this morning, officials said.

Officials said the blast, which happened around 11:30 a.m. local time in Dombivli — roughly 20 miles outside Mumbai — was so loud that companies nearby felt the vibrations even as residents complained that their window panes were shattered.

Fire crews worked to put out the blaze triggered by the explosion. The injured were rushed to nearby hospitals.

Police said they sealed the area around the company where the blast took place.

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TongRo Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Italian navy was called to rescue 562 migrants after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Wednesday, the BBC reports.

According to the BBC, the trawler reportedly overturned because the people onboard rushed to one side after spotting a rescue ship.

Five of the migrants were found dead.

According to the BBC, Italy’s Bettica patrol boat threw life jackets into the water while rescue boats were sent. That same boat rescued another 108 migrants from a separate incident earlier Wednesday.

The BBC reports about 6,000 migrants trying to reach Europe illegally have been rescued from poorly built rafts in the Mediterranean in just the past few days.

Aid agencies say crossing the sea between Libya and Italy is the main route for migrants to take after a European Union deal with Turkey docked the number of migrants using the Aegean to get to Greece, according to the BBC.

About 700 migrants have died, which is the largest single loss of life in the Medterranean in decades, the BBC reports.

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iStock/Thinkstock(BRILLION, Wis.) — An Islamic advocacy group representing former Muslim employees at a Wisconsin equipment company filed a discrimination complaint against the firm Tuesday because employees can no longer take prayer breaks at times that are in accordance with their religion. A letter accompanying the complaint claims employees were discriminated and retaliated against on the basis of their religion, national origin and race.

According to the letter, Ariens Co., which manufactures snowblowers and lawn tractors in Brillion, Wisconsin, used to allow Muslim employees to take prayer breaks one at a time after notifying and receiving permission from a supervisor. Employees say they had been able to take those breaks at the traditional times for Muslims. However, the employees claim the company began enforcing a new policy beginning on Jan. 25 that permitted only two pre-determined 10-minute breaks per work shift with no additional accommodations for prayer outside of those break times. Dozens of Somali Muslim employees at the company have protested the new break policy, and 15 of them are now represented by attorneys at the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, which submitted the charges of discrimination with the Milwaukee office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Dozens of Somali Muslim employees at the company have protested the new break policy, and 15 of them are now represented by attorneys at the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, which submitted the charges of discrimination with the Milwaukee office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“These individuals had direct and personal conversations with management in which they stated that they wanted to continue their employment with Ariens, but felt that they were no longer welcome and being forced out because of the company’s new policy,” CAIR wrote in a letter that accompanied its religious discrimination complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on religion and requires employers to accommodate religious beliefs. In keeping with their Islamic faith, practicing Muslims pray five times each day. But Ariens management allegedly threatened to fire those employees who continued to pray beyond the scheduled breaks or who had requested an accommodation to pray. Seven Muslim employees were let go earlier this year, while 14 others resigned over the dispute.

“The outright refusal to entertain, discuss, or offer any reasonable religious accommodation options that would resolve the alleged workplace conflict is unacceptable and inconsistent with prevailing Title VII law and EEOC guidelines,” CAIR said in the letter.

Maha Sayed, an attorney for the Washington, D.C., based organization, said it could take several months for federal officials to investigate the employees’ claims. The EEOC could also offer to mediate the dispute during the investigation, or the two parties could voluntarily settle it the claim.

“If the EEOC concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred, it may decide to litigate the case itself in federal court or issue the charging party a Notice of Right to Sue letter, which allows the party to file a federal lawsuit within 90 days,” Sayed told ABC News in an email Wednesday.

Ariens Co. spokesperson Ann Stilp said the complaint was “disappointing news.”

“We have had Muslim employees working for the company for nine years. We currently have more than 27 Muslim employees who continue to work here and we continue to accommodate them with prayer rooms,” Stilp told ABC News in a statement.

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Christophe Chammartin/ SI2 via Getty Images(LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa.) — Solar Impulse, the lightweight solar-powered airplane being flown by two pilots on a journey around the world, hit a milestone Wednesday afternoon after successfully crossing the United States.

Swiss adventurers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg take turns flying the one-seater airplane, which is solely powered by the sun’s energy. Piccard spoke to ABC News from the cockpit Wednesday as he made the 400-mile journey from Dayton, Ohio, to Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, where he said he expects to land around 9 p.m. ET.

“When I heard the air traffic controller from New York, I thought, ‘Wow, we have crossed the United States. We are arriving now on the East Coast, coming from Hawaii through San Francisco, Phoenix, Tulsa, Dayton,'” he told ABC News. “That is so great. We are very happy.”

Fantastic moment. I just got in touch with Air Traffic Control of New York Center. We’ve crossed the USA!!!!! pic.twitter.com/8ssCXu2AO8

— Bertrand PICCARD (@bertrandpiccard) May 25, 2016

The final American leg will include Borschberg flying from Pennsylvania and past the Statue of Liberty before landing in New York ahead of a grueling transatlantic flight. Compared to what is ahead, Piccard said today’s flight “is not very technical because it is short.”

“I took off in the night at 4 in the morning to avoid the bad weather coming through Dayton,” he said. “I will arrive a little bit too early over Lehigh Valley and I will start now holding. That means to wait for several hours until the wind decreases and then I will land after 9 p.m. tonight.”

Solar Impulse is able to fly day and night because of the solar energy is stored in batteries on the aircraft. The duo expect to complete their around-the-world journey this summer in Abu Dhabi. While the project is designed to raise awareness about clean energy, it’s also provided some memorable personal moments.

“As the promoter of the message of Solar Impulse, it was the most fantastic moment for me when I could speak live to the General Assembly of the United Nations from the cockpit of Solar Impulse and speak about clean technologies. That was fantastic for me,” Piccard said.

As an explorer, Piccard said his most memorable moment thus far was when he was crossing the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and San Francisco.

“I was in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of the night, alone in the plane and I was just really happy because this is the world I love,” he said. “This is the world of exploration. You get out of your comfort zone, you explore the unknown. You are pushing the limits and you discover what you have inside of yourself.”

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NASA/CXC/STScI(NEW YORK) — Scientists may have unraveled the mystery of what creates supermassive black holes.

Giant black holes are at the heart of almost every large galaxy and are so large some are billions of times the mass of the sun. They were formed around 13 billion years ago, less than one billion years after the formation of the universe, according to NASA.

Using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, scientists determined a collapsing cloud of gas may have been the catalyst for forming supermassive black holes, creating black hole seeds. As a result, the black holes were able to skip the intermediate steps in the growth process.

If the new research holds up, it would provide the clearest explanation yet as to how black holes may have come into existence and another possible mechanism for how the mysterious celestial objects came to be. Other theories for growth include smaller black holes merging and pulling in gas from surrounding objects.

Fabio Pacucci, a researcher from the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa Italy, led the study. Pacucci said his team was able to use long-exposure images from the space observatories to pinpoint the locations of two probable black hole seeds estimated to have formed within the first billion years following the Big Bang.

The research suggests supermassive black holes were simply born big and grew at a normal rate as opposed to another theory that black holes start small and quickly expand.

“Our discovery, if confirmed, explains how these monster black holes were born,” Pacucci, a said in a statement. “We found evidence that supermassive black hole seeds can form directly from the collapse of a giant gas cloud, skipping any intermediate steps.”

While the development is exciting, the researchers need more time to validate their findings and will now focus on getting more data on the two black hole seeds and hope to pinpoint more black holes that may be the result of a direct collapse.

“Black hole seeds are extremely hard to find and confirming their detection is very difficult,” Andrea Grazian, a co-author of the paper said in the same statement. “However, we think our research has uncovered the two best candidates to date.”

The complete findings of the study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — U.S. stocks closed higher for the second day in a row Wednesday following a jump in oil prices on a crude inventories decline.

The Dow soared 145.46 (+0.82 percent) to close at 17,851.51.

The Nasdaq increased 33.84 (+0.70 percent) to finish at 4,894.89, while the S&P gained 14.48 (+0.70 percent) to close at 2,090.54.

Crude oil climbed 2.12 percent, with prices reaching $49.65 a barrel.

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iStock/ThinkstockWhile Nigerian soldiers battle Boko Haram militants in the north, a new, radical group of vigilantes has emerged from the southern swamplands threatening to wage war one of the world’s largest oil supplies.

The group calls itself the “Niger Delta Avengers” and it has claimed responsibility for a spate of recent attacks and bombings on oil pipelines and terminals in Nigeria’s southern region, the Niger Delta — a top oil-producing region in sub-Saharan Africa and the world.

They have successfully targeted major platforms belonging to Shell and Chevron in the past few weeks, and their attacks have driven the country’s oil output to a near 22-year low.

Not much is known about who is behind the Niger Delta Avengers. But the militants are making their mark on Nigeria’s southern infrastructure, and there are calls for President Muhammadu Buhari to take steps to prevent the militant group from growing.

“The Niger Delta Avengers have obviously proven themselves to be very effective in this one area of Niger Delta,” said Matthew Bey, an Africa energy analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm based in Austin, Texas. “It seems to be a new generation of militant groups.”


The Niger Delta Avengers first emerged in February, after claiming responsibility for the attack on an underwater pipeline run by Shell, forcing the oil giant to halt its 250,000 barrels-per-day Forcados terminal for weeks. The militant group has since taken responsibility for several other attacks in the southern Delta state, including one earlier this month at a an offshore oil platform run by Chevron, which produces tens of thousands of barrels a day.

The attacks showed a level of sophistication and technical expertise, raising speculation that the new group is actually comprised of ex-militants from a long-running and powerful rebel group that was called the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

“It’s hard to say whether these guys are former militants, but they’re definitely tapping into the established knowledge base,” Bey told ABC News.

MEND wreaked havoc on the six states that make up the Niger Delta from 2006 to 2009, costing the nation roughly one-third of its oil production, until then-President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua offered a multi-million dollar amnesty program that had thousands of rebels agree to lay down their arms in exchange for an unconditional pardon and stipend.


Like MEND, the Niger Delta Avengers demand greater ownership of lucrative oil resources for residents in crude-producing areas. The group also seeks environmental restoration, compensation for damages caused by oil producers and sustained government funding for the amnesty program. The group has threatened to completely shut down the West African nation’s production of oil and gas if its demands are not met.

The Niger Delta Avengers’ attacks on the region have led to Nigeria’s oil output plummeting by nearly 40 percent, the country’s oil minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said while addressing parliament last week, according to Reuters. The loss dethroned Nigeria as Africa’s top oil producer.

Another group called the Red Egbesu Water Lions that emerged last Wednesday has vowed to join the Niger Delta Avengers if their demands were not met within the next seven days, local media reported.

MEND, on the other hand, has distanced itself from the Niger Delta Avengers and the recent attacks on the region’s oil installations. In a statement reportedly signed by its spokesperson and published by local media, the group said Sunday it “wishes to condemn and dissociate itself from the recent activities carried out by the group known as the ‘Niger Delta Avengers.’”

“Their sudden emergence has absolutely nothing to do with the Niger Delta struggle but is rather a tool by certain elements to destabilize the current government,” MEND continued.

MEND’s condemnation of the Niger Delta Avengers came as no surprise to Akin Iwilade, a research student at Oxford University who studies youth, violence and the politics of amnesty in Nigeria’s oil-producing region. The newly formed group threatens to disrupt the profitable amnesty deal the former militants currently enjoy.

“The top leadership of MEND benefited from the patronage that came with the amnesty,” said Iwilade, who has spoken with a number of ex-oil militants in recent years. “It is very logical and, frankly, expected, that they would condemn a group they obviously have little control over.”


Buhari, who took office in May last year, extended the amnesty program for another two years in February, shortly before the Niger Delta Avengers announced themselves. But the former military ruler, who hails from the north, angered former oil rebels by ending generous pipeline security contracts and reducing the monthly stipends. Now, Buhari is faced with the possibility of a revived rebel insurgency in the south while fighting Islamic militant group Boko Haram, which has killed and displaced millions in the past seven years, in the north.

“It is difficult to imagine that ex-militants have no hand whatsoever in this,” Iwilade told ABC News. “There are very clear similarities in the way the Niger Delta Avengers operates with what we knew of groups like MEND.”

While there are parallels between the two groups, such as language and style of attacks, there are several differences. The Niger Delta Avengers has criticized MEND and other older groups for killing Nigerian troops, taking foreigners hostage and allegedly enriching themselves through the amnesty payments.

The newly formed Niger Delta Avengers have not yet shown whether they will wield the same political influence that helped MEND become the most powerful militant group in its time.

“If we see start to see that link then, yes, we could definitely see this insurgency rise,” Bey of Stratfor said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — Nadezhda Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot held prisoner by Russia for almost two years, returned home to Kiev Wednesday following a dramatic prisoner swap for two captured Russian soldiers.

Her release removes a source of tension between Russia and Ukraine, and led some to hope it could help efforts to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, though relations between the two countries remain deeply hostile.

Following weeks of negotiations, Savchenko was abruptly released from prison in southern Russia straight onto a Ukrainian government plane and flown to Kiev, where she emerged to a hero’s welcome. Meanwhile, two Russian special forces officers were simultaneously flown hurriedly to Moscow hours after they were pardoned by Ukraine’s president.

President Petro Poroshenko met Savchenko at Kiev’s Boryspil airport, where she was mobbed by journalists. In Moscow, the two soldiers were greeted on the runway by their wives, in a carefully controlled scene filmed by state television.

Savchenko’s release is significant because it removes a symbolic sticking point between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the United States and the European Union, which could help Moscow to push for sanctions to be eased. It also clears at least one obstacle to finding a more final peace settlement for eastern Ukraine, though few expect the release will lead to much progress immediately.

For Ukraine, though it was celebrated as a major symbolic victory in the country’s conflict with Russia, which two years ago launched a covert war in support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. Savchenko has become a national hero in Ukraine, with her face plastered across the country.

The 35-year-old pilot was captured by the Moscow-backed rebels in the east while fighting in June 2014 and handed over to Russia. Earlier this year, a Russian court sentenced her to 22 years in jail for murder, convicting her of allegedly directing artillery fire at journalists.

The case was condemned internationally as politically motivated, with the E.U. and U.S. demanding Savchenko’s release. Savchenko went on a hunger strike, with her lawyers describing her as a hostage. The case was one of a number in Russia targeting Ukrainian citizens criticized by rights groups as show trials. Her imprisonment was widely considered by observers as a bargaining chip for Russia.

The two Russian soldiers released Wednesday, Aleksandar Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, were captured in eastern Ukraine last year and convicted of terrorism by a Ukrainian court. The two admitted to being Russian officers, but Russia’s military has denied they were on active service, saying they traveled to Ukraine on their own initiative.

The prisoner exchange was made possible after Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, pardoned the soldiers. Russian President Vladimir Putin also pardoned Savchenko, saying he had done so at the request of the relatives of the two journalists she was alleged to have murdered.

In a televised meeting, Putin thanked the journalists’ widow and sister, who sat silently, saying he hoped the release would help “alleviate the stand-off” in eastern Ukraine.

The return of the two soldiers was a tricky moment for Moscow, appearing to be a tacit recognition that they operated on Russia’s behalf. The Kremlin, though, has continued to insist that Aleksandrov and Yerofeyev were volunteers.

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