Review Category : Top Stories

Images Purportedly Show ISIS Destroying Ancient Syrian Temple

Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) — After reports surfaced that ISIS demolished a 2,000-year-old Syrian temple, images of the purported destruction have begun circulating on social media accounts associated with the terror group.

As dread over the fate of the ancient city of Palmyra continues to mount, the series of photos, which appear to have been screen-grabbed from a propaganda video, show how militants destroyed the Temple of Baalshamin.

ABC News has not independently confirmed the authenticity of the images.

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova called the act “a new war crime” for ISIS, and “an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity.”

“The art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, is a symbol of the complexity and wealth of the Syrian identity and history,” Bokova said in a statement. “I call on the international community to stand united against this persistent cultural cleansing.”

Palmyra is a designated World Heritage site, but was taken over by the Islamic State group in May. Khaled al-Asaad, who was director of the city’s antiquities since 1963, assisted in evacuating many of the city’s treasures before militants could loot them and sell them to fund their activities.

Asaad’s friends told ABC News last week that after he stayed behind to protect the city’s ruins, he is believed to have refused to collaborate with ISIS in divulging the details of other hidden treasures in the site.

The 81-year-old was then publicly executed and hanged from columns inside the city.

Over the past year, ISIS has released multiple videos showing militants’ destroying ancient artifacts and bulldozing historical sites, with narrators explaining that the preservation of ancient ruins constitutes worship of idols.

Idolatry is a sin punishable by death, according to ISIS theology.

In an email exchange last Thursday with ABC News, Syria’s Antiquities Chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said there are worries that ISIS will destroy the iconic Temple of Bel next.

“The local community in Palmyra are playing now an important role to convince ISIS members that this temple was transferred to a mosque since the 14th century,” Abdulkarim said, adding that there is little optimism that reasoning will help.

“I am sure ISIS will continue the destruction in Palmyra,” he said. “Sometimes they destroy for revenge from the international community and sometimes as a type of propaganda to show their force. These gangs and their sick ideology will continue to destroy our cultural heritage as long as there is no strong deterrent.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Car Switching from Bud to Busch Next Season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Anheuser-Busch will be making a change next season as sponsor of Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Chevy.

It will switch the branding on the reigning Sprint Cup champ’s car from Budweiser to Busch for the 2016 season.

Lucas Herscovici, vice president of consumer connections at Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement, “We are committed to the sport of racing, the fans and the Stewart-Haas Racing team we support — specifically the No. 4 car of Kevin Harvick.”

“To that point, and given we evaluate all of our sports properties on an annual basis, we will be shifting our brand equity in Harvick’s car and team from Budweiser to our Busch beer portfolio for the 2016 NASCAR season,” he continued.

SHR Executive Vice President Brett Frood added, “We’ve had tremendous successes with their logo donning our car and look for that to continue as we close out the 2015 racing season. With that said, we are excited to celebrate the Busch brand not only returning to NASCAR, but returning to the sport on our team.”

Harvick is the current points leader in the Sprint Cup Series.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Here’s How Much Time Americans Waste in Traffic

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Economic recovery apparently comes with one very unpleasant side effect: traffic. Eight years post-recession, more people are headed into work — and roadways are getting clogged.

America’s drivers wasted 6.9 billion hours stuck in traffic in 2014, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute(TTI) and INRIX. That’s 42 hours a year per rush-hour commuter on average.

During the height of the recession, in 2009, we wasted 6.3 billion hours on the road. The pre-recession peak was around 6.6 billion hours, in 2007.

“It appears that the economy-congestion linkage is as dependable as gravity,” the study declares.

All that gridlock isn’t easy on the wallet. America blew through $160 billion in wasted time and fuel last year — an average cost of $960 per typical motorist, according to the study. Delays cost commercial truckers even more.

The average commuter guzzled an extra 19 gallons of fuel during traffic jams. Collectively, we wasted about 3 billion gallons of fuel thanks to traffic in 2014, the study found.

Washington, D.C., topped the list of most congested cities, according to the study, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and San Jose. In the nation’s capital, commuters spent an average of 82 hours of their year — nearly 1 percent of their time — bumper-to-bumper. In L.A., they spent about 80 hours; in New York, around 74.

As you may have noticed, congestion builds through the week, going from bad on Monday to awful on Friday.

The average delay per commuter is more than twice what it was in the early 1980s. And according to Inrix and TTI, without “more assertive approaches on the project, program, and policy fronts,” congestion will likely only get worse.

By 2020, TTI projects that the total nationwide delay time will grow to 8.3 billion hours — an increase of 1.4 billion hours in just five years — and congestion will cost $192 billion.

It is “clear this growth is outpacing the investment in infrastructure and programs to address the increased demand on the network,” the study’s authors write. “Travelers are not only paying the price for this inadequate response, but traffic congestion can also become a drain on further economic growth.”

Quickly towing crashed vehicles, synchronizing traffic lights, and improving road design can impact traffic time, according to the study. So can adding highway lanes and providing better public transit. And modifying workers’ schedules or allowing them to have flexible hours could even out traffic and reduce the rush-hour bottleneck.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Dallas Cowboys’ Orlando Scandrick Suffers Knee Injury, Team Fears ACL Tear

Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images(DALLAS) — Team doctors fear that Dallas Cowboys safety Orlando Scandrick may have suffered a knee injury that could cost him the 2015 season.

Scandrick went down with the injury during a practice on Tuesday night, with many teammates and the team’s Twitter account expressing concern that Scandrick’s ACL may have been torn. Jerome Henderson told the team’s website that Scandrick told him that it felt as though his ACL was torn.

“I hope he’s just being dramatic,” Henderson said. Quarterback Tony Romo also acknowledged the fear of an ACL tear, but sent prayers out to Scandrick.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Fourteen Detained in Anti-Terrorism Operation in Spain, Morocco

manuel velasco/iStock/Thinkstock(MADRID) — Fourteen people were detained on Tuesday in an anti-terrorism operation in Spain and Morocco, authorities said.

According to the Spanish Interior Ministry, arrests were made in San Martin de la Vega in Spain and in Fez, Casablanca, Al Hoceima and Driouch in Morocco. The individuals detained, authorities say, made up part of a network of capturing and sending foreign fighters to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Spain and Morocco have arrested dozens of suspected jihadists and recruiters.

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Amazon Expands Prime Now Service to Seattle Area

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Amazon announced the expansion of its Prime Now service to the Seattle area on Tuesday, in an effort to bring one-hour delivery to more of its clientele.

Prime Now is exclusively available to members of Amazon’s Prime membership program and now provides one-hour deliver for thousands of items, including paper towels, milk, ice cream, televisions, and now, alcohol. The company said in a press release that wine and beer will be available through the Prime Now service.

“Prime Now is our fastest delivery option ever,” said the program’s director Stephenie Landry. Customers, she added, love the convenience of the program.

Tens of millions of people subscribe to Amazon Prime, giving them access to Prime Now. The one-hour delivery service will operate seven days a week between 8 a.m. and midnight for $7.99. Two-hour delivery will be free.

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Bellefontaine Woman To Face Death Penalty Charges

8/25/2015   5:15pm

The Logan County grand jury has indicted a Bellefontaine woman for the deaths of her sons The Bellefontaine Examiner reports that Brittany Pilkington, age 23 of Bellefontaine has been indicted on three counts of aggravated murder with death specifications. Each count specifies the victims were under the age of thirteen and there were two or more victims killed. It is possible she could be sentenced to death if convicted of the charges.

Pilkington is currently being held in the Logan County Jail under a $1 million bond. An arraignment hearing is set for Wednesday afternoon in Logan County Common Pleas Court.

More: The Bellefontaine Examiner

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Former Rick Perry Adviser Named Trump’s National Co-Chair

ABC News(DUBUQUE, Iowa) — Donald Trump’s campaign gained some steam on Tuesday at the expense of an opponent who had already been languishing near the bottom of most polls.

Before Trump’s event in Dubuque began, his new national co-chair and senior policy adviser, Sam Clovis, spoke to reporters. Clovis, who left the campaign of former Texas governor Rick Perry, said he was “excited about the opportunity and a chance to change the status quo.”

Perry had been among the Republicans criticizing Trump’s rhetoric, calling him a cancer on the conservative movement.

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Google Map Maker Returns After High-Profile Pranks

A screen grab from the Google Map Maker webpage made on Aug. 25, 2015 shows the message that the tool is reopening in the United States with some changes. Google(NEW YORK) — Google Map Maker made its triumphant return to the Internet this week with a set of new tools designed to thwart pranksters from carrying out the same types of stunts that prompted the service to be shut down in May.

The service, which allows user contributions to maps around the world, is being re-introduced this week in 45 countries, including the United States, with a set of new safeguards, including community moderators who can watch for inappropriate edits. Six countries were phased back in earlier this month.

Google also disabled the shape editing tool that was previously abused by some pranksters. In one instance, a large-scale prank involving the Android robot urinating on the Apple logo, placed on the outskirts of Rawlpindi, Pakistan. Previous hacks reported included one placing Edward Snowden in the White House and fake highway exits, among others.

The pranks were able to be pulled off because Google relies on auto-approval and user moderation to handle the edits. After the Android prank, Google switched to human moderators, only to see its backlog of edits grow.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Google Map Maker Returns After High-Profile Pranks

A screen grab from the Google Map Maker webpage made on Aug. 25, 2015 shows the message that the tool is reopening in the United States with some changes. Google(NEW YORK) — Google Map Maker made its triumphant return to the Internet this week with a set of new tools designed to thwart pranksters from carrying out the same types of stunts that prompted the service to be shut down in May.

The service, which allows user contributions to maps around the world, is being re-introduced this week in 45 countries, including the United States, with a set of new safeguards, including community moderators who can watch for inappropriate edits. Six countries were phased back in earlier this month.

Google also disabled the shape editing tool that was previously abused by some pranksters. In one instance, a large-scale prank involving the Android robot urinating on the Apple logo, placed on the outskirts of Rawlpindi, Pakistan. Previous hacks reported included one placing Edward Snowden in the White House and fake highway exits, among others.

The pranks were able to be pulled off because Google relies on auto-approval and user moderation to handle the edits. After the Android prank, Google switched to human moderators, only to see its backlog of edits grow.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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