Review Category : Top Stories

US Again Accuses Syrian Regime of Using Chlorine as Chemical Weapon

pananba/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. State Department is once again accusing the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria of using chlorine as a chemical weapon.

A statement from Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S. “is deeply disturbed” by reports of the latest use of chlorine as a weapon, this time in the town of Sarmin on March 16. “We are looking very closely into this matter and considering next steps,” Kerry added.

“While we cannot yet confirm details, if true, this would be only the latest tragic example of the Assad regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people,” Kerry wrote, calling for the condemnation of the international community.

Kerry further called the Assad regime’s “horrifying pattern of using chlorine as a chemical weapon” proof that it continues to “flour international standards and norms.”

“As has been well documented, the Assad regime continues to terrorize the people of Syria through indiscriminate airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, murder, and starvation,” the statement continued.

Last year, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it had found “compelling confirmation” of the regime’s repeated use of chlorine as a weapon.

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Boehner ‘Stunned’ by Rep. Aaron Schock’s Resignation

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In the aftermath of Rep. Aaron Schock’s abrupt and unceremonious downfall, House Speaker John Boehner said he believes there are “ample controls” in place to keep members of Congress in check ethically, adding a warning that any member breaking the law will have it catch up with them “sooner or later.”

“I do think there are ample controls in place to deal with the allegations that are involved here, but understand something: If somebody’s going to violate the rules, you know, they’re going to violate the rules,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “And in almost every case, sooner or later, it catches up with you.”

When Schock, R-Ill., decided to resign, his decision unraveled so quickly he did not even notify leadership that his resignation announcement was coming. Boehner says he was “a bit stunned” to learn of Schock’s intent to resign at the end of the month.

“I have to tell you I was a bit stunned…by the announcement,” Boehner said. “But I think I expect and the American people expect members of Congress to be held to the highest ethical standards. And I think Mr. Schock made a decision. Frankly, I support the decision he made.”

Schock briefly surfaced at the Capitol Wednesday, where he met with House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranked Republican. While Schock appears to be making the rounds to make amends with GOP leaders, Boehner said he has not met with Schock.

House rules do not require members of Congress to undergo ethics training, although congressional staff is compelled to take an ethics orientation course.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who previously served on the Ethics Committee for seven years, said she believes it would be “important” for lawmakers, their families and congressional staff to have ethics training.

“I think we should just do the ethics training period so everybody has a comfort level as to what is personal, what is official, what is political. That’s really where lines are crossed,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

Schock is the second Republican of the fledgling 114th Congress to resign from office, joining disgraced former Rep. Michael Grimm.

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Tesla Makes It Impossible to Run Out of Charge

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed on Thursday how the electric car company is making it impossible for drivers to ever run out of charge.

A software update for “range assurance” will allow existing Tesla vehicles to communicate every 30 seconds or so with superchargers, alerting the driver if they’re in danger of going out of range.

Musk said it is “basically impossible” to run out of charge on a Tesla with the new software infrastructure.

“You have intelligent charging stations and an intelligent car communicating in a big network. That has never existed before,” Musk said during a conference call with reporters.

The second software update will allow Tesla drivers to optimize their road trips to ensure they have the “most convenient route” to their destination, Musk said.

That includes pit stops along the way where drivers may stop at a hotel or restaurant and use a Tesla supercharger while grabbing a bite to eat.

Musk also teased other features Tesla drivers can expect to see in the future and revealed how the high end electric cars are pretty much able to go from parking lot to parking lot without a driver ever having to touch the controls.

On a test route from San Francisco to Seattle, Musk said a Tesla driver barely touched any controls during the 800-mile trip.

“[It’s] technically capable of going from parking lot to parking lot but we won’t be enabling that for users with this hardware sweep because we don’t think its likely to be safe in suburban neighborhoods,” Musk said. “It will only be enabled once you’re on a highway or major road.”

Even then, he said, there will be an expectation that drivers will still pay attention to the road instead of taking a nap.

Another feature Tesla drivers can look forward to is called “summon,” which can be used on private property to have a Tesla drive itself to you or put itself to sleep in the garage.

Musk also revealed Tesla drivers can look forward to a valet mode that will limit speed, torque and will protect confidential information when a driver puts their car in someone else’s care.

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Why Spring Cleaning Your Email Inbox Doesn’t Have to Be a Chore

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Spring is around the corner — marking the perfect time to not only clean your home, but also to tidy up your email inbox. That doesn’t mean holding down the delete button until you reach inbox zero.

Email pack rats know what a time suck it is to sift through thousands of messages to find a spreadsheet or the place where you are supposed to meet a business contact for dinner. Searching is possible — but even then that often yields a slew of email clutter.

“All of us use folders and that means I have to spend time figuring out which mail goes in which folder,” Ravin Carr, chief commercial officer at GBS, told ABC News. “These are the unproductive tasks we do with email every day.”

GBS unveiled a new tool for Outlook last month called FewClix that Carr said he uses to find any email he needs in a matter of seconds — an impressive feat considering he said he has more than 90,000 messages in his inbox and doesn’t use folders.

The free version of FewClix integrates into Outlook and offers an easy search solution, allowing users to fill in multiple search fields, including sender, subject, content type and date.

The result is a pared down trove of messages that removes the feeling of the email time suck — and provides an easy way to make sure you’ve answered every email from your boss.

Few Clix Pro comes loaded with more features for $2.99 a year, including the ability to create thousands of super-specific virtual folders that don’t clutter the user interface.

“In the real folder world I can’t do this,” Carr said. “I’ll have thousands of folders and go crazy.”

The bottom line, Carr said, is that people spend hours in their email inbox when they could really be shaving off minutes that could be put to use doing something more enjoyable.

“We want people to reduce the amount of time they spend on email and use it on things that improve their lives,” he said.

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ISIS Claims Responsibility for Tunisia Museum Attack

iStock/Thinkstock(TUNIS, Tunisia) — ISIS on Thursday claimed responsibility for the Wednesday massacre at the Bardo Museum in Tunisia that killed 22 people, many of them Western tourists, and the two attackers.

In a 3-minute, 10-second audio message disseminated on Twitter accounts associated with ISIS, the terror group said that the two dead gunmen, who it named as Abu Zakaria al-Tunisi and Abu Anas al-Tunisi, “launched and were heavily equipped with machine guns and hand grenades to target Bardo Museum.”

“The blessed immersing operation led to killing and wounding dozens of Crusaders and apostates,” the message said, “and the failed security forces did not dare to approach but after the two heroes ran out of ammunition.”

ISIS also threatened more attacks to come, saying “what you have seen today is the first drop of the rain, Allah permitting. You will not enjoy security nor be pleased with peace while the Islamic State has men like these who do not sleep amidst grievances.”

The unverified claim, which is being analyzed by U.S. officials for authenticity, came after Tunisian authorities said they had arrested nine people in connection with the attack.

“Four of the arrests were directly related to the attack, and five others were made under strong suspicion of relation to the attack,” Aida Klibi, a spokeswoman for the Tunisian presidential office, told ABC News about the arrests made Wednesday.

She would not reveal further information on the identity of those arrested.

Officials Thursday morning said at least 24 died, and 48 more were injured, including tourists from Poland, Germany, Spain and Italy, most of them massacred as they got off a tour bus that brought them to the museum from a cruise ship.

Tourists inside the crowded museum in Tunisia’s capital city ran for their lives, some shielding their children, as two gunmen approached. Later, they hid inside the galleries beneath priceless antiquities.

Two Spanish tourists and a guard were found still hiding Thursday in the sarcophagus room, a museum official said.

ISIS has made repeated threats against Tunisia. In one video posted online in December, ISIS fighters urged Tunisian Muslim to pledge allegiance to ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and warned Tunisians “you will not live secured as long as Tunisia is not governed by Islam.”

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Solar Eclipse 2015: Best Way to Watch the Spectacle in the Sky

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A total solar eclipse is set to create the ultimate spectacle in the sky on Friday morning — but the lucky few who have a front row seat will need to take measures to protect their eyes.

This solar eclipse will be northerly, with those in the Faroe Islands — located halfway between Iceland and Norway — having the best seats for the solar spectacular before it sweeps across parts of Europe and northern Africa.

It’s not safe to look at the sun with the naked eye and regular sunglasses won’t suffice. NASA suggests viewing the solar eclipse with a special solar filter.

Under no circumstances should an eclipse be viewed directly through binoculars or a telescope, according to NASA, as the lens could intensify the sun’s rays and injure the viewer’s eyes.

While many won’t be catching a glimpse this time around, it’s still possible to enjoy the sights of the eclipse at Slooh’s online observatory, which will live stream the event at 4:30 a.m. ET.

NASA predicts the “instant of greatest eclipse” will happen at 5:45 a.m. ET for people who want to watch online.

The United States will have its turn to enjoy the best seats in the house when a total solar eclipse passes over the country on Aug. 21, 2017, according to NASA.

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WATCH: Police Set Off Illegal Pyrotechnics Haul All at Once

Midland Police Department(MIDLAND, Texas) — If you don’t have the patience to sit through a full fireworks show, here’s a video for you.

The Midland, Texas, Police Department recently set off an entire haul of fireworks at virtually the same time.

“MPD’s bomb squad recently assisted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with the disposal of approximately 20,000 pounds of seized fireworks over the course of three and a half days,” the Midland Police Department wrote in a description of the video posted earlier this week on Facebook.

“This was done during the day because it was not meant to be a fireworks show,” the Midland Police Department added. “These fireworks could not be donated since their destruction was court-ordered.”

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WATCH: Vin Diesel Pays Tribute to Paul Walker at “Furious 7″ Debut

Victor Chavez/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) — At an early screening of Furious 7 in Los Angeles, Vin Diesel made sure to pay tribute to his late friend Paul Walker, nearly a year and half after his sudden death.

“This was a very personal and important film to us,” Diesel said. “Every time I saw the movie at the premieres, Paul Walker and I would go off to the side. He would always tell me, ‘Vin, the best one is still [to come].’ I hope tonight, you let Pablo know this is the best one for you guys.”

He continued, “This was a labor of love. It was in some ways the hardest movie I ever had to do. Because the relationships that you see on film are so real. When the tragedy happened, I lost my best friend. I lost my brother.”

Diesel, 47, was going to continue and said, “Tonight …,” before he was overtaken with emotion and couldn’t talk. Someone in the crowd screamed, “You are the man V!” Cries of “We love you” came next.

Someone yelled, “You got family here Vin,” to which he replied: “Aw, I love that!”

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This 106-Acre Florida Island Could Be Your Dream Home

Courtesy of Michael Saunders & Company(TAMPA BAY, Fla.) — Your dream of owning your own tropical island oasis can now be a reality if you have a knack for bargaining.

The owners of Little Bokeelia Island, a 104-acre island south of the Tampa Bay, Florida, area, are looking for an immediate sale of their slice of paradise, meaning all offers are being considered.

A representative from Michael Saunders & Company, which is leading the sale, tells ABC News the owners have developed and enjoyed the 104-acre island for 26 years, but are looking to immediately sell it so they can focus on a Christian ministry they work with.

Your new island getaway comes complete with a four-bedroom villa, a three-bedroom guest wing, and enough land and amenities to build 28 additional home sites for all your friends and family.

The owners are serious about considering all offers, even though the island is currently listed at $24.5 million. They don’t even have a minimum figure requested.

A $100,000 security deposit can get you a personal tour of the island, lunch included. Offers will be considered until April 30.

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Spring Has Sprung, but Winter Just Won’t Go Away

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The official first day of spring is Friday. Unfortunately, Old Man Winter is feeling extra grumpy toward the Northeast this year, bringing more cold and snow to the region.

First, it’s the cold.

Gusty winds and frigid morning temperatures are making it feel more like January instead of March this week. Thursday morning will feature temperatures 10 to 15 degrees below normal — in the 20s from Pittsburgh to New York City, in the teens in Boston and even single digits in northern New England.

This cold air will stay in place right into the weekend, and that sets the stage for accumulating snow as a storm system tracks towards the Northeast Thursday night into Friday.

Snow will travel from West Virginia to Philadelphia to New York City and into southern New England on Friday. These areas could get 1 to 4 inches of snow with 5 to 6 inches possible in some spots.

A Winter Weather Advisory was issued Thursday for New York City and most of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for the mountains of central Pennsylvania, northern Maryland and northern West Virginia, where up to half a foot of snow could accumulate.

Snow is expected to begin in Philadelphia after 10 a.m. ET Friday and start up in New York City an hour later, continuing onto Connecticut by the early afternoon. Snow will be heavy at times in these areas from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Luckily, this is a fast moving storm and will clear the region by Friday night, leaving behind a much drier and more pleasant Saturday for the first weekend of Spring.

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