World News

Galaxy Discovery Sheds New Light on How Structures Formed


ESA(NEW YORK) -- New clues have been discovered in the distant universe that shed light on how galaxies formed.The universe is believed to be 13.8 billion years old and is home to an estimated 100 billion galaxies comprised of stars, gas and dust. However, researchers are unsure how those giant clusters came to be.In order to capture light from the early universe, the European Space Agency's Planck telescope used cosmic microwave background signals to create a map of the radiation left by the Big Bang.The Herschel telescope was then used to zoom in on some of the clusters that were captured by the Planck telescope, allowing researchers to examine what are believed to be precursors to galaxies.A recently released photo shows black dots, which are believed to be newly discovered clusters, in the Earth's home galaxy, the Milky Way."Finding so many intensely star-forming, dust galaxies in such concentrated groups was a huge surprise," said Hervé Dole, the lead author of the study that will be published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics on Tuesday, according to NASA. "We think this is a missing piece of cosmological structure formation."While stars and galaxies were abundant in the early universe, they would collapse under the weight of gravity and trigger the creation of new stars and galaxies, according to NASA.The findings show that the galaxies from the early universe have been able to create stars from gas and dust at a rate of as many as 1,500 solar masses per year. The Milky Way today averages about one solar mass per year, according to the European Space Agency, meaning that about one star with the weight of our sun is created from dust and gas every year.Astrophysicists haven't yet determined the age of the distant clusters. However, they believe they are likely the closest evidence that has been found to the enormous galaxies seen today closer to our own.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Oil Rig Explosion Kills 4 in Gulf of Mexico


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An explosion and ensuing fire on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday left four dead and injured at least 16 others, according to the Pemex oil company.Pemex, a Mexican state-run oil company, said 300 workers were evacuated after the fire broke out on their Abkatun Permanente plaform.Among those killed was a contractor for the Mexican oil services company, Cotemar, according to Pemex. Currently, there are eight fireboats fighting the blaze, according to Pemex.It is unclear how much fuel might have leaked into the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the incident.Pemex has dealt with multiple deadly accidents in recent years, including a 2013 blast at the company headquarters that killed 37 people. In 2012, a fire at a natural gas facility killed 26.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

April Fool's Day 'Bluff' Lands New Zealand Woman a New BMW


ABC News(AUCKLAND, New Zealand) -- A woman in New Zealand has reportedly won a brand new BMW after being the first to respond to an April Fool’s Day ad placed in a local newspaper.The woman, identified as Tianna Marsh, arrived at the Team McMillian BMW car dealership in Newmarket at 5:30 a.m. after seeing an ad for the dealership’s “April Fool’s Day Special” on the front page of the New Zealand Herald newspaper.The newspaper reports Marsh drove her own 15-year-old car to the dealership, where she was met by the sales manager, Gavin Penfold.“When I met her outside, I just acted dumb," Penfold told the Herald. "She said, 'I'm here for the Herald competition,’ [and] I said, 'I know nothing about it.’”Marsh then followed the ad’s instructions to “ask for Tom” and was rewarded with a brand new BMW 1 Series.“It couldn’t have gone to a more deserving winner,” said Penfold, who could not be reached by ABC News.A spokesman for BMW says the ad was designed to attract someone who was willing to take a chance.Dealership officials told the Herald they hired security guards in case a large crowd showed up, but it turned out Marsh was the first and one of the only few."The ad was intentionally vague and definitely appeared too good to be true, but in this case we wanted to turn the tables and reward the first person who was willing to take the chance,” BMW spokesman Ed Finn told the Herald.Marsh’s new car appropriately came with a license plate that reads, “NOF00L.”Her old car will be sold by the dealership with proceeds going a charity that provides, “modified, ride-on cars to young disabled children,” the Herald reports.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Identical Triplet Sisters Get Married Together in Joint Wedding in Brazil


iStock/Thinkstock(PASSO FUNDO, Brazil) -- Identical triplet sisters gave guests triple vision when they walked down the aisle and said "I do" together at their joint wedding in Passo Fundo, Riuo Grande do Sul, Brazil.Tagiane Bini, Rocheli Bini and Rafaela Bini, all 29, wore nearly identical dresses and had the same hairstyle and makeup when they tied the knot. The only difference among them were the colors of their bouquets.The ceremony, which took place in Catedral Nossa Senhora Aparecida on March 21, was "special and one of a kind," wedding photographer Diovane Moraes told ABC News Wednesday. There were over 600 guests, he added.Tagiane's husband is Eduardo, Rocheli's husband is Gabriel and Rafaela's husband is Rafael, Moraes said, adding that he did not know their last names.The men have hilariously mixed up their brides in the past, Moraes said, explaining Eduardo once mistook Rocheli for Tagiane and accidentally hugged Rocheli from behind.But the grooms had no problem differentiating the loves of their lives on the big day, Moraes said. Eduardo said he could instantly tell who Tagiane was because "she was the most beautiful one," according to Moraes.Tagiane Bini referred a request for comment to Moraes, who was better able to communicate in English.Wedding planning blogger and guest Adriadne Durante blogged about the event, saying the three sisters chose traditional decorations and have always had nearly identical tastes in clothing and hairstyle.The family has a tradition of marrying relatives on the same day, she added.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Avalanche in French Alps Kills at Least Three Skiers, Officials Say


iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- At least three skiers have died due to an avalanche in the French Alps Wednesday afternoon, according to local government officials.Christian Flagella, the commander of the gendarmerie police force in the Haute Alpes region, said at a news conference Wednesday that the three individuals were part of a larger group of 11 skiers.Four members of the group were swept away by the avalanche, and three are now dead. A fourth remains in critical condition.The names and nationalities of the individuals have not been released.The specific area of the avalanche has not been confirmed, but an employee at a nearby chalet told ABC News that the area is known for off-piste skiing, meaning that there are no official slopes, but adventurous skiers have to hike up the mountain in order to ski down. The area has also received heavy snow for the past two days.This would be the second tragedy in the mountain range in just eight days after a Germanwings flight crashed killing all 150 on board.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

World's Oldest Person Dies at 117


Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The Japanese woman who holds the title as the world's oldest person has passed away just weeks after turning 117.Misao Okawa died Wednesday from heart failure, according to the BBC, after celebrating her birthday on March 5.Born to a clothing merchant in 1898, Okawa married in 1919 and has three children, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. She spent the last years of her life at a nursing home in Osaka, where she enjoyed a healthy diet of sashimi and mackerel sushi, her favorite meal.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Germanwings Crash: Video May Show Plane's Final Moments


ABC News / Flight Aware(NEW YORK) — Two magazines have reported details of a disturbing video taken from inside the doomed Germanwings plane moments before it crashed into the French Alps, but investigators have denied its existence.While ABC News has not independently confirmed the existence of the video, the editor of Parisian news magazine Paris Match has told ABC News that he is absolutely positive that it is not fake.Paris Match co-editor-in-chief Regis Lessommier said that the 15 seconds of footage is one of the most disturbing videos he has ever seen.The footage has been described as being shot from the back of the plane, and a metallic banging can be heard, which may have been the captain trying to break into the cockpit after allegedly being locked out by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz."The scene was so chaotic that it was hard to identify people, but the sounds of the screaming passengers made it perfectly clear that they were aware of what was about to happen to them," Paris Match reported, regarding the video.Lessommier said that he watched the video in Marseille, not far from the crash site, and that it was shown to him by someone involved in the recovery operation, though he did not say it was a police official.The German magazine Bild also has reported on the video.However, Xavier Vialenc of the French gendarmerie police force told ABC News that "to the extent of my knowledge, no such video exists."Marseille's public prosecutor, Bruce Robin, told Agence France Presse that no such video is part of the investigation, but if someone does have footage from inside the plane, they "must turn it over."The Germanwings plane that departed from Barcelona crashed en route to Dusseldorf on March 24, with all 150 people on board believed killed on impact.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. 

Cuba, US Hold First Talks on Human Rights


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The first meeting between Cuba and the United States on human rights held Tuesday in Washington, D.C. proved that even with resounding differences between the two countries on the topic, they continue to move forward toward normal relations. Pedro Luis Pedroso, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry deputy director for multilateral affairs, said Tuesday evening that despite “deep differences between both governments” regarding human rights, there is a chance for civilized relations based on “respect of those differences.”The issue of human rights has held back normal relations and is a constant issue for moving forward among Republicans who express concern that removing the embargo will lead to rewarding Cuba while not changing its behavior -- a point the Obama administration disagrees with. Though Cuba has its own issues with human rights in the United States, Pedroso said during the talks at the State Department, “Cuba expressed concerns related to the guarantee and protection of human rights in the United States.” They cited examples including “discrimination and racism and the intensification of police brutality.” The Cubans also drew attention to the “legal limbo of prisoners in Guantanamo.” Pedroso called the talks “professional and respectful,” and said the talks did not include whether American diplomatic teams have the right to meet with whomever they like in Cuba or whether human rights monitoring groups would be allowed in Cuba. That would be a part of the official State Department talks between Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson and Josefina Vidal, the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s chief of U.S. affairs.  Pedroso and his team plan to continue talks and be in contact with U.S. diplomatic teams going forward. In a press release, the U.S. State Department acknowledged both sides raising concerns about human rights issues, and said “the atmosphere of the meeting was professional, and there was broad agreement on the way forward for a future substantive dialogue, the timing and location of which will be determined through diplomatic channels.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Key Issues Unresolved as Iran Nuclear Talks Continue Past Deadline


FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images(LAUSANNE, Switzerland) — Foreign negotiators, working beyond a Tuesday deadline, are optimistic that an agreement can be drafted on a nuclear accord with Iran -- with a focus on narrowing down differences between the parties.A joint statement of progress is expected later Wednesday.British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, speaking to reporters, said “a broad framework of understanding” exists, but that some issues still need to be worked out. Germany’s foreign office shared similar sentiments, writing in a statement, “Progress is visible. Nothing is agreed but if there is good will on all sides an agreement is possible."A deadline for the agreement had been set for March 31. While the deadline has passed, Iran’s foreign minister, speaking Tuesday, said the negotiations have been productive."We've accomplished quite a bit, but people needed to get some rest and start over early in the morning," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said. "And I hope we can finalize the work on Wednesday -- and hopefully begin the process of drafting."The State Department had said earlier Tuesday that despite progress, obstacles still remain."We've made enough progress in the last days to merit staying until Wednesday," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement to reporters in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the talks are being held. "There are several difficult issues still remaining."Sticking points during these talks included disagreements on how many centrifuges -- which are used to enrich nuclear fuel -- might remain online at Iran's deep-buried Fordo nuclear reactor, whether or not Iran will be allowed to continue nuclear research and development for scientific purposes, and what to do with the stockpile of enriched uranium it already owns.Negotiators on all sides have been working towards this deadline since November 2013. That's when Iran and the so-called P5 +1 (U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China, plus Germany) agreed on a Joint Plan of Action (JPA), an interim agreement that paved the way for talks by temporarily halting Iran's nuclear enrichment program and subjecting it to daily inspections in exchange for the loosening of some economic sanctions."If we are making progress toward the finish line, then we should keep going," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday, but he added that if talks fail, then the U.S. would be forced to "consider some other alternatives."Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Netanyahu Slams Iran Nuclear Talks, Calls for 'Better Deal'


Uriel Sinai/Getty images(WASHINGTON) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped up his opposition to the ongoing nuclear talks between Iran, the United States and its European allies, saying it was "time for the international community to insist on a better deal.""A better deal would significantly roll back Iran's nuclear infrastructure," Netanyahu said in a statement on Wednesday. "A better deal would link the eventual lifting of the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program to a change in Iran's behavior."The prime minister, who is scheduled to meet the U.S. House Speaker John Boehner later Wednesday, said, "Israel's destruction is non-negotiable," and, "given Iran's murderous regime, a clear path to the bomb is negotiable."Netanyahu has been a fierce critic of the international talks taking place for the past 18 months, as he believes potential concessions offered to Iran "would endanger Israel, the Middle East and the peace of the world."On Tuesday the Israeli leader publicly slammed "Iran's obdurate refusal to reveal to the IAEA its activities to develop nuclear weapons and, I add, Iran's campaign of conquest and terrorism -- which is open to all, everyone sees it, before our very eyes -- from the Golan Heights to Yemen, from Iraq to Gaza and so many other places."Foreign negotiators, working beyond a March 31 deadline in Lausanne, Switzerland, say they are optimistic that an agreement can be drafted. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said “a broad framework of understanding” exists, but that some issues still need to be worked out.Iran’s foreign minister, speaking Tuesday, said the negotiations have been productive."We've accomplished quite a bit, but people needed to get some rest and start over early in the morning," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said. "And I hope we can finalize the work on Wednesday -- and hopefully begin the process of drafting."Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nigeria Elects New President Amid Boko Haram Threat


iStock/Thinkstock(ABUJA, Nigeria) — It's goodbye to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who lost his job to former Army general Muhammadu Buhari in a hotly contested national election that could determine the fate of the west African nation.The changing of the guard representing the first civilian transfer of power is a shift in direction for Nigeria, which has been bedeviled by Islamic extremist Boko Haram militants running amok in the northeast for the past five years.In addition to blaming Jonathan for failing to deal with the threat from Boko Haram, voters have also accused the outgoing president of corruption with oil-rich Nigeria falling on hard times.Buhari briefly served as Nigeria's president after a military coup in the early 1980s.Along with trying to restore faith in Nigeria's government, he'll have to deal with Boko Haram, which killed upwards of 10,000 people last year. Its campaign of terrorism also involves kidnapping that including the 2014 abduction of more 200 schoolgirls who are believed to have been sold into slavery or married off to the group's leaders.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WHO, Iraq Ministry of Health Deny Report of Ebola in Iraq


Marcio Silva/iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- The World Health Organization and the Iraqi Ministry of Health on Monday denied reports of an Ebola case in Iraq."The World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health of Iraq did not verify the information appeared in BASNews on 28 March alluding to the appearance of an Ebola case in Abu Gharib," a WHO press release read. After investigating, the WHO and the MOH Iraq "denied the presence of Ebola in Iraq." The release further denies the report from BASNews, saying that no laboratory in Iraq has the technical capacity to confirm Ebola, the release reads.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Iranian Foreign Minister Says Nuclear Talks 'Accomplished Quite a Bit'


BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(LAUSANNE, Switzerland) -- The foreign minister of Iran said Tuesday night negotiators "accomplished quite a bit" and he hopes that the process of drafting an agreement can begin Wednesday."We've accomplished quite a bit, but people needed to get some rest and start over early in the morning," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said. "And I hope we can finalize the work on Wednesday -- and hopefully begin the process of drafting tomorrow."Zarif has previously stumped for compromise between Iran and the P5+1 nations. In negotiations, both sides must show flexibility.We have, and are ready to make a good deal for all.We await our counterparts' readiness.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 28, 2015 Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

NASA Shows Off Mars Flying Saucer Technology


Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech(NEW YORK) -- A flying saucer could one day help a manned mission to Mars make a gentle landing on the surface of the Red Planet.NASA showed off its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator Tuesday during a live broadcast from its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Weighing in at 7,000 pounds and measuring 15 feet wide, the spacecraft underwent a spin test on a table to show off its capability.Spinning an object keeps it pointed in one direction, and the saucer is equipped with a rocket to slow it down.The technology could be crucial for Mars exploration since it will decelerate heavy landers traveling at supersonic speeds through Mars' thin atmosphere. The drag device could one day help humans, their cargo and their return rockets safely reach the Red Planet.After Tuesday's test, the next step for the vehicle will be in June when it will blast off on a test into near-space from the Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, NASA officials said.Testing the vehicle in the thin air of Earth's stratosphere this summer is the nearest "local" test to see how the flying saucer fares in Martian-like conditions.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Iraqi PM Celebrates 'Liberation' of Tikrit from ISIS Control


State Dept photo(TIKRIT, Iraq) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced on his Twitter account Tuesday that Iraqi Security Forces had retaken the city of Tikrit from ISIS forces.In his tweet, Abadi called the city's "liberation" a "historic milestone." He also congratulated Iraqi forces and volunteers for their work to retake Tikrit. PM Al-Abadi announces the liberation of Tikrit and congratulates Iraqi security forces and popular volunteers on the historic milestone— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) March 31, 2015Just last week, the U.S.-led coalition had agreed to conduct airstrikes and offer additional support near the city. Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Reports of NASA, Russia Cooperation to Build New Space Station Are False


NASA(NEW YORK) -- Reports that Russia and NASA would work together to build a new space station are untrue, the space agency said in a statement Tuesday.Over the weekend, reports had surfaced that indicated that Russia and NASA would work together to build a new space station by the time the International Space Station is set to be retired in 2024. NASA seemed to deny those reports on Tuesday, saying that the agency is "pleased Roscosmos wants to continue full use of the International Space Station through 2024...and expressed interest in continuing international cooperation for human space exploration beyond that."The NASA statement also mentioned a planned human mission to Mars in the 2030s, for which the recently launched one-year mission involving astronaut Scott Kelly will help the agency prepare.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Here's How Bad Internet Access Is in Cuba


Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK by Serena Marshall(HAVANA) -- The Internet in Cuba is bad -- really, really bad.Imagine you are back in 2001 and set your computer up to download one, single song off Napster while you are at school all day. It's that kind of bad.I just got back from Cuba for ABC News’ continuing coverage following the announcement of the renewal of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the island nation. One of the first things I expected to see changed, even before the embargo gets lifted, was Internet access.Just to illustrate how bad it seems for an American used to fast connectivity: I was uploading a photo to send to our digital team -- a beautiful photo of the historic city we wanted to use for one of our digital stories. The file was around 30 MB. It took nearly an hour to upload it to Google Drive.When I returned home, that same file took less than five seconds to upload.It’s no surprise Cuba is considered the “least connected” country in the Americas, with the Geneva-based ITU ranking the country 125th out of 166 countries worldwide in telecommunications development.But officials want to change that. With the new U.S. diplomatic relations working toward normalization, a senior U.S. State Department official told members of the media on Monday that Cuba has "real potential" and that, as a member of the United Nations International Communications Union, wants to see 50 percent of households have Internet access by 2020.“There is real potential here as long as there is a will on the Cuban side,” the official said. "So as long as the Cubans create an environment that's attractive to investment and attractive to deployment and attractive to the delivery of services, I believe that services will reach the island."In early March, executives from Google visited Cuba for the second time.Currently, roughly 5 percent of Cubans can access the Internet from home. The only way to get Internet access for most Cubans is to visit a government-run Internet location and pay $5 per hour -- prohibitively expensive for most in the island nation. Those who can afford it often wait for hours to gain access to one of the government-run sites.The U.S. sent a delegation to Cuba to discuss telecommunications as part of the talks last week. And President Obama announced connectivity as a priority, naming telecommunications equipment, technology and services among the first exemptions to the embargo.While Internet connectivity moves forward slowly, this American reporter is most looking forward to Internet on a cellphone -- you know, being able to read email on the iPhone.Hopefully, by the time we go back next month, Internet speeds will be a little better. Probably not, but here is looking to the future.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Iran's Influence: Far Beyond Its Borders


iStock/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Whether it's the Iranian-backed Houthis now in direct conflict with a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, or taking the lead of the Shia militias fighting the militant group ISIS in Iraq, the complexity of the relationship between the United States and Iran stretches far beyond the negotiating table in Switzerland.As headlines continue to surface detailing Iranian intervention in conflicts throughout the Middle East, its relationship with the U.S. grows further complicated.To learn more about Iran’s heightened activity in the region, watch the ABC News Global Affairs digital original video below:Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Germanwings Co-Pilot Told Airline He Had 'Previous Episode of Severe Depression'


Flight Aware / ABC News(COLOGNE, Germany) -- Lufthansa issued a statement Tuesday afternoon confirming that the co-pilot of the crashed Germanwings plane had informed them of his medical history during his training.The airline said they handed those files over to investigators.In the statement, Lufthansa confirmed that Andreas Lubitz had taken a break "for several months" during his training and when he returned in 2009, he submitted forms "about a 'previous episode of severe depression.'"In spite of that admission, he went on to receive "the medical certificate confirming his fitness to fly" and he went on to complete his training and earn a spot as a co-pilot for Germanwings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa.Lubitz's medical history is one of the main areas of inquiry for investigators after he allegedly locked his captain out of the cockpit and proceeded to crash a plane into the French Alps.All 150 on board, including Lubitz, died.Lufthansa also said that the medical and training documents have been submitted to the Dusseldorf Public Prosecutor.The extent of Lubitz's psychological issues has not been fully revealed, though Dusseldorf prosecutor Christoph Kumpa said on Monday that Lubitz had been treated by a psychotherapist prior to the completion of his flight training for suicidal tendencies.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Stage Set for Historic Meeting Between Obama and Raul Castro


FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images/ Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) -- The United States and Cuba are set to mark a historic milestone next week with President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro poised to share the stage at the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Panama.It will be the first scheduled meeting between leaders of the two countries in nearly 60 years.In advance of the historic meeting, ABC News sat down with Josefina Vidal, the head diplomat representing Cuba in negotiations with the United States in the months following Obama’s announcement in December that the U.S. would normalize relations with the Communist island.In what she described as a “new era” of relations between the two neighboring countries, Vidal said one of the biggest challenges is to move beyond the distrust that was built over 54 years of severed ties."We still have to overcome it, so it's a process,” Vidal said, “because we haven't had that confidence for many years…But the idea is to get there.”While Obama has publicly stated that one of the United States’ primary goals in engaging anew with Cuba and more directly affect change in the Communist country, which according to the U.S. government is riddled with human rights abuses, Vidal said she does not view the stated American goal as a threat.“We know that this is the way the United States government presents its policy toward Cuba, but what we believe is that we can respect each other's differences and at the same time work together on issues of common interest as neighbors,” Vidal said."The best way to achieve this kind of new relationship is that we both open up,” Vidal added.It’s a perspective shared by former Cuban President Fidel Castro, Vidal said, while qualifying with a laugh that he has “many reasons to have suspicions” of the U.S. government.“He has said very clearly that the president of Cuba [Raul Castro] has the prerogative to do what he has been doing on matters concerning U.S.-Cuban relations,” Vidal said of the retired president. “He believes…that confidence has to be built between Cuba and the United States, because this is what has been lacking.”Obama called on Congress to lift the trade embargo with Cuba in his State of the Union Address in January. And though the Congress has resisted the president’s call, Vidal said Cuba is preparing to attract investment within its existing Communist framework once its embargo is lifted.“We need investment in Cuba,” Vidal said. “We have been studying what a small country like Singapore has been doing…but in summary, it’s going to be a Cuban Model.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WATCH: Sheepdog Drone Keeps Sheep in Line


Hemera/Thinkstock(CARLOW, Ireland) -- Drones are making headlines in the U.S. for possibly being able to deliver your Amazon products to your door but in Ireland, the 21st century technology is being used to solve an age-old task: sheep herding.A video with over 290,000 views on YouTube shows what is billed as the “world’s first drone sheepdog” herding a flock of sheep in Carlow, Ireland.The video shows the sheep following the drone, named “Shep,” in every direction as it flies just above their heads.The nearly one-minute video was posted by Paul Brennan.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Massive Blackout Plunges Turkey into Darkness


Ali Atmaca/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) — A massive nationwide power-outage has struck Turkey, causing travel chaos in major cities and leaving roughly three-quarters of the country with limited electricity.The blackout -- the worst in Turkey for over a decade -- has affected around 40 provinces. In Istanbul traffic lights and much of the city’s subway went dark after power stopped around 10:30 a.m. Local airports were forced to close and flights are disrupted.Engen Bas, an Istanbul-based journalist working for ABC News, said that most major public facilities were running on backup generators and that internet coverage was also down in some places.The reason for the blackout is so far unexplained. With officials only able to speculate, rumors of cyber-attacks and terror threats quickly appeared. Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said that the most likely cause was problems with transmission lines but said he could not rule out terrorism.“This is not an incident we see frequently,” said energy minister, Yaner Yildiz, currently on an official visit to Slovakia.“Whether or not terrorism is a high possibility or a low I can’t say at this stage. I can’t say either whether it’s a cyber-attack,” he told Turkish TV.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Turkish Airlines Flight Diverted Over Threat


Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) -- A Turkish Airlines flight was diverted on Monday over a false bomb threat.The flight, TK15 from Istanbul to Sao Paulo, was diverted to Casablanca, Morocco, after the threat was made, according to a spokesperson for the airline.While at the airport, passengers were taken off the plane while an explosives search was carried out.The plane was later cleared by authorities and allowed to continue on to Brazil.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.