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  • Andrew Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The Royal Family paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth at a star-studded birthday party at Royal Albert Hall tonight -- where the likes of Sting, Sir Tom Jones, Shaggy, Kylie Minogue and Shawn Mendes joined a cast of commonwealth Nation artists to pay tribute to the 92-year-old Queen.The monarch took her seat at the concert hall flanked by her two heirs, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. Prince William attended solo for the “Queens Birthday Party” as the event was named without Kate, who remained home with Prince George and Princess Charlotte and is due to give birth any day.The second in line could be seen periodically peering down at his phone, no doubt checking in his very pregnant wife.Prince Philip, who would normally be seated at Queen Elizabeth’s side, was home recovering from hip replacement surgery.Roads were shut down, concrete and steel barriers installed along with magnetometers, and heavily armed police showed a massive presence in one of the most high profile security operations ever seen in London, with 40 members of the Royal Family all congregating in one place.The security did not dampen the spirit of the crowd. Queen Elizabeth was beaming at her birthday party.Welshman Sir Tom Jones kicked off the night with a rendition of his classic hit "It’s Not Unusual," followed by a rousing duet by Sting and Shaggy.Prince William appeared to lean down to explain to his grandmother who Shaggy was.The concert included acts from across the generations. Queen Elizabeth at one point was seen bopping and clapping to a George Formby medley while her family looked on, thrilled that she was enjoying herself so much.Prince Harry made a poignant tribute to his grandmother in his first speech in his new role as President of the Queens Commonwealth Trust. He vowed to carry on her work and legacy."Tonight we are celebrating the Queen's Birthday but Your Majesty, if you do not mind me saying, you are not someone who is easy to buy gifts for. But I think we have the perfect present," he said, referring to the Queen's Commonwealth Trust charity of which he was appointed president last week.The fifth in line, who was accompanied by his fianceé, Meghan Markle, was also appointed by Queen Elizabeth this week as the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, a role that will see Harry and Meghan using their magic as humanitarians and role models to the 2.4 billion Commonwealth citizens, 60 percent of whom are under the age of 30.“As we celebrate your 92nd birthday this evening and in recognition of your incredible life of service, I am delighted to say that the Queen's Commonwealth Trust has now been launched to support young leaders around the Commonwealth. This organization, in your name, will provide a platform for those working to make a difference in their communities across 53 countries. Happy Birthday, Your Majesty," Harry added.Prince Charles closed the show on stage with his mother, asking the audience to give a “hip hip hooray” to “Your Majesty, Mummy” before the iconic venue dropped balloons and shot off firecrackers inside the hall.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared the country will be suspending its nuclear program ahead of much-anticipated talks between the two Koreas next week, and the U.S. and North Korea sometime next month.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(GAZA CITY) -- Four Palestinians, including a teenage boy and a disabled man, were killed Friday as Israeli soldiers opened fire across a fence dividing Israel and the blockaded Gaza Strip, officials said.According to the Gaza Health Ministry, gunfire from Israeli troops killed 15-year-old Mohammad Ayoub, 25-year-old Ahmed Nabil Aqel, who was disabled, 23-year-old Ahmad Rashad Al Athamna and 32-year-old Saddy Abu Taha.Friday marked the fourth straight week of demonstrations of what Palestinian organizers are calling the "Great March of Return," which began March 30 and is slated to continue through May 15. The demonstrations demand that Palestinian refugees and their descendants be allowed to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel, after hundreds of thousands of them fled or were displaced during the 1948 war over the country's proclamation of statehood.The six-week demonstration is timed to culminate in a mass march on the 70th anniversary of Israel's creation, which Palestinians annually recognize as the day of "Nakba," or catastrophe, to commemorate their mass uprooting. The end date also falls on the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem this year.Hamas, the militant group governing the Gaza Strip, supports and endorses the protests. The demonstration are also seen as an attempt by Hamas to break the blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel and Egypt after it won Palestinian legislative elections and took control of the 140-square-mile territory in 2007.Israel and the United States both consider Hamas a terrorist organization.The latest deaths on Friday brought the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces to 35 since the demonstrations began, according to Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations."The Israeli occupying forces continue demonstrating the cruelty of their occupation machine, responding to the calls of unarmed civilians for freedom and justice with brutal and lethal force," Mansour wrote in an open letter to the U.N. Security Council on Friday. "The number of wounded and injured has now far surpassed 4,000 people, including women and children."The Palestinian ambassador also renewed his calls for an "independent and transparent investigation into the killings."Nikolay Mladenov, the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, expressed his outrage via Twitter over the killing of a teenage boy and called for an investigation into the incident.In a statement earlier this month, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for all parties on the ground to avoid confrontation and show restraint.“I particularly urge Israel to exercise extreme caution with the use of force in order to avoid casualties. Civilians must be able to exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully,” Guterres added.In a series of statements posted to its official Twitter account Saturday, the Israel military appeared to defend its actions. It accused Hamas of putting Palestinian civilians, including children, in "unnecessary danger" on Friday by using them "to carry out terror attacks and destroy infrastructure under the guise of smoke and riots."Tires apparently were set ablaze to create "smokescreens" while protesters attempted to damage and breach the barricade, according to the Israeli military. Protesters allegedly hurled rocks at Israeli troops and attached burning items to kites "with the intention of igniting fires in Israeli territory," it added."The IDF will not allow the security infrastructure to be breached, and will act in order to fulfill its duty to protect the civilians and sovereignty of the State of Israel," it tweeted Saturday.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- People around the world will come together this weekend to celebrate the planet and to take action to protect it.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department has released its first human rights report fully compiled under the Trump administration, and it's generating controversy for several changes and omissions - including eliminating references to "reproductive rights" and dropping use of the term "occupied territories."The report – which is mandated by Congress – is published every year and details human rights in virtually every country and territory around the world. It's compiled by diplomats at posts on the ground over the course of the previous year.Last year, there was controversy because then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did not publicly appear to roll out the report, which critics say signaled his disinterest in promoting human rights early in his tenure.This year, acting Secretary John Sullivan spoke briefly at the launch, explaining the importance of the report and taking a moment to call out certain countries – Syria, Myanmar, Venezuela, Turkey, China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia – the last four of which were labeled "forces of instability" because of their human rights abuses.Here are some of the headlines from this year's report and from a briefing with Amb. Michael Kozak, the senior official in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.ELIMINATING REFERENCE TO 'REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS'Generating the most attention is the replacement of sections on "reproductive rights" with ones on "coercion in population control" – a sign of the Trump administration's anti-abortion push that spreads beyond the U.S., like reinstating the so-called Mexico City policy and reportedly trying to remove references to contraception, abortion, and sex education at the United Nations.In 2012, under Hillary Clinton, the department first included "reproductive rights," but the term has been misconstrued to mean abortion rights, according to Amb. Kozak, so the Trump administration wanted to dispel that notion: "It's not a diminishment of women's rights or a desire to get away from it. It was to stop using a term that has several different meanings that are not all the ones we intend."The U.S. has never taken a position on whether there is a right to an abortion because there's no internationally recognized standard, Kozak added – but there is one that no one should be forced to have an abortion or be sterilized, and that's what the reports are meant to target.Still, the omission has been decried by some rights groups. "Reproductive rights are human rights, and omitting the issue signals the Trump administration’s latest retreat from global leadership on human rights," Amnesty International said in a statement. Human Rights Watch pointed out that the report is silent on the obstacles many women face in countries from Bolivia to Poland to Nepal on reproductive issues.DROPPING USE OF THE TERM 'OCCUPIED TERRITORIES'This year's report uses the section title, "Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza," as opposed to last year's "Israel and the Occupied Territories" – a first, according to Amnesty International.Within the 2017 section, the Golan Heights is still referred to as 'Israeli-occupied,' but not the West Bank, as in years past.When a journalist tried multiple times to ask a question about the Palestinian territories, he was shut down by spokesperson Heather Nauert, who called on others and then whisked Amb. Kozak away at the end.DEPARTMENT'S REPORTS VS. TRUMP'S WORDS AND ACTIONS?The report is tough on many countries, but its impact has been called into question given President Donald Trump's own behavior – both his embrace of some of the world leaders called out and his use of some of the bad behaviors called out – in particular, denigrating the press, his travel and refugee bans, and transgender military ban.Should the Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte, for example, take notice of the report's condemnation of his brutal war on drugs – or of Trump's "gr
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  • Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Intelligence gathered over the past 18 months suggests that American journalist Austin Tice is still alive almost six years after he went missing in Syria, ABC News has learned.The assessment comes as the FBI has, for the first time, announced a new reward for information leading to Tice's safe location, recovery, and return — for $1 million.Two senior officials recently confirmed to ABC News that Tice, a journalist, and photographer kidnapped in August 2012, is believed to have survived his captivity despite past U.S. intelligence assessments that he might have died in Syria. A former Marine, Tice had been freelancing for several news outlets, including CBS and the Washington Post, and covering the start of the Syrian civil war.For a long time, the FBI only had one special agent assigned to the case – a person who had been serving in the bureau for less time than Tice had been missing. Some officials privately criticized the FBI for chasing old leads in the case and not devoting more resources to recovering him from what was assessed to be an element of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s regime or his family.By contrast, American hostages of terrorist groups such as Kayla Mueller killed in ISIS captivity, and Caitlan Coleman, who was freed last fall after five years as a Taliban hostage, had teams of FBI agents working their cases. One senior official told ABC News that there were intelligence officers augmenting the FBI’s work and that criticism of their efforts was unfair.Tice, who would be 36-years old now, disappeared just after his 31st birthday while covering the Free Syrian Army, a group of Syrian military officials who had joined the opposition against Assad. A month later, a video was released, showing him blindfolded, removed from a car, and led by armed men up a hill, saying "Oh, Jesus." He has not been heard from since.But the FBI reward has given Tice's family renewed hope: "We are heartened by the recent U.S. Government posting of a reward for information," Tice's parents Debra and Mark Tice said in a family statement to ABC News. "We deeply appreciate every increased effort to hasten the day that we see our son safely home."Debra and her husband Marc Tice have been outspoken in their pursuit to bring Austin home and steadfast in their belief that he remains alive, although they cautioned that as far as they know, the timing of the FBI reward "is unrelated to any specific event," but rather to "the length of Austin’s detention and the Syrian government’s lack of information concerning Austin’s disappearance."The FBI's announcement also garnered praise from others: "The U.S. government must stay focused on efforts to bring Austin Tice home. Offering a reward is an important way to demonstrate that commitment and could help bring forward new information," Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told ABC News in a statement.In December 2016, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on the Senate floor that then-U.S. hostage envoy James O'Brien had informed him that Tice was alive."Mr. O'Brien and his team informed me that they have high confidence that Austin is alive in Syria along with other Americans who are being held captive," Cornyn said at the time.The next month, Tice's parents said the Obama administration also told them, "Austin, our son, is alive, that he's still being held captive in Syria."A current U.S. official confirmed recently that the assessment that he is alive has not changed.
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