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HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images(HANOI, Vietnam) — President Obama sent a message to the government of Vietnam Tuesday — make improvements on human rights in order to succeed as a nation.

He made his case in a speech to thousands in Hanoi, just one day after meeting with Vietnamese leaders.

"Nations are more successful when universal rights are upheld," the president said, saying countries prosper when they embrace freedom of expression, speech and assembly.

The president relayed the same message during a meeting with civil society groups. Obama said some activists were blocked from attending the meeting.

"There were several other activists who were invited that were prevented from coming," he said. "There are some folks who find it very difficult to assemble and organize peacefully around issues that they care deeply about."

The president didn't say who blocked the activists from attending, but did say this to Vietnam’s government:

"It's my hope that the government of Vietnam comes to recognize what we've recognized and what so many countries around the world have recognized, and that is that it's very hard to prosper in this modern economy if you haven't fully unleashed the potential of your people," he said.

Sitting right next to President Obama was singer and songwriter Mai Khoi — known as the "Lady Gaga of Vietnam."

She attempted to run in last week's National Assembly election, but was blocked from the ballot.

ABC's Bob Woodruff interviewed Khoi ahead of her meeting with the president.

"I use my music to influence the people to raise awareness in democracy and human rights," she said.

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ABC News(HANOI, Vietnam) -- She is known as “Vietnam’s Lady Gaga.”

Singer Mai Khoi has developed a reputation not only for her unique performances, but also -- and perhaps more so -- for her political activism.

“I use my music to influence people, to raise awareness about democracy and human rights,” Khoi told ABC News' Bob Woodruff.

The 32-year-old singer's message was amplified Tuesday by one of the most powerful voices in the world: President Obama's. Khoi sat next to him during a meeting of Vietnamese activists in Hanoi, as he pressed the government to improve its record on human rights.

“Obama cares about democracy and human rights,” Khoi said prior to the meeting.

The singer had taken to social media weeks before the president's visit to petition for a meeting. She saw that goal realized, although Obama noted that other activists were blocked from the meeting.

“It’s hard to say” how the Vietnamese government would react to their meeting, Khoi said.

Khoi insists she is “telling the government to change,” rather than criticizing it. But she cited what she believes were several instances of repression of her music and, thus, her message.

“Freedom is a very sensitive word here,” Khoi told Woodruff.

Artists have to ask permission before singing or performing in Vietnam, Khoi says, and many of her shows have been shut down by the police.

But that hasn’t stopped her.

Khoi has taken her concerts to secret venues and broadcast them out to the world on Facebook. When she was barred from the ballot after running in the country’s parliamentary elections, Khoi said, she remained undeterred.

“I have to do what I think is true,” she said.

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iStock/ Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Three climbers have died and two others are still missing after attempting to climb Mt. Everest, officials confirm to ABC News Tuesday morning.

Among the dead are Dutch climber, Eric Arnold, 35; Austrian climber, Maria Strydom, 34, and Indian climber Subhash Paul, 43. All three died of altitude sickness, according to Nepal Tourism official, Gyanendra Shrestha.

ABC News previously reported that four climbers were killed, but the Sherpa who had been reported to have died on Mt. Everest was actually in Mt. Lhotse at the time, according to Shrestha. Mt. Lhotse is adjoined to Mt. Everest.

Shresta said two more Indian climbers, Paresh Nath, 58, and Goutam Ghosh, 50, are still missing as of Saturday. The deceased Indian climber, Subhash Paul, was part of this group of hikers.

Rescue teams said there have been recurring calls of climbers suffering from altitude sickness, frostbite, falls and injuries.

"The most common cause for death on Everest is the altitude. There's not enough oxygen there," said Dan Stretch, a senior specialist in the operations department at Global Rescue, which has evacuated some 30 people since the 2016 climbing season began last month. "The weather can change very quickly. It can be fine one minute and then force winds and heavy snow the next minute."

The 29,035-foot-high mountain was practically empty the two previous years, after fatal avalanches that canceled expeditions. More than 4,000 climbers have reached the treacherous peak since 1953, when Everest was first scaled by New Zealand explorer Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

Foreigners from around the world are drawn to Nepal’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, ancient temples and, of course, Mount Everest.

The tourism industry, which brings in more than $3 million from Everest climbing fees alone, is Nepal’s chief source of foreign income and contributed almost 9 percent of its GDP in 2014, according to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council. But the impoverished Himalayan country saw its tourist arrivals drop after deadly twin earthquakes and quake-triggered avalanches last year.

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KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- The Airbus A320 is one of the most common jets in the sky and it's the same model of the EgyptAir plane that disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea last Thursday with 66 aboard. An ABC News aviation contributor deems it "a great aircraft with a superb safety record."

 

Fast Facts

  • Here some fast facts to know about the Airbus 320, according to Airbus:
  • The first A320 entered service in 1988. Since then, it's carried more than 10.5 billion passengers. (That's over 2.5 million passengers a day).
  • The A320 family includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321.
  • There are 6,713 A320s in operation as of last month. An A320 takes off or lands every two seconds.
  • Today’s A320s have an operational reliability of 99.7 percent.


EgyptAir

The cause of the EgyptAir crash remains under investigation. ABC News' aviation contributor Steve Ganyard said "we still know too little to suggest that the A320 has a problem that would threaten the flying public's safety."

Before the EgyptAir flight disappeared en route to Cairo from Paris last week, Airbus 320s were involved in 11 deadly crashes, in addition to the Germanwings plane that was intentionally crashed by a co-pilot in the French Alps last year, according to The Associated Press. An Airbus spokesperson could not immediately confirm the number of deadly crashes.

Ganyard told ABC News, "The A320 is a great aircraft with a superb safety record -- which is why it is hard to conceive of a mechanical problem that would have led directly to [the EgyptAir] crash."

As the desperate search for the EgyptAir flight's black box continues, a spokesperson for Airbus told ABC News Monday, "In line with ICAO Annex 13 rules, Airbus is providing full technical assistance to the French Investigation Agency - BEA - and the Egyptian Investigation Authorities who leads the technical investigation. The Airbus Safety team coordinates our response and support to the authorities, including local support in Cairo."

"The official authorities in charge of the investigation will start the research to determine the location of the pingers with the appropriate means," the statement said. "This search could take from a few days to a few weeks."

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iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- The Iraqi ground offensive to retake the ISIS-held city of Fallujah began early Monday with Iraqi military forces pressing outside the city located 40 miles west of Baghdad.

Retaking the city in Anbar Province has been a priority for the Iraqi government since it was one of the first places in the country seized by ISIS in early 2014. According to American military officials, the number of ISIS fighters in the province has fallen to 1,000 as ISIS has sustained battlefield defeats in recent months.

The Fallujah military operation was announced late Sunday night by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi who said Iraqi forces are "approaching a moment of great victory" against ISIS in the wake of recent victories in the far western town of Rutbah and other towns in the Euphrates River Valley.

WHAT IS THE IRAQI MILITARY DOING IN FALLUJAH?

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said Monday that the Iraqi military had begun to conduct “shaping operations" on the outside of Fallujah and had not entered the city proper. “Fallujah is important," said Davis. "It’s the last remaining stronghold within Anbar Province. It’s the ISIS position closest to Baghdad and a place we’re going to be working very closely with Iraqi partners to retake.”

The Fallujah operation involves forces from the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police. “Those forces have already begun to move on the city where they’re encountering some resistance,” said Davis. The shaping also involves striking at targets inside the city and “dropping leaflets meant to inform civilian populations to avoid ISIS areas," Davis said. "They’ve been asking people to place white sheets on their roof to market their locations.”

While the U.S. is supporting the Iraqi military offensive in Fallujah, it is still not cooperating with the Iranian-backed Shiite militias, known the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), arrayed north of the city.

Davis said he did not know what the role of the Shiite militias would be in Fallujah though “they have a largely a relationship of coexistence with Iraqi forces and are aligned against ISIS”.

The coalition has supported the ground operation with airstrikes before the offensive, 21 in Fallujah since May 17, according to Davis. Iraq has not requested the use of American Apache helicopters based in Iraq as part of the Fallujah operation though they remain available if needed.

WHY AN OFFENSIVE NOW?

Fallujah was the first Iraqi city seized by ISIS in early 2014, as the group found early support among the dominant Sunni Muslim population that resented the policies by the Shiite-led government of former Prime Minister Maliki.

Since then, retaking the city has been a priority for the Iraqi government, even though it may not be as tactically important as it once was.

The U.S. military believes about 1,000 ISIS fighters remain in Anbar Province with ISIS numbers decreasing as the result of recent Iraqi military victories in Rutbah and Hit in the Euphrates River Valley. Davis said many ISIS fighters had already left Anbar and particularly Fallujah which he described as “a distant outpost for them” that has been “hard to sustain over time.”

Two Iraqi Army brigades have been encircling the city for months in anticipation of a planned offensive which seemed to await the slow progress of the Iraqi military in retaking Ramaadi to the southwest.

IS FALLUJAH IMPORTANT FOR RETAKING MOSUL?

ISIS still controls significant area of Iraqi territory in the northern part of the country including Mosul, the country's second largest city. Much of the American-led training effort of Iraq's military has been geared towards generating the forces needed to retake Mosul in a future offensive.

Two weeks ago, Col. Steve Warren, the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said retaking Fallujah was not a military prerequisite for an offensive towards Mosul and that doing so would be an Iraqi "political decision."

He anticipated that retaking the city would be "a tough note for the Iraqis to crack" given that the city had been under ISIS control for more than two years.

The pace of the Iraqi-led operation and sequencing of the operation will be up to the Iraqis, similar to the effort to retake the much larger city of Ramadi which lasted for months.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. drone strike in Pakistan that killed top Taliban leader Mullah Mansur on Saturday was a “defensive" strike because he was actively involved in plots against U.S. and coalition personnel inside Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Monday.

The airstrike conducted in southwestern Pakistan was not carried out as a counter-terrorism strike, according to Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis, who noted that multiple unmanned drones involved in the strike belonged to Special Operations Forces operating under the command of U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

As such, they were under the current rules of engagement for airstrikes that apply to U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, he said.

Those rules allow for airstrikes in Afghanistan for three reasons: strikes for defensive purposes if there is a direct threat to U.S. and coalition forces, against remnants of al-Qaeda or in extreme situations to prevent overruns of key positions. In effect since 2015, the rules no longer allowed strikes to be conducted against Taliban members because they belonged to the group.

Mansur was involved in specific and imminent threats to U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan, not just past planning, according to Davis, who declined, for operational reasons, to disclose any specifics about the threats.

“This was considered a defensive strike and given the location required a higher level of approval,” Davis said. “This was an individual who was specifically targeting U.S. and coalition personnel and had specifically engaged in operations in the past that resulted in U.S. and coalition personnel being killed."

On a trip to Vietnam, President Obama announced Monday that the U.S. had confirmed that Mansur was killed in a strike that he had authorized. Mansur and a companion were killed after multiple drones targeted the vehicle they were riding in, located in a remote part of Pakistan just south of the border with Afghanistan.

The strike against Mansur appears to be the first “defensive strike" to have taken place inside Pakistan for rules that seemed to only apply for Afghanistan.

"We can adjust authorities or take things higher up the chain of command to get approvals and that’s what we did in this case,” Davis said.

The timing of the airstrike had to do more with opportunity and in a place where civilian casualties could be avoided, he said. “This was deliberately carried out in a place that was remote and not near other things that would have raised a risk for collateral damage."

As for reports that Pakistan officials were not notified beforehand, Davis said the United States and Pakistan “have an ongoing relationship."

"We talk to them regularly," Davis said. "We’ve talked to them about this individual in past situations, as well as the present.”

“When we see anybody -- whether it's Taliban or anyone else -- doing things of a threatening nature to U.S. and coalition forces, anyone who does this needs to be very careful," Davis said. "We will take action to remove them from the battlefield.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(ISTANBUL) -- Going to school can dramatically change the lives of children in conflict zones –- yet education is severely underfunded, children’s advocates from UNICEF and Save the Children say.

Their comments follow the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on Monday, where United Nations Special Envoy Gordon Brown launched a new education fund for children affected by conflicts, natural disasters and other types of crisis. The U.N. goal is to recruit 100 major foundations, businesses, governments and international agencies as contributors to this new education fund.

“Education is so important because it is the only foundation and stability in these children’s life, where they can recover from the conflict,” UNICEF's Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth told ABC News.

The new U.N. fund aims to improve access to education for 18 percent of children affected by crisis by 2020 and to all children affected by crisis by 2030.

Less than two percent of current U.N. emergency funding is spent on education, according to figures from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“It’s pitiful,” Tove Wang, chief executive officer of Save the Children Norway who will provide strategic direction for the new fund, told ABC News. “It has taken a long time to make the world understand the importance of education in crisis. There has been this thinking that health, food and shelter is the most important. Now, there is a growing understanding that education is lifesaving.”

Wang explained that education protects children from dangers and gives them a sense of stability even when they live in places devastated by conflicts. Children who don’t go to school in conflict zones are more vulnerable to extremism, the organization said.

“If you are in school you might not be recruited as child soldier,” Wang said. “You are less likely to be picked up for child labor or be picked up by one of the fighting parties. Many young people join rebel groups because they have no other options. If there is a school functioning you have an alternative.”

Forsyth said that children in conflict zones can also be at risk of being kidnapped or trafficked. In northern Nigeria, Boko Haram is purposely attacking schools because the extremist group is against education.

For many children, the risk of being abducted can make them fearful of attending school. Forsyth met a 10-year-old boy who had to flee to the river and hide in the bushes after Boko Haram attacked his school. The group found him and kidnapped him, but he later managed to escape.

One in four of the world’s school-aged children –- 462 million –- now live in countries affected by crisis. Of these children, 75 million are either in danger of missing out on school or they already have, according to the U.N. Refugee children and children who are displaced inside their own countries are a big priority for the new fund, especially Syrian children.

The fund also aims to spend money on education for children in countries such as Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria, where crisis prevent children from going to school. Depending on the individual country and its needs, the proposed U.N. fund could provide temporary learning centers and training for teachers.

“Money going toward education is tiny, even though education is the number one priority for children themselves, before water and food,” Forsyth said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(KATHMANDU, Nepal) -- Four people have died within four days on Mount Everest, an official at Nepal’s tourism department told ABC News Monday.

Climbers from Australia, India and the Netherlands were among those who died on the world’s tallest peak since last Thursday. A local Sherpa guide was reportedly also among those killed, according to CNN. This could not be independently confirmed by ABC News.

The four deaths were the first confirmed this year on Everest as the busy trekking season nears its end. Rescue teams said there have been recurring calls of climbers suffering from altitude sickness, frostbite, falls and injuries.

"The most common cause for death on Everest is the altitude. There’s not enough oxygen there," said Dan Stretch, a senior specialist in the operations department at Global Rescue, which has evacuated some 30 people since the 2016 climbing season truly began last month. "The weather can change very quickly. It can be fine one minute and then force winds and heavy snow the next minute."

The 29,029-foot-tall mountain was practically empty the two previous years, following fatal avalanches that cancelled expeditions. More than 4,000 climbers have reached the treacherous peak since 1953, when Everest was first scaled by New Zealand explorer Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

Foreigners from around the world are drawn to Nepal’s World Heritage Sites, UNESCO monuments, ancient temples and, of course, Mount Everest.

The tourism industry, which brings in more than $3 million from Everest climbing fees alone, is Nepal’s chief source of foreign income and contributed almost 9 percent of its GDP in 2014, according to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council. But the impoverished Himalayan country saw its tourist arrivals drop following deadly twin earthquakes and quake-triggered avalanches last year.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Chase Millsap, a former Marine infantry officer, was on his first tour in Iraq when a local soldier saved his life.

Millsap said that a sniper opened fire and the Iraqi soldier reacted, pushing him to the ground safely and charging towards the gunman.

On Tuesday, Millsap will speak to Congress, working to gain asylum for the man he calls "The Captain" and other Iraqi soldiers who helped U.S. troops.

"I'm not advocating that everyone needs to come here but I definitely think that we should be helping to protect these people," Millsap said. "Because in a lot of ways they are our first line of defense. He could go into a room of Iraqis and say 'Chase is a good guy, we can trust him.'"

Millsap said he and "The Captain" have remained close since meeting in 2006.

"We really sort of became like brothers," Millsap told ABC News. "We worked at the same checkpoint, it was my platoon that was there and he had another squad with about 12 soldiers."

In 2014, Millsap received a desperate phone call from his friend, after not hearing from him for some time, who said he had been hit by an IED and was badly injured. He said he was being targeted.

"He had been called out, by name, by ISIS," Millsap said, "and they were going after his kids.

"He said he needed my help, he wanted to come to America," Millsap continued. "He had exhausted all the options he had and he was calling me as a last resort. It couldn't have been worse timing with all the refugees coming out of Syria. Countries were closing their borders."

The Captain, who had fought and stayed in his homeland for as long as he could, eventually fled to Turkey with his family. But when he tried to apply for refugee status in Turkey, he was told that the next appointment was in 2022.

"The U.S. State Department won't even touch him until he becomes a refugee" Millsap said.

He then began the Ronin Refugee Project -- a non-profit providing emergency support to displaced Iraqi and Afghan soldiers, run by U.S. Veterans.

"We want to help, we want to do the right thing, but what we are really trying to do is tell the story, get the information out there," Millsap said.

As for the Captain, Millsap told ABC News that he and his family are struggling in Turkey.

"He got hit by an IED, he has traumatic brain injury, so his ability to do work is very limited," Millsap said. "Ultimately our goal is to get him here or to another allied country. He just can't go back to Iraq, its just not possible he'd probably be killed within days of being there."

In Congress on Tuesday, Millsap said he will argue that we have a need to take care of "The Captain," and others like him, not just for moral reasons but because of the "strategic benefits of these relationships."

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iStock/Thinkstock(HANOI, Vietnam) — The U.S. is ending a decades long arms embargo on Vietnam, President Obama announced Monday in Hanoi.

At a press conference alongside Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, the president said lifting the embargo, which has been in place since 1975, will further normalize relations between the two countries.

"This change will ensure Vietnam has access to the equipment it needs to defend itself and removes a lingering vestige of the Cold War," he said. "It also underscores the commitment of the United States to a fully normalized relationship with Vietnam including strong defense ties with Vietnam in the region for the long term."

President Obama said the decision to lift the arms embargo was not made in response to China's territorial assertions in the South China Sea.

"The decision to lift the ban was not based on China or any other considerations. It was based on our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving towards normalization with Vietnam," he said.

"My decision to lift the ban really was more reflective of the changing nature of the relationship," he added.

The president said that while the arms embargo will be lifted, the sale of different types of arms will be dependent on the progress Vietnam makes on human rights.

"As with all of our defense partners, sales will need to still meet strict requirements, including those related to human rights," he said. "This is an area where we still have differences."


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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The crucial black boxes from EgyptAir Flight 804 have yet to be recovered since the plane disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea last week with 66 aboard. But countries including the United States, France and Egypt are all contributing to search teams combing the area.

Here's what to know about the hunt for the black boxes that could potentially shed light on what caused the plane to lose contact near the Egyptian coast while en route to Cairo from Paris Thursday:

Search Area Is Nearly the Size of Connecticut

Search teams are working a nearly 5,300-square-mile area in the Mediterranean Sea -- an area nearly the size of the state of Connecticut.

Pinpointing the location of the black boxes could be extremely difficult as the pingers on the boxes only emit their ultrasonic signal within a 2-mile radius.

Additionally, the debris from the crash has been floating for days, so it may have been carried far away from the area where the plane initially lost contact.

Egypt Focuses on Recovering Bodies, Sends Submarine

Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi told reporters Sunday that while the black boxes have yet to be recovered, search teams are continuing to recover human remains and other parts of the plane. Fathi told ABC News their No. 1 priority is finding the bodies of the deceased.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi told reporters an Egyptian oil ministry submarine capable of diving to nearly 10,000 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean was en route to the crash site Sunday. The depth of the Mediterranean at the crash site is roughly 10,000 feet.

Americans Spot More Than 100 Pieces of Debris

U.S. Navy aircraft participating in the search found two fields of debris this weekend.

The first debris field was found by a P-3 flight Saturday and the second -- reported to be three nautical miles in radius -- was found Sunday, the U.S. Navy said.

It was not clear how far apart the two fields are from each other.

Another U.S. Navy P-3 flight searched the area Monday, but it was not immediately clear if anything new was spotted.

France Sends Ship to Detect Signals, Collect Debris

A French ship has also arrived at the search area and intends to focus on detecting signals and collecting any debris, a spokesman for the French Navy told ABC News.

The ship can possibly detect signals deeper than approximately 5,000 feet, but that can depend on the strength of the signal and the direction of signals, the French Navy said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- South Africa’s chief prosecutor said on Monday he will appeal a court ruling ordering his office to reconsider reinstating 783 corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.

“I have decided to apply leave to appeal against the judgment of the full bench of the Pretoria High ourt,” National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams said in a televised press conference in Pretoria.

The announcement comes three weeks after the Pretoria High Court ordered the National Prosecuting Authority to review its 2009 decision to drop the corruption charges against Zuma, which are linked to a 1999 government arms deal worth billions of dollars.

The corruption charges were dropped just weeks before the 2009 presidential elections, allowing Zuma to run and ultimately win.

Zuma has always denied the allegations against him.

Abrahams insisted Monday that no one influenced his decision to appeal the court ruling and acknowledged that the move won’t please all parties.

“I will carry out my duties and obligations in cases irrespective of who the suspect is or who the accused is without fear, favor or prejudice. I will do so what I believe is proper and correct in fulfilling my institutional obligations and law,” he said at the press conference Monday. “It is not in my job to please anybody or to make popular decisions but only to act in terms of principles and policies in accordance with my constitutional and statutory duties.”

The decision is good news for Zuma, who is facing intensifying calls for his resignation from the opposition and even from within his ruling African National Congress after a scathing verdict from South Africa’s Constitutional Court. The court ruled on March 31 that Zuma violated the country's constitution when he failed to repay millions in taxpayer money that was used for upgrades to his personal residence near the town of Nkandla.

Zuma, 74, survived an impeachment vote in the legislature last month. But veteran African National Congress members have urged the embattled leader to step down, saying the scandal has damaged the party’s image and has fractured the trust of its supporters.

“Our president, comrade Jacob Zuma, should reflect deeply and do the right thing to resolve the unprecedented crisis that the ANC currently faces,” the provincial executive committee of the African National Congress chapter in Gauteng said in an online statement on April 12.

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BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(HANOI, Vietnam) — President Obama has released a statement confirming the death of Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansur, following an airstrike Saturday along the Afghanistan and Pakistan border.

Obama called Mansur's death "an important milestone in our longstanding effort to bring peace and prosperity to Afghanistan."

"We have removed the leader of an organization that has continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and Coalition forces, to wage war against the Afghan people, and align itself with extremist groups like al Qa'ida," Obama said in a paper statement.

The statement calls on the Taliban to "seize the opportunity" to re-engage in peace talks with Afghanistan's government, with Obama warning that "we will continue taking action against extremist networks that target the United States."

While Pakistan's government said Sunday the airstrike amounted to a violation of its sovereignty, Obama noted the U.S. will work with the country but that "terrorists that threaten all our nations must be denied safe haven."

President Obama personally authorized the strike against Mansur before leaving on a week-long trip to Vietnam and Japan.

Speaking in Hanoi Monday, Obama told reporters Mansur's death sends a message that the U.S. will protect its people.

"Where we have a high profile leader who has been consistently part of operations and plans to potentially harm U.S. personnel and who has been resistant to the kinds of peace talks and reconciliation that ultimately could bring an end to decades of war in Afghanistan," Obama said. "Then it is my responsibility as commander in chief not to stand by but to make sure that we send a clear signal to the Taliban and others that we are going to protect our people and that's exactly the message that has been sent.”


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Indian Research Space Organization(NEW DELHI) -- India's quest to build a reusable space shuttle just cleared its first major hurdle with the successful launch Monday of a miniature prototype.

The shuttle, which is designed to place satellites into orbit, took its first test flight Monday when it blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, an island located off the country's southeastern coast in the Bay of Bengal.

After reaching a peak altitude of 40 miles Monday morning, the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) re-entered the atmosphere at Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound) and successfully descended to a landing spot over the Bay of Bengal, about 279 miles from where it launched, according to a statement from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

"In this flight, critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance & control, reusable thermal protection system and re-entry mission management have been successfully validated," ISRO said in a statement.

The Indian Space Research Organization has been working on low-cost space technologies, with the shuttle prototype reportedly costing $14 million, according to the BBC.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the "industrious work of our scientists" in helping make the test launch a success.

In 2013, India launched its Mars Orbiter Mission, sending a satellite to enter the Red Planet's orbit. The total cost of the mission was reported to be around $74 million, making it just a fraction of the cost of other exploratory missions to Mars.

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iStock/Thinkstock(MELBOURNE, Australia) — Passengers were forced to abandon their hot air balloon when uncooperative wind conditions pulled it off course and over Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne, Australia.

The standard operating procedures in the event of a balloon going over water is to "contact the water police immediately and they coordinate with emergency services," explained balloon operator Daniel Crock. However, the basket had no flotation devices or life jackets.

Luckily, a father and son out wakeboarding saw the balloon descending towards the water.

"Dad starts going quicker and he goes, 'You need to come in now. We got to get this hot air balloon'" son Jack Abbott recalled of the rescue situation.

With nowhere else to go, the hot air balloon delicately came down to rest on the deck of the motorboat that was at the right place at the right time.

Each time a passenger jumped off, the balloon became lighter, causing it to float upwards again, which meant they could only come off one at a time to allow the pilot to re-calibrate and repeat the process.

Once all nine passengers were safely aboard the boat, the reduced weight of the basket allowed the pilot to find wind and navigate to Mount Martha, a nearby beach.

Despite the close call, passenger Johnny Simmons said, "Yeah, I’d do it again."

Authorities are investigating the safety of hot air balloons after the potential threats raised in the rescue at sea.

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