Indian government continues to work with the Nigerian authorities to ensure the safe release of the 18 Indians kidnapped on Dec. 3 onboard a ship "MT Nave Constellation" off Nigeria coast, said spokesman of India's External Affairs Ministry Friday.
Nineteen crew members, including the 18 Indians and a Turk, went missing after the ship was "taken over" by some unidentified pirates. Since then their fate has not been known.
Noting it is a sad incident, the spokesman said the kidnapping occurred in the high seas off Bonny, Nigeria.
"We are in touch with Nigerian authorities working very close with them. We can't divulge any more details as it is a sensitive issue," said the spokesman.
Paleontologists announced Friday the discovery of numerous dinosaur footprint fossils dating back to the Jurassic period in the former royal summer resort in north China.
The footprints from multiple species of dinosaur were discovered in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) imperial resort in Chengde, Hebei Province, nearby temples and a local village named Madigou, which is known for producing paving stones, according to a press conference.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the stone slabs from Madigou were used for the construction of the resort and surrounding eight temples.
The discovery includes more than 140 three-toed theropod footprints with an average length of 13.4 cm, several Koreanaornis or ancient shorebird-like tracks, and an unconfirmed brontosaur track measuring 28.9 cm long and 22.6 cm wide.
The research was conducted by an international team including researchers from China, the United States and Australia.
The discovery revealed a diverse dinosaur group that inhabited the area, providing records of the evolution of dinosaurs in north China, said Xing Lida, an associate professor at the China University of Geosciences in Beijing who led the research team.
The huge quantity of well-preserved footprints are highly valuable to studies on dinosaurs' behavior, habits, living environment and how the climate changed at the time, Xing said.
The Chengde municipal relics bureau is communicating with Xing's team on how to protect the dinosaur footprint site and use it for the purposes of tourism and science education.
The Chengde imperial resort, some 230 km north of Beijing, was built in 1703 during the Qing Dynasty. Emperors lived there in the summer and received diplomats and tribal leaders.
The Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples were added to the list of World Cultural Heritage sites in 1994.
It was the odd-looking locker handles that caught their eye.
Investigators spent hours poring over graphic images of little boys changing in and out of their swimsuits at what looked like a YMCA. They were hunting for any clue to help them identify the location — and ultimately, the victims and the person who exploited them.
Then they noticed that the locker handles had unusual plastic hooks. They scrubbed the photos to remove the images of children, then sent the pictures to locker manufacturers. One of them recognized the lockers and said they had been installed at YMCAs. Eventually, investigators matched the photos to a YMCA in Sandusky, Ohio. That led to the suspect, a former Boy Scout leader.
These weren't FBI or local police, but investigators from the agency that's the poster child for President Donald Trump's polarizing immigration policies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE's Homeland Security Investigations section, tasked with investigating crime, has a Child Exploitation Investigations lab where agents scour disturbing photos and videos of child sexual abuse.
They look for unlikely clues that help them identify the children and bring their abusers to justice. In one case, it was the loud, persistent chirping of a bird. Another time, it was unusual playground equipment.
"We are looking at the hidden details, the things people aren't looking at," said Special Agent Erin Burke, the section chief.
The work of Homeland Security Investigations agents has led to thousands of child exploitation-related arrests. But being part of ICE has taken a toll. Funding for HSI has fallen as a greater share of ICE's budget is devoted to removing immigrants. And the association with ICE has created friction.
Some cities and police departments refuse to comply with ICE on immigration matters, like alerting them to criminal suspects wanted for crossing the border illegally. Sometimes that bleeds into the HSI investigators' work, too. Just having the email end in "ice.dhs.gov" can cause problems.
"Ninety-nine percent of what we do here has no immigration nexus," Burke said. "But people have a hard time understanding this."
ICE's involvement in child pornography investigations dates back to when hard-copy images were traded over borders. Now it's all online. The internet has made it so investigators around the globe can't keep pace with the tens of millions of graphic materials available today. It's exploded in part thanks to cheaper online storage and easier encryption tools. The dark web gives additional cover to perpetrators. It has made them bolder, their abuse more graphic and disturbing, the work of the investigators more difficult.
The lab was created in 2011 to look for clues within images to help find child victims. It has three analysts and one special agent. They work in a small windowless room in a nondescript office building in the Virginia suburbs outside Washington. A sign on the door says in red bold letters: "Examination of graphic material in progress."
Inside, new technology meets old: Fluorescent office lights are turned down and specialized blue lights glow. Giant, state-of-the-art computers with high-definition screens are set up alongside old police sketches of faces.
The cases come to them from local police, or international investigators who notice American victims. It can take two weeks, two days, two years to identify the children. Some they can't find. Those children haunt them.
In many cases, graphic images are accompanied by everyday shots of the child.
"They want to show they have access to a child," Burke said. "So the 'before' images become a part of the story for them almost as much as the graphic images."
In one case, an analyst examined images he received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a clearinghouse and reporting center for issues on the prevention of child victimization.
One photo showed, a girl, maybe 4 years old, from the back. She was scrambling atop a rock, her curly blonde hair in pig tails. The analyst photoshopped the victim out and sent the photo of the rock and the surrounding foliage to a horticulture expert at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, who narrowed the location down to the southern U.S.
Next, the analyst looked at playground equipment in another "clean" image. He sent the photo to playground manufacturing companies and safety experts who could pinpoint where the equipment was installed, smack in the middle of a Houston neighborhood.
They sent their research to Texas field agents, who went door-to-door, asking schools, neighbors, businesses, anyone, if they'd seen the little girl, and eventually found the victim — and the suspect.
The girl's father pleaded guilty last June and was sentenced to 35 years for exploitation. But by then, images of the girl had been widely circulated. They were found in at least 222 collections, officials said.
In another case, analysts heard strange bird chirping in an abuse video. They isolated the sound and send it to an ornithologist who identified the bird and its migratory patterns. That led them to three suspects, the last of whom pleaded guilty last month. They are expected to be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years.
In the locker room case, a 39-year-old man pleaded guilty last month to sexual exploitation of a children and will be sentenced in January.
"The bad guys will always be smarter," Burke said. "But that doesn't mean we don't have the tools, the expertise and the boots-on-the-ground hard work to make a dent."
The lab is a small part part of HSI, which has 7,000 agents tasked with workplace enforcement, human trafficking investigations, child exploitation investigations, plus drugs and financial crime.
In the budget year that ended Sept. 30, HSI agents and investigators initiated 4,224 child exploitation cases that resulted in 3,771 arrests and identification of 1,066 victims from. Some of those cases came from information gleaned through the victim identification lab.
The previous two budget years each saw about 4,000 investigations but lower arrests and fewer victims identified, according to the data.
The president's budget requests for HSI have declined over the past few years while requests for ICE's for immigration enforcement and removal operations money has increased, a reflection of Trump's intense focus on reducing immigration. For the new 2020 budget year, it's up about to around $1.7 billion — but in 2018 it was $2.1 billion. Meanwhile, ICE's removal operations requests have increased from $4 billion to $5.1 billion for this budget year.
Burke notes that working in the lab is "not for everyone." Coping can be tough. Some of the team members have children and have become wary of babysitters. They don't want to leave their kids with anyone in a room, especially men.
But they all feel a sense of duty, drawn to the job for the simple fact of saving a child from harm.
"If I don't do it, who will? If not me, who will find these children?" said the analyst who uncovered the locker room link. He didn't want his name publicized out of concern for his investigative work.
The agency has therapists available to help lab staff. Analysts tell each other to step away if something is particularly horrifying. There's no maximum amount of time someone can work in the lab, but when someone suddenly realizes they've had enough, they can transfer quickly to another department.
"It takes a special kind of person to do this work, Burke said. "But when you save a child, when you get the call that a victim has been rescued, it makes everything worth it."
An explosion of a heating gas pipe killed at least 11 people and injured 42 others during a wedding ceremony in western Iran, the country's state TV reported on Friday.
The report said five children and five women were among those killed in the explosion, which took place late on Thursday evening in the predominantly Kurdish city of Saqqez, about 450 kilometers (255 miles) west of the capital, Tehran.
Three of the injured were reported to be in serious condition. The TV report said the incident happened following a leak from the pipe feeding the heater inside the wedding hall.
The government announced a one-day public mourning in western Kurdistan province.
Iran occasionally sees such incidents, which are mainly blamed on widespread disregard for safety measures, old and outdated equipment and inadequate emergency services.
In 2005, a fire broke out in a mosque in central Tehran during prayers, killing 59 worshipers and injuring about 250 people.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived in Madrid Friday to join thousands of other young people in a march to demand world leaders take real action against climate change.
The Spanish capital is hosting a two-week, United Nations-sponsored talks aimed at streamlining the rules on global carbon markets and agreeing on how poor countries should be compensated for destruction largely caused by emissions from rich nations.
The talks come as scientific evidence mounts about disasters that could ensue from further global warming, including a study commissioned by 14 seafaring nations due to be published Friday that predicts that unchecked climate change could devastate fishery industries and coral reef tourism.
That could cause hundreds of billions of dollars in losses by 2050, says the report, adding that limiting global warming would lessen the economic impact for coastal countries, but that they also need to adapt to ocean changes.
The presence in Madrid of Thunberg was expected to shift the attention to demands for greater action by non-governmental organizations and a whole new generation of environment-minded activists.
Past appearances by the 16-year-old have won her plaudits from some leaders — and criticism from others who've taken offense at the angry tone of her speeches.
An advocate for carbon-free transportation, Thunberg traveled by train overnight from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, where she arrived earlier this week after sailing across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States by catamaran.
That became necessary after a sudden change of venue for the COP25 summit following a wave of anti-government protests that hit Chile, the original host.
On arrival, Thunberg was received by a media scrum. Wearing a hoodie and carrying her luggage, the activist and her father Svante quickly walked to a car that drove them out of Madrid's northern station.