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President Obama Reauthorizes Cuba Listing on ‘Trading with the Enemy Act’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has reauthorized Cuba’s listing on the Trading with the Enemy Act, a move that allows him to continue to use executive authority to improve ties with the Communist country.

Obama’s action follows a unilateral decision last December to re-establish diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, paving the way to embassies being opened in both countries.

The act, which must be reauthorized every year, gives the president the power to make changes to U.S. relations with listed countries. In this case, that is Cuba.

Obama “continues to believe Congress should lift the embargo on Cuba and has already taken a number of steps to normalize relations and empower the Cuban people,” National Security Council spokesman Peter Boogaard told ABC News. “That said, until the Congress acts, the Administration will continue to take prudent and responsible steps to allow commerce and travel, consistent with its authorities and within the continuing constraints of the embargo.”

Officials say that in order to do regulatory changes, like those taken by the administration in January to allow expanded travel under 12-specific licenses, the president needs the authority embedded in the Trading with the Enemy Act.

Without the act, the standing U.S. law with respect to Cuba is the Helms-Burton act, or the embargo, which limits nearly all transactions, travel and business with the island nation.

Congress has made no effort to change the embargo, although legislation was introduced to committee earlier this year that would allow for all travel restrictions to be lifted.

Last month, ABC News learned that the administration has plans underway to make it easier for people to visit and do business with Cuba, through regulation changes at the Treasury Department and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Those changes however, wouldn’t be possible without the power granted to the administration under the Trading with the Enemy Act.

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Crane Collapse in Mecca Leaves More Than 60 Dead

Ozkan Bilgin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(MECCA, Saudi Arabia) — At least 65 people have been killed after a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Mecca in Saudi Arabia, according to local authorities.

The Saudi civil defense confirmed via Twitter that both the death toll and injury count continue to rise, with the number of injured now at 154 people.

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Inside the ‘Abysmal’ Refugee Detention Camps in Hungary

iStock/Thinkstock(BUDAPEST, Hungary) — People kept in wire enclosures, chaotic crowds clamoring for food and guards interacting with the refugees and migrants while wearing surgical masks all contribute to the controversial conditions in Hungarian holding facilities.

American advocacy group Human Rights Watch has released footage from inside the Roszke detention centers near the Serbian border and described the situation as “abysmal.”

“The detainees at Roszke are held in filthy, overcrowded conditions, hungry, and lacking medical care,” Human Rights Watch emergencies director Peter Bouckaert said in a statement.

The group is calling for Hungarian authorities to improve access to food, water, shelter and medical care in the camps.

Representatives from Human Rights Watch visited the two hangars at the detention centers and described overcrowded conditions, insufficient bedding and space.

They interviewed some of the detainees who said they were not provided with interpreters and had “little or no information about the legal rules and safeguards governing their detention,” according to the Human Rights Watch statement.

The new footage from inside the camps comes a day after an Austrian politician’s wife released video showing Hungarian police officers throwing food at a crowd of refugees earlier in the week at the same detention camp, adding to the chaos of the situation.

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Hungarian Camerawoman Apologizes for Kicking, Tripping Refugees

Thomas Campean /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Hungarian camerawoman who was caught on video kicking and tripping refugees has written an open letter apologizing for her “panicked” actions.

Petra Laszlo, who has since been fired from her job and questioned by police, was filming as people broke away from a police cordon in Hungary.

“I panicked. I’m not a heartless, child-kicking racist camera-person,” she wrote in her letter published in Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet.

“As I watch the footage now, it’s like I’m not watching myself. I honestly regret what I have done and take responsibility for it,” she wrote.

She was fired from N1TV, a far right-leaning Hungarian Internet news channel, after the release of the footage showing her treatment of refugees and migrants.

“I was afraid as they were rushing toward me and then something snapped in my head. As I had my camera in my hand I couldn’t see who was coming at me, my only thought was that I was going to be attacked, and that I had to defend myself,” she wrote of the incident that took place near the Serbian border Tuesday. “It’s not easy to make a good decision when you’re in a panic.”

“I’m just a woman, now unemployed mother of small children, who made a bad decision in a panic situation,” she added.

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Search and Rescue Efforts Continue in Japan After Flooding

KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) — Search and rescue operations continue north of Tokyo Friday after torrential rains have brought floods and deadly landslides to the region.

The rainfall was a result of Typhoon Etau, which hit Japan earlier this week.

Thousands have evacuated to temporary shelters and hundreds are still waiting for help. Rescue workers from Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, police and firefighting units are taking part in the operation.

The flooding has left three people dead and 23 missing, NHK reports.

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Helping Hadija: Push to Get Schooling for Thousands of Syrian Refugee Children

ABC News(BEIRUT) — For children like 12-year-old Hadija, life in a refugee camp in Lebanon, just miles from the Syrian border, is the new normal.

The camp has been her family’s home for the last four years. Hadija, whom ABC News met nearly a year ago, said that she loves her native Syria but that her family had to leave to escape the war.

Once from middle-class families in Syria, some of these children, like Hadija, have been forced to support their families through back-breaking work. They spend up to seven hours a day filling sacks with potatoes.

UNICEF and its partners have been working, though, to get more refugee children enrolled in local public schools for free. This year, they seek to enroll 200,000 in Lebanon. THey say their education-funding needs a total of $200 million, however.

There are more than 2 million out-of-school children in Syria, according to UNICEF, in addition to 700,000 Syrian refugee children in neighboring countries. Some Syrian children have lost up to five years of their education.

“There are currently more children on the move than before WWII,” said U.S. Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Caryl Stern. “In addition to donating to international humanitarian and refugee organizations, we are relying on the public to help us advocate for children by reaching out to their governments — both domestically and internationally — and asking them to take every action possible to put children first.”

Click here to find out how you can help.

Hadija has been able to attend class, but she’s currently out of school. Instead, she’s been working in the fields to help support her family, earning $4 to $6 a day. She says that she wants to learn and that education is important.

She said her hope is to return to Syria and continue her education there.

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Video Shows Hungarian Police Throwing Food at Refugees in Camp

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(ROSZKE, Hungary) — Hungarian authorities were caught on camera throwing food at a crowd of people looking for aid along their route towards northern Europe.

Footage obtained by an Austrian politician appears to show the Hungarian police officers tossing the food into a crowd of migrants and refugees, adding to the chaos of the situation.

Michaela Spritzendorfer-Ehrenhauser, the wife of Austrian politician Alexander Spritzendorfer, reportedly filmed the two videos inside a makeshift camp in the Hungarian border town of Roszke.

The police officers distributing the food are seen wearing helmets with plastic face guards, and some appear to be wearing surgical masks.

Spritzendorfer-Ehrenhauser filmed the incident in the camp on Wednesday, the same day that the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees reported on the worsening conditions in the area.

The UNHCR specifically cited an incident a day earlier when a group of refugees and migrants broke through a line of Hungarian police around the camp.

The agency reported in a post on its site that 2,700 refugees had crossed into Hungary that night amid the chaos.

“The numbers mount and the authorities are all but submerged by them,” the post reads.

Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director of the advocacy group Human Rights Watch, tweeted a link to one of the videos, calling it “feeding time” and describing the conditions in Roszke “inhumane.”

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European Refugee Crisis: How To Help

Jordan Pix/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — For those who are interested in helping during the European refugee crisis, Doctors Without Borders, the International Rescue Committee and the United Nations are among the groups providing aid to the displaced.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, has been providing help for months to refugees who have fled Syria for months.

A spokesman for the organization confirmed to ABC News that they have been helping with rescues in the Mediterranean Sea since May, assisting almost 15,000 people in roughly four months.

They’ve also been providing medical care to people along the land routes from Greece through the rest of Europe.

The International Rescue Committee has been helping refugees in Greece by working on processing and evacuating the individuals as they pass through the Greek island of Lesbos.

The group has been focusing on providing clean water and safe sanitation methods in the Kara Tempe refugee camp on the island and informing new arrivals of their legal rights, according to the charity’s website.

“What [refugees are] most angry about is that they get absolutely no information about the registration process and how they can get off the island quickly,” IRC emergency field director Kirk Day said in a post on the charity’s blog. “We have found that by providing access to that information, we’re gaining the population’s trust.”

UNICEF is focusing on providing aid for the millions of children affected by the crisis.

That aid includes counseling, food, water and educational materials for the many who are missing school during this crisis.

A spokeswoman for UNICEF confirmed to ABC News that they have been helping refugee families in Serbia and Macedonia, setting up safe places for children to play and rest there.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has been providing humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees in the form of basic necessities like cash for medicine, stoves and fuel to heat their tents and warm clothing, according to the group’s website.

Synthetic sleeping mats, tents and thermal fleece blankets are among the items that the UNHCR is providing to refugees.

“The selfless generosity of private citizens and civil society organizations reaching out to welcome and help the new arrivals is truly inspiring,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in a release on Sept. 4, though he went on to say that Europe must determine the long-term response.

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Obama Asks Administration to Accept at Least 10K Syrian Refugees in 2016

Ayhan Mehmet/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has directed his administration accept at least 10,000 more Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Thursday.

“The president has directed his team to consider how we can further scale up our response and one thing that the United States can do is to begin to admit more Syrian refugees into the United States,” Earnest told reporters. “The president has directed his team to scale up that number next year and he’s informed his team that he would like them to accept, at least make preparations to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year.”

Earnest said that the U.S. will take in about 1,500 Syrian refugees in FY2015, which ends at the end of the month.

He added that financial assistance is “by far the most effective way” for the United States to meet this urgent humanitarian need, by providing Syrians with medical supplies, food, water and education.

“Now we know the scale of this problem. It’s significant. And there are millions of people who have been driven from their homes because of this violence,” he said. “We know that admitting that it certainly is not feasible for millions of Syrians to come to this country, but what we can do is make sure that we are doing everything we can to try to provide for their basic needs.”

Earnest said that the State Department has long considered raising the overall cap on refugees from throughout the globe, but it’s unclear how high that cap may be raised next year.

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Uma Thurman Helps Save Endangered White Rhino, Calf in South Africa

Taylor Hill/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Uma Thurman recently traveled to South Africa on a mission of mercy, to save a female white rhinoceros and her calf.

“It’s a spiritual, surreal experience, to have subdued, without stress, such a prehistoric animal,” the 45-year-old Kill Bill actress told Town & Country, which documented the mission for its October issue. “To hear its deep breaths, to smell it, to touch its skin — even a rhino has soft bits. To see how delicate they really are, how vulnerable. There is the obvious excitement of it all, but also a quietness in the midst of all the panic.”

The mother rhino and her calf, like the rest of their dwindling species, are under serious threat from poachers. At least four of the animals are being killed every day, as the prestige of rhino horn has grown in some countries, where it is thought to not only cure cancer but enhance virility and is also used as a party drug, according to the magazine.

An intact, well-shaped horn can fetch between $750,000 and $1 million on the black market, the magazine said.

Thurman, along with Town & Country’s travel editor, Klara Glowczewska, and a team of wildlife experts, rescued the two white rhinos, who were to be transported from South Africa’s Timbavati Game Reserve to Botswana, where there is less threat from poachers.

After helping get the two ready for transport, Thurman shared a brief moment alone with the mother.

“I was so moved,” she told the magazine. “I was just breathing in the dearness of her.”

When the group got word of a possible hijacking because of the animals’ high value, Thurman was not deterred.

“I have lent myself to this. I’m here to help,” she told the magazine.

In the end, the animals were transported without a hitch and Thurman came away with a sense of hope after the experience.

“I think so many of us feel that there is no point — Who are we? What can we do?” she said. “There are so many dire situations, and it’s all out of our control. And there is sort of truth to that. But what I learned in Africa is that one must make an effort anyway. Because you just don’t know. Until the story is concluded, there is always hope.”

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