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ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images(HONG KONG) -- Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam acquiesced, at least in part, to massive protests in the city this week as she announced Saturday the controversial extradition bill will be suspended indefinitely.

"The original urgency to pass the bill in this legislative year is perhaps no longer there,” Lam said at a press conference. "After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days, I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise."

It was unclear how the announcement would affect protests, already scheduled over the weekend. A march was planned for Sunday, and there were also calls for another protest to take place Monday when lawmakers returned to work.

The streets of Hong Kong were calm and quiet Friday after days of protests over the government's controversial proposal to change an extradition law that would allow individuals to be sent to mainland China for trial.

A largely peaceful march, which organizers said drew over a million people in sweltering heat, took place in central Hong Kong last Sunday. The situation turned violent three days later when the extradition law amendment was scheduled to be introduced for debate in the city's legislature.

Thousands of mostly-young protesters shut down Hong Kong's Legislative Council complex and paralyzed parts of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory on Wednesday. Riot police fired multiple rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the throngs of demonstrators, who hurled bottles, umbrellas and other objects at them.

At least 72 people were injured, including 22 police officers. Eleven people were arrested for disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly, assaulting officers and riot-related activities stemming from Wednesday's protests, authorities said.

Heavy rain prevented most organizers from carrying out fresh demonstrations the following day. Still, the president of the Legislative Council cancelled all planned sessions again Thursday and Friday, pushing debate on the bill to next week.

Under the extradition law amendment, any country -- including China -- could request the extradition of an individual to their home country from Hong Kong for trial. Many who oppose the proposed legislation fear that China could use it to arrest political dissidents.

The bill was scheduled to be voted on June 20. Lam had said she planned to sign it.

However, some of Lam's supporters signaling a possible delay in the legislation prior to Saturday's announced suspension. Her top aide, Bernard Chan, seemed to test the waters during an interview Friday morning with the public broadcasting service, Radio Television Hong Kong, in which he admitted to underestimating the business community's opposition to the new law. He also said he didn't want a single bill to hold up the entire legislative agenda.

“I think it is impossible to discuss [it] under such confrontation. It would be very difficult,” Chan told RTHK. “At the very least we should not escalate the antagonism.”

Michael Tien, a pro-Beijing legislator who's usually an ally of Lam, also called for a delay in a Facebook post on Friday, saying it should be seen as the politically responsible thing to do, not as a concession.

Meanwhile, 27 former Hong Kong government officials and lawmakers issued a joint statement on Friday, urging Lam to "yield to public opinion" and withdraw the bill, calling on her ministers to resign in protest if she doesn't. They criticized Lam for appearing "unmoved" by Wednesday's "bloody conflict" between police and protesters.

"This is our future generation to be cherished, how can anyone with a heart not be pained to see the treatment they received?" they said in a statement. "A deeply divided society, serious concerns of the international community -- are these the sacrifices to be made to satisfy the will of the Chief Executive? What great public interest is supposed to be served by the hurried passage of this bill? Where will this escalation of police force to suppress protest lead Hong Kong?"

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iStock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran attempted to shoot down a U.S. drone that was surveilling the attack on one of two tankers hit in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday morning, U.S. Central Command said. The attempt missed the MQ-9 Reaper by "approximately 1 kilometer."

The Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, along with another tanker, the Front Altair, were damaged by mines that the U.S. said Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had placed on the ship's hulls.

"According to our assessment, a modified Iranian SA-7 surface-to-air missile attempted to shoot down a U.S. MQ-9, at 6:45 a.m. local time, June 13, over the Gulf of Oman, to disrupt surveillance of the IRGC attack on the M/T Kokuka Courageous," CENTCOM spokesperson Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement to ABC News on Saturday.

CENTCOM said that, prior to the attempt by Iran to shoot down the MQ-9, the drone had observed the Front Altair on fire.

"The SA-7 was ineffective and its closest point of approach to the MQ-9 was approximately 1 kilometer," Brown said. "Subsequent analysis indicates that this was a likely attempt to shoot down or otherwise disrupt the MQ-9 surveillance of the IRGC attack on the M/T Kokuka Courageous."

In the day following the attacks, Iranian small boats prevented salvage tugs from towing the Front Altair, as they had been contracted to do, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The 23 mariners on board the Front Altair were rescued shortly after Thursday's attack by the Hyundai Dubai, but Iranians aboard small boats quickly demanded the crew be turned over to their custody. The master of the Hyundai Dubai contacted the headquarters of his shipping company in Seoul and was instructed not to turn the crew over to the Iranians. However, the ship's master felt he had no choice but to comply with the Iranian demands.

The Kokuka Courageous is now in territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates, a second official said.

CENTCOM also confirmed on Saturday that another U.S. MQ-9 was shot down by a Houthi SA-6 surface-to-air missile over Yemen on June 6.

"The altitude of the engagement indicated an improvement over previous Houthi capability, which we assess was enabled by Iranian assistance," Brown said. 

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iStock(PARIS) -- Notre Dame Cathedral held mass on Saturday, its first since a devastating fire tore through the building two months ago on April 15.

Only a small group of about 30 people attended the mass, including the church’s clergy, worshipers, media and construction workers. The mass was also transmitted live on a French Catholic TV station, and dozens of other Catholics attended the service from outside the cathedral, watching on their phones.

The small group convened in a chapel behind the large gold-covered cross that was miraculously found intact after the fire, which destroyed the building’s roof, causing its iconic spire to collapse. For safety reasons, those attending the mass were asked to wear hard hats inside the church.

Paris archbishop Michel Aupetit led the service. He has pushed for the reconstruction of Notre Dame since the fire and wanted to hold the mass as a way to keep the energy around the monument’s recovery alive.

French Minister of Culture Franck Riester that only 9% of the $955 million in donations that had been promised to Notre Dame’s reconstruction had actually been received, according to Agence France-Press. He said some donors were waiting to send their donations because they wanted clear plans for how their money would be spent.

The mass was held a day before an annual celebration of the consecration of the church’s altar, known as the feast of the Dedication of Our Lady, and Aupetit prayed to the statue of the Virgin Mary, saying that he was thankful to be there.

“It was extraordinary,” he said, “to be able to celebrate again, even in this wounded cathedral. I was ordained bishop in this cathedral.”

Aupetit called it “a little weird” praying with hard hats on and said that he took it off during the consecration because “come on.”

He hopes he’ll be able to hold mass again soon, though. “As soon as I’m given the authorization again, I will go again, because I used to go all the time,” he said.

The church site is still being investigated by the French police. Investigators have now seized 100 samples from the crime scene to undergo laboratory examinations. However, they fear that a lot of the samples won’t be useful.

Investigators believe that the fire started due to a short-circuit around the electrified bells in the spire. They also believe that there had been a human error in locating the fire, and that a security guard inspected the wrong sector of the church.

As the investigation continues, the church’s reconstruction will remain on hold until it is fully cleared of rubble. Yet still, with this mass, the clergy around Notre Dame demonstrates that it’s eager to start a regular church life again.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. is looking to build an "international consensus" around Thursday's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman that the U.S. has blamed squarely on Iran. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the attack, Iranian small boats have prevented salvage tugs from moving one of the damaged ships to a port, according to a U.S. official.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan highlighted to reporters on Friday that the attacks were not only a "U.S. situation," saying the focus now is to "build international consensus to this international problem."

"When you look at the situation, a Norwegian ship, Japanese ship, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE..." Shanahan said, listing some the countries that owned ships attacked in Middle Eastern waters Thursday and in another attack a few weeks prior.

"Fifteen percent of the world's oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz," Shanahan continued. "So, we obviously need to make contingency plans should the situation deteriorate, but we also need to broaden our support for this international situation."

He said the effort to declassify intelligence and release it publicly was part of the effort to build international consensus.

On Thursday evening, U.S. Central Command released video taken from a U.S. Navy P-8 surveillance aircraft showing what they said were Iranian small boats attempting to remove an unexploded mine from the side of the Kokuka Courageous -- one of the two ships attacked earlier that day. CENTCOM also released images of that ship, showing where one mine had exploded and another had not.

In a statement, the United Kingdom's Foreign Office said it was “almost certain that a branch of the Iranian military -- the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps -- attacked the two tankers," adding that "no other state or non-state actor could plausibly have been responsible."

But the German Foreign Minister was not as convinced, saying video released by CENTCOM was "not enough" for Germany to make a final assessment.

Iranian officials have flatly denied any involvement in the attacks.

Iranian interference in aftermath of tanker attacks

In the day following the attacks, Iranian small boats have prevented salvage tugs from towing the other damaged ship, the Front Altair, as they had been contracted to do, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The Front Altair suffered significant damage after the explosion of two to three mines triggered a massive fire on board the ship. While it was feared that that tanker would sink, officials said it now appears salvageable. But the salvage tugs have been told by Iranians that they cannot move the tanker, the official said.

The 23 mariners on board the Front Altair were rescued shortly after Thursday's attack by the Hyundai Dubai, but Iranians aboard small boats quickly demanded the crew be turned over to their custody. The master of the Hyundai Dubai contacted the headquarters of his shipping company in Seoul and was instructed not to turn the crew over to the Iranians. However, the ship's master felt he had no choice to comply with the Iranian demands. So the crew was taken to an Iranian port where they remained on Friday.

While the owners of the Front Altair said the mariners would be repatriated, there have been no indications yet from Iran that that is the case.

According to a separate U.S. official, crew members from the Kokuka Courageous returned to their tanker very early Friday morning and contracted a tug to pull the ship back to the United Arab Emirates.

Several Iranian small boats and an Iranian tug “offered assistance,” but that assistance was declined by the ship’s master. As the Iranians on those vessels kept insisting that they wanted to assist, the U.S. Navy destroyer, USS Bainbridge, made a bridge to bridge communication with the Iranians and told them that no assistance was required. The official added that the Iranians did not try to force themselves onto the ship because of the Bainbridge’s presence.

On Thursday, it was the Bainbridge that rescued the Kokuka Courageous's 21-person crew, treating minor injuries.

The Bainbridge, along with another U.S. Navy destroyer, USS Mason, remain near the Kokuka Courageous. The USS Lincoln carrier strike group, which was deployed to the Middle East in response to threat streams emanating from Iran in early May, is also in the vicinity.

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iStock/AndreyPopov(WASHINGTON) -- A federal court on Friday knocked down the Trump administration’s policy that allowed officials to deny abortion access to pregnant migrant teenagers in government custody.

A judge had already issued a preliminary injunction on the policy. Friday’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit means the Department of Health and Human Services must continue to facilitate abortion access for the young women in its custody.

"Under binding Supreme Court precedent, a person has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy before fetal viability, and the government cannot unduly burden her decision," the court stated.

The decision is a blow to the Trump administration, which argued in court that allowing young migrant women access to abortion would result in "abortion tourism" and encourage other young women to make that journey. The court said in its unanimous opinion that it didn't support that argument, noting the threat of sexual violence many women face en route to the U.S.

“That hazardous journey for minors is not ‘tourism,’ much less ‘tourism’ to ‘demand abortion,’” the court wrote.

The Justice Department declined to comment. A spokesman for HHS said the "Office of General Counsel is currently reviewing the decision."

The ruling comes amid an unprecedented number of families and children arriving at the border each month to seek asylum. Some 11,000 children and teens traveling without their parents arrived in the month of May alone. According to court documents, "several hundred" pregnant girls under the age of 18 are in government custody each year. Shelter for the women is provided by the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement, which contracts with privately run shelters scattered across the country.

When Scott Lloyd became the office's director in March 2017, he announced that shelters wouldn’t be allowed to accommodate a young woman in custody seeking an abortion without his approval.

That was a shift from past policy. A director’s approval hadn’t been needed previously, and if a shelter objected on religious grounds, the Office of Refugee Resettlement would transfer her to another shelter willing to provide access.

That year, according to court documents, 18 pregnant women under the age of 18 requested an abortion. Lloyd “denied every abortion request presented to him during his tenure,” the documents state.

Lloyd is no longer at HHS and was not immediately available for comment.

“He refused every request regardless of circumstances, including when the pregnancy resulted from rape,” the documents state.

“The requirement to obtain the Director’s approval thus functions as a blanket ban,” the court concluded.

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iStock/Sergey Sidorov(MOSCOW) -- A Russian scientific institute says it has found an almost perfectly preserved head of a 32,000 year-old wolf has been found frozen in the ground in Siberia, so complete that it is still covered with fur and its brain is intact.

Scientists from the Republic of Sakha’s Academy of Sciences in Russia's Arctic region of Yakutia, announced the find this week, hailing it as the first of its kind.

The head was found by a local man, Pavel Efimov, close to the Tirekhtyakh River in Yakutia in the summer of 2018, according to a press release published on the institute's website. Efimov had stumbled across the head buried in a layer of permafrost visible in the riverbank.

The institute said that its scientists along with others in Japan had confirmed that the wolf had lived during the Ice Age and released photographs and video of the head, in which it appeared barely decayed with its fur still soft and matted.

“This is the first find known to science of remains of a Pleistocene wolf with preserved soft fur,” Albert Protopopov, the director of the Academy’s department of mammoth fauna studies, said in the statement.

The Russian institute said Japanese scientists at Tokyo’s Jikei University conducted a tomographic study and carbon dating to establish the wolf’s age. The wolf’s head is 16.4 inches long, meaning it is almost half the size of the body of a large modern-day wolf, the institute said, calling the ancient animal “gigantic.” The wolf would have been 2 to 4 years old when it died, they said.

The fact that the head was intact is extraordinary, the scientists said, noting that the wolf’s brain was “undamaged” and that almost all its teeth were still present. Protopopov said they were now studying the head in order to see how modern wolves had evolved.

The scientists said the wolf head had been found in the same area as an immaculately preserved body of an Ice Age cave lion cub, that was discovered in 2017. That was the fourth whole lion cub to be found since 2015.

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Marilyn Nieves/iStock(CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand) -- The Australian man accused of killing 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand earlier this year has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Brenton Tarrant, 28, appeared via video link from a maximum security prison for Friday's hearing at the Christchurch High Court in Christchurch, New Zealand. He's facing 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one terrorism charge in connection to the March 15 massacre, to which his attorney entered not guilty pleas.

The courtroom was packed with dozens of survivors and family members of those who were killed.

Worshipers were gunned down inside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch and then at a nearby mosque in the suburb of Linwood. It was the deadliest terror attack in the nation's history.

Much of the attack was broadcast live on Facebook.

New Zealand police say Tarrant, a suspected white supremacist, wrote a rambling manifesto before the shootings and emailed it to dozens of recipients, including the prime minister's office.

Six days later, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on all military-style semi-automatic weapons, such as the ones used in the March 15 shootings. Ardern has vowed never to say Tarrant's name.

Tarrant will go to trial on May 4. He will remain in custody in Auckland, New Zealand, until his next hearing on Aug. 16.

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Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage(LONDON) -- Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have a new set of hands to help with their newborn son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

The royal couple has hired a British-born, female nanny, according to ABC News royal contributor Omid Scobie.

Meghan gave birth to Archie, her first child, on May 6.

She and Harry, who celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary soon after their son's birth, chose to be completely hands-on in the first weeks of Archie's life, forgoing a nanny or a night nurse.

Meghan's mom, Doria Ragland, stayed with the couple at their Frogmore Cottage home from mid-April through about two weeks after Archie's birth.

Even with the addition of a nanny, Harry and Meghan are still keeping things simple. The nanny is not permanently based at Frogmore Cottage or working weekends, according to Scobie.

Scobie told Good Morning America last month that Harry and Meghan are also keeping other staff members at Frogmore Cottage to a minimum, so far relying on only one housekeeper for their 18th-century home in Windsor.

News of a nanny for Archie comes nearly one week after Duchess Meghan made her first public appearance since she and Harry introduced Archie to the world on May 8 at Windsor Castle.

Meghan joined Harry and other members of the royal family to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 93rd birthday at the Trooping the Colour parade.

Meghan is expected to resume her royal duties this fall, according to Scobie.

Harry, who will celebrate his first Father's Day Sunday, has kept up his pace of royal engagements.

He traveled to the Netherlands for an Invictus Games event just a few days after Archie's birth and traveled to Rome for a charity polo tournament, in addition to his day-to-day royal engagements in the U.K.

Harry and Meghan are also looking ahead to a possible royal tour of Africa in October, a trip on which they will likely take Archie, according to Scobie.

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Pontuse/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The ongoing political crisis in Sudan is getting some extra support in the form of expressions of solidarity on social media.

In an effort to raise awareness about the violent clashes in the African country, a number of Instagram and Twitter users have either turned the circle where their profile pictures appear a solid blue, or posted a solid blue square as an image.

In addition to the blue profile pictures, some users have shared posts with a variety of images, with some showing the map of the country, or a drawing of a crying woman wearing a hijab in the colors of the country's flag.

The violence in the country comes two months after Sudan's autocratic ruler, President Omar al-Bashir, was ousted and jailed after mass protests and a transitional military council assumed power.

While the opposition movement continues to advocate for a transition to civilian rule, militias with ties to that military council have attacked protesters in Khartoum and across the country.

The death toll from those attacks is now at least 129 people, with over 700 injured, according to Madani Abbas Madani, a leader of the opposition alliance called the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces.

Rape has also been used as a weapon of war by the militias, according to opposition figures and doctors. At least 70 people were raped in an assault on a protest camp in Khartoum, Madani told ABC News, although he added the number is likely even higher.

The crisis, in addition to receiving international attention online, is also receiving formal international support.

On Wednesday, the State Department confirmed that they have named a special envoy being sent to Sudan to lead diplomatic efforts to stem the violence of the crisis.

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Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(PARIS) -- French President Emmanuel Macron says he will send the U.S. a new friendship tree after the first one one was reported dead earlier this week.

The original tree, planted as a symbol of solidarity between the two countries, was reported dead on Monday. Macron announced that he would send a new tree on Tuesday in an interview with Switzerland’s Radio Television Suisse.

“My interest was more about the history of this tree as it comes from my country, the heights of northern France. It was one of the battles that was very hard. And it was the American troops who came to fight,” he said.

The original tree, a European Sessile Oak, originated from France's Belleau Wood forest, where more than 9,000 U.S. Marines died in battle during World War I. It was planted on the South Lawn of the White House on April 23, 2018, during Macron's state visit to the U.S., but disappeared five days later.

While there was some speculation on what the death of the tree might symbolize, Macron said that the relationship between the U.S. and France remains strong.

“We will send another one,” Macron said during the interview. “That’s not a drama. You shouldn't see symbols where there aren't any.”

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omersukrugoksu/iStock(AUCKLAND, New Zealand) -- Veterinarians in New Zealand are working to save the critically endangered kakapo parrot species, which is at risk of being wiped out due to a fungal infection spreading among the birds.

Less than 150 birds are left, according to the New Zealand Department of Conservation, and seven of them have recently died of aspergillosis, a serious lung infection that affects the respiratory system, according to the Auckland Zoo.

Staff at the Auckland Zoo are currently caring for five kakapo adults and 12 chicks, all at different stages of the illness. Nora-1-A, a 100-day-old chick, is the most recent kakapo to die after receiving a "last chance" procedure to allow her to breed.

"At this time 16 birds have been officially diagnosed with aspergillosis so Nora-1-A is highly unlikely to be the last chick we lost to this disease," zoo staff wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

Kakapos are characterized by their green feathers, waddling gait and "distinctive owl-like face," according to the New Zealand Department of Conservation. The flightless birds are known as the heaviest parrot species in the world, with males typically weighing just under 5 pounds and females about 3 pounds. They also may be the longest-living bird species in the world, estimated to reach an age of 90 years.

The species has been teetering "on the edge of extinction" since the mid-1990s, and faces "major challenges" due to infertility and inbreeding, according to the Department of Conservation.

The fungal infection began to spread during the bird's breeding season, according to the zoo.

The care for the kakapos has been so critical that earlier this month, the zoo put a call out to any experienced vets or vet nurses for help.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- If the hustle of city life is taking its toll, you could turn to the luck of the Irish.

A small island community off the northwest coast of the Emerald Isle is making a push to attract more residents, using their newly revamped internet service as a selling point.

Arranmore Island's community council has released open letters calling for people to come to their picturesque town and work remotely.

While they're open to any new residents, the letters have so far been targeted to residents of Australia and New York, where some residents of Arranmore moved during the Irish diaspora.

Adrian Begley, the chair of the Arranmore Island Community Council, told ABC News that they have received “hundreds and hundreds” of inquiries since publishing the letters, and he understands the appeal.

“It’s a beautiful place. One of the best things about the place is its people – it’s second to none,” said Begley, who has lived on the island for more than 20 years.

Other areas looking to draw in new residents have made similar appeals, like the state of Vermont, which announced in 2018 that they would reimburse up to $10,000 for those who moved to the state to work remotely.

The Arranmore push doesn’t come with a financial payout, but Begley said that some people see it as “sort of a romantic place to be.”

The island is three miles from the mainland and has daily ferry service to the town of Burtonport, which has an airport nearby with a 45-minute flight to Dublin. The last census said that there are 469 people on the island, where there are five bars.

Begley noted that the island even has its own hot dog stand, which may be a reminder of home for any Americans who choose to relocate.

In the letter addressed to New Yorkers, which was initially shared on Facebook and has since been shared with ABC News, the people of Arranmore write that while they have had internet for years, connectivity had always been an issue -- but now the island has been upgraded to high-speed broadband, which provides “connectivity that is as good as any office in New York City.”

The letter urges people who work remotely to consider moving to the island, which is about eight square miles.

“Your commute, no matter where you are, will only ever be five minutes. You’ll have the best diving in Ireland on your doorstep, and seafood to rival the tastiest of Manhattan Clam Chowders," the letter states. "There are less people here than would fit in a couple of subway cars, but enough musicians and good Irish whiskey to keep the party going well into the night."

For his part, Begley said he favors the local delicacy of “crab toes,” which he explained are known as crab claws by the rest of the world. Crab and lobster are local to the region, and in the summer the local fishermen are known to bring in an excellent catch, he said.

The island currently has two elementary schools that run up to age 12, and one junior school that runs up until college. Additionally, many students come to the island in the summer to learn the Irish language, which is spoken by many on the island. Addressing any concerns that people would have about the language options, Begley said "everyone speaks English, and most people speak Irish ... you'd never struggle with it."

Begley said that the larger picture for the push is that by bringing in more people to work and live on the island, it “makes the island sustainable, makes the community sustainable.”

“Island life is a very unique way of being. It’s a very unique experience,” Begley said, noting that the calm and quiet offered there stand out compared to busier cities.

"But because of the connectivity we now have, we’re in a very unique position to offer the best of both worlds,” he said.

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Manakin/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday blamed Iran for the attack on two commercial tanker ships sailing in international waters in the Gulf of Oman earlier in the day.

"It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today. This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high-degree of sophistication," Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.

"Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted," he said, adding that the U.S. "will defend its forces, interests and stand with our partners and allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability."

Some of the intelligence that Pompeo referred to includes overhead images taken by a U.S. Navy P-8 surveillance craft that shows Iranians on small boats alongside the Kokuka Courageous attempting to remove an unexploded mine that they had previously attached to the ship, a U.S. official told ABC News.

Late Thursday, U.S. Central Command released video it claimed showed Iranians successfully removing the mine from the ship.

Iranian officials flatly denied any involvement in the attacks.

Iran's mission to the United Nations issued the country's first response to the U.S. assertion that Iran is behind Thursday's oil vessel attacks, calling it part of an "Iranophobic campaign."

"Iran categorically rejects the U.S. unfounded claim with regard to 13 June oil tanker incidents and condemns it in the strongest possible terms," Alireza Miryousefi, head of the press office at Iran's Mission to the U.N., said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the U.S. "immediately jumped to makes allegations against Iran," in a tweet late Thursday.

A distress call was received from the Kokuka Courageous at 6:12am local time in Bahrain, forty five minutes later a second ship, the Front Altair issued its own distress signal after a series of explosions set fire to the ship.

The 21 mariners aboard the Kokuka Courageous were picked up by a nearby Dutch tugboat before being transferred to the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Bainbridge that had been in the vicinity. U.S. Central Command said that transfer occurred after the Bainbridge beat an Iranian vessel in a race to the Dutch tug and the master of the Kokuka Courageous asked that his crew be placed aboard the U.S. Navy ship.

According to a U.S. official, after a mine exploded on the ship's hull, during a hull damage inspection the ship's crew spotted an unexploded mine attached to the hull. The crew of the USS Bainbridge and a U.S. Navy P-8 surveillance aircraft verified the presence of an unexploded mine attached to the ship.

Later, that aircraft spotted the crews of some of the Iranian small boats attempting to remove the unexploded mine in an attempt to recover evidence that could connect Iran to the attacks, said a U.S. official.

The Bainbridge is staying close to the Kokuka Courageous as another destroyer the USS Mason is enroute to the area to provide assistance, U.S. Central Command said in a statement late Thursday.

The other tanker, the Norwegian-flagged Front Altair, suffered significant damage after the explosion of two to three mines triggered a massive fire on board the ship. A U.S. official said the ship is in jeopardy of sinking with its cargo of naptha, a flammable hydrocarbon.

The 23 mariners aboard the Front Altair were rescued by the crew of the nearby Hyundai Dubai before they were transferred to an Iranian port. Images on Iranian television showed the ship's crew in a holding room watching television.

The attacks come at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Iran after an American aircraft carrier was deployed to the Middle East in what the U.S. said was an effort to deter possible Iranian attacks against U.S. forces or interests in the region.

A statement from U.S. Central Command issued late Thursday called the attacks "a threat to maritime shipping and international commerce," but also sought to ease tensions in the region.

"We have no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East," said the statement. " We will defend our interests, but a war with Iran is not in our strategic interest, nor in the best interest of the international community."

U.S. officials have publicly blamed Iran for explosive sabotage attacks using magnetic mines in mid-May against four commercial vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Prior to that attack, there had been sightings of about 20 Iranian fast attack vessels moving through the Strait of Hormuz to the general area where those attacks occurred, said one U.S. official.

That attacks came nearly a week after the U.S. had accelerated the deployment to the Middle East of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and sent B-52 bombers to deter possible Iranian attacks to U.S. forces and interests in the region. The Lincoln was in port in Oman, but pulled out back into open waters on Thursday morning, an official said.

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters recently that the deployment had led Iran to “step back and recalculate” though the U.S. still saw “possible imminent threats.”

Zarif tweeted that the timing of attack on the tankers was suspicious because it occurred during a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Ayatollah Khameini, Iran's supreme leader.

"Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning," he tweeted.

Earlier, Khameini had said during his meeting with Abe that that while Tehran doesn't want an atomic bomb, "America could not do anything" to stop Iran if it did.

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ABC News(PARIS) -- The Notre Dame Cathedral is opening its doors to worshipers on Saturday, marking the first time since a devastating fire tore through its halls in April.

The Archdiocese of Paris announced that a mass will be held “on a very small scale” on Saturday with a “restricted” number of people in a “side chapel,” according to Agence France-Presse.

Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit will deliver the mass, which will be televised live, on June 15, the agency reported.

The date signifies an anniversary of sorts for the cathedral: the consecration of the church’s altar is normally celebrated annually on June 16.

On April 15, a blaze that took hours to extinguish tore through the 850-year-old building in the heart of France’s capital.

The fire was ignited during an evening mass at the start of Holy Week, the busiest and most important period of the liturgical year.

Millions mourned the extent of the destruction in the landmark of Gothic architecture, but miraculously, much of the relics and structure of the cathedral survived, including its famous rose windows.

On the evening of the blaze, rescuers were intent on saving the relics inside — including what Catholics believe is the crown of thorns that Jesus wore during the Passion — as well as Notre Dame's great organ and its 8,000 pipes, along with the building itself.

Retired French Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin was chosen by French President Emmanuel Macron to lead the cathedral’s restoration.

"Nothing is impossible to a French general," Georgelin told ABC News’ David Muir in an exclusive interview, saying that he agrees with Macron that Notre Dame could reopen within five years. But, he said, "When there's a will, there's a way."

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gpointstudio/iStock(PARIS) -- An anesthetist in France is accused by police of poisoning 24 patients, killing nine, allegedly in an effort to ruin the reputation of his colleagues because of personal conflicts he had with them, according to authorities.

On Wednesday, the French court of appeals confirmed that Dr. Frederic Pechier, 47, is to remain free under legal supervision while the investigation continues. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Pechier denies any implication he was part of the poisonings, according to his lawyer, Randall Schwerdorffer.

The investigation into Pechier began two years ago when seven cases of poisoning were discovered at two French medical clinics in Besancon, a city in Eastern France. Investigators found 17 other "serious adverse events" occurring between October 2008 and December 2016, Besancon police revealed last month.

Pechier became a suspect, according to prosecutors, because he was "the common denominator of these events.” The motive behind the alleged poisonings was Pechier’s personal conflicts with his colleagues, according to prosecutors.

Pechier allegedly polluted the IV bags of 24 of his colleagues’ patients, ranging in ages from four to 80 years old, to cause cardiac arrests, according to authorities.

The cardiac arrests often happened during routine surgeries, Besancon prosecutors said during a press conference last month. One 4-year-old patient, Teddy, suffered two cardiac arrests during a tonsil operation.

Most of Pechier’s alleged victims have formed an association called Avapolvi, headed by Sandra Simard, a 38-year-old woman who spent five days in a coma after a back operation, and still has cognitive after-effects, from what she claims is poisoning by Pechier.

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