iStock/Thinkstock(ISTANBUL) -- A former British marine was killed in Syria earlier this week while fighting alongside the Kurds against ISIS, according to Kurdish military officials.
Konstandinos Erik Scurfield was killed in a battle in northeast Syria. He was among a handful of known foreigners that took up arms alongside Kurdish fighters.
At least one other foreigner, a former Australian soldier, was killed last month while fighting with the Kurds.
In a statement Wednesday, Scurfield's family said they are "devastated" to confirm his death.
"His flame might have burned briefly but it burned brightly with love, courage, conviction and honour and we are very proud of him," his family said. "We would like to request that we be allowed to grieve in peace as a family without intrusion at this difficult time."
JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images(DONETSK, Ukraine) -- Dozens of miners were trapped, and at least 17 died, after an explosion at a coal mine in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, officials said.
A rescue operation is underway.
“Rescue teams are battling poisonous gases as they are trying to track down 32 trapped or missing miners," Vladimir Goryachev, deputy head of mine safety services, told ABC News. "They reached 700 meters, and miners are trapped almost 1,300 meters [more than 4,200 feet] below the ground. ... We had no communication with trapped miners since the blast occurred.”
Of 47 miners in the section of the mine where the blast occurred, 14 managed to escape, Goryachev said.
The Zasyadko coal mine was the site of one of Ukraine’s deadliest mining disasters, a 2007 accident in which more than 100 people died. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, about 250 miners are believed to have died in accidents and explosions there.
Donetsk has been shelled in the last nine months in fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels, but an emergency ministry official told ABC News that there was no fighting in the area since an internationally-sponsored cease-fire agreement came into effect in recent weeks.
“It was not due to artillery shelling, it was most likely a gas-air explosion,” rescue services official Yuliana Bedilo said.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has, to date, killed more than 6,000 people.
The rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Lugansk are located in the coal-rich region of Donbass. The local economy is mainly coal mining or black metallurgy. A local soccer club is called Shaktar, a word for a miner in Ukrainian.
@The_CDR/Twitter(TORONTO) -- Canadian Star Trek fans have been paying tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy through "Spocking," or drawing in the character’s sharp eyebrows, bowl-shaped hair and pointy ears on look-a-like former Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier, who’s featured on the $5 bill.
There's now good news and bad news for these "Spockers."
The good news? "Spocking" isn't illegal, the Bank of Canada confirmed in a statement emailed to ABC News on Wednesday.
The bad news? Your "Spocked" bills won't live long and prosper. Those drawn-in Spock features could also prevent your money from being accepted in a transaction, interfere with security features and reduce a bill's lifespan, the Bank of Canada said.
"It is not illegal to write or make other markings on bank notes because neither the Bank of Canada Act nor the Criminal Code deals with mutilation or defacement of bank notes," the bank said.
But "the Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on bank notes are inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride," the bank said.
“Spocking” has apparently been going on for years, though now more than ever after Nimoy's recent death. The Canadian Design Resource (CDR) took to Twitter to spur users to "Spock" their $5 bills to honor actor Nimoy, who was born in Boston. The $5 Canadian note converts to about four U.S. dollars.
In response to the Bank of Canada's statement, the CDR told ABC News they have the following message for the bank:
"Hey Bank of Canada, this is OK," CDR spokesman Todd Falkowsky said. "Don't be scared. I am sure that Sir Wilfrid Laurier would get it."
Monkey Business Images/Thinkstock(NEW DELHI) -- Indhuja Pillai may not sound like traditional marriage material, and that's just how she wanted it.
"I wear glasses and look dorky in them," she wrote in an online ad at marry.indhuja.com. "Detest masala & drama, not a TV fan. I don't read. Friendly but I don't prefer friendship. NOT a womanly woman. Definitely not marriage material. Won't grow long hair, ever."
Nevertheless, the ad Pillai placed to protest her parents' much-more-flattering "groom-wanted" ad has received almost half a million views, and even generated marriage proposals, she said. It has resonated far beyond India, where she lives.
"At first, it was for fun and to shun people away," she added. "I'm not actually looking for a relationship. I'm just 24 and I don't think it's the age to be married."
She said she got the proposals despite her description of the type of man she's after.
"Extra points to the one who hates kids," she wrote. "Points for a great voice and an impressive personality. Should be able to hold a conversation for [at least] 30 minutes."
According to Pillai, being married at a young age is considered a cultural norm in India. But after her parents' ad, she'd had enough.
"They posted a profile and it said that I was a software engineer," said Pillai. "I am not a software engineer and it made me look like any other woman who was waiting to get married."
"The basic details in the profile were wrong," she added. "The fact I'm a tomboyish woman wasn’t mentioned and you can't be in a relationship based on lies. It got me angry."
In her own ad, Pillai lists her occupation as "catalyst in a start-up."
Pallai said that she's pleased that her stand against marital pressure has inspired other girls and women who can relate.
"From the responses I received, they say they've gotten the courage to fight back for more time to wait for marriage," she said.
Pillai added that her parents are responding well and are enjoying the attention she's received.
"They wanted to find the perfect guy for me," she said. "They like that the responses are positive."
Kevin Winter/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and a team of researchers used his submarine to uncover a Japanese battleship that sunk during World War II.
The battleship, called Musashi, was found in the Sibuyan Sea in the Philippines on Monday after the team used historical records and a hypsometric bathymetric survey of the ocean floor, according to a statement released by Allen.
"The Musashi is truly an engineering marvel and, as an engineer at heart, I have a deep appreciation for the technology and effort that went into its construction," Allen said in the statement. "I am honored to play a part in finding this key vessel in naval history and honoring the memory of the incredible bravery of the men who served aboard her."
The battleship was officially launched on Nov. 1, 1942 and disappeared on Oct. 24, 1944 when it was shot down by 19 torpeadoes and 17 bombs during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, according to the release.
The Musashi reportedly had 2,399 people on board and about half are believed to have died when it was shot down.
Allen, who Forbes estimates is worth $17.5 billion, uses his submarine for exploratory missions including a 2012 search for a sunken British naval ship.
"Since my youth, I have been fascinated with World War II history, inspired by my father’s service in the U.S. Army," Allen said in the release.
Stiina Kokkonen(LAPINJARVI, Finland) — A café in Finland claims it broke the record this week for the world’s tallest burger.
For the price of $2,200, customers were invited to take a bite from a 16-foot-tall hamburger tower.
The owner of Mehiläis Pesä restaurant, in the small southern town of Lapinjärvi, Finland, told ABC News he decided to build the 220-pound monster on Monday “just for fun.”
“It’s also a way for us to advertise local food,” said Jarmo Lehtomäki.
Ingredients used to build the pyramid were all locally sourced, with lettuce and bread produced less than a mile away, Lehtomäki said.
Lehtomäki hired a new chef, and building the giant burger was his first task. It took him one hour and 40 minutes.
The chef and his team used a metal rod to keep the 250 beef burgers upright.
While the restaurant was open for customers during the construction, only a few people dared to taste the burger (though nobody actually was charged $2,200). Once it was over, most of the burgers were cold and dry, said the café owner, making them inedible.
The restaurant gave the food away to a local dog shelter owner with 23 dogs.
ABC News reached out to Guinness World Records, which had not yet confirmed the record.
Martin Le-May(LONDON) -- A photograph of a weasel riding on the back of a woodpecker that seems almost too incredible to be true is not Photoshopped, according to the British man who snapped the now-viral photo.
Martin Le-May says he was out for a walk on Monday with his wife, Ann, in a London park when they heard a “distressed squawking.”
The couple trained their binoculars on the bird in distress and saw it was “unnaturally hopping” and flapping its wings.
"Just after I switched from my binoculars to my camera the bird flew across us and slightly in our direction,” Le-May told ABC News by email. "It was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.”
The mammal on the back of the woodpecker was a weasel. The Le-Mays watched as the woodpecker landed right in front of them and fought for its life.
"I feared the worst,” Le-May wrote. “I guess though our presence, maybe 25 meters away, momentarily distracted the weasel.”
“The woodpecker seized the opportunity and flew up and away into some bushes away to our left," he wrote. “Quickly the bird gathered its self-respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight.”
As for the weasel that caused all the drama, Le-May says it disappeared into the long grass of the park, “hungry.”
ABC NewsREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK By ABC News' Molly Hunter
(JERUSALEM) -- At long last, Israelis gathered around TV sets Tuesday night to watch Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address Congress. And I gathered around the big screens at a Jerusalem sports bar with at least four guys, plus the bar staff.
Coming out of the gates, we had one TV in English and one in Hebrew, but the election commission required all Israeli channels run on a five-minute delay, allowing editors to yank any overt campaigning for Israel's general election March 17. It all made the dual-screen experience very distracting.
Canvassing central Jerusalem before the speech, Joseph, an American Jew, and an Israeli friend stopped into Mike's Place in Jerusalem to catch the main event.
"We saw it in the news; it's very important," Joseph told ABC News. "It's a historic time for Israel. We had to watch."
In a speech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress, Prime Minister Netanyahu blasted an emerging deal with Iran as "a bad deal, a very bad deal." He added "we're better off without it," but fell short of actually laying out an alternative plan.
Shay Mamo, an entrepreneur from Tel Aviv, agreed the speech was "a big deal," but added the controversy had piqued his interest.
"I'm watching because it's a scandal," Mamo said. "I'm watching because Obama is against it. I'm watching because it split the American political world."
Mamo continued, "He has the opportunity to say something new. If he were to give a speech here, it's just another speech."
But very little was said that the prime minister had not previously said, and Israelis largely saw Tuesday's speech as an election stunt two weeks before the country's hotly contested general election.
"It's Bibi doing his Bibi thing," quipped Elon, 23, of Kfar Abomin. "It's a power move. His signature play, a show."
"To be fair, it's a reasonable thing to do," going to Washington to speak, Elon said. "But not in the way he did it. And not now."
Analysts say his strong performance could earn Netanyahu a bump in the polls, where he lags ever so slightly behind his biggest challenger, Isaac Herzog. And by all accounts, he turned in a win Tuesday night. Political analysts, and my viewing mates alike, thought Netanyahu hit it out of the political park. But Israelis like Ami Azoulay, who owns a convenience store in central Jerusalem, just shrugged.
"Sure people will watch out of curiosity. But for what? Israelis care about the situation in Iran," he said, "but he's going to go and come back, and it will be just like he never left."
ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA(NEW YORK) -- The Rosetta spacecraft was able to snap the most detailed image ever of comet-67P -- getting so close that the spacecraft cast a shadow that can be seen in a photo sent back to Earth.
A photo snapped on Valentine's Day released Tuesday by the European Space Agency was taken less than four miles from the surface of the icy comet and packs a resolution of about four and one-third inches per pixel.
At the bottom of the image is a fuzzy rectangular shadow cast by Rosetta, which was made possible by the sun being aligned directly behind the spacecraft, according to the ESA.
The shadow is blurry because the sun was not a point source, meaning that if a person were to stand on the frigid comet and look toward the sun, the boxy spacecraft would only block part of the giant star.
The comet is expected to reach perihelion -- its closest point to the sun -- on August 13.
The spacecraft made history in November when it sent its Philae lander to the surface of 67P, a comet that is whizzing through space at speeds as fast as 80,000 miles per hour.
Scientists are studying Rosetta's environment to learn more about the rubber-duck shaped comet, which could yield new insights about the origins of comets, stars and planets. It has been conducting a series of flybys from various distances to collect information for analysis.
Working nearly 300 million miles from Earth, a one-way signal from Rosetta takes around 26 minutes and 46 seconds to reach Earth, according to a Twitter account the ESA set up for the mission.
Uriel Sinai/Getty images(WASHINGTON) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress Tuesday in what many analysts coined the “most important speech” of his life.
So naturally, Bibi brought along his millennial game to help make his case.
“Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology,” Netanyahu said. “He tweets that Israel must be annihilated -- he tweets.”
Indeed, Ayatollah Khamenei’s Twitter account did tweet out back in November a step-by-step guide to the elimination of Israel.
But how can you find that tweet? Well, just take Netanyahu’s advice he offered to Congress later in his speech about how they might find details about the potential nuclear deal forming with Iran.
“You don't need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this,” Netanyahu said. “You can Google it.”
Google and Twitter, the basic daily diet on the Web for any millennial.
But Netanyahu didn’t stop there.
“In this deadly Game of Thrones, there's no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don't share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone,” Netanyahu said as he argued that Iran and ISIS were “competing for the crown of militant Islam.”
And any fan of the HBO hit show might know that “when you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground,” as one character famously says.
As you might expect, that particular quote struck a chord on, where else, Twitter.
Those in Israel are already familiar with Netanyahu’s foray into appeasing to the younger generations. In early February he released a comedic campaign commercial in which he starred as the “Bibisitter.”
You can find that video on YouTube, which, as you might expect, Netanyahu also referenced once in his speech.
Obtained by ABC News / Fair Use(NEW YORK) -- After being interrogated by Kuwaiti authorities, Jasem Emwazi is still reeling following the public identification of his son, Mohammed Emwazi, as the alleged cold-blooded ISIS executioner “Jihadi John,” the elder Emwazi’s attorney told ABC News Tuesday.
“He is in a state of shock from the story and needs time to deal with all the pressure from the media,” the attorney, Salem al-Hashash, said. Jasem Emwazi declined to comment to ABC News, the first Western news outlet to have met him since Mohammed was identified.
Al-Hashash said Jasem Emwazi was questioned by Kuwaiti authorities about his son for two or three hours, but was then released. He is not a suspect in activities related to his son, the attorney said.
Al-Hashash said only Mohammed Emwazi’s father was questioned and not his mother, as had been previously reported. Kuwaiti authorities told ABC News Monday Jasem Emwazi had said his wife quickly recognized her son as the alleged killer from the first beheading video when it emerged online in August. Al-Hashash declined to confirm or deny that allegation.
Mohammed Emwazi, publicly identified last week as “Jihadi John,” is believed to have appeared in at least seven ISIS execution videos, several times apparently taking a knife to ISIS’s victims himself.
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images(SHANGHAI) -- Britain's Prince William met an internationally known bear Tuesday as he continued his official trip through China and Japan.
The 32-year-old prince was greeted by Paddington the bear himself while attending the China premiere of the Paddington movie in Shanghai.
The movie premiere came at the end of a busy day for William, who is on the three-day trip to China solo, without his son, George, or wife, Duchess Kate, who is expecting their second child in April.
William, the second-in-line to the British throne, earlier in the day played soccer with kids in Shanghai as the country seeks to expand its soccer training for kids.
On Monday, William met with China’s president, Xi Jinping, and presented him with a letter from William’s grandmother, the Queen, inviting Xi to London.
The prince will end his trip to China Wednesday with a visit to an elephant sanctuary in Southwestern China. The sanctuary helps elephants who have been injured or poached, a personal mission for William, who has advocated against the illegal hunting and trading of elephant’s ivory tusks.
William arrived in China Sunday after a four-day stay in Japan to promote U.K. relations and business partnerships.
Dave Yoder/National Geographic(TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras) -- An expedition team of researchers has discovered the uncharted ruins of an unidentified culture's lost city in the heart of a Honduras rainforest.
The team ventured into the isolated, uninhabited area led by "long-standing rumors" it was the site of a fabled "White City" in the legend known as the "City of the Monkey God," National Geographic reported.
Expeditions to find the "White City," or "Ciudad Blanca," have been going on since the 1920s when explorers sought the mystical, Eden-like paradise described in indigenous stories as a place where natives were safe from Spanish conquistadors.
Legend had it that no one ever returns after getting there.
But the expedition team, made up of Americans and Hondurans, successfully returned from the site last Wednesday, National Geographic said.
Archaeologists surveyed and mapped the land that thrived a thousand years ago then vanished, and they discovered a large amount of stone sculptures that were untouched since the city was abandoned, the magazine added.
One of the most intriguing finds was what appeared to be the head of "a were-jaguar," showing a shaman in a spirit state, said Christopher Fisher, a Mesoamerican archaeologist on the team from Colorodo State University.
The team documented the artifacts at the site, but did not excavate them, National Geographic reported, adding that the location is not being revealed to protect the site from looters.
Archaeologists don't buy into the existence of one 'lost city' anymore, but do believe there are numerous lost cities that collectively represent something more important to them -- a lost civilization, the magazine added.