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Pink, Dua, Kelly & Brandi: Female artists fangirl over each other

Jeff Spicer/Getty ImagesKelly Clarkson and Dua Lipa may be Grammy-winning global pop stars, but they’re not above turning into total fangirls when they encounter their favorite stars online or in real life.

At the BRIT Awards earlier this week, Best British Single winner Dua got a chance to meet her all-time idol, Pink, who was there to perform and receive the Outstanding Contribution to Music Award. 

Dua posted a photo of them together, and wrote, “I met my idol last night and it was nothing short of perfect. It’s so nice to meet someone you’ve always looked up to, who’s music has always been there for you and know they are everything you imagined. Thank you @Pink for being the realest. I feel so lucky.”

To which Pink replied, simply, “You’re the bestest!!!!”  She also posted Dua’s photo on Instagram and added, “This girl is the real f****** deal right here. I was so happy to meet her.”

Meanwhile, while on tour, Kelly Clarkson performed a cover version of “The Joke,” the Grammy-winning song by Brandi Carlile, which Brandi performed at the Grammys.  The song is quite difficult to sing, but Brandi gave the performance a thumbs-up. Retweeting an article about it, she wrote, “Nailed it!”

To which Kelly replied, “I didn’t nail it  BUT I tried and I love you and wish I could cover your songs every night #LookingOut has been my jam for years girl, along with most of your catalogue.”

By the way, Kelly’s not the only celebrity fan of Brandi Carlile. President Barack Obama famously include “The Joke” on a playlist of his favorite songs of 2017, and her songs have been covered by Adele, among others.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nick Jonas posts cover of “Shallow” ahead of the Oscars

ABC/Image Group LANick Jonas is getting into the Oscars spirit.

Ahead of the 91st Academy Awards this Sunday, the singer posted a snippet of his cover of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” from A Star Is Born.

The video, taken by his wife Priyanka Chopra, shows Nick strumming his guitar and singing his own rendition of Bradley’s first verse in the duet.

“In honor of Oscar weekend… such a beautiful song,” Nick captioned the post.

Gaga and Bradley will be performing the song at the Oscars ceremony, which airs Sunday night on ABC at 8 p.m ET/5 p.m. PT.

Meanwhile, Kelly Clarkson’s rendition of “Shallow,” which she performed during a tour stop earlier this month, has gone viral, racking up nearly three million views.

Last year, Nick was nominated for a Golden Globe for the song “Home,” which he wrote for the animated flick Ferdinand.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

O-Town teams up with “The Bachelor’s” Colton Underwood on new song, “Hello World”

Pacific RecordsRemember O-Town? The early 2000s boy band born out of ABC’s Making the Band is back with a new song…featuring this season’s Bachelor, Colton Underwood.

Colton – in his very first musical contribution — joins them on the track, “Hello World.”

So how did this seemingly random collaboration come about? Colton had reached out to his pal and O-Town member Jacob Underwood — no relation — about writing a song to help raise money and awareness for his charity, the Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation.

Jacob wrote the track, then Colton was invited to record the song with them in San Diego. Colton ended up singing the line “I want to see you learn,” which the song samples after the second chorus.

All of the proceeds will go to Colton’s charity, which provides funds and support for people with cystic fibrosis.

“Very excited to be releasing ‘Hello World’ and grateful to O-TOWN for partnering up!” Colton says in a statement. “They are so great to be using this song to help raise funds for the Legacy Foundation and I know it’s going to be big!”

Jacob adds, “There’s nothing more rewarding than the opportunity to use our God-given gifts to help people in need. This song is very special to me, and I hope that it becomes an anthem not only for the kids effected by Cystic Fibrosis, but anyone who has chosen to live their best life in the face of pain and heartache.”

O-Town is preparing to release their fourth album, OWTN, which will be split into two EPs. They’ll be making select tour stops this year on the Pop 2000 tour.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Where’s the beef? Wolfgang Puck’s got it this Oscar Sunday

ABC(LOS ANGELES) — As sure as a winner will forget to thank their significant other on the podium, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck will be running the kitchen for the famed Governors Ball after the Oscars Sunday night. 

It’s the 25th year that Puck’s been crafting A-list edibles for A-list guests at the official after-party of the Academy Awards, and once again, he caught up with ABC Radio to talk about the most indulgent items on the menu this year.

“We all know black truffles are expensive, we have 30 pounds of that,” he explains. “You know, caviar is not cheap, either. We brought in enough Miyazaki beef, and you know, that’s expensive. It cost as much as a Mercedes with all the beef we got.”

Puck also explained some of his inspiration for one of Sunday night’s delicacies, Spanish ham, came from a Best Picture nominee — accidentally.

“The inspiration for the ham started really when I saw Roma, the movie, where they spoke Spanish. And I was thinking right away of Spain,” Punk explains. “But then afterwards, I found out that [director Alfonso Cuaron] is from Mexico and it’s actually a Mexican movie!”

Puck laughed, “But I said, you know, I love the ham so much I don’t care — I’m going to serve it.” 

Tune in to ABC on Sunday night to see the nominees and winners at the Academy Awards — before they descend on the Governors Ball and start stuffing their faces.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘A Star Is Born’ co-star Anthony Ramos would rather the film change a life than win awards

L-R; Lady Gaga, Anthony Ramos; Clay Enos/Warner Bros.(NEW YORK) — A Star Is Born is up for eight Academy Awards this Sunday, including Best Picture, but for one of the movie’s stars, winning isn’t everything.

Anthony Ramos, who plays the best friend of Lady Gaga’s character Ally, tells ABC Radio that the film’s effect on audiences matters more to him than any trophy.

“I think at the end of the day…you can win the most awards — I mean, you could win every award — but if people connect to it and people feel, that’s what matters the most, honestly,” the former Hamilton star says.

Ramos adds, “I’d rather win no awards and somebody’s life get changed than me win a million and it just be, like, an Oscar-winning movie, you know what I mean?”

Maybe he won’t have to choose one or the other. Tune in to the Academy Awards ABC Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET to see if A Star Is Born can be both a life-changing and Oscar-winning film.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

“Now this is a story…” Will Smith to revive ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ character in children’s book series ‘Fresh Princess’

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — Will Smith is bringing something extremely fresh to the children’s book world.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Smith has partnered with HarperCollins and author Denene Miller for a new book series called Fresh Princess.

Inspired by Smith’s character from his iconic ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the three-part picture book series will follow Destiny, “a cool, energetic, and strong-willed girl who approaches every day with her own signature style.”

That is, until she moves to a new neighborhood where nothing is “quite the same.” But Destiny reacts by putting a plan into motion that finds her bringing “the fun to any situation.”

“I couldn’t be more excited that the character I played for so long could inspire such a fun and empowering book for kids everywhere,” Smith said in a statement.

“I know all of my children would have loved Fresh Princess growing up, and being a father who raised a strong daughter, I know how important it is to see that type of strength depicted in stories.”

He continued, “It’s what [my wife] Jada and I have always championed and shown our kids throughout their lives. I’m down to follow Destiny through her growth and adventures just as I had experienced the journey of the young ‘Will Smith’ as he danced, laughed, made mistakes, and created memorable moments on his road to becoming the Fresh Prince.”

Fresh Princess will be available on April 2 and is now available for pre-order.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw shut down over arm issue

Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images(GLENDALE, Ariz.) — The Los Angeles Dodgers have shut down ace Clayton Kershaw indefinitely after he reportedly didn’t feel right during an early throwing session.

Kershaw didn’t elaborate on the issue following the team’s Friday workout. He did say that he expects to be kept off the mound for only a few days.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the issue wasn’t related to Kershaw’s back, which has sent him to the injured list each of the last three years. Roberts called it “just an arm kind of thing,” but said “no one is alarmed or worried” because it is still early in Spring Training.

The 30-year-old lefty has won the National League Cy Young Award three times, and signed a three-year contract extension with the Dodgers in November.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Major League Baseball announces plan to implement pitch clock during Spring Training

poetic_disorder/iStock(NEW YORK) — Major League Baseball has announced that it will implement a pitch timer during Spring Training games, with the potential for that mechanism to be used in regular season games as well.

According to a news release, the 20-second clock will be implemented in three stages. Initially, the timer will be used without enforcement as umpires and players become familiar with the rule.

Beginning next week, umpires will be instructed to remind pitchers and hitters who violate the rule with no penalty. And later in Spring Training, batters will be required to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with at least five seconds remaining on the clock. The pitcher will have to begin his windup or come to a set position before the timer expires. A ball or strike will be assessed based on which party violates the rule.

MLB says the timer will not be used on the first pitch of an at-bat. On any ensuing pitch, the clock will start when the pitcher receives the ball back from the catcher.

Negotiations between the league and the MLB Players Union will determine whether the rule will also be used in the regular season.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim will coach team on Saturday

Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images(SYRACUSE, N.Y.) — Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim will return to the sideline on Saturday for his team’s game against Duke, three days after he was involved in a fatal traffic accident.

University athletic director John Wildhack announced the news Friday.

“The Jimenez family has suffered a tremendous loss,” he wrote. “Our community is shaken. The Boeheim family is heartbroken over what happened, as we all are.”

Wildhack explained that “Coach Boeheim’s players gain strength from him, just as he gains strength from his players. Our entire community gains strength from each other. With this in mind, and after thoughtful considerations, I have respectfully decided that Coach Boeheim will resume his coaching duties later today and will coach in tomorrow night’s game against Duke.”

Boeheim met with the team on Thursday, but did not participate in the team’s practice session.

Following the team’s Wednesday night win over Louisville, Boeheim was driving home from a restaurant when he struck and killed a man walking along an interstate highway. Accident reports say Boeheim was trying to avoid hitting a disabled vehicle that had lost control and hit a guardrail. Jorge Jimenez, 51, was a passenger in that vehicle.

Sobriety tests for Boeheim and the driver of the second vehicle were negative.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of felony criminal sexual abuse involving minors

Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — Singer R. Kelly was charged Friday with 10 counts of felony criminal sexual abuse involving four minors, according to the Cook County Prosecutor’s Office.

The victims are between 13 and 16 years old, according to prosecutors.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

David and Louise Turpin, parents who allegedly tortured their kids, plead guilty to 14 felony counts: DA

imaginima/iStock(PERRIS, Calif.) — David and Louise Turpin, the California parents accused of torturing and holding captive most of their 13 children, pleaded guilty Friday to 14 felony counts against them, prosecutors said.

David and Louise Turpin, who were arrested in January 2018, pleaded guilty to one count of torture and one count of dependent abuse as well as multiple counts of false imprisonment, child engagement and adult abuse.

The Turpins were accused of abusing 12 of their 13 children, including in some cases allegedly shackling them and beating them routinely, prosecutors said.

They were arrested after one child — a 17-year-old girl — escaped the home and called 911.

That Turpin daughter told the dispatcher that she and her siblings lived in filth and that she hadn’t bathed in nearly a year, according to testimony in court in June. She said she had last seen a doctor in 2013 and had never been to a dentist in her life.

When rescued, all the children except for the youngest, a toddler, were severely malnourished, prosecutors said.

The eldest victim — a 29-year-old woman — weighed only 82 pounds.

Both Louise Turpin’s attorney and the public defender’s office representing David Turpin declined to comment on Friday.

Sentencing has been set for April.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jussie Smollett will be removed from final two episodes of ‘Empire’

ABC News(CHICAGO) — Embattled actor Jussie Smollett will not appear in the final two episodes of Empire this season in the wake of the criminal charges he’s facing for allegedly falsifying claims of a hate crime.

Producers of the Fox show Empire said that Smollett’s character will be removed from the final two episodes of the show.

The show’s creators and executive producers Producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer released a joint statement confirming the news.

“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season,” the joint statement reads.

This update comes a day after Smollett entered a not guilty plea to felony charges for allegedly staging an attack. He returned to the Chicago set of the show after appearing in court Thursday, and insisted to his castmates that he didn’t make up the story, a source familiar with the meeting told ABC News.

The actor also filmed scenes for the show on Thursday, according to the source, but the news that producers will not be including his character in the season’s final two episodes suggests that any scenes he did film may not be used.

The announcement of his removal from the season’s final two episodes comes more than a week after Strong, one of the show’s co-creators, tweeted that there was no chance that the actor would be written off. The tweet came on Feb. 14, days before Smollett was charged.

“There is 0% truth that @JussieSmollett was going to be written off of Empire. This rumor is totally false. He is the third lead and one of the most beloved characters on the show. Writing him off the show has NEVER even been discussed,” Strong tweeted at the time.

On Thursday, Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct and a Chicago judge set Smollett’s bond at $100,000 and ordered the actor to surrender his passport.

The ruling followed a remarkable news conference during the police department’s superintendent blasted the actor and accused him of staging an elaborate hoax that amounted to a “publicity stunt … to promote his career.”

The weeks-long investigation into the alleged hate crime attack –- an alarming account that sizzled with a spectrum of hot button issues ranging from race, sexuality and politics to crime and celebrity — riveted and distressed a deeply-divided nation.

Standing before Cook County Circuit Court Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke, Jr., Smollett appeared to remain steadfast in his refutation of the felony charge against him. As he did with his fellow actors after the hearing, Smollett has repeatedly insisted that the attack was real and that he was merely a victim, not a perpetrator.

If convicted of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false report, the actor faces up to three years in prison.

When first assistant state attorney Risa Lanier told Lyke that the actor had picked up two brothers who authorities say carried out the staged attack on him at his direction and showed them the location of where he wanted to be attacked, Smollett shook his head in disagreement.

When Lyke told Smollett that the allegations, if true, are “utterly outrageous,” the actor nodded his head in agreement — doing so again when Lyke said the noose detail would be the most despicable part of the alleged scheme.

The judge also ordered pre-trial monitoring of the actor, and ordered him to stay away from the two brothers he allegedly conspired with to stage the hoax attack, according to police.

Smollett’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 14.

The tense courtroom appearance followed on the heels of a morning press conference at which a visibly angry Eddie Johnson, Chicago’s police superintendent, castigated the actor for betraying his race and his city with such an incendiary false claim.

“Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” a visibly angry Johnson said. “I am left hanging my head asking ‘why?’. Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? … How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in the city in the face with these false claims?”

Johnson charged that Smollett, an actor on the hit show ‘Empire‘ who has consistently denied any role in staging the alleged attack, orchestrated it because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”

Smollett’s salary on the show is in the range of $100,000 per episode, according to a source familiar with his contract.

In addition to staging the attack, officials said, Smollett also sent himself a hate-filled letter to the Fox studio where the hit show is filmed.

Smollett turned himself in at 5:15 a.m. local time and made a statement to police before being taken into custody. His lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, were not present at the time but they released a statement the night before.

“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

Thursday evening, the attorneys released a statement criticizing law enforcement’s handling of the case.

“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election,” the statement read. “Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”


Police add that Smollett gave no statement to police after turning himself in and that his lawyers had reached out to them Wednesday night to discuss his surrender. Smollett wanted to turn himself in near midnight, but authorities suggested he come in at 5 a.m. instead, to avoid spending the night in jail. Smollett arrived early Thursday morning accompanied by a female lawyer and an entourage of five or six people.

Smollett was silent as he went through the motions of being booked and processed.

By late morning on Thursday, the backlash against the actor began at the top, with an angry tweet from the President of the United States.

“.@JussieSmollett – what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA” President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet after the press conference.

In an earlier interview with ABC News’s Robin Roberts, Smollett was asked why he thought he was targeted and he replied that he is a strident critic of the Trump administration.

“I come really really hard against 45,” he said, referring to Trump, the 45th U.S. president. “I come really really hard against his administration, and I don’t hold my tongue.”

‘I’m offended’

During a press briefing Thursday morning, Chicago law enforcement officials said that Chicago police detectives interviewed more than 100 people and reviewed dozens of police cameras trying to get to the bottom of Smollett’s claims.

Johnson, a well-regarded and popular big city police chief and Chicago native, appeared genuinely aggrieved as he described how, he said, Smollett took advantage of the pain of racism to advance his career.

“Why would anyone use the symbol of a noose” to further his “own public profile,” Johnson wondered aloud.

“I’m offended by what happened and I’m angry,” Johnson continued. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t own and certainly didn’t deserve.”

Johnson, who oversees one of the nation’s largest police departments in one of its most violent cities, seemed disheartened by all the attention paid to the Smollett affair.

“The accusation within this phony attack received national attention for weeks,” Johnson told reporters during a press conference. “Celebrities, news commentators and even presidential candidates weighed in on something that was choreographed by an actor.”

“When you get the opportunity,” he said with a mixture of derision and frustration, “the shooting victims and their families? Give them the same amount of attention.”

After the press briefing, 20th Century Fox, the station that airs Empire, released a statement which read, “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

‘Self-inflicted’ wounds

Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men near his apartment in Chicago. The two men, Smollett initially said, shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him as a rope was wrapped around his neck and a chemical compound was poured on him. The alleged assailants yelled “MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make American Great Again” slogan, police were told.

In his Good Morning America interview with Roberts, Smollett said he was heartbroken when he found out that people questioned his story.

Asked why he would leave the rope draped around his neck until police arrived because he “wanted them to see.”

“I was looking at myself, just like checking myself out,” he told Roberts. “I saw the bruise on my neck, you know, like the little — the rope burn around my neck. So when the police came I kept the clothes on, I kept the rope on me. … I mean, it wasn’t, like, wrapped around. But, yeah, it was around because I wanted them to see.”

Asked why he waited until the second interview to tell police that the assailants yelled “MAGA country” at him during the attack, Smollett seemed to take offense at the insinuation.

“For me, the main thing was the idea that I somehow switched up my story, you know? And that somehow maybe I added a little extra trinket, you know, of the MAGA thing,” Smollett said on ABC News. “I didn’t need to add anything like that. They called me a f—-, they called me a n—-. There’s no which way you cut it.”

‘Chicago trusted this young man’

Johnson said on Thursday that Smollett’s seeming injuries from the incident also appeared to be phony.

“The brothers had on gloves during the staged attack where they — they punched him a little bit, but as far as we can tell, the scratches and bruising that you saw on his face was most likely self-inflicted.”

Police identified and questioned two “persons of interest” captured on surveillance video near the scene around the time of the alleged attack. The men, who are brothers, were arrested on Feb. 13 but then released without charges, with police saying they were no longer considered suspects.

While being questioned by investigators, the brothers claimed that Smollett paid them to help orchestrate and stage the crime after he became upset that a letter threatening him, sent Jan. 22 to the Fox studio where Empire is filmed, did not get enough attention, sources told ABC News.

On Wednesday, Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false crime report. By that evening, police officially had classified the actor as a suspect in the ongoing investigation. Detectives subsequently presented evidence to a Cook County grand jury.

“That was a pretty hateful allegation, and it really put a terrible look on Chicago,” Guglielmi told ABC Chicago station WLS in a telephone interview Thursday morning. “Chicago trusted this young man. We loved Empire, and we took this very seriously that something this hateful could happen in our city.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


El Chapo to seek new trial after juror says in news interview panelists repeatedly violated judge’s orders

Vladstudioraw/iStock(NEW YORK) — Attorneys for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman said the convicted drug kingpin will seek a new trial in light of an interview in which one of the jurors who convicted the notorious Mexican cartel leader admitted ignoring the judge’s orders not to read media reports about the case.

“Mr. Guzman intends to file a motion for a new trial based on the disclosures in the article and to request and evidentiary hearing to determine the extent of the misconduct,” Guzman attorneys said in a letter to the court on Friday.

The juror, who has not been identified, told VICE News in an exclusive interview that at least five members of the panel reviewed and discussed news reports and social media posts about the case during the trial and jury deliberations.

“You know how we were told we can’t look at the media during the trial? Well, we did. Jurors did,” the juror told VICE.

Guzman lawyers noted in the letter that “in that story, the author claims to have spoken for over two hours with a juror in Mr. Guzman’s trail.”

“The article states that multiple jurors engaged in misconduct by intentionally violating the Court’s direction to ‘stay … away from media coverage, not doing any research on the internet or otherwise and [to not] communicate anything about the case to anyone.'”

Federal prosecutors did not immediately submit a response to the court to the defense attorneys’ letter.

The panelist went on to tell a VICE reporter who covered the 44-day trial and jury deliberations that resulted in Guzman’s conviction, “We would constantly go to your media, your Twitter … I personally and some other jurors that I knew.”

After six days of deliberations, the New York federal court jury found Guzman guilty on 10 charges, including conspiracy to commit murder, money laundering, and multiple counts of distributing heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine.

Guzman is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25 and is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“Obviously we’re deeply concerned that the jury may have utterly ignored the judge’s daily admonitions against reviewing the unprecedented press in the case,” one of Guzman’s defense lawyers, Jeffrey Lichtman, said in a statement released after the article’s publication this week.

“More disturbing is the revelation that the jury may have lied to the court about having seen some deeply prejudicial, uncorroborated and inadmissible allegations against Mr. Guzman on the eve of jury deliberations.”

Eduardo Balarezo, another attorney for “El Chapo,” said that, if true, the juror’s admissions in the VICE interview indicates Guzman “did not get a fair trial.”

“The information apparently accessed by the jury is highly prejudicial, uncorroborated and inadmissible — all reasons why the Court repeatedly warned the jury against using social media and the internet to investigate the case,” Balarezo said in a statement.

Balarezo said he and other members of Guzman’s defense team “will review all available options before deciding on a course of action.”

The U.S. Department of Justice for the Eastern District of New York had no immediate comment.

Guzman’s legal team had already said it will appeal the conviction before the juror was interviewed by VICE.

Throughout the trial, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Cogan admonished the panel daily to avoid news coverage and social media of the case, and not to discuss the case with each other until they began deliberations.

Before dismissing the jurors, Cogan said they were free to speak to the media, but advised them not to.

The juror who spoke to VICE is the first member of the jury to publicly speak of the trial.

VICE reported that the juror reached out to the news organization and agreed to be interviewed on grounds the identity of the juror remain anonymous.

To protect the safety of the jurors, the judge made all of their identities anonymous during the trial.

The juror, who spoke to VICE, said the panelists were even anonymous to each other throughout the criminal proceedings and referred to one another by their juror numbers or nicknames that included, “Pookie,” “Mountain Dew,” “Doc,” “Crash” and “Starbucks.”

“We were saying how we should have our own reality TV show, like ‘The Jurors on MTV’ or something like that,” the juror told VICE.

The juror said the deliberations went on for six days largely because of a single holdout and said some jurors expressed concern about Guzman being held in solitary confinement for the rest of his life if they found him guilty.

“A lot of people were having difficulty thinking about him being in solitary confinement, because, well, you know, we’re all human beings, people make mistakes, et cetera,” the juror told VICE.

Guzman, 61, was the leader of Sinaloa cartel, one of the most ruthless drug-smuggling organizations in Mexico. He has previously staged two elaborate escapes from Mexican prisons.

During the trial, the prosecution called more than 50 witnesses who described all aspects of Guzman’s life, from brutal murders, a naked journey he took through a secret tunnel, plastic bananas filled with cocaine and spied-on mistresses.

Following Guzman’s conviction, Ray Donovan, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, described El Chapo as a “ruthless killer” who was “responsible for unthinkable amounts of death and destruction” in the U.S. and Mexico.

“He was the man behind the curtain — he pulled all the strings,” Donovan said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Venezuela braces for aid deadline amid rival concerts on border; one held by Richard Branson

Lokman Ilhan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(CUCUTA, Colombia) – Thousands of people gathered on Colombia’s border with Venezuela Friday for a blockbuster concert backed by British billionaire Richard Branson aimed to raise money to alleviate suffering in Venezuela. The Venezuelan regime planned a competing concert across the border.

The dueling concerts come as Venezuela’s opposition braces for a Saturday ultimatum that its leader, Juan Guaido, has set for aid to enter the country. On Friday, tons of humanitarian aid sat in a warehouse in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro continued to block it from entering the country and a top U.S. envoy, Elliott Abrams, was due to arrive with more U.S. government aid.

In Cucuta, concert-goers gathered for Branson’s Venezuela Aid Live concert, which was expected to feature over 30 of the most renowned Latin American artists, all of whom volunteered to perform at the concert without compensation, according to organizers. Many of the artists are Venezuelan themselves.

The concert is free to attend and is taking place at the Tienditas bridge between Colombia and Venezuela, which is near the stockpiled humanitarian aid. The stage was set only a few feet away from where Maduro stationed containers and military personnel on the bridge to block access to Venezuela.

When asked about criticism that the concert and the humanitarian aid were being politicized, Branson, who organized the concert, said that when people do things with good intentions, they will always be criticized no matter what.

“The good thing is that 99 percent of people around the world are embracing what’s happening here today. And for those people who think Venezuela is a utopia, that nobody is suffering, they really should come here today and go into the crowd of people here and talk to all the Venezuelans and ask them why they’ve left their country,” said Branson. “Something must be wrong. And so, for the doubters, I would ask them to talk to Venezuelans who’ve had to leave Venezuela to see the horrors that are happening.”

On Friday, he told concertgoers that he was inspired by Guaido’s call “for the world to help” Venezuelans.

“We need to try to help those who are not getting medical help, help those who are hungry,” Branson said. “And today, hopefully, on the back of this concert, we can start maybe getting supplies into Venezuela so that people are not suffering so much.”

Abrams, a U.S. special envoy, accompanied one last shipment of humanitarian assistance from the United States to Cucuta on Friday, a day before the deadline. Nearly 210 tons of aid have been stockpiled there over the last couple of weeks. Abrams spoke to the press briefly prior to his departure, calling on Venezuela’s military to let aid in on Saturday, when Guaido, who has declared himself Venezuela’s interim president, and his supporters plan to begin bringing that aid back across the border to a country starved of food and medicine. The U.S., Colombia and 50 other countries have recognized Guaido as the country’s rightful president.

Maduro on Thursday ordered the Brazilian border closed, threatened to do the same on the Colombian side and blasted the U.S. for, as he says, using aid to undermine him. Abrams told reporters on Friday that onboard the American military plane there was enough rice to feed 2,000 people for one month, along with medical supplies including wheelchairs, crutches, bandages and exam gloves. While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. will help in Saturday’s effort, Abrams made no mention of an American role. USAID officials have told ABC News the U.S. has done its part, and that it’s now up to Guaido to get the aid in.

Guaido has said he and tens of thousands of supporters will attempt to move that aid into the country on Saturday.

In Cucuta, Abrams plans to meet with Colombian President Ivan Duque and other regional leaders as they assemble more aid and tour facilities.

In Washington D.C., representatives for Guaido said they hoped the Branson-backed concert would raise $100 million for Venezuelans.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saudi prince’s trip to China highlighted by $10 billion petrochemical deal

Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(BEIJING) — Soon after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman touched down in Beijing on Thursday, he made his way to the Great Wall of China, grinning and posing for the cameras.

China is the last stop on MBS’ economic goodwill tour of Asia, following visits to India and to Pakistan.

Throughout his trip, the Saudi prince delivered economic gifts while trying to distance himself from the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

That murder — “The idea that it goes all the way to the top is blindingly obvious,” a State Department official told ABC News — tarnished the prince’s image among western allies including the U.S.

During the G-20 summit in Argentina in late November, when the Khashoggi killing was still in the news Chinese President Xi Jinping was one of the few leaders along with Vladimir Putin who publicly offered support to MBS.

Even before Khashoggi’s killing, China already was Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner, with $63.3 billion in goods exchanged between the two countries last year.

As MBS met with Vice Premier Han Zheng, who sits of the powerful Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee, on Friday, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco, signed a deal to develop a $10 billion petrochemical refinery with two Chinese firms, making it the largest joint venture in China.

Saudi Arabia is one of China’s suppliers for crude oil and with this deal may reclaim the top spot from Russia.

The growing ties between the two countries are fueled by China’s need for resources and Saudi demand for cutting-edge technology, as the Crown Prince tries to shift the Kingdom’s economy away from relying as much on oil revenue.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Saudi counterpart on Thursday that China sees “enormous potential” in Saudi Arabia’s economy.

China has made no secret of wanting Saudi Arabia to play role in Xi’s massive worldwide infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to build a network of roads, railways and ports connecting the world to China.

Both countries are however treading a fine line during the prince’s visit.

China has very close ties with Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran. Xi went as far as reassuring the Iranian Parliament Speaker just days before meeting MBS that China’s desire for close ties with Iran remain unchanged.

The Saudis are also very unlikely, at least publicly, to speak up against Beijing’s massive and controversial suppression of the muslim Uyghur minority group in China’s far western region despite the Kingdom viewing itself as the defender of the Islamic world.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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