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Alessia Cara reminds herself that she’s amazing in “Okay Okay”

Def Jam RecordingsAlessia Cara has released another new track from her upcoming EP, This Summer.

The song, “Okay Okay,” is a pep talk to herself. In it, she says her best friend challenged her to write a song that they could “feel ourselves to,” so she attempts to boost her confidence by listing some of her amazing qualities.

“I’m a million-trick pony/A number one and only/On scale of one to 10 I’m an 11/Okay okay/Turn pain into a paycheck/Should see me in a sundress/I do it all with ease/I should give lessons,” she boasts.

Then adds, “Maybe if I write it down/I’ll make it real somehow/’Cause everyone’s allowed to feel amazing.”

This Summer, featuring the previously released “Ready” and “Rooting for You,” comes out September 6. Alessia begins her U.S. headlining tour on October 21.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Madonna and other celebrities support Miley Cyrus after candid tweet about her past

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for MTVOn Thursday, Miley Cyrus responded to rumors about her impending divorce by taking to social media to deny that infidelity was the reason that she and Liam Hemsworth split.  In doing so, she proved that she had nothing to hide by systematically listing many of the “scandalous” things she’s done over the years.  Now, other celebrities are praising Miley for her honesty.

As captured by Comments by Celebs, Madonna responded to Miley’s post by writing, “Thank GOD!! You are human! A woman who has lived. No need to apologize!!”

Rapper Juicy J wrote, “We love you Miley stay strong,” while, according to People, actress Bella Thorne wrote, “I love this. So much from the heart. Takes a lot to say. I love every version of u. Perfection is imperfect and that’s a fact.”

Miley’s sister Brandi Cyrus wrote, “Proud of you, sissy!”

As previously reported, Miley wrote, ““What I cannot accept is being told I’m lying to cover up a crime I haven’t committed. I have nothing to hide….I can admit to a lot of things but I refuse to admit that my marriage ended because of cheating.”

Miley then went on to “admit” to a lot of things, including, “My biggest song to date is about dancing on molly and snorting lines in the bathroom. I…cheated in relationships when I was young. I lost a massive Walmart deal at 17 for ripping a bong. I got kicked off [the movie] Hotel Transylvania for buying Liam a penis-[shaped] cake for his birthday and licking it.”

She continued, “I swung on a wrecking ball naked. There are probably more nudes of me on the Internet than maybe any woman in history.”

But, she notes, “I HAVE GROWN UP.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Scooter Braun congratulates Taylor Swift on ‘Lover’ release, fans aren’t having it

Valheria RochaTo say that Scooter Braun is one of Taylor Swift’s least favorite people is probably an understatement — but that hasn’t stopped the music manager from offering Taylor his best wishes on her new album.

As you’ll recall, Taylor was incensed that Braun — a man she’s accused of trying “dismantle” her legacy — purchased her record company, Big Machine, because now he owns her master recordings. 

In fact, the reason Taylor plans to re-record all her old albums is because she wants fans to buy those new albums — which she’ll own — instead of her old ones, thereby robbing Braun of future earnings.

Still, Braun tweeted,Regardless of what has been said the truth is you don’t make big bets unless you are a believer and always have been. Brilliant album with #Lover. Congrats @taylorswift13.”

He added, “Supporting was always the healthier option  #brilliantalbum #brilliantcampaign congrats.”

While a few fans commended Braun for his comments, most reactions to his tweet came from enraged Swifties, who hurled insults, warned him to leave her alone and demanded that he give her back her masters. 

A number of fans encouraged Braun to listen to Taylor’s new song “The Man,” where she imagines what life would be like if she wasn’t female.

“They’d say I hustled, put in the work/They wouldn’t shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve,” she sings. “What I was wearing, if I was rude/Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


What do Robert Downey Jr., the Rolling Stones and NASA have in common?

Courtesy of the Rolling Stones(PASADENA) — Months after announcing a plan to clean up the Earth significantly in 10 years, Robert Downey Jr. made an announcement Thursday that was…well, out of this world.

The Marvel star revealed that the team behind NASA’s InSight lander has named a Martian rock after iconic rock band The Rolling Stones, called the “Rolling Stones Rock.”

Downey made the announcement Thursday night in California at the famed Rose Bowl before the Rolling Stones performed.

Last year, InSight’s thrusters made this particular rock roll about three feet during a mission to Mars, “the farthest NASA has seen a rock roll while landing a spacecraft on another planet,” NASA said in an official press release.

Downey couldn’t have been more thrilled to announce the news, writing, “Sometimes the world does seriously cool stuff… Huge thanx to @therollingstones and @nasa @nasajpl #marsrocks.”

The Rolling Stones were obviously thrilled as well.

“This is definitely a milestone in our long and eventful history. A huge thank you to everyone at NASA for making it happen,” the group wrote in an official statement.

Downey has shown his love for science and space over the years. In June, he took the stage at Amazon’s re:MARS artificial intelligence conference to announce his real-life plan to clean up the planet.

Downey’s new venture, called the Footprint Coalition, will launch in April 2020.

“Between robotics and nanotechnology, we could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10 years,” Downey said, according to the many news outlets in attendance, including Forbes and Variety.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Christina Hendricks reveals she secretly had a hand in ‘American Beauty’

DreamWorks(LOS ANGELES) — Before Christina Hendricks hit it big, her hand was more famous than she was.

The Good Girls actress just revealed a fun fact about herself that has fans and co-stars reacting in disbelief: She was actually the hand model featured on the iconic movie poster for the acclaimed film American Beauty.

“Fun fact…. wait for it…I used to be a model and sometimes a hand model…. this is my hand and another model’s stomach….proud to be a part if this film in ANY WAY!!! #americanbeauty,” Hendricks wrote on Instagram, alongside a photo of the poster.

Her former Mad Men co-star January Jones commented, “This is important. How come I didn’t know this?”

Her Good Girls co-stars also reacted, with Retta commenting, “Staaahhhppp,” and Mae Whitman writing, “WHAAAAAAT.”

Elle Fanning commented, “IM SHOOK!!!!!!,” while Busy Philipps wrote, “Wait…What?!”

Other celebs that had their minds blown by this fact included Alison Brie, Whitney Cummings, Rachel Leigh Cook, and Christian Siriano.

American Beauty celebrates its 20th anniversary on September 17.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘Power’ stars tease what to expect during the show’s monumental last season: “They’re going to be blown away”

L-R: Omari Hardwick as Ghost and Joseph Sikora as Tommy; image courtesy Starz(NEW YORK) — With the sixth and final season of Starz’s hit series Power premiering Sunday night, some of the show’s cast is weighing in on the monumental last season.

Power co-creator and exec-producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson says the final season will definitely be an “intense” one.

I think they’re going to be blown away by it,” 50 tells ABC Radio. “Things just get higher and higher as you go.”

Those intense moments will likely involve two of the show’s central characters: James “Ghost” St. Patrick, a New York drug kingpin played by Omari Hardwick, and his former best friend, Tommy, who killed Ghost’s mistress in the fifth season finale.

“There’s no more alliances,” says Hardwick of season six.  “Everyone is a passer in the night of each other and a ship amongst himself. All the characters are crazier than ever. The characters are more focused than ever on serving themselves.”

Joseph Sikora, who plays Tommy, agrees, adding that this season will be a trying time for his character. 

“I think that this is the biggest journey for Tommy,” Sikora says. “The character of Tommy has the biggest and broadest journey that he’s had throughout the series.”

Tommy’s ride-or-die girlfriend, LaKeisha, played by La La Anthony, echoes Sikora’s sentiments, saying they all brought their A-game.

“I think we all stepped it up,” she says of the forthcoming season. “Even more for this being the final season, just so that Power can be officially stamped in everyone’s mind as a show that we’ll never forget.”  

Power‘s sixth and final season premieres Sunday at 8 p.m ET on Starz.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup — 8/22/19

iStock(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from Thursday’s sports events:


NY Mets 2, Cleveland 0
LA Dodgers 3, Toronto 2

Boston 5, Kansas City 4
Chi White Sox 6, Texas 1
Houston 6, Detroit 3
Oakland 5, NY Yankees 3
Tampa Bay 5, Baltimore 2

Chi Cubs 1, San Francisco 0
Atlanta 3, Miami 2
Washington 7, Pittsburgh 1
St. Louis 6, Colorado 5

Minnesota 86, Dallas 70
Los Angeles 98, Indiana 65

NY Giants 25, Cincinnati 23
New England 10, Carolina 3
Baltimore 26, Philadelphia 15
Washington 19, Atlanta 7
Oakland 22, Green Bay 21
Miami 22, Jacksonville 7  

Sporting Kansas City 1, Minnesota 0

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

9-year-old meets MLB player after sending him encouraging letter: ‘Don’t give up. We’re rooting for you’

iStock(NEW YORK) — Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has found an unexpected motivator in the form of a young baseball lover and die-hard Boston Red Sox fan.

“I love baseball,” Henry Frasca, 9, of Massachusetts, told Orioles broadcaster Gary Thorne in a video that was posted on the Orioles broadcast Twitter page and Major League Baseball Twitter page. “It’s my life.”

When Henry noticed in April that Davis was 0 for 54 in hits — the longest slump in Major League Baseball history — he wrote him a letter.

“When someone’s hurting, I didn’t like it,” he told Thorne. “So, I decided to try to help him out.”

In the letter, Henry told Davis, in part: “There are two things I want you to know. First, the way you play baseball has nothing to do with how good a person you are. Also, you are incredible. You play in the MLB. You’ve done it for a long time and everyone goes through a slump. Don’t give up. We’re rooting for you. Sincerely, Henry Frasca.”

That same day in April, Davis broke the infamous record with three hits including two doubles. Davis told Thorne that he’d held onto the letter the entire season, carrying it in his Bible.

“It definitely caught me off-guard. But, it meant enough to me for me to carry it around the rest of the day. It was pretty cool. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little choked up,” he said.

On Saturday, the two finally met when the Orioles played the Red Sox in a three-game series at Fenway Park in Boston.

The two were able to chat and hang out in the locker room and dugout before Henry took to the field to help catch the balls during practice. He was even seen on video throwing balls to fans. Before the two parted, Henry thanked Davis for the best “day of my life.”

“People don’t really realize how they impact us,” Davis said. “At that moment in time, going through what I was going through, to get a letter that was that encouraging — and from a 9-year-old — it was pretty special.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Famed figure skating coach banned for life following sexual misconduct investigation

sportpoint/iStock(NEW YORK) — Once-celebrated figure skating coach Richard Callaghan has been banned from the sport for life more than two decades after its national governing body dismissed allegations of sexual misconduct reported to the federation.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport, the sexual misconduct watchdog of the U.S. Olympic Committee, declared Callaghan “permanently ineligible” for membership on Wednesday, citing “sexual misconduct involving [a] minor,” physical misconduct and emotional misconduct following an 18-month investigation into allegations made by one of Callaghan’s former students.

Craig Maurizi, a former skater turned Olympic coach, had accused Callaghan of sexually abusing him when he was a young skater from about 1977 to 1986 in a grievance filed with the federation in 1999. The federation dismissed the grievance without full consideration because skating bylaws stipulated that alleged misconduct must be reported within 60 days, allowing Callaghan — one of the world’s top coaches at the time — to continue coaching.

But in January of 2018, Maurizi filed a new complaint about his earlier allegations with the U.S. Center for SafeSport, paving the way for Callaghan’s long-awaited ouster from the sport.

“I am extremely pleased with this decision,” Maurizi told ABC News. “My coach was a monster and ruined the careers and lives of many of his students. He deserves as stiff a penalty as possible. I applaud all the other athletes who were brave enough to tell their stories to SafeSport. They are heroes and I love them all.”

An attorney for Callaghan, who has repeatedly denied any allegations of sexual misconduct, did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment. In the announcement on its website, the U.S. Center for SafeSport notes that the ruling is “subject to appeal” and “not yet final.”

U.S. Figure Skating, which has defended its handling of the allegations against Callaghan, acknowledged the ruling in a statement to ABC News.

“U.S. Figure Skating has made Richard Callaghan permanently ineligible, in compliance with the policies and procedures of the U.S. Center for SafeSport,” the statement reads. “This action follows Callaghan’s March 6, 2018, suspension of membership and now permanently prohibits Callaghan from participating, in any capacity, in any activity or competition authorized by, organized by, or under the auspices of U.S. Figure Skating, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and all USOPC-member National Governing Bodies, including U.S. Figure Skating-member clubs and/or organizations.”

But until last year U.S. Figure Skating permitted Callaghan to continue coaching under its auspices despite the organization receiving from Maurizi what he has called “a mountain of evidence” in 1999 to support his claims, including accounts from several other people who either allegedly experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct by Callaghan.

That decision allowed Callaghan’s alleged abuse of Adam Schmidt, another former skater who trained under Callaghan, to “continue unabated,” according to a lawsuit Schmidt filed against both Callaghan, U.S. Figure Skating and others in San Diego Superior Court earlier this month, in which he alleges that he suffered “numerous sexual assaults” by Callaghan while he was a teenager from about 1999 to 2001.

“This should have been done in the 90’s. It’s good news but small comfort to those he hurt,” Schmidt’s attorney John Manly told ABC News. “Clearly this is in response to the horrible press they received in response to Adam Schmidt’s filing. USA figure skating has been infected by the cancer of child abuse.”

For Schmidt, the decision is more evidence of a corrupt culture within the sport that, he says, needs to change.

“Today’s announcement is a major victory for all who’ve suffered abuses by the former legend of figure skating, Mr. Callaghan,” Schmidt told ABC News. “Now he will forever be known as the predator who delivered medals to a corrupt organization who accepted them in exchange for the safety and protection of children. US Figure Skating created that culture of abuse that lasted decades and today is the first of many victories to come in reversing that. USFS is officially on notice.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


CBP seizes over 52,000 gun parts from China at California port

US Customs and Border Patrol(LOS ANGELES) — California Border Patrol at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport intercepted and seized over 52,000 illegal gun parts from China.

U.S. Customs and Border protection announced Thursday that they seized a total of $378,225 worth of firearms parts in violation if the Chinese Arms Embargo that included sights, stocks, muzzles, brakes, buffer kits and grips which arrived in three shipments from China

“This seizure is an exceptional example of CBP officers and import specialists vigilance, commitment and keen focus in enforcing complex arms embargo regulations,” said Carlos C. Martel, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles.

The shipment was in violation of the Chinese Arms Embargo, which includes importation restrictions, Martel said.

In 2018, the Office of Field Operations seized 266,279 firearms, firearm parts, ammunition,fireworks and explosives at 328 ports of entry throughout the U.S. These interceptions were a 18.4 percent increase from the previous year.

“We work closely with our strategic partners to ensure import compliance while maintaining the highest standards of security at our nation’s largest seaport,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, CBP Port Director of the LA/Long Beach Seaport. “This interception underscores the successful collaboration between CBP officers, import specialists and ATF investigators.”
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Man arrested for terrorism after sending threatening email to ABC Nashville affiliate

iStock(NASHVILLE) — A man has been arrested after allegedly sending a rambling email to one of ABC News’ affiliate stations in Tennessee, threatening to go to the “state capital to blow someone’s brains out.”

ABC Nashville affiliate WKRN-TV received a threatening email on Wednesday, authorities said, allegedly from Nathan Semans, who also expressed his displeasure toward President Donald Trump.

“Look if you don’t run story I’m going to state capital to blow someone’s brain out,” the email read. “I don’t look good at the moment cause the tyranny of what trump did, the nature of this call is secret. You think I’m kidding trump belongs in the dumpster from a cool kid.

“Knock it off I’m human. I’ll immediately leave this country on a double once my passport clears,” the email continued. “I’m sick of this nonsense and bologna hanging around that trumps the perfect American, hallelujah against trump I recommend you forward to the table of the news room or I join ISIS to seek revenge.”

The news station flagged the email to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and state troopers subsequently secured an arrest warrant to charge Semans with commission of act of terrorism, a felony.

The troopers served the warrant Seman’s residence on Wednesday night and took him into custody without incident. He was being held at Humphreys County Jail on a $1 million bond as of Thursday, according to a press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

Semans did not have an attorney yet, according to the county clerk. He was still being processed, and a court date had not been scheduled, according to the office.

Authorities searched the house after securing the premises, taking a cellphone and tablet for further analysis.

No weapons were found, authorities said.

“Thanks to an alert and forward thinking employee at News 2, we were able to investigate this threat and make our community and state safer,” Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long said in a statement Thursday. “This is a textbook example of ‘see something, say something.’”

The United States Secret Service will be following up with Semans, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

“When we work together for the common good of our community, we are all safer,” Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Dereck Stewart said in a statement Thursday. “I am thankful that WKRN-TV contacted our department, for if we had not received this notification, then it is very possible that the narrative of this release could have been tragically worse.”
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

12-year-old boy jumps out of moving truck to escape suspected kidnapper, police say

Boynton Beach Police Department(BOYNTON BEACH, Fla.) — A 12-year-old boy dove from a moving vehicle to escape a suspected kidnapper in South Florida, police say.

The child was treated for abrasions to his forehead, arms and hands, while the suspect, 26-year-old Timothy Miller of West Palm Beach, was arrested on charges of kidnapping under the age of 13, resisting an officer with violence and child neglect, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The boy told detectives that he got off his school bus and was walking home in Boynton Beach on Wednesday afternoon when a man driving a white pickup truck pulled over and offered him a ride. The man, later identified as Miller, told the child that he gives rides to kids “all the time” and “not to worry” because he “won’t do anything weird,” according to the affidavit.

The boy said Miller “seemed nice and had a friendly smile,” so he accepted his offer and got in the truck. But then, the child said, Miller started to “act different” and looked at him “strangely,” while driving erratically and asking if he had any drugs, according to the affidavit.

The boy said he became frightened and tried to open the passenger door to get out, but Miller told him he couldn’t leave and sped up in an effort to prevent him from doing so. Still, the child managed to open the door and jumped from the moving vehicle, according to the affidavit.

Onlookers who saw the boy land on the pavement stopped to help him, while two others went after Miller and followed his truck onto Interstate 95. When Miller got off at an exit, the other drivers used their cars to block in his truck until police arrived. Miller “repeatedly violently resisted officer’s attempts to detain him” but was ultimately taken into custody, according to the affidavit.

Miller told detectives that he picked up the boy because he thought he was a teenager and could sell him drugs, according to the affidavit.

“We are grateful to the Good Samaritans who assisted us with taking Miller into custody,” the Boynton Police Department said in a Facebook post. “We encourage parents to use this as an opportunity to remind their children about the dangers of getting into a car with someone they do not know.”
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


As Trump heads to G7 summit, potential for dysfunctional ‘family reunion’

iStock(BIARRITZ, France) — President Donald Trump flies across the Atlantic Ocean on Friday night to the ritzy coastal city of Biarritz, France, for the G7 summit, an annual gathering that could be likened to a dysfunctional family reunion.

As world leaders from the Group of Seven countries, consisting of Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States descend on the peaceful resort town to discuss the global economy and other pressing issues, they, too, arrive with their own domestic political baggage.

The global is economy is weak, in part due to ongoing trade wars sparked by the United States. Germany is on the brink of a recession. Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte resigned just days ago amid political chaos (he will still attend). The new prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, who will make his debut at the G7, has vowed to divorce his country from the European Union by Halloween. And then there are pressing global issues including climate change, Libya, Iran, North Korea, terrorism, migration, and as protests continue in Hong Kong, the fragile state of democracies around the world.

And of course, amid these challenges are the uncertainties of the ever-unpredictable president of the United States.

Over the course of the three-day summit, Trump will attend meetings on foreign security, the global economy – a session added at the last minute by the United States, African economies, gender equality, and the climate. Senior administration officials who gave reporters an outline of the president’s agenda while in Biarritz said he plans to promote job growth, the economic empowerment of women and the growth of emerging African economies.

“You will really hear the president hit home the message of the pro-jobs, pro-growth economic agenda, and what he’s done by way of the historic tax reforms, deregulation, investment policies, a focus on energy and free, fair and reciprocal trade,” a senior administration official told reporters ahead of the trip.

But officials also admitted, the president will go his own way, no matter what.

Ahead of the G7, the president signaled he won’t hesitate to shake things up when he abruptly cancelling his trip to Denmark over interest in buying Greenland, and throwing his first grenade at the group by saying he wants Russia to rejoin and once more make it the G8.

“I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in,” Trump said Tuesday at the White House. “A lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia, I could certainly see it being the G8 again, if someone would make that motion, I would be disposed to think about it favorably.”

But despite the president’s urging to have closer to ties to Moscow, allies have signaled they have no support for inviting Russia back to the party citing aggression in Europe and lack of progress in Ukraine. Instead, finding ways to support Ukraine’s new president in the face of ongoing Russian interference will be a priority, according to a diplomatic source.

Last year in Canada, Trump’s behavior at the G7 prompted some to call the G7 the “G6+1” or the “G7-1.” The president defied the G7 by taking off without signing the official communique, an agreement reached at the end of each summit. This year, in recognition of just how all over the map the G7 countries are on different issues, the host of this year’s meeting, French President Macron, said there won’t even be a communique. He called it “pointless.”

Macron outlined this year’s priority as “the fight against inequalities,” taking specific aim at five goals: tackling gender inequality, reducing “environmental inequality,” promoting fair trade, fighting terrorism, and tapping into opportunities from digital technology and AI. In addition to the seven countries that make up the G7, Macron has also invited four major democracies, Australia, Chile, India, and South Africa, and he is specifically emphasizing African economies by inviting, for the first time, the African Union, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Senegal and Rwanda.

With so many world leaders in one spot, French interior minister Christope Castaner said they are invoking “maximum vigilance,” with 13,200 police, French and Spanish police forces, 400 firefighters, and 13 emergency teams.

While in Biarritz, the president plans to meet one-on-one with new U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi.

The president has shown the most excitement about meeting his British counterpart for the first time. Trump and Johnson spoke on the phone ahead of the summit, and National Security Advisor John Bolton traveled to London to offer support for Johnson’s Brexit efforts and discuss the potential of a trade deal between the United States and U.K.

“Great discussion with Prime Minister @BorisJohnson today. We talked about Brexit and how we can move rapidly on a US-UK free trade deal. I look forward to meeting with Boris this weekend, at the @G7, in France!” Trump tweeted.

But even though the president is hoping to find a buddy in Biarritz with Johnson, the new prime minister has shown he leans more European on some of the biggest issues facing the summit like climate change, trade, and his agreement with the EU that the president’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal was a bad idea.

“It feels to me like this is the summit where the leaders expect they have figured out how to deal with this president, they have begun thinking in the long term how to deal with a different U.S. role on the world stage,” Jon Alterman, a global security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan Washington-based think tank. “How well it works out, whether they end up being surprised, or whether they end up having calibrated it fairly well is going to be what either makes or breaks this summit.”
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

China announces tariffs on $75 billion of US goods as Trump heads to G7 summit in France

Igor Ilnitckii/iStock(BEIJING) — Just as President Donald Trump was preparing to meet world leaders to discuss the global economy and his trade wars, China on Friday announced it would impose tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. imports in retaliation for duty hikes the United States pledged to slap on Chinese imports starting next month.

The announcement also came just before the chairman of the Federal Reserve was set to give a speech investors and analysts planned to scrutinize for signs of how the central bank would address worries of a slowing economy — and as President Trump sent mixed messages on tax cuts.

China said that it would impose its new penalties on two batches of goods, on Sep. 1 and Dec. 15, according to official Chinese news agency Xinhua. It said 5,078 American products would see duty hikes of 5 or 10 percent, and that on Dec. 15, it would hit “American-made vehicles and auto parts” with tariffs of 5 or 25 percent, according to Xinhua.

 Those dates match with 10 percent tariff the Trump administration said would go into effect on $300 billion worth of imports from China.

Trump planned to depart for France later Friday to attend a meeting of the Group of Seven, or G7, major industrialized nations, where the state of the world’s economy will take center stage.

Those nations’ leaders are scheduled to attend a meeting on the global economy on Sunday morning — a session added at the last minute at the United States’ request, according to a senior U.S. administration official.

This week, as the economy flashed warning signs of a possible downturn, the president suggested a variety of remedies — even as he argued they were unnecessary.

He and his senior advisers have tried to stave off consumer concerns about a possible recession — arguing the economy is strong, even as they discuss potential fiscal boosts.

After Trump first said earlier this week he was considering a payroll tax cut, he reversed himself and nixed that idea the next day. He has also floated indexing and a capital gains tax cut.

Then, on Thursday, his top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, told reporters that the White House was not considering any short term actions to jolt the economy but is developing a long-term “tax cuts 2.0 plan,” possibly to be unveiled during the 2020 campaign.

Trump on Friday morning argued in a tweet that the economy was “strong and good, whereas the rest of the world is not doing so well.”

He has made the economy a central message of his campaign, and he accused the news media and Democrats of wanting a recession in order to tank his reelection chances.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

American imprisoned in Russia says guards injured him as his detention is extended

DanHenson1/iStock(MOSCOW) — After nearly nine months in a notorious Moscow prison, the detention of U.S. citizen Paul Whelan was extended again on Friday by a Russian court despite concerns about his health and continued questions about the charges against him.

Whelan, 49,, is a former Marine arrested while on vacation in Russia and charged with being a spy — something he and his family deny and the State Department has cast doubt on.

In court Friday, Whelan said he had been dragged by prison guards, exacerbating a medical condition. An injury to his left shoulder has been “deteriorating, not improving, and could lead to emergency surgery,” his family said last week.

During the hearing, Whelan read a statement to the press as court officials tried to shout him down and remove the press from the room: “I’m innocent of any charges, all of this is political kidnapping. No crime ever occurred. There is no evidence of a crime. This is a set-up. Isolation continues in order to force a false confession. Medical care for injuries inflicted by the FSB in prison has been refused. My human rights complaints have been resulting in retaliation …. Full consular access is being denied. As a political prisoner, I’m asking the government to –.”

Journalists and cameras were removed from the room before he could finish.

The judge ruled Friday to prolong his detention for at least two more months until October 29. Whelan accused her and the prosecutor of being biased and working with authorities from the FSB, Russia’s domestic security agency, to keep him in detention.

Whelan’s lawyer said he had not been able to visit Whelan for more than a month. It’s unclear when his last consular visit was from embassy officials from the U.S., or Canada, the United Kingdom, or Ireland, where Whelan also holds citizenship.

The State Department had not yet responded to requests for comment Friday.

The judge denied Whelan’s motion to disqualify the prosecutor, calling it “unwarranted,” and requested an ambulance to evaluate his medical condition.

An ambulance arrived at the court, but parademics said Whelan does not require hospitalization. He will be returned to the notorious Lefortovo prison in Moscow.

In June, the U.S. embassy in Moscow protested to the Russian Foreign Ministry about Whelan’s “mistreatment” and asked for an investigation, according to spokesperson Andrea Kalan.

It’s unclear if anyone from the embassy was in the court Friday.

But some critics say the Trump administration has done little to pressure Moscow to present evidence against Whelan or release him.

President Trump himself repeatedly tweeted about rapper A$AP Rocky’s case after he was arrested in Sweden, even calling the Swedish Prime Minister and sending Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O’Brien to attend his trial. Earlier this month, Rocky was found guilty of assault during a Stockholm fight and given a two-year suspended sentence.

The families of other American citizens detained abroad, including the wife of Xiyue Wang, a Princeton PhD student held by Iran, have urged Trump to intervene as strongly in their cases.

The Trump administration has secured the release of several high-profile American cases, including Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey, aid worker Aya Hijazi from Egypt, and three U.S. citizens held by North Korea, Tony Kim, Kim Dong Chul, and Kim Hak Song.

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