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MUSIC NEWS

Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, “Old Town Road” were tops on Amazon Music this year

Valheria RochaReady for even more end-of-the-year stats from a music streaming service? Now it’s Amazon Music’s turn.

The platform says its most streamed artist of the year was Taylor Swift, and the biggest albums were Taylor’s Lover, Girl by country/pop star Maren Morris, and WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? by Billie Eilish.

When it comes to individual songs, “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus was tops, along with “Girl” by Maren Morris, “Sucker” by The Jonas Brothers, “I Don’t Care” by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, and country superstar Garth Brooks‘ “Stronger Than Me.”

But it turns out an awful lot of people who listen to Amazon Music spent the year pondering “Old Town Road.” It was the most requested song on Alexa, and even fans who didn’t know its name were asking for it — according to Amazon, “Alexa, play the song that goes ‘I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road’” was the most requested lyric of 2019.

In addition, of the top 50 Alexa requests for country song lyrics, 44 of them were some variation on “Old Town Road.” When it came to hip-hop, “Old Town Road” was also the most-requested song by lyrics, followed by Lil Tecca‘s “Ransom.” For that song, fans asked, “Alexa, play the song that goes, ‘I got black, I got white.’”

Finally, Amazon’s music experts have put together a list of the best songs of the past decade.  Among them: “Uptown Funk,” “Call Me Maybe,” “Hello,” “Closer,” “We Found Love,” “Shape of You,” “Happy,” “Royals,” “Blank Space,” “Despacito,” “Thrift Shop,” “Party Rock Anthem,” “California Gurls,” “Fancy,” “All About That Bass,” “Born This Way,” “Get Lucky” and “Shallow.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

SHAED & Sting join forces on new Steve Aoki song, “2 in a Million”

Ultra RecordsIn what feels like a real-life version of musical Mad Libs, SHAED and Sting guest on a new track from Steve Aoki.

The track, called “2 in a Million,” features the “Trampoline” trio’s lead vocalist Chelsea Lee duetting with the Police frontman over a beat from the superstar DJ. You can download the collaborative tune now via digital outlets.

“We all grew up listening to Sting and The Police,” SHAED says. “He was a huge influence on all of us so when Steve approached us with the collab it was a no-brainer. We had the best time working with Steve and Sting and really love this track.”

All three acts are featured in the “2 in a Million” video, which is streaming now via YouTube. You’ll also be able to hear the track on Aoki’s forthcoming album, Neon Future IV.

SHAED will close out their breakout year with a performance on the West Coast portion of Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020, airing December 31 on ABC.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Taylor Swift says this year’s felt “more special to me than any year before it”

Courtesy PEOPLEAs Taylor Swift prepares to turn 30 on December 13, she says the past 12 months have really made an impact on her.

Taylor covers People‘s annual People of the Year issue, one of four honorees for 2019, including Jennifer Aniston, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez

“This year feels more special to me than any year before it,” Taylor tells the mag.  “Fifteen years into doing this, being able to look around and acknowledge that it’s special, I’m really stoked this moment can happen when I’m 29. That’s one of the benefits of starting when you’re 12!”

One reason 2019’s been great for her, Taylor explains, is because “this is the first time I’ve been able to put out music that I feel is connecting with people, yet look back on everything I’ve made and feel a quiet sense of pride. I’m proud of the things I’ve withstood, and I’ve been able to carve out a life for myself.”

Speaking of her current music, Taylor explains, “Lover ended up being the album [where I was no longer] answering to something. In the past, I’ve definitely used my criticism as a jumping-off point for creativity. With reputation, I’d said everything I needed to say.”

“I’d been tried in every possible way people could throw things at me, and I felt like now I just get to create.”

Taylor also tells People that one of her favorite books of 2019 was Demi Moore‘s memoir, Inside Out.

“I was thinking about how when she was the highest-paid actress, she was just punished ruthlessly for it. That’s so wrong, and she was treated so badly in that moment,” says Taylor. “I feel like finally she’s getting the last laugh.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

‘The L Word: Generation Q’ builds on the barriers broken by the original, says Jennifer Beals

ABC/Paula Lobo(NEW YORK) — Fifteen years after the groundbreaking original show began, Showtime’s sequel series The L Word: Generation Q, debuts Sunday. To show how much things have changed in this country in the years since the show first aired, gay marriage wasn’t even legal at that time, and now, queer representation on TV is no longer out of the mainstream.  

The show’s original cast is back, including Jennifer Beals, who plays Bette. She tells ABC Audio that she and co-stars Katherine Moennig and Leisha Hailey are friends who, “see each other all the time,” but she adds, “we don’t see each other as ‘Bette’, ‘Shane’ and ‘Alice’, right? So that first day on set was truly surreal.”

Beals adds, “[I]t really wasn’t until I put my cufflinks on that I really kind of could feel Bette come back.”

So what’s Bette been up to? “Masking disaster,” the former Flashdance actress jokes. “She’s had a really challenging past two and a half years.”

As the series begins, Bette decides to run for mayor of Los Angeles.

Beals adds that while the original show opened doors, it continues to break down barriers.

“I really love how inclusive the cast is…And, you know, there is a wider embrace to the trans characters and trans characters are played by trans actors,” says Beals. “There are some trans actors who play cis characters. And so that’s interesting…to me because it makes us all really rethink gender identity.”

She comments about the show’s return: “While…I’m very, very excited that [the show] gives visibility…to an entire community, I’m also really excited that those people who aren’t part of that community get to experience the beauty of that community.”

The L Word: Generation Q debuts Sunday at 10 p.m. on Showtime.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Felicity Jones rises to new heights — and gains a fear of heights — in ‘The Aeronauts’

Todd Williamson/January Images(NEW YORK) — Felicity Jones is rising to new heights in the new inspired-by-true-events film, The Aeronauts.

The Oscar-nominated actress plays 19th century balloon pilot Amelia Wren opposite her Theory of Everything co-star Eddie Redmayne, who plays meteorologist James Glaisher. Together, they embark on a dangerous journey to fly higher than anyone in history.

Most of the film takes place within the confines of a gas balloon during its ascent into the clouds. Jones and Redmayne even filmed some scenes thousands of feet in the air in a real balloon, while director Tom Harper watched from a nearby helicopter.

“I was fine before the film and then afterwards… Now I’m not so good with heights,” Jones tells ABC Audio.  “It’s quite a gradual ascent as you go up…so it doesn’t strike you. It’s actually coming down in the landing where it…can be a bit more rocky.”

While Amelia is a fictionalized character, she was heavily based on real-life pioneering aeronaut Sophie Blanchard and serves as a role model for young women.

“She was a massive inspiration for Amelia Wren,” Jones says. “It’s so important to have those characters when you’re growing up and watching films and go, ‘These things that I’m told might be impossible to do, I can do them if I put my mind to it.’”

Now, Jones is onto her next adventure. Earlier this week, People confirmed that the actress is expecting her first child with husband Charles Guard.

The Aeronauts hits theaters today and will be available on Amazon Prime Video starting December 20.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Spies’ in real lives: Will Smith says he and his ‘Spies in Disguise’ co-star Tom Holland dominated an escape room

20th Century Fox/Eric Charbonneau(LOS ANGELES) — Maybe it’s not surprising considering one of them is Spider-Man, and the other’s been an action hero since the Spidey star’s been in Underoos, but Tom Holland and Will Smith reportedly crushed an escape room.

The pair can be heard as unlikely partners in the upcoming animated movie Spies in Disguise, but they never met until recently, when they decided to bond in one of those interactive environments.

“We were wanting to figure out if we really could do the stuff that we did as spies,” Smith explained to Entertainment Weekly at the premiere of the film. “We got out. It was a 1-hour escape room, and we were out in 24 minutes.”

“I think Will got the majority of the clues,” Holland confessed to EW. “I’ve never actually escaped an escape room so the secret of escaping an escape room is do it with Will Smith because he’s really good at it.”

In Spies in Disguise, Smith plays a 007-like character who accidentally gets turned into a pigeon while looking for a disguise from his gadget man, voiced by Holland.  

For Holland, who in real life is an accomplished acrobat who does most of his Spider-Man flips and falls, voicing an animated character presented him with a challenge.

“[Y]ou can’t move from the mark that you’re on,” he explains. “So Walter will be falling off a building after he’s tried to do some parkour, and I’ll be doing all the moves but just not moving. …[I]t is one of the most tiring things I’ve ever done. But it’s so rewarding and I’m so proud of the movie.”

Spies in Disguise, also featuring the voices of Rashida Jones, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel‘s Rachel Brosnahan, and Avengers and Jumanji veteran Karen Gillan, opens December 25.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

SPORTS NEWS

Caroline Wozniacki announces she’s retiring from tennis

Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — After nearly 15 years as a professional tennis player, Caroline Wozniacki is retiring from the sport.

“I’m ready to move on to the next chapter in my life,” Wozniacki, 29, said Friday on ABC News’ Good Morning America. “Australian Open 2020 is going to be my last tournament.”

Wozniacki, currently ranked number 37 in the world, won her lone Grand Slam title at the 2018 Australian Open, defeating top seed Simona Halep.

After turning pro in 2005, Wozniacki went on to win 30 Women’s Tennis Association singles titles and was the runner-up at the 2009 US Open and the 2010 WTA Tour Championships.

Wozniacki has also faced good friend Serena Williams numerous times, including at the 2014 US Open, where she lost to Williams in the final.

She and Williams also attended each other’s weddings, with Williams serving as a bridesmaid in Wozniacki’s wedding earlier this year.

Wozniacki married former NBA star Daniel Lee in June in Italy.

In addition to being a newlywed, Wozniacki is also pursuing other interests off the tennis court, including studying at Harvard Business School.

She said she also hopes to continue to be an advocate for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Wozniacki revealed in 2018 that she had been diagnosed with RA, an autoimmune disease that causes swelling and pain in and around the joints, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Top sports stories of the decade: From Simone Biles to Usain Bolt

haizon/iStock(NEW YORK) — From Usain Bolt burning up the track to Odell Beckham Jr. defying physics to the U.S. women’s soccer team in Paris, there were plenty of sports moments to remember as the decade draws to a close.

Here are some of the biggest sports stories from 2010 to 2019:

1. Usain Bolt, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics — Bolt, a sprinter from Jamaica, changed the sport of sprinting throughout the decade. Never was his dominance more evident than in London when he walked into the Olympics as something of an underdog — despite becoming a worldwide celebrity following the 2008 games. He had lost in his country’s qualifiers to up-and-coming star Yohan Blake before heading to London. But big-time stars come up big in big-time situations. The fastest man on the planet came out of the gates slow — not unusual — before passing American Justin Gatlin and Blake and shattering the Olympic record. Bolt cruised — literally, taking a chance to peek at his rival Blake before the line — to gold in the 200-meter final and then earned a three-event sweep with a gold in the 4×100-meter relay. After the 100-meter final, he called himself the “greatest athlete to live.” Four years later, it was pretty impossible to argue he wasn’t at least in the discussion. Bolt completed another three-event sweep in 2016 at the Rio Olympics just two days before his 30th birthday. By 2017, he’d won every 100-meter race he’d entered for four years. And while he lost at the 2017 world championships, the 2012 and 2016 Olympics will go down in history forever.

2. Chicago Cubs win the World Series — finally! — After Bartman, black cats, billy goats and 108 years, the Chicago Cubs finally won a World Series title in 2016. Back in 1908 — the last time they’d won a title — Ford’s Model T went on sale for a mere $825, pistol duels were in the London Olympics and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (now performed at every Cubs game) was officially released. Suffice to say, a lot changed. General manager Theo Epstein was in his fifth year at the helm of the Cubs and had brought in manager Joe Maddon one year prior. The pair led the Cubs to a 103-win season, an NLCS title and a spot in the World Series. But they’d done that in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938 and 1945. Chicago faced the Cleveland Indians and fell behind 3-1 through the first four games. But Jon Lester and Aroldis Chapman — acquired from the New York Yankees at the trade deadline — stepped up in Game 5; Addison Russell drove in six runs in Game 6; and eventual MVP Ben Zobrist drove in the winning run in extra innings to give the Cubs a title in seven games.

3. Simone Biles owns the 2016 Rio Olympics — Can you count to 25? Simone Biles dominated most of the decade of gymnastics — hence the record 25 world championship medals attained by 2019 — but finally got a chance to break out in prime time at the Rio Olympics. All she did was win four golds, including the individual and team all-around. Her performance on the floor, also a gold, introduced the world to her eponymous “Biles” — a double layout salto with a half twist. The 4-foot-11 Biles has achieved something just as rare in gymnastics: sustained dominance. In a sport often-dominated by one-Olympic wonders, she’s an overwhelming favorite entering the next decade at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

4. Malcolm Butler seals Patriots’ Super Bowl XLIX win
— The Seattle Seahawks trailed, 28-24, with 27 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIX. It was second-and-goal from the 1-yard line. So, of course, they handed the ball off to running back Marshawn Lynch and capped a brilliant, game-winning drive. Right? Well, no, not if you’re head coach Pete Carroll. Instead, Russell Wilson dropped back to pass and looked for wide receiver Ricardo Lockette on a slant. He found Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler instead. The pick sealed the Super Bowl win to cap the 2014-15 season and earned Patriots quarterback Tom Brady his fourth ring (but first of the decade). He’d go on to win two more.

5. Odell Beckham breaks physics — The catch didn’t mean much in the end, but on Nov. 23, 2014, we got one of the most lasting images of the decade in sports. The New York Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round in 2014, hoping to inject some life into an aging offense. On a Sunday night, in front of a massive TV audience, the rookie receiver scored his second touchdown of the game against the rival Dallas Cowboys in the most spectacular fashion imaginable. He somehow contorted his body backward, while being flagrantly held by Cowboys corner Brandon Carr, and extended his right arm behind his head to snag a 43-yard pass out of the sky by just the tips of his fingers. The Giants went on to lose the game (despite 146 receiving yards from OBJ), but some moments are bigger than wins and losses. Beckham’s legacy in the league has yet to be fully written, but this catch will be replayed forever.

6. Villanova’s Kris Jenkins hits a walk-off, title-clinching 3-pointer
— Villanova’s men’s basketball team had been known for the better part of two decades as a scrappy, guard-driven team led by Jay Wright on the bench. They were also known as a team that underperformed when the NCAA tournament came around. All of that changed in the 2016 title game against North Carolina and its collection of McDonald’s All-Americans. With 4.7 seconds left in a tied game, 74-74, the Wildcats inbounded the ball to Ryan Arcidiacono, who dribbled to midcourt and flipped it to teammate Kris Jenkins. Jenkins had 14 points in the game, but it was the last three that will be remembered for all time. He took the pass from Arcidiacono and drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Tar Heels and win the team’s first NCAA championship since 1985.

7. U.S. women’s soccer wins the 2019 World Cup — National pride and a fight for gender equality combined for a mic-drop performance as the U.S. women’s soccer team ran through the competition at the women’s World Cup in Paris in the summer of 2019. The team’s eclectic mix — including Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz — only made the U.S. like them more. The team opened with a 13-0 win over Thailand, but eventually had to run through European powerhouses Spain, France — the home country — and England to make the final. They wrapped it up with a 2-0 win over the Netherlands and a parade down the Canyon of Heroes in front of hundreds of thousands of fans — many chanting “Equal pay! Equal pay!” — in New York City.

8. Ray Allen saves the Heat’s repeat titles — LeBron James was the best player on the Miami Heat in 2012-13, and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh rounded out the Big 3. But it was the greatest 3-point shooter in NBA history who saved the Heat’s season and eventually earned the King his second straight title. It was Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. The San Antonio Spurs led the Heat three games to two. Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward in NBA history, posted 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting in the first half. The Spurs led by 10, 75-65, entering the fourth quarter. James took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 points, but the Heat still trailed by three with 19.4 seconds left. James, of course, took the shot to tie it up with under 10 seconds left — but it ended up being Ray Allen who bailed out the Heat. Bosh grabbed the rebound off James’ miss and handed it off to the veteran guard, who drilled the game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left. The shot forced overtime, led to a Heat win and — after an easy Game 7 win — an NBA title.

9. Steph, Klay and Kevin change NBA calculus — It only takes until about kindergarten to learn that three is bigger than two. But it took the sure-shooting Golden State Warriors to make that math work in the NBA. Two lightly recruited college players — Davidson’s Stephen Curry and Washington State’s Klay Thompson — brought high-tempo, 3-point basketball to the Bay Area. Later joined by superstar Kevin Durant, the Warriors won three titles (2015, 2017, 2018), set a single-season record for wins in 2015-16 (73) and went to five straight NBA Finals. After a devastating, 3-games-to-1 choke against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, all they did was win 8-of-9 NBA Finals games the next two seasons. At just 31, Curry is already third all-time in NBA history in 3-pointers.

10. UConn women’s basketball shoots 5-for-10 — For pure dominance, it’s hard to match the UConn women’s basketball team, led by Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma, which won five championships in the decade (2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016). The streak includes four titles in a row for a team led by Breanna Stewart, who won every single year she was in college. She went 151-5 in her career and was the player of the year three times. The versatile, 6-foot-4 wing is now dominating the WNBA as a member of the Seattle Storm. She won the league MVP and a league title in 2018. UConn stars from this past decade dot the WNBA with Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Tiffany Hayes and Kia Nurse all leading their teams.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Michael Phelps continues racking up gold: For a guy who started his Olympics career in 2000, it’s hard to believe he makes the list of the best of this decade three Olympic Games later. He didn’t enter the 2012 Games expected to repeat his historic eight golds from Beijing, but he still added four golds and two silvers to his unmatched medal haul in London. He retired after those games, content to rest on his 22 Olympic medals and 18 golds. For, oh, two years. The greatest Olympian of all time returned to the 2016 Olympics and added five more gold medals and one silver when he was expected to take a much-earned victory lap simply.

Chicago Blackhawks win three Cups: In the NBA, NFL and NHL at least one franchise won three titles in the decade. In the NBA, it was the Golden State Warriors; in the NFL, it was the New England Patriots; and in the NHL, it was the Chicago Blackhawks. The most underrated coach in sports, Joel Quenneville, led Chicago to Stanley Cup titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith became household names leading a workman-like team, reflecting the city it calls home, to six-game series victories each time.

Ogunbowale drills back-to-back championship buckets: Just one game-winning shot in an NCAA tournament is rare enough. Arike Ogunbowale decided to do it twice — in back-to-back games — in the semifinal and final. The Notre Dame guard led her Fighting Irish to the school’s second-ever championship in 2018 with a game-winning 3-pointer against Mississippi State with just 0.1 seconds on the clock. Two days earlier, she did the same against undefeated — and allegedly unbeatable — UConn by hitting a deep jumper in overtime with exactly 1 second on the clock.

Jeremy Lin phenomenon: Tabloid back pages in New York City screamed with one phrase in February 2012: Linsanity! The league, and in fact the most populous country in the world, were captivated by Harvard-product Jeremy Lin’s out-of-nowhere emergence for the New York Knicks in the second half of the 2011-12 NBA season. Lin was a developmental league player and almost cut by the Knicks before injuries and dumb luck led to a star-making turn. It started on Feb. 4 with a 25-point, seven-assist performance in Brooklyn against the rival Nets. The legend of the point guard only grew from there. He scored 28 points in his next game — his first career start — as All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire missed the game. The Knicks continued winning and Lin continued his insanity. He scored 38 points against the Lakers on Feb. 10 and hit a game-winning 3-pointer against the Toronto Raptors on Valentine’s Day. Four days later, he had 28 points and 14 assists against the Dallas Mavericks. But cut off by the All-Star break, the firing of head coach Mike D’Antoni and a knee injury, his season ended early. He never reclaimed his magic, bouncing around the league for six more seasons.

Sid the Kid wins it on home ice: Three Winter Olympics ago, Vancouver kicked off the first huge worldwide sporting event of the decade. And of course, it being in Canada, the only gold medal that mattered for the host nation was ice hockey. So why not win it with a sudden death, overtime goal by the country’s biggest star: Sidney Crosby? The final pitted the U.S. against Canada in an edge-of-your-seat matchup that saw the U.S. rally from down 2-0 to narrow the gap to 2-1 on a goal by Ryan Kesler entering the final period. Improbably, Zach Parise managed to squeeze a rebound goal past Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo with just 25 seconds left in regulation to force OT. But it was not to be for the Americans. Jerome Iginla fed Crosby for a goal seven minutes into the extra period and he was raising his arms in victory, bouncing off the boards, seconds later.

One out away for the Texas Rangers: Nelson Cruz will likely join the Baseball Hall of Fame once he retires (whenever that may be). But unfortunately for Texas Rangers fans, he’ll always occupy a dark spot in their hearts for Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. With the team one out — actually one strike — away from a championship against the St. Louis Cardinals, the right fielder misplayed a David Freese line drive that allowed two runs to score. With it, a Game 6 win evaporated and the Rangers lost Game 7 by a score of 6-2 to give the franchise its 11th World Series title.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup — 12/5/19

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

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Washington 119, Philadelphia 113
Denver 129, New York 92
Houston 119, Toronto 109
Phoenix 139, New Orleans 132 — OT

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Chicago 4, Boston 3 — OT
Carolina 3, San Jose 2 — SO
NY Rangers 3, Columbus 2
Colorado 3, Montreal 2
NY Islanders 3, Vegas 2 — OT
Arizona 3, Philadelphia 1
Minnesota 5, Tampa Bay 4
Dallas 3, Winnipeg 2 — OT
Calgary 4, Buffalo 3

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Chicago 31, Dallas 24

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Auburn 81, Furman 78 — OT

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

NATIONAL NEWS

Storm to bring wind and heavy rain to West, snow to Upper Midwest

iStock(NEW YORK) — A storm has moved into the Western U.S. and it’s bringing heavy rain, wind and snow to the region today, before it moves toward the Midwest on Sunday night and early Monday.

There are wind alerts, winter storm warnings, flash flood watches and winter weather advisories issued for parts of California to parts of Montana and Idaho.

As the storm brings widespread precipitation to the West this weekend, it will bring periods of heavy rain to coastal California, including San Francisco and Los Angeles. Between 1- 4” of rain is expected in the San Francisco Bay area, which could cause flooding in areas.

North of the Bay Area, some of the heaviest rain forecasted will fall over recent burn scars, increasing the threat of debris flows and mudslides. This includes areas affected by the Camp Fire, Mendocino Complex Fire, Carr Fire, and Kincade Fire.

Rainfall rates at some of these burn areas could be as high as 0.75” per hour. Additionally, winds could gust up over 40 mph at times, which could lead to power outages in Northern California.

Meanwhile in the Sierra, it will be dangerous to travel this weekend, especially in the mountain passes of I-80. Four feet of snow is expected, making travel extremely difficult. Snowfall rates could be intense at times, especially Saturday night in the Sierra near Reno, where whiteout conditions are possible.

This system will join up with a couple of disturbances to bring some hazardous impacts Sunday night and Monday. The main concern will be a narrow band of snow that is likely to move into the Upper Midwest, including parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Additionally, heavy rain will move into parts of the Ohio Valley and East Coast.

Up to 6″ of snow is possible in parts of the Upper Midwest through Monday, especially along the border of Wisconsin and Michigan. Snow is likely to impact the morning commute in Minneapolis on Monday.

However, the most notable impact from this latest storm will be that it opens the door for very cold air to come into the U.S. On Wednesday morning, temperatures will drop dramatically. Wind chills will be as low as -35 in parts of the Midwest, and even down toward Chicago wind chills will be below zero. It appears right now that Minneapolis will likely not reach above zero degrees on Wednesday.

By Thursday of next week, a large swath of the Central and Eastern U.S. will see temperatures below average.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

The Pensacola naval base shooting suspect was identified as member of the Saudi military. Why was he there?

iStock(PENSACOLA, Fla.) — Friday’s shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, in which four people, including the shooter, died, marks the second time this week gun violence erupted at a U.S. military installation.

But while Wednesday’s shooting in Hawaii was related to a domestic issue, the attack on Friday became international incident after it was reported the suspect was a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force.

Mohammed Alshamrani, according to authorities, was one of about 200 foreign nationals receiving training on the naval air base as part of a program in which U.S. allies send members of their armed forces there to study aviation.

Alshamrani’s training on the base, which included English language and basic aviation courses, started in August 2017 and was scheduled to finish by August 2020, according to the Department of Defense.

His participation in the program is part of a military practice that goes back decades, NAS Pensacola base commander Capt. Timothy Kinsella said during a press conference in the aftermath of the shooting.

“The cross-training with allies is something that we have done for a long time,” he said. “In World War II, we had Royal Air Force folks training here.”

Saudi Arabia, according to the Pentagon, is one such ally, and has supplied 852 of the more than 5,000 foreign military students spread throughout the U.S.

Germany, Singapore, Italy, Denmark and Norway have also sent students to Naval Air Station Pensacola, also known as the “Cradle of Naval Aviation.”

NAS Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to the base’s website. The facility includes the Naval Aviation Schools Command, Naval Air Technical Training Center, Marine Aviation Training Support Group 21 and 23, the Blue Angels and the headquarters for Naval Education Training Command.

According to Kinsella, only authorized security forces are allowed to carry weapons on the base. It’s still unclear how Alshamrani was able to bring a handgun into the classroom and begin shooting.

And while Alshamrani’s motive remains unclear, law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation told ABC News authorities are focusing on two possibilities: that he was acting for ideological reasons, or that some kind of hostilities developed over the course of his training.

Shortly after the shooting, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saudi Arabia was “going to owe a debt here,” and numerous Saudi officials condemned the attack in statements.

“Today’s tragic shooting at Pensacola, Florida was a heinous crime. The Kingdom expresses its deepest condolences to the families of victims, and to the American people. We salute the bravery of those who neutralized the threat and saved lives,” Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan tweeted.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Friday that the vetting process for foreign military nationals in the U.S., including screenings by the Department of Defense and U.S. embassy personnel, will be reviewed.

“I want to make sure we’re doing our due diligence,” Esper said, “to understand what are our procedures.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

California power utility PG&E reaches $13.5B settlement for 2017-2018 wildfires

iStock(LOS ANGELES) — PG&E, the California power utility, has reached a $13.5 billion settlement with victims of the catastrophic Northern California wildfires of 2017 and 2018.

The agreement settles the last major lawsuit to arise from the 2017-2018 fires, following a $1 settlement with affected cities and counties, and an $11 billion settlement with the insurance companies handling claims.

Officials with PG&E, which last year filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in anticipation of its legal challenges, said Friday’s settlement will put the utility on a path to emerge from Chapter 11 by the state-imposed June 30, 2020 deadline.

“From the beginning of the Chapter 11 process, getting wildfire victims fairly compensated, especially the individuals, has been our primary goal,” PG&E CEO and President Bill Johnson said in a statement. “We want to help our customers, our neighbors and our friends in those impacted areas recover and rebuild after these tragic wildfires.”

In addition to covering the 2017 Northern California wildfires and the 2018 Camp Fire, the agreement settles claims related to the 2017 Tubbs fire and the 2016 Ghost Ship warehouse fire, although PG&E did not admit fault in the latter two fires.

The Camp Fire, the most devastating in the state’s history, was responsible for at least 80 deaths. More than 18,600 structures were destroyed in the blaze, which scorched upwards of 150,000 acres in Northern California’s Butte County.

Improperly maintained PG&E power lines were found to be responsible for sparking the blaze.

Friday’s settlement is subject to approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WORLD NEWS

2nd teen escapee wanted for murder, back in police custody

iStock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — A third teenager, who was among the four which escaped from a juvenile detention center in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, has been captured — leaving only one escapee on the loose, police said Saturday.

The teenager was arrested Friday night at a gas station with his mother, Tewanna Keesee, and brother, Rashon Keesee, according to the Metro Nashville Police Department.

The suspect’s relatives were charged with being accessories in helping the teen evade authorities, the police said.

The quartet ran out of the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center at around 10 p.m. on Nov. 30, officials said.

Brandon Caruthers, 17, remains on the lam, according to authorities. He was arrested for an August 2018 armed robbery case in south Nashville, according to police.

Two of the three inmates who were captured are murder suspects — in different cases. The third captured escapee is charged with armed robbery — a separate case from Caruthers.

ABC News does not normally name juveniles, but are doing so with Caruthers because police say he is a dangerous individual. Police have released his names and photos in hopes for his capture.

Anyone with information about the remaining two escapees are asked to call Nashville’s Emergency Communications Center at 615-862-8600 immediately.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

American student Xiyue Wang jailed in Iran for 3 years freed in prisoner exchange

iStock(NEW YORK) — An American graduate student who was jailed for more than three years in Iran is headed home after a prisoner swap.

Xiyue Wang, 38, a Princeton University student, was exchanged for Iranian scientist Professor Massoud Soleimani early on Saturday as part of a prisoner exchange brokered by the Switzerland government. Wang had been held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison since August 2016 on charges of espionage.

President Trump said Wang had been held under the “pretense” of espionage.”

“The highest priority of the United States is the safety and well-being of its citizens,” the president said in a statement. “Freeing Americans held captive is of vital importance to my Administration, and we will continue to work hard to bring home all our citizens wrongfully held captive overseas.”

A senior administration official said Switzerland had been negotiating for Wang’s release for more than three weeks. Wang, who is currently in Germany, is in good spirits, the official said.

Wang, who is married with a son, was a Eurasian history scholar. He traveled to Iran in 2016 to study Persian and conduct research for his dissertation.

Before traveling, Wang wrote to the Iranian Interest Section at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C., which issued his visa. He also wrote to the libraries in Iran he planned to visit, according to Princeton University.

He was transparent about what he wanted to study and why, according to the university, and about his desire to access documents housed at Iranian libraries and archives.

“He was not involved in any political activities or social activism; he was simply a scholar trying to gain access to materials he needed for his dissertation,” the school said in a statement about his case.

Wang’s wife, Hua Qu, tweeted that their family was “complete once again.”

“Our son Shaofan and I have waited three long years for this day and it’s hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue,” the tweet read. “We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen.”

In exchange for Wang’s release, Professor Massoud Soleimani, who was arrested at a Chicago airport last year and charged with violating trade sanctions against Iran, was headed home, too.

A stem cell researcher who had been working in Minnesota, Soleimani was charged after he was reportedly seeking to transfer biological material back to Iran without a license.

His lawyers argued that he was innocent, saying the sanctions law was ambiguous.

Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, was there to greet him at the airport; he flew with Wang from Tehran to Switzerland.

In a tweet, Zarif said: “Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly. Many thanks to all engaged, particularly the Swiss Government.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Clash on the Dunes: Saudi Arabia fights to overcome criticism, controversy with heavyweight bout

iStock(NEW YORK) — Today’s highly anticipated rematch for the heavyweight champion of the world will take place in a location that has shocked fans and caused controversy: Saudi Arabia.

New York City’s Madison Square Garden and London’s Wembley Stadium were among the arenas that fought hard to host the fight. Saudi Arabia has never hosted a heavyweight bout, and neither of the boxers have a connection to the country — so to lure the fight, Saudi Arabia built a new 15,000-seat stadium in the desert in just six weeks. And the fighters’ purse is reportedly upwards of $60 million.

Critics say all the money is not about promoting sports; it’s about rehabilitating Saudi Arabia’s global image given the country’s spotty human rights record.

Eddie Hearn, the fight’s British promoter, says the fight will make heavyweight history despite its controversial location.

“The ‘Thrilla in Manila’ in the Philippines … and the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire at the time — the whole world watched those fights and they went down in the history of our sport,” Hearn said. “This will do exactly the same.”

Dubbed the “Clash on the Dunes,” the fight is a rematch of June’s bout between Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr. and Britain’s Anthony Joshua that ended with one of the great upsets in boxing history as Ruiz, a last-minute substitute, stunned the boxing world by knocking out Joshua, the Olympic gold medalist and defending heavyweight champ who entered the fight 22-0.

Ruiz became the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent, and his Cinderella victory — 11 years after failed to make the Mexican Olympic Team — swiftly made headlines and landed him on the Jimmy Kimmel show.

Saturday’s fight will air exclusively on sports streaming service DAZN at 2:30 p.m. EST.

Over the past two years, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has publicly pursued a campaign aimed at convincing the world that Saudi Arabia was changing for the better. The kingdom launched a campaign to highlight new rights for women. Movie theaters opened for the first time in more than 35 years, and women gained the right to drive.

As part of his Vision 2030 economic development program, Saudi Arabia decided to prioritize sports — particularly ones that would make headlines.

In October, the country hosted the WWE’s Crown Jewel event in a multimillion dollar deal. February will mark the debut of the Saudi Cup, a horse race with a $20 million purse — the richest on record. A Ladies European Tour golf tournament and a Formula One race are also in talks to be held on Saudi soil.

“They have a plan to stage the biggest sports events in that region — and they’ve been very, very aggressive,” said Hearn. “We can’t ignore the influx of money and power into the sport that’s coming [from] that region.”

“I’m going out there to fight,” Joshua told ABC News. “From a fighting aspect, I know the country is making progression towards different things, and boxing is a great way to kind of showcase their country.”

But the kingdom’s kinder, gentler makeover was shattered last year when news broke that the Saudi government was responsible for the murder of Washington Post columnist and outspoken Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi. Since then, the country has been offering even more lavish deals to Western entertainers and sports figures.

“I didn’t coin the phrase — but this is ‘sportswashing,’” Minky Worden, Director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch, told ABC News. “The world heavyweight championship is just another example of Saudi Arabia’s PR attempt to gloss over human rights abuses.”

Saudi Arabia’s attempts to cultivate Western sports and entertainment has been met with both success and failure. In July, rapper Nicki Minaj withdrew from a music festival following an outcry from critics of Saudi Arabia’s ban on homosexuality and its treatment of women. Earlier this week, Tiger Woods reportedly turned down a multimillion-dollar offer to play in the Saudi International tournament.

For all its efforts, the country remains a monarchy ruled with firm adherence to a strict interpretation of Islamic law. A Human Rights Watch report published last month claims that numerous women’s rights advocates continue to be detained, charged with criminal offenses, and tortured for speaking out.

“There have been important reforms that loosen the chokehold on women in Saudi Arabia, but women still find themselves as targets, along with dissidents and critics of the Saudi government,” said Worden.

But Hearn, the boxing promoter, says those concerns can’t compete with the lure of Saudi millions.

“Every promoter over the last few years has been talking to not just Saudi Arabia, but other countries in the Middle East,” he said. “Our job is to provide the best opportunities for our clients, our fighters — the most amount of money.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Santa Paws 2019

Santa Paws 2019

He’s making a list, and WE’RE checking it twice! This year, SANTA PAWS is on the way with 101 Gold.

Its all part of our Community Giveback with Bravo Mic Communications Family of Radio Stations, and we need YOU to be Santa Paws for our fur-babies with Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley and Action Programs for Animals! We’re looking for clean but used blankets and towels to help make the shelters more comfortable this winter, along with food, leashes, collars, and anything else you can think that a pet might want this Holiday Season.

Make your donations anytime and become Santa Paws at the Bravo Mic Communications Studios, 101 Perkins Drive 

Donations can also be made at the following sponsor locations through Christmas Eve-

Horse n Hound Feed and Supply, 999 West Amador

First Financial Credit Union-901 East University

Better Life Natural Pet Foods- 315 S Telshor Blvd, Suite C

Viva Dodge Ram Jeep Fiat- 860 N Telshor Blvd

Coats For Kids

Winter is here, and over 2000 kids across Dona Ana Country need your help! Coats for Kids is an initiative of  US Bank, 101 Gold, Community Action Agency, Comet Cleaners, and D2 Designs sponsor the Coats for Kids program in Las Cruces to help underprivileged children in our area. This is the 25th year of this program, and we have been busy! This is a simple and compassionate project that makes a large impact in our community. We distributed more than 3,000 coats last year, because of the generous donations of new and gently used coats, as well as the cash we received, no child is ever turned away. Over 50,000 coats have been given to needy children in Dona Ana County, since we began this program in 1995!

As we move into the cold winter months, we know you would agree no child in our community should be without a warm winter coat. You can help us by giving a donation to the Coats for Kids program. These funds are used to purchase coats to supplement the used ones we receive. Your generosity will make a difference to a child who is less fortunate. We work closely with the Social Workers and Counselors in the Las Cruces Public Schools, Hatch Public Schools, and the Gadsden School District to help us identify children, birth through the 5th grade, who need a coat.

Please join us in making Southern New Mexico a warm and wonderful place to live and grow for all children. Please check your closets for coats to donate, or mail your cash donation to Coats for Kids at US Bank, 277 East Amador, Las Cruces, NM 88001. We can provide a tax-exempt receipt through our partner, Community Action Agency, if needed.

Visit Coas for Kids Here, and make a donation online!

Magic104.9’s Top Tracks

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Panic! At The Disco-“High Hopes”
  2. Marshmello feat. Bastille-“Happier”
  3. Halsey-“Without Me”
  4. Dean Lewis-“Be Alright”
  5. Maroon 5 feat. Cardi B-“Girls Like You”

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