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MUSIC NEWS

Pink reveals she and her husband have been in couples counseling for 17 years

Michael Tran/FilmMagicPink and her husband Carey Hart have had many ups and downs in their relationship, but these days, they seem to be pretty solid, as they parent their two children Willow and Jameson.  Now, Pink is opening up about why the two have been able to stick together all these years: therapy.

In a preview of an interview which will air Friday morning on NBC’s Today show, Pink tells Carson Daly, “Carey and I have been in couples counseling almost our entire 17 years that we’ve been together.”

The two have been married for 13 years. In 2008, they announced they were splitting, but they got back together in 2009.  According to the singer, it was counseling that saved their marriage.

“It’s the only reason we’re still together. He speaks Polish, I speak Italian, and [our therapist] speaks both,” Pink says. “We don’t speak the same language.”

It’s not clear if Pink is speaking metaphorically, but she continues, “We come from broken families, and we had no model for, ‘How are we supposed to keep this family together and live this crazy life?’ And there’s no book that says, ‘Here’s how to do this.’ So we go to counseling, and it works.”

Pink says she’s all for being open about the fact that you’re seeking help, especially these days, when kids seem to be plagued by anxiety and depression.

“I fully understand that and I’ve been depressed, I have anxiety. I over-think everything,” Pink says. “But what I do is I keep the right people around me, and I go to therapy.”

Pink’s new album, the aptly titled Hurts 2B Human, is out on Friday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Justin Bieber & Ed Sheeran, together again? Identical Instagram photos point to new collabo

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImageJustin Bieber appeared at Coachella, teased a new album and contributed a few verses to Lil Dicky‘s new charity single. Now it appears as though he’s working on something with his pal Ed Sheeran, with whom he co-wrote the songs “Love Yourself” and “Cold Water.”

A week ago, Justin’s manager Scooter Braun posted a photo on Instagram showing Justin standing in front of a green screen, with the caption, “This guy! Something is happening.”

And today, Ed’s manager Stuart Camp posted a photo of Ed standing in the exact same pose in front of an identical green screen, with the caption, “This guy! Something is happening. “

A source close to the situation tells the website The Blast that Justin and Ed are “definitely working on a new project together,” but there are no further details.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Taylor Swift’s biggest influences? Two cats and a Beatle

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIMETaylor Swift is a role model to millions of fans worldwide, but in a new video she made for TIME, she gushes about the person who she calls HER role model: former Beatle Paul McCartney

Asked to name her three biggest influences, Taylor says the social networking site Tumblr is #3, and McCartney is #2. 

“He’s had just this amazing career. He’s created, just, unparalleled art and y’know, probably been faced with more pressure than most people,” Taylor says. “And he’s always been known to be kind to people, respectful and also really selfless as a performer.”

What she means by that, she explains, is that McCartney is perfectly happy to perform numerous classic Beatles hits in concert, along with his own solo material.

“You wanna hear all that old, iconic, classic stuff, and I like it when a performer knows that and will give that to their fans, rather than being, like, ‘No, I’m only playing this new project,'” Taylor says. 

“I think you gotta be respectful of what people want and I just think that’s really cool,” she adds. “And I also like his new music too. He’s still got it…really love Paul McCartney!”

But Taylor says her #1 influence is cats — especially her two cats, Olivia and Meredith. Taylor also jokes she accepted a role in the upcoming movie musical Cats because of them.

“I went to cat school, which they have on set readily available for us,” she says of filming the upcoming musical. “And learned how to be as much like a cat as I possibly could.”

“Cats are just really cool…they’re very dignified,” she adds. “They’re independent. They’re very capable of dealing with their own life and if you fit into that on that day, they’ll make some time for you…maybe.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

‘Empire’ makes history by airing the first black gay wedding on network television

Chuck Hodes/FOX.(LOS ANGELES) — Jussie Smollett’s final season appearance on Empire Wednesday’s night was one for the history books: It featured the first black gay wedding.

The episode titled, “Never Doubt I Love,” featured his character Jamal and Jamal’s fiancé Kai, played by Toby Onwumere, reciting their vows and even jumping the broom. As Empire star Gabourey Sidibe points out, their wedding made television history.

“Tonight, #Empire will give life to a monumental love story by marrying 2 black, gay men for the first time in television history,” Sidibe tweeted. “Please join us in celebration until it’s no longer a phenomenon to see 2 people of the same sex and race love each other proudly, on prime time TV.”

Then, in another tweet, the actress commented on the importance of the moment for the LGBTQ community.

“Well for young LGBTQ members of color who grow up feeling like they’ll never have love and romance, or that life long partnership isn’t in the cards for them, seeing a representation of love and normalcy in bodies and families that look like their own, in media is important,” she wrote.

As previously reported, Smollett was written out of the final two episodes of the FOX series due to the controversy surrounding his alleged hate crime hoax. In the episode, his character’s honeymoon is used to explain his upcoming absence.

There is still no official word on whether Smollett will return for another season. However, it appears all of his cast mates want him brought back. Yesterday, they sent a letter to network executives asking that Smollett be invited to rejoin the cast.

21st Century Fox — which produces Empire — is now a part of Disney, ABC’s parent company.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Chadwick Boseman is on the hunt for cop killers in the first trailer for ’21 Bridges’

Photo: Matt Kennedy/STXFilms(LOS ANGELES) — Chadwick Boseman is a NYPD detective on a mission in the first trailer for his upcoming action thriller 21 Bridges.

The film, which reunites Boseman with producers Joe and Anthony Russo — who directed him in Captain America: Civil War, as well as Avengers: Infinity War and Endgamealso stars If Beale Street Could Talk’s Stephan James, alongside Sienna Miller, Keith David, Taylor Kitsch and J.K. Simmons.

Game of Thrones and The Tudors veteran Brian Kirk directs.

21 Bridges follows Boseman as an embattled NYPD detective, who gets a shot at redemption after being called to help in a citywide manhunt for a cop killer. As the search intensifies, authorities go to extreme measures to prevent the killers from escaping Manhattan by closing all 21 bridges. 

This is latest project for Black Panther’s real-life alter-ego, who is also producing the film adaptation of The Stars in My Soul, a memoir co-written by Hakeem Oluseyi about his life. Chadwick’s also set to star in the upcoming thriller Expatriate, directed by Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins and Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods.

21 Bridges hits theaters on July 12.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Adam Savage living the dream with ‘Savage Builds’

Discovery(NEW YORK) — Adam Savage turned a lifetime love of movies and movie props into a career as a Hollywood special effects guy, and then used his experience to create his award-winning show Mythbusters.  Now, he’s got a brand new show.  The eight-episode series on the Science and Discovery Channels is called Savage Builds.

Savage will take on some of the “biggest and baddest builds of his career,” according to Discovery — from an Iron Man-inspired 3D-printed titanium suit of armor capable of achieving flight, to Mad Max-inspired, post-apocalyptic-looking vehicles.

Savage tells ABC Radio, “I get to work with some of the most brilliant minds out there as we attempt to solve really absurd ideas that I’ve had in my head for a long time, but have never had the opportunity to dive into, until now.”

Savage has a legion of fans within the amateur prop building and costuming community, who appreciate the enthusiasm he has for recreating everything from Han Solo’s trusty blaster from Star Wars to wearable real-life NASA spacesuits — purely for the fun of it.

“I love communicating about the process,” he tells ABC Radio. “You know for me…the wearing [of costumes] on the [comic convention] floor…isn’t the finale.”

Adam explained the admiration from the cosplay community goes both ways.

“A lot of these folks that I’m talking to are inventing their own techniques…The amount of exploration and problem solving they’re doing in their own small spaces…is really cool…!”

Savage Builds debuts in June.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

SPORTS NEWS

Ravens coach John Harbaugh invites blind fan to read NFL draft pick in Braille

Baltimore Ravens(BALTIMORE) — The Charm City just scored a touchdown with the Ravens’ heart-warming plans for the NFL draft.

When the Baltimore Ravens got wind of an inspiring young fan, who regularly discusses the team with a local sports radio station, head coach John Harbaugh found the perfect way to include him in the team’s upcoming NFL draft selection.

Mo Gaba, 13, a three-time cancer survivor who has been blind since he was just 9 months old, will soon make history as the first person in to read an NFL draft pick in Braille.

While the superfan analyzed the upcoming draft on the Justin, Scott and Spiegel 98 Rock Morning Show, Harbaugh surprised him on the other line and shared some exciting news.

“We heard about this guy named Mo that has incredible insights into the Ravens and what we do and how good we’re gonna be and we heard he’s one of our very biggest fans,” Harbaugh said. “We’re inviting Mo to announce our fourth round draft pick at our draft fest event at the Inner Harbor.

“What do you think about that Mo?” Harbaugh asked.

“What?! Really? I’ve never done that before,” a surprised and excited Mo said. “I’d like to do that, yeah.”

“You’re gonna be the first person in the history of the NFL to announce a draft pick written on a card in Braille,” Harbough told Mo. “How amazing is that going to be?”

“Whoaaa,” Mo replied, stunned at the exciting history making moment.

One of the show’s hosts asked if this was the start of his budding sports broadcasting career, to which Mo confidently replied, “It’s gonna start this week.”

The Ravens told ABC News that they first heard about Mo through the radio show and a local news story in March, which highlighted Mo’s incredible bond with a resource officer at his middle school.

When the team heard Mo’s cancer came back for a fourth time, they sent its mascot Poe to a fundraiser for the boy on March 22. At that time, they began to consider plans to include him in the draft pick announcement, a representative for the team said.

Harbaugh said the team will “roll out the red carpet” for Mo and his mom, who will attend the draft day event at Baltimore’s inner harbor on Saturday, “just like one of our draft picks.”

“It’s gonna be first class all the way,” he said. “There’s gonna be tons of fans down there, our players are gonna be down there — so many of our guys are fired up to have a great day and it’s gonna be really amazing.”

The video of their radio interview has been viewed on the Baltimore Ravens Twitter account more than 108,000 times as of Thursday afternoon

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

What to watch as the NFL draft kicks off

33ft/iStock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Millions of football fans will be tuning in to the NFL Draft to see if their favorite college players get picked.

The first round kicks off Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee.

ABC News’ Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts will host the first round of the draft. In the video below, she breaks down what to expect from the big night:

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup — 4/24/19

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

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

INTERLEAGUE
Cleveland 6 Miami 2
San Diego 1 Seattle 0
San Francisco 4 Toronto 0

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Kansas City 10 Tampa Bay 2
Oakland 6 Texas 5
Baltimore 4 Chi White Sox 3
Boston 11 Detroit 4
Houston 7 Minnesota 1
NY Yankees 6 LA Angels 5

NATIONAL LEAGUE
St. Louis 5 Milwaukee 2
Colorado 9 Washington 5
Atlanta 3 Cincinnati 1
Arizona 11 Pittsburgh 2
Philadelphia 6 NY Mets 0
Chi Cubs 7 LA Dodgers 6

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PLAYOFFS
Houston 100 Utah 93
L.A. Clippers 129 Golden State 121

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

SO Carolina 4 Washington 3

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
New York City 1 Chicago 0

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

NATIONAL NEWS

Hundreds under quarantine at UCLA and Cal State University after measles scare

mattjsosa/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — Students and staff at two Los Angeles universities were under quarantine on Thursday amid fears that they may have been exposed to measles.

More than 300 students, faculty and staff at UCLA and Cal State University, Los Angeles were under quarantine while health officials work to determine if they have been vaccinated, the universities said.

University health officials said 198 staff and student employees at Cal State were ordered to stay home, avoid contact with others and notify to authorities if they develop measles symptoms, according to a statement from the university released Thursday.

The university said those affected may have been exposed to measles at a campus library on April 11 and they were either unvaccinated or couldn’t immediately verify that they are immune.

“The Department of Public Health has asked Cal State LA employees who were potentially exposed through their presence in Library North on the specified date and times to provide immunization records or be checked for immunity at the Student Health Center and not return to work until they receive clearance from Department of Public Health officials,” Cal State said in a statement. “The Department of Public Health has determined that there is no known current risk related to measles at the library at this time.”

Separately, UCLA said it screened more than 500 students, faculty and staff who may have come into contact with a student who contracted measles. Of those people, 119 were initially placed under quarantine. On Thursday night, the university announced that 43 of those people established proof of immunity and were released.

“We expect that those notified will be quarantined for approximately 24–48 hours until their proof of immunity is established. A few may need to remain in quarantine for up to seven days,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block in a statement Wednesday. “A few may need to remain in quarantine for up to seven days. We have arranged for those who live on campus to be cared for at UCLA while they are quarantined.”

Measles are highly contagious and can be transmitted through the air by coughing or sneezing.

The quarantines came on the heals of a Centers of Disease Control and Prevention announcement that confirmed 695 reported cases of measles in the U.S, marking the highest level since the disease was domestically eradicated in 2000. California had reported 38 measles cases as of Thursday.

CDC officials attributed the “high number of cases” to large outbreaks in Washington state and New York, which began late last year.

The spike in cases stems, in part, from the spread of misinformation about vaccines online. Anti-vaccination activists have gained more traction on social media amid false claims linking vaccinations to autism.

The measles vaccine, now administered along with immunization for mumps and rubella, is regarded by public health practitioners as safe and highly effective. The CDC recommends for all Americans above age 1 to get vaccinated.

“I know there is concern about measles, particularly among the very small percentage of our community who have not been vaccinated,” UCLA Chancellor Block said. “Please be assured that we have the resources we need for prevention and treatment, and that we are working very closely with local public health officials on the matter.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Judge indicted in Massachusetts for refusing to allow undocumented immigrant to be detained

Pattanaphong Khuankaew/iStock(BOSTON) — A state judge in Massachusetts was indicted Thursday for refusing to allow ICE to take custody of an undocumented immigrant, according to court papers.

Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, 51, of Natick, was charged in the case along with a court officer, Wesley MacGregor, 56, of Watertown.

“The allegations in today’s indictment involve obstruction by a sitting judge, that is intentional interference with the enforcement of federal law, and that is a crime,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. “We cannot pick and choose the federal laws we follow, or use our personal views to justify violating the law.”

According to officials, police in Newtown arrested a suspect on March 30, 2018 for being a fugitive on narcotics charges. Officials discovered that the suspect had been deported twice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a detainer.

On April 2, 2018, a plainclothes ICE officer came to the district court in Newtown to take custody of the suspect and was told to wait in the lobby.

But during the course of the proceedings, Joseph allegedly arranged for the suspect, his lawyer and an interpreter, to leave through a different exit, escorted by MacGregor.

“The actions of the judge in this incident are a detriment to the rule of law and highly offensive to the law enforcement officers of ICE who swear an oath to uphold our nation’s immigration laws,” said Todd M. Lyons, the acting field office director of ICE in Boston.

The defendant, who’s not identified by name in court documents, had been previously deported twice from the U.S.

According to the documents, Judge Joseph arraigned the immigrant facing deportation on those charges, but later in the day she recalled his case. At that point, according to court documents Judge Joseph asked the ICE officer to wait outside the courtroom while proceedings took place.

The indictment includes court transcripts from the hearing which took place on April 2, 2018.

“ICE is gonna get him?” she asks the defendant’s attorney before turning off the court recorder, which the indictment says is a violation of Massachusetts court rules.

According to the government, 52 seconds later court recordings were turned back on.

The court clerk then asked the judge if she wanted to let the ICE officer back in, because he was set to visit the lockup portion of the jail, she declines and lets the unidentified subject go.

“That’s fine. I’m not gonna allow them to come in here. But he’s been released on this,” she says.

The court officer, who is also charged asks if he is released, the Judge says yes.

“He is. Um, [Defense Attorney] asked if the interpreter can accompany him downstairs, um, to further interview him…- and I’ve allowed that to happen,” she continues.

After that, the government says without the knowledge of the ICE officer, MacGregor releases the alleged suspect out the back door, the government alleges, and says that “defendant JOSEPH and the Defense Attorney discussed devising a way to have A.S. avoid being arrested by the ICE Officer.”

“Immediately following the proceeding, defendant MacGregor escorted A.S. from the Courtroom downstairs to the lockup, accompanied by the Defense Attorney and an interpreter,” the indictment reads. “Once inside the lockup, defendant MacGregor used his security access card to open the rear sally-port exit and released A.S. out the backdoor at approximately 3:01 p.m,,” the indictment continues.

Shelley previously served as a criminal defense attorney and was appointed to the Massachusetts district court by Governor Charlie Baker in 2017.

When the allegations first surfaced, Governor Baker told the Boston Globe that the judge should be removed from hearing criminal cases pending an investigation into her conduct.

“Look, judges are not supposed to be in the business of obstructing justice,” Baker said.

She is due in court Thursday afternoon.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Andrew ‘AJ’ Freund, 5-year-old allegedly killed by parents, died from multiple blunt force injuries: Coroner

Kuzma/iStock(CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill.) — Andrew “AJ” Freund, the 5-year-old Illinois boy allegedly killed by his parents, died from head trauma due to multiple blunt force injuries, according to the McHenry County coroner’s office.

AJ’s parents, Andrew “Drew” Freund Sr. and Joann Cunningham, allegedly forced the boy to stay in a cold shower “for an extended period of time” and may have “struck” him, according to court documents.

Both parents have been charged with his murder, police said.

AJ, of Crystal Lake, was reported missing on April 18, prompting a massive, week-long search. The deadly assault occurred on or about April 15, according to court documents.

AJ’s parents ultimately provided information that led investigators to his body, Crystal Lake Police Chief Jim Black said at a news conference on Wednesday.

AJ’s body was found on Wednesday in a shallow grave, wrapped in plastic, in a rural area near Woodstock, Illinois, Black said.

Cunningham, 35, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder; four counts of aggravated battery; two counts of aggravated domestic battery; and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.

Freund, 60, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder; two counts of aggravated battery; one count of aggravated domestic battery; two counts of concealment of homicidal death; and one count of failure to report a missing or child death.

Both are due to be arraigned on Monday.

During the search for AJ, his younger brother was placed in a different home under a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) safety plan, a DCFS spokesman told ABC News earlier this week.

DCFS has been in contact with AJ’s family since AJ was born with opiates in his system in October 2013, DCFS officials said.

In November 2013, AJ was taken into protective custody and placed in foster care, DCFS officials said. AJ was returned to his home in June 2015, according to the agency.

In March 2018, DCFS officials investigated allegations of neglect by AJ’s parents; the allegations were unfounded, according to DCFS.

The last contact between DCFS and the family was in December 2018, after Cunningham called the cops to report that AJ’s father stole her cellphone and medication. Responding officers found a bruise on one of the children, but were “unable to make a determination of abuse,” and released the kids back to the parents, according to police reports. Child protection staffers investigated the allegations of abuse and neglect, but the allegations were unfounded, a DCFS spokesman said.

The news of AJ’s death is “heartbreaking,” Marc Smith, acting director of Illinois DCFS, said in a statement Wednesday.

“Our priority is the care and safety of Andrew’s younger sibling,” Smith said. “The Department is committed to conducting a comprehensive review of the entirety of our work with Andrew’s family to understand our shortcomings and to be fully transparent with the public on any steps we are taking to address the issues.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WORLD NEWS

Europe’s privacy watchdog opens 11th investigation into Facebook

David Tran/iStock(NEW YORK) — European regulators on Thursday said they are investigating whether Facebook violated the European Union’s privacy laws, which are much stricter than those in the U.S.

“The Data Protection Commission was notified by Facebook that it had discovered that hundreds of millions of user passwords, relating to users of Facebook, Facebook Lite and Instagram, were stored by Facebook in plain text format in its internal servers,” Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) said in a statement. “We have this week commenced a statutory inquiry in relation to this issue to determine whether Facebook has complied with its obligations under relevant provisions of the [General Data Protection Regulation].”

It is at least the 11th probe by European regulators into Facebook’s violations of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR), which was implemented nearly one year ago.

The news comes one day after the company revealed in its earnings report that it set aside $3 billion to $5 billion to pay an expected fine from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations. No public statement or settlement has yet been announced by the FTC and it is an unusual move for a company to pre-emptively assume what it would be fined by regulators.

Because Facebook and other tech giants have their international headquarters in Ireland, the Irish DPC is the company’s lead privacy regulator for Europe.

In March, the company announced that it stored hundreds of millions of user passwords in plain text — able to be read by employees — on internal servers. Then on April 18, the company quietly updated its initial blog post, announcing that the number of users who had their passwords stored in plain text without encryption was much higher than previously reported, affecting millions more Instagram users. The picture-sharing service is owned by Facebook.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the probe.

Separately, on Thursday, Canadian regulators announced that they had found “major shortcomings” in Facebook’s privacy practices after investigating the Cambridge Analytica story, and said they would take the tech giant to court to try to force the company to change its privacy practices.

Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm hired by President Trump’s 2016 election campaign, gained access to the personal data of millions of Facebook users. Regulators estimate that more than half a million Canadians may have been affected.

“Facebook committed serious contraventions of Canadian privacy laws and failed to take responsibility for protecting the personal information of Canadians, an investigation has found,” a statement from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said.

“Facebook’s refusal to act responsibly is deeply troubling given the vast amount of sensitive personal information users have entrusted to this company,” Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien said in the statement. “Their privacy framework was empty, and their vague terms were so elastic that they were not meaningful for privacy protection.”

The Canadian watchdog said that it had investigated Facebook for the “overly broad” permissions it had gotten from users to share their personal information with third-party apps, and for not protecting users properly.

If Facebook had implemented recommendations from a 2009 investigation by the Privacy Commissioner’s Office, “the risk of unauthorized access and use of Canadians’ personal information by third party apps could have been avoided or significantly mitigated,” the statement continued.

Canadian authorities began their investigation last year in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a political firm improperly accessed the personal information of 87 million users without their knowledge.

Facebook Canada spokeswoman Erin Taylor said the company was disappointed Therrien considers the issues unresolved.

“There’s no evidence that Canadians’ data was shared with Cambridge Analytica, and we’ve made dramatic improvements to our platform to protect people’s personal information,” Taylor said. “We understand our responsibility to protect people’s personal information, which is why we’ve proactively taken important steps toward tackling a number of issues raised in the report.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Coalition strikes killed 1,600 civilians in Raqqa says new report

AbdukadirSavas/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Amnesty International and Airwars claim that their research shows that 1,600 civilians were killed by the four-month airstrike campaign and artillery strikes carried out by the U.S.-led coalition against the former Islamic State-held city of Raqqa, Syria. That figure dwarfs the U.S. military’s own estimates that 180 civilians were unintentionally killed by airstrikes carried out by the coalition.

The two groups published their findings Thursday on a website titled “Rhetoric versus Reality.” They say the report is the result of 18 months of research of open-source materials, social media postings and satellite imagery, followed by two months of ground investigations in Raqqa.

Retaken from ISIS in October 2017 by U.S.-backed Syrian forces, the city in central Syria had become the defacto capital of the terror group’s self-declared Caliphate. Between June and October 2017 coalition aircraft carried out an intense bombing campaign against ISIS targets in the city to help the Kurdish fighters capture the city.

“Many of the air bombardments were inaccurate and tens of thousands of artillery strikes were indiscriminate, so it is no surprise they killed and injured many hundreds of civilians,” said Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty International.

“First and foremost, any unintentional loss of life during the defeat of Daesh is tragic,” said Colonel Scott Rawlinson, a spokesman for the Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, which also known as Daesh.

“However it must be balanced against the risk of enabling Daesh to continue terrorist activities, causing pain and suffering to anyone they choose,” Rawlinson added.

Overall, the coalition has determined that 318 civilians were killed in Raqqa between October 2014 and October 2017, after investigating 69 credible allegations. Additional allegations are still being investigated.

“The coalition and the U.S. have provided extensive information to Amnesty International on our targeting process including multiple background briefings on targeting with regard to the mitigation of civilian casualties and extensive written responses to requests for information,” said Lt. Colonel Earl Brown, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

“Additionally, the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy briefed Amnesty International, Airwars, and other NGOs on our constant efforts to improve” he added.

Rawlinson said Amnesty International “provided us with 86 new allegations, 43 of which had already been assessed as credible and previously reported or were deemed not credible because the allegation did not corroborate with our strike records.”

“We requested that Amnesty International provide us with additional information on the remaining 43 allegations if they have it so that we would be able to determine whether we could conduct an investigation,” said Rawlinson. “The Coalition takes all reasonable measures to minimize civilian casualties.”

The coalition has extensive procedures in place to ensure that its airstrikes do not result in civilian casualties and also investigates any credible allegations of civilian casualties.

So far those investigations have determined that at least 1,291 civilians have been unintentionally killed in the 34,464 airstrikes against ISIS targets that have been carried out from August 2014 to March 2019.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin meet for first time

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images(RUSSKY ISLAND, Russia) — Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong Un, at a summit in the Russian port of Vladivostok on Thursday, the first time the two have met as leaders, amid efforts by the United States to persuade the North to abandon its nuclear weapons.

The two met at a university on Russky island, a large island in the Sea of Japan linked to Vladivostok by a bridge. Putin received Kim with a Russian honor guard on a red carpet, with the two exchanging a long handshake before going inside for talks.

Speaking at the opening of the talks, Putin said he welcomed Kim’s efforts to normalize relations with the U.S. and said he hoped the talks would help Russia play a role in ending the diplomatic standoff over North Korea’s nuclear arms.

Putin said he believed that Kim could be ready to continue the negotiations provided the U.S. “demonstrates a desire for constructive dialogue,” though he told reporters it was better to ask Kim. He also said he would tell President Donald Trump and his administration about his meeting with Kim, which the Korean leader had asked him to do.

Putin said he was sure the meeting “will allow us to better understand what ways we can resolve the situation on the Korean Peninsula, what we can do together, [and] what Russia can do in order to support the positive processes which are happening now.”

Following the talks though, which lasted a little less than two hours, it was unclear if any concrete details came out of them despite Putin’s pronouncement of “quite a substantial talk.” Ahead of the summit, experts said it was very unlikely the meeting would produce anything concrete. Instead, the encounter for both sides was more about the image it broadcast.

Kim gave just two short statements before and after the talks with Putin, but said the two had exchanged views and thanked the Russian president repeatedly for what he said had been a “very wonderful time.”

The meeting is the first time Putin and Kim have met since he became North Korea’s ruler in 2011 and comes against the backdrop of President Donald Trump’s efforts to make North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons and the U.S. president’s own two summits with Kim in the past year.

After concluding their discussions, Putin and Kim appeared at a televised session seated with their delegations, which included senior ministers. They gave very brief statements saying they had exchanged opinions on the Korea conflict and thanked one another for coming.

“I was very glad to meet with you Mr. President and with Russian friends,” Kim said. “I would like to again express my sincere gratitude that you flew here, far from Moscow, thousands of miles and gave us the time to substantively discuss questions,” Kim said.

Putin said the two talked about the nuclear dispute, saying, “We exchanged opinions about what, and how, we need to do so that the situation has a good prospect for improvement.”

Putin followed a similar line in a press conference after the talks, saying he believed Kim could be persuaded to denuclearize provided there were sufficient security guarantees. He said he thought Kim ultimately was a supporter of nonproliferation.

“I have got the impression that that the North Korean leader adheres that point of view. They only need a guarantee of their security. That’s it,” Putin said.

He said it was necessary to think of how such guarantees could be found, but did not go into detail.

The meeting was most notable for the fact it had taken place. Kim arrived in Vladivostok on Wednesday, travelling on the armored train he uses for foreign trips.

The summit was billed as a way for Russia and North Korea to bolster their relations and discuss the dispute over the North’s nuclear weapons. Russia has been involved for years in efforts to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal and has joined with the U.S. in imposing tough United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang. But Russia has also sought to maintain friendly relations, which draw on the countries’ shared Communist past, and the Kremlin has criticized the U.S. for being overly aggressive and relying too heavily on sanctions to persuade the North Koreans.

Russia meanwhile has felt like it has been locked out of the efforts to handle the crisis between the U.S. and North Korea and sees meeting with Kim as a way to underline its involvement.

The summit “brings Moscow back into the diplomatic game focused on the Korean Peninsula,” Alexander Gabuev, chair of the Russia in the Asia-Pacific Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center, wrote in an article ahead of the summit.

Kim is expected to remain in Vladivostok for another day after Putin leaves to tour cultural sites.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported this week that Kim’s itinerary may include a trip to a local theater or the Russian Pacific Fleet’s museum, as well as to a number of other sites that Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, visited during a similar official trip he made in 2002.

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