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MUSIC NEWS

Tori Kelly announces new single, “Change Your Mind,” and Acoustic Sessions tour

Capitol RecordsTori Kelly made a successful foray into gospel with her 2018 album Hiding Place, but now it seems she’s heading back into pop territory.

The singer announced her next single will be called “Change Your Mind” and released its cover art, which features what appears to be a photo from her recent wedding to André Murillo –– it’s a partial image of a bride clutching her bouquet. The song drops January 25.

Tori will also be hitting the road next month for a brand new tour dubbed The Acoustic Sessions, kicking off February 25 in Tucson, Arizona. “I have a lot of new music to share w/ you on tour…,” she teased on Twitter.

The headlining North American trek, which follows her fall 2018 Hiding Place tour, will feature Tori performing stripped-down versions of songs both old and new. It will include a show at the historic Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles and one at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, NY, before wrapping with an April 13 show in New Orleans.

Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, January 25 at 10 a.m. local.

Tori’s last pop project was her 2015 debut album Unbreakable Smile.

Here is the list of dates:

2/25 — Tucson, AZ, Fox Theatre
2/26 — Phoenix, AZ, Marquee
2/28 — Los Angeles, CA, Orpheum
3/2 — Anaheim, CA, House of Blues
3/5 — San Diego, CA, Copley Symphony Hall
3/8 — Oakland, CA, Fox Theatre
3/9 — Las Vegas, NV, The Pearl
3/11 — Salt Lake City, UT, Eccles Theater
3/14 — Seattle, WA, Paramount Theatre
3/16 — Vancouver, BC, Queen Elizabeth
3/17 — Portland, OR, Crystal Ballroom
3/19 — Denver, CO, Paramount
3/21 — St. Paul, MN, The Palace
3/22 — Omaha, NE, Holland
3/24 — Kansas City, MO, Midland Theatre
3/26 — St. Louis, MO, The Pageant
3/28 — Indianapolis, IN, Murat Theatre
3/29 — Columbus, OH, Express Live
3/31 — Toronto, ON, Roy Thomas Hall
4/2 — Boston, MA, House of Blues
4/3 — Brooklyn, NY, Kings Theatre
4/5 — Philadelphia, PA, The Fillmore
4/6 — Lynchburg, VA, Liberty University
4/9 — St. Petersburg, FL, Mahaffrey Theater
4/10 — Orlando, FL, Hard Rock Live
4/13 — New Orleans, LA, The Fillmore

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Lady Gaga speaks out against Vice President Pence onstage in Las Vegas

PRNewsfoto/MGM ResortsLady Gaga has never been shy about expressing her political opinions, and she did just that this past Saturday night in Las Vegas during her Enigma residency show at the Park Theater at Park MGM.

As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and seen on video posted online by attendees, Gaga stopped in the middle of performing her hit song “Million Reasons” to call for President Donald Trump to end the government shutdown, noting, “There are people that live paycheck to paycheck that need their money.” 

Then, Gaga took Vice President Mike Pence and his wife to task, following the news that Karen Pence is now teaching art at Immanuel Christian School, a private K-8 school in Springfield, Virginia, that bans LGBTQ students and teachers. 

The vice president’s reaction to the criticism has been to say, “To see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us.”

Well, Gaga wasn’t having that.

“And to Mike Pence, who thinks that it’s O.K. that his wife works at a school that bans LGBTQ: You’re wrong,” Gaga said. “You say we should not discriminate against Christianity?  You are the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian.”

As the crowd cheered, she added, “I am a Christian woman, and what I do know about Christianity is that we bear no prejudice and everybody is welcome. So you can take all that disgrace, Mr. Pence, and you look yourself in the mirror and you’ll find it right there.”

She then continued with the song.

You can watch fan-shot video of the tirade on YouTube.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sin City Funk: Mark Ronson heading to Las Vegas for new DJ residency

Collier SchorrFollowing the lead of his “Shallow” co-writer Lady Gaga, “Uptown Funk” hitmaker Mark Ronson has landed a Las Vegas residency.

The hitmaking producer will be the first resident DJ at On the Record, a new speakeasy and club which opened at Park MGM on December 28. He’ll be DJing 12 exclusive dates at the venue, starting Saturday, February 2. For tickets, visit OntheRecordLV.com.

If Mark gets lonely, he won’t have far to go to find a friend: Gaga’s residency shows Enigma and Jazz & Piano are both at Park MGM as well.

“It was important to us for Mark to be OTR’s first resident because he embodies musically what we’re trying to achieve in the club,” Sean Christie, President of Nightlife and Events for MGM Resorts International, says in a statement.

He adds, “With hit collaborations with a diverse range of artists such as Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars, Dua Lipa and others, he’s a perfect fit for the new direction we’re bringing to The Strip.”

Ronson and Gaga recently won a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award for “Shallow,” from the A Star Is Born soundtrack. He also collaborated with Miley on her latest single, “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

Alan Alda on living with Parkinson’s disease: “I just try to make the best of what’s in front of me”

Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Radio Hall of Fame(NEW YORK) — Ahead of receiving the the Life Achievement Award at the upcoming Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 27, former M*A*S*H star Alan Alda has given an upbeat interview to People.

The 82-year-old actor, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease almost four years ago, admits that at first, he was frightened by the diagnosis, but he hasn’t let it slow him down.

“My life is more of an improvisation,” Alda tells the magazine. “I just try to make the best of what’s in front of me.”

Alda learned as much as he could about the degenerative condition, and he insists that staying active is key.

Indeed, the award-winning stage and screen actor’s 2018 announcement to his fans that he had the disease was accompanied by video of him juggling. He also dances and does tai chi.

Alda hasn’t slowed down professionally, either: He hosts a podcast called Clear + Vivid, and recently logged appearances on Showtime’s Ray Donovan.

“I’m busy,” Alda tells People. “I do occasionally do nothing and sit around. But I believe in doing everything in moderation, including moderation. So far it’s working.”

The actor credits Arlene, his wife of 61 years, with keeping him positive, too.

He gushes, “We still experience a kind of puppy love.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Post-‘Game of Thrones’: Kit Harrington has Jon Snow’s crypt statue and Sophie Turner has cleaner hair

Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO(LONDON) — If you watched one of the latest teasers for the final season of Game of Thrones, you’ll have seen Jon Snow, Sansa Stark and Arya Stark all confronting statues of themselves inside the Stark family crypt.

Creepy as it might be, Kit Harrington, who plays Jon, says he’s kept his statue as a memento.

“I kept that statue. You know, the one in the crypt,” he tells BBC’s The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show. “I kept it, they sent it to my house. So, I’ve got it in my shed. How sad is that? I was the only one who kept their statue, that’s how narcissistic I am.”

As for what he plans to do with it?

“I’m going to turn it into a water feature, I think,” he says.  That means a fountain, basically.

And speaking of the Starks, Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa, is also looking back on her time on the show, which she describes as…greasy.

In an interview with InStyle, Turner reveals that in later seasons – when Sansa fell on hard times — she wasn’t allowed to wash her hair.

“[In the final season] I wear a wig, so I can wash my hair whenever I want, which is nice,” she says. “But yes, for a couple of years I was living with pretty greasy hair. [It was] really itchy! Also, we would have the snow machines going so we would have little snow paper particles that would get stuck in the grease. It was disgusting.”

The final season of Game of Thrones returns to HBO on April 14.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

HBO’s ‘Crashing’ promises more stand-up and social commentary in season three

Craig Blankenhorn/HBO(NEW YORK) — HBO’s Crashing, inspired by the life of comedian Pete Holmes, is back for more stand-up this weekend…and maybe a little social commentary on the side.

The third season of the series, which premieres on Sunday, promises to not only document Holmes and his peers’ ongoing struggle to become comedy stars, but to also address the state of comedy in a post-#MeToo world.

That’s something writer and co-star Jamie Lee is all for exploring. This season, her character Ali Reissen will inject a little female empowerment into her stand-up.

“The stand-up that Ali does on the show this season, she’s definitely sort of taking a stance and leaning in more to social commentary and cultural relevance and the discussions that are being had online every single day about being a woman and being empowered,” Lee tells ABC Radio.

In an upcoming episode, which Lee calls one of her favorites of the season, Ali realizes not everyone is ready to change with the times when she confronts a male comic about his tone-deaf misogynist act.

“The episode is like…’The reason you’re not getting opportunities is because your stand-up is not relevant and you’re not listening to the conversations being had and, you know, you’re essentially just out of touch and you’re threatened,’” Lee explains. 

Tune in for the laughs and life lessons when Crashing season three debuts this Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

SPORTS NEWS

Lakers Guard Lonzo Ball out 4-6 weeks

Tim Warner/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball will miss four to six weeks after spraining his left ankle against Houston on Saturday, the team announced on Sunday.

Ball suffered the injury in the third quarter of the Lakers’ 138-134 loss to the Rockets.

The second-year guard had the ball and made a move to the free throw line against Houston guard James Ennis III, before passing it to teammate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Ball left his feet on the pass and landed awkwardly on his left ankle. 

He was carried to the locker room by teammates Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley.

Ball tweaked the same ankle in a late November game against Indiana.

This is the latest injury for Los Angeles. On Christmas day, the Lakers lost forward LeBron James to a groin injury and guard Rajon Rondo to a right ring finger injury. Both players are cleared to resume full-contact practice.

Ball is averaging 9.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game this season.

The Lakers are 25-22 on the year and sit tied for eighth in the Western Conference standings.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup — 1/19/19

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

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Oklahoma City 117, Philadelphia 115
Charlotte 135, Phoenix 115
Sacramento 103, Detroit 101
Milwaukee 118, Orlando 108
Indiana 111, Dallas 99
Toronto 119, Memphis 90
Boston 113, Atlanta 105
Miami 117, Chicago 103
Houston 138, L.A. Lakers 134
Denver 124, Cleveland 102

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Anaheim 3, New Jersey 2
Colorado 7, L.A. Kings 1
St. Louis 3, Ottawa 2
N.Y. Rangers 3, Boston 2
Philadelphia 5, Montreal 2
Tampa Bay 6, San Jose 3
Dallas 4, Winnipeg 2
Florida 4, Nashville 2
Minnesota 2, Columbus 1
Vegas 7, Pittsburgh 3
Calgary 5, Edmonton 2

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Bills Hall of Famer Kelly cancer free

Rich Barnes/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer Jim Kelly is cancer free once again.

His wife Jill announced the news on Instagram, writing “We finally got the results from Jim’s recent MRI…CLEAN!

 

 

Kelly was initially diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his upper jaw in 2013. The cancer then returned in 2014 and again 2018.

He played in Buffalo from 1988-1996 and led the team to four straight Super Bowl appearances between 1991-1994.

A five-time Pro Bowler, Kelly was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 2002.

Kelly was selected as the Jimmy V Award winner at last year’s ESPYs on ESPN.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

NATIONAL NEWS

Marathon negotiations prompt hope of breakthrough in Los Angeles teachers’ strike

David McNew/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — More than 30,000 teachers on strike in Los Angeles are hoping they’ll soon be back in the classroom as marathon negotiations continue behind closed doors over the holiday weekend to break a contract stalemate.

“I hope they get this figured out soon. It’s exhausting,” Melissa Berlant, a striking sixth-grade English teacher, told ABC News.

Monday, a school holiday for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, will mark the eighth day since teachers in the nation’s second-largest school district walked out of classrooms and formed picket lines after talks on a new contract with Los Angeles Unified School District officials broke down.

Representatives of the United Teachers of Los Angeles and the LAUSD returned to the bargaining table on Friday and continued to negotiate Sunday in marathon sessions being facilitated by the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, a potential 2020 candidate for president of the United States.

It’s unclear what progress, if any, is being made at the bargaining table since both sides have agreed to keep the negotiations confidential.

California Sen. Kamala Harris, who is also rumored to have 2020 presidential aspirations, tweeted Sunday in support of the teachers.

“Students deserve nurses who can treat them when they’re ill. They deserve counselors,” she tweeted. “They deserve to have librarians there on a daily basis who can open up whole new worlds. And they all deserve to be paid fairly, along with our incredible teachers.”

The striking educators are asking for a 6.5 percent pay raise, smaller class sizes and for the district to add about 1,200 support staff positions, including nurses, librarians and counselors.

“I have over 1,500 students on my caseload,” Yulya Ippolitova, 39, a psychologist at George K. Porter Middle School, told ABC News. “The National Association of School Psychologists recommended ratio is one psychologist to 750 students. Many of us are overwhelmed, working above and beyond to serve vulnerable student populations with no support from the district.”

School district Superintendent Austin Beutner said last week that the district doesn’t have the money meet all of the union’s demands.

But Beutner expressed optimism that both sides can reach a compromise and break the impasse now that negotiations have been jump-started.

“Too many students are missing out on the education they should be getting,” Beutner said on Friday. “We need to solve this now and get our educators and all of our students back in the classroom.”

Beutner said that in the first week of the strike the district lost about $125 million in state revenue payments based on student attendance.

Schools have remained open in the district with substitute teachers filling in, but only about a third of the nearly 600,000 students in the district have been attending classes. Many students and their parents have joined teachers on picket lines.

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl has called the strike a “fight for the soul of public education” in Los Angeles.

The union has been attempting to get a new contract for two years with no success. Caputo-Pearl said another big sticking point in the negotiations is the union’s objection to the proliferation of charter schools in the district.

About 1 in 5 Los Angeles public school students attend a charter, the most of any school district in the nation. Charter schools are privately managed and most are nonunion.

“If we allow this movement to win, then our schools will be privatized, our students will have less equity and less access, and our jobs and our healthcare will be attacked,” said Caputo-Pearl said at the rally on Friday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

High school student told she was ‘too dark’ to perform with dance team, lawsuit claims

liangpv/iStock(NEW YORK) —  A young woman is suing a school district in Kansas for discrimination and retaliation, claiming she was told she couldn’t perform with the dance team because her skin was “too dark,” according to a lawsuit.

Camille Sturdivant was one of two African-American members on the 14-person “Dazzlers” dance team at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park before graduating in May, according to the lawsuit filed Dec. 5 in the United States District Court in Kansas City, Kansas.

Back in July 2017, the team’s choreographer acted “on behalf of and in conjunction with” the team’s coach, Carley Fine, to exclude Sturdivant from performing in an upcoming dance after allegedly making a comment that “her skin was too dark and the audience would look at her and not the other dancers,” the suit states.

Sturdivant claims in the suit that the choreographer also said her skin color “clashed with the color of the costumes.”

That September, Sturdivant’s parents met with the school’s principal, Amy Murphy Pressly, to complain about their daughter being excluded from the dance, according to the lawsuit. Pressly allegedly told them that Fine could “pick whoever she wanted to perform in the dances,” the suit states.

Sturdivant continued to have a spot on the team and was allowed to dance, though Fine was “dismissive” of her, according to the lawsuit. Then in May, shortly before graduation, Sturdivant was using Fine’s cell phone to play music for the dance team when she saw text messages between the coach and Murakami, the suit alleges.

She read the texts and was “sickened,” the suit states.

The texts appear to discuss the fact that Sturdivant had recently received an acceptance letter from the University of Missouri and won a spot on the school’s “Golden Girls” dance team, according to the court document.

“THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. I’m so mad,” the choreographer allegedly wrote.

“It actually makes my stomach hurt,” Fine allegedly replied and then added, “Bc she’s f—– black. I hate that.”

Sturdivant’s parents showed the text message exchange to the school principal, according to the suit. Fine was fired the following day and informed she could not be on school property nor have contact with Sturdivant or the other dancers, according to the suit.

But Sturdivant alleges the former coach was seen several times at school and with the “Dazzlers” since her termination.

Sturdivant also claims in the suit that the school principal informed her family that a team banquet, which had been paid for by all the parents of the “Dazzlers,” was canceled. She says she later learned that Fine attended a dinner with all of the other dancers on the same evening as the canceled banquet.

Sturdivant alleges that a parent of one of the “Dazzlers,” Katie Porter, who is a third-grade teacher at an elementary school within the same school district, participated in excluding Sturdivant from the dinner.

The lawsuit names Porter, Fine, Pressly and the Blue Valley Unified School District as defendants. Sturdivant is demanding a jury trial and is seeking an unspecified amount in “actual damages, compensatory and punitive damages.”

The school district on Friday sent ABC News the following statement in response to the lawsuit:

“Respectful and meaningful relationships between staff and students are at the heart of Blue Valley’s culture. Discrimination of any kind has no place here. The District expects staff to treat all students with respect at all times, and any report that this expectation has not been fulfilled is taken very seriously. As stated in the Complaint, on May 1, 2018, Mrs. Sturdivant showed Dr. Pressly the text message between Mr. Murakami and Ms. Fine. Ms. Fine’s employment with the District was separated the following day on May 2, 2018.”

Porter, Fine and Pressly did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment Friday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Infant, 3 adults killed in ‘horrific’ domestic violence incident in Oregon: Officials

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office(NEW YORK) — An infant and three adults were killed in a “horrific” incident at an Oregon home in which sheriff’s deputies shot and killed the suspect as he was about to take the life of another child, officials said Sunday.

The eruption of domestic violence occurred Saturday night in the Portland suburb of Canby, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Brian Jensen said at a news conference.

Jensen said the suspect, Mark Leo Gregory Gago, 42, was shot and killed by deputies when they arrived on scene at 10:15 p.m. and saw him attempting to kill another child.

The child and another adult were injured in the attack and taken to a hospital for treatment, Jensen said.

After killing Gago, deputies found four victims — including a 9-month-old girl — dead inside the house, Jensen said.

The baby was identified Sunday as Olivia Lynn Rose Gago, according to the sheriff’s office. The other victims killed were: Shaina E. Sweitzer, 31; Jerry William Bremer, 66; and Pamela Denise Bremer, 64.

The relationship between the suspect and the victims, including the baby, is under investigation.

“We do believe they were all living in the residence. They are related somehow. We’re just trying to piece that together,” Jensen said.

It was not immediately clear how Gago allegedly killed the victims, Jensen said. He said the suspect was not armed with a gun.

“There are numerous objects around the house that can be used as weapons,” he said. “Investigators are trying to figure out exactly what it is he used to kill four people.”

A motive in the quadruple slaying is under investigation.

“Every investigator I’ve talked to that’s been inside the residence … cannot explain just how horrific the scene is. It’s a traumatic scene just to see,” Jensen said. “This is a tough one and we want to make sure our folks are going to be OK when this is all done.”

He said five deputies and a sheriff’s sergeant responded to the scene, but it was not immediately known how many fired their weapons.

“They were able to locate the suspect,” Jensen said. “At which point they were presented with a deadly force situation. Our deputies fired their service weapons, killing the homicide suspect.

“Obviously, they were trying to get there as quickly as possible to save as many people as they can,” Jensen said of the sheriff’s deputies. “They’re obviously worried about their own safety.”

He said the sergeant and five deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave in keeping with department protocol for officer-involved shooting investigations.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WORLD NEWS

Who is interpreter Marina Gross and will her notes of Trump’s Putin meeting be useful?

Chris McGrath/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Marina Gross, a State Department interpreter, was the only other American in the room during President Donald Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Russian President Putin in Helsinki last summer.

ABC News has learned new details about the 64-year-old interpreter with the State Department’s Office of Language Services who is at the center of the political storm over what she might know about the private conversations Trump held with Putin during their meeting in Helsinki last summer.

Neither Gross nor her close family members provided comment for this story when contacted by ABC News.

Veteran interpreters are concerned that a Congressional subpoena of Gross or her notes of the meeting would set a dangerous precedent. They also question whether her interpreting notes would contain actual contents of the meeting itself.

WHO IS MARINA GROSS?

Born in Russia, Gross was in her mid-20’s when she and her family members immigrated to the United States in the late 1980s in the waning days of the Soviet Union.

In the 1990s Gross began interpreting for the State Department as a contract interpreter.

Well respected, she was later hired by the State Department and currently works as one of two Russian staff interpreters at the department’s Office of Language Services.

That office hires interpreters and translators who work throughout the U.S. government, including with the president.

Interpreters play a vital role in key international meetings where their language services are on full display, but by training, they remain in the shadows.

Accordingly, few pictures exist of Gross, other than those publicly released by the White House or the State Department where she was seen interpreting for first lady Laura Bush and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

But it is Gross’ work in Helsinki on July 16 that has sparked the interest of Congressional Democrats because she was the only other American in the room for Trump’s two-hour long meeting with Putin and his own interpreter.

Trump has met with Putin five times, but only twice in formal one-on-one meetings held in Hamburg and Helsinki.

Tillerson sat in with both presidents during their Hamburg meeting and provided other national security officials and reporters with a brief readout of issues that were discussed, but the Washington Post reported that the U.S. government has no internal notes of that meeting and that Trump seized the notes taken by his interpreter.

Since then, Congressional Democrats have said they want to gain access to Gross’ notes to understand what Trump may have spoken about with Putin. A previous effort last year by Democrats to subpoena Gross and the interpreter at Trump’s Hamburg meeting were shelved by Republicans who were in control the House of Representatives.

Last week Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador tweeted his support of Gross describing her as “a fantastic interpreter” and “a terrific person to boot!”

‘A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT’

Professional interpreters are concerned about the dangerous precedent that would be set by Congress if a diplomatic interpreter is subpoenaed.

“I’ve never heard of that happening in the 30 years that I worked the State Department or subsequently since I retired,” said Dimitry Zarechnak a former interpreter with the State Department’s Office of Language Services, who interpreted for President Ronald Reagan during some of his summits with Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union.

“I think it would just be a very bad move and bad precedent for diplomacy in general,” he told ABC News.

Harry Obst, the former director of the Office of Language Services who interpreted for seven American presidents, said that if he was placed in a similar situation, “I would not divulge any information.”

“That’s because of the oath that you swear to not divulge any classified information on any level,” he said. “Because you have a top secret clearance.”

A greater concern is the impact a subpoena could have on state leaders excluding interpreters from their meeting if they believe they could be subpoenaed by Congress in the future.

“The whole idea of subpoenaing an interpreter is atrocious,” said Zarechnak. “What foreign leader would want to meet with the U.S. leader thinking that ‘well, the interpreter could be subpoenaed and tell Congress what the meeting was about.'”

And a subpoena could also lead a U.S. interpreter to not rely on American interpreters.

“The president would also have a great incentive not to use our interpreter if there was a danger that that interpreter would then be subpoenaed in Congress,” said Zarechnak.

Zarechnak noted that was something President Richard Nixon practiced during his his one-on-one meetings with Soviet leaders in the 1970s.

“Unfortunately President Nixon and [former Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger specifically did not use our interpreters,” said Zarechnak. “I guess for the sake of their secrecy” they relied only on the Soviet interpreters during their meetings.

WOULD GROSS’ NOTES BE OF ANY VALUE?

Both veteran interpreters question whether Gross’ notes would be of much historical value.

Even if investigators successfully gained access to Gross’ notes “they wouldn’t know what to do with them in the first place” said Obst.

That’s because as a matter of course the notes taken by professional interpreters are less about taking verbatim quotes than they are about getting the right inflection or meaning of a word or sentence.

Interpreters use symbols or meanings for words or proper context that are only comprehensible to them at that specific moment in time.

What might be more useful are the official classified documents, known as “memorandums of conversation” or MemCon’s, that are compiled by interpreters using their handwritten notes.

MemCon’s are ultimately only accessible by the Secretary of State and Obst said often times an interpreter will destroy the handwritten notes used during a meeting because they are no longer as relevant as the classified official document.

“So really what is saved is the memo not the notes themselves,” said Obst.

Zarechnak recalls how the MemCon he wrote from his notes of the consecutive translation he took during the one-on-one meetings during the 1985 Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Geneva were declassified 15 years later.

That declassified MemCon captures a detailed flavor of the topics that were discussed during one meeting as well as Zarechnak’s take about Gorbachev’s.

During a lengthy exchange on human rights in the Soviet Union, “Gorbachev interrupted, without listening to the translation, to say that he had understood what the President had said, and that he took all of this into account. He was familiar with the American political process, and the President should not hide behind this.”

Zarechnak then added his take on Gorbachev’s interruption and what it might mean about Gorbachev’s knowledge of English.

“(U.S. Interpreter’s Note: Gorbachev’s indication that he had understood what the President had said without translation was unexpected, since he had never shown any indication of understanding English in previous or subsequent conversations. After the President’s following remarks, Gorbachev specifically asked for interpretation and looked like he had not understood what the President had said. I think that the first time he was simply assuming that he knew what the President was saying, and was anxious to get into the plenary meeting.)”

Since MemCons are classified, the access to details of the Helsinki meeting that congressional Democrats want, may ultimately rest with Trump.

Obst told ABC News that only a president can release an interpreter from disclosing classified information gathered during a private meeting.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Duke of Edinburgh reportedly driving without a seat belt days after car accident

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) — The Duke of Edinburgh and his driving are back in the British headlines again. Several Sunday papers have splashed photographs of the Queen’s 97 year old husband back behind the wheel of a brand-new Land Rover.

The photos appeared just two days after he was part of a car crash involving two women and a 9-month-old baby near the royal Sandringham estate in Norfolk. Both of the women involved in the crash, who suffered minor injuries, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh were treated at a nearby hospital in East Anglia. The women were discharged the same day, and Prince Philip was seen for a check-up on Friday, though no injuries were reported.

Prince Philip was photographed near the Queen’s Sandringham estate again on Saturday, appearing to not only be driving alone on a public road, but also driving without a seat belt — an offense punishable by fine in the U.K.

Regional Norfolk police confirmed to ABC News that they had been in contact with the Duke of Edinburgh.

“We are aware of the photographs. Suitable words have been given to the driver in line with our standard response when being made aware of or receiving such images showing this type of offence,” the police said in a statement.

Meanwhile, one of the female passengers injured in the accident, Emma Fairweather, told the Sunday Mirror that she was unhappy with the royal palace’s response to the incident.

She said she had been told to expect contact from Buckingham Palace, and was hoping that meant a phone call from the Queen.

“Instead I got a call from a police family liaison officer. The message he passed on didn’t even make sense. He said ‘The Queen and Prince Philip would like to be remembered to you,’” Fairweather said.

“I love the royals but I’ve been ignored and rejected and I’m in a lot of pain,” Fairweather added. “It would mean the world to me if Prince Philip said sorry but I have no idea if he’s sorry at all.”

In response to the story, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson told ABC News that a “full message of support was sent to both the driver and the passenger.”

The palace declined to comment on the Duke of Edinburgh’s contact with the police for not wearing a seat belt.

Since Thursday’s accident questions have been raised as to whether the 97-year-old prince should continue to be driving himself on public roads.

Robert Jobson, royal correspondent with the UK’s Evening Standard newspaper explained to ABC News that the prince has a fiercely independent nature. “You can understand to a degree why he wants to just be on his own to have the freedom and independence that offers him,” he said.

A palace source confirmed to ABC News on Saturday that the Duke had sat and passed a police eyesight test after his accident. The police investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Family of American man held in Syria appeals to Trump to intervene

Kamalmaz family(DAMASCUS, Syria) — For almost two years, the family of an American man detained in Syria says it has operated quietly, working with the U.S. government and its allies to try to gain information about their husband and father.

But now, in the hopes that President Donald Trump may be moved to personally intervene, they are going public.

“I think we’ve reached the point where we absolutely are very desperate,” Ula Kamalmaz, 35, daughter of Majd Kamalmaz, 61, told ABC News.

They said they haven’t heard from their father since Valentine’s Day 2017, when he arrived in Damascus, Syria, as planned to visit ailing members of his extended family. Majd was born in Syria but moved to the United States when he was 6 years old.

Majd called his wife to tell her he had arrived safely in Damascus, at the home of one set of family members, and that he would call her again the next day when he went to visit other relatives, Maryam Kamalmaz, 33, said.

But that call never came. Later that day, one of Majd’s Syrian relatives called Maryam’s mother, Hasna, who was staying with Maryam, to tell her that Majd had never arrived at their home as planned.

“I found her crying hysterically,” Maryam said of Hasna.

The family was ultimately able to learn that Majd had been detained by the Syrian government, a revelation obtained largely with the help of the Czech government, which acts as the protecting power for U.S. interests in Syria.

Spokespeople for the Czech embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

In an email to ABC News, a U.S. State Department official said the “U.S. Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad have no greater responsibility than the protection of U.S. citizens overseas. The U.S. government is in regular contact with the Kamalmaz family regarding this case.”

The official said it could provide no further information due to privacy considerations.

The family said they had no idea — nor have they been able to find out — why he had been detained, given that Majd had done what he could to ensure he was not on any Assad regime watch lists before he traveled, and because he was in no way publicly outspoken or involved in the political situation in Syria.

The last time he traveled to Syria, family members said, was in 2011 — just before a civil war broke out, pitting the Assad regime and its allies, including Iran, against many of the country’s civilians. Majd, who worked on international aid missions, was not politically outspoken, they said.

His expertise in psychology and stress management led him to war zones and natural disaster sites around the world, including Lebanon, Indonesia and even New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, where he would help victims suffering from PTSD and other post-traumatic symptoms.

A 2016 blog post from the HeartMath Institute, a nonprofit organization that provides mental health aid around the world, detailed Majd’s work in Lebanon, where he administered post-trauma care to Syrian refugees.

He was quoted in the post as saying he hoped to send “enormous amounts of pictures of children with beautiful smiles, inner-peace smiles, that cannot [occur] without children being connected to their heart and feeling the ease and the peacefulness within their heart.”

“He’s a very humble, loving, caring soul that allows his heart to lead him, and that’s why he’s in the field of treating people who have been affected by PTSD and traumatic events in their lives,” his daughter Ula said.

When the Czech embassy first relayed questions about Majd to the Syrian government, officials there initially confirmed they had detained him, Majd’s children said. Members of the Kamalmaz family met with the Czech ambassador to Syria, Eva Filipi, in Washington in May 2017, where she relayed her confidence that the situation could be resolved.

“She hugged our grandmother at the end of the meeting and told her not to worry, she’ll get him back home,” Maryam said.

But via subsequent updates from the Czechs, the family learned that the regime backtracked, denying they had any information from the start.

The Kamalmaz family reiterated its gratitude to the U.S. and Czech governments for the work they’ve done on their father’s behalf, but said it was time for them to change strategy and seek to make a direct appeal to the president. They said they are worried about his health, as he has diabetes and suffered a stroke shortly before visiting Syria.

“We’ve seen how successful [Trump]’s been at releasing other detained citizens abroad,” Maryam said. “We feel we’ve exhausted most routes, if not all routes. And we are now praying and hoping that President Trump will help in this situation to bring him back.”

The president has highlighted the release of other Americans previously detained overseas, including North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson, held in Turkey, and three Americans who were held in North Korea.

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