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MUSIC NEWS

O-Town to debut music video for โ€œOffโ€ on Saturday

Walt Disney Television/Lou RoccoFollowing the release of their new album earlier this month, O-Town will be debuting the music video for the album’s lead single, “Off,” on Saturday.

The visual for the sexy dance track will have its live world premiere on MTV Live, MTVU and on the Times Square Viacom billboards. It’ll air starting at 6 a.m.

The O.T.W.N. Album is the band’s first full album in 18 years. The 12-track collection is available on Spotify and iTunes now.

The group – now a foursome comprised of Jacob Underwood, Trevor Penick, Dan Miller and Erik-Michael Estrada – was first formed on the TV show Making the Band in 2000.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Taylor Swift releases Lover track list, confirms collab with the Dixie Chicks

Valheria RochaShe wore a Dixie Chicks button on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, and put a painting of them on the wall of her apartment in the ME! video.  Now, Taylor Swift has confirmed what fans have been speculating for months: The Dixie Chicks appear as guests on her new album Lover.

Taylor has posted the album’s track list on Instagram, and among the 18 tracks is one called “Soon You’ll Get Better,” featuring the Grammy-winning multi-platinum country group.   Taylor has cited the trio’s music and aesthetic as being a huge influence on her.

But despite what appeared to be various hints, there doesn’t seem to be any other special guests on the record, other than the Chicks and Taylor’s “ME!” duet partner Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco.

Another song, “Cruel Summer,” was an Easter egg in Taylor’s video for “You Need to Calm Down” — that’s the phrase that Adam Lambert is seen tattooing on Ellen DeGeneres‘ arm in the clip.

Taylor’s already revealed in her Vogue interview that the song “The Man” is about her imagining what it would be like to be a guy.  She’s told EW that some of her songs are political, so perhaps a track called “False God” refers to that.  The track called “London Boy” is no doubt about Taylor’s British boyfriend, Joe Alwyn.

As for the rest of the songs, there’s one called “It’s Nice to Have a Friend,” which Taylor may have hinted at by wearing buttons showing the faces of the cast of Friends on the cover of EW.  A track called “Cornelia Street” could refer to a street by that name in London, New York or both.

As for the rest, Taylor’s fans are trying to figure them out right now.  Lover comes out August 23.

“I Forgot that You Existed”
“Cruel Summer”
“Lover”
“The Man”
“The Archer”
“I Think He Knows”
“Miss America & the Heartbreak Prince”
“Paper Rings”
“Cornelia Street”
“Death by a Thousand Cuts”
“London Boy”
“Soon You’ll Get Better” (feat. Dixie Chicks)
“False God”
“You Need to Calm Down”
“Afterglow”
“ME!” featuring Brendon Urie
“It’s Nice to Have a Friend”
“Daylight”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Ava Max will help kick off the MTV VMAs with two performances

Courtesy MTVAva Max will be helping to kick off the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards in two exciting ways.

The singer will be performing at the 2019 VMAs Kickoff Concert on Saturday, August 24, taking place at New York City’s Webster Hall. Then, she’ll be hitting the stage for the VMAs Pre-Show on Monday, August 26.

Ava, who’s up for Best New Artist at the VMAs, will be giving away tickets to the Kickoff Concert through her social media platforms. Fans can also pick up free tickets at Altice USA’s Optimum Experience Centers in the South Shore Mall in Bay Shore, New York and the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ, from Friday, August 16  through Friday, August 23.

Meanwhile, this Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of Ava’s hit “Sweet but Psycho.”

“Reflecting on how crazy this year has been and how Saturday marks the 1 year anniversary of Sweet but Psycho,” Ava tweeted. “I cannot wait for this next chapter and to share new music with you!!!”

She’ll be sharing a brand new song, “Torn,” on Monday.

The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, hosted by Sebastian Maniscalco, airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT Monday, August 26.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

“Easy Rider” star Peter Fonda, brother of Jane and son of Henry, dead at 79

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Writer, director and actor Peter Fonda, son of legendary actor Henry Fonda and brother of Oscar-winning actress Jane Fonda, has died, ABC News has confirmed.  He was 79.

 

In a statement, Peter’s family said that he died Friday morning at his home in Los Angeles of respiratory failure due to lung cancer.   “In one of the saddest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our hearts.  As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy,” the family noted.

 

The statement concluded, “And, while we mourn the loss of this sweet and gracious man, we also wish for all to celebrate his indomitable spirit and love of life. In honor of Peter, please raise a glass to freedom.”

 

Variety reports that his sister Jane said in a statement, “I am very sad. He was my sweet-hearted baby brother. The talker of the family. I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing.”

 

Fonda was just 22 when he co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Easy Rider, the 1969 film that would define his career. Fonda starred in the movie along with Dennis Hopper — who also co-wrote and directed the film — and Jack Nicholson, who received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.  

 

Easy Rider and its rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack came to embody the counterculture, and marked a changing of the guard in Hollywood.  In 1998, the movie was added to the National Film Registry, having been deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

 

While Fonda continued to work steadily through the next five decades in both TV and film, Variety notes, “The astonishing career that some predicted for [him] in the wake of Easy Rider never came to pass.”

 

Finally, in 1997, he received an Oscar nomination, for his role as a beekeeper in the movie Ulee’s Gold — ironically, he lost to his Easy Rider co-star Nicholson.

 

Fonda’s filmography included a wide variety of films, from The Cannonball Run and Escape from L.A., to Thomas and the Magic Railroad and Wild Hogs, to 3:10 to Yuma and Ghost Rider.  On TV, he appeared in episodes of CSI: NY, The Blacklist, ER, Californication and the reboot of Hawaii Five-O.

 

It appears that Fonda’s final role will be in an upcoming war drama called The Last Full Measure, which is due to hit theaters in October.

 

Fonda is survived by his daughter, actress Bridget Fonda; his son, Justin; and his third wife, whom he married in 2011.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Netflix announces release date for Michael B. Jordan superhero drama ‘Raising Dion’

ABC/Craig Sjodin(LOS ANGELES) — Netflix has officially set a release date for Michael B. Jordan’s highly anticipated super hero drama Raising Dion.

The streamer announced on Friday that the series, which will have nine one-hour episodes, will launch on October 4.

Based on Dennis Liu‘s short film and comic book of the same name, the series follows a recently widowed mother who discovers her young son, Dion, has supernatural abilities.

Jordan, who will executive produce the project through his Outlier Society production company, will also appear as Dion’s dead father. Meanwhile, newcomer Ja’Siah Young will play Dion Reese, “a curious, playful, and intelligent seven-year-old boy” who learns he can move things with his mind. Dion’s mother, Nicole, will be played by Alisha Wainwright.

Raising Dion will also star Jason Ritter and Jazmyn Simon.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘Preacher’ star Dominic Cooper says fourth and final season is “out of control”

Lachlan Moore/AMC/Sony Pictures (LOS ANGELES) — Based on Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s popular 1990s comic book franchise of the same name, Preacher is currently in its fourth and final season on AMC.

The supernatural series stars Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, a crook-turned very imperfect Texas preacher who inherits the voice of God — which means he can make people do whatever he wants. Together with his girlfriend and former partner in crime Tulip — played by Ruth Negga — and Joe Gilgun as their Irish vampire pal Cassidy, the trio are literally looking for God, who’s currently MIA.

Seth Rogen and his lifelong pal and producing partner Evan Goldberg are the co-creators of the show, and Cooper gives them credit for bringing Preacher to the small screen.

“It says everything that…people were trying to make [Preacher] for 15 years and failing because…[t]hey couldn’t understand how to translate it,” the actor says. “It’s down to [Seth and Evan] because they were huge fans of the comic and they understood who these people were.”

Calling the source material “brilliant,” Cooper says of the supernaturally absurd show, “It’s such a wonderful piece of work in terms of the opportunities that we have as actors to do every single genre in a space of a episode. You’re doing comedy one moment…and then you’re doing a huge fire sequence that would take weeks on a film, and then you’re doing a very dramatic emotional scene at the end of the day.” 

Cooper and company were grateful they got to go all out for the show’s final season.

“Credit to everyone…[who said] ‘You can take this further. Keep going,'”  says Cooper. “This is out of control, what we get up to…I always turn up to set going, ‘Are we really gonna to do this?’ — as I’m…wading through the innards of a very large man.”

One example of this season leaving nothing on the table is a marathon fight scene in last Sunday’s episode — a one-take wonder in which Jesse takes on a hallway full of dozens and dozens of clients of a perverted sex club: “I learned that entire sequence, and we made sure that we were shot in one take — which was genius! I’ve never seen a fight like that,” Cooper enthuses. 

The next episode of Preacher airs Sunday at 10:10 p.m. Eastern on AMC.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

SPORTS NEWS

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s plane bounced at least twice before ‘coming down hard’ in fiery crash: NTSB

guvendemir/iStock(ELIZABETHON, Tenn.) — NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s plane bounced at least twice before “coming down hard” on the right main landing gear resulting in Thursday’s fiery crash, officials said Friday.

Earnhardt, his wife and their 1-year-old daughter were on board with two pilots during the accident and they all escaped without serious injuries, officials said.

The Cessna Citation took off from Statesville, North Carolina, for a 20-minute afternoon flight before it crashed while landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee, Ralph Hicks of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said at a news conference on Friday.

The crash was captured on surveillance video, Hicks said, which showed the plane bounce “at least twice before coming down hard on the right main landing gear.”

“You can actually see the right main landing gear collapsing on the video,” he said.

The plane then continued down the runway, went through a fence, and came to a stop on a highway, Hicks said.

The Earnhardts were able to evacuate before the plane erupted in flames, Hicks said, adding that the fire appeared to start after the crash.

Elizabethton Fire Chief Barry Carrier attributed the blaze to fuel from the aircraft.

The former race car driver was taken to Johnson City Medical Center with cuts and abrasions. He was the only person on board who was hospitalized, according to the sheriff.

A spokesman for NBC Sports, where Earnhardt works as a NASCAR analyst, later said that Earnhardt was discharged from the hospital.

Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander said it’s extremely lucky that no cars were involved in the accident.

“We’re just happy everyone walked away and no one on the ground was injured as well,” Alexander said at Friday’s news conference.

Both pilots on board were professionally-trained, Hicks said, and when interviewed by the NTSB they provided information consistent with the surveillance video.

The Earnhardts were interviewed and their comments were also consistent with the video, said Hicks.

The surveillance footage of the accident will eventually be released to the public, he added.

The plane had a cockpit voice recorder which will be sent to NTSB headquarters in Washington, DC., Hicks said.

Earnhardt’s family and employees expressed their relief after the crash.

“We are so grateful for the outpouring of concern and support. Everyone is doing well enough. Lots of hugs. Lots of prayers to the Good Lord,” tweeted Mike Davis, a spokesman for the former NASCAR star.

Earnhardt’s sister, Kelley Earnhardt, added on Twitter: “Thank you to God, the angels among us, our pilots, first responders, medical staff, our NASCAR family and everyone that has reached out in whatever way to support us all.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Army allows West Point graduate to sign with Philadelphia Eagles

skynesher/iStock(NEW YORK) —  A former West Point offensive tackle has been granted an exception by the Army in order to sign a three-year deal to play football for the Philadelphia Eagles, according to ESPN.

Brett Toth, an Army second lieutenant, graduated from West Point as a nuclear engineer in May 2018 and has fulfilled his first year of active duty service. But an executive order from President Donald Trump has now allowed him to be recruited by the Eagles.

On June 26, Trump issued an executive order that directed the Pentagon to develop a policy that authorizes new graduates of the service academies and ROTC programs to pursue professional sports immediately following graduation but prior to completing their service requirement.

Under the old policy crafted by former defense secretary James Mattis, graduates were required to fulfill two years of commissioned service in the military before pursuing a professional sports career.

“Such cadets and midshipmen have a short window of time to take advantage of their athletic talents during which playing professional sports is realistically possible,” Trump said in the executive order. “At the same time, these student-athletes should honor the commitment they made to serve in the Armed Forces in exchange for the extraordinary benefits afforded to them at taxpayer expense at the Academies or ROTC programs. A revised policy will benefit the student-athletes, the Academies and ROTC programs, and the Armed Forces.”

The executive order gave the Pentagon 120 days to develop the new policy, which has yet to be implemented. But based on the directive, two military services have gone ahead and granted exceptions allowing their graduates to go pro.

Prior to Toth’s exception, the Air Force last month signed an exception for long snapper Austin Cutting, a seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in the 2019 NFL draft.

Army officials did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the exception signed for Toth.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Serena Williams outburst at 2018 US Open Women’s Final explored in new ESPN series ‘Backstory’

Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — Twenty-year-old Naomi Osaka faced her childhood hero Serena Williams in the 2018 U.S. Open Women’s Final and won, becoming the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam title in a match that many thought would go to Williams.

Her triumph, however, was marred by arguments between Williams and the match’s umpire, Carlos Ramos, sparking a controversy that would have the world talking about tennis for weeks.

As part of the new ESPN series Backstory, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Don Van Natta peeled back the layers of the event and delved into the lives of both Williams and Ramos to understand how the two came together for one of the most divisive moments in recent tennis history during one of the world’s most celebrated finals in sports.

Ramos was only 16 when he began working as a chair umpire in Portugal. One of his friends told Van Natta that Ramos was so focused that he would treat satellite events as if they were the Wimbledon final. But Ramos had big dreams of one day becoming a world-class umpire, a goal that he said would allow him to see the world, Van Natta said.

Williams and her sister, Venus Williams, meanwhile, would rise out of Compton, Calif., to become two of the biggest sports stars in the world by dominating a sport played mostly by white athletes.

With her fierce will to win, Williams did not get to the top without shaking things up. In May 2018, for example, she received criticism for wearing a so-called “catsuit” bodysuit to the French Open. She said the suit was designed to prevent blood clots since she had given birth a few months earlier. French Open President Bernard Giudicelli later said the suit “would no longer be accepted” and that players in future tournaments would have to dress more conservatively.

The heated dispute between Ramos and Williams, who was vying for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, began when Williams was losing to Osaka two games into the second set after Ramos said he witnessed a code violation for coaching — Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, had given her a thumbs up — and gave Williams a warning.

“If he gives me a thumbs-up, he is telling me to come on,” Williams told Ramos at the time. “We don’t have any code and I know you don’t know that, and [I] understand why you may have thought that that was coaching, but it is not. I don’t cheat to win; I would rather lose. I am just letting you know.”

Retired tennis champion Chrissie Evert told Van Natta that Mouratoglou, who has coached Williams for seven years, “is not known to be one of those coaches who coaches all the time and Serena never looks at her box. She…figures it out herself.”

From that moment, the tension between Williams and Ramos would escalate. Williams accused Ramos of questioning her integrity and punishing her more harshly than male players. “I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right,” she told him. “I have never cheated.”

A second violation, costing her a point, came after the fifth game of the second set when she slammed a broken racket to the ground in frustration. After repeatedly demanding that Ramos apologize, she received her third violation for what Ramos called “verbal abuse” — a game penalty — after she called him a “thief.”

“You stole a point from me,” she said. “You’re a thief, too.”

Although Williams would go on to win the next game in an excellent display of tennis, Osaka would finish her off in the ensuing match, winning the set and the title.

Mouratoglou told Van Natta that it was the first time he had ever sent a signal to Williams and that he did it “because it felt like it was an important moment.”

“It was probably one of the biggest moments of her career,” Mouratoglou told Van Natta. “She’s in a Grand Slam final to equal the record of all time and she’s losing, and she’s — I [felt] at that moment — she’s lost on the court. So, I tried to help her. That’s my job.”

Yet, even though the incident was a setback for Williams, Mouratoglou said that it was a “fantastic” moment for tennis.

“It’s unbelievable. That was the best moment of tennis [in the] last 10 years,” he told Van Natta. “We don’t have any drama in tennis. We have drama in all other sports, but not tennis.”

Williams gave Osaka a congratulatory hug following the match, but as the crowd booed, Osaka sat down and cried.

“I was down on the court because I was supposed to present the trophy to the winner,” Evert told Van Natta. “The floor was shaking, the roof was shaking, the boos were thundering. I could not hear a thing.”

Williams continues to deny that there was a clear coaching violation or that she ever lost control of her emotions, Van Natta said. In a press conference following the match, she said, “The fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions and that wants to express themselves…they want to be a strong woman and they are going to be allowed to do that because of today.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

NATIONAL NEWS

Massive crowds at airports across US after delays from nationwide customs outage

Placebo365/iStock(NEW YORK) — Travelers are facing significant lines at airports across the country from what U.S. Customs and Border Protection is calling a “temporary outage” with its processing systems.

According to a CBP statement, the agency said it’s “taking immediate action to address the technology disruption.”

“CBP officers continue to process international travelers using alternative procedures until systems are back online,” the statement said. “Travelers at some ports of entry are experiencing longer than usual wait times and CBP officers are working to process travelers as quickly as possible while maintaining the highest levels of security.”

A government official says there’s no indication that this was a malicious attack on the network “at this time.” A CBP official said only airports were affected Friday afternoon, not other ports of entry.

“There is no indication of nefarious activity at this time,” a government official told ABC News.

The official added that “security-related” databases are still accessible and travelers are still screened.

Several airports have also tweeted about the disruption, including major hubs like LAX and JFK. Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle, LAX, and Dulles Airport in Virginia said systems were back online but CBP didn’t immediately confirm if this was the case nationwide.

Customers posted pictures and videos showing long lines waiting to be processed through customs.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Family of mom charged after her toddler is killed by a car calls for charges against driver

Obtained by KTRK-TV(HOUSTON) — The family of a Houston mother who is facing child endangerment charges after a car driven by someone else struck and killed her toddler is calling for the driver to be charged.

Gissel Vazquez, 18, could be seen in surveillance footage on Wednesday walking far ahead of her 18-month-old son Alan Villeda and his 3-year-old cousin in an apartment complex parking lot, according to a police statement.

As Vazquez went into an apartment, leaving her son unsupervised, a white vehicle in the parking lot backed up and then drove forward, hitting the child in the process, the statement said, adding that Vazquez ran to her son when she saw him lying on the ground.

Vazquez was charged with felony child endangerment, Sean Teare, of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, told ABC News.

“The mother knew of should have known that the little one was free in the parking lot,” he said. “That charge was immediate and something we determined was necessary to ensure the safety of the 2-month-old and the other children around there.”

That 2-month-old was Vazquez’s daughter, according to the statement.

“This was an accident,” Vazquez’s cousin Juriyoel Hernandez told ABC Houston station KTRK. “Right now, they’re telling her it’s her fault, and it’s not her fault. They’re blaming her and they don’t even know her story. For sure, she thought her sister was taking care of her kid.”

Vazquez’s family is now calling for the driver of the white car to be charged as well.

Prosecutors say the investigation has only just begun and that while the driver isn’t being charged right now, they are not ruling out future charges depending on the outcome of the investigation.

The driver told investigators that she did not realize that she hit the boy, and that’s why she left the scene. When she was told what had happened, she returned to the scene, where she passed a drug and alcohol test.

Vazquez was released on bond and can only see her 2-month-old daughter under the condition that it’s supervised. She faces a maximum sentence of 10 years, Teare said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Prosecutor defends controversial murder charges against teen burglary suspects

Marilyn Nieves/iStock(CHICAGO) —  Murder charges against the teenage burglary suspects whose friend was shot dead by a homeowner are “appropriate” because they were “solely responsible for placing” their friend in danger, an Illinois prosecutor says.

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim on Thursday defended arresting the five teens, ages 16 to 18, for felony murder as adults, saying the charges were entirely lawful.

The charges stem from the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old boy outside a 75-year-old man’s Lake County home early Tuesday.

The homeowner told deputies he went outside after noticing a suspicious SUV in his driveway and several people on his property, police said. He believed they were attempting to break into and steal his car, police added.

Armed with a legally-owned revolver, the homeowner, whom police have not identified, told authorities he was standing on his porch, yelling at them to leave, when two people quickly approached him, police said.

The man said he saw that one teen holding something in his hand, so he shot at least three times out of fear for his and his wife’s safety, fatally hitting the boy, police said.

The homeowner called 911 for an ambulance, but the surviving teens fled, police said. The teens allegedly led police on a car chase to Chicago, reaching 120 mph on Interstate 94, authorities said. Once the car was out of gas, they fled on foot and were eventually apprehended, police said.

The homeowner was not charged.

Nerheim said the suspects “were solely responsible for placing the now-deceased 14-year-old offender in danger.” Had the teens “not made the decisions they did make early Tuesday morning, this 14-year-old would still be alive today,” he added.

Nerheim said he believes the “charges are appropriate based on all the facts of the case, the degree of responsibility exhibited by each of these offenders, and the Illinois statutes currently available.”

“Charging these offenders with felony murder as adults is based entirely on the law,” Nerheim said in a statement on Thursday. “Illinois law has long held felons accountable for any foreseeable deaths that occur during the commission or attempted commission of a ‘forcible felony.’ This includes the death of innocent bystanders in addition to the deaths of co-felons.

“The rationale of the legislature surrounding this legislation is simple: When criminal defendants commit forcible felonies (especially when the felon(s) are armed), the possibility of death or great harm increases dramatically,” the statement continued.

A knife was found on the 75-year-old’s property, police said.

As the case moves forward, Nerheim said he will “consider the facts, circumstances, any mitigating factors, and the ages of the offenders.”

The five teenagers appeared in court for an initial hearing on Tuesday. They are scheduled to appear in court again on Sept. 5.

The Lake County Public Defender’s Office is representing the five teenagers but declined to comment on the cases to ABC News on Friday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WORLD NEWS

Latest North Korea launch unlikely to break stalemate in US diplomatic talks

MicroStockHub/iStock(NEW YORK) — North Korea fired two short-range projectiles into the Sea of Japan early Friday morning according to South Korea’s military, marking North Korea’s sixth round of short-range missile testing in less than a month.

The launch began just hours after North Korea rejected further dialogue with Seoul, citing its frustration with joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises in the region. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles were launched into the Sea of Japan at around 8:01 and 8:16 a.m. local time, and both flew about 143 miles at an altitude of 18 miles.

The officials did not confirm whether the projectiles were rockets or ballistic missiles, and President Donald Trump did not immediately acknowledge this latest launch.

Despite the ongoing missile testing, Trump last week boasted about his most recent letter from Kim Jong Un, calling it “beautiful’ and “positive” and claiming that Kim offered a “small apology” for the continued launches. Trump told reporters that Kim was fed up with the joint US-South Korean military exercises he calls “war games.”

“He wasn’t happy with the war games … I’ve never liked [the exercises], either,” Trump said. “You know why? I don’t like paying for it.”

Trump has continuously downplayed North Korea’s launches and touted the success of his relationship with Kim.

Last week, the president told reporters that “there have been no nuclear tests. The missile tests have all been short-range, no ballistic missile tests, no long-range missiles.” However, U.S. officials have confirmed North Korea is testing short range ballistic missile tests that violate U.N. Security Council sanctions and continue to pose a threat to U.S. allies, as well as the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

In an interview Thursday with Voice of America, National Security Advisor John Bolton called the launches “troubling.”

“We think the range could probably hit all of South Korea and parts of Japan. That of course would endanger our deployed forces as well. These resolutions violate U.N. Security Council sanctions, and they don’t violate the pledge that Kim Jong Un made to President Trump, that’s true, but they are troubling for everybody watching the peninsula,” said Bolton.

Bolton also highlighted the stalemate in negotiations between the two nations since Trump and Kim’s historic meeting at the DMZ in late June. Citing North Korea’s failure to fully commit to denuclearization, Bolton told VOA: “We haven’t had really any substantive negotiations, at the working level with North Korea since the president met with Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone … The door is open for them … but they need to walk through it and they haven’t done that yet.”

Although Kim appears to be seeking attention from the U.S with these short-range tests, Trump has largely ignored the launches and they are unlikely to affect future relations between the U.S. and North Korea, according to Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. Easley said that although the launch “makes it exceedingly difficult to build trust” with North Korea, negotiations are still possible.

“Working-level negotiations with North Korea are still worth pursuing, but those diplomatic efforts should be backed up by the preparation of additional sanctions and renewed U.S.-Japan-South Korea military cooperation if Pyongyang continues to violate UN resolutions and threaten its neighbors,” Easley said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘There is no turning back’: Another weekend of protests kick off in Hong Kong

LewisTsePuiLung/iStock(HONG KONG) — Thousands of people stood elbow to elbow chanting “Power to the People!” on a humid night in central Hong Kong on Friday, as anti-government protests that began here in early June and led to a shutdown of the city’s busy international airport this week showed no signs of slowing down.

In the first of several protests planned for this weekend, demonstrators chanted “Stand with Hong Hong,” a message they said was directed at the United States and the United Kingdom, the city’s former colonial power which passed control of the city to China in 1997.

Police denied permission for a rally that was expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people on Sunday, but protesters are expected to go ahead with it anyway.

“I will sacrifice my life for this movement because we are protecting our home,” one of the protesters, Keith Fong, 20, told ABC News earlier in the day.

Another protester, 19-year-old Zoey Leung, said she worries about the safety of her friends and loved ones amid the demonstrations, and the increasingly violent police crackdown, but had no intention of backing down.

“Chasing democracy and freedom is the nature of humans,” she said. “There is no turning back for Hong Kongers nowadays.”

Protests erupted on the island 10 weeks ago over a controversial bill that would have allowed accused criminals to be extradited to countries where Hong Kong does not have an existing arrangement. That would have included mainland China, sparking concern over potential human rights abuses, and unearthing a deep-seated distrust for many in Hong Kong. Its embattled and deeply unpopular leader, Carrie Lam, suspended work on the bill but has refused to legally withdraw it.

The activists have also called on Lam to resign.

Lam has condemned the protests and said the marchers were using opposition to the extradition bill as an excuse to undermine Beijing’s sovereignty in Hong Kong to “destroy the way of life cherished by the 7 million [residents].”

On Monday, thousands of protesters rallied and held sit-ins at Hong Kong’s international airport, a main hub for business travelers in Asia and among the busiest airports in the world. The protests were broken up by riot police and planes were grounded for the better part of two days.

On Friday, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways announced the resignation of two of its top officials, including its CEO Rupert Hogg, following reports that airline employees had joined in with the protests.

In a statement posted on Friday, the airline said that “recent events have called into question Cathay Pacific’s commitment to flight safety and security and put our reputation and brand under pressure.” The statement said the airline is “fully committed to Hong Kong under the principal of ‘One Country Two Systems,'” which refers to China’s pledge to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy and way of life when it resumed control of the city.

Also on Friday, Alain Robert, a Frenchman whose reputation for scaling skyscrapers has earned him the nickname Spiderman, scaled Hong Kong’s 62-story Cheung Kong Centre and unveiled a banner a banner with the flags of both China and Hong Kong, the BBC reported.

“Perhaps what I do can lower the temperature and maybe raise a smile. That’s my hope anyway,” Mr Robert said in a media statement.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Greenland responds to reports Trump talked about buying the territory

fpdress/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The Greenland Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to reports that President Donald Trump had talked about the possibility of buying the territory.

“Greenland is rich in valuable resources such as minerals, the purest water and ice, fish stocks, seafood, renewable energy and is a new frontier for adventure tourism,” the ministry’s account tweeted Thursday morning. “We’re open for business, not for sale.”

 

A government of Greenland spokesperson reiterated that the island was not for sale when approached for comment by ABC News.

“We have a good cooperation with USA, and we see it as an expression of greater interest in investing in our country and the possibilities we offer,” the spokesperson said. “Of course, Greenland is not for sale. Because of the unofficial nature of the news, the Government of Greenland has no further comments.”

 

Greenland is a self-governing territory, responsible for its own policies and foreign affairs, that is technically a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the story when approached by ABC News.

The tweet was in response to media reports that Trump had expressed an interest in buying Greenland to Republican figures, with the story first appearing in the Wall Street Journal.

The veracity of the report was backed up by other news outlets, but the seriousness of the topic was questioned.

A Pentagon spokesperson told ABC News its “long-standing defense relationship” with Denmark, which includes an air base in Thule, Greenland, “has not changed.”

“The Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom (GIUK) gap is a strategic corridor for naval operations in the North Atlantic, and we work closely with our NATO allies to maintain the transatlantic link,” the spokesperson said.

Danish media and politicians have mostly laughed off reports of Trump’s interest, with former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen tweeting, “It must be an April Fool’s Day joke … but totally out of session!”

Trump is not the first U.S. president to express an interest in purchasing Greenland due to its strategic location and rich resources. In 1946, the government led by President Harry Truman offered to buy Greenland from the Kingdom of Denmark for $100 million, a bid that was promptly rejected.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was supposed to visit the U.S. military base there in May, but had to cancel to trip at the last-minute because of increasing tensions with Iran.

Greenland’s strategic importance has increased as China has looked to expand its activity in the Arctic in recent years. While China already has research stations in Iceland and Norway, the nation is looking to expand its footprint into Greenland with a satellite ground station, renovated airport and mining operations. Those ambitions have alarmed Denmark — as Greenland is a Danish territory — with the Danes publicly expressed concerns with China’s interest in the world’s largest island.

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