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Imagine Dragons premieres new song “Zero” for “Wreck-It Ralph” sequel soundtrack

ABC/Randy HolmesImagine Dragons has premiered a new song called “Zero.” The bouncy track is available now for digital download.

Dan Reynolds and company recorded “Zero” for the soundtrack to the upcoming film Ralph Breaks the Internet, the sequel to the 2012 Disney animated hit Wreck-It Ralph. The new movie will hit theaters November 21.

“Zero” follows ID’s standalone single “Natural,” which the band will perform on ABC’s American Music Awards, held October 9 in Los Angeles.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Has Maroon 5 been tapped to play Super Bowl halftime show?

ABC/Randy HolmesMaroon 5 may be headed for the Super Bowl halftime show stage.

According to Us Weekly, the band has been tapped for the coveted gig and a source says they’ve “pretty much accepted” the offer.

Nothing is confirmed as of yet but the band does have a break in their schedule just in time for the February 3 game. They’ll have time between their Las Vegas New Year’s Eve show and the February 19 start of the Australian leg of their tour.

Super Bowl LIII (53) will take place in Atlanta. Justin Timberlake performed the halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Listen now: Kesha releases powerful anthem “Here Comes the Change” from upcoming film, “On the Basis of Sex”

Shepard FaireyKesha has released a new song of activism and hope called “Here Comes the Change,” written for the upcoming Ruth Bader Ginsberg biographical film On the Basis of Sex.

“Here comes a change/We’re comin’ of age/This is not a phase/Here comes, here comes a change,” Kesha sings on the impassioned chorus.

The lyric video partners with the non-profit HeadCount to promote voter turnout at the midterm elections on November 6.

In an essay for Refinery29 explaining the meaning behind the song, Kesha writes, “I hope the song and the video reminds you that we don’t all have to loom as large as these heroes to make a difference. We can all vote and speak up for what we believe in. We can all have a positive impact on our shared future.”

On the Basis of Sex, starring Felicity Jones as Ginsberg, hits theaters December 25.

“I greatly admire Kesha’s artistry and commitment to activism,” says the film’s director, Mimi Leder. “I wanted her to write this song because her passionate voice and immense talent magnify the social justice imperatives Ruth Bader Ginsburg continues to fight for every day.”

Leder adds, “It was important to both of us that this song be not only an anthem to all that Ruth Bader Ginsburg achieved, but also a rallying cry for how much more change is yet to come.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Kathleen Turner talks being a sex symbol, overcoming alcoholism and aging in Hollywood

ABC(NEW YORK) — In an interview with ABC News’ Juju Chang, legendary actress Kathleen Turner opened up about being a sex symbol and aging in Hollywood, saying her body is “not Body Heat anymore, and get over it.”

Turner, 64, skyrocketed to fame as the seductress in that 1981 film, becoming a household name who was instantly recognizable for her deep, husky voice that continues to be one of her trademarks.   Her signature voice also is the one immortalized for the ultra-seductive, animated character of Jessica Rabbit in 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which she voiced while pregnant.

“The day my water broke, I was recording Jessica Rabbit,” Turner quipped.  That’s one story you’ll find in Turner’s new book, called Kathleen Turner on Acting: Conversations about Film, Television, and Theater.

Reflecting back on her decades-long career in Hollywood, Turner said one of her favorite moments was filming the 1984 hit romantic comedy Romancing the Stone opposite Michael Douglas. She revealed she “almost” had an affair with him then.

“I thought we were falling madly in love…he was separated from his first wife, and I was unattached,” said Turner.  “But then Diandra, his wife, flew down to Mexico and made it clear that they were…still married.”

Turner even said there was a competition among some of her former co-stars, including Jack Nicholson, Douglas, and Warren Beatty, to see “who could get me first.”

“I was the new trophy in town,” she said, adding, “That was never going to happen.”

In the mid-’90s, Turner’s movie career stalled when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and she ended up abusing alcohol to cope with the pain.  Now sober, Turner has developed a thriving stage career and works on the occasional movie project.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Kelly Clarkson’s new talk show will be like “a weekday brunch party”; set to debut in fall 2019

NBC/Andrew Lipovsky(NEW YORK) — Kelly Clarkson announced her new syndicated daytime talk show last night on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and now we have more details on the project.

The show, which will come on before The Ellen DeGeneres Show, will debut in fall 2019 and will air on select NBC-owned stations across the country.

It’s described as “a weekday brunch party with a fascinating guest list of people who would otherwise never meet.” Each episode will include human interest stories, celebrity guests, good music and fun surprises.

“I love connecting with people, playing games, music and finding ways to help or give back to communities/organizations,” Kelly says in a statement. “Having my own talk show where I get to do all of these things is pretty much a dream job!”

Before launching the new talk show, Kelly will defend her title as The Voice season 14 winner when the singing competition kicks off its new season September 24 on NBC.

Kelly will also launch the Meaning of Life tour — her first trek in three years — January 24 in Oakland, CA.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Report: Patrick Stewart closing in on big-screen ‘Charlie’s Angels’ reboot

ABC/Eric McCandless(LOS ANGELES) — Patrick Stewart is close to landing the role of Bosley in the latest reimagining of the 1970s TV series Charlie’s Angels — along with Elizabeth Banks, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

That’s right, Bosley, who was the face of the never-seen Charlie Townsend, owner of the Townsend Detective Agency — now a security and intelligence service with teams stationed around the word — will have two Bosleys.

Banks will also direct the reboot, slated for a 2019 release.

A previous film based on the series starred Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. 

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson on push for insurance: ‘Health care is just a normal thing to have’

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — NFL great Eric Dickerson has a gold Hall of Fame jacket, a bust in Canton and the record for most rushing yards in a season, but there’s one thing he doesn’t have from the league: health insurance.

Dickerson is one of a handful of Hall of Famers who said Tuesday they won’t be attending next year’s Hall of Fame ceremony if they aren’t given health insurance coverage or a cut of the league’s billion-dollar revenue.

The demands were made in a letter obtained by ABC News and addressed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith and President of the NFL Hall of Fame C. David Baker.

“People know us from our highlight reels. They see us honored and mythologized before games and at halftime, and it would be reasonable if they thought life was good for us,” the letter reads. “But on balance, it’s not. As a group we are struggling with severe health and financial problems. To build this game, we sacrificed our bodies. In many cases, and despite the fact that we were led to believe otherwise, we sacrificed our minds.”

Dickerson, who is leading the effort, spoke to ABC News’ daily podcast, “Start Here,” on Tuesday about the players’ demands.

“All of us feel like having health care is just a normal thing to have,” Dickerson told “Start Here.” “And I think it’s right. I think people are kind of losing the message that you know it’s all about the Hall of Fame. Well right now it’s all about the Hall of Famers because we can’t do anything because of the current CBA [collective bargaining agreement], we can’t go back in and do that. I want all players to have health care; every player that played in the National Football League.”

Legends Jim Brown, Marcus Allen, Lawrence Taylor, Joe Namath, Jerry Rice, Kurt Warner and Deion Sanders are among the 21 Hall of Famers to sign the letter. Sarah White, the widow of Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White, also attached her name to the letter. The name “Carl Ellard” appears on the list, though this was a typo, and actually referred to Hall of Famer Carl Eller.

Rice and Warner have both released statements saying they have no plans to boycott the Hall of Fame ceremony, though they do support better health care for retired players.

Dickerson called Rice and Warner’s inclusion a “miscommunication” in a later tweet and corrected the spelling of Eller.

The players have received some criticism for demanding insurance and a share of league revenue for only members of the Hall of Fame, but Dickerson said that was simply a first step.

“I want this plan to help all players, but you can’t, we can’t, go back into the CBA until 2021,” he told ABC News. “We have to start with the Hall of Famers.”

NFL players from Dickerson’s era — he spent 12 seasons in the league mostly with the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts — have no health insurance at all.

As for Dickerson’s push for a chunk of league revenue, the league does have a pension plan for retired players established in 1959. In 1993’s CBA, players established a 401K plan.

They can begin to access money at 55 and see a 300 percent increase when they turn 65, according to Miki Yaras-Davis, the NFLPA’s senior director of benefits.

“There have been significant increases in the pension with every collective bargaining agreement in the history of this sport,” Yaras-Davis told ESPN in a statement.

Players from before 1993, like Dickerson, were granted $620 million in benefits, called the “Legacy Fund,” due to the 2011 CBA.

But Dickerson wants more than has been allotted in the “Legacy Fund.” The letter calls the fund a “cynical public relations ploy.”

The NFL generated $14 billion in revenue in 2017, according to an estimate by Bloomberg, and quoted in the letter by Dickerson. He says health insurance would cost only $4 million, and a salary taken from revenue would cost just 40 cents on every $100.

“The total cost for every Hall of Famer to have health insurance is less than $4 million — less than that of a 30-second Super Bowl ad, or about 3 cents for every $100 the league generates in revenue,” the letter states. “Paying Hall of Famers an annual salary works out to about 40 cents for every $100 in annual revenue, a figure that will increase dramatically in the near future with legalized gambling.”

Dickerson also said he believes the league never would’ve addressed safety, including the degenerative brain disease CTE, if it wasn’t for public outrage. The disease, caused by repetitive blows to the head, has been blamed for the deaths of former NFL stars Aaron Hernandez and Junior Seau, both of whom committed suicide.

“The NFL is trying to do some of the right things you know to try to help players you know with CTE,” he told “Start Here.” “But I really believe the only reason they do it is because they got caught. And I really believe that. But they’re trying. So I mean I give them that much credit.”

As for the Hall of Fame boycott, Baker released a statement saying, “Many Hall of Famers have reached out to express their support of the Hall. While we enshrine Hall of Famers, our mission is to serve every player who helped build this great game. We guard the legacies and seek to serve all players and not just Hall of Famers who we serve every day.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Orioles’ Braille jersey praised by blind ball player

Indy Thunder(NEW YORK) — The familiar orange and black script on the Orioles’ uniform will be replaced Tuesday night with Braille to honor the National Federation of the Blind, and for one visually impaired ball player, the night is about recognizing people like him.

“They’re acknowledging that you’re there,” Erik Rodriguez, 18, told ABC News’ Start Here podcast. “Sometimes that’s the biggest step.”

Rodriguez is a shortstop for the Indy Thunder in beep baseball, a modified version of the game which uses sound and beeping bases to guide visually impaired players. He was born with Stickler syndrome and glaucoma, which weakened his eyes over the years and led to retina detachments.

While his vision declined, his passion for baseball never did. At 10 years old, he was introduced to beep ball and “immediately fell in love.”

“It’s changed my life,” he said. “It’s given me a platform where I can still perform on an elite level, where I can still consider myself a champion, where I can still have that team bonding that you really can’t get in individual sports.”

Rodriguez led the Indy Thunder to their third straight World Series championship as one of the captains this past season. It was his sixth season in beep baseball, but he told “Start Here” he only recently began to consider himself a “good hitter.”

“It’s kind of like target practice for the pitcher and the batter,” he said. “It’s a lot more complicated than people realize, so it takes a lot of good teamwork and trust.”

The pitcher is trying to get the batter a hit instead of striking them out, so when the pitcher says, “Set, ready, pitch,” they tailor their pitch depending on who they’re throwing to. The batter then needs to keep their swing consistent to make sure they’re close to the ball every time.

“It just takes a lot of practice and reps,” Rodriguez explained. “It does not happen overnight.”

Rodriguez told “Start Here” he loves following the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees, but the Orioles have earned the beep ball player as a fan for their National Federation of the Blind Night.

“The fact that such a big organization like Baltimore is wanting to do something like that for the blind community … it makes you feel good, it makes you feel like they care and they want to help make a difference for the young people and the older people that are suffering from this disability.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Champion college golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena stabbed to death on golf course, suspect charged with murder

Iowa State Department of Athletics(AMES, Iowa) — A man with a criminal background was charged with murder just hours after a former Iowa State University champion golfer turned up dead in a pond on a golf course.

Collin Daniel Richards, 22, who police said has no known address and, according to court records, was kicked out of his grandparents’ house a year ago, was charged with first-degree murder in Celia Barquin Arozamena’s stabbing death Monday.

Police found her body at Coldwater Links public golf course near Iowa State University in Ames, where she apparently went golfing alone Monday morning.

Richards purportedly made statements to an acquaintance recently “to the effect of having an urge to rape and kill a woman,” according to a criminal complaint made public Tuesday.

Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds described the killing as “a random act of violence” during a brief court hearing for Richards Tuesday morning.

“The state believes him to be a flight risk, also believes him to be a danger to the community,” Reynolds said during the hearing.

The judge granted her request to set bail at $5 million.

Richards appeared in court in shackles and made no statements. He was ordered to return to court Sept. 28 for a preliminary hearing.

Attorney Paul Rounds of the Story County Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent Richards.

“I hope people reserve judgment until after the trial,” Rounds told ABC News when reached by phone, declining to comment further.

The slaying sent shockwaves from the nation’s heartland to Barquin Arozamena’s hometown of Reocín, Spain, where civic leaders joined residents in a moment of silence at noon on Tuesday. The Reocín City Council also declared three days of mourning for the young woman and released a statement condemning the “vile act” that took her life.

“She was a really hard-working girl who was deeply loved by the whole town,” Reocín Mayor Pablo Diestro told the Spanish sports website “It’s a tragedy. We can’t believe it.”

Cmdr. Geoff Huff, head of the Ames Police Department’s criminal investigations division, said at a news conference Tuesday, “It’s rare, obviously. It’s still very troubling that something like this would happen in broad daylight in a community that is as safe as Ames is.”

He added: “It’s an awful thing that’s happened. I’m not sure what else I can say.”

Barquin Arozamena, a native of Spain, was recently named Iowa State’s female athlete of the year.

She had turned pro this past spring after completing her college golfing career. Earlier this year, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in Alabama, one of the LPGA Tour’s majors.

The Ames Police Department opened a suspicious death investigation Monday morning when golfers found Barquin Arozamena’s cellphone, ball cap and golf bag on the ninth hole fairway of the golf course “with no one around it,” according to a police statement.

Golfers had seen Barquin Arozamena on the golf course earlier but told police she had disappeared, prompting a search for her, officials said.

Officers were called to the golf course about 10:24 a.m. and found the woman’s body a half-hour later in a pond near where her golf bag was discovered and determined she had been assaulted, according to the criminal complaint.

“Based on the scene investigation, the victim sustained several stab wounds to the upper torso, head, and neck,” the criminal complaint stated.

Police searched the golf course and stopped a man walking on a trail leading into a wooded area who identified himself as an acquaintance of Richards.

A K-9 unit tracked the victim’s scent to a homeless encampment on the banks of Squaw Creek in the wooded area adjacent to the golf course, according to the criminal complaint.

Police were searching the camp, which consisted of two tents, when Richards approached them.

“Officers observed that … [Richards] had several fresh scratches on his face consistent with fighting, and also noted [he] attempted to conceal a deep laceration to his left hand, which he attempted to bury in the ground,” the criminal complaint reads.

Police also contacted an acquaintance of Richards who told them the suspect showed up at his residence near the golf course Monday afternoon and that he “appeared disheveled and covered in blood, sand and water,” according to the complaint.

The man told police Richards left his house after bathing and washing his clothes, the complaint stated.

Two other witnesses told police that Richards asked them for a ride to Jefferson, Iowa, and had given them a knife, according to the complaint. While driving to Jefferson, Richards told the men he needed to return to the homeless encampment because he forgot his tent, according to the complaint.

When they arrived at the golf course, they noticed police swarming the area, the complaint reads. Richards got out of their vehicle and approached police officers searching the tent encampment, the complaint states.

Police said they recovered a knife that Richards allegedly gave to two witnesses, according to the complaint. Police also found two pairs of blood-stained shorts in Richards’ backpack.

Several law enforcement agencies, including the Iowa State University Police Department, assisted in the investigation.

“I don’t know a lot of the details yet but it’s just a horrific, horrific senseless death,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds told reporters Tuesday at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines.

Reynolds’ statement was echoed by Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen.

“We were deeply saddened to learn yesterday of the death of Celia Barquin Arozamena. Celia was a dedicated student in civil engineering. She was a talented student athlete and an acclaimed golfer with a bright future,” Wintersteen said in a statement Monday. “Celia was a champion and a proud ambassador for Iowa State. Our hearts are with Celia’s family and friends as we grieve her passing. It’s a terrible, tragic and senseless loss.

“In these moments, we recognize our own mortality and realize that each day is a gift,” Wintersteen said. “I hope everyone will take time today to meet with their friends and loved ones, value those connections and feel thankful that they can do so. A bright candle in our Cyclone Nation no longer shines, and our community and the world are less for it.”

Barquin Arozamena claimed the 2018 Big 12 Championship with a three-shot victory in April, according to the university, which called her one of the most accomplished golfers in the school’s history. She was finishing her civil engineering degree this semester.

The death of Barquin Arozamena prompted the Iowa State women’s golf team to withdraw from competition at the East and West Match Play tournament in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to return to Iowa to mourn the former teammate, the team said in a tweet.

The team was scheduled Tuesday to play for the tournament title.

“We are all devastated,” Christie Martens, Iowa State head women’s golf coach, said in a statement. “Celia was a beautiful person who was loved by all her teammates and friends. She loved Iowa State and was an outstanding representative for our school. We will never forget her competitive drive to be the best and her passion for life.”

Iowa State Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard added: “Celia had an infectious smile, a bubbly personality and anyone fortunate enough to know her was blessed. Our Cyclone family mourns the tragic loss of Celia, a spectacular student-athlete and ISU ambassador.”

Barquin Arozamena qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament in Shoal Creek, Alabama, in May but did not make the cut after the first two rounds.

The university’s Athletics Department said it plans to honor her memory at a football game Saturday at the school’s Jack Trice Stadium, which is across the street from where police found her body.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

“I’m just kind of surprised,” ISU freshman Isaac Sachse told ABC affiliate station WOI-TV in Des Moines.

“First it was the kidnapping and now this. It’s kind of horrifying,” he added, referring to the death of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, who was allegedly killed by 24-year-old Cristhian Rivera while on her routine jog through farm country earlier this summer.

Richards has a criminal record, according to court documents. He has pleaded guilty to charges of domestic abuse, assault, theft and public intoxication in the past, the records show.

In September 2017, he was arrested on suspicion of breaking into his grandparents’ house, according to court records. Richards told police he had broken into the house to retrieve his belongings after his grandparents had kicked him out, records show.

Richards’ most recent arrest occurred in July when he was taken into custody on suspicion of public intoxication after police found him passed out at a convenience store in Ames, according to records.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Elizabeth Smart’s captor Wanda Barzee has been released from prison

ABC News(DRAPER, Utah) — Wanda Barzee, one of Elizabeth Smart’s former captors, has been released from prison, much to Smart’s surprise and disappointment.

Barzee was released from the Draper Prison in Draper, Utah, Wednesday morning, Utah Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kaitlin Felsted said.

She will have 72 hours to report to U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services, according to department spokesman Eric Anderson. She will be on a supervised release for five years.

Barzee’s release comes after the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole said it had miscalculated the time Barzee, 72, was supposed to serve in prison, The Associated Press reported.

Smart was 14 when she was kidnapped in 2002 from her Salt Lake City home and held as a prisoner by Barzee and her husband Brian David Mitchell. She was rescued in 2003.

Smart, 30, said in a news conference last week that Barzee saw her as a slave, and called her a “handmaiden.” She added that Barzee not only assisted in her abduction but would sit next to — and encourage — Mitchell as he raped her.

“She did appalling things while I was in captivity,” Smart said. “I know the depth of her depravity.”

Smart was shocked to find out that her captor would be released from prison so soon, saying last week, “I would urge the powers that be and anyone who works under them to really strongly reconsider this situation, to look at all the facts, look at her mental status, and see if they really and honestly truly feel that she is no longer a threat.”

Barzee, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping Smart, was previously scheduled to be released in 2024, and the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole denied her an early parole at a hearing in June.

But Barzee was convicted on both state and federal charges, and her attorney, Scott Williams, argued that time she had already served in federal prison must be credited toward her state conviction, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. The board agreed and moved up her release date last week.

“The Board has heard concerns and requests to reconsider releasing Wanda Barzee,” the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole said in a statement last week. “This is not an early release or a discretionary release. On September 19, Ms. Barzee will have spent 15 years in custody, which is the maximum amount of time allowed by her state conviction and sentence. Ms. Barzee cannot legally be held in the Utah State prison beyond the length of her sentence.”

Mitchell, meanwhile, is serving a life sentence, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Iowa jogger Mollie Tibbetts’ alleged killer set to appear in court

Poweshiek County Sheriffs Office(BROOKLYN, Iowa) — The accused killer of Iowa jogger Mollie Tibbetts appeared in court Wednesday where he pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, one month after he was arrested for allegedly killing the 20-year-old college student.

Tibbetts, a rising sophomore at the University of Iowa, disappeared on July 18 while jogging in her rural farming town of Brooklyn, a close-knit community of about 1,500 residents.

Her disappearance garnered national attention and state and federal investigators were soon asked to join the case.

On Aug. 21, her alleged killer, 24-year-old Cristhian Rivera, was arrested after authorities said he led them to the college student’s body in a farm field.

Tibbetts died from multiple sharp force injuries, according to her autopsy.

Rivera was charged with first-degree murder.

Rivera is an undocumented immigrant and his arrest renewed debate over America’s immigration system.

On the day of Rivera’s arrest, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement, “We are angry that a broken immigration system allowed a predator like this to live in our community, and we will do all we can bring justice to Mollie’s killer.”

But Tibbetts’ father said his daughter wouldn’t want to be the face of an immigration debate and he begged for the family to be allowed to grieve privately.

“Please leave us out of your debate,” Rob Tibbetts wrote in a guest column in The Des Moines Register. “I’m tired of my family being abused … We want Mollie to die with dignity.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

California man, teens arrested over alleged funeral donations scam

Victorville Police Department(SAN BERNADINO, Calif.) — Police in Southern California arrested a 20-year-old man and two teenage boys this week after they allegedly scammed people in a fake funeral scheme.

Richard Navarrete, of San Bernardino, California, and two unidentified 14-year-olds were taken into custody on Monday after they allegedly accepted cash donations for the funeral of a young boy who they falsely claimed had died, authorities said.

The suspects were allegedly accepting donations near a highway in Victorville, California, just north of San Bernardino, when a police officer initiated a “pedestrian check” and launched an investigation, the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department said in a statement.

Officers said they had water bottles with cash donations inside and were holding handwritten signs that read: “Funeral Donations,” “Anything is a blessing” and “RIP Johnny,” police said in a statement.

Authorities have released photographs from their investigation because “it is believed other victims exist,” the statement said.

“Through investigation, deputies discovered the boy was not deceased and was in fact the son of Navarrete’s friend,” the department said in a statement. “Each of the subjects had water bottles containing money that had been donated as a result of the fraudulent signs.”

Police interviewed one of the alleged victims near the scene and are searching for others who may have fallen victim to the scam, according to the statement.

The suspects are facing charges of theft by false pretenses, the department said. It’s unclear if they have obtained attorneys.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


3 injured when car drives into crowd near London mosque

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — UK police are investigating an attack Wednesday morning near a Muslim community center that injured three men.

A car drove into a crowd of people leaving the North London mosque, with the occupants of the car allegedly shouting Islamophobic taunts, authorities said.

Two men were taken to the hospital for treatment after the incident. One victim, a man in his fifties, suffered “a serious leg injury,” authorities said. A third person did not require hospital treatment.

The incident is not being treated as an act of terrorism, police said.

Four people were allegedly drinking, taking drugs and engaging in “anti-social behavior” at the center’s private car park, according to police. Three men and a woman in their mid-twenties allegedly refused to leave when security officials arrived and a confrontation ensued, police said.

The car proceeded to drive off at a high speed.

The Hussaini Association, which had been hosting a religious lecture before the attack, released a statement on Twitter describing the collision as “a suspected premeditated Islamophobic attack” in which people were “indiscriminately mown down.” It claims the drivers of the vehicle were all “of Caucasian origin.”

The organization praised “a number of volunteers [who] bravely stood between the speeding vehicle and patrons heading home. These acts of bravery potentially saved the lives of dozens of innocent people.”

Ali Salman, an eyewitness, told ABC News the attack occurred at “exact time the program finished and everyone was coming out.”

He initially saw a group of people surrounding the car, which was “almost trapped trying to get out.” The car sped away from the group when a security guard smashed one of the windows, he said. Salman then pushed his friend to safety before “the car came full force at us to trying to run us over.”

Local police are investigating the incident. No arrests have yet been made.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Exclusive: Jailed American makes desperate plea for help in letters to Trump, Pence

Kassem Family(CAIRO) — After five years in prison and facing 15 more, an American citizen jailed on trumped up charges in Egypt is pleading for his life to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

In two letters sent to the administration, obtained exclusively by ABC News, Mustafa Kassem recounts how he was beaten and arrested after Egyptian security officials discovered his U.S. passport amid a mass crackdown on opposition — and how he has started a hunger strike “because I am losing my will and don’t know how else to get your attention.”

A 53-year-old diabetic, his family has urged him to stop, and his lawyer tells ABC News that his health is failing. He appeared very frail and weak during a visit Sunday, with his hands visibly shaking and his blood sugar dropping to a dangerously low level.

But Kassem writes that while he knows “full well that I may not survive,” he has no choice.

“I want my children to know that I fought tooth and nail for my freedom. I want them to know America is great because our government will fight tooth and nail for its citizens,” he wrote in the letter addressed to Pence. Both are dated Sept. 12 and were sent to the White House on Sept. 13, according to his lawyer.

A New York City taxicab driver, Kassem started his hunger strike last week after being convicted of trying to overthrow the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi and sentenced to 15 years in jail in a mass trial with more than 700 co-defendants.

Praveen Madhiraju, executive director of Pretrial Rights International and one of Kassem’s lawyers, has called the charges against his client “bogus,” adding that he’s “an innocent American” and the situation is a “disgrace.”

Kassem was in Egypt in August 2013 visiting his wife and two children, then 3 and 6 years old. It was a particularly volatile moment in Egypt’s recent history — one month after the military seized power following days of protests against the democratically elected government of Mohamed Morsi.

In Morsi’s place, then-General Sisi took control, implementing a crackdown on political opposition and civil society that has since expanded. About 20 Americans currently are in Egyptian jails, but there are as many as 60,000 political prisoners across Egypt, according to a Human Rights Watch report last year.

On Aug. 14, 2013 — the night before Kassem was set to return to the U.S. — he went out to exchange some money and shop when security officials detained him and his brother-in-law, accusing them of participating in protests against the military takeover in a nearby square. The military was cracking down on the demonstrations in what human rights groups say was the single deadliest incident in Sisi’s sweep to power, with as many as 800 killed.

While his brother-in-law was released, Kassem was accused of being an American spy because of his U.S. passport.

“Although the beatings eventually stopped, these prisons and their guards did they best to wear me down for more than five years,” he wrote to Trump.

In Egyptian jails, he has been denied regular access to medical treatment, including insulin, his lawyers said, leading to dangerous drops in blood sugar like the one this past week. Multiple requests by his family to have him hospitalized have been denied or simply ignored by Egyptian authorities, but he has been moved to solitary confinement to monitor his health.

Still, now that he is on hunger strike, his family worries he is running out of time.

“My brother is dying slowly. He is giving up hope,” his sister, Iman Kassem, told ABC News in a statement.

Kassem’s case has been followed by the Trump administration, with Pence saying he raised it directly with Sisi when the two met in Cairo in January. In his letter to Pence, Kassem thanks him for those words, calling them “little rays of light” and hope that “my government still cared for me.”

“But since January, I have seen no change and little action from either the Egyptian government or our government,” he wrote to Pence. “I am losing hope that you and our government are willing to take a hard stance and secure my freedom.”

“Mr. Pence, I need your help. You once spoke for me. I now beg you to fight for me,” he concludes.

Both letters were transcribed by a family member because Kassem was too weak to write them out himself, according to his family. He could sign his name to both, and his signature was verified by ABC News using previous legal documents.

The White House did not respond to questions Tuesday, including whether it had received the letters or if would raise Kassem’s case directly with Sisi, whom Trump may meet next week during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Madhiraju, Kassem’s lawyer, said they also did not hear back from the White House or Pence’s office.

The State Department has said the U.S. is “deeply concerned about his conviction and his sentencing. … His case has been raised repeatedly with the Egyptian Government,” according to spokesperson Heather Nauert. Officials from the U.S. embassy have conducted consular visits with him to check on his condition.

The Trump administration has been accused of going soft on Egypt, especially in recent weeks, even as Kassem and more than 700 “co-defendants” were sentenced en masse on Sept. 8 for the August 2013 protest. Seventy-five people received the death penalty, and more than 600 were sentenced to prison, including Kassem and the award-winning Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, also known as Shawkan, who was covering the protests.

After withholding $195 million in aid to Egypt over human rights concerns in 2017, the State Department announced in July it was releasing that money “in the spirit of our efforts to further strengthen this partnership,” an official told ABC News.

Just this week, the administration announced it had approved the possible sale of $99 million worth of tank rounds to Egypt, calling it a “friendly country” and “important strategic partner.”

Annually, the U.S. typically provides Egypt with more than a billion dollars in aid and military assistance. That billion-dollar package is one reason Kassem said he believes “my government has slowly abandoned me.”

But Trump’s tight bond and warm words with the strongman Sisi have yielded some results, too.

In April 2017, Egypt freed Aya Hijazi, a U.S. citizen and humanitarian aid worker, her husband Mohamed Hassanein and four others after Trump and top aides urged Sisi to do so as a goodwill gesture. Afterward, Hijazi met Trump in the Oval Office, which he called a “great honor.”

Kassem wrote to Trump that he has been left praying for a similar reception: “I pray that you have a plan for me. I have seen you defend other jailed Americans. I ask you — why not me?”

His family said they have lost their patience.

“His life is in danger because he showed his American passport, but President Trump has done nothing about it and Vice President Pence has not done enough,” his sister, Iman, told ABC News. “They know about Mustafa’s condition, and they can save him. They are as responsible for his life as anyone else.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader, steps further into spotlight at inter-Korean summit

Korea Summit Press Pool/Getty Images(PYONGYANG, North Korea) — Behind the scenes of Pyongyang’s grand welcome ceremony for a South Korean delegation Tuesday was the mysterious Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim Yo Jong was the watch commander of the greeting event, caught on camera running around the red-carpeted airstrip in Sunan International Airport making sure everyone knew their path. Sitting beside Kim Jong Un during the first round of inter-Korean talks in the three-day summit, she made her presence known as his trusted confidante.

Widely known as Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong was appointed the first vice department director of the central committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea this February. Before that, she was named vice director of the Workers’ Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department, according to CNN.

Kim Yo Jong roamed around Tuesday’s events in a black two-piece suit, stealing the show on the live broadcast screen in Seoul’s press center for inter-Korean summit. Nearly 3,000 journalists watched her giving directions to South Korean President Moon Jae-in himself as the two Korean leaders stood on stage facing North Korean honor guards. She stood only a few steps behind the first couples, closely engaged the whole time.

“Kim Yo Jong is practically Kim Jong Un’s political partner and right hand,” Han-Bum Cho, senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, told ABC News. “She takes the role of his political comrade by being the chief secretary, chief presidential secretary and policy director She is the only person that Kim trusts.”

Kim Yo Jong first caught the public’s attention as part of North Korea’s delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February, and as the North Korean leader’s special envoy to deliver his letter to Moon.

Since then she has been part of every landmark moment in inter-Korean relations. Not only did she attend the first inter-Korean summit in April at the border village of Panmunjom, she also played her role as Kim Jong Un’s shadow during the historic U.S.-DPRK summit in Singapore in June.

“Kim Yo Jong is an authority figure,” Philo Kim, an associate professor at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University, told ABC News. “She is the one who can speak frankly to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, not only as a high official of North Korea’s ruling party, but also as a family member.”

Standing by her brother’s side as he and Moon signed a denuclearization agreement Wednesday, Kim Jong Un would only use the pen Kim Yo Jong handed him to sign the joint statements.

Kim Yo Jong shares with Kim Jong Un the Baektu bloodline that flows from late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, which they say legitimizes the Kim dynasty’s regime. They both have the same mother, Ko Yong Hui.

While Kim Jong Un said Wednesday he plans to visit Seoul, his sister was the first member of the Kim family dynasty to step foot on South Korean soil when she arrived ahead of the Olympics.

She is also known to have accompanied the North Korean leader in his overseas studies in Switzerland.

During Tuesday’s two-hour closed-door meeting with Moon, the golden sister sat to the left of Kim Jong Un, proving her position as an influential figure in the Worker’s Party of Korea.

On the right was Kim Yong Chol, the vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Worker’s Party of North Korea, who has kept his spot during every important summit talk Kim Jong Un has held. He also visited the White House earlier this year as the U.S. and North Korea prepared for June’s historic summit. Moon sat with Chung Eui-yong, South Korea’s top security adviser, and National Intelligence Chief Suh Hoon.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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