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And the most-viewed music video of the decade is….

ABC/ Heidi GutmanNow that the decade is coming to an end, YouTube is looking back on the most popular music videos of the past 10 years.  And the most-viewed video of the decade is…

…”Despacito” by Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee

The clip, shot in Puerto Rico, has racked up more than 6.56 billion views since it first debuted in 2017.  And while the addition of Justin Bieber to the song helped it stay at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for an amazing 16 weeks, the video only features Luis and Daddy Yankee’s original Spanish version of the song — Justin isn’t in it.

The second most popular clip of the decade comes from Ed Sheeran, who’s the only artist to have two videos in the top 10.  Ed’s “Shape of You” video scored 4.52 billion views; his clip for “Thinking Out Loud” ranks number 10 with 2.86 billion views.

The rest of the top 10 includes the clips for such smash hits as “See You Again,” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth, “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars and “Sugar” by Maroon 5.  

The number five video is one you may have forgotten about: PSY‘s “GANGNAM STYLE,” which grabbed 3.47 billion views.

Here’s YouTube’s full list of the most-viewed music videos of the decade:

1. Luis Fonsi — “Despacito” ft. Daddy Yankee,  6,558,078,465
2. Ed Sheeran — “Shape of You,” 4,517,718,066
3. Wiz Khalifa — “See You Again” ft. Charlie Puth,  4,320,523,808
4. Mark Ronson — “Uptown Funk”  ft. Bruno Mars 3,732,564,526
5. PSY — “GANGNAM STYLE,” 3,471,161,219
6. Justin Bieber — “Sorry,” 3,225,301,301
7. Maroon 5 — “Sugar,” 3,086,744,534
8. Katy Perry — “Roar,” 2,968,228,909
9. OneRepublic — “Counting Stars,” 2,883,120,697
10. Ed Sheeran — “Thinking Out Loud,” 2,864,887,373

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Justin Bieber’s new album will address his “struggles with depression,” source says

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty ImagesJustin Bieber has been open about his mental health struggles this year, and that openness will apparently be carrying over into his music.

An insider tells E! News that Justin’s upcoming album will include songs “about his ups and downs” and “recent struggles with depression.” The source adds that those songs will also address how his wife, Hailey Baldwin, “helped him through that time.”

“He also writes a lot of about their love and the power of their love being different than anything else he’s experienced,” the insider says. “It’s a familiar sound that the fans will love. He’s doing what he does best and everyone is really looking forward to getting it out there for the world to enjoy.”

As for when we can expect the album, Justin’s reportedly putting the finishing touches on it now with the goal of releasing it in early 2020. Wednesday, Justin shared three posts on Instagram that just said, “2020,” hinting he has something coming in the new year.

“Justin is very excited to share new music and to get out on the road again,” the source says. “It’s been a long time coming and he’s feeling very ready.”

Justin’s last album was 2016’s Purpose.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

New Music Thursday: Kesha harbors “Resentment” while Ava Max makes the “Salt” shake

Kesha: Dana Trippe; Ava Max: Lauren DunnTwo female pop powerhouses dropped new music Thursday.

First up is Kesha, with another track from her upcoming album, High Road.  The song is called “Resentment,” and it features Kesha singing with Wrabel, her longtime musical collaborator who co-wrote the song, as well as Americana star Sturgill Simpson and Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson.

The country-flavored song comes with a video Kesha shot on her iPhone 11 Pro, which features her moodily wandering around in a bedroom, bathroom and living room as she sings the song about her feelings for her significant other.

“Resentment is such a powerful and destructive emotion and in my experience is more complex than hate or anger,” Kesha says in a statement.

As for her three collaborators, Kesha says, “Brian Wilson is one of my personal musical heroes, so when he said he would collaborate with me on the recording…that moment was one of the most exciting in my career.”

“Then add in Sturgill who I respect and admire so much, as well as my close friend, the insanely talented songwriter Wrabel, and this record felt more like a dream than just another song to me,” Kesha adds.

High Road has now been pushed to January 31 because new music is being added to it.  Also next month, Kesha will announce a headlining U.S. tour.

Meanwhile, Ava Max has released yet another single, this time the fan favorite, “Salt,” which has been floating around YouTube since July. It’s now finally available at all DSPs and is one of a handful of singles the “Sweet but Psycho” singer has released in 2019.

Ava will perform on ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020, airing live on December 31.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Lin-Manuel Miranda drops first trailer for ‘In The Heights’

ABC/Heidi Gutman(LOS ANGELES) — The first trailer for the highly anticipated In The Heights film musical has officially dropped and features a slew of Broadway favorites and rising stars.

The movie is 12 years in the making, but creator Lin-Manuel Miranda says it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I started writing this show when I was 19 years old, six blocks away from where we are now, at my parents house,” Miranda, best known for the smash hit, Hamilton, told the audience at an event for the trailer in the namesake Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.

In the Heights focuses on the largely Hispanic neighborhood in Manhattan and the characters who live there as they chase the modern-day American dream.

Miranda originally starred in In the Heights when the show debuted on Broadway in 2008, where it took home four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. For the movie adaption, Miranda hands off the lead role of Usnavi to his former Hamilton co-star, Anthony Ramos.

However, Miranda is responsible for all the music and lyrics of the movie — and he even makes a cameo as the Piragua Guy.

To stay honest to the core of the story, the film, which is directed by Crazy Rich Asians director Jon Chu, was shot on location in Washington Heights.  Chu said he loved filming the movie so much, he even named his newborn son Heights.

Fans of the original In the Heights music will appreciate Olga Merediz reprising her Tony-nominated role as Abuela Claudia in the film version.

The movie also stars Dascha Polanco from Orange Is the New Black, Stephanie Beatriz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Broadway legend Daphne Rubin-Vega, and The West Wing‘s Jimmy Smits.

In The Heights opens June 2020.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Avengers’, ‘Joker’, Jussie, and late celebs top Google’s top trending searches for 2019

Marvel Studios(LOS ANGELES) — At the end of every year, Google crunches the numbers to see what we’ve been searching for in the past 12 months — yes, they keep track, duh — and celebrities were on our minds.

The company has compiled search results for this year, and it’s likely no surprise that the biggest movie of all time, Avengers: Endgame, spiked the biggest surge of searches in the movies category. While that film famously bested Avatar, with a take of more than $2.79 billion bucks, the rest of the top five on the trending searches list were no slouches: They include billion-dollar box office smashes Captain Marvel, Joker, Toy Story 4, and Jon Favreau’s The Lion King film. 

In the actor category, disgraced Empire star Jussie Smollett ranked number one in searches, likey due to the fact that he claim he’d been the victim of a racial attack, which was subsequently declared to be a hoax by the Chicago PD.

Kevin Hart was second on that list, likely driven by his near-fatal car accident, in addition to his viral back-and-forth with his Jumanji pal Dwayne Johnson.

Lori Loughlin ranked third, undoubtedly  for her arrest in the Varsity Blues college cheating scandal — which would also explain why Felicity Huffman, who served time behind bars for her part in the scandal, was ranked #4. 

At five, it was Keanu Reeves, who had quite a year. There was that hysterical appearance in the Netflix movie Always Be My Maybe, an E3 appearance that rocked the electronics expo, the filming of a third Bill & Ted movie, the announcement of new Matrix adventure, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum earning a series-high $326 million worldwide.

Here are Google’s top trending entertainment-related searches for 2019:

1. Jussie Smollett
2. Kevin Hart
3. Lori Loughlin
4. Felicity Huffman
5. Keanu Reeves
6. Rami Malek
7. Joaquin Phoenix
8. Kate Beckinsale
9. Halle Bailey
10. Maisie Williams

1. Avengers Endgame
2. Captain Marvel
3. Joker
4. Toy Story 4
5. Lion King
6. It Chapter Two
7. Frozen 2
8. Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
9. Midsommar
10. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

1. Miranda Lambert wedding
2. Jennifer Lawrence wedding
3. Justin Bieber wedding
4. Miley Cyrus wedding
5. Chiquis Rivera wedding
6. Chris Pratt wedding
7. Joe Jonas wedding
8. Elvis Duran wedding
9. Zoë Kravitz wedding
10. Jake Paul Tana Mongeau wedding

TV Shows
1. Game of Thrones
2. Stranger Things
3. When They See Us
4. Chernobyl
5. The Mandalorian
6. The Umbrella Academy
7. Euphoria
8. Dead to Me
9. Surviving R. Kelly
10. The Boys

People of the Red Carpet
1. billy porter red carpet
2. cardi b red carpet
3. lady gaga red carpet
4. amy schumer husband red carpet
5. jenny mccarthy red carpet
6. bts grammy red carpet
7. caitlyn jenner red carpet
8. richard madden golden globes red carpet
9. brie larson red carpet
10. brienne of tarth red carpet

1. Cameron Boyce
2. Nipsey Hussle
3. Luke Perry
4. Jeffrey Epstein
5. Tyler Skaggs
6. Beth Chapman
7. John Witherspoon
8. John Singleton
9. Eddie Money
10. Elijah Cummings  

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

The “gladiators of gluten” return tonight in the ‘Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition’

ABC/Heidi Gutman(NEW YORK) — The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition heats up for a brand-new season tonight on ABC. Once again, hosts Emma Bunton and Anthony “Spice” Adams guide 10 bakers as they run a gastronomic gauntlet, showing their skills to expert judges Sherri Yard and Paul Hollywood.

“My job is usually easy on the show,” Spice tells ABC Audio. “I try to lighten the mood and I’ll tell [contestants] what they can do and can’t do. But the judges, they have the hard job. They have to eat it. And then they dissect it.” 

He adds, “The eating part…it’s kind of easy. But to dissect it…’Were there eggs used in this? How, what was the temperature? Like that stuff? I do not care. Is there sugar in it? Is there butter in it?’ — you got me.”  

For Sherri, the show’s holiday edition is particularly fun: “[T]his is the time to bake!’ So for us to be here, it’s just a dream come true.”

She explains the show’s challenge, which has hopefuls baking in a tented outdoor facility in the U.K.

“Baking is a science, and that’s what’s fun about it,” says Yard.  “[J]ust like a good hair day, you can have a great baking day…So you can come into the tent and could be very well versed and then your timing is just off, which…one thing leads to another and then it becomes a tidal wave and you’re behind literally the eight ball and you’re not finishing on time. So that’s what makes so much fun!”

She teases about this season: “I’ll just say that there’s lots and lots of surprises and the challenges were over the top!”

Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition airs at 9 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


MLB removes marijuana from drugs of abuse; will now test for opioids

iStock(NEW YORK) — MLB has become the first major American sports league to remove marijuana from its list of drugs abuse.

The league, in association with its players union, announced the changes to its Joint Drug Program on Thursday morning. The drug will still be tested for and could result in punishment similar to its alcohol and violence policies.

“Natural cannabinoids (e.g., THC, CBD, and Marijuana) will be removed from the Program’s list of Drugs of Abuse,” MLB said in its release. “Going forward, marijuana-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct under the Parties’ Joint Treatment Program for Alcohol-Related and Off-Field Violent Conduct, which provides mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment and the possibility of discipline by a Player’s Club or the Commissioner’s Office in response to certain conduct involving Natural Cannabinoids.”

The changes go into effect when spring training begins in 2020.

Many players in other professional leagues have campaigned for similar changes in their sport. The NFL announced in May it would be working with the players association to create a Joint Pain Management Committee that would “conduct research concerning pain management and alternative therapies.”

Among those alternative therapies, the NFL said, are cannabis, cannabinoids and CBD.

MLB also overhauled several other aspects of its drug policy — some targeted at preventing the tragedy that befell Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Tyler Skaggs in August. The 27-year-old was found dead in his hotel room in Texas while on a road trip. His cause of death was later determined to be due to a mix of fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol in his system.

On Thursday, the league announced it will begin testing players for the presence of opioids, fentanyl, cocaine and synthetic THC. Players will not be suspended, however, unless they do not work with the league on a treatment plan.

“Any player who tests positive for one of these Drugs of Abuse will be referred to the Parties’ Joint Treatment Board (composed of medical professionals specializing in substance abuse and representatives from the Office of the Commissioner and the Players Association) for an initial evaluation and, if appropriate, formulation of a personalized treatment plan for that Players going forward,” the league said. “Only Players who fail to cooperate with their initial evaluation or prescribed treatment plan may be subject to discipline.”

All players and team personnel will also be required to attend programs outlining the dangers of using opioids for pain management during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, the league announced.

“Players are overwhelmingly in favor of expanding our drug-testing regimen to include opioids, and want to take a leadership role in helping to resolve this national epidemic,” Tony Clark, executive director of the MLBPA, said in a statement.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Report: Angels, Anthony Rendon agree on seven-year deal

Allen Kee / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — Anthony Rendon is reportedly heading out West to play for the Los Angeles Angels.

Citing sources, ESPN reports the 29-year-old third baseman has agreed to a seven-year deal with the Angels worth $245 million.

The contract has a full no-trade clause and does not include an opt-out clause, according to ESPN.

Rendon is expected to undergo his physical on Friday and be officially introduced at Angel Stadium the following day.

Rendon began his MLB career with the Washington Nationals, with whom he played for seven years, including last season, until he opted to become a free agent this past October.

He’s played 916 games so far in his career, amassing an .290 batting average with 136 home runs and 546 RBIs.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup — 12/11/19

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

Houston 116, Cleveland 110
Indiana 122, Boston 117
L.A. Lakers 96, Orlando 87
L.A. Clippers 112, Toronto 92
Charlotte 11,3 Brooklyn 108
Chicago 136, Atlanta 102
Utah 127, Minnesota 116
Phoenix 115, Memphis 108
New Orleans 127, Milwaukee 112
Sacramento 94, Oklahoma City 93
New York 114, Golden State 122 — OT

Final Washington 3, Boston 2
Montreal 3, Ottawa 2  — OT
Colorado 3, Philadelphia 1

Arizona 99, Nebraska-Omaha 49
Illinois 71, Michigan 62

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


New Jersey Jewish deli shooting’s lone survivor describes harrowing escape

ABC News(JERSEY CITY) — As bullets whizzed by within inches of him, David Lax said he dove to the floor of a Jewish deli in Jersey City, New Jersey, and when two suspected killers dressed in black barged through the door with guns blazing, he thought his life was about to end.

“I’m just thankful that I lived to see another day,” Lax told ABC News on Thursday, two days after a man and a woman committed what authorities described as an act of domestic terrorism at the Jersey City Kosher Supermarket, killing three people before police gunned them down in a hail of gunfire.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said that the suspects were apparently motivated by sentiments of “anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement” and targeted the market shortly after killing a Jersey City police detective, Joseph Seals, 39, the married father of five children, in a nearby cemetery.

Lax said he was at the market about 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, picking up some lunch when he suddenly heard “a lot of big bangs.”

He said it took him a moment to realize the noise was gunfire.

Lax said that when the attack commenced, he was standing near the front door of the store near the salad bar.

“I thought it’s over,” he said of his life. “I mean, bullets flying all over.”

Investigators identified the shooters as David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50.

“They came to kill, and they didn’t come to spare anyone,” Lax said.

Lax and three other people, including two workers and another customer, were inside the store when the attack began. He was the only one to make it out alive.

He said he dove to the floor as the male gunman, Anderson, wielding what authorities described as an AR-15 style rifle, stormed in firing.

“Like everyone, I jumped on the floor,” Lax said.

As he tried to hide, one of the shooters dressed in a black raincoat walked by him.

He said that as the gunman passed, he stood up only to come face-to-face with the second assailant, Graham, who authorities said was holding a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun.

Lax said that as Graham swung the barrel of the gun toward him, he managed to push the weapon away and made a beeline for the front door.

“I thank God I had the courage, I had the right mind,” Lax said. “I just re-directed her arm and ran out of the store.”

He said he ran as fast as he could in a zigzag pattern, dodging the shots being fired at his back.

Lax said that once he made it outside to the street, he encountered a child near a neighboring synagogue.

“He’s very brave, very smart,” he said of the child, who appeared to be alone. “We met like on the corner of the street. I was running faster than him, so I passed by him and then I was turning around and I saw him. He started talking to me, so I said, ‘You know what, you’re coming with me. So that’s basically it.”

Killed inside the store were 33-year-old Mindy Ferencz, the wife of the kosher supermarket owner and mother of five, and 24-year-old Moshe Deutsch, a Yeshiva student. Also shot dead was Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49, who worked at the store.

Lax said that when the shooting started, Ferencz was sitting near the cash register, while Rodriguez was in the back of the store. Authorities described Deutsch as a customer.

Lax said that after he and the child were out of harm’s way, police arrived on scene and a massive gunbattle erupted.

Grewal said Thursday that “several hundred” shell casings were found at the scene.

Anderson and Graham were both shot to death in an hourslong gunfight with police.

“Obviously, it’s just a miracle … because as far as I know, it’s hard to miss with a shotgun at such a close range,” Lax said of surviving the attack.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trial set for Sandy Hook families, gun-maker Remington over school massacre

iStock(NEW YORK) — A Connecticut judge has set a trial date for families of victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre to face the manufacturer whose guns were used in the deadly 2012 shooting.

The trial is set to take place September 2021, nearly a decade after 20-year-old Adam Lanza stormed into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, with a Remington Bushmaster AR-15 and killed 26 people, including 20 students. The tragedy is one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

The relatives of nine victims and one survivor filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Remington Arms in 2015, accusing the country’s oldest gun-maker of illegally marketing the military-style semiautomatic weapon to at-risk young men.

“After nearly five years of legal maneuvering by Remington, we will finally discover what went on behind closed doors that led to the company’s reckless marketing of the Bushmaster AR-15,” Josh Koskoff, a lawyer for the victims, told Reuters in a statement. “The families’ faith in the legal system has never wavered and they look forward to presenting their case to a Connecticut jury.”

The 2021 trial date was decided after nearly two hours of talks between attorneys on both sides of the argument. Connecticut’s top court ruled that the families could sue Remington back in March.

The North Carolina-based company filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court last month, but the court declined to hear the appeal.

Remington did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Walnut-shaped growth on your Christmas tree may not actually be a pinecone

iStock(ERIE COUNTY, Ohio) — What looks like a small little pinecone on your Christmas tree may actually be something you don’t want in your house.

The state of Ohio put out an interesting warning for the holiday season about potential insects that could be waiting to hatch inside your home.

Erie County wrote on Facebook, “PSA: If you happen to see a walnut sized/shaped egg mass, on your Christmas tree, don’t fret, clip the branch and put it in your garden. These are 100-200 preying mantis eggs!”

And for those who don’t believe it … a Virginia veterinarian experienced a nightmare last Christmas when dozens of praying mantises roamed her home.

More than 100 praying mantises hatched from an egg case hidden under the branches of the Christmas tree Springfield resident Molly Kreuze bought for the holiday season, ABC Washington D.C. affiliate WJLA reported.

The bugs moved freely through the house, “crawling on the walls, crawling on the ceilings,” Kreuze told the station, adding that they gravitated toward light. Video taken by WJLA showed the insects hanging from the ceiling and crawling on the windows.

This year, Kreuze planned on buying a fake one, she told the local station.

So if you haven’t taken a close look at your tree, double check behind the bigger ornaments just in case!

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


China, Turkey top annual list of world’s worst jailers of journalists: Watchdog

iStock(LONDON) — China and Turkey were the world’s most prolific jailers of journalists in 2019, according to a special report released by the press freedom watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists this week.

The report, described as “a snapshot of those incarcerated at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2019,” found at least 250 journalists imprisoned around the world in relation to their work, including at least 48 journalists jailed in China and at least 47 journalists jailed in Turkey. The report also identified Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Eritrea, Vietnam and Iran as particularly repressive media environments.

“China tightened its iron grip on the press and Turkey, having stamped out virtually all independent reporting, released journalists awaiting trial or appeal,” the report said. “Authoritarianism, instability, and protests in the Middle East led to a rise in the number of journalists locked up in the region.”

While most imprisoned journalists face “anti-state charges,” the report notes, the number of journalists charged with reporting “false news” has continued to rise in recent years, with some countries even passing laws criminalizing the publication of so-called “fake news.”

Officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent to both the Chinese and Turkish embassies in Washington, D.C.

According to Steven Butler, the Asia program director for the Committee to Protect Journalists, the charges levied by the Chinese government against offending journalists are often “extremely vague.”

“Every year there’s a different story about why people are picked up, but it all sends the same message,” Butler told ABC News. “China does not tolerate freedom of expression or honest reporting of the news.”

Coverage of China’s Xinjiang province, where one million Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority native to the region, have been ushered into state-run “re-education” camps, appears to have emerged as a major flashpoint in the alleged government crackdown on the press. Dozens of journalists have been arrested there, the report notes, some of them facing charges for work they had published many years earlier.

“Journalists are expected to work for the Communist Party of China, and the government has been pretty open about that, so journalists who don’t go along with that go to jail,” Butler said. “You report human rights abuses, you go to jail.”

In Turkey, meanwhile, the decline from at least 68 imprisoned journalists in 2018 to at least 47 imprisoned journalists in 2019 “does not signal an improved situation for the Turkish media,” the report notes, with the industry having been “gutted by government shutdowns and takeovers, and scores of journalists in exile, jobless, or cowed into self-censorship.”

While the government has enacted some modest reforms that appear to have reduced the number of journalists currently imprisoned, the report identified dozens of journalists still awaiting trial on anti-state charges or facing prison sentences upon return to the country after being convicted in absentia.

According to Kathy Kiely, the Lee Hills Chair in Free Press Studies at the University of Missouri, the hostile media environment still has a chilling effect on critical reporting.

“It’s a clever, Orwellian way for Turkey to get their numbers down without actually improving their behavior,” Kiely told ABC News. “We have to acknowledge that these countries know how to game the system. Turkey’s control tactics promote self-censorship and repress freedom of speech in more subtle ways.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Senate recognizes Armenian genocide over Trump White House opposition

iStock(WASHINGTON) — In a historic vote, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to recognize as genocide the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman-era Turkey a century ago, overcoming weeks of active opposition from President Donald Trump’s White House as it convinced three Republican senators to block earlier votes.

The vote is sure to further roil U.S.-Turkish relations and upset the country’s strongman president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who, despite a warm relationship with Trump, has overseen a fraying between the two NATO allies.

This is the first time this kind of resolution passed the Senate — unanimously, no less — and weeks after a similar measure passed the House, 405 to 11. Lawmakers have said they’re increasingly upset with the Turkish government for its offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces that fought with the U.S. against ISIS and its purchase of a Russian missile defense system that violates U.S. law and undermines the NATO alliance’s security.

The resolution, for which the Armenian government and diaspora have long asked, officially recognizes the mass violence against and forced displacement of Armenian Christians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. As many as 1.5 million Armenians died. The modern-day Turkish government vehemently rejects the label of “genocide,” admitting atrocities took place, but saying there was no systematic campaign to exterminate Armenians.

After the House passed its resolution, Turkey’s foreign ministry called it a “grave mistake” that “will negatively affect the image of the U.S. before the public opinion of Turkey as it also brings the dignity of the U.S. House of Representatives into disrepute.”

The Trump administration had been urging individual Republican senators to block the resolution for weeks, even as Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reintroduced the legislation. The White House has said the timing of the resolution is inappropriate, just weeks after Erdoğan visited Washington, as he and Trump try to patch things up.

On three occasions, the administration was successful. Sen. Lindsey Graham blocked a vote on the day of Erdoğan’s visit, Sen. David Purdue blocked one a week later and Sen. Kevin Cramer blocked one just last week — even though he was a co-sponsor of a similar resolution in 2017.

Trump has praised Erdoğan and pushed for closer ties with Turkey, but lawmakers of both parties have sought to penalize its government for behavior they’ve said damages U.S. interests. At the top of that list is Turkey’s offensive against the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces that served as de facto U.S. ground forces against ISIS. That operation included potential war crimes by Turkish-backed opposition groups, according to the U.S. Defense Secretary and special envoy for Syria.

Critics, including prominent Republican senators, blasted Trump as giving a green light to Erdoğan for the assault, and after the U.S. and Turkey reached an agreement to halt it, Trump embraced the Turkish leader at the White House and removed any sanctions on senior Turkish officials.

The administration has also so far refused to sanction Turkey for its purchase of the Russian S400 missile defense system despite a 2017 law Trump signed requiring sanctions for any significant Russian defense purchases.

That softer approach to Ankara has fueled a stronger stance in Congress, including renewed support for the Armenian genocide declaration.

It’s also gotten a boost from celebrity backers who are Armenian American.

Kim Kardashian West urged her followers to call their senators and ask them to vote yes on the resolution hours before the vote Thursday, writing in an Instagram post: “Denial is the final stage of genocide.”



Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Early exit polls indicate huge victory for Conservatives in UK election

iStock(LONDON) — If early exit polls are any indication, Conservatives have won a huge victory in U.K.’s closely watched general election.

Britain went to the polls for the third time in five years Thursday to determine whom the public wants to resolve the stalemate over Brexit.

In an exit poll released at 10 p.m. local time, with the Conservative Party winning 368 seats and the Labour Party taking 191. The victory would mean a clear vindication for Brexit-champion Boris Johnson, who would remain as prime minister.

Polling booths in the historic election opened at 7 a.m. local time and closed at 10 p.m. — which is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States.

The official results are expected to be announced Friday morning.

Johnson, the prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party, called the election to secure the majority he needs to get his Brexit deal through Parliament. His primary opponent, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, has said he will hold a second referendum on Brexit if his party comes into power.

The election has been hailed on all political sides as the “most important vote in a generation.”

The public cast their votes in all 650 constituencies throughout the United Kingdom, with the outcome determining how many seats each political party secures in the House of Commons.

Both Johnson and Corbyn were seen casting their votes in their local constituencies Thursday morning.

At the last general election in 2017, Theresa May, the prime minister at the time, lost the Conservatives’ governing majority, which ultimately shot down her attempts to get her Brexit deal through Parliament. After she resigned, Johnson replaced her this summer with the promise to secure Brexit by the October 31 deadline.

He was ultimately was forced by opposition parties, and rebel MPs in his own ranks, to request an extension to the deadline and call an election.

The election campaign has been marred by accusations that misinformation has been peddled by all sides on the political spectrum, and claims that Johnson has avoided scrutiny of his policy. In one key instance, the Conservative Campaign Headquarters twitter account (@CCHQPress), changed its name to “factcheckUK” during a leaders’ debate between Johnson and Corbyn.

Another key issue during the campaign has been accusations of Islamophobia leveled at the Conservative Party, and anti-Semitism in the ranks of the Labour Party.

While the Conservative Party has sought to campaign predominantly on the issue of Brexit — with the slogan “Get Brexit Done” — the Labour Party have focused primarily on the National Health Service (NHS), according to Paula Surridge, a political sociologist at the University of Bristol.

“Brexit is still a key issue, but the Labour Party has wanted to fight the election on other issues where they feel they have a stronger position in the electorate, particularly on issue of health,” she told ABC News. “Here they have focused on trade with the U.S. and issues around parts of the NHS being open to U.S. markets for drugs and medicines.

“So the NHS has focused heavily in the campaign,” she added.

The final poll by the major election tracker YouGov, which predicted how 93% of seats in the 2017 general election, projects that the Conservative Party will win 339 seats. That would give them a governing majority of 28.

However, due to the margin of error involved, they have not ruled out a “hung Parliament” — which means no political party will have a majority to govern effectively.

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