SUBMIT A TIP | Fax # 309-839-4126
LISTEN LIVE

 

ABC - World News
Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- South Korean President Moon Jae In says he delivered President Trump's firm willingness to end hostile relations with North Korea and to offer economic assistance to the country if leader Kim Jong Un implements complete denuclearization.

Kim reached out to Moon on Friday afternoon, just after Trump announced a personal letter to Kim cancelling a planned summit next month, to say that he "wanted to meet without formalities."

The two met secretly at the North's side of the border at the truce village of Panmunjom on Saturday afternoon, then later made the meeting public.

Trump, speaking after welcoming an American who had just returned to the U.S. after being freed from jail in Venezuela, said that meetings are ongoing regarding a possible summit with North Korea and that they have "gone very very well." He also said that a date of June 12 in Singapore is still being considered for the meeting.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is still planning to send a team to Singapore in case a summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un happens after all.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that a "pre-advance team for Singapore will leave as scheduled in order to prepare should the summit take place."

The statement comes after news of a surprise meeting Saturday morning between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss a potential summit between the North Korean leader and Trump.

Trump announced earlier this week that he was canceling the planned June 12 summit with Kim. But on Friday evening the president tweeted that such a meeting could still happen on that date.

The last time two weeks ago that a White House delegation traveled in advance of the planned summit they were stood up by their North Korean counterparts.

The surprise meeting between the North and South Korean leaders on Saturday, held in a village on the north side of their shared border, was to exchange opinions about holding a successful summit between Kim and President Trump and on how to implement steps that Kim and Moon agreed to in their last meeting on April 27, the South Korean president's office said.

It is unknown whether North Korea requested the meeting first, but sources told ABC News it was arranged in the morning. Moon is to announce details of the meeting at a press conference on Sunday, according to his office.

At the meeting, Kim was with his sister Kim Yo-jong and his top aide Kim Yong chol in charge of inter-Korean affairs. Moon was accompanied by South Korea's national intelligence service chief, Suh Hoon.

The White House has not yet responded to a request for comment on the Saturday meeting.

ABC News' Kate Lee and Nataly Pak contributed to this report.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Eight months after being struck by Hurricane Maria, the island of Puerto Rico is bracing as another hurricane season while still cleaning up and restoring power.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that this year’s Atlantic hurricane season will see five to nine hurricanes with one to four major ones.

Officials on the island are making every effort to be prepared ahead of any storm by holding table-top drills, mock exercises and rounds of meetings.

THE RACE TO 100%

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is racing to get the island’s customers back on the electrical grid before the start of hurricane season. Approximately 13,000 customers are still without power more than 240 days since Hurricane Maria hit the island.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, which was working on grid restoration, said their restoration mission assignment ended May 18. “USACE staff are currently supporting the transfer of logistics operations back to FEMA and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and are overseeing the demobilization of contractors that supported the transmission and distribution lines mission” an Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News.

Col. Jason Kirk, the commander of the Task Force Power Restoration, told ABC News in March that the work being done was mainly a temporary one.

"The power restoration that we're doing right now, for the most part, is replacement ... if we were in the mission to bury them [electrical poles], we would have hundreds of thousands of people without power because it takes so long," Kirk said.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello has said that the electrical grid that is being put up now will be weaker than the grid that existed prior to Maria. He added that it will take close to five years to a rebuild a stronger electrical grid.

THE DEATH TOLL

The number of lives claimed following Hurricane Maria remains a mystery on the island. A team from George Washington University is currently leading an independent effort to count the dead. Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health, told ABC News the task of counting the deaths is an exhausting one, which involves interviewing people involved in the care of those who passed away.

In a statement on Monday, the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety has announced that the George Washington University team “requested additional time to complete the commissioned study on the deaths after the passage of Hurricane Maria through the Island.” The statement continued by saying “according to Professor Carlos Santos Burgoa, director of the study, the final report may be completed during this summer to complete the analysis of the available databases.”

There was a spike in the mortality rate in the months after Hurricane Maria. According to a professor of applied demography at Pennsylvania State University who has studied the daily mortality data from the Puerto Rico government, says there were approximately 1,000 more deaths on the island in the month after Maria.

At the press conference announcing GWU as the lead team in February, however, Rossello said: “It is our interest that experts can identify as accurately as possible the deaths directly and indirectly associated with the hurricane to improve protocols for future natural disasters.”

THE NEXT GENERATION

What happens to the population’s youngest is key to the long term development and reconstruction on the island. The number of Puerto Ricans that have left the island has been swirling since the hurricane hit with the number believed to be in the hundreds of thousands.

The Puerto Rico Department of Education told ABC News in recent weeks that 283 schools are slated to close because of declining student enrollment following Hurricane Maria.

A spokesperson for the department says there are 319,000 students on the island compared to 346,000 enrolled students as of May 2017. The department projects that there will be 311,000 enrolled students this August. Half of schools on the island are at 60 percent of capacity.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images(DUBLIN) -- Voters in deeply Roman Catholic Ireland support by a 2-to-1 margin repeal of a 1983 constitutional ban on abortions, the official vote tally shows.

Official results of Friday's referendum showed that of about 2.1 million votes cast, 1.4 million were in favor of repealing the Eighth Amendment to Ireland’s Constitution that says a mother and unborn child have an “equal right to life.” About 723,000 voters wanted to retain the ban.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a medical doctor who campaigned for ending the decades-old ban, hailed the result as a "quiet revolution."

"The people have spoken," Varadkar said. "The people have said that we want a modern constitution for a modern country, that we trust women and we respect them to make the right decision and the right choices about their health care."

"A quiet revolution has taken place," he tweeted, "A great act of democracy."

One person involved in the campaign to overturn the ban called the results "momentous."

"The polls suggest all generations voted with us," Catherine Conlon, a Trinity College professor told ABC News, after exit polls showed overwhelming support for repeal of the amendment. "I'm so heartened to know so many of my fellow citizens reflected on this debate and came to trust women."

Seeking or providing an abortion in Ireland is currently a criminal offense that carries up to 14 years behind bars. As a result, thousands of Irish women make the trip abroad, often to England, to have an abortion.

Repealing the amendment means that abortion could be regulated as it is in both the United States and the United Kingdom, clearing the way for Ireland's government to implement more liberal abortion laws. Lawmakers are now expected to debate proposed legislation allowing abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and after that in cases of fetal abnormalities or serious risks to the mother’s health.

The vote pitted conservative backers of strict abortion laws against those supporting a woman's right to choose. After the vote Friday and exit polls showing overwhelming support for overturning the abortion ban, anti-abortion advocates showed their concern on social media.

Although the "yes" campaign was supported by the country's prime minister, neither of the major political parties took a side in the debate, allowing individual politicians to make up their own minds. The "no" campaign was largely backed by so-called pro-life groups -- the most prominent being the Iona Institute, a socially conservative Roman Catholic advocacy group.

As the date of Friday's referendum approached, the debate between the two sides had grown deeply contentious, with both being accused of illegally removing each other's street posters. The hot-button issue also motivated a number of Irish ex-patriots to fly home from around the globe to cast their ballots, with many posting their positions on social media beside the hashtag #HomeToVote.

The heated, emotional campaign saw limits placed on social media advertisements nationwide, with Facebook and Google banning campaign ads after concerns from experts that some campaign ads were funded by U.S.-based anti-abortion groups.

Following a 2015 vote, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Joshua Holt, an American who has been jailed in Venezuela without a trial for two years, has been released, officials said on Saturday.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who has advocated for Holt's release, said he's "honored" to be able to finally reunite the Utah native with his family.

"Over the past two years, I've worked with two presidential administrations, countless diplomatic contacts, ambassadors from all over the world, a network of contacts in Venezuela and President Maduro himself, and I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family in Riverton," Hatch said in a statement Saturday morning.

President Donald Trump said via Twitter that Holt will arrive Saturday night in Washington, D.C., where he will be reunited with his family at the White House.

"The great people of Utah will be very happy!" the president tweeted.

Holt will be returning to the United States with his wife, Thamara Caleño.

The Mormon missionary traveled to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry Caleño, whom he met on an online Mormon dating site. Holt planned to return to the United States with his new wife and two stepchildren, but they never made it back.

The newlyweds were awaiting visas when Venezuelan police raided their apartment and arrested them on charges of terrorism, espionage and illegal possession of weapons. They were imprisoned in Caracas awaiting trial ever since. Holt and his family maintain they were wrongly accused.

Holt's parents have said their son was kept in appalling conditions -- with meager food and limited access to health services -- at El Helicoide, the infamous political prison in central Caracas. He had lost a considerable amount of weight and was suffering from kidney stones and painful tooth decay, they said.

They called the release of their son and his wife a "miracle."

The news of their release comes just days after Venezuela's presidential election. Nicolas Maduro was re-elected last Sunday for a second six-year term in a vote the United States denounced and said it won't recognize.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is still planning to send a team to Singapore in case a summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un happens after all.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that a "pre-advance team for Singapore will leave as scheduled in order to prepare should the summit take place."

The statement comes after news of a surprise meeting Saturday morning between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss a potential summit between the North Korean leader and Trump.

Trump announced earlier this week that he was canceling the planned June 12 summit with Kim. But, on Friday evening, the president tweeted that such a meeting could still happen on that date.

The last time -- two weeks ago -- that a White House delegation traveled in advance of the planned summit, they were stood up by their North Korean counterparts.

The surprise meeting between the North and South Korean leaders on Saturday, held in a village on the north side of their shared border, was to exchange opinions about holding a successful summit between Kim and President Trump, and on how to implement steps that Kim and Moon agreed to in their last meeting on April 27, the South Korean president's office said.

It is unknown whether North Korea requested the meeting first, but sources told ABC News that it was arranged in the morning. Moon is expected to announce details of the meeting at a press conference on Sunday, according to his office.

At the meeting, Kim was with his sister, Kim Yo-jong, and his top aide, Kim Yong-chol, in charge of inter-Korean affairs. Moon was accompanied by South Korea's national intelligence service chief, Suh Hoon.

The White House has not yet responded to a request for comment on Saturday's meeting.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(BOGOTA, Colombia) -- Colombians are heading to the polls to elect a new president on Sunday, and entrenched polarization on how to handle the country's fragile peace process and growing refugee crisis is front and center.

Six candidates are jockeying to become the newest resident in the presidential palace, as current President Juan Manuel Santos is term-limited from running for office. A former defense minister who's been president since 2010, Santos shepherded a peace process that gave the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia -- better known as FARC for its initials in Spanish -- a shot at a place in mainstream politics, in theory ending a five-decade-long war between the guerrilla group and the Colombian people.

But the disparate campaigns and opposite takes on issues speak to a growing division within Colombian society on how big of a role they want the FARC to have in government, and how they want the government to deal with the growing economic and social problems, including an influx of Venezuelan refugees fleeing poverty and hunger across the border.

Sunday's vote will define the country's politics for years to come -- like in the United States, the presidential term in Colombia is four years, with the possibility of serving two terms. And changes could be dramatic; polarization between right- and left-wing politicians has only increased after the peace agreement was signed.

If none of the candidates get 50 percent plus one vote or more, the top two vote-getters will move on to a runoff election on June 17.

The stakes

The Colombian peace agreement, signed in Havana in the fall of 2016, remains very controversial, with many condemning the power it gives former FARC guerrilla members, and some others saying it is needed if the South American country is to heal after half-century of war.

Among the most controversial points of the agreement: the return of FARC combatants to civil life without fear of imprisonment, and the inclusion of the FARC in national politics.

The deal also calls for demilitarization and the restitution of land used by guerrillas for the production of cocaine.

With several candidates campaigning on dismantling or renegotiating the deal, and others attacking the FARC and its leaders, some fear the hope for peace that the agreement seems to bring will not last.

“If this peace process ends, it will be the start of huge problems," said Malia Lobete in Medellin, the second-largest city in the country. She added, "The FARC doesn’t need to be begged to go back to violence."

Lobete knows what she's talking about -- the conflict between the Colombian government, the FARC, other guerrilla and paramilitary groups, and drug cartels left more than 220,000 people dead, and displaced another 5 million. More than 25,000 people vanished during the conflict, according to Colombia's National Center for Historical Memory.

On top of the old fears, there are new problems because an increasingly dramatic border crisis threatens to upend Colombian prosperity. More than 30,000 Venezuelans are estimated to cross the porous Colombo-Venezuelan border every day to buy groceries, go to school, catch buses to other Latin American countries or find work in border towns.

Many live in overcrowded shacks, working for pennies. Mauricio Franco Trujillo, the head of security for the border city of Cucuta, told ABC News recently that his city -- and the border -- were at the point of total collapse.

The candidates

IVÁN DUQUE -- Considered the front-runner, former Sen. Duque is the leader of the right-wing Democratic Center Party and has the support of former President Alvaro Uribe. Duque has said he wants to renegotiate terms of the peace agreement, which he opposed in 2016. Duque has campaigned on banning the FARC from political engagement and has advocated for prison time for former FARC commanders.

GUSTAVO PETRO -- A one-time guerrilla leader and mayor of the capital city of Bogota, Petro is the main left-wing candidate running this Sunday. In a country wary of left-wing leaders, who are often supported by unpopular guerrilla groups, Petro has managed to rally those disappointed by decades of right-wing rule, becoming popular among young voters. Still, his dissenters compare him with the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, stoking fears that Colombia could go down the same economic spiral affecting Venezuela.

SERGIO FAJARDO -- The former mayor of Medellin and governor of the state of Antioquia, Fajardo, seen as a centrist candidate, is a proponent of the peace accord and has a long history of favoring the integration and rehabilitation of former guerrilla combatants into society.

HUMBERTO DE LA CALLE -- A former vice president of Colombia and the chief negotiator of the FARC peace accord, Calle is the candidate for the Liberal Party, one of Colombia's oldest, strongest and more traditional political parties. Along with the Conservative Party, the liberals defined Colombian politics in the 20th century.

GERMAN VARGAS LLERAS -- Lleras served as vice president in Santos' government. While a far-right candidate, he has said he will respect the peace agreement with the FARC.

JOSE ANTONIO TRUJILLO -- The evangelical pastor, who pollsters give a very low chance of winning, has said, should he be elected, he'd be harsher in dealing with the FARC.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(DUBLIN) -- Two major exit polls project that Irish voters have voted to repeal the country's Eighth Amendment, passed by voters in 1983, which effectively bans abortions in the island nation.

One poll, by The Irish Times, projected 68 percent in favor of repealing. Another, by RTE, showed a similar projection of 69.4 percent in favor.

The results followed a contentious and emotional campaign in a deeply Catholic nation, home to one of the world's strictest abortion bans.

Seeking or providing an abortion in Ireland was a criminal offense that carries up to 14 years behind bars. As a result, thousands of Irish women make the trip abroad, often to England, to have an abortion.

More than 170,000 women traveled from the Republic of Ireland to access abortion services in another country between 1980 and 2016, according to the Irish Family Planning Association.

As the vote date approached, the debate between the two sides had grown deeply contentious, which, in part, motivated a lot of Irish ex-patriots to fly home from around the globe to cast their ballots -- many posting their positions on social media beside the hashtag #HomeToVote.

Repealing the amendment means that abortion could be regulated as it is in both the United States and the United Kingdom, clearing the way for Ireland's government to implement more liberal abortion laws. Lawmakers are now expected to debate proposed legislation allowing abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and after that in cases of fetal abnormalities or serious risks to the mother’s health.

The vote pitted conservative backers of strict abortion restrictions against those supporting a woman's right to choose.

The Yes campaign was supported by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, though neither of the largest political parties took a side in the debate, allowing individual politicians to make up their own minds. The No side was largely backed by so-called pro-life groups -- the most prominent being The Iona Institute, a socially conservative Roman Catholic advocacy group.

As the vote date approached, the battle between the two sides grew increasingly vicious, with both Yes and No campaigns being accused of illegal removing each other’s street posters.

The heated, emotional campaign saw limits placed on social media advertisements nationwide, with Facebook and Google banning campaign ads after concerns from experts that some campaign ads were funded by U.S. based anti-abortion groups.

Following a 2015 vote, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images(ST. PETERSBURG, Russia) -- France's president Emmanuel Macron on Friday used a state visit to Russia to mount an energetic charm offensive on President Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders rubbed elbows in a series of appearances at an economic forum in Saint Petersburg, but repeatedly stumbled on some of the stark disagreements that have set Russia and Western countries at odds with one another.

Macron has said the trip is intended as an attempt to refresh relations between Russia and Europe that have been sinking steadily into tensions reminiscent of the Cold War, fuelled by clashes over the Ukraine crisis, Russia's role in Syria and most recently the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain.

For some, Macron’s trip was a reprise of his visit to the White House in April where his delicate handling of President Donald Trump prompted some commentators to call him “the Trump whisperer”.

On his trip to Russia, Macron turned his efforts to Putin. He was studiously respectful of Putin, filling his speeches with references to Russian culture and nods to Putin’s personal history. Throughout the trip, the two have referred to one another as “Cher Vladimir” and “Dear Emmanuel”.

In a speech on stage with Macron told an audience that he was convinced "Russia has its history and its destiny in Europe” and urged Putin to embrace it.

“I am ready,” Macron told Putin. “The window of opportunity exists, it is now, and if we don’t take it, it can close again.”

The Trump administration's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last month for some observers has created an unusual moment for Europe and Russia to try to make a return to more normal relations. France, along with the UK, Germany, and China, shares Russia's desire to preserve the Iran deal and the countries have said they are seeking was to mitigate the impact of American sanctions that will now be re-imposed.

Against that backdrop, Macron found himself praising the merits of multilateral diplomacy to Putin. Macron, who has presented himself as a straight-talker and muscular liberal, urged Putin to play by the rules of an international order based on cooperation, but couched it in terms meant to appeal to the Russian leader.

“We all know your taste for judo, dear Vladimir — it is based on mastery of one’s own strength and respect for one’s opponent,” Macron said, referring to Putin's well-known passion for the martial art (he is a black-belt). “Let us emulate these principles in the international arena. Let us play a co-operative game, a joint game," he said, saying his favorite game was soccer.

For his part, Putin seemed at turns pleased, but also amused and skeptical of his guest, treating him as precocious. His use of “Dear Emmanuel” at times appeared tongue-in-cheek. After Macron's comments about judo, Putin responded: "Such a situation in the world has come about, that everyone is playing soccer, while applying the rules of judo. It's neither soccer, nor judo. It's just chaos."

But even as Macron sought to improve relations with Putin, one of the conflicts behind the tension in Russia and Western relations intervened. The Netherlands and Australia announced they hold Russia responsible for the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, that killed 298 people. A day earlier, a Dutch-led four-year long international investigation found that the missile used to bring down the airliner belonged to a Russian anti-aircraft brigade.

The Netherlands and Australia, whose citizens made up the largest number of the dead, urged Russia to accept responsibility and warned they might try to hold Russia accountable in an international court. The call was backed by the U.S. and Britain.

Russia previously has denied any role in the shooting down, despite mounting evidence from the Dutch-led investigation and independent researchers that it had been a Russian missile, fired by pro-Russian separatists who mistook the airliner for a Ukrainian military plane. On Friday, the independent research group, Bellingcat, that has unearthed considerably evidence around MH17 from open source materials, claimed to have identified a Russian intelligence officer as a key person of interest.

On stage with Putin, Macron urged him to accept responsibility for the shooting down. But Putin again flatly rejected the missile was Russian and said Moscow would not accept the investigation since it had not been included in it.

The exchange underlined the limits of what Macron’s outreach is likely to produce. His critics have already pointed out that his supposed deft touch with Trump yielded no result, with Trump nonetheless withdrawing from the Iran deal despite Macron's efforts to dissuade him.

At the forum in St. Petersburg, which gathers virtually all of Russia's business and political elite, much of the focus was on France's strong economic relations with Russia in spite of the European Union and U.S. sanctions that were imposed following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2014. With Macron's presence many Russian and French executives speaking at the forum spoke hopefully of a waning impact from the sanctions and a desire for a return to business as usual.

But following the conference though, there was little sign much would shift around the sanctions. At a news conference, Macron reiterated that France would not remove its sanctions on Russia unless there was progress on the Ukraine conflict.

"The ball is in the camp of Russia and Ukraine," Macron said, according to Reuters. "It's as simple as that. We won't lift the sanctions if nothing's done. That's what we discussed with Vladimir Putin."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Sarah Hucal/ABC News(OSLO, Norway) -- On a warm spring evening in Oslo, a series of brass notes — some electrifying, others solemn — are played by a dozen instrumentalists perched in various corners of the multi-story entryway of the Sentralen, a former savings bank turned cultural center.

The performance is part of the two-day experimental music Connect Festival of Sound, which takes concert-goers on a sonic journey through the building’s most unique rooms, including a former vault and an opulent marble hall.

The festival - which features instrumental ensembles, sound and video installations and electronic music - is one of several events put on by the country’s nyMusikk, an organization that promotes experimental music and sound art.

Like many such organizations, it primarily relies on grants from the Norwegian government to operate.

The festival is emblematic of the country's emphasis on providing artistic experimentation as a public service.

“You can say that we rely on government funding or you can say that the society we have here relies on us to produce very artistic content,” said Artistic Director Bjørnar Habbestad. “There’s a long tradition in our society of setting up mechanisms that ensure these kinds of activities.”

Federal funding for the arts has become practically non-existent in the United States, where even large cultural entities struggle to stay afloat.

Last year's federal budget under U.S. President Donald Trump called for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, making Trump the first president in history to propose eliminating all funding for the nation’s federal cultural agencies.

In Norway, the national cultural budget is roughly 1.3 billion dollars, according to the Norwegian Arts Council.

Norway's government arts funding model has created a diverse cultural landscape where artists can feel free to experiment.

“With the government funding, you don’t feel like you’re on a leash - you have room to experiment and create what you want,” said musician and composer Stephan Meidell.

Such hard-earned grants have allowed him to have a career in his field.

At the festival, Meidell, along with Berlin-based film company Blank Blank, presented a sound and video installation featuring robotic instruments that create a work of art based on the notes played.

The performance, like others at the festival, dares audiences to experience something new. Other examples include an installation that explores the limits of extreme sound and lasers, by Baltimore-based artist Jeff Carey, and pop-influenced works by jazz ensemble Skrap IV.

However, since Norway’s conservative government took office in 2013, there has been a shift in cultural policy, and in some cases an emphasis on economizing the arts by supporting projects that are more in line with the nation's business goals — a worrying prospect for many experimental artists who rely on existing funding.

Habbestad said that it has become more difficult to secure long-term project grants and the necessary means for new projects in recent years.

Policy in the US, he said, could also play a role in future government grants in Norway.

“What is observable in American politics and media today also affects how we talk about things in Norway today. Norwegian politicians change the climate for discussions —and not necessarily for the better.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(SAO PAULO) -- A federal jury in Texas on Friday found a Brazilian couple guilty of helping their daughter kidnap a Houston doctor's son and take him to Brazil, where the child remains, but declined to convict them of a related conspiracy charge.

The split verdict came five years into Houston doctor Chris Brann's campaign to retrieve his son Nicolas, now 8, from Brazil, where his ex-wife Marcella Guimaraes took him for a temporary trip in July, 2013 and failed to return.

The child's Brazilian grandparents, Carlos Otavio Guimaraes and Jemima Guimaraes, sat in stunned silence as federal judge announced the verdict, following three and a half days of jury deliberations.

With Brann's permission, their daughter took Nicolas, known as "Nico," to Brazil for a 2013 family wedding and refused to return. She successfully petitioned a Brazilian court that year to grant her sole custody, and enrolled her son in a local Brazilian school.

Brann has said he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in an effort to get his son back, and has sought the help of the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Hague Abduction Convention - a 1988 international agreement that seeks to facilitate the return of children removed in violation of custody agreements from their "habitual residences."

Both the U.S. and Brazil are signatories to that agreement, but in a 2017 report, the State Department said that Brazilian “judicial authorities...persistently failed to regularly implement and comply with the provisions of the Convention.”

Last year, federal prosecutors in Texas filed a criminal complaint seeking the arrests of the grandparents and their daughter, and earlier this year the grandparents were arrested when they arrived at a Miami, Florida airport to attend the birthday party of a different grandchild.

Like his daughter Marcella, Carlos Guimareas is a dual Brazilian-American citizen and holds two passports. He and his wife surrendered their passports to U.S. authorities during an earlier bond hearing.

Marcella Guimareas - who could not immediately be reached for comment - and Nicolas have remained in Brazil, out of reach of U.S. authorities, since 2013.

Brann told ABC News on Friday that he had mixed emotions about the verdicts.

“I never wanted it to come to this and the only thing I want is for my son to come home," he said. "I hope they will take responsibility for their actions and do everything they can do have him come home as soon as possible.”

The convicted couple will remain under house arrest at the Houston home of their son, Roberto Guimaraes, pending sentencing. They face up to three years in prison.

In a separate statement issued after the split verdict, Brann said that "this is an incredibly sad day for me" and vowed to advocate for a lenient sentence for the grandparents if his son is immediately returned to the U.S.

"Despite all the cruelty they have heaped on my extraordinary son Nico, by obstructing his relationship with me, Nico remains my sole concern.

"If my ex-wife Marcelle returns with Nico to the United States immediately, I will happily appear at the Guimarães' sentencing hearing to advocate maximum leniency."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Should one of the best known French pastries be called chocolatine or pain au chocolat? This is a debate that has been going on for decades in France. A group of right-wing French MPs are bringing the question to the French National Assembly as they are fighting to promote the term chocolatine.

A vast majority of French people, as well as tourists visiting the country, use the word "pain au chocolat" when ordering the French puff pastry with chocolate inside. But in the southwest region of France, people call it ‘chocolatine’ and see it as a source of regional pride.

A group of 10 French Parliament members are proposing an amendment giving official status to chocolatine.

The change would "give value to the customary name and fame of a product," the proposed amendment says. "This would, for example, be the case for the chocolate pastry whose name has historically been rooted in the Gascon region, and which is the pride of all southwestern France: the chocolatine."

The debate has been trending on social media in France, with some commentators mocking the amendment, saying French MPs probably have more urgent topics to discuss than the question of the appellation of a pastry. Other joked about the ongoing debate, with one writing: “I respect chocolatine and pain au chocolat: THEY HAVE THE SAME TASTE!”

This amendment is to be discussed at the French National Assembly by May 30. According to Jean-Baptiste Moreau, member of President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party, it has “little chance” of being adopted. It will compete for debating time with more pressing issues such as banning pesticides and introducing cameras into abattoirs to prevent animal mistreatment.

The semantic battle over the name of the pastry might very well continue to divide France.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Many South Koreans were shocked when President Trump called off the June 12 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Many also believe the historic summit could still happen.

“Eventually, Kim Jong Un has no other choice but to come and meet Trump,” Kenneth Choi, an international editor for a South Korean newspaper Chosun-ilbo, told ABC News. “President Trump left a little opening door [for the meeting] at the end of his letter.”

Kim Ye-jin, who participates in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in Chung-ang University, said, “Although the meeting was put off, I still think there is hope for peace.”

Paul Lee, a former youth organizer, said Kim wants the meeting because "he needs to seek legitimacy."

"This would be a great loss for [North Korea] to suddenly quit the summit," he added.

Some pointed out that Trump’s way of abruptly calling off the summit went too far.

“It was like Trump canceling a dinner reservation,” Kim Sung-min, who represents a group of progressive and liberal university students, told ABC News. “One-way cancellation of a summit between the leaders of two countries seemed like an irresponsible act to me.”

Freelance reporter Youn Sang-un said he was surprised by North Korea's response.

“You never expect that soft stance from the dictatorship regime,” he said.

In a statement, Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's vice minister of foreign affairs, said his country feels great regret for the unexpected cancellation and that he and other government officials would still like to meet with U.S. representatives "any time."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Three people earlier listed in critical condition after an explosion a restaurant in Canada have been upgraded to stable condition, authorities confirmed to ABC News.

At least 15 people were hurt around 10:30 p.m. local time when an improvised explosive device was detonated at Bombay Bhel Indian, according to authorities in Mississauga, a city immediately southwest of Toronto.

The three severely injured individuals were taken to a trauma center in Toronto, police said.

Peel Regional Police said they're still currently looking for two male suspects who fled the scene.

One suspect was described as 5-foot-10 to 6-feet tall, stocky, mid-20s, light skin and he was wearing blue jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie and a baseball cap. His face was covered with a black cloth.

The other suspect was described as 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-10, fair skin, thin and he was wearing faded blue jeans, a dark zip-up hoodie, a gray T-shirt and dark-colored skate shoes. His face was covered.

The investigation is ongoing and, at this time, the attack is not being treated as terrorism or a hate crime, police said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL) -- Photos released by North Korean state media purporting to show the demolition of North Korea's nuclear test site earlier Thursday.

At Thursday's Pentagon briefing, Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said the U.S. is assessing the pictures of what happened.

"We're looking at pictures of it right now," said McKenzie. "And we don't have a final assessment, they obviously did some visible destruction of the entrance to the tunnel. I don't have a better answer for you than that right now."

Journalists from around the world flew from Beijing to Wonsan, on the east coast of North Korea, Tuesday and were taken on a long journey to the nuclear site near the village of Punggye-ri.

North Korean state media previously reported the dismantlement process would involve "collapsing all of its tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts" and that foreign media were invited to cover the event to show the process in a "transparent manner."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Local Weather
Calendar
Polls
What Do You Want This Weeks Hog Country #1 to be?
Add a Comment
(Fields are Optional)

Your email address is never published.