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Sunday
Feb182018

Princess Kate steps out in green at the British Academy Film Awards

Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty Images(LONDON) -- Princess Kate arrived at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) tonight with Prince William in a dark green Jenny Packham gown, as the majority of other women on the red carpet chose to wear black in solidarity with the fight against sexual harassment and the Time's Up movement.

The mother of Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2, who is currently pregnant in her third trimester, however, did wear a black tie around her dress above her glowing figure, in what may have been a subtle nod to fellow women.

Royal family members are forbidden from making political statements of any kind and must remain unbiased. Kensington Palace declined to comment on Kate’s decision to wear green instead of black in solidarity with other women. Last year, Kate wore a black Alexander McQueen gown with printed flowers.

The dress code is similar to other red carpets, most notably the Golden Globes, when women and men both showed their support for gender equality and human rights for women.

Margot Robbie, Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie and almost every other major celebrity wore black on the red carpet tonight, which has been a dominant theme at awards shows in the wake of the Time's Up and #MeToo movements after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke last fall.

There was considerable discussion online and on television about the Duchess of Cambridge’s decision to forego black on the red carpet as the Time's Up movement is not aligned with a particular political party.

British TV presenter Piers Morgan wrote on Twitter “Duchess of Cambridge being abused by 'feminists' on Twitter for not wearing a black dress at tonight's #BAFTAS Apparently, she's not allowed to exercise HER feminist right to wear whatever colour dress she chooses.”

Others said that it was a missed opportunity for Kate, and argued that wearing black was not a political statement but rather simply an affirmation of women’s rights.

Kate accessorized her gown with stunning emerald and diamond earrings, which she donned previously in New York when she and Prince William attended the 600th anniversary benefit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of their Alma mater St Andrews University.

Princess Kate accompanied William, who is president of BAFTA, and also wore a glittering matching emerald and diamond necklace to the Awards ceremony.

"Catherine and I are extremely pleased to be here amongst you all this evening," William said at tonight's event. "The Film Awards are just one part of BAFTA's activity. I have been privileged over the years to experience first-hand the impact of its work in the United Kingdom, in Los Angeles, New York and Asia -- work ranging from scholarships and supporting new talent, through to masterclasses with the very best in the film industry -- many of whom are here this evening."

"Your support of BAFTA -- sharing skills, expertise and time -- means we can ensure the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. It ensures that we can do much, much more to help talented people from all backgrounds to be given the opportunity to succeed," he added.

Earlier in the day more than 200 women signed on to a new fund to support women who experience abuse and harassment at work. Emma Watson donated $1 million to the campaign, while Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley and Kristen Scott Thomas are all signatories to the open letter.

"As we approach the BAFTAs, our industry's time for celebration and acknowledgement, we hope we can celebrate this tremendous moment of solidarity and unity across borders by coming together and making this movement international," the letter states.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

Three billboards in London ask hard questions about Grenfell tower fire

Carl Court/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Three large billboards pulled by vans snaked through the British capital Thursday afternoon. The words on the stark red backdrops read:

“71 dead.”

“And still no arrests?”

“How come?”

The banners were inspired by the 2017 film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," about a woman campaigning for police to find the culprit responsible for her daughter’s rape and murder.

Last June, at least 71 people were killed as a devastating fire ravaged a tower block in West London. A block of public housing flats entrenched in Britain’s wealthiest neighborhood of Kensington and Chelsea, the burning tower became an iconic symbol of inequality in London.

In the initial days following the tragedy, the council responsible for the area was harshly criticized for its slow response and for having possibly neglected safety standards that could have prevented the fire from taking place.

After several initial reviews into fire safety and building materials, the Metropolitan Police -- the force responsible for Greater London –- announced a criminal investigation into the fire. In a public notice the police said that they had “reasonable grounds” to suspect that both the council and the building management company may have committed corporate manslaughter.

In January 2018 the Metropolitan Police requested more than $50 million from the UK Home Office to cover the costs of the investigation, one of the most expansive and complex inquiries in the force’s history, involving around 250 officers and staff. More than 30 million documents and more than 1,000 statements have been taken from witnesses so far.

Given the scale of the inquiry, reaction to the "Three Billboards" campaign through London was mixed online.

Film director Ken Loach, known for his work exploring social issues through his films, praised and promoted the campaign as a way to refocus public attention on the issue in order to push for accountability.

The Secret Barrister –- an anonymous legal commentator who has cautioned against prosecution to satisfy public anger -- replied to Loach's tweet, calling the three-billboard display "antagonism" that would help no one.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

As Rio Carnival ends, Brazil shifts its focus to historic presidential election

iStock/Thinkstock(RIO DE JANEIRO) -- Samba drums and hypnotic percussions, nonstop flow of positive lyrics about love and "Saudade" in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Women, men and children wearing sparkly red shirts, fun headpieces dancing tirelessly.

"Blocos de Rua" -- or street bands -- could be found across the country, mobilizing locals and tourists alike. One of the thousands of organized street festivals is the "Bloco de Carmelitas" -- originated in 1990 in the St. Teresa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.

As it plays out every year, Rio Carnival 2018, which began earlier this month, gave Brazilians a chance to unwind and party in the streets.

Monica Araujo, 59, a nurse at a public hospital, never misses the "Bloco de Carmelitas."

"That's a necessity for Brazilians to celebrate carnival," Araujo said.

Amid all the fun, though, Brazilians had an anxious eye toward October, when voters will elect another president after years of political turmoil. Araujo, for her part, sent a message by dressing as a doctor -- to highlight the lack of funding for her hospital, which suffered major cuts.

"My hospital lost 10 percent of jobs last year. We cannot work," Araujo told ABC News. "The university of my eldest child has stopped her class because of a lack of money."

Once elected, the future president will have to deal with the worst economic recession in decades, violent crimes and a recrudescence of gang activity. Above all, he or she will have to reverse a general political mistrust after the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff and the nomination of unpopular Michel Temer as her interim successor.

"I never voted for Michel Temer," Araujo said.

She added that, because of the political uncertainty, Carnival, which ends Sunday, is that much more important for a healthy distraction and a rejuvenation leading up to October.

"Of course, we need to celebrate even more," she said.

Not only will Brazilians elect a new president in October, but they will also vote for a new Congress in the wake of a political corruption scandal.

Renato Silva 31, a law student who traveled from Sao Paulo to celebrate Carnival, tried to keep his excitement for the election despite the recent political scandals.

"There was a lot of disappointment in Brazil the past four years," Silva said.

"If we don't hope the future will be better, then we die. Carnival is good for both hope and despair," Renato added.

In some ways, the election mirrors the presidential election in the United States in 2016, with candidates being compared to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Geraldo Alckmin of the centrist Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB) has been compared to Clinton, while Jair Bolsonaro of the far-right Partido Social Cristao (PSC) has been dubbed the "Donald Trump of Brazil."

Bolsonaro, a former military officer during the dictatorship who wants to combat crime by putting an end to gun control laws, said he is a threat to the establishment.

"I am a threat to oligarchies, I am a threat to the stubbornly corrupt, I'm a threat to those who want to destroy family values," Bolsonaro told ABC News. "That's the threat I represent."

The person to beat, however -- if he is allowed to run -- is Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. But the charismatic candidate of Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), who simply goes by Lula, may be in jail by October, following a questionable money laundering trial.

But the left-leaning PT, who compared Lula to the late South African activist and president Nelson Mandela, said it is standing by its candidate.

"We won't give up in the face of this injustice," it said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Chinese crepes

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It's officially the Year of the Dog, and we’ve fetched a doggone delicious recipe to help you celebrate.

In honor of China’s largest and most celebrated holiday, we teamed up with a New York City restaurateur to learn how to make Peking duck jianbing. These “Chinese crepes” are sold from street carts back in China and are a cultural staple.

Brian Goldberg, the owner of Mr. Bing in New York City, lived in China for 14 years and speaks fluent Mandarin.  

Goldberg shared his technique for making the perfect jianbing:

Ingredients

For the batter:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup mung bean flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1½ cups water

For the crispy wontons:

1 cup vegetable oil
16 wonton wrappers

For the crepes:

5 teaspoons vegetable oil
5 eggs
Crepe batter
½ cup of roast duck
1¼ cups scallions, thinly sliced
5 teaspoons black sesame seeds
5 tablespoons hoisin
5 tablespoons chili paste
1 cup crispy wontons
1¼ cups cilantro leaves

Directions

Make the batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and mung bean flours and salt. Whisk in the water, and once a smooth batter forms, set aside.

Make the crispy wontons: In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil. Fry the wonton wrappers in four batches of four until golden brown, 30 to 45 seconds. Remove and cool completely on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. When cool, crush the wontons into 1-inch chips with your hands.

Make the crepes: In a crepe pan or a large nonstick skillet, heat one teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium heat. Using a whisk, scramble one egg in a small bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of batter into the pan and, using a bench scraper, work quickly to spread the crepe along the entire surface of the pan.

Once the crepe begins to curl at the edges -- about 1 to 2 minutes -- pour the scrambled egg mixture on top and spread into an even layer over the entire surface. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the scallions and one teaspoon of sesame seeds over the egg. Cook for one minute more until the egg begins to set. Carefully flip the crepe, and brush with one tablespoon of the hoisin and one tablespoon of the chili paste, then scatter 1/4 cup of the crushed wonton chips, 1/4 cup of the cilantro leaves and roast duck on top.

Fold the crepe like a letter -- horizontally and vertically -- to form a squared pancake. Cut in half and serve immediately.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb162018

7.2 magnitude earthquake rocks Mexico; two killed in chopper crash

USGS(MEXICO CITY) -- A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, south of Mexico City, on Friday evening, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Video on social media showed buildings shaking in Mexico City. People in the city gathered on the streets as sirens blared.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said the National Civil Protection system protocols have been activated.

Mexico City's Civil Protection said no major damage was reported, but two people were killed after a military helicopter carrying Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat crash landed while surveying damage. Murat escaped injury, but two people on the ground were killed, the governor tweeted early Saturday morning.

"My condolences and solidarity with the relatives of the people who unfortunately lost their lives in the wake of the unfortunate accident we suffered a few hours ago," Murat tweeted in Spanish.

The Mexico City Government wrote on Twitter, "Before returning to your homes, it is important to check if there are any damages, turn off gas lines and disconnect energy sources."

The quake was 15 miles deep, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The National Seismological Service said 59 aftershocks had been detected before 6:30 p.m. local time.

Over 300 people, including schoolchildren, died from a powerful earthquake in central Mexico last September.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb162018

Tillerson, Turkish leaders play nice, but no concrete progress yet on tense relations

Murat Kaynak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday struck an optimistic chord as they downplayed tensions between the NATO allies while announcing unspecified “mechanisms” for the countries to work through their recent disaffection.

Speaking through an interpreter, Cavusoglu said the U.S. and Turkey had "taken an important turn in terms of normalizing our relations," adding, “We will work like two allies, establishing trust once again.”

Tillerson sounded the same notes: "We’re not going to act alone any longer... We’re going to lock arms, we’re going to work through the issues that are causing difficulties for us, and we’re going to resolve them."

The cheery tone of Friday’s announcement had an entirely different timbre from Tillerson’s curt dismissal of the press corps Thursday evening, declining to take questions after more than three hours of meetings with Cavusoglu and his firebrand president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Not tonight," Tillerson said in the lobby of his hotel in Ankara, Turkey's capital. "We're still working."

But on Friday Cavusoglu and Tillerson touted the new "mechanisms" for the countries to work through their differences -- everything from U.S. support for Turkey's enemy, the Kurds; Turkey harassing and arresting American citizens and embassy employees; the possible extradition of a Turkish cleric legally residing in the U.S.; and more. The mechanism is an expansion of an already existing working group that sorted out the recent spat over visa services, where the U.S. stopped issuing visas in Turkey and Turkey responded in kind.

"We want to overcome all of these by working together, and I am sure that all of these will bring important results for us," Cavusoglu told reporters, denying that it was "kicking the ball off to the corner," or the can down the road: "They are not delaying the process. To the contrary, these are important aspects to get results."

Among those cooperative efforts, according to Reuters, could be a joint deployment of American and Turkish forces in Manbij -- a Syrian city not far from the Turkish border where the two countries' forces have had tense encounters.

U.S. forces have been deployed in the city to train -- and in effect, protect -- America's Kurdish ally known as the YPG. The group's formidable fighters made up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which the U.S. trained, armed, and assisted as a local ground force to defeat ISIS. The SDF swept ISIS out of its major strongholds in eastern Syria, including its self-declared capital Raqqa.

But Turkey considers the YPG terrorists and enemies of the state because of their ties to other Kurdish groups within their borders, and after attacking Kurds in the nearby Syrian city Afrin, they've threatened to move onto Manbij -- leading to a stand-off and a war of words with U.S. commanders.

The State Department would not confirm that the U.S. is considering a joint deployment to cool tensions or what one would look like. But officials pointed to Tillerson's comments Friday that made clear the U.S. seeks cooperation and Manbij is the first step.

"We’re going to address Manbij first... through the working group," Tillerson said. A State Department official told ABC News that process will begin no later than mid-March, but deferred further questions to the Pentagon.

Still, most of the issues that have divided the two countries remained, and despite the positive spin, neither side seemed to change their actual position on them.

The extradition of that Turkish cleric, for example, has been a major sticking point. Fetullah Gulen is a legal permanent resident in the U.S., but Erdogan has blamed him for leading a failed coup against him in July 2016 and demanded the U.S. turn him over. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim went so far as to tell reporters in November that it was tantamount to Turkey protecting the 9/11 masterminds.

After discussing the issue with Erdogan at length, however, Tillerson signaled no change in the U.S. position -- that there isn't enough evidence to extradite a legal permanent resident to Turkey. "We’ve agreed that we will continue to examine all the evidence that can be provided to us," he said.

In addition, Cavusoglu blasted the YPG for "attacking our citizens... our people are dying." Incensed that the U.S. ever provided arms to them, Turkey has demanded that the U.S. now take them back.

But Tillerson did not waiver in the U.S.'s support for the group, especially since American troops still need them to finish the job against ISIS. "We have always been clear with Turkey that the weapons provided to the Syrian Democratic Forces would be limited, mission-specific, and provided on an incremental basis to achieve military objectives only," he reiterated. But it's unclear if the U.S. will make any changes to its support any time soon -- or ever be able to "take back" the weapons.

Turkey will also move ahead with a purchase of a Russian weapons system, too, even though the U.S. continues to oppose the sale and it may even be illegal under a new sanctions law passed last year. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters Thursday, "We would oppose the purchase of that," but Cavusoglu reiterated Friday, "This is our national security, and it’s important for our national security."

For those American citizens imprisoned by Turkey -- many of whom were swept up in the crackdown after that coup and charged with terrorism offenses -- Tillerson reiterated that the U.S. still demands their immediate release. But Cavusoglu was dismissive: "We needed to take rapid steps against this terrorist organization. This was the expectation of our people," he said, justifying the detentions.

And if the U.S. or these Americans disagree? "The appeal process is open," he added.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb162018

'Black Panther' puts spotlight on Xhosa, a real African language spoken by Nelson Mandela

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The "Black Panther" movie is winning attention for breaking Hollywood norms through its almost entirely black cast and crew, powerful black leading ladies and a superhero who is not, for once, white.

But the movie’s cultural significance goes beyond the race of its characters to the language they speak.

Xhosa, known affectionately as the ‘click click language,’ takes its name from a people in mostly southern Africa who speak it.

One of the official languages of South Africa and the native tongue of the late Nelson Mandela, Xhosa is now spoken by around 8 million people.

One of them is South African singer and actress Zolani Mahola, lead singer of Freshlyground.

Zolani sang in Xhosa alongside Shakira for the country’s official World Cup song, ‘Waka Waka, This Time For Africa,' and continues to use the language in her music.

She is thrilled Xhosa is featured in the new movie.

"I’m very pleased," Zolani said. "I think people here will only watch that part of the movie. Just cut and paste it on repeat," she added, laughing.

The singer said she believes Xhosa's inclusion in "Black Panther" may help to build cultural bridges and appreciation.

“We are all realizing how much we have in common," she said. "I think that it’s wonderful to open up people’s windows of experience. I mean, how many people living in Ohio have heard Xhosa? I think it’s awesome.”

In South Africa, mention of the Xhosa language often brings up one of its most famous speakers.

“One of the most influential leaders of our time was a Xhosa man, Nelson Mandela," Zolani noted. "It was his only language growing up. So I mean it’s high time we had a major Hollywood production using it."

Stars of the movie are also proud of its use of Xhosa, saying it lends the film authenticity.

Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye, told ABC News, “It was very important that when you're telling a story from the African perspective it is very authentic and also very accessible -- which kind of breaks that concept that you can't tell stories from the African perspective on a global scale.”

The actress also talked of the excitement around "speaking a true African language on a global screen.”

Zolani agreed that it's important for artists to speak authentically.

“I think it’s hugely important to sound like yourself, to sound like all the parts that have informed who you are," she said. "For all artists, across all genres, it’s very important to bring that essence in.”

Both Marvel Studios and ABC News are owned by Disney.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb162018

North Korea celebrates birthday of current leader's father, Kim Jong Il

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- North Korea marked the national holiday of late leader Kim Jong Il’s birthday with modest celebratory events compared to the past.

Its current leader, Kim Jong Un, paid tribute to his late father’s mausoleum at Kumsusan Palace in Pyongyang on Friday just after midnight, its state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The mausoleum is for the ruling Kim family, preserving the founder of North Korea and grandfather of Kim Jong Un, Kim Il Sung. The trip by Kim Jong Un and several high-ranking officials is an annual anniversary trip.

This year, the list of accompanying officials included party officials -- but no military officials, according to the state news report.

The national holiday is called “Day of the Shining Star” in Korean because North Korea’s officially approved story insists that a glowing new star and a double rainbow appeared when Kim Jong Il was born in 1942 on Baekdu Mountain, a cherished mountain to the Koreans.

But outside, historians agree that Kim Il Sung and his wife were in a refugee camp in the Soviet Union at the time of Kim Jong Il’s birth.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb162018

How South Korea celebrates the Lunar New Year

Hakyung Kate Lee(PYEONGCHANG, South Korea) -- Those visiting South Korea for the Olympics may be confused to find stores closed on Thursday and Friday. Friday is the Lunar New Year, a legal holiday in South Korea. South Korean athletes competing in Pyeongchang celebrated Lunar New Year together in Korea House on Friday morning.

A regular Lunar New Year in South Korea involves family members gathering in one home -- usually the elder member’s house, though some families take turns hosting -- and preparing a memorial ceremony meal together. Various kinds of mouthwatering Korean dishes are cooked, including several pan-fried delicacies called jeon, along with fruit and traditional sweets.

The ceremony style differs from town to town and family to family; many homes have scaled down the ceremony to a dinner or family trip.

An important dish that cannot be missed for the Korean New Year is rice cake soup, called tteok-guk. This filling soup is made of thin, circular rice cakes boiled in clear broth, often served with slices of beef and vegetable garnish. There are a few hypotheses to the origin of this dish. Some say the disc-shaped rice cake symbolizes coins, and eating the soup promises a prosperous year. Others say you grow a year older after finishing a bowl of this rice cake soup.

After the ceremony and meal comes the best moment of the day for children: Youngsters in a family bow to the elderly, and they grant the children a word of advice and -- and why many long for the new year to come so badly -- pocket money. This custom has been around for more than 100 years, according to South Korean local press Newsis.

Adults used to give nickels and dimes to young people to buy books and pens. This small pleasure was handed down as a traditional event during new year gatherings. Thanks to developed technology, some now send the new year pocket money via online payment, reducing the need for paper packaging.

To break the ice between distant relatives who haven’t met for months, South Koreans spend time playing board games during the holidays. YutNori is a board game that has been around since the early 1900s and can be enjoyed regardless of age and gender. Kite flying is also a popular sport during the holiday; usually new year wishes are written on kites before flying them.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How South Korea celebrates the Lunar New Year

Thursday
Feb152018

Nearly all of Puerto Rico could have power restored by next month: Officials

iStock/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- Puerto Rico could recover nearly all of the power it lost after Hurricane Maria by the end of next month, according to the governor and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Gov. Rosello said 90 percent of the customers with electricity should have their power back by March.

"My expectation is within the next month...we should get to 90 percent," Rosello told ABC News. "Hopefully, again, that is based on estimates that we are working with the Corps of Engineers, PREPA, other contractors that we can move as quickly as possible."

For its part, the Army Corps of Engineers, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Puerto Rico's utility, said up to 95 percent of customers across the island could have electricity by March 31.

Meanwhile, areas with rougher terrain, like Arecibo and Caguas, will likely go without power until mid-April and late-May, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The island’s 3.5 million residents were plunged into complete darkness as Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20. Rosello said in the weeks that followed that 95 percent of the customers would have seen electricity by December 15 –- a benchmark that was never met.

"I assumed ownership from that expectation. This is something that we have difficulty in controlling, particularly when you see the two-thirds of the island’s recovery on that front is in the Corps of Engineers’ hands," Rosello said. "I have seen a lack of urgency on that, whether it be on the contracting side or the bringing materials side, which is a current problem."

The Army Corps of Engineers defended its work in a statement. It said it has received 31,682 poles and 2,628 miles of conductor wirte to date, with more to come in the coming weeks.

"Our priority is to safely and urgently restore reliable power to the people of Puerto Rico, as quickly as possible," it said. It said it will "continue to work in a unified effort with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, FEMA and industry partners to help people recover from this disaster."

Aides to Governor Rossello declined to take journalists' questions regarding the ongoing investigation into death toll after Hurricane Maria. Yennifer Alvarez, the governor’s press secretary, told ABC News a press conference will be held next week to discuss it and how it will continue.

Earlier this year, Rossello signed an executive order announcing a review of thousands of deaths following Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico's official death toll from Maria is 64, according to the island's Department of Public Safety.

But some independent analyses found it was likely significantly higher. The New York Times published a review it conducted of daily mortality data from Puerto Rico’s vital statistics bureau; it discovered that 1,052 more people than usual died on the island after Maria’s landfall.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







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