Aid arrives at Venezuela border as US demands Maduro let it in

WORLD NEWS Aid arrives at Venezuela border as US demands Maduro let it in

Oleksii Liskonih/iStock(CARACAS, Venezuela) — A convoy carrying American humanitarian aid arrived at the Colombia-Venezuela border on Thursday as the U.S. and Venezuela’s interim president Juan Guaido pressure President Nicolas Maduro to let the aid in and leave power.

Nine trucks in total drove into the border city Cucuta, but it will remain on the Colombia side for the time being after Maduro used a tanker, two shipping containers and some fencing to block the highway on the Tienditas Bridge and deployed troops to guard them.

That aid, which included food and nutritional supplements, as well as hygiene and medical kits, will remain there “to reach Venezuelans in need in their own country as soon as that is safe and logistically possible,” according to Elliott Abrams, U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela.

 But Maduro has blocked aid from entering the country for years. It’s not likely he will relent, and it’s unclear how the U.S., Guaido and partner countries like Colombia and Brazil, intend to get aid in.

For now, it seems it will not be done forcefully.

“I don’t think that we or the Colombians or the Brazilians or anyone else is planning to try to force it in… We’re hopeful that that, at least initial, decision on the part of Maduro can be turned around, if he sees real demand on the part of the people of Venezuela. Let it in! That’s all we’re asking – let it in!” Abrams said Thursday in Washington.

The key to increasing the pressure on Maduro is the Venezuelan people themselves.

The U.S. is also hoping the armed forces will still abandon Maduro, even though there have not been major military defections in the two weeks since Guaido was sworn in as interim president by the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

“Members of the Army are Venezuelan citizens. They have parents and children and brothers and sisters who are suffering badly, so our hope is that they will be able to persuade Maduro, or they will simply disobey orders to continue the starvation of the people of Venezuela,” said Abrams.

To add to that pressure, the State Department also announced new visa restrictions and revocations for members of the Constituent Assembly — the legislative body that Maduro created and filled in a sham election after he tried to dissolve the National Assembly.

While Maduro is still hanging on and calling for dialogue, there was a major meeting in Uruguay on Thursday to test the waters for a democratic transition. A new international contact group, with members from European and Latin American countries, met in Montevideo, but the U.S. was not interested in joining, Abrams said.

Instead, the administration has backed Guaido in his rejection of any talks with Maduro, saying it is simply a way for the socialist leader to buy time.

“The time with dialogue for Maduro has long passed… The end game for him should be to leave power and the sooner, the better,” Abrams said — except to negotiate his departure.

The only talks worth having are negotiating Maduro’s departure, Abrams said, saying he could flee to “friends” like Cuba or Russia, while other members of the regime could go to other countries that have privately approached the U.S. saying they are willing to take them in, according to Abrams. He declined to say which countries those were.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 07 Feb 2019

‘Crimes and Misdemeanors’: Woody Allen suing Amazon for reneging on his movie deal

Entertainment News  'Crimes and Misdemeanors': Woody Allen suing Amazon for reneging on his movie deal


Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage(NEW YORK) — Woody Allen on Thursday sued Amazon Studios for breach of contract, claiming the streaming service, without legal basis, reneged on a lucrative deal to finance and distribute the legendary director’s future films.

The lawsuit, which seeks more than $68 million in damages, claims Amazon backed out of its agreement as Dylan Farrow, the adopted daughter of Allen’s ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow, became more vocal about her accusation Allen had molested her.

The filmmaker fired back in the lawsuit, obtained by ABC Radio. It states that Amazon not only agreed to pay for and distribute his movies, but also to be Allen’s “‘home’ for the rest of his career.”

The suit continued, “Amazon has tried to excuse its action by referencing a 25-year-old, baseless allegation against Mr. Allen, but that allegation was already well known to Amazon (and the public) before Amazon entered into four separate deals with Mr. Allen — and, in any event it does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract.”

“There simply was no legitimate ground for Amazon to renege on its promises,” the suit concludes.

Amazon began its relationship with Allen in 2015 when it ordered his series Crisis in Six Scenes. It also produced his film A Rainy Day in New York, which starred Selena Gomez, Timothée Chalamet, and Jude Law, among others, but it’s yet to see the light of day, and it might never do so.

Indeed, Chalamet, and Rainy Day co-star Rebecca Hall have vowed never to work with Allen again, and donated their salaries from the film to charities including RAINN and the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. 

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 07 Feb 2019

Aries Spears says he’s not a fan of the “moist era of comedy” we’re in

Entertainment News  Aries Spears says he's not a fan of the "moist era of comedy" we're in


Aries Spears(NEW YORK) — Aries Spears has been making people laugh for over twenty years with his stand-up comedy.  Ahead of his upcoming New York shows at the Gotham Comedy club, the MADtv alum and master impersonator is opening up about what it feels like to be back on the New York comedy scene.

“It feels great. It’s home cooking. And plus, you know, New Yorkers just have that vibe,” Spears tells ABC Radio. “It’s such a metropolitan city. And the diversity is such at a high level that you get a chance to really feel like you could say anything and do anything.”

While Spears admits New York has its perks when it comes to feeling free on the stage, the comedian says comedy in general has become way too politically correct.

“And even New York has gotten like the rest of the country in terms of the comedy climate,” he says. “There’s a very moist era of comedy we’re in right now. So that’s unfortunate. But I don’t waver. I’m going to be me and do what I do. And you’re either with me, or, you fall off.”

And for those who need further explanation, Spears declares that his comedy isn’t made for the faint of heart.

“If you do get offended, I’m not going to be apologetic either,” he says. “Because good comedy, I believe, doesn’t just make people laugh. It forces you to think. And you’re supposed to feel a little uneasy. Everything ain’t supposed to be a smooth ride.” 

Find out more about Spears’ tour on his website,

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 07 Feb 2019

Rock or Troll? Dwayne Johnson says he was offered 2019 Oscars hosting gig before Kevin Hart

Entertainment News  Rock or Troll? Dwayne Johnson says he was offered 2019 Oscars hosting gig before Kevin Hart


Shane Tegarden/© 2017 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.(LOS ANGELES) — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson dropped a bomb Wednesday when he revealed that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences actually offered him the opportunity to host the Oscars before it gave the gig to Kevin Hart.

What’s not clear is whether or not Johnson’s claim is just another example of him busting his his Jumanji co-star buddy Kevin’s chops.

It started when a fan tweeted that Johnson should take over the hosting gig, which was vacated after Hart stepped down amid controversy.

Johnson responded, “…I was their first choice to host this year, and my goal was to make it the most fun and entertaining Oscars ever. We all tried hard, but couldn’t make it work since I’m shooting [the] Jumanji [sequel].”

ABC News asked Johnson’s rep if the tweet was a joke, since Johnson and Hart often poke fun at each other via social media. There’s so far been no response.

Hart gave up the Oscar hosting gig December after homophobic tweets he posted almost eight years ago resurfaced. In January, Hart apologized to the LGBTQ community, but declared he’s moved on from the controversy.

As a result, this year’s Oscars will have no host, marking the first time since 1989 that there won’t be one central MC.

Earlier this week, a diverse array of Oscars presenters were announced, including Whoopi Goldberg, Tessa Thompson, and Awkwafina.

The Oscars are set to air February 24 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Posted On 07 Feb 2019

HBO leaks ‘Game of Thrones’ photos ahead of Season 8

Entertainment News  HBO leaks 'Game of Thrones' photos ahead of Season 8


HBO/Helen Sloan(LOS ANGELES) — The final season of Game of Thrones is just two months away, and fans are getting more sneak peeks of the highly-anticipated series as the premiere gets closer.

HBO released a series of 14 images promoting the eighth season, featuring some of the show’s most beloved, and most hated, characters.  The Stark siblings — Sansa, Bran and Arya — as well as the Lannister siblings — Tyrion, Jaime and Cersei — are all pictured, as are Brienne of Tarth, Sam Tarly and Ser Davos Seaworth.

The Game of Thrones Twitter account also shared an image of everyone’s favorite couple: Kit Harington’s Jon Snow and Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen.
HBO also released an official teaser last month; the show returns April 14.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 07 Feb 2019

Rome airport closed after World War II-era bombs found

WORLD NEWS Rome airport closed after World War II-era bombs found

die-phalanx/iStock(ROME) — All flights into Rome’s secondary international airport, Ciampino, were suspended on Thursday after construction workers doing maintenance work on a tarmac uncovered three World War II bombs beneath the asphalt, according to local officials and numerous local news reports and video.

The aviation authority, ADR, ordered the evacuation of the terminal and the suspension of all flights while bomb control experts worked to remove the explosives, according to reports.

Italian television channel, TG2, said the bombs were of German origin. The Italian Ministry of Defense tweeted photos showing military experts examining the bombs.

Rome was bombed more than 1,100 times in 1943 by Allied forces, and again by retreating Nazi forces in 1944, according to author H.D. Lytton in “Bombing Policy in the Rome and Pre-Normandy Invasion Aerial Campaigns of World War II,” a 1983 article in Military Affairs, the journal of the American Military Institute.

Passengers and airport workers that had been evacuated and were waiting outside the airport said there had been no panic when they were told to leave.

“I was eating my lunch inside the main building when the restaurant manager said everyone had to leave,” Donato Eramo, a rescue helicopter technician at the airport, told The Local.

The airport is expected to open again on Thursday afternoon. Authorities are encouraging passengers to consult airline websites about delays.

Ciampino airport is the base for most low-cost airlines that serve Rome, as well as many private jets.

Desk Aeronautico, a portal used by Italian pilots that shares government regulations and navigation news, posted a map of the airport showing how it was affected.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 07 Feb 2019

British Council finally publishes George Orwell’s long-lost essay

WORLD NEWS British Council finally publishes George Orwell's long-lost essay

British Council(LONDON) — An arts foundation in England has released an unpublished culinary essay by the legendary author George Orwell, complete with an apology to the writer more than 70 years after it was initially rejected.

The essay, entitled “British Cookery,” was a defense of what Orwell described as the “slightly barbarous” diet of the English.

Orwell’s 1946 submission was rejected by members of the British Council who were anxious about publishing the essay during a time of rationing after the Second World War. The editor’s notes said the great writer’s recipe for orange marmalade contained “too much sugar and water.”

The essay also includes Orwell’s recipes for other British staples: Christmas pudding, Welsh rarebit and treacle tart.

To make amends for rejecting his manuscript, the British Council finally published the essay by the acclaimed author, along with a letter entitled “With apologies to Mr Orwell.” Unfortunately Orwell, born Eric Arthur Blair, won’t be around to accept the apology, as he died in 1950 at the age of 46.

The British Council also published the apology letter Orwell received at the time, which says the subject of food was too “painful” and that it would have been “unfortunate and unwise to publish it.”

The British Council now says it’s delighted to finally publish the essay.

“When people overseas talk about the cultural assets of the United Kingdom, its cuisine tends to come fairly low down on a list that is dominated by education, arts, science, music and more,” British Council senior policy analyst Alasdair Donaldson said in a statement. “But despite this, Orwell mounts a sturdy defense of our cooking – and food is one of the best ways in which different world cultures can exchange traditions and knowledge to learn from and appreciate each other.”

“Orwell was one of the finest minds on politics and the English language – but opinions are divided on his orange marmalade,” he added.

The Orwell Foundation, which offers yearly literary prizes in memory of the writer, was not impressed.

“The British Council rejected Orwell’s essay? What was new?” Jean Seaton, director of The Orwell Foundation, told ABC News. “The British Council were also censoring Orwell politically – he made British food sound so ghastly. At least the British Council paid him 30 guineas even if they did not publish it!”

Orwell’s reputation has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. In 2017 his most famous work, the dystopian classic 1984, shot to the top of the Amazon best-seller list after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway used the phrase “alternative facts,” according to The New York Times. Orwell coined the words “doublethink” in 1984 — meaning the way someone can hold two contradictory views at the same time.

The full essay, along with Orwell’s recipe for marmalade, has been published on the British Council website.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 07 Feb 2019