Aml Ameen shares his deep connection to his ‘Yardie’ character, and the message behind Idris Elba’s film

Entertainment News  Aml Ameen shares his deep connection to his 'Yardie' character, and the message behind Idris Elba's film


Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage(NEW YORK) — Aml Ameen can confidently say it was kismet how he landed the lead role of Dennis in Idris Elba’s directorial debut, Yardie. After Ameen connected with Elba on a plane — and eventually secured his role as the Jamaican gangster, D —  the actor tells ABC Radio he discovered a deep connection to his character.

“I mean my family is Jamaican, so I’ve always got an attachment,” Ameen says. “And that’s part of the reason why I wanted to be in the film so much.”

However, becoming D wasn’t easy. Ameen had to learn the Jamaican patois, as well as connect to a dark and traumatic past. Yet the actor admits it was a worthwhile experience.

“I enjoyed being D,” he says. “We as westerners, like American and British, we’re a bit more apologetic.  But Jamaicans are in your face. They’re honest, they don’t break a stare. They just call it like it is. And I loved that. It taught me not to give as much of a crap about things.”

Ameen also reveals that Elba let him cultivate his character during filming.  But when it came time for his character to become a [DJ] selector, Elba — himself a DJ — was happy to be his guide.

“I followed him around for a bit, actually,” Ameen reveals. “Around some of his tour dates in the UK and that music life is not a joke. Idris is a machine.”

Looking back, Ameen says Yardie offers some major takeaways, including learning to face trauma and “look it in the eye.”

“And that’s one of the things I took away from it, he says. “Just to look at my own life and go, “OK, what am I doing right? What Am I doing wrong?… How do I grow?”

Yardie is in theaters now.

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Posted On 15 Mar 2019

In moving speech, kidnap survivor Elizabeth Smart comforts Jayme Closs’ community

U.S. NEWS In moving speech, kidnap survivor Elizabeth Smart comforts Jayme Closs’ community

KSTP(BARRON, Wis.) — Even within the members of her own Wisconsin community — which searched relentlessly for Jayme Closs for 88 days until the 13-year-old managed to escape her abductor – few if any truly understand the terrifying dimensions of the young teen’s captivity.

But Elizabeth Smart does.

In a raw, remarkable speech she made to the residents of Barron, Wisconsin on Friday night, the now 31-year-old kidnapping survivor opened her heart to share her story of determination in the face of unspeakable abuse and surviving a seemingly hopeless ordeal at such a young age.

“When I was kidnapped, it just brought a whole new meaning to terror, a whole new meaning to what nightmares are made of,” she said. “I was taken away from my family…where my captor told me that I was now going to be his wife, that I was now going to be their slave.”

“That I had to do everything that they told me to do. They told me that my name was no longer Elizabeth, that I could no longer speak about my family, and that if I ever did anything that they did not want me to do, they’d kill me and if they didn’t kill me, they’d…kill my family.”

“That was terrifying,” she added. “That was enough to keep me silent because I could never allow anything to happen to my family.”

 Smart was abducted at knife point in 2002 from her Salt Lake City, Utah home and held for nine months before her captors were spotted by two witnesses who recognized the pair from an episode of the television series “America’s Most Wanted.”

She described the searing psychological trauma of realizing that she may never go home again.

She spoke frankly about how she had been raped “within moments” of entering the campsite where her captors lived, and said that after thinking about how drastically her life had changed “in just a matter of hours” she realized that her captors didn’t plan on letting her go.

“This man planned on keeping me,” she said. “Days? Weeks? Months? Years? What if it was so long that I forgot my name? What if it was so long that I forgot who I truly was? That thought terrified me. I never wanted to forgot who I was…where I came from…my family.”

She said that she closely followed the search for Closs and was moved by the community’s unyielding determination to bring Closs home safe.

“I have been so inspired the last few days…and I find it inspiring to see so many of you here tonight in support of Jayme and in moving forward and in reclaiming all of your lives because this has touched so many people,” Smart said.

Smart’s visit to Barron followed just over two months after Closs escaped her captor and fled to safety earlier this year.

Some of Closs’ relatives were expected to attend Friday night’s event at the high school gym in Barron, the town’s county sheriff, Chris Fitzgerald, told ABC News Friday morning.

Smart’s introductory remarks were open to the public, but the press was asked to leave after about five minutes to give Smart the chance to speak privately with community members who are still recovering from the ordeal.

She was expected to share more of her own story and discuss ways the Barron community can move forward, including how to talk to children about such traumatic events and what neighbors should say to Closs and her family, the sheriff said.

“We’re very honored to have her here,” Fitzgerald said.

The rural community of Barron found itself at the center of a kidnapping saga when Jake Patterson, 21, allegedly gunned down Closs’ parents then abducted the 13-year-old from her home on Oct. 15.

Patterson told investigators that, after the killings, he fled with the girl to his house in Gordon, Wisconsin. He allegedly created a space for Closs under his bed, and when he’d leave the house, he’d put barbells and free weights around the bed so she couldn’t escape, according to a criminal complaint.

On Jan. 10, when Patterson left the house, Closs fled, according to court documents.

Patterson was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, kidnapping and armed burglary. He is scheduled to be arraigned on March 27.

Following her abduction, Smart went on to become a national child safety advocate and is a married mother of three children.

As for her captors, Barzee was released from prison in 2018 while Mitchell is serving a life sentence.

After Closs’ miraculous escape, Smart wrote, “I hope we may all continue to support and embrace Jayme as she reclaims her life and comes to terms with the reality of her situation. What a brave, strong, and powerful survivor!!!!”

“No matter what may unfold in her story let’s all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED and whatever other details may surface the most important will still remain that she is alive,” she wrote. “May god bless you Jayme Closs and may we all continue to search for every missing child.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Mar 2019

Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, 2 key witnesses in Mueller probe could factor into multiple other investigations

Political News Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, 2 key witnesses in Mueller probe could factor into multiple other investigations

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) —  Amid signs that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is nearing a conclusion, material gleaned from at least two of Mueller’s key witnesses is still being used in multiple other investigations, according to new court testimony.

The details, shared in two separate status updates from federal prosecutors Friday, provide the latest indication that much of the legal work that started under the special counsel probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election could continue long after he disbands his team.

During a hearing on a criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s former Turkish lobbying partner Bijan Kian Friday morning, a Department of Justice prosecutor hinted that Flynn’s interviews with Mueller’s team and the Department of Justice are also being used in other investigations. The revelation came as part of an objection to Kian’s defense team’s request to provide full, un-redacted records of all 19 interviews Flynn had with prosecutors, including 15 interviews with the special counsel’s team.

Prosecutor James Gillis at the hearing said there are “other investigations that would be or could be hampered by unfettered access” to the materials.

Gillis had said earlier that the interviews are being used in an investigation in “at least one other district,” though he stopped short of specifying which in which district.

On Tuesday, Mueller’s team and Flynn’s defense team filed a joint status report indicating that Flynn is still not ready for sentencing because of Kian’s upcoming trial scheduled for July. In the court document, Mueller’s team stated that aside from Kian’s case in the Eastern District of Virginia, Flynn’s “cooperation is otherwise complete.”

At Friday’s hearing, Kian’s attorney Bob Trout argued that prosecutor Gillis’ statement that some of Flynn’s statements are still being used in other “continued investigations” is inconsistent with what the special counsel’s team reported earlier this week.

Flynn, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to investigators and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, was originally scheduled to be sentenced in his D.C. case in December, but his sentencing was delayed.

Shortly after Flynn’s sentencing was delayed, Kian, whose full name is Bijan Rafiekian, was charged in December for illegal foreign lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government and making false statements in foreign lobbying registration filed to the Justice Department. Kian pleaded not guilty.

In a separate matter, Mueller’s team filed Friday morning that Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign deputy manager and longtime business associate of Paul Manafort, is not finished with his cooperation agreement either.

“Gates continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations, and accordingly the parties do not believe it is appropriate to commence the sentencing process at this time,” Mueller’s team wrote.

The Southern District of New York has been investigating President Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee’s donations and spending. Gates served as the chief deputy to inauguration chairman Tom Barrack and helped arrange ceremonies.

A spokesman for the inaugural committee told The New York Times in February that it’s reviewing the subpoena and intends to cooperate with the investigation.

Gates’ former boss Manafort, who was charged with illegal lobbying and financial crimes, was sentenced to a total of 81 months behind bars between charges he faced in federal cases in both Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Mar 2019

President Trump says white nationalism is not on the rise across world, ‘it’s a small group’ of people

Political News President Trump says white nationalism is not on the rise across world, 'it's a small group' of people

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Trump on Friday said he doesn’t consider white nationalism a rising threat across the world but sees the problem as contained to a “small group” of people.

“I don’t, really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems,” President Trump said in response to a question from ABC News’ Terry Moran in the Oval Office Friday.

The president’s comments come on the heels of a deadly attack in New Zealand that targeted Muslims in worship at mosques and left 49 dead and dozens more injured. The president has strongly condemned that attack as an “evil” and “monstrous terrorist attack.”

In his exchange with Moran, the president went on to qualify that the ideology of white supremacy may have been a factor in the New Zealand attack, which he said he continues to learn more about it.

“I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand perhaps that’s a case, I don’t know enough about it yet, they’re just learning about the person and the people involved but it’s certainly a terrible thing, terrible thing,” Trump said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes and groups in the US, has reported the number of hate groups in the US has been on the rise for four straight years and has recently reached an all-time high.

The president said he spoke with the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier on Friday and that he expressed the sympathies of the nation and resolve.

Asked during a news conference in New Zealand if she agreed with the president’s belief that white nationalism is not on the rise, Ardern offered a one word reply: “No.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Mar 2019

2020 presidential candidates, Trump, Obama and others react to attack in New Zealand on Twitter

Political News 2020 presidential candidates, Trump, Obama and others react to attack in New Zealand on Twitter

Fiona Goodall/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) —  President Donald Trump, former President Barack Obama and a number of 2020 presidential candidates weighed in with condolences on social media on the deadly mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand in which at least 49 people were killed and dozens more injured at two mosques on Friday.

Obama tweeted that he and former first lady Michelle Obama “… send our condolences to the people of New Zealand. We grieve with you and the Muslim community.”

Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey who plans to run for president in 2020, tweeted that he is “sickened” by the attack and is determined to work against hate.

Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat who is also running for president in 2020 called the alleged gunman’s actions as “evil and cowardly” and sends condolences with a heavy heart.

President Donald Trump wants the people of New Zealand to know that the United States stands with them and sends well wishes to those affected.

Newly-announced presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, vowed on Twitter that “We don’t back down in the face of Islamophobia at home or abroad.”

And Sen. Bernie Sanders, who also recently announced a 2020 presidential run tweeted “No one should have to fear for their life because of their religion.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said America stands with the New Zealand Muslim community in mourning the deaths of those killed in the attack.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Mar 2019

Chiefs Hill under investigation for battery

Sports News Chiefs Hill under investigation for battery

John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images(KANSAS CITY, Kan.) — Kansas City Chiefs Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill is under investigation by police for battery.

According to a police report from the Overland Park Police Department obtained by the Kansas City Star, the incident lists a juvenile as the victim. Hill’s girlfriend, Cyrstal Espinal, is listed as “other’s involved.”

In a statement to The Star, the Chiefs said they are aware of the investigation.

“The club is aware of the investigation involving Tyreek Hill,” the Chiefs told The Star. “We’re in the process of gathering information and have been in contact with the league and local authorities. We’ll have no further comment at this time.”

Hill has not been charged.

The 25-year old was convicted of domestic assault while in college at Oklahoma State. He was accused of punching and choking the then pregnant Espinal and was given three years’ probation.

He completed probation in 2018 and his conviction was dismissed.

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Posted On 15 Mar 2019

What to know about the Muslim community in New Zealand targeted by deadly attack

WORLD NEWS What to know about the Muslim community in New Zealand targeted by deadly attack

Fiona Goodall/Getty Images(CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand) — The terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left at least 49 people dead has sent shockwaves throughout the world.

“What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wrote on Twitter. “It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us.” 

There are 46,149 Muslims in New Zealand out of 4.7 million people, making up less than 1 percent of the total population, according to the 2013 New Zealand census; a full-scale national census is due to be published in April 2019.

The city of Christchurch only has three mosques, and two of them were targeted on Friday.

The attack is all the more shocking given its occurrence in what many consider one of the most peaceful places in the world — and one that prides itself on its openness and tolerance.

The deliberate attack of Muslims at Friday midday prayers, the holiest time of the week, is an example of a growing trend around the world of far-right, white supremacist extremism, as noted by the 2018 Global Terrorism Index produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace.

New Zealand has never experienced a terrorist attack before, according to ABC News senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell.

There were 48 homicides nationwide in 2017, a number lower than the 58 recorded in 2016, according to the latest police figures.

 Unlike neighboring Australia, which has pursued a number of controversial immigration policies, New Zealand has encouraged migration from abroad.

New Zealand also voted in favor of the United Nations’ Global Compact for Migration in December, the international pledge to “optimize the overall benefits of migration.”

There was controversy in 2006, however, when two New Zealand newspapers re-published Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. After protests, the editors at the newspapers Dominion-Post and the Press apologized for the publication of the depictions of Muhammad, which are strictly forbidden in Islam, according to the Herald newspaper.

However, it is not just the people of New Zealand who have been shocked by the attack.

On the other side of the world, in nations including France, Britain and the U.S., security has been stepped up around mosques. World leaders, including the Pope and Elizabeth II, have expressed their condolences to the victims of the Christchurch attack.

The anti-radicalization group Hope Not Hate was also adamant that the “heartbreaking” attacks should be placed in a global context of the rise of the far-right.

“The bloody terrorist attack in Christchurch was carried out by a far-right activist who has published a manifesto explaining why he did it. It is full of praise for other anti-Muslim activists and ideas,” Hope Not Hate chief executive Nick Lowles told ABC News. “In Oslo and Utøya, Charlottesville, Finsbury Park, Pittsburgh, and in so many places around the world, this violent ideology destroys lives and rips loved ones apart.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Mar 2019

‘Empire’ takes a ratings dive with its first episode since Jussie Smollett arrest

Entertainment News  'Empire' takes a ratings dive with its first episode since Jussie Smollett arrest


FOX(CHICAGO) — The first original episode of Empire since Jussie Smollet’s arrest and indictment on charges of filing a false police report have come in…and it’s not looking good. 

According to the The Wrap, the episode, which aired earlier this week, brought in a 1.3 rating among adults 18-49 and a total of 4.4 million viewers.  That’s a steep dive from the show’s fall finale, as well as from last year’s mid-season return.

Empire‘s previous episode, which aired on Dec. 5, had a 1.5 rating and five million total viewers. Last year’s mid-season return had even better numbers: a 2.0 rating and a total of 6.2 million viewers.

The Wrap reports that Wednesday’s episode drew the second-smallest audience ever for Empire. The lowest-rated Empire episode aired on Halloween night 2018.

Ahead of the mid-season return of Empire, the show’s executive producer Brett Mahoney told Entertainment Weekly that he was confident there would be a season six renewal of the show.

“I know that the network and studio is really happy with what we’ve done creatively this season… And we do have so many of these stories to tell, so I can’t imagine we won’t be able to tell them,” he said.

As previously reported, Smollett has been indicted on 16 felony counts related to his claim that he was the victim of a racially-motivated attack in Chicago in January. After a thorough investigation, police declared the attack to be a hoax, and said that Smollett hired two brothers to carry out the plan. 

Smollett has denies the police’s version of events and continues to maintain his innocence.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Mar 2019

30,000 fentanyl pills seized in Arizona drug bust

U.S. NEWS 30,000 fentanyl pills seized in Arizona drug bust

Department of Interior(PHOENIX) —  The Interior Department announced Friday that agents on the department’s opioid task force seized about 30,000 fentanyl pills and other illegal drugs at U.S. points of entry on the Tohono O’odham Nation lands in Arizona.

The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs launched an opioid task force with state, local and tribal officials last year focused on combating illegal drugs in Indian Country. As part of an investigation into fentanyl pills being trafficked onto tribal lands, undercover BIA agents purchased the drugs and took three suspects into custody.

Fentanyl is the drug connected to the most overdose deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Earlier this year, border patrol agents announced the largest fentanyl bust in U.S. history along the border.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Mar 2019

After 49 killed in mass shootings at 2 New Zealand mosques, prime minister vows, ‘our gun laws will change’

WORLD NEWS After 49 killed in mass shootings at 2 New Zealand mosques, prime minister vows, 'our gun laws will change'

Diederik van Heyningen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand) — After 49 people were gunned down in terrorist attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday, the prime minister is vowing to change gun laws.

At least one gunman carried out what is now the deadliest shooting in New Zealand history.

Forty-two others were injured, including two critically, in what became “one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Ardern said Saturday, “while the nation grapples with a form of grief and anger that we have not experienced before, we are seeking answers.”

She vowed that “while work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now: Our gun laws will change.”

A gunman appeared to have livestreamed video of the shooting on social media, according to New Zealand police. He documented his trip from his car and into the worship center in central Christchurch, where he opened fire indiscriminately, police said.

Officials said they were working to remove “extremely distressing footage” taken at the scene and urged social media users not to share it.

Three people are in custody, including one Australian citizen. One 28-year-old man was charged with murder and is expected to appear in court Saturday, police said.

Five guns were used by the main suspect, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns, the prime minister said at a news conference Saturday. The suspect had a gun license, she added.

Police have not said if the same gunman shot at both mosques.

“None of those apprehended had a criminal history either here or in Australia,” and none were on any watch lists, Ardern said.

Witnesses said the attack occurred just before 1:40 p.m. local time as the Sheikh gave a sermon in

“It’s something that we never expected to have happen here,” Christchurch MP Gerry Brownlee told “Good Morning America.” “We’re a relatively small population, and while we are ethnically quite diverse, we live very peaceable lives. And this, as many have seen, has shattered our innocence.”

Brownlee, who said he lives a short distance from one of the shooting sites, said, “Almost everyone will know someone or have a connection with the families of someone who has been either killed or seriously wounded today.”

Of the 49 people killed, New Zealand police said 41 victims died at the Deans Avenue Mosque, seven at the Linwood Avenue Mosque and one at a hospital.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel believes the city was targeted because “we are a safe city and a safe country.”

“He is not from here,” Dalziel said Saturday of the attacker. “He came here. He came here with hate in his heart and intention to kill in his mind. So he did not develop his hatred here. He came here to perform this act of terrorism.”

“His was the voice of hate, and the only way that communities can respond to the voice of hate is to come together and love, compassion and kindness,” she said.

 Queen Elizabeth in a statement said she’s “deeply saddened by the appalling events in Christchurch.”

“Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives. I also pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteers who are providing support to those who have been injured,” she said. “At this tragic time, my thoughts and prayers are with all New Zealanders.”

Friday afternoon President Trump said he spoke with New Zealand’s prime minister about the “monstrous terrorist attacks.”

“These sacred places of worship were turned into scenes of evil killing,” Trump said. “It’s a horrible, horrible thing. I told the prime minister the United States is with them all the way, 10 percent, whatever they need, we will be there.”

The president went on to call New Zealand a great friend and asserted that “our relationship has never been better.”

President Trump had also tweeted condolences Friday morning.

“My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured,” he tweeted. “The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”

Later in the day, he tweeted that he spoke to Ardern, reiterating that the U.S. is “ready to help.”

U.S. Attorney General William Barr in a statement called the attack “a sobering reminder that the threat of political and religious violence is real and that we must remain vigilant against it.”

“Violence on the basis of religion is evil,” Barr said. “The Justice Department joins in mourning with the people of New Zealand.”

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement, “While we are not aware of any current, credible or active threat domestically, nor of any current information regarding obvious ties between the perpetrators in New Zealand and anyone in the US — the Department is cognizant of the potential concerns members of Muslim-American communities may have as they gather at today’s congregational prayers.”

“Attacks on peaceful people in their place of worship are abhorrent and will not be tolerated,” Nielsen stressed. “The Department strongly stands with those of all faiths as they seek to worship in peace and we will continue to work with stakeholders to protect the ability of all to worship freely and without fear.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Mar 2019