New photos of Princess Charlotte released ahead of her 4th birthday

WORLD NEWS New photos of Princess Charlotte released ahead of her 4th birthday

Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Images(LONDON) — Princess Charlotte is turning four and her parents, Prince William and Kate, shared three new photographs of the young royal to celebrate.

The photographs of Charlotte, William and Kate’s middle child, were taken in April by Kate at the family’s Anmer Hall home in Norfolk, according to Kensington Palace.

They show Charlotte smiling and enjoying the outdoors, from sitting on the grass in a flowered dress to running with a yellow flower in hand and sitting on a fence.

Charlotte has been seen before in family photos and stealing the show as a bridesmaid at royal weddings, but she has the stage all to herself in these new photos.

 It was just over one year ago that the adorable young royal posed for photos on the steps of Kensington Palace on her first day of preschool.

Since then, Charlotte has become a big sister to Prince Louis, who was seen in new photographs released just last month for his first birthday.

She will also soon gain a cousin for the first time on her dad’s side. Charlotte’s aunt, Duchess Meghan, is due to give birth any day to her first child with Prince Harry, meaning the cousins will have a lot to celebrate each May.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 01 May 2019

US officials still weighing military options for Venezuela amidst another day of protest

WORLD NEWS US officials still weighing military options for Venezuela amidst another day of protest

adam smigielski/iStock(CARACAS, Venezuela) — The Trump administration is weighing options for what to do next in Venezuela to support opposition leader Juan Guaido in his effort to oust Nicolas Maduro, the socialist president embattled by mass protests and the country’s economic crisis.

Guaido supporters turned out in the streets of the capital Caracas again on Wednesday, with skirmishes between protesters and security forces deploying tear gas, but pro-Maduro demonstrations also took place to mark May Day, the socialist holiday.

Throughout the day Wednesday, the size of crowds multiplied, just as they had on Tuesday when security forces loyal to Maduro used force, including rubber bullets and an armored vehicle mowing down some protesters. Similar scenes emerged Wednesday with pro-Maduro forces on motorcycles dispersing pro-Guaido demonstrators near an air base in Caracas. The pro-Maduro forces again deployed tear gas and crowd-control vehicles.

It was not immediately clear how many supporters had turned out for either side, with information inside the country hard to come by.

Senior U.S. administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, and National Security Advisor John Bolton, will meet at the White House Wednesday afternoon. With the situation on the ground still “extraordinarily fluid,” according to Shanahan, the U.S. says it is still weighing military options.

Shanahan canceled a trip to Europe to discuss those options, a spokesperson said, and Dunford told the House Armed Services Committee the U.S. was collecting intelligence “to make sure we have good visibility on what’s happening down in Venezuela and also be prepared to support the president should he require more from the U.S. military.”

“We’ll be looking at a range of different possibilities,” Bolton said at the White House Wednesday. “People know [Maduro’s] regime has failed. It’s going to fall. The question is whether we can get a transfer to an interim president who can conduct elections.”

Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, was sworn in as interim president by that body in January. He was immediately recognized by the U.S. and ultimately 53 other countries as the legitimate leader, but Maduro has derided that as an American-backed coup.

Guaido gave an impassioned speech at a rally Wednesday, warning that, “Difficult days are probably coming, because of the push back, the persecution, the internal witch hunt by the armed forces,” but that change was coming.

“We are strong, are are committed, we are on the right path,” he said atop a vehicle surrounded by hundreds of people, according to the Associated Press.

After laying low during the day Tuesday, Maduro spoke late last night in a televised address and vowed that protesters against his government “cannot go unpunished… We know who they are, we have to look for them. There can be no impunity, there must be justice for there to be peace in Venezuela.”

He also dismissed Pompeo’s claims that he was ready to flee the country, but was convinced to stay by the Russian government.

“Mr. Pompeo, please, what lack of seriousness,” Maduro said in a televised meeting, surrounded by his Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez and other top officials — a visible sign that he maintained the backing of the country’s military and security service, at least for now.

Pompeo and Bolton have painted a different picture, saying Maduro was on the brink of relinquishing power and that his senior aides were in negotiations to switch allegiance to Guaido.

In addition to Defense Minister Padrino Lopez, the chief of the National Guard Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala and Supreme Court chief judge Maikel Moreno were in talks with the opposition to abandon Maduro and back Guaido, according to U.S. officials.

“They negotiated for a long time on the means of restoring democracy, but it seems that today they are not going forward,” U.S. envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told reporters Tuesday.

Although Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, the head of the Venezuelan intelligence service, known as SEBIN, did throw his support behind Guaido late Tuesday, most senior leaders maintained support for Maduro. Some U.S. officials blamed Russia for that.

“We literally had Nicolas Maduro getting prepared to get on his airplane and head out of the country before he was stopped — stopped, really at the direction of the Russians,” Pompeo said Tuesday.

Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke Wednesday. Lavrov accused the U.S. of “interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state” and making a “threat against its leadership,” calling it all “a gross violation of international law.” But the State Department fired back, saying that it was Russia and Cuba’s “intervention” in Venezuela that “is destabilizing for Venezuela and for the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship.”

In astonishing scenes on Tuesday, violence broke out on the streets of Caracas after Guaido called for an uprising in a video posted early in the morning, accompanied by opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who was freed from house arrest by deserting Venezuelan security forces.

Guaido and Lopez said they’d gained military backing and would begin the “final phase” of their push to oust Maduro — but the violent crackdown by security forces seemed to belie that. Pompeo said Wednesday that “dozens of others” in the military joined Guaido, but it was unclear at what rank and how many.

The violent clashes Tuesday marked a dramatic escalation of the political crisis that’s left the country teetering on the edge of chaos for months.

While Guaido called for renewed protests Wednesday, there were increasing concerns about Maduro’s ability to hold on and again ride out a wave of protests.

“Maduro does not have the backing or respect from the Venezuelan armed forces, much less the Venezuelan people,” Guaido said in a video message. But Lopez, his mentor and the real leading opposition figure, entered the Spanish embassy in Caracas with his family for protection on Tuesday.

Pompeo warned again Wednesday that any action against Guaido would be a “significant escalation, and there’ll be a response if that should happen.”

Neither he nor Bolton would say what that response might be.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 01 May 2019

Teen suicide by poisoning on the rise, especially among girls: Study


(NEW YORK) — Suicide rates among people of all ages have been increasing since the turn of the century, but a new study points out to a particularly sharp spike in suicides among one group of people: teenage girls.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34. While boys die by suicide four times more often than girls, the study found that a bump in suicide rates among teens ages 18 and younger since 2011 was primarily driven by teen girls who attempted suicide by poisoning themselves.

 This alarming trend among teens was “really different from what everyone else was reporting,” Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center and clinical professor at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, told ABC News. “There’s an enormous change in this group that we have to pay attention to.”

Spiller and his colleagues determined rates of suicide by self-poisoning by comparing data from the National Poison Data System from U.S. poison centers to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. They specifically looked at poisoning deaths that were suspected to be intentional, and found that rates of suicides by self-poisoning were stable or even down-trending between 2000 to 2011 before they started increasing up until 2018 — the end of the study period.

The most dramatic increase, they found, was in suicide attempts among children ages 10 to 15, which ranged from 126% to 299%. These increases were mainly driven by girls in these age groups.

Another concerning trend surfaced by the study: Almost a third of suicide attempts by self-poisoning resulted in more severe, prolonged health issues — some of which could be life-threatening — including low blood pressure and irregular heartbeats and lifelong disability.

Although the researchers couldn’t directly link the suicide attempts to any particular cause, they suspect that societal shifts in the way we communicate and use technology contributed to the rise.

“Screen time and social media — they’re probably not helping,” Dr. John Ackerman, co-author of the study and suicide prevention coordinator for the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, told ABC news. “The advent of social media and smartphones and the manner and frequency with which youth talk to one another have clear positive associations.”

Spiller added that having this technology has also made information more available to teens about how to attempt suicide. “There’s multiple channels of information that give them access to it,” he said.

 The study authors emphasized the importance of teens being able to have open dialogue with their teachers, counselors, doctors and parents. Ackerman said that adults shouldn’t wait until “something is noticeably wrong or when someone’s in crisis” to help.

“A better time to check in emotionally is when things are going well,” he said. “We need to be present, we need to be curious and our kids will start to open up.”

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, do not hesitate to seek help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for free, non-judgmental help 24/7.

Charlyn Laserna is a pediatric resident physician in Houston, Texas, and a contributor to the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Actor Ben Stiller speaks out on Syria as US warns of intensifying violence

WORLD NEWS Actor Ben Stiller speaks out on Syria as US warns of intensifying violence

Paul Morigi/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In over eight years of war, the headlines of suffering and violence in Syria have, at times, faded.

Actor Ben Stiller tried to change that on Wednesday.

The goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the humanitarian impact of the war and what the U.S. should be doing about it.

It couldn’t come at a more critical time. There are rising concerns of intense fighting in the country’s northwest province Idlib — the last rebel stronghold that’s in the crosshairs of strongman Bashar al Assad and his backers Russia and Iran, but also a hub of terror groups like al-Qaeda’s affiliate.

For those areas liberated from the Islamic State, there are major questions about what comes next as the Trump administration plans to draw down its troop levels and has pulled funding and called for other countries to pay for stabilization projects critical to restoring services and keeping terror groups at bay.

During his testimony, Stiller turned quickly to how watching the refugee crisis galvanized him to act: “I didn’t want to just keep watching. I wanted to do something.”

“Eight years into this crisis, we must not look away,” he said, praising the work of the U.N. refugee agency, but said it is lacking the resources needed to address the crisis.

“Given severe underfunding, there is nothing easy about making daily difficult choices, like which programs to downsize or which families won’t receive thermal blankets during a cold, harsh winter,” he added.

Since the conflict began, the U.S. has provided around $9 billion for humanitarian aid, according to the State Department. But the Trump administration has pulled back — asking others to pay more, moving to withdraw U.S. troops, and refusing to provide funding to rebuild areas under Assad’s control.

In March, the U.N. and European Union hosted a donor conference, securing pledges of up to $7 billion for humanitarian aid for Syria. Of that, $397 million came from the U.S., with State Department Special Envoy Jim Jeffrey announcing the majority will go to countries in the region that host hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees each.

The deeper U.S. cuts have been to stabilization funding — the projects like rubble removal, de-mining, and restoration of services like running water that the U.S. has said are necessary to restore life to areas freed of ISIS and prevent the rise of a new terror group. Last August, the U.S. cut over $200 million in stabilization, and in this year’s budget proposal, the White House wanted to zero out any more funding.

The U.S. is instead “looking for new sources of stability funds,” according to Amb. Jeffrey, after securing $325 million from coalition partners last summer, most of that from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. But the needs on the ground are great, and it’s unclear where new stabilization funding may come from.

What the U.S. has made clear with allies in Europe and the Middle East is that none of them will provide funding for areas controlled by the Assad regime or its supporters. They’re trying to use that as leverage over Russia and Assad to come back to U.N. talks about the country’s future, knowing that both parties are desperate not to foot the enormous bill to rebuild.

So far, however, it hasn’t worked — with Russia, Iran, and Turkey engaging in their own talks.

But that peace process is fragile. Turkey backs the rebel groups in Idlib, even those with ties to al Qaeda and other jihadists, and Assad, Russia, and Iran want to take back these last strongholds of opposition — with airstrikes and bombings flaring up in recent weeks.

The State Department said yesterday the U.S. is “alarmed by the escalation of violence,” which continues “to destabilize the region, exacerbate the dire humanitarian situation, and cause dozens of civilian deaths and injuries — many of them children.”

“The violence must end,” said spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, accusing Russia and the regime of “blatantly” targeting humanitarian groups like the White Helmets, the volunteer EMS responders who have gained international acclaim for their efforts to rescue Syrians from bombings and airstrikes but have also been allegedly attacked by a smear disinformation campaign by Russia.

The head of the White Helmets was in Washington over the last week, meeting with lawmakers and officials at the White House, State Department, and U.S. Agency for International Development and asking for more support. Despite the larger cuts to Syria, the White Helmets received an additional $5 million in U.S. funding in March.

Raed Saleh told ABC News the appointment of Ambassador Jeffrey last year has given the group confidence and they see the U.S. more engaged now, but when asked about Trump’s desire to withdraw the U.S. from Syria, militarily and financially, he said they’ll “continue to monitor the other developments.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 01 May 2019

Former NFL star Jeff Rohrer is living with his new husband, two kids and ex-wife

Sports News Former NFL star Jeff Rohrer is living with his new husband, two kids and ex-wife

Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — After coming out and marrying husband Joshua Ross, former NFL star Jeff Rohrer is getting all the love and support he needs, some from unexpected sources.

Rohrer, 60, played for the Cowboys three decades ago, and after looking inward and coming to terms with his sexuality, he and his wife of almost two decades, Heather Rohrer, ended their marriage a few years back.

But even though that chapter has ended, Jeff and Heather have begun a new one, as co-parents and loving friends. The entire Rohrer clan, including new husband Joshua and Jeff’s two children with Heather — Isabella, 16, and Dondillon, 15 — are living under the same roof.

“It’s working out really well so far,” the former athlete tells People magazine for its latest issue.

Heather is also very happy with the new blended family.

“Jeff and Josh are my family, and we’re a better team together than apart,” she adds.

Rohrer could not be true to who he was while in the NFL or even shortly after. He says being gay, “was always inside me. But it was something I managed.”

Like she is now, Heather, though she’d be losing her husband, was supportive as soon as the duo started to realize who he really was inside.

 “Once I figured it out, it was obvious he was gay,” she says. “He thought it was wrong; he was so angry. He thought his children wouldn’t love him, that he’d lose his job … I kept trying to tell him it was okay.”

When Rohrer came to terms with his sexuality and started dating Ross in 2015, he was the one who made the effort to meet his love’s ex-wife.

“Being together for the kids is the important thing for us,” Heather says. “It’s been difficult to get to this place, but it’s worth it … We’ve decided we may all live together forever.”

At the time of their wedding this past November, Ross was overjoyed to be getting a new family with a new husband.

“I feel so honored that I’m the one he chose,” he said. “After all this time, for him to like take this big leap — it definitely gives me all the feels. I’m becoming a step-father to two teenage children, so that’s always very exciting.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 01 May 2019

’13 Reasons Why’ study finds bump in teen suicide following season 1 release

Beth Dubber/NetflixBY: DR. NITYA KUMAR

(NEW YORK) — Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” which follows the aftermath of a teen girl’s suicide, has drawn criticism and controversy since it first began streaming, as many feared that it might promote suicidality.

Adding to those fears, a new study finds that there was a significant increase in youth suicide rates following the show’s initial release.

The NIH-supported study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, found that the overall suicide rate among boys ages 10 to 17 increased dramatically in the months following the shows release. Suicide rates among girls, meanwhile, remained steady.

“The results of this study should raise awareness that young people are particularly vulnerable to media,” said Lisa Horowitz, study author and clinical scientist at the National Institute of Mental Health Intramural Research Program, in a press release. “All disciplines, including the media, need to take good care to be constructive and thoughtful about topics that intersect with public health crises.”

The researchers arrived at their conclusion by looking at annual and monthly data on suicide rates for people between the ages of 10 and 64 between January 2013 and December 2017.

They found that in April 2017, a month after the show’s release, there was a 28% increase in suicide among 10- to 17-year-old teen boys, making it the month with the highest suicide rate out of the entire five-year period.

Compared to youth, there were no significant differences in suicide rates in people who were 18 years old or older. Homicides did not significantly increase, either.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Netflix said, “We’ve just seen this study and are looking into the research, which conflicts with last week’s study from the University of Pennsylvania (Which found the series may reduce risk for young adults who watch to the end.) This is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly.”

Suicide remains a major public health concern, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting it as the third leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24. However, Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and a volunteer advisor to Netflix, emphasized that individual reasons for dying by suicide are complex.

Moutier said that other potential contributors to the study’s findings could have included shifts in the way people were using social media and the suicides of musician Chris Cornell and NFL player Aaron Hernandez — all of which occurred around the same time.

Contrary to the study’s findings, her organization has actually found that the Netflix show has helped parents open up dialogue with their children about the subject of suicide and create a safe space.

Help is available; there are dedicated centers for those who are in need of it. Robin Seymour, clinical director of the Newport Academy rehab center, told ABC News that in recent years, there have been “higher rates of suicide ideation” at their treatment centers.

For anyone struggling with these thoughts, she recommended open communication with someone who can be trusted. After all, she said, by speaking with others, you may find that someone else is struggling, too.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) where you’ll be put in touch with a local crisis center. Nitya Kumar is an internal medicine resident physician in Houston, Texas, and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Costs for exact same medical procedures vary dramatically in different hospitals, study says

STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Go to Toledo, Ohio, and the median cost of a simple blood test will run you a reasonable $18. But what if you live in Beaumont, Texas? You’ll be ponying up $443 — nearly 25 times as much.

Those numbers come from a new study released by the Health Care Cost Institute on Tuesday. The institute created something they call the Health Marketplace Index, a measurement of how much a service costs using the sum of what an insurer covers and the patient’s out-of-pocket expense. And it found wildly different prices depending on where in the country you go to get medical procedures.

The study looked at a number of procedures to come up with comparisons: two types of child birth (vaginal or C-section), two commonly performed lab tests (a blood test and a mammogram) and two types of office visits (for established patients or for new patients).

The study looked at 1.8 billion health care claims in order to come up with its statistics.

The discrepancies are, in some cases, shocking.

In the Bay Area, which scores some of the highest prices regardless of service, the median cost of a C-section was $20,721. In Knoxville, Tennessee, the exact same C-section has a median cost of $4,556.

In general, costs were higher on the East Coast and West Coast than in the middle of the country, but even that was no guarantee. While costs in Boston were 14% above the national median in 2016, Providence, Rhode Island, just 50 minutes south, is 12% below the national median.

San Jose, California, and Anchorage, Alaska, tied for the highest overall price level (about 82% over the median), while Baltimore had the lowest (about 26% below the median), according to the study.

Even going to different hospitals within the same metro area could vary. The lowest cost of a vaginal birth in the Boston-Cambridge region was $4,701 while the most expensive was $15,973 — more than three times as much. In Tampa, Florida, a blood test can cost you $11 — or $440.

There have been some incremental changes in helping patients learn what they will pay for a hospital stay. A new federal law went into effect in January that required hospitals to post the costs of medical procedures online.

But, as the HCCI study shows, you’ll have to do a lot of compare and contrast work to know what costs are around the country.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Trump administration have tried tackling the confusion around medical costs, though mostly with a focus on prescription drug prices. One of the propositions, made by HHS last October, would require drug companies to put prescription prices in TV ads.

“The HMI – Price Index is an important resource for stakeholders to establish and benchmark prices in their areas in order to more accurately identify the drivers of high (or low) local prices, and for national policymakers considering ways to reveal or impact prices,” the study concludes.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Julian Assange sentenced for jumping bail by British court

WORLD NEWS Julian Assange sentenced for jumping bail by British court

Jack Taylor/Getty Images(LONDON) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrived at Southwark Crown Court in central London Wednesday raising a defiant fist in front of cameras, before being sentenced to 50 weeks behind bars for jumping bail in 2012.

Assange skipped bail and stayed at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted on sexual assault charges, which he has denied. He was arrested at the embassy in mid-April.

In a letter read to the court, Assange apologized to those who “consider I have disrespected them,” and said he had struggled in difficult circumstances.

British Judge Deborah Taylor handed him a sentence just under the maximum term for the offense, which was a full year, saying he displayed a “disdain for the law of this country.”

The judge said Assange should have left the embassy to face due process “with the rights and protections which the legal system in this country provides.”

Taylor also threw out a suggestion from his defense that his seven years in the embassy should have offset any prison sentence. He will face at least half his sentence behind bars if he does not commit further crimes.

This is far from the end of Assange’s legal troubles.

He is also wanted in the U.S. in connection with one of the largest thefts of classified government information in American history. The U.K. has an extradition treaty with the U.S., depending on an assurance that wanted persons do not face the death penalty, which is outlawed in the U.K.

Hours after he was arrested by British authorities in April, U.S. prosecutors announced charges against him for allegedly conspiring with former intelligence officer Chelsea Manning to gain unlawful access to a government computer.

The indictment, which was filed in March 2018, claims Assange helped Manning crack a password on a Pentagon computer.

In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the offense, but her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama as one of his final acts in office.

Meanwhile, Assange had fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in June 2012, where he remained until April 11 this year. While the Ecuadorians were staunch advocates of his protection, the relationship between them and Assange soured in recent years.

WikiLeaks continued to publish controversial material, including stolen material from the Democratic National Committee during 2016. This caused discomfort for the Ecuadorians, who cut off his communications in March.

Relations further deteriorated after the 2017 election of Lenin Moreno, who described Assange as “a spoiled brat” and “a thorn in our side” after he was ousted from the embassy. Moreno repeated allegations by embassy staff that Assange displayed aggressive behavior and smeared feces on walls.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 01 May 2019