Mike Pompeo makes last-minute trip to Iraq, amid heightened tensions with Iran

WORLD NEWS Mike Pompeo makes last-minute trip to Iraq, amid heightened tensions with Iran  https://linewsradio.com/mike-pompeo-makes-last-minute-trip-to-iraq-amid-heightened-tensions-with-iran/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a list-minute trip to Iraq amid reported threats to U.S. personnel in the country from neighboring Iran and heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The surprise visit came just two days after the U.S. announced plans to move an aircraft carrier strike group to the Middle East ahead of schedule and warnings from Iran that it would halt implementation of some parts of the nuclear deal. Wednesday marks one year since President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement and began an economic pressure campaign to squeeze the Iranian government.

Late Sunday night, the White House announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force were being deployed in response to unspecified “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” of a threat from Iran, although the Pentagon later confirmed the aircraft carrier was already scheduled to stop in the region. U.S. officials told ABC News there were “clear indications” Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were preparing for a possible attack against U.S. forces on land, including in Iraq and Syria, and at sea.

“This would be an effort to take American forces out that continue our campaign against ISIS,” Pompeo said Tuesday of the threat, after departing Baghdad. “These were attacks that were imminent. These were attacks that were going to happen fairly soon. We’ve learned about them, and we’re taking every action to deter them.”

The trip came at the expense of a planned visit to Germany, where Pompeo was scheduled to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. The Trump administration’s relationship with Merkel’s government has been rocky, with Trump and Merkel lacking a warm personal relationship, according to U.S. and German officials. The alliance has also been strained by disagreements over the Iran nuclear deal, trade, a pipeline between Russia and Germany, defense spending and more.

Both sides, however, said Germany understood the importance of Pompeo’s visit to Iraq and that they would reschedule.

“Unfortunately, we must reschedule the Berlin meetings due to pressing issues,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement before the Baghdad visit. “We look forward to rescheduling this important set of meetings. The Secretary looks forward to being in Berlin soon.”

Pompeo spoke by phone with Maas instead, with a German Foreign Office spokesperson saying, “Both sides agreed they would find a new date soon. Foreign Minister Maas expressed his understanding for the rescheduling.”

Beyond beefing up security of Americans in Iraq, Pompeo said his visit was also critical “to assure [Iraq] that we stood ready to continue to ensure that Iraq is a sovereign, independent nation,” especially by pushing for Iraqi energy independence.

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Posted On 07 May 2019

US Soccer fires back against lawsuit, says women’s team has ‘different obligations’

Sports News US Soccer fires back against lawsuit, says women's team has 'different obligations' https://linewsradio.com/us-soccer-fires-back-against-lawsuit-says-womens-team-has-different-obligations/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/sports-news/

Katharine Lotze/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) is denying allegations of gender discrimination after the women’s national soccer team claimed unfair treatment in a lawsuit.

“U.S. Soccer’s challenged pay practices are not based on sex,” according to a response from USSF filed Tuesday in federal court. Rather, “any alleged pay differential” is due to “differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams” and other factors, the response said.

The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) suit alleged female players were treated unfairly on the field and in pay versus the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT), which is less successful in competition.

The USSF, which also rejected the suit’s call for class action status, attributed the differences in treatment, including why women flew commercial while men traveled on chartered planes, to differences between the teams.

“The USWNT and USMNT play at different times, in different locations, against different opponents, and are comprised of athletes who have different obligations, are compensated in fundamentally different ways, and enjoy different benefits; thus, USWNT players have no male ‘counterparts’ who play for the USMNT,” the response said.

A spokesperson for the suing USWNT athletes told ABC News in a statement, “There is no legal basis for USSF’s claim that it is anything other than a single employer operating both the men’s and women’s teams — who face drastically unequal conditions and pay under their shared employer.”

The USSF claims the players on each team “receive fundamentally different pay structures for performing different work under their separate collective bargaining agreements.”

The men fall under a “pay-for-play” structure and are “only paid for individual match appearances” on tournament or tournament-qualifying rosters, the organization said, arguing male players’ compensation cannot be compared to the women “who earn guaranteed salaries and benefits.”

The USWNT “consistently rejected all proposals” for a pay-for-play structure, USSF said.

The players’ statement said in response, “The USSF cannot justify its violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII by pointing to the teams’ separate collective bargaining agreements or any factor other than sex.”

USSF added that the “total prize money available” in the 2018 Men’s World Cup was $38 million compared to the $2 million for the last Women’s World Cup, which took place in 2015.

The USSF also said the women’s team makes less revenue from game ticket sales, although it noted that it “invested in marketing and promoting the USWNT.”

The organization did, however, admit “the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final match broke the record for being the most watched soccer match shown on English-language television in this country” and “that the USWNT’s 2015 Victory Tour drew tens of thousands of fans to stadiums across the United States.”

The women will have a chance to beat that record at the next Women’s World Cup in early June.

 “Even as the most decorated American soccer team in history, USSF treats the women’s team as ‘less-than’ equal compared to their male colleagues,” the USWNT statement said. “We look forward to a trial next year after the World Cup.”

The men’s team did not qualify for the last World Cup.

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Posted On 07 May 2019

US lifts sanctions on Venezuela spy chief who defected as incentive for others still loyal to Maduro

WORLD NEWS US lifts sanctions on Venezuela spy chief who defected as incentive for others still loyal to Maduro  https://linewsradio.com/us-lifts-sanctions-on-venezuela-spy-chief-who-defected-as-incentive-for-others-still-loyal-to-maduro/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

Lokman Ilhan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(NEW YORK) —  One week after opposition protests sought to spur top Venezuelan leaders to abandon Nicolas Maduro, the country’s embattled socialist president, the U.S. is stepping in again to try to spur action with an offer: Defect from Maduro and avoid U.S. sanctions.

Vice President Mike Pence announced Tuesday that the U.S. removed sanctions against the country’s former chief of the intelligence service, SEBIN, after Gen. Manuel Cristopher Figuera broke with Maduro last Tuesday. At the same time, Pence threatened new economic penalties against the 25 justices on the country’s Supreme Court.

 “I came today to be very clear. The United States will continue to exert all diplomatic and economic pressure to bring about a peaceful transition of democracy in Venezuela, but to those who continue to oppress the good people of Venezuela, know this: All options are on the table,” Pence said.

The U.S.-supported movement to oust Maduro hit a wall again after the protests last week failed to win the major high-level defections that would push Maduro from power. The president of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, and his mentor, Leopoldo Lopez, called for mass demonstrations and military defections Tuesday in what they said was the “final phase” of that push.

But by the end of the week, Maduro remained in control of the security services and armed forces while Lopez, who had been under house arrest, went into hiding at the Spanish embassy in the capital, Caracas. Guaido, who the U.S. and 53 other countries have recognized as the legitimate leader of the country, continues to rally supporters but has yet to secure power.

As Maduro tries to wield the power of Venezuela’s institutions to crack down on political opponents and reassert power, Pence’s announcement Tuesday is meant to counter that and give Guaido’s effort a new boost. He blasted the Supreme Court as a “political tool” of Maduro’s government that has “undermined its constitutional mandate” and offered the threat of sanctions or the opportunity of sanctions relief as a way forward.

“As President Guaido builds a brighter future for Venezuela, we hope the action that our nation is taking today will encourage others to follow the example of General Christopher Figuera and members of military who’ve also stepped forward and taken a stand,” Pence said.

The lifting of sanctions means that Figuera, who was sanctioned in February, could once again access any financial assets that the U.S. government had frozen and do business with American individuals and entities.

On Tuesday, Pence also accused Maduro’s government of being a “failed state” that aids and abets drug traffickers and terrorist organizations associated with Iran, such as Hezbollah. But while President Donald Trump has said Russia’s Vladimir Putin is not “looking at all to get involved” in Venezuela, Pence contradicted that, calling Russia out for supplying weapons and cash to the regime.

“Despite their denials, it’s clear that Russia also seeks a foothold in this hemisphere,” Pence said.

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Posted On 07 May 2019

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings threatens to withhold salaries of Interior, Commerce officials

Political News House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings threatens to withhold salaries of Interior, Commerce officials https://linewsradio.com/house-oversight-chairman-elijah-cummings-threatens-to-withhold-salaries-of-interior-commerce-officials/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings was threatening to withhold salaries from officials at the Interior and Commerce departments who he said are refusing to be interviewed as part of ongoing investigations.

Democrats in the House are looking into the addition of a citizenship question in the 2020 Census and there are concerns that Secretary David Bernhardt has not been transparent about his schedule.

In letters to seven federal employees, Cummings said the committee has the authority to withhold salaries of any employee who “prohibits or prevents” or “attempts or threatens to prohibit or prevent” testimony in front of the committee.

Cummings said the departments have not responded or have declined requests for interviews from the House Oversight Committee and Natural Resources Committee, which oversee the Interior Department. The committees have asked for interviews with Bernhardt’s assistants, scheduling director and chief of staff from Interior.

Cummings also wrote to staff from the Department of Commerce, including from the general counsel’s office, chief of staff and senior adviser to Secretary Wilbur Ross. The Oversight Committee questioned Ross in March about emails released as part of a lawsuit that seemed to contradict his previous testimony that the Justice Department asked for a citizenship question on the Census.

Ross defended his earlier statements in that hearing but Democrats sought to interview more Commerce staff that were involved in the decision to add the question to find out if Ross was withholding information in his testimony and possibly lying to Congress.

In a statement, a Commerce Department spokesperson said, “The Department of Commerce has worked in good faith with the Committee and will look for more opportunities to do so. The Department has delivered over 13,200 pages of documents pertaining to the Committee’s requests, and the Secretary himself voluntarily testified for nearly seven hours before the Committee. The 2020 Census has been and continues to be on time and on budget.”

 Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee have alleged Bernhardt is omitting entries from his schedule that could show meetings with former clients from his time as a lobbyist. They are also looking into concerns about the management of his schedule using a Google document.

The Interior Inspector General has opened an investigation into various ethical questions around Bernhardt, including whether he intervened in policy issues on behalf of former clients. But Interior insists Bernhardt follows all guidance from the agency’s ethics lawyers.

Bernhardt was asked about the issue in a House Appropriations budget hearing on Tuesday and said it’s “not the appropriate time” for interviews.

“We have offered additional briefings, we’ve offered material and we don’t think it’s the appropriate time for interviews,” he said, adding “we do have a right to have a full process that’s fair and responsive.”

“In all candor, you sent these secretaries requests, and they obviously have to make their choice, but you’re talking about individual employees that are longstanding employees at the department,” he said. “And when you want to shoot at me that comes with the territory but these are people, we have wonderful career employees here and they are very, they’ve never had this happen to them in their career.”

An Interior Department spokeswoman said they are reviewing the request. Bernhardt said Tuesday he’s confident that reviews will find he complied with ethics rules.

“We have throughout the history of Congress conducted government oversight and the request for information, if there’s nothing to hide the transparency piece serves more than Congress it serves the people,” Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich. said. “You have been requested to comply and with all due respect with all the power and the experience you have, you are required to comply. And I am really frustrated right now being in Congress every time we address this administration you are creating new criteria for responding to checks and balances and transparency and I expect, without having to go to court and demand it, that you as the secretary will comply.”

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Posted On 07 May 2019

Tiffany Haddish and Chris Hemsworth team for buddy action comedy ‘Down Under Cover’

Entertainment News  Tiffany Haddish and Chris Hemsworth team for buddy action comedy 'Down Under Cover' https://linewsradio.com/tiffany-haddish-and-chris-hemsworth-team-for-buddy-action-comedy-down-under-cover/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/entertainment-news/

 

ABC/Paula Lobo, Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — Tiffany Haddish and Chris Hemsworth are headed to the Outback.

Deadline has learned that Haddish and Hemsworth have joined forces for a new buddy cop comedy called Down Under Cover. The film is said to be in the same vein as odd couple cop stories like 48 Hours, Rush Hour, and The Heat.

The feature follows Hemsworth, who’s actually Australian, as a detective who goes undercover to solve a series of casino robberies in which the prime suspects are a troupe of Australian male erotic dancers. In order to crack the case, he’s forced to partner with Haddish’s character, described as “a lone wolf” who wants to do things her way.

This is the latest project for Haddish, whose upcoming movies include The Kitchen with Elisabeth Moss and Melissa McCarthy, and Limited Partners with Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek.

Hemsworth, meanwhile, stars in the upcoming spinoff movie Men In Black: International alongside Tessa Thompson. Both also appear in Avengers: Endgame as, respectively, Thor and Valkyrie.

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Posted On 07 May 2019

Investigators reportedly suspect pilots’ mistakes led to fiery Russian plane crash

WORLD NEWS Investigators reportedly suspect pilots’ mistakes led to fiery Russian plane crash  https://linewsradio.com/investigators-reportedly-suspect-pilots-mistakes-led-to-fiery-russian-plane-crash/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — Investigators examining the fiery crash landing of a Russian passenger at a Moscow airport reportedly are increasingly focused on pilot error as the primary cause of the accident that killed 41, as well as whether the emergency response was too slow.

The Aeroflot flight with 78 people aboard ran into trouble shortly after taking off on Sunday from Moscow bound for the northern city of Murmansk, after apparently being struck by lightning. An attempted emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport then ended catastrophically, with the plane engulfed in flame.

Two reports in well-respected Russian news outlets on Tuesday cited sources close to the investigation, which alleged the pilots had made a series of mistakes that led to the accident being so deadly

The newspaper Kommersant reported that investigators believe that the pilots’ first mistake was flying into the bad weather, where the reported lightning strike caused the aircraft to lose radio contact and leaving it with only manual control.

The pilots succeeded in signalling to ground controllers and requested an emergency landing. At this point, Kommersant reported, investigators accuse the pilots of making a second error, deciding to hurriedly make the landing rather than to circle in the air while burning off fuel.

As the a result, the aircraft attempted the emergency landing with nearly-full fuel tanks and heavily weighted. The plane came in too fast and too hard, causing its landing gear to collapse and slam the fuselage into the runway, making it bounce into the air.

The pilots, Kommersant wrote, then reacted incorrectly, pointing the nose downward instead of immediately seeking to pull up. The plane bounced twice more, bursting its fuel tanks, throwing fuel over the engines which exploded into fire.

“What we saw was a botched landing,” Steve Ganyard, a former deputy Assistant Secretary of State and ex-military pilot who is an aviation consultant for ABC News. “A landing that went awry and it hit so hard that it broke the airplane up and caused that horrific fire.”

A second Russian outlet, RBC, on Tuesday reported that investigators also allege the pilots may worsened the fire by failing to turn off the engines after the crash.

The pilots, Denis Yevdokimov and Maksim Kuznetsov have not spoken publicly since Sunday. In an unverified audio interview aired on Russian state television, Yevdokimov said the plane had lost communications and autopilot controls after the lightning strike. He said he had followed all procedures.

Tracking data on the site FlightRadar24 showed the plane had circled the airport twice before landing.

There were still many questions remaining, though, about the factors behind the crash. Karlene Petitt, an international airline pilot who completed a doctorate degree on airline safety at the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, said that there may be other factors explaining why the pilots decided they could not wait before landing.

“If the pilots were unsure of the safety of flight, not knowing what else was damaged, they would make a decision to land overweight, to get the aircraft safely onto the ground,” she said, adding that if the pilots had flown into the storm clouds that raised questions about the airline’s safety culture.

Experts have also questioned Sheremetyevo airport’s emergency response, with concerns that the airport alarm was sounded too late. The head of Sheremetyevo’s flight attendants union, Ilona Borisova, told Kommersant that although the firefighters had acted as swiftly, the alert had already come in too late — meaning they arrived only after the plane had landed and was already ablaze.

Russian officials have so far defended the response. But Russian transport minister Yevgeny Dietrich told journalists on Monday that the airport declared an emergency one minute after the plane’s landing, with the first fire trucks arriving within a minute. Six other trucks arrived four minutes later, he said.

Investigators have recovered the plane’s flight recorders, which may yet reveal details that alter investigators’ understanding of the accident. It also remained unclear on Tuesday why the plane — a Russian-built Sukhoi Superjet 100 — was so damaged by the lightning strike. Such strikes are common and modern aircraft can normally withstand such acts of nature.

A few harrowing accounts from passengers have been emerging. One passenger, Oleg Molchanov told the popular news site Meduza that he had been sitting in the twelfth row and that no one behind him got out.

“I went last — there was already no one behind me,” he said. “I think the passengers there had no chance to save themselves. They were suffocated by carbon monoxide, everything was drenched in kerosene. The lamps were melting in front of my eyes,” he said.

Molchanov praised the flight attendants, who he said did “everything bordering on the impossible” to get people out.

One attendant, 22 year-old Maksim Moiseyev was killed.

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Posted On 07 May 2019

Jessica Chastain objects to ‘Game of Thrones’ scene: “Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger”

Entertainment News  Jessica Chastain objects to 'Game of Thrones' scene: "Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger" https://linewsradio.com/jessica-chastain-objects-to-game-of-thrones-scene-rape-is-not-a-tool-to-make-a-character-stronger/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/entertainment-news/

 

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — While there have been plenty of complaints about Sunday night’s Game of Thrones episode — Jon’s not even going to pet Ghost goodbye? — one particular line of dialogue has sparked outcry on social media, and even actress Jessica Chastain is speaking out about it.

On Sunday night, Sophie Turner’s Sansa reunites with The Hound, and they reminisce about what happened to her since their time in King’s Landing. When he notes that she used to be too scared to look at him, she responds, “That was a long time ago. I’ve seen much worse than you since then.”

He responds, referring to her horrific treatment at the hands of Ramsay Bolton, “Yes, I’ve heard. I heard you were broken in. Broken in rough.

After Sansa describes how she fed Bolton to his own dogs, the Hound says, “You’ve changed, little bird,” and adds, “None of it would have happened if you’d left King’s Landing with me. No Littlefinger. No Ramsay. None of it.”

And then Sansa drops this line: “Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would have stayed a little bird all my life.”

Chastain, who co-stars with Turner in the upcoming X-Men movie Dark Phoenix, took to Twitter to object, stating, “Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger. A woman doesn’t need to be victimized in order to become a butterfly. The #littlebird was always a Phoenix. Her prevailing strength is solely because of her. And her alone.”

Other fans agreed, with one writing, “I still love but this show proves over and over again they have no idea how to write about rape. Sansa just shrugging off what happened to her by saying she’s stronger for it?? do any women write for this show…?”

Vanity Fair made the same point.

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Posted On 07 May 2019

Tyler Perry says John Singleton’s passing is a “wakeup call”

Entertainment News  Tyler Perry says John Singleton's passing is a "wakeup call" https://linewsradio.com/tyler-perry-says-john-singletons-passing-is-a-wakeup-call/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/entertainment-news/

 

ABC/Eric McCandless(LOS ANGELES) — After John Singleton passed away last month at 51, just days after suffering a stroke, Tyler Perry is asking his fans, friends, and loved ones to make sure to take care of themselves.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Perry shared a photo of his blood pressure monitor, which revealed a healthy blood pressure reading of 116/79. In a heartfelt message, Perry wrote that he hopes Singleton’s recent passing will serve as a “wake up call” for others to monitor their health.

“Took my blood pressure this morning, and it made me think about John Singleton and all of us,” Perry wrote.

“I want to ask you a few questions,” he continued. “When was the last time you checked your blood pressure? When was the last time you had a physical? When was the last time you ran a mile? When was the last time you checked in on YOU? John’s untimely death should be a wake up call to all of us.”

“We gotta take better care of ourselves!!” he added.

As previously reported, Singleton died on April 29 in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke earlier that week.  His family chose to remove him from life support, and a spokesperson said Singleton passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends. 

His family noted that Singleton suffered from hypertension, and that more than 40% of African-American men and women have high blood pressure. The family asked that everyone visit Heart.org to recognize the symptoms.

Singleton, who was well-respected in Hollywood for his work in both film and television, made history as the first black person and the youngest filmmaker ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, for his critically-acclaimed film Boyz In The Hood.

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Posted On 07 May 2019

Disney/Fox movie slate into 2027: Three previously unknown ‘Star Wars’ films; eight (!) Marvel movies; four more ‘Avatar’ films — and Indy’s back!

Entertainment News  Disney/Fox movie slate into 2027: Three previously unknown 'Star Wars' films; eight (!) Marvel movies; four more 'Avatar' films -- and Indy's back! https://linewsradio.com/disney-fox-movie-slate-into-2027-three-previously-unknown-star-wars-films-eight-marvel-movies-four-more-avatar-films-and-indys-back/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/entertainment-news/

 

LucasfilmThe 20th Century Fox/Disney merger has made for a huge slate of upcoming movies — including a couple of surprises.

Disney has announced a schedule of all of its movies through the year 2027. While we knew that James Cameron’s Avatar universe was going to spawn four new sequels, we now know they’ll be released over the pre-Christmas weekend every other year starting in 2021.

The Avatar movies will switch off with three new, as-yet-untitled Star Wars films, which will be released that same weekend every other year starting in 2022.  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — the conclusion of the Skywalker saga —  will hit theaters this December 20.

Oh, and on August 9 of 2021? An untitled Indiana Jones film — a week shy of Harrison Ford’s 79th birthday.

Also on the schedule are eight untitled Marvel Studios films, slated for release May 5 and November 6 of 2020; February 12, May 7, and November 5 of 2021; and February 18, May 6, and August 29 of 2022.

Other Disney/Fox releases for this year include Disney’s Aladdin on May 24, Fox’s Dark Phoenix on June 7, Toy Story 4 on June 21, the Dave Bautista action comedy Stuber from Fox on July 12, and Disney’s The Lion King roaring into theaters on July 19.

However, the studios have bumped several releases previously slated for this year. The sci-fi film Ad Astra is moving from May 23 of this year to September of 2019. The New Mutants — which officially be Fox’s final X-Men film, has been shifted from August of this year to April 3rd, 2020. Disney’s Artemis Fowl moves from August 9 of this year to May 29, 2020. 

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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Posted On 07 May 2019

Kentucky Derby winner Country House will not race in Preakness Stakes due to health

Sports News Kentucky Derby winner Country House will not race in Preakness Stakes due to health https://linewsradio.com/kentucky-derby-winner-country-house-will-not-race-in-preakness-stakes-due-to-health/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/sports-news/

Andy Lyons/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — This year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Country House, will not race in the Preakness Stakes due to health concerns, according to his trainer.

The champion horse is currently coughing and his blood profile is not normal, his trainer, Bill Mott, told ABC News. The Preakness Stakes, the second round of the Triple Crown, is set for May 18.

Country House was determined the Derby winner when a controversial decision disqualified Maximum Security, the first horse to cross the finish line, after a review found Maximum Security veered out of his path on the final turn.

An appeal filed by Maximum Security’s owners was denied by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Additional details on Country House’s health were not immediately available.

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Posted On 07 May 2019