British warship prevents Iranian attempt to order a British tanker into its waters: US officials

WORLD NEWS British warship prevents Iranian attempt to order a British tanker into its waters: US officials

CIL868/iStock(WASHINGTON) — A British warship prevented an apparent attempt by five Iranian small boats to direct a British oil tanker towards Iranian waters on Wednesday, according to two U.S. officials.

The incident is the first provocative action since Iranian officials warned of consequences after the United Kingdom seized an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar that was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of international sanctions.

The United Kingdom flagged oil tanker British Heritage was in the eastern Persian Gulf on its way towards the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday afternoon when it was approached by five small Iranian craft, said the two U.S. officials.

The Iranians radioed the British Heritage to change course and move towards Iranian territorial waters.

HMS Montrose, a British frigate, was five miles away monitoring the tanker’s transit when the Iranian boats approached.

The British warship sped towards the tanker’s location and got in between the five Iranian boats and the British tanker, said the U.S. officials.

The crew of the Montrose radioed the Iranians to break off their contact, which they did. The Montrose then continued to escort the British Heritage on its route through the Strait of Hormuz.

The U.S. officials described the small Iranian craft as belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran’s paramilitary force that routinely harasses shipping in the Persian Gulf area. The United States has also blamed the IRGC for being behind the mine attacks on several merchant ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in May and June.

“We are aware of the reports of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp Navy’s FAC/FIAC harassment and attempts to interfere with the passage of the U.K.-flagged merchant vessel British Heritage today near the Strait of Hormuz,” said Captain Bill Urban, a U.S. Central Command spokesperson.

“We refer you the U.K. Ministry of Defense for further information on this. Threats to international freedom of navigation require an international solution. The world economy depends on the free flow of commerce, and it is incumbent on all nations to protect and preserve this lynchpin of global prosperity,” Urban added.

In the wake of the attack, Iranian officials had used bellicose language hinting at retaliation that culminated on Wednesday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warning Britain there would be “consequences” for the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker.

On Tuesday, General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the U.S. and its allies were continuing discussions about putting together a maritime coalition to protect commercial shipping in the Gulf region from any Iranian threats.

One proposal calls for commercial ships to be escorted by their country’s Navy, while the United States military would provide situational awareness and coordination for coalition ships.

There have been heightened tensions between the United States and Iran since early May when an aircraft carrier and a bomber task force were dispatched to the Middle East to counter new intelligence that suggested Iran and its affiliated groups were planning attacks against U.S. interests in the region.

Two weeks ago, the tensions almost resulted in U.S. military airstrikes ordered by President Donald Trump against Iranian missile batteries that had shot down a Global Hawk reconnaissance drone.

President Trump canceled those airstrikes, saying the casualties they would have inflicted were not proportional to the shoot-down of the unarmed drone.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 10 Jul 2019

Louisiana under state of emergency as severe weather moves in: ‘We all need to take this very, very seriously’

U.S. NEWS Louisiana under state of emergency as severe weather moves in: 'We all need to take this very, very seriously'

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A state of emergency was declared in Louisiana on Wednesday as severe weather threatens the Gulf of Mexico.

The tropical moisture, which has already triggered heavy rain and flash flood warnings in New Orleans Wednesday morning, is expected to intensify into a tropical depression by Thursday morning.

It could then develop into Tropical Storm Barry, or even a category 1 hurricane by the weekend.

A tropical storm watch and storm surge watch have been issued for the southeast part of the state.

“This is going to be a Louisiana event with coastal flooding and widespread, heavy rainfall potentially impacting every part of the state,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement. “No one should take this storm lightly. As we know all too well in Louisiana, low intensity does not necessarily mean low impact.”

“Now is the time to check your emergency supplies and get a game-plan for your family and pets,” Edwards said.

 The system is expected to make landfall in western Louisiana on Saturday, with the worst of the conditions hitting Friday night through Sunday morning.

Tornadoes are possible when the storm reaches Louisiana.

“We all need to take this very, very seriously,” Edwards said at a news conference Wednesday morning.

 Regardless of how intense the storm may become, heavy rain is expected from the Florida Panhandle to the upper Texas coast and is forecast to extend inland into Louisiana, eastern Texas and the the lower Mississippi Valley.

Edwards warned that Louisiana could see as much as 10 to 15 inches of rain over a 24 hour period.

“We’re not sure yet of the exact track of the storm, or the strength of the potential tropical system once it makes landfall. However we’re confident that there will be widespread heavy rainfall and coastal flooding,” he said. “We could have heavy rain not just over the weekend but into next week.”

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Posted On 10 Jul 2019

Couple sues saying fertility center error led to painful and costly cross-country fight for infant son

abezikus/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — A couple in California is suing a fertility center in Los Angeles after they say they were forced to go to court to get custody of their baby from a woman across the country who had given birth to him unwittingly as a result of the facility’s error.

Anni and Ashot Manukyan of Glendale claim that they were one of three couples to have their embryos allegedly swapped at CHA Fertility Center, according to their lawyer Adam Wolf.

“Due to the extreme misconduct of CHA Fertility Center, the number of things that went wrong here is just plain staggering,” Wolf said on Wednesday announcing the lawsuit. “This case is one of the most egregious I have ever seen. It is clearly one of the worst fertility-center tragedies in U.S. history.”

A couple in New York recently filed a federal lawsuit against CHA, claiming they’d given birth to twins that were not biologically theirs.

The couple said they spent more than $100,000 on treatment and other expenses at CHA Fertility Center, according to a lawsuit.

Identified in court papers only as Y.Z. and A.P., the couple said they were shocked in March 2019 when they gave birth and realized that the children weren’t of Asian descent, as they are. DNA testing eventually proved that the twins, both boys, weren’t related to them or each other, the lawsuit said. The twins actually belonged to two other couples who were also clients of the hospital.

Y.Z. and A.P., who married in 2012, said they were required to give up custody, “thus suffering the loss of two children,” according to the lawsuit.

On Wednesday, the Manukyans came forward with Wolf as the parents of one of the boys born to Y.Z. and A.P. in New York. In court papers, the Manukyans said they’d turned to CHA Fertility after researching and deciding to try in vitro fertilization to build their family.

The Manukyans, who were married in 2007, said that in March 2011, an embryo transfer had resulted in the birth of their daughter. In August 2018, the couple decided to try for another baby with three remaining embryos. They said two embryos were supposed to be used and the third was discarded.

However, according to their court filing, neither embryo was transferred to Anni Manukyan’s uterus. The couple said that CHA allegedly implanted another couple’s embryo in her womb. That transfer, however, did not result in a pregnancy, according to the couple’s lawsuit.

“Anni and Ashot do not know whose embryos were actually transferred to Anni on that day. On information and belief, Defendants also do not know whose embryos they transferred to Anni,” court papers said.

The couple said they believe that in August 2018, however, at least one of Anni Manukyan’s embryos was implanted in the New York woman, resulting in the birth of their son.

“We live with the uncertainty that another embryo of ours may be born to someone else,” Anni Manukyan said.

According to the couple, in the spring of 2019, CHA reached out to them for a “supposedly routine cheek swab test.”

“CHA wanted to obtain their DNA — under false pretenses — so that CHA could determine covertly whether a child, born on March 11, 2019 to a New York couple as one of two twins, might actually be Anni’s and Ashot’s child,” said a news release posted to their lawyer’s website. “Weeks later, Anni and Ashot learned that they had a son, but CHA refused to provide any further information regarding the identity of the New York couple or the whereabouts of their son. During those weeks of uncertainty, Anni and Ashot did not know if they would ever be able to meet their child.”

The couple said the baby was almost 2 weeks old when they learned of him.

“CHA robbed me of my ability to carry my own child, my baby boy, to be with him in the first couple of, you know, moments of his life, to nurse him, to just do like skin-on-skin contact to just, you know, be a mom to him,” Anni Manukyan said Wednesday.

The couple said they hired lawyers and flew to New York, where they say they learned that Y.Z. and A.P. wanted to keep both babies. According to the lawsuit, after an “expensive” legal battle that took more than a month, a judge granted them custody of the child and the Manukyans were able to return to California in May with their baby.

Anni Manukyan described meeting her child, named Alec, for the first time in the lobby of a hotel as “heartbreaking.”

“It’s indescribable ya know. I mean. It’s so many emotions running through my head like happiness, sadness, that that was the first time. Who wants to meet their child in the lobby of a hotel? It was just — it was heartbreaking, it was terrible,” she said.

Wolf, the couple’s lawyer, said the Manukyans were seeking emotional and punitive damages as well as court costs in their fight for their infant son in New York and payments made to CHA.

“I hope that no one ever has to suffer through what my family has been through and I hope that CHA sees this, understands what it did, stops lying and takes responsibility before even more families are hurt,” Anni Manukynan said.

“Plaintiffs’ pain and fear has not abated with their reunion with their son. They cry every day. They continue to see mental-health professionals. They no longer trust anyone, and their guard is always up. Their ordeal has not ended; it is just beginning. This is something that they will live with for the rest of their lives,” the lawsuit said.

The couple said Wednesday that their baby boy was thriving and bonding with the family but Ashot Manukyan said that his family had suffered mentally.

“CHA put my family through living hell. We were like zombies. We could not sleep, eat or focus. We were helpless. It was awful. This situation should never happen. … The hurting needs to stop and responsibility must be taken,” he said.

CHA Fertility Center did not return ABC News’ request for comment.

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Reefer madness? Study appears to dispel theory of spike in teen marijuana use in states where it’s legal

boonchai wedmakawand/iStock(NEW YORK) — Fears of a jump in U.S. high school students using marijuana in states where recreational cannabis has beenj legalized appears to be contradicted by a new study.

The study published this week in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics concludes that weed consumption among high school teenagers has actually declined in states where pot is legal.

“Consistent with the results of previous researchers, there was no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among youth,” researchers from Montana State University and San Diego State University wrote.

Eleven states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational use of marijuana, but consumers generally must be at least 21-years-old to buy cannabis at dispensaries or possess it. A total of 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.

The study found an 8% drop in the number of high school students who said they used marijuana in the last 30 days. The researchers also found a 9% dip in the number of students who said they’d used marijuana at least 10 times in the last 30 days.

The authors of the study reached their conclusions by culling through the biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey given to 1.4 million U.S. high school students between 1993 and 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that included questions on marijuana use.

The authors noted in their report that “policymakers are particularly concerned that legalization for either medicinal or recreational purposes will encourage marijuana use among youth,” but found nothing in their research or in an analysis of previous research to support that concern.

The researchers also suggested that the decline in marijuana use among high school students may be partly due to the fact that drug dealers are being replaced by licensed dispensaries that require proof of age.

The authors reported that the results of their study mirror previous studies showing a decline in teen use after sales of recreational pot began in 2014 in Washington state.

But Linda Richter, director of policy research at the nonprofit Center for Addiction in New York, pointed out that while the researchers used legitimate CDC surveys of high school students to draw their conclusions, the surveys were based on those given to students in just seven of the 11 states that have legalized marijuana. She said the study didn’t include surveys given to students in Oregon and Colorado, two states with the longest histories of legal weed.

“It defies logic to argue that more liberal recreational marijuana laws somehow help to dissuade young people from using the drug,” Richter told ABC News on Wednesday.

Richter also took issue with the suggestion that legalization has put illegal marijuana dealers out of business, arguing that the “black market for marijuana is alive and well” and that weed is generally cheaper on the streets than in the dispensaries.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

The Duffer Brothers say ‘Stranger Things’ season four will expand outside Hawkins

Entertainment News  The Duffer Brothers say 'Stranger Things' season four will expand outside Hawkins


Netflix(LOS ANGELES) — Stranger Things has yet to get the official green light from Netflix for a season four, but the show’s creators Ross and Matt Duffer already have an idea of where the next season would go.

The Duffer Brothers tell Entertainment Weekly that season four is “going to feel very different than this season.”

“I think the biggest thing that’s going to happen is it’s going to open up a little bit, not necessarily in terms of scale, in terms of special effects, but open up in terms of allowing plot lines into areas outside of Hawkins,” Matt says.

Ross adds that the post-credits scene we see at the end of season three will “play a huge role in a potential season four.”

Executive producer Shawn Levy says, “Certainly season three ends with several plot strands that are separate from each other. And should there be a season four, I think we’ll see them all explored.”

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Posted On 10 Jul 2019

Regina King to direct adaptation of play about Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, Malcolm X and Jim Brown

Entertainment News  Regina King to direct adaptation of play about Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, Malcolm X and Jim Brown


Credit: ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) — Regina King is taking her directing talents to the big screen.

According to Deadline, the Oscar-winner has been tapped to direct a film adaptation of One Night in Miami, based on Kemp Powers’ stage play of the same name. The film will mark King’s first major theatrical directorial debut; she previously directed the BET film Let The Church Say Amen. 

Like the play, the film will follow a fictional account of a real-life incident in which Muhammad Ali — then known then as Cassius Clay — spent an evening hanging out with football star Jim Brown, activist Malcolm X and singer Sam Cooke.

Set on February 25, 1964, the film follows Clay as he leaves the Miami Beach Convention Center as the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion after defeating Sonny Liston. However, he can’t party in Miami Beach because of Jim Crow-era segregation laws, so he ends up spending his night at the Hampton House Motel in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood celebrating with three pals:  Cooke, Brown and Malcolm X.

After their night out, according to Deadline, the men emerge the next morning “determined to define a new world.”

The film will also feature the music of Cooke, including his iconic song, “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

This is the latest project for King, who will soon been seen in HBO’s Watchmen series.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 10 Jul 2019

‘World should know what is happening’ to children in ICE detention: Mother testifies

Political News 'World should know what is happening' to children in ICE detention: Mother testifies

Phototreat/iStock(WASHINGTON) — A woman who is suing the U.S. government because her daughter died after they were held in federal custody, testified before Congress on Wednesday, at a hearing aimed at reviewing conditions at border facilities amid increased criticism of the conditions at certain migrant holding centers.

“It is painful for me to relive this experience and remember that suffering, but I am here because the world should know what is happening to so many children in ICE detention,” Yazmin Juarez said through a translator. “My beautiful girl is gone, but I hope her story will spur this country’s government to act so that more children do not die because of neglect and mistreatment.”

Juarez is claiming wrongful death, after her daughter became sick while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody and then died shortly after they were released. Juarez is testifying at the hearing along with individuals from human rights groups, a doctor and an ICE official.

A congressional oversight subcommittee is convening Wednesday to review the recent allegations of child neglect and overcrowding at border facilities.

Juarez told ABC News in 2018 that she was fleeing an abusive situation at home when she illegally entered the United States. She said that she and her toddler were placed in a family detention center in Dilley, Texas, where ICE provides medical care.

ABC News previously reported that while in detention, Juarez took her daughter, Mariee, to the health clinic where she saw physician assistants on multiple occasions and a doctor once. However, after the two were released, on the flight to New Jersey to meet Juarez’s mother, her daughter’s health declined and the toddler died six weeks later.

Speaking through tears on Wednesday, Juarez described the final weeks with her daughter, saying she was “terrified by the time their plane landed.”

Through a translator, Juarez explained that her daughter was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and diagnosed with a viral lung infection. From there, the child was transferred to another children’s hospital.

“She was poked and prodded and eventually needed a ventilator to help her breath,” Juarez’s recounted. “I couldn’t even hold her, or hug her, or console her when she asked for her mother.”

“As a mother I wish I could have taken her place,” she said.

Six weeks later, her daughter died on what was Mother’s Day in Juarez’s home country.

“When I walked out of the hospital on that day, all I had with me was a piece of paper with Mariee’s handprint, in pink paint, that the staff had created for me. It was the only thing that I had left and the nurses had given it to me as a Mother’s Day gift,” she recalled.

Juarez went on to say that she is facing the committee because she wants to put an end to this.

“My daughter is gone. The people who are in charge of running these facilities and caring for these little angels are not supposed to let these things happen to them,” she said.

“Frankly, to me, it was completely irresponsible,” Yazmin previously told ABC News of her daughter’s medical treatment at the Dilley facility. “I think they should think about the children. The children are little angels, and this is not their fault.”

On Tuesday, ABC News reported that the number of undocumented migrants being stopped at the border had decreased drastically over the span of just a few weeks, following an agreement with the Mexican government who has since increased its own security efforts within the country.

There were 104,344 people who either tried to cross illegally or approached a port of entry without proper documentation, according to the Department of Homeland Security. This is compared to 144,278 individuals who attempted to cross in May.

However, the lower number still has human rights groups concerned. Groups have said that some families waiting in Mexico for their asylum cases are in danger of various crimes, like kidnapping, sexual assault and violence.

The congressional hearing also comes as Border Patrol has been under increased scrutiny over conditions at certain facilities holding children.

Previously, ABC News reported that physician Dolly Lucio Sevier, who was granted access to the largest CBP detention center in the country in McAllen, Texas, said the facility had “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water or adequate food.”

Lawyers who were granted access to a facility in Clint, Texas, said the conditions there were just as bad.

“The hearing will examine the impact of the Trump Administration’s deterrence policies on the humanitarian crisis at the border, recent reports of dangerous conditions and medical neglect, and the lack of accountability for abuse and misconduct at detention facilities,” according to the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties House subcommittee.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 10 Jul 2019

Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, Denzel Washington make the list of notable Hollywood philanthropists

Entertainment News  Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, Denzel Washington make the list of notable Hollywood philanthropists


ABC/Heidi Gutman(LOS ANGELES) — Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, and Denzel Washington are showing what it means to give back.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the three powerhouses gave back in a major way during the 2018-19 year, donated millions to some of their favorite charities and organizations.

Winfrey topped the short list with a $22.5M donation of her Weight Watchers company stock to her Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation. Her charity supports her Leadership Academy in South Africa and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Meanwhile, Kanye West pledged $10 million to the Turrell Art Foundation to build exploratory spaces in the Roden Crater. Artist James Turrell has already been working on the spaces, which consist of a series of rooms and tunnels inside the crater, an extinct volcano in Arizona’s Painted Desert.

As for Denzel, the Oscar-winner decided to give back to a familiar organization. The actor made his second million-dollar pledge in support Wiley College’s debate team, the inspiration behind his 2007 film The Great Debaters.

In addition to giving back, Washington is set to return to his Glory days later this month.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Washington’s 1989 award-winning movie, for which he received his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, will hit theaters on Sunday, July 21 and Wednesday, July 24 .

The film, starring Washington as Pvt. Trip — a former slave who volunteers to be part of the 54th Massachusetts, a Union regiment made up of black soldiers — will be released in more than 600 theaters nationwide to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary.

For more information and a list of participating theaters and tickets, go to

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 10 Jul 2019

Maryland police officer faces assault charges after slamming teen’s neck into ground during arrest

U.S. NEWS Maryland police officer faces assault charges after slamming teen's neck into ground during arrest

PLU$XANZ/Twitter(WASHINGTON) — A police officer in Maryland is facing criminal charges after being filmed slamming a suspect’s neck into the sidewalk with his knee during an arrest.

Kevin Moris has been charged with second degree assault and misconduct in office over an incident that happened on July 3, 2019, during his arrest of Arnaldo Andres Pesoa, 19.

Moris had his police power suspended and was put on paid administrative leave on July 5, which remains in place, Ramon Korionoff, a public information officer for the Montgomery County Police Department told ABC News.

The initial internal investigation into the incident has since been put on hold until the conclusion of the criminal case, Korionoff said.

John McCarthy, the state’s attorney for Montgomery County, held a news conference announcing the charges on Tuesday.

“Today is not a day to rejoice the prosecution of a police officer but rather to make a somber and sober decision to hold one accountable,” McCarthy said Tuesday.

“The actions of this officer do not represent our county police, generally, nor do they show law enforcement at its finest moment. It is important to have continued bridges of trust to our community. Charging this officer with two counts is what is appropriate in this case,” McCarthy said.

Second degree assault carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence, and there is no set sentence for misconduct in office, leaving the sentence to judge’s discretion, the state’s attorney’s office told ABC News.

Pesoa’s charging document details how an undercover police officer first interacted with Pesoa after seeing him post about psychedelic mushrooms on Snapchat, and that the undercover officer then arranged to buy mushrooms from Pesoa.

Moris was one of four officers who approached Pesoa in a McDonalds where he was allegedly set to sell the drugs to the undercover officer, according to the charging document. Moris told Pesoa that he was under arrest, and the criminal complaint details how Pesoa allegedly resisted, and was eventually placed in handcuffs.

What ensued outside the McDonald’s was caught on video that was then posted on Twitter. While the charging document details that Moris and another officer “took Pesoa to the ground so that the search incident to arrest could take place there,” it does not describe how Moris pushed his knee on top of the back of Pesoa’s neck and later pulled Pesoa’s t-shirt over his face while Pesoa was shouting obscenities.

The criminal complaint states that Pesoa “spit onto Officer Moris’ right shoe and ankle area” before he was forced on the ground.

Pesoa was found to have marijuana and mushrooms on his person and he is now charged with two counts relating to possession with intent to distribute, one charge of resisting arrest and a charge of second degree assault.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 10 Jul 2019

James Holzhauer to return for ‘Jeopardy!’s’ 2019 Tournament of Champions this fall

Entertainment News  James Holzhauer to return for 'Jeopardy!'s' 2019 Tournament of Champions this fall


Jeopardy! Productions(LOS ANGELES) — What is “a rematch”?

Professional gambler James Holzhauer is set to appear on Jeopardy!’s 2019 Tournament of Champions this fall, along with librarian Emma Boettcher, the contestant who ended his 32-game winning streak last month.

The tournament will feature 15 winners from seasons 34 and 35 of the show. They’ll all compete for a grand prize of $250,000 over a 10-day period, from November 4 to 15.

Holzhauer’s winning streak scored massive ratings for Jeopardy! but he stopped short of surpassing Ken Jennings’ all-time winnings record. Holzhauer earned more than $2.4 million, just shy of Jennings’ $2.5 million.

Sadly, he won’t have a chance to go up against Jennings in the tournament. The Wrap reports Jennings wasn’t eligible.

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Posted On 10 Jul 2019