Canadian Bianca Andreescu beats Serena Williams to win the U.S. Open

Sports News Canadian Bianca Andreescu beats Serena Williams to win the U.S. Open

SeventyFour/iStock(NEW YORK) — Canadian Bianca Andreescu beat U.S. tennis star Serena Williams in straight sets to win the U.S. Open womens’ finals on Saturday.

Andreescu, who is 19, bested Williams 6-3, 7-5.

“I’m worked really, really hard for this moment. This year has been a dream come true,” Andreescu said after the match, calling Williams “a legend of this sport.”

But she jokes that while Williams was a formidable opponant, her biggest obstacle to victory was the crowd, which was firmly in Williams’ camp.

“I know you guys wanted Serena to win, so I’m so sorry,” she said with a smile.

Williams, who was vying for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title and her first since giving birth to daughter Olympia two years ago, applauded Andreescu for playing an “unbelievable match.”

“I’m just so proud that I’m still out here and competing at this level because it’s not easy to be in this particular sport for 20 years,” Williams said.

She thanked her team for helping her through the ups and, lately, the” downs and downs and downs and downs and downs.” But Williams added, “Hopefully, we’ll have some ups soon!”

And she expressed gratitude to the fans.

“Honestly, the fans started cheering so hard… I was really grateful for that,” Williams said.

Among those in the stands was Williams’ close friend Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, who took a last-minute flight from London. Meghan was seated between Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena’s coach, and Serena’s mother Oracene Price, at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, New York.

Meghan and Williams have been friends since meeting at the 2010 Super Bowl in Miami.

Williams was ranked No. 1 in the world when she went on maternity leave but has not won a Grand Slam since giving birth to her daughter in 2017.

After Williams spoke out about the unfairness of women players being penalized because of maternity leave, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) changed its rules to add more protections for moms on the tour.

Williams lost last year’s U.S. Open in a tense and controversial match against Naomi Osaka. More recently, she made it to this year’s Wimbledon final in July but lost in straight sets to seventh-seed Simona Halep.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 07 Sep 2019

2 new cases of EEE include 5-year-old girl, woman

iStock/frank600(BOSTON) — Two new cases of the rare but potentially deadly virus infection Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) have been detected, according to the lab results from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

A 5-year-old girl from southwestern Middlesex County and a woman in her 60s from eastern Middlesex County have been diagnosed with EEE, officials said Friday.

The girl is being treated at an area hospital in critical condition, officials said.

EEE is a mosquito-transmitted virus that can affect humans, horses and birds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disease occurs sporadically in Massachusetts, with seven people being infected so far this year, according to the state’s department of public health.

After the two new cases were reported, the risk level in towns Framingham, Marlborough, Northborough, and Sudbury was raised to critical. The 5-year-old infected was from Sudbury, officials said.

The risk level in Berlin, Boylston, Hudson, Maynard, Stow, and Wayland was raised to high.

A total of 36 communities in the state are now at critical risk, 42 at high risk and 115 at moderate risk for EEE, according to officials.

Dr. Monica Bharel, the public health commissioner, said it’s not unusual to see human EEE cases in September.

“This is why we continue to urge the public to take seriously the threat that mosquitoes can pose and to take steps to avoid being bitten,” Bharel said in a statement.

Health officials urged residents in Massachusetts to use mosquito repellent. Those in high and critical risk communities should consider staying indoors during the dusk to dawn hours to reduce their chance of being exposed to the bugs.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources conducted aerial spraying for mosquitoes in some counties last month to help reduce the risk. The spraying has since been stopped because evening temperatures are too low to allow for effective aerial application, officials said.

EEE has been found in 400 mosquito samples this year, many of which are species that are capable of spreading the disease to humans.

The most recent outbreak in Massachusetts occurred from 2004 to 2006 and 2010 to 2012, with 22 human cases of EEE during both time periods.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

2019 hot car deaths surpass national average, automakers voluntarily commit to back seat alerts

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Despite numerous warnings and national news stories on hot car deaths, children are dying of vehicular heatstroke at a staggering rate. Forty children have died after being left alone in a hot vehicle so far in 2019, according to the National Safety Council.

That number has already surpassed the national yearly average of 38 hot car deaths. There was a record 53 deaths recorded in 2018.

This week the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers announced that automakers would voluntary add rear seat warnings to new vehicles.

These alerts could be a combination of “auditory and visual alerts” that will turn on after the driver turns off the vehicle. The auto industry has committed, according to the auto alliance, to have a rear seat alert system in place in “essentially” all new cars and trucks by model year 2025.

“Automakers have been exploring ways to address this safety issue and this commitment underscores how such innovations and increased awareness can help children right now,” Alliance Interim President and CEO David Schwietert said in a statement.

The National Safety Council praised the automakers’ decision but said it needs to move quickly in order to save lives.

“Automakers took a step in the right direction Wednesday, adding another layer of protection against these tragedies,” the council said in a statement. “Automakers should move fast on their commitment and continue to collaborate on additional protections that can be provided to all our drivers.”

From 1998-2018 the National Safety Council said nearly 800 children have died in hot cars: 53.8% of hot car deaths were because the children were forgotten, 26.3% died after gaining access unknowingly and 18.6% died after being knowingly left in the car. said the auto alliance’s plan falls short because the alerts don’t address “nearly a third” of hot car deaths that involve children gaining access to the vehicle.

“This is an outrageous attempt by the automakers to avoid an enforceable safety standard,” Joan Claybrook, former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in a news release. “They should have added detection systems to their vehicles decades ago when auto manufacturers told all parents to move their children to the back seat due to the decision of some automakers to install overpowered airbags.”

KidsandCars also said the voluntary agreement is “non-binding and unenforceable,” so there’s no way to hold automakers accountable to follow through on their commitment.

“While the public waits for these systems to be offered as standard equipment at the pace determined by the manufacturers, families continue burying children week after week after week,” the organization said.

Children as young as 5 days and as old as 14 years have died in hot car deaths. More than half of those deaths were children under the age of 2.

Children should never be left alone in a car, even if parents think they’ll be just a few minutes, the Safety Council said. On a 70-degree day, it takes only 15 minutes for the car to reach 96 degrees. On an 80-degree, it takes only 10 minutes to reach 100 degrees.

If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Russia, Ukraine hold prisoner exchange in major diplomatic breakthrough

WORLD NEWS Russia, Ukraine hold prisoner exchange in major diplomatic breakthrough

iStock/Iacob MADACI(MOSCOW) — Russia and Ukraine on Saturday completed a highly-anticipated major prisoner exchange, with Russia handing over the Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov and 24 Ukrainian sailors who were seized during a naval confrontation last year in return for a key witness in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

The exchange has major significance for the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and potentially for relations between Moscow and the West, amid a renewed European diplomatic push to try to improve the relationship after half a decade of tension.

The two sides agreed to trade 35 prisoners each. Two planes carrying the prisoners took off simultaneously from Moscow and Kyiv on Saturday. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, met the plane carrying the Ukrainian prisoners on the tarmac at Kyiv’s Borispol airport, shaking hands and embracing some of the men. Among them was Sentsov and the 24 sailors.

Among the prisoners on the Moscow-bound plane was Russian state news agency journalist Kirill Vyshinsky, who a Ukrainian court released on bail last week and who posted a video of himself about to board the aircraft. Also reportedly on board was Volodymyr Tsemakh, the former pro-Russian separatist fighter wanted as a witness by prosecutors investigating the shooting down of MH17, who was apparently traded against prosecutors’ wishes.

Zelensky’s presidential office posted a full list of the 35 Ukrainians released. The Ukrainian newspaper, Ukrayinska Pravda, also published a list of the 35 returned to Russia, which included Tsemakh’s name.

After meeting the men, Zelensky told reporters that he believed the exchange represented the completion of the “first step” to ending the war between Russia and Ukraine in eastern Ukraine.

“I believe that the first step is complete. I should confirm that I, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin have done everything that we promised, without changing our agreement along the way,” Zelensky said, according to remarks carried by Interfax Ukraine.

“It seems to me we have done the first step, all the rest is on him,” Zelensky added, referring to Putin. “I am sure that we know what to do next.

He also said Russia and Ukraine should now try to fulfill stages of the Minsk Agreements, a peace plan agreed to in February 2015.

The exact list of who would be included in the prisoner exchange has been shrouded in secrecy amid negotiations over the past week, though there had been signs for almost three weeks that Sentsov and the sailors would be part of any trade. Some of those exchanged had already been sentenced and Zelensky this week pardoned 16 of the prisoners; Putin pardoned 10 of the Ukrainians, among them Sentsov.

The exchange is the most significant diplomatic breakthrough between Russia and Ukraine in years. It also raises the possibility that the two sides might now be ready to try moving their five-year war to a new, less violent stage, which in turn would help ease the prolonged confrontation between Russia and the West, including the United States.

It also comes as Europe is mounting a new effort to fulling end the war, led by France’s Emmanuel Macron and backed by Germany, in the hope of capitalizing on what they believe is an opening provided by Zelensky’s election. Officials from France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia have been meeting recently to discuss restarting the high-level talks, known as the “Normandy Format,” which have not been held since 2016. The successful completion of the prisoner exchange was seen as a first condition for proving the two sides were ready to re-open the talks.

The exchange could also signal a new willingness by the Kremlin and Ukraine try to put a final end to the fighting in eastern Ukraine, which despite a 2015 peace deal, continues to kill people every month. The conflict has resulted in more than 10,000 deaths since the war began in 2014. This week Putin said the exchange would be a “major and good step forward, towards normalization.”

President Donald Trump on Saturday hailed the exchange, writing on Twitter: “Russia and Ukraine just swapped large numbers of prisoners. Very good news, perhaps a first giant step to peace. Congratulations to both countries!”

The U.S. embassy in Kyiv also issued a statement saying it was “encouraged to see signs of a more robust dialogue between Russia and Ukraine,” noting Zelensky “had made a clear commitment to achieving a diplomatic solution” to the conflict. It added though a call for “Russia to cease its aggression against Ukraine and to release the many other Ukrainians who remain unjustly in Russian custody.”

The release of Sentsov is particularly significant. The film director was one of Russia’s most high-profile political prisoners. He was arrested shortly after Russia’s invasion of his native Crimea in 2014 and sentenced to 20 years in a prison colony on terrorism charges that international human rights groups condemned as trumped up. His case attracted major global attention, with many prominent film industry figures calling for his release, including stars such as Johnny Depp and Sir Patrick Stewart.

Sentsov, who was held in a remote penal colony in the Russian Arctic, has become a hero in Ukraine. He went on hunger strike for 145 days last year, demanding that Russia release all Ukrainian political prisoners.

After leaving the plane on Saturday, Sentsov thanked those who had campaigned for his freedom and said he hoped other Ukrainians still held would be freed soon.

The release of the 24 sailors also ends what Europe and the United States had effectively considered a hostage-taking by Russia. Russia captured the sailors when it seized three Ukrainian naval vessels as they tried to pass through the Kerch Strait close to Crimea in November. Russians vessels fired on and then rammed the Ukrainian ships, which they asserted had violated Russian waters. Afterward Russia put the sailors on trial. The case was a major source of contention with European countries, which demanded the men be released and sent diplomats to attend each hearing as a sign of solidarity with Ukraine.

But the exchange’s most controversial element involves Tsemakh, who had been the only key MH17 witness in custody. A former pro-Russian rebel commander, Tsemakh was in charge of anti-air defenses in the area where a Russian-supplied missile was fired at the airliner in July 2014. He was also caught on video appearing to talk about hiding the Buk missile’s launcher afterward.

Ukraine captured Tsemakh in June during a special operation in the pro-Russian rebel-held territory, and the Dutch-led international commission that has been investigating the downing of the place had said they wanted to question him. Dutch prosecutors have brought murder charges against four senior rebel commanders in a trial that is due to begin in March, but all remain out of reach in Russian-controlled territory. Some believe Tsemakh himself could have potentially been treated as a suspect.

His handing over to Russia means it is now very unlikely he will ever appear in a European court. Russia has refused to cooperate with the investigation and has continued to deny any involvement, despite extensive evidence found by the commission that the missile came from a Russian army unit and was fired by rebels who likely mistook the passenger airliner for a Ukrainian military plane.

Tsemakh was traded over the objections this week of 40 members of the European Parliament who published an open letter to Zelensky urging him to keep him available for questioning. A spokesperson for the Dutch prosecutors this week also said they had preferred that he remain in Ukraine.

Tsemakh’s inclusion appeared as a crucial sticking point in the negotiations around the exchange, which seemed to be delayed last week while Russia reportedly insisted he be part of the trade.

Ukraine’s former president Petro Poroshenko, who was defeated by Zelensky this year, said on Friday that Russia’s demand that Tsemakh be included was an “admission of responsibility” by Moscow for the downing of the plane.

Zelensky said that following the prisoner exchange, the next step would be to move closer to returning all Ukrainian prisoners and the following step would be to move onto troop withdrawals laid out according to the Minsk agreements, a peace roadmap that was agreed upon in February 2015 and which ended large-scale fighting, but which has since been stalled.

After troop withdrawals, Zelensky said, they could then move on to a full cease-fire and an end of the war.

“I believe that we will return not only people, but also our territory,” Zelensky said.

The exchange raises hopes that both sides might now be willing to fulfill elements of the Minsk agreement they have previously ignored, though many doubts remain.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 07 Sep 2019

How a local election sparked Moscow’s summer of protest

WORLD NEWS How a local election sparked Moscow's summer of protest

ABC News(MOSCOW) — Moscow will hold its city council elections on Sunday, a normally little-noticed vote that this year has sparked a summer of protests in the Russian capital.

In mid-July, election authorities refused to register a group of opposition candidates, among them some of Russia’s best-known activists. Since then, on most Saturdays over the last month, a scene has played out in Moscow’s city center: Several thousand demonstrators attempt to gather, demanding fair elections, only to be violently confronted by riot police who arrest them en masse.

The anti-Kremlin opposition has succeeded in turning the council elections into a flashpoint, bringing thousands of people into the streets in demonstrations that showcase authorities’ intolerance of political dissent.

The elections are not significant in themselves, as Moscow’s city council has only limited power. But for Alexey Navalny, Russia’s best-known opposition leader, and his allies, they represent an opportunity to play to what they see as the Kremlin’s weak spot.

While President Vladimir Putin remains popular, his ruling party, United Russia has become toxic. A poll by the state-run VTsIOM agency in May found that only 22% of Muscovites would vote for it.

So unpopular is the party in Moscow that in these elections, it has been running many of its candidates without identifying them as members. To counter this, protesters have been pasting “danger United Russia” stickers onto those candidates’ election posters.

Navalny has called on people to consider the Moscow elections a “referendum” on United Russia, hoping it will help undermine the image of Putin’s popularity nationally and showcase what Navalny says is Russia’s rigged political system. Aware the opposition would likely not be allowed to run, Navalny has promoted a new approach: tactical voting. His group has calculated a list of candidates most likely to beat United Russia’s in each district and urged people to vote for them.

“Elections where our normal candidates aren’t allowed to run will always be unpleasant. But even such elections can be used to deliver a blow against the authorities,” Navalny wrote on his blog.

It is unclear whether Navalny’s tactical voting will have an impact. In practice though, the tactical voting means mostly supporting the Communist Party, which has split liberal Russians unwilling to vote for the party that led the Soviet Union and which now acts as a tame opposition to the Kremlin.

Rough treatment of protesters in Moscow is not unusual, but the police response this year has been exceptionally harsh.

Hundreds of heavily-armored police wearing masks and wielding clubs have marched on demonstrators, seemingly arresting people almost at random. On July 27 and Aug. 3, well over a thousand people were detained each day.

So indiscriminate were the arrests that passersby found themselves dragged off by police. One man who happened to be jogging past the Moscow mayor’s office had his leg broken when officers pulled him to the ground.

Police also repeatedly raided opposition leaders’ homes and their offices. By mid-August, most key opposition leaders had been temporarily jailed.

The crackdown has had the effect of fueling the protests, which initially attracted several thousand people. When authorities authorized a protest after two weekends of mass arrests, 60,000 people joined — the largest anti-Kremlin rally in eight years.

State media has painted the peaceful demonstrations as violent riots, producing heavily edited reports to show protesters as aggressive.

Police also opened a series of criminal trials against ordinary demonstrators on rioting charges. This week, courts jailed five men arrested during the protests, convicting three of violence against police. Konstantin Kotov, a 34-year-old programmer, was sentenced to 4.5 years in a penal colony for repeatedly attending an unauthorized protest.

There also seems to have been a change in the protesters, many of whom no longer seem to fear arrest and the typical 15- to 30-day jail sentence and fine.

“I think there’s been a drastic change in attitudes from both the authorities and the people,” Artem Troitsky, a well-known music critic, told ABC News during the Aug. 3 protest. “People are not afraid of being arrested. They’ve had enough of this regime.”

The protests seem likely to peter out after election day on Sept. 8. The most recent one attracted a smaller crowd. But observers in Russia believe the protests have exposed cracks in Russia’s system of controlled elections.

“When people cease to agree that it’s set up like this and cannot be otherwise, the machine starts to fall apart at the seams in the literal sense of the expression,” said Ekaterina Schulman, a political scientist and member of Putin’s presidential human rights council.

“For now, it’s holding. How much will it hold, we will see on Sept. 8,” she said on the radio station Echo of Moscow. “But it’s encountering obstacles in its functioning that are hard for it to overcome.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 07 Sep 2019

US soldier killed in Kabul car bomb attack identified

WORLD NEWS US soldier killed in Kabul car bomb attack identified

US Army(KABUL, Afghanistan) — US soldier killed in Kabul car bomb attack identified as Sgt. 1st Class Elis Angel Barreto Ortiz of Morovis, Puerto Rico.

Serving with the 3rd Combat Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Barretto was one of 12 people killed in the attack, credit for which was claimed by the Taliban.

That blast also killed a Romanian soldier who was supporting Resolute Support, a NATO training mission in Afghanistan. Representatives from Taliban and U.S. have been engaging in talks to end the ongoing conflict there.

Barreto was a maintenance control sergeant assigned to Company H, 82nd Brigade Support Battalion BSB, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He is survived by his wife and children of Cameron, North Carolina.

Barretto is the 16th American service member to be killed in combat this year. Overall, 19 Americans have been killed as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the U.S. counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan. The number of American fatalities this year is the highest since 2014, when the U.S. officially switched from combat operations to a train-and-advisory mission.

Barreto joined the Army in August 2010 and was on his second deployment to Afghanistan. In 2017, he graduated from Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and was assigned to 82nd Brigade Support Battalion in January 2018.

“With honor and courage, Sgt. 1st Class Barreto answered our nation’s call to deploy and serve in Afghanistan,” said Col. Arthur Sellers, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. “In this most difficult time, his loved ones are now surrounded by a community of love and caring by members of our Paratrooper Family Readiness Group.”

Barreto earned numerous awards and decorations serving his country: the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Combat Action Badge, the Basic Parachutist Badge, the Army Driver and Mechanic Badge.

U.S. and Taliban negotiators have been meeting in Qatar and are said to be closing in on a final agreement to help end the war in Afghanistan. As those talks have made progress, the Taliban has engaged in high-profile attacks that U.S. officials have said is a negotiating tactic to project strength and gain leverage.

Less publicized is what U.S. officials have described as a “pummeling” of Taliban targets through a significant increase in airstrikes and ground operations.

Increased violence has outraged much of the Afghan public, many of whom are skeptical of any peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 07 Sep 2019