Russia says US diplomats approached missile test site, location of radioactive blast

ronniechua/iStock(MOSCOW) — Russia’s foreign ministry on Thursday said three American diplomats who were briefly detained in northern Russia had approached a closed military test site where a radioactive blast occurred in August.

The U.S. diplomats were reported on Wednesday to have been stopped and removed from a train travelling between the closed port city of Severodvinsk and Nenoksa, a village next to the test site on the White Sea in Russia’s Arctic.

The American embassy confirmed the incident, but said the diplomats had informed Russian authorities of their travel in advance.

Russia’s foreign ministry said the diplomats had told Russian authorities they intended to visit a different city, Arkhangelsk, which isn’t within a restricted zone, but then traveled to the closed area next to the test site.

“Clearly, they got lost,” the foreign ministry said. “We are ready to give the U.S. embassy a map.”

The ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told reporters on Thursday the American diplomats had made two attempts to reach the restricted zone, travelling to Severodvinsk, a port city that’s home to Russia’s nuclear submarine fleet, with the goal of travelling to an area near the test site.

The three diplomats were stopped by police at a train station on their first attempt and turned back, but then rented a car and returned to Severodvinsk.

“There, they took a local train and went to a populated area where there is a testing ground and other defense facilities nearby,” Zakharova said. She said Russia would file a formal complaint to the U.S. embassy in Moscow.

A State Department spokesperson told ABC News on Thursday: “Just as Russian diplomats in the United States travel to learn more about the country in which they live and work, our diplomats travel across Russia as part of normal diplomatic activity in order to better understand Russia. As we’ve said before, the American diplomats were on official travel and had properly filed a travel notification with the Russian authorities.”

The State Department earlier had declined to comment on the incident other than to say the three had been on “official travel and had properly notified Russian authorities.” Russian media has named the three diplomats as military attaches, but American officials have not identified them.

The village of Nenoksa is located next to a secretive military firing range where Russia is known to test missiles. In August, there was an explosion close to the range that killed at least five people and briefly caused radiation levels to spike 16 times above the norm, sparking a nuclear scare.

Russia has wrapped the incident in secrecy, providing few details. But the Russian atomic agency has said that the blast occurred when an experimental nuclear-powered engine exploded during a test. Independent weapons experts and U.S. officials have suggested that the engine likely belonged to a new nuclear-powered cruise missile, code-named “Skyfall” by NATO, which President Vladimir Putin has said Russia is developing.

The reports about the American diplomats come just days after a senior State Department official said the U.S. had concluded the explosion happened when Russia was trying to recover one of the missiles from the sea floor after an earlier failed test.

“The United States has determined that the explosion near Nenoksa, Russia, was the result of a nuclear reaction that occurred during the recovery of a Russian nuclear-powered cruise missile. The missile remained on the bed of the White Sea since its failed test early last year, in close proximity to a major population center,” Thomas DiNanno, of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance said in a speech at the United Nations.

Putin has touted the missile, which Russia refers to as “Burevestnik,” as having essentially unlimited range. The missile is one of several advanced, nuclear-capable weapons the Kremlin has said it is developing in an effort to counter U.S. missile defense systems.

Worries about the blast were exacerbated by Russia’s efforts to conceal its details.

Russia’s military initially said no nuclear materials were involved and information about the explosion slowly trickled out over several days. The information blackout drew comparisons in Russia and abroad with the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, though the amounts of radiation involved were vastly smaller.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Individuals tied to Giuliani probe in SDNY plead not guilty

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Two individuals with ties to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty before a judge in the Southern District of New York on Thursday afternoon.

David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin appeared before the judge on Thursday. They were charged along with Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas last Thursday in connection with an alleged scheme to circumvent federal laws against foreign campaign donations.

Central to the campaign violation scheme were Parnas and Fruman, who were also reportedly working with Giuliani on investigating the president’s political opponent in Ukraine, but only Correia and Kukushin made the initial court appearance in the New York Thursday. The arraignment for Parnas and Fruman has been delayed until next Wednesday

Manhattan federal prosecutors at the hearing said they’re expected to turn over “mulitple gigabytes” of evidence that allegedly ties associates of Trump and Giuliani to a scheme to skirt around federal laws against foreign campaign donations and funnel the funds for campaign donations.

Correia’s attorney Jeffrey Marcus and William Harrington declined to comment after the brief court appearance.

Since the indictment, Giuliani has acknowledged receiving $500,000 in payments for work he did with Parnas. Giuliani told ABC News that he was retained by Parnas’ business “Fraud Guarantee” to do consulting work and insisted that any money he took came from domestic, not foreign sources.

Trump has denied knowing Parnas and Fruman specifically, though he is pictured with the two at multiple events. Fruman and Parnas have reportedly played a significant role in helping with Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

The indictment outlines a “foreign national donor scheme” alleging the men “conspired to circumvent the federal law against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates.” The indictment, details how the four defendants allegedly funneled “$1-2 million” from a Russian donor into the U.S. political system between June 2018 and April of this year.

Additionally, Parnas and Fruman allegedly made a series of illegal straw donations that included a $325,000 donation to the pro-Trump Super PAC America First Action, and prosecutors allege that the two violated the law by falsely reporting the origin of those funds as under the name of their newly-created company Global Energy Producers.

In the indictment, prosecutors also outline an alleged scheme by Parnas and Fruman to raise $20,000 for a “then-sitting U.S. Congressman,” who “had also been the beneficiary of approximately $3 million” from America First Action during the 2018 midterms. According to the indictment, Parnas allegedly met with the congressman and sought his “assistance in causing the U.S. government to remove or recall the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine,” Marie Yovanovitch.

The indictment doesn’t name the congressman, but the description matches ABC News’ reporting that Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, had benefited from $3 million in backing from the super PAC during the 2018 cycle, and that during the same month that Parnas raised funds for Sessions, Sessions wrote a letter calling for Yovanovitch’s immediate removal.

Sessions has since been subpoenaed as part of the Southern District’s probe and he told ABC News that he is fully cooperating with investigators.

Giuliani is not named in the indictment, but as ABC News has previously reported, the business relationship between the president’s personal lawyer and Parnas and Fruman is the subject of the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by federal authorities in New York, with a primary focus on whether there were any criminal violations of the Foreign Agent Act in Giuliani’s representation of foreign entities.

Fruman and Parnas were arrested last week at Dulles International Airport with one-way international tickets, according to a prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, where Parnas and Fruman face charges. It was later reported that the men had dined with Giuliani in the Trump International Hotel in Washington a few hours before their flight.

Parnas and Fruman appeared before a judge in the Eastern District of Virginia the next day where the judge agreed to a bail package which included a $1 million bond for each defendant, the surrender of travel documents and passports, GPS monitoring and home detention.

As of Wednesday evening, Fruman had met the bond requirements and was no longer in the custody of the Alexandria, Virginia, jail. Parnas remained in custody.

The judge set $1 million bond or $100,000 cash for Kukushkin, who posted the cash alternative. Kukushkin was ordered to turn over his two passports and will be under home detention once he returns to California. Correia, arrested in New York on Wednesday, was released under the same bail conditions set at his first court appearance on Wednesday.

The next court date for Correia and Kukushkin has been set for Dec. 2.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, 1 of the ‘3 amigos’ on Ukraine, to resign

US Department of Energy(WASHINGTON) — Energy Secretary Rick Perry, described by colleagues as one of the “three amigos” on U.S. policy on Ukraine, will step down at the end of the year, President Donald Trump told reporters on Thursday.

Trump was traveling with Perry in Texas, where the president would be attending a political rally in the evening. Trump said he already had Perry’s replacement picked out.

“Three years is a long time,” Trump told reporters of Perry’s tenure as secretary.

He later added, “We have the man we’re going to be putting in Rick’s place and we’ll be announcing it very shortly.”

Perry’s resignation notice comes amid questions about his role in a White House effort to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation that some conservatives thought would help Trump’s re-election campaign.

Perry, who was Texas’ longest serving governor and ran against Trump for president in 2016 before joining his administration, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. He also has insisted that actions he took regarding Ukraine were intended to advance U.S. interests in the region — namely addressing government corruption and encouraging American companies to do business there.

In recent weeks, Perry has repeatedly knocked down suggestions that he planned to resign, including telling the Wall Street Journal in an interview published Wednesday that he planned to still be in the job on Thanksgiving.

In the interview, Perry also seemed to point the finger at Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, for trying to press the newly installed Ukrainian government to conduct an investigation.

According to Perry, he wanted Trump to call Ukraine’s new president to forge a positive new relationship between the two countries. But Trump referred him to his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who told Perry that Ukraine manufactured evidence used to launch the U.S. special investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Giuliani said Ukraine had Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email server and fabricated evidence that implicated former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

U.S. intelligence agencies have long said Russia, not Ukraine, tried to interfere in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump, not Clinton.

Manafort was sent to jail for tax and bank fraud on charges unrelated to the Trump campaign and tied to his political consulting work in Ukraine.

“I don’t know whether that was crap or what,” Perry told the Journal of Giuliani’s call. “But I’m just saying there were three things that he said. That’s the reason the president doesn’t trust these guys.”

Perry said in the interview that former Vice President Joe Biden never came up in his discussions with Trump, Giuliani or others. But in a July 25 phone call to Ukraine’s president, Trump urges Ukrainian president to launch an investigation into the 2016 election and the role Biden’s son played serving on a board of a Ukraine gas company.

Biden and his son, Hunter, have both said they did nothing wrong. In an interview with ABC News, Hunter acknowledged it was “poor judgement” to serve on an overseas board while his father as working as vice president but that there was no wrongdoing.

Perry’s influential role in the region has led him to be described by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and others as one of the “three amigos” tasked with overseeing the U.S.-Ukraine relationship.

That role in Ukraine also has made him a key person of interest for lawmakers seeking first-hand knowledge of events. He received a subpoena on Oct. 10; while some federal officials have testified under subpoena, other entities – the Defense Department, Office of Management and Budget, as well as Giuliani — have declined to comply.

Perry is the second Cabinet member to step down in a week. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan resigned on Oct. 11 for reasons unrelated to the impeachment inquiry.

In his 2016 bid for the presidency, Perry said the Energy Department should be eliminated. After being named to head the post, he has used his role as secretary to expand the influence of American energy abroad, particularly in natural gas and nuclear technology. He has frequently said that being Energy secretary is the “coolest job in the world,” while being governor of Texas was the best job.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says league facing ‘substantial’ financial losses in China

Photo by Rich Arden / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged on Thursday the “fairly dramatic” financial consequences the league is facing in the wake of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

“The losses have already been substantial,” Silver said, speaking at the Time 100 Summit. The remarks were Silver’s first since returning from China where he and a pair of teams were on a preseason exhibition tour.

“Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak,” Silver explained, “and we’ll see what happens next.”

“I don’t know where we go from here,” Silver added. “The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic.”

Silver was criticized last week for an initial statement that used the word “regrettable,” apparently about Morey’s tweet. He explained that the word regrettable actually referred to the reaction of the Chinese government and people to that tweet, not the tweet itself.

After the tweet on October 4, China’s state television cancelled plans to broadcast the league’s pair of exhibition games last week. Several companies and state-run offices have since cut ties with the league.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Mom of 6 says ‘hardest thing’ about breast cancer diagnosis was telling kids: ‘I could see the fear in their eyes’

(ABC/Nicolette Cain) Breast cancer patient Sarah Weimer opens up about her breast cancer journey on “The View” on Oct. 17, 2019, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.(NEW YORK) — For Sarah Weimer, a 36-year-old mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer, the “hardest thing” wasn’t the side effects of chemotherapy but telling her six children that “mommy has breast cancer,” she told The View on Thursday.

Weimer, who is from Idaho, was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer earlier this year. She opened up about her journey on Thursday, speaking about the warning signs that she had missed months before her diagnosis and the ongoing treatment she expects to face in the future.

The whole world felt like it had stopped, Weimer said of the moment her breast cancer diagnosis was confirmed. “No one ever wants to hear those words: ‘cancer’ or ‘you have cancer,'” she said.

“The hardest thing was to tell my kids mommy has breast cancer,” she said tearfully. “My two older ones, I could see the fear in their eyes a little bit. I could see them being scared and they knew instantly that it was serious, and that was really hard for me to stay strong in that moment. We just ended our conversation with hope and with, you know, we know where our strength comes from, and as a family, we’re going to work together.”

Summur Shaikh, a producer for The View who was successfully treated for breast cancer earlier this year, found Weimer’s story online. She said the story “stuck out” for her because they were both diagnosed at the same age and Weimer’s “positivity really inspired” her.

“I have always been a positive person, but dealing with cancer, you could easily get into a very dark place,” Weimer said on Thursday. “I knew that wasn’t how I wanted to live my life. I chose to focus on waking up and just being thankful that I have another day to be here, being thankful I have another day to be with my kids.”

As a mother of six, Weimer admitted that she didn’t prioritize her health as much as she should have.

“I first noticed [in] the beginning of this year [that] something was different,” Weimer said, referring to her early signs of breast cancer. “I thought, ‘OK, maybe it’s an infection. Maybe it’s just something minor. Maybe it’s hormonal.’ There was one day where I really looked in the mirror and realized my breasts were literally two different sizes and that’s when I decided to call the doctor.”

Weimer explained to Whoopi Goldberg, who grappled with her own health issues earlier this year, why she waited so long to see a doctor.

“As a mom, I’m just busy and life happens, and we don’t make the time to stop and take care of ourselves. We’re taking care of our kids, our house, our family, our job, and we forget to stop and say, ‘Wait a minute. Am I okay? Is anything going on with me?'”

“I didn’t take the time for myself like I should have,” she continued. “I was thinking, ‘It’s going to go away. It’s nothing serious.’ And when I realized the changes continued to get more aggressive, I just had a sinking feeling.”

With no other options, Weimer had to put her breast cancer treatment before anything else to save her life and be there for her family. She sought treatment three hours from her home at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, which was founded by The View co-host Abby Huntsman’s grandfather, Jon Huntsman, who passed away from prostate cancer in 2018.

Jon Huntsman’s wife, Karen Huntsman, had designed parts of the hospital and she was seated in The View‘s audience on Thursday.

“I want to say thank you, Grandma,” Weimer said to Karen Huntsman. “Thank you for having a wonderful family because I know that the investment over at Huntsman means a lot to my family and to my life.”

In September, Weimer underwent a double mastectomy and what she thought was her last round of chemotherapy treatments. After the surgery, however, her doctors informed her that the cancer had spread and that she would have to restart chemotherapy.

“Cancer is life-threatening and it’s really important that you go to a facility that is going to be well taken care of, and they’re going to take care of your needs and have the best outcome,” Weimer said. “I really just love Huntsmans in general. The view of Salt Lake is gorgeous, so I’m just so, so grateful that I have a great place.”

After hearing of Weimer’s story, Ford Motor Company’s Warriors in Pink donated $20,000 to support her to journey to recovery.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Banksy has a new online shop that will vet potential buyers through a professional comedian

filadendron/iStock(NEW YORK) — Banksy has opened a new online store but in order to make a purchase, customers must first explain why art matters.

Gross Domestic Product, the “homewares brand from Banksy,” laid out a registration system on the shop’s site, explaining that people can pick only a single item and must answer a question to be considered as a buyer.

“In the event of demand outstripping supply, the answer to this question may be used to evaluate your application,” the site said. “Please make your answer as amusing, informative or enlightening as possible.”

“An independent judge will examine the tie-breaker questions and select those applications which the judge finds to be the most apt and original,” the terms and conditions page states.

“Our judge is impartial and independent, and is a professional stand-up comedian,” the site states. According to the BBC, Banksy said in a statement the judge is comedian Adam Bloom.

Interested customers can browse the shop until Oct. 28 and “entrants will be selected at random and offered first refusal to make a purchase within seven working days with a secure way to pay.”

The tongue-in-cheek marketplace includes many items from a shop that the elusive unidentified street artist had recently set up in south London.

Some of the for-sale pieces, like a version of the “John Bull” English vest worn by Stormzy at Glastonbury festival, only have one product available — currently for 850 euros.

Other items include Banksy’s Thrower art, which comes silk screened on three separate, framed pieces and are signed, going for 750 euros, a Banksy Met Ball police helmet lighting system, which has 15 for sale at 500 Euros and many more artistic creations.

“Please buy an item because you like it, not because you think it is a good investment,” the site requests.

The “Massive Disclaimer” states that “this is not a proper shop,” rather an “actual shop” with products made in an art studio “in a workplace culture of daytime drinking.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

‘Not a ceasefire’: Turkish leader says it’s a ‘pause’ after Pence touts agreement

omersukrugoksu/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Turkey has agreed an agreement on Thursday to halt Turkish operations against Syrian Kurdish forces the U.S. once backed in what President Donald Trump heralded as a “great day for civilization,” but critics condemned as capitulation to Turkish demands.

Following negotiations — led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vice President Mike Pence — the two sides released a joint statement that said Turkey “will pause” its operations for 120 hours for those Kurdish forces to withdraw from a 20-mile-deep territory that will then be controlled by Turkey.

Turkey’s operation in northern Syria “will be halted upon completion of this withdrawal,” which will be facilitated by the U.S., according to Pence.

Pence called the agreement a ceasefire, although Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was a “pause in Turkey’s operation” and “not a ceasefire.”

“Our team is already working with YPG personnel in the safe zone for an orderly withdrawal outside the 20-mile mark and we’re going to go forward together to bring peace and security to this region, I’m very confident of that,” Pence told reporters during a press conference.

The People’s Protection Units, or YPG, are the Kurdish forces that constitute the main fighting force of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF. Turkey considers them to be terrorists, indistinguishable from Kurdish separatists in Turkey that Turkey and the U.S. have both designated terrorist organizations. But the U.S. armed, closely partnered with and fought alongside the SDF in the fight against ISIS, with Kurdish forces losing 11,000 troops in that battle.

It was unclear Thursday whether the SDF had agreed to the deal reached by the U.S. and Turkey, which will also face strong resistance from Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader who has waged a brutal eight-and-a-half year war to retake Syrian territory and is backed by Russia, Iran and Iranian proxies, such as, Hezbollah.

Instead, the deal recognizes Turkish control over the safe zone that it sought against Kurdish forces, requires “the re-collection of YPG heavy weapons and the disablement of their fortifications and all other fighting positions,” and will see the U.S. repeal sanctions against senior Turkish officials once the Turkish operation is halted.

“This is a great day for civilization. I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path. People have been trying to make this “Deal” for many years. Millions of lives will be saved. Congratulations to ALL!” tweeted President Donald Trump.

In Texas, following Pence’s announcement, Trump told reporters that Erdogan was “a hell of a leader” who “did the right thing.” Now that Turkey has agreed to cease fighting for five days, Trump said, “sanctions won’t be necessary.”

Trump said that he, himself, had taken “a lot of heat” for his approach to Turkey, which critics across the political spectrum said amounted to abandoning allies who had fought ISIS alongside the United States.

While Turkey’s operation had been widely condemned around the world, Pence said the U.S. would now work with Turkey on this new “safe zone.”

“The United States of America will work with Turkey — will work with nations around the world — to make sure peace and stability are the order of the day in this safe zone,” Pence said at the news conference.

When asked what will happen to the Kurdish forces, who lived in cities and towns in what is now supposed to be Turkish-held territory, Pence didn’t say, instead touting the importance of the safe zone in achieving peace: “We believe that the Kurdish population in Syria — with which we have a strong relationship — will continue to endure. The United States will always be grateful for our partnership with SDF in defeating ISIS, but we recognize the importance and the value of a safe zone to create a buffer between Syria proper and the Kurdish population and the Turkish border.”

Erdogan had previously repeatedly rejected the idea of a ceasefire, saying his government would not negotiate with what it considers a terrorist organization.

The high-level diplomacy came one day after Trump dismissed concerns about the violent clashes.

“That’s between Turkey and Syria, it’s not between Turkey and the United States, like a lot of stupid people would like us to, would like you to believe,” he said in the Oval Office on Wednesday.

Trump has come under withering criticism by Republicans and Democrats for withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria, after initially pulling back two attachments of troops in advance of Turkey’s operation against the Syrian Kurds.

That was seen as giving a green light to Erdogan to attack the Kurds.

Trump denied Wednesday that he had given a green light, saying he could not have stopped Turkey.

“There was never given a green light. They’ve been wanting to do that for years and, frankly, they’ve been fighting for many, many years,” he said.

Pence and Erdogan first met one-on-one in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, for one hour and 20 minutes — a one-on-one meeting that was originally scheduled to last just 10 minutes. Afterwards, they were joined by their full delegations, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser Robert O’Brien from the U.S. side and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Trump has sent mixed signals on the operation, at times dismissing any U.S. concern over it, but then also penalizing Turkey with sanctions Monday on its defense, energy and interior ministers and defense and energy ministries.

The day Turkey launched its offensive last week, Trump admonished Erdogan in a extraordinary personal letter in which he threatened to be “responsible for destroying the Turkish economy” and said his fellow leader should not be “a tough guy” or a “fool.” The letter was first reported by Fox News and later confirmed as accurate to ABC News by a senior administration official.

But on Wednesday, just hours before Pence departed for Ankara — carrying out Trump’s directive to try to negotiate a ceasefire — Trump again said he did not think the United States should get involved.

“It’s not our border,” he told reporters at the White House. “We shouldn’t be losing lives over it.”

Erdogan told reporters on Tuesday that he could not keep up with all the different messages from Trump.

“When we take a look at Mr Trump’s Twitter posts, we can no longer follow them,” he said, according to Turkish media. “We cannot keep track.”

The back-and-forth made Pence and his delegation’s job difficult, according to critics — including Republicans.

“The statements by President Trump about Turkey’s invasion being of no concern to us also completely undercut Vice President Pence and Sec. Pompeo’s ability to end the conflict,” Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted Wednesday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Exclusive: Hunter Biden talks getting married after 6 days and why his life is in ‘the best place I’ve ever been’

ABC News (Hunter Biden talks with ABC’s Amy Robach, October 2019)(NEW YORK) — Hunter Biden was not alone when he stepped out of the shadows in his first broadcast interview since drawing the ire of President Donald Trump. By his side was his new 33-year-old bride, Melissa Cohen Biden, whom he married in Los Angeles in May — just six days after they met.

When Hunter first met Melissa, he leveled with her about his past, including the tragic deaths of his mother, sister and brother, decades of struggling with addiction and a turbulent divorce. And yet, they are ready to face the future together.

“I instantly fell in love with her. And then I’ve fallen in love with her more every day,” Biden, 49, said.

The couple met through a friend of hers, who jotted Melissa’s phone number onto Hunter’s hand and insisted he call her. Hunter got a “shalom” tattoo to match Melissa’s within days of meeting her and they were married at her apartment less than a week later; neither had their families in attendance and the wedding photos were taken by a friend on a cellphone.

Hunter’s first call was to his father to share the happy news. Joe Biden thanked Melissa for “giving my son the courage to love again.”

Hunter has three adult daughters from his marriage to his first wife, Kathleen: Naomi, 24; Finnegan, 19; and Maisy, 18. According to the couple, his daughters love Melissa and get along great.

Melissa is from South Africa, but recently became a naturalized U.S. citizen, a ceremony Hunter proudly attended.

Watch the full interview on “Nightline” THURSDAY, Oct. 17 at 12:35 a.m. ET on ABC.

Hunter is not hiding, he says defiantly, despite Trump’s public claims to the contrary on Twitter and at his rallies.

“No, not at all,” he said. “I’m actually having an incredible extended honeymoon with my beautiful bride.”

“I would call it the honeymoon phase, definitely,” added Melissa, who was also previously married. “Although, I have an inclination that I’m gonna be in the honeymoon phase for a very long time. … Things have not been easy externally, but internally things have been amazing.”

Melissa believes “the truth will prevail” in relation to the criticism her husband has received over his controversial position on the board of Burisma, an oil company in Ukraine, and described her husband as “an incredible human being” who “very much cares about his country and his family and his friends and his children.” Biden reportedly made $50,000 a month to sit on the board. Melissa also welcomed an investigation.

“Sure. Why not? I mean, nothing’s gonna change. I mean, I would probably — I think it would probably be a waste of tax payer’s money. And seeing as though how many of — how many investigations can be done? But if it would bring peace of mind to whoever needs peace of mind brought to this, I know we have peace of mind, we’re okay, we’ve — we live in truth, so sure.”

Trump’s obsession with the position came into clear view after the news of a whistleblower complaint detailing a July call by the president to Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy, when he repeatedly asked for an investigation into the Bidens.

Despite being at the center of a political maelstrom, their daily life is innocuous, as Hunter describes it:

“I talk to my dad every day. I live my life in the open,” Hunter said. “I get in my car in the morning and I go down the road and I get coffee. And I go to the same place for lunch with Melissa. And I go about doing my business and my work, and I come back at night. And we watch — you know, Netflix, and then we do it all again in the morning, just like anybody else.”

“And the reason I’m able to do that is because I am absolutely enveloped in love of my family,” he added.

Biden has sought out treatment for substance abuse issues more than seven times. His late brother Beau personally took him to his first rehab session. It was a positive test for cocaine that got him discharged from the Naval Reserves in 2014.

Now, Hunter refers to his wife Melissa as his “redemption” and his “protector.” When asked if she was worried about her husband’s sobriety with so much public pressure, Melissa firmly stated: “No. He’s incredibly strong.”

“You don’t want to live in the worry of it because then you’re feeding the beast,” Hunter said. “I have no answer other than this: you gotta live in the connections that you have to healthy things. And I have so many of them.”

He likened seeking treatment for addiction to doing the same for a “terminal illness,” musing that tabloid headlines describing him as going “in and out of rehab” send the wrong message.

“Boy, if you have to be embarrassed about asking for help, you know how much harder it makes for people without the means or the ability or a job that’s not gonna tolerate it?” Hunter asked. “Or a husband or a wife that doesn’t want you to go in and out? That feels embarrassed by it? So we all gotta start talking about it differently. … It is terminal. And so I think that we owe people that are seeking help the empathy, but also a level of compassion.”

“Every time everybody that I know that goes back in to try to get help — whatever way that it is — it’s a courageous act on their part, it really is,” he added. “It’s an act of humility. It’s an act of admission and it ain’t easy.”

A series of tragic events have shaped Hunter Biden’s life. In 1972, when he was 2 years old, his mother, Neilia, and his sister, Naomi, were killed in a car crash. He and Beau were also in the vehicle and were severely injured.

The brothers were close all their lives, but in 2015, Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware, died of brain cancer. Hunter later dated Beau’s widow, Hallie.

He is currently facing a paternity and child support lawsuit from an Arkansas woman named Lunden Roberts alleging Hunter is the father of her child. He denies that claim.

Hunter’s life is often on display in tabloids, but in the interview with ABC News’ Amy Robach he wanted to share his side of the story.

“I’ve gone through my own struggles … like every single person that I’ve ever known; I have fallen and I’ve gotten up,” he said. “I’ve done esteemable things and things that I regret. Every single one of those things has brought me exactly to where I am right now, which is probably the best place I’ve ever been in my life.”

Hunter Biden had been noticeably absent from the campaign trail with his father, one of the front-runners for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination four years after he served as vice president. He and Melissa made their first public appearance with his father last Friday at a fundraiser in Los Angeles.

He had previously avoided the spotlight, saying, “This is not a family business.”

“Everybody kinda thinks that somehow — you know, whether it’s a compliment that we’re like the Kennedys or whether it’s a backhanded compliment like you’re the Trumps — my dad has a job, but that does not mean that I had ever had any plans to go do rallies and talk about Donald Trump’s kids,” Hunter said. “And I never will.”

For now, Hunter seeks refuge in his art studio at home, where he likes to paint.

“It literally keeps me sane,” he says.

When it’s pointed out that there is a TV in the room, he chuckles, “You know, luckily I don’t get cable down here.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

In an ecologically-minded tweet, Ryan Reynolds confirms he and wife Blake Lively had a third girl

ABC, ABC/Lou Rocco(VANCOUVER, B.C.) — In a tweet touting the importance of voting for green climate policy in his native Canada’s elections on Monday, Ryan Reynolds buried some other big news by confirming he and wife Blake Lively have a third girl.

Prior to this, the couple only confirmed that they’d had a third child on October 4. Deadpool star Reynolds, 42, and actress Lively, 32, are also parents to daughters James, 4½, and Inez, 2½.

“I love B.C.,” tweeted Reynolds, captioning a photo of he and Lively in a forest, with the actor holding the new baby in a chest carrier between them. The baby’s face was hidden by a superimposed smiley face, however.

“I want my daughters to experience the same natural playground I grew up in,” Reynolds posted.

“On Oct. 21, the candidate you vote for will SHAPE CLIMATE POLICY. I’m proud of the climate progress made the last 4 years.” Click for voting info,” the actor said, before adding the hashtag #Capilano, referring to their picturesque pic’s apparent setting.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 17 Oct 2019

Strokes are becoming more common in younger adults and PTSD may be a cause

utah778/iStock(NEW YORK) — By Dr. Saumya Bhutani

The incidence of stroke, a major cause of disability and death, is on the rise in young and middle-aged adults. A new study suggests that PTSD may be a contributing factor.

“There is now a large amount of evidence that stroke is on the rise in young adults aged less than 45. We are still unable to identify the cause of stroke in about half of overall stroke patients below 30 years of age. We need more studies and funding to study this population which forms the future of our country,” Dr. Rohan Arora, director of the stroke program at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills said to ABC News.

The new study, published in the journal Stroke, found that young veterans with PTSD had a 36% increased risk for stroke. They also had a 61% increased risk for transient ischemic attack (TIA), a brief, self-resolving stroke-like event that can represent a warning for future stroke.

Post-traumatic stress disorder has gained significant attention over the past few years with health concerns of those near ground-zero on 9/11, the return of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, multiple mass shootings and increased awareness of sexual assault.

Researchers examined over 900,000 veterans with an average age of 30 for thirteen years. Almost 30% of these veterans developed PTSD. They found that those that did were more likely to experience stroke and TIA than those who did not.

“PTSD may lead to the secretion of ‘bad chemicals’ in the bloodstream that cause inflammation … causing injury to the arteries leading to clot formation,” Arora said. Clot formation is the basis of stroke.

“PTSD also worsens pre-existing high blood pressure and diabetes — important risk factors for stroke,” he added.

Compared to the veterans without PTSD, those with PTSD had higher rates of high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as other known stroke risk factors, such as irregular heart rhythms, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity. Still, the occurrence of these conditions was low among all young veterans. They were relatively healthy.

Beyond that, the 36% and 61% increased risk was found when accounting for these factors. The fact that the relationship was strong and significant regardless of these other variables suggests that PTSD plays a unique part in the development of stroke.

“PTSD is a national public health issue,” said Lindsey Rosman, Ph.D, the lead author of the study, and assistant professor of Medicine in the division of Cardiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“We know that young folks are increasingly exposed to direct and vicarious trauma, whether its natural disaster, gun violence or sexual assault. These same young folks don’t have the same traditional cardiovascular risk factors for stroke we see in older people,” Rosman said.

Rosman said that the digital age exposes people to “indirect trauma.”

“Young people can develop PTSD symptoms that are severe and impairing through vicarious trauma. They are continuously exposed to videos of traumatic events that they have the ability to watch over and over again,” she said.

The veterans studied were predominantly male and white. Rosman pointed to directions of future research, “It’s very important in future studies to look at the role of sex in PTSD and stroke. Women are more likely to experience chronic stress and PTSD, but are known to have a lower stroke risk than men.” She also stated, “It’s possible other factors that we didn’t control for played a role, including sleep disturbance and migraine.”

Although the study focused on veterans, Rosman noted, “We did not assess the nature of the trauma and it’s possible that our veterans, many of whom were not in combat, experienced more than military trauma. They could have experienced sexual assault and life adversity.” Thus, she believes the findings can apply to those who have PTSD whether they are veterans or not.

“Based on this, we need to realize that there is no one-size-fits-all. We need to develop age-appropriate screening and intervention. We need to expand our view when it comes to risk factors,” she said.

“Unique mental health issues may be an important part in understanding a young person’s risk factors of developing disease.”

Dr. Saumya Bhutani is a resident in psychiatry in New York with the ABC News Medical Unit.

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