Man who says he was a Russian ‘troll’ arrested after going public

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Russian police have reportedly arrested a man who has claimed to be a worker at a so-called troll factory in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Man who says he was a Russian ‘troll’ arrested after going public

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(MOSCOW) — Russian police have reportedly arrested a man who has claimed to be a worker at a so-called troll factory in St. Petersburg, Russia, hours after he gave interviews to foreign journalists and lifted the lid on a secretive organization the U.S. Department of Justice last week accused of trying to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

The Justice Department Friday indicted 13 Russians it accused of running a campaign through the alleged trolling operation to undermine the U.S. election, using social media posts and fake news websites. The indictment named the company behind the alleged operation as the Internet Research Agency.

Since the indictment, Marat Mindiyarov, a 43-year-old former teacher who said he worked for the operation from 2014 to early 2015, has been giving interviews to multiple foreign news outlets, including The Associated Press and The Washington Post, describing its inner workings.

He was then detained Sunday by police who accused him and a friend of making a false report about a bomb near his village outside St. Petersburg, he told The Moscow Times.

Mindiyarov has since been released, Russian radio station Echo of Moscow reported.

Mindiyarov, like most of the workers, was not named in the U.S. indictment brought as part of U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. The indictment Friday named people accused of overseeing the alleged trolling effort or playing a key role in the operation to undermine the election.

It also named the Internet Research Agency’s alleged owner, Yegenvy Prigozhin, a man nicknamed “Putin’s Chef” because of his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mindiyarov has said he was a lower-level employee, posting hundreds of comments on social media expressing Kremlin viewpoints.

Mindiyarov knew the operation’s “Facebook Department” had hired hundreds of Russians who spoke English well to take part in a campaign to influence U.S. public opinion, he told reporters.

“Your first feeling, when you were there, was that you were at some factory that turned a lie into a conveyor belt,” Mindiyarov told The Washington Post Saturday. “The volumes were enormous; there were a huge number of people, from 300 to 400, and they all wrote an absolute lie. It was like in the world of [novelist George] Orwell, the place where you have to say that white is black, and black is white.”

He is among a number of former employees at the “troll factory,” as well as undercover journalists, who have come forward in the past two years to explain what they say are the internal workings of its operation to media organizations, including ABC News.

The Kremlin has denied having any connection to the “troll factory,” with Putin’s spokesman telling reporters Monday that Mueller had failed to provide sufficient evidence of a campaign to meddle in the U.S. election.

Echo of Moscow, the Russian radio station, reported that police had detained Mindiyarov and a friend it named as Igor at an apartment Sunday, accusing Igor of having used his phone to make false reports about bombs near their village.

But, writing on his Facebook page Monday, Mindiyarov said he “is not afraid even after the events of the last night and today.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

American says he ‘had nothing to lose’ attempting record-setting 6-quad routine

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Nathan Chen became the first to land a six-quad performance.

Thai court gives Japanese man custody of 13 surrogate kids

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A Thai court has granted legal custody of 13 babies carried by surrogate mothers to a secretive Japanese millionaire who is their biological father

Iranian rescuers still looking for wreckage of plane crash that killed 66 people

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(TEHRAN, Iran) — Time is ticking as Iranian rescue teams search the Zagros Mountains trying to locate the wreckage of a missing Aseman Airliner that crashed there on Sunday morning with 66 people on board.

The missing plane was an ATR 72-500 twin-engine turboprop. It left the capital city of Tehran to Yasuj, a southwestern city at 4:30 a.m. GMT on Sunday, but went off the radar 50 minutes into its journey around the city of Semirom in Isfahan Province.

Relatives of those on board have been desperately waiting all day on Sunday, but are losing hope as reports say all 66 passengers are feared dead. Those on board include 60 passengers, two flight attendants, two security guards, and the pilot and co-pilot.

According to the statement of Iran Emergency Center, the heavy winds and snow did not allow a rescue team’s helicopter to approach the possible location of the crash on the first day.

The rescue operation was resumed Monday in better weather, but the plane wreckage had yet to be tracked down.

To accelerate the operation, Iran has reached out to other countries for help.

“We have asked China and European countries to immediately inform us of any image they might capture with their satellites,” Mojtaba Saradeghi, deputy head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, told the Iranian Student News Agency on Monday.

Family and friends have posted desperate pleas for news on the missing on social media, including one from a women who listed four co-workers killed in the accident and the statement, translated as, “Do you know we have filled your desks at the office with flowers? We shared your memories, and cried.”

Russia has also sent information on the possible location of the crash to Tehran via diplomatic channels, according to Spotnik, the Russian news agency.

The Iranian airliner’s fleet is very old as it has been prevented from updating for years due to severe sanctions from the West. The Islamic Republic was not allowed to purchase new Western planes and spare parts for about two decades.

In 2015, the country signed a nuclear deal with six world powers (Germany, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and the United States), based on which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear-related activities in return for the easing of some sanctions against the country.

One of the top priorities of Iran was removing sanctions on its aviation industry. While easing these sanctions has led to a major deal between Iran and Boeing for the purchase of airplanes over the coming years, the body of the fleet of the country is still worn out.

The recent crash has led to discussions on social networks about where the West and Iranian aviation stands two years after the lifting of the sanctions on the industry.

Pouyan Tabasinejad, policy chair of the Iranian Canadian Congress, was among those to criticize Canadian Sen. Linda Frum on Twitter after she slammed Boeing for selling Iran new aircraft.

However, some of those who used to blame the West for the high number of casualties in airplane crashes in Iran are now pointing their fingers at Tehran’s mismanagement for not upgrading its fleet in the past two years after the lifting of the former restrictions.

Capt. Houshang Shahbazi became a national hero to Iranians in December 2011 after he managed to safely land a 40-year-old Boeing 727 while the gear in the nose was jammed and the front wheel did not open. He saved the life of 120 passengers on board.

Before the nuclear deal, Shahbazi was a vocal critic of the Western sanctions on Iran’s civil aviation industry. But in an interview with ABC News about the recent incident, he said time to blame the West for such incidents is over. Instead, he criticized Iranian aviation officials for not being swift enough in updating the fleet.

“It is not a humanitarian crisis. This crash is the result of a political crisis,” he said, putting the blame on where political parties choose to invest the resources of the country. “Two years has passed and managers have had enough time to buy new planes and spare parts, if it was their priority.”

However, Aseman Airliner’s technician and training manager, Capt. Bahador Ashayeri, denied any technical problem with the missing ATR plane.

“This plane was of the most modern models. … It has no problem at all,” Ashayeri said in a live TV program on Sunday.

The weather is expected to get even colder in the Zagros Mountains on Tuesday, making the search and rescue operation more difficult.

“Regardless of the weather condition, search and rescue operation will go on,” Shahin Fathi, operation deputy of Iran’s Red Crescent Organization told the News Channel.

“However, in case of a snowfall, aerial and helicopter search will not be possible and search will go on with the rescue teams on the ground.”

 Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Chen says he ‘had nothing to lose’ attempting record-setting 6-quad routine

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Nathan Chen became the first to land a six-quad performance.

US fighter jet dumps fuel tanks near fishermen in Japan lake

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A U.S. fighter jet has dumped two fuel tanks into a lake in northern Japan, creating a fuel slick, as about 10 fishermen were catching clams in boats below

Activists: 98 dead in assault on rebel-held Damascus suburb

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Syrian activists, paramedics say 98 people were killed in government shelling of rebel-held Damascus suburbs on Monday

Ohio businessman, deported after 38 years in US, vows return

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

An Ohio entrepreneur deported to Jordan vows to return to "my Youngstown."

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust US indictment

Posted on: February 20th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg "troll factory" think the criminal charges are well-founded

Rescuers still looking for wreckage of plane crash that killed 66 people

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The search continues in mountainous terrain for this weekend’s plane crash.

Will Russians indicted by special counsel face extradition?

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Russia has historically resisted the extradition process to the U.S.

Villages covered in ash after volcano erupts in Indonesia

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Mount Sinabung is one of three active volcanoes in Indonesia.

Villages covered in ash after volcano erupts in Indonesia

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(KARO, Indonesia) —  A volcano on Indonesia’s Sumatra island sent columns of ash shooting into the sky on Monday, prompting a “code red” warning to airlines by an Australian agency monitoring volcanic ash.

Villages in the Karo region near the volcano were covered in layers of grey ash, which settled on trees and the tops of buildings, motorcycles and cars.

Villagers were forced to wear masks.

Mount Sinabung has been erupting intermittently since 2010 after being dormant for centuries.

Thousands have been displaced in the surrounding area, and continued seismic activity has kept the alert level at its highest point since June 2015.

Mount Sinabung is one of three currently active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an area of concentrated seismic activity due to the presence of tectonic fault lines in the region.

Last year, the eruption of Mount Agung in Bali forced the cancellation of several flights, grounding thousands of tourists and sparking an evacuation order for 100,000 residents.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Iranian rescuers find wreckage from plane crash

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Rescue crews in Iran located wreckage from the plane that crashed on Sunday.

Inside Lesbos’ Moria camp, home to thousands of trapped refugees and migrants

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(LESBOS, Greece) —  In her temporary home, a fraction of a tent, Aziza Hommada holds up a transparent plastic bag with pita bread. The plastic has little holes in it and the bread is in pieces.

“Look,” she says. “The rats come into the tent and eat our bread. I have to throw this out.”

Hommada, 37, is five months pregnant and lives with her six children in the Moria camp, the largest refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The words “Welcome to prison” are spray-painted at the entrance and barbed wire surrounds the camp, which used to be a detention center for rejected asylum seekers. Tents and containers are packed tightly together, with narrow, muddy passageways between them. Trash spills out of overflowing garbage bins and piles up on the ground. At night, bonfires light up the faces of children and adults who try to stay warm.

As Europe experienced an unprecedented influx of refugees and migrants in 2015, the camp was originally a temporary solution that could house up to 2,000 people. When ABC News visited the camp in mid-January, it was home to more than 5,300 people, according to the director of the camp.

ABC News was granted rare permission to access a small area of the Moria camp, and also visited other parts where journalists were not allowed.

Like most people in the camp, Hommada and her children share their living space. A piece of fabric splits Hommada’s tent in two. She lives with her children in one half while some of her relatives occupy the other.

She washes laundry by hand using water from a room right next to her tent. The floor there is brown from dirty water and on one recent evening two rats peeked out of a corner.

The family escaped from airstrikes and fighting between ISIS and the Syrian government in their village in Deir Ezzor, Syria. The family became separated when Hommada’s husband left to pick up his sister from another village, she says. She has not heard from her husband or been able to find out what happened to him. She arrived in Lesbos with her children about two weeks ago. Even though the family is now safe from airstrikes, Hommada feels scared in the camp, especially at night.

“I don’t sleep from the fear,” says Hommada. “If anyone walks by our tent at night I sense it immediately and feel frightened.”

International organizations operating on the island say lack of security and hygiene are two major issues in the Moria camp. The UN warned earlier this month that women and children are at risk of sexual violence in the camp and called for more police. It described the bathrooms there as “no-go zones” for women and children after dark if they are not accompanied. Even showering during the day can be dangerous, the UN said.

 In his office inside the Moria camp, Giannis Balpakakis, the camp’s director, who is appointed by the Greek government to run it, lets out a sigh.

“The only problem is that there are a lot of people and it is difficult for us,” he says when asked why the camp is crowded and dirty. “If you have an apartment with one kitchen and two bedrooms and this apartment is for two people and in the same apartment you put 10 people you will have a problem. This is the problem.”

New containers were recently added in the camp, increasing the capacity from 2,000 to 3,000, he says, but it’s still not enough. People keep arriving to the island and the camp is crowded, he says — so crowded that staff members clean the bathrooms and toilets only to find them dirty again one hour later.

“We may make mistakes, we may not be able to get to everything, but we are trying really hard,” he says. “All of us here are striving for the betterment of the people. I’m not saying that it’s the best, but we earnestly try. Everyone talks countless hours on the phone, to get everything in order, to strive, but I say to you honestly the problems that we have here are huge. Why? Because we constantly have new people. There is this stress, to welcome 100 people today, then 200 tomorrow, then another 100.”

In March 2016, the EU sealed a deal with Turkey intended to stop illegal migration to Europe by closing the main route that a million refugees and migrants had used to cross the sea to Greece. Since the EU-Turkey pact went into effect, the Greek islands have received a much smaller number of migrants and refugees. But in the second half of 2017, the numbers increased. Since September, more than 16,000 migrants and refugees have arrived on the Greek islands by sea from Turkey. And while asylum seekers before the EU-Turkey deal could move to the Greek mainland after typically just a few days on the islands, they now wait on the islands for months — and in some cases, more than a year.

Under the agreement, which has been criticized by humanitarian organizations, refugees and migrants who manage to cross the sea to Greece are trapped on the islands. They face being returned to Turkey, unless the Greek authorities determine that they should be granted asylum in Greece. Only vulnerable asylum seekers such as pregnant women, unaccompanied children and torture victims — or asylum seekers with close family members elsewhere in Europe — are allowed to move to mainland Greece. But even those vulnerable people often have to wait on the islands for months for a decision.

The crowded conditions create tension and fights break out in the camp, Balpakakis says. There are also problems with the infrastructure and electricity. At one point during the interview the lights in the director’s office go off because of a sudden power outage.

 Deeper inside the camp Jihad Al-Haj Hussein Al-Hilal, 50, lights a cigarette in his part of a shipping container that serves as a temporary home. When he lived in his Syrian hometown in Deir Ezzor under ISIS rule, smoking was not allowed. He escaped intense fighting between ISIS and the Syrian government there and has been on Lesbos with his family since late October.

“I’m still trapped on this island,” says al-Hilal. “We escaped from death and came to death — from quick death to slow death.”

It’s around dinner time and people line up for food outside. Residents say they usually have to wait two to three hours for a meal. A sound of men yelling makes its way into the container.

“Can you hear that?” asks Jihad. “They’re fighting. It happens a lot when people line up for food.”

The conditions in the camp surprised him when he arrived, he says. “I had expected that I would at least feel safe here,” he says.

Berevan Ahmad Hassan, a 25-year-old Kurdish Syrian from Aleppo, fled her country after an airstrike destroyed her home and all her belongings. When she saw the wreckage, she actually felt relief. Her children and husband were safe and that was all that mattered to her, she says. But after seven years of war, she decided to leave her country for the safety of her 5-year-old and 3-year-old. In Greece, her children often wake up screaming at night because they see bombs in their dreams. They refuse to use the toilets in the camp unless their mother cleans them first.

“They have started bed-wetting,” she says. “They didn’t do that in Syria.”

She has lived with her family in a tent for two months. The conditions in the camp are far worse than she imagined, she says. Every morning when she wakes up her first thought is: I can’t wait for this day to be over.

“I think, I hope this day will go by fast so that it will be night so that I can reach the day when I will get out of here,” she says.

She wants to settle in an actual home where her children can feel like they are living a stable life. And she wants them to go to school.

“It will be a while before that can happen. We will suffer until then,” she says. “But after everything we’ve been through I can’t imagine that I will end up regretting coming. I can’t think that. I have to think that it will be good.”

After ABC News left the Greek island of Lesbos, the Hommada family told ABC News that they had been transferred from the Moria camp to Lesbos’ Kara Tepe camp, which is known to have much better conditions than the Moria camp. The family said they now live in a container by themselves rather than a shared tent.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Inside Lesbos’ Moria camp, home to thousands of trapped refugees and migrants

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News visited the largest refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Inside Lesbos’ Moria camp, home to thousands of trapped refugees and migrants

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News visited the largest refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The Latest: Turkey warns Syria troops it will fight in Afrin

Posted on: February 19th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The Latest: Turkey threatens to battle Syrian government troops if they enter Syrian enclave to protect Kurdish fighters

Princess Kate steps out in green at the British Academy Film Awards

Posted on: February 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty Images(LONDON) — Princess Kate arrived at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) tonight with Prince William in a dark green Jenny Packham gown, as the majority of other women on the red carpet chose to wear black in solidarity with the fight against sexual harassment and the Time’s Up movement.

The mother of Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2, who is currently pregnant in her third trimester, however, did wear a black tie around her dress above her glowing figure, in what may have been a subtle nod to fellow women.

Royal family members are forbidden from making political statements of any kind and must remain unbiased. Kensington Palace declined to comment on Kate’s decision to wear green instead of black in solidarity with other women. Last year, Kate wore a black Alexander McQueen gown with printed flowers.

The dress code is similar to other red carpets, most notably the Golden Globes, when women and men both showed their support for gender equality and human rights for women.

Margot Robbie, Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie and almost every other major celebrity wore black on the red carpet tonight, which has been a dominant theme at awards shows in the wake of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke last fall.

There was considerable discussion online and on television about the Duchess of Cambridge’s decision to forego black on the red carpet as the Time’s Up movement is not aligned with a particular political party.

British TV presenter Piers Morgan wrote on Twitter “Duchess of Cambridge being abused by ‘feminists’ on Twitter for not wearing a black dress at tonight’s #BAFTAS Apparently, she’s not allowed to exercise HER feminist right to wear whatever colour dress she chooses.”

Others said that it was a missed opportunity for Kate, and argued that wearing black was not a political statement but rather simply an affirmation of women’s rights.

Kate accessorized her gown with stunning emerald and diamond earrings, which she donned previously in New York when she and Prince William attended the 600th anniversary benefit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of their Alma mater St Andrews University.

Princess Kate accompanied William, who is president of BAFTA, and also wore a glittering matching emerald and diamond necklace to the Awards ceremony.

“Catherine and I are extremely pleased to be here amongst you all this evening,” William said at tonight’s event. “The Film Awards are just one part of BAFTA’s activity. I have been privileged over the years to experience first-hand the impact of its work in the United Kingdom, in Los Angeles, New York and Asia — work ranging from scholarships and supporting new talent, through to masterclasses with the very best in the film industry — many of whom are here this evening.”

“Your support of BAFTA — sharing skills, expertise and time — means we can ensure the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. It ensures that we can do much, much more to help talented people from all backgrounds to be given the opportunity to succeed,” he added.

Earlier in the day more than 200 women signed on to a new fund to support women who experience abuse and harassment at work. Emma Watson donated $1 million to the campaign, while Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley and Kristen Scott Thomas are all signatories to the open letter.

“As we approach the BAFTAs, our industry’s time for celebration and acknowledgement, we hope we can celebrate this tremendous moment of solidarity and unity across borders by coming together and making this movement international,” the letter states.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Polish PM seeks dialogue with Israel on ‘difficult history’

Posted on: February 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The PM equated Holocaust collaborators to alleged "Jewish perpetrators".

Tiny house on wheels takes minimalist living to the next level

Posted on: February 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Architect Leonardo Di Chiara, 27, hopes to bring tiny living to big cities.

All 65 aboard plane feared dead in crash in southern Iran

Posted on: February 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A plane crash in Iran has killed all 66 on board.

Commercial plane crashes in southern Iran, killing 66 people

Posted on: February 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

A plane crash in Iran has killed all 66 on board.

Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

Posted on: February 18th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Trump’s national security adviser says there is now "incontrovertible" evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election

US Navy says China’s military buildup won’t stop patrols

Posted on: February 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

U.S. forces are undeterred by China’s military presence on newly built islands.

Three billboards in London ask hard questions about Grenfell tower fire

Posted on: February 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Carl Court/Getty Images(LONDON) — Three large billboards pulled by vans snaked through the British capital Thursday afternoon. The words on the stark red backdrops read:

“71 dead.”

“And still no arrests?”

“How come?”

The banners were inspired by the 2017 film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” about a woman campaigning for police to find the culprit responsible for her daughter’s rape and murder.

Last June, at least 71 people were killed as a devastating fire ravaged a tower block in West London. A block of public housing flats entrenched in Britain’s wealthiest neighborhood of Kensington and Chelsea, the burning tower became an iconic symbol of inequality in London.

In the initial days following the tragedy, the council responsible for the area was harshly criticized for its slow response and for having possibly neglected safety standards that could have prevented the fire from taking place.

After several initial reviews into fire safety and building materials, the Metropolitan Police — the force responsible for Greater London –- announced a criminal investigation into the fire. In a public notice the police said that they had “reasonable grounds” to suspect that both the council and the building management company may have committed corporate manslaughter.

In January 2018 the Metropolitan Police requested more than $50 million from the UK Home Office to cover the costs of the investigation, one of the most expansive and complex inquiries in the force’s history, involving around 250 officers and staff. More than 30 million documents and more than 1,000 statements have been taken from witnesses so far.

Given the scale of the inquiry, reaction to the “Three Billboards” campaign through London was mixed online.

Film director Ken Loach, known for his work exploring social issues through his films, praised and promoted the campaign as a way to refocus public attention on the issue in order to push for accountability.

The Secret Barrister –- an anonymous legal commentator who has cautioned against prosecution to satisfy public anger — replied to Loach’s tweet, calling the three-billboard display “antagonism” that would help no one.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Three billboards in London ask hard questions about Grenfell tower fire

Posted on: February 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Carl Court/Getty Images(LONDON) — Three large billboards pulled by vans snaked through the British capital Thursday afternoon. The words on the stark red backdrops read:

“71 dead.”

“And still no arrests?”

“How come?”

The banners were inspired by the 2017 film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” about a woman campaigning for police to find the culprit responsible for her daughter’s rape and murder.

Last June, at least 71 people were killed as a devastating fire ravaged a tower block in West London. A block of public housing flats entrenched in Britain’s wealthiest neighborhood of Kensington and Chelsea, the burning tower became an iconic symbol of inequality in London.

In the initial days following the tragedy, the council responsible for the area was harshly criticized for its slow response and for having possibly neglected safety standards that could have prevented the fire from taking place.

After several initial reviews into fire safety and building materials, the Metropolitan Police — the force responsible for Greater London –- announced a criminal investigation into the fire. In a public notice the police said that they had “reasonable grounds” to suspect that both the council and the building management company may have committed corporate manslaughter.

In January 2018 the Metropolitan Police requested more than $50 million from the UK Home Office to cover the costs of the investigation, one of the most expansive and complex inquiries in the force’s history, involving around 250 officers and staff. More than 30 million documents and more than 1,000 statements have been taken from witnesses so far.

Given the scale of the inquiry, reaction to the “Three Billboards” campaign through London was mixed online.

Film director Ken Loach, known for his work exploring social issues through his films, praised and promoted the campaign as a way to refocus public attention on the issue in order to push for accountability.

The Secret Barrister –- an anonymous legal commentator who has cautioned against prosecution to satisfy public anger — replied to Loach’s tweet, calling the three-billboard display “antagonism” that would help no one.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

As Rio Carnival ends, Brazil shifts its focus to historic presidential election

Posted on: February 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(RIO DE JANEIRO) — Samba drums and hypnotic percussions, nonstop flow of positive lyrics about love and “Saudade” in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Women, men and children wearing sparkly red shirts, fun headpieces dancing tirelessly.

“Blocos de Rua” — or street bands — could be found across the country, mobilizing locals and tourists alike. One of the thousands of organized street festivals is the “Bloco de Carmelitas” — originated in 1990 in the St. Teresa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.

As it plays out every year, Rio Carnival 2018, which began earlier this month, gave Brazilians a chance to unwind and party in the streets.

Monica Araujo, 59, a nurse at a public hospital, never misses the “Bloco de Carmelitas.”

“That’s a necessity for Brazilians to celebrate carnival,” Araujo said.

Amid all the fun, though, Brazilians had an anxious eye toward October, when voters will elect another president after years of political turmoil. Araujo, for her part, sent a message by dressing as a doctor — to highlight the lack of funding for her hospital, which suffered major cuts.

“My hospital lost 10 percent of jobs last year. We cannot work,” Araujo told ABC News. “The university of my eldest child has stopped her class because of a lack of money.”

Once elected, the future president will have to deal with the worst economic recession in decades, violent crimes and a recrudescence of gang activity. Above all, he or she will have to reverse a general political mistrust after the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff and the nomination of unpopular Michel Temer as her interim successor.

“I never voted for Michel Temer,” Araujo said.

She added that, because of the political uncertainty, Carnival, which ends Sunday, is that much more important for a healthy distraction and a rejuvenation leading up to October.

“Of course, we need to celebrate even more,” she said.

Not only will Brazilians elect a new president in October, but they will also vote for a new Congress in the wake of a political corruption scandal.

Renato Silva 31, a law student who traveled from Sao Paulo to celebrate Carnival, tried to keep his excitement for the election despite the recent political scandals.

“There was a lot of disappointment in Brazil the past four years,” Silva said.

“If we don’t hope the future will be better, then we die. Carnival is good for both hope and despair,” Renato added.

In some ways, the election mirrors the presidential election in the United States in 2016, with candidates being compared to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Geraldo Alckmin of the centrist Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB) has been compared to Clinton, while Jair Bolsonaro of the far-right Partido Social Cristao (PSC) has been dubbed the “Donald Trump of Brazil.”

Bolsonaro, a former military officer during the dictatorship who wants to combat crime by putting an end to gun control laws, said he is a threat to the establishment.

“I am a threat to oligarchies, I am a threat to the stubbornly corrupt, I’m a threat to those who want to destroy family values,” Bolsonaro told ABC News. “That’s the threat I represent.”

The person to beat, however — if he is allowed to run — is Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. But the charismatic candidate of Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), who simply goes by Lula, may be in jail by October, following a questionable money laundering trial.

But the left-leaning PT, who compared Lula to the late South African activist and president Nelson Mandela, said it is standing by its candidate.

“We won’t give up in the face of this injustice,” it said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Chinese crepes

Posted on: February 17th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — It’s officially the Year of the Dog, and we’ve fetched a doggone delicious recipe to help you celebrate.

In honor of China’s largest and most celebrated holiday, we teamed up with a New York City restaurateur to learn how to make Peking duck jianbing. These “Chinese crepes” are sold from street carts back in China and are a cultural staple.

Brian Goldberg, the owner of Mr. Bing in New York City, lived in China for 14 years and speaks fluent Mandarin.  

Goldberg shared his technique for making the perfect jianbing:

Ingredients

For the batter:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup mung bean flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1½ cups water

For the crispy wontons:

1 cup vegetable oil
16 wonton wrappers

For the crepes:

5 teaspoons vegetable oil
5 eggs
Crepe batter
½ cup of roast duck
1¼ cups scallions, thinly sliced
5 teaspoons black sesame seeds
5 tablespoons hoisin
5 tablespoons chili paste
1 cup crispy wontons
1¼ cups cilantro leaves

Directions

Make the batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and mung bean flours and salt. Whisk in the water, and once a smooth batter forms, set aside.

Make the crispy wontons: In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil. Fry the wonton wrappers in four batches of four until golden brown, 30 to 45 seconds. Remove and cool completely on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. When cool, crush the wontons into 1-inch chips with your hands.

Make the crepes: In a crepe pan or a large nonstick skillet, heat one teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium heat. Using a whisk, scramble one egg in a small bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of batter into the pan and, using a bench scraper, work quickly to spread the crepe along the entire surface of the pan.

Once the crepe begins to curl at the edges — about 1 to 2 minutes — pour the scrambled egg mixture on top and spread into an even layer over the entire surface. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the scallions and one teaspoon of sesame seeds over the egg. Cook for one minute more until the egg begins to set. Carefully flip the crepe, and brush with one tablespoon of the hoisin and one tablespoon of the chili paste, then scatter 1/4 cup of the crushed wonton chips, 1/4 cup of the cilantro leaves and roast duck on top.

Fold the crepe like a letter — horizontally and vertically — to form a squared pancake. Cut in half and serve immediately.

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