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After Mexican earthquake, Shawn Mendes launches online fundraising campaign, donates $100K

ABC/Randy HolmesShawn Mendes was forced to cancel his show in Mexico City on September 20 after a devastating earthquake hit that country.  Now, he’s partnering with the Red Cross to raise money for the victims of the quake.

Shanw has launched a campaign on CrowdRise, which is part of GoFundMe, to encourage donations for disaster relief in Mexico. He’s gotten things the ball rolling with a $100,000 donation. 

On the campaign page, Shawn writes, “The scale of the devastation is hard to comprehend. While I cancelled my concert out of respect and for safety, being there during this tragedy and seeing the devastation first hand made me want to do whatever I could to help those impacted by this tragedy…I am really grateful for anything you can do.”

The American Red Cross is working with the Mexican Red Cross to determine where to allocate the funds raised.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Watch Now: Jason Derulo rises from the dead in violent new video for “If I’m Lucky”

Drew Dizzy GrahamJason Derulo’s new single “If I’m Lucky” is about the possibility of reuniting with a lover in the afterlife because things didn’t work out in this world.  In the song’s newly released video, Jason rises from the dead to find out exactly why things didn’t work out between him and his lady.

The clip starts with Jason and a woman lying on the ground, dead.  Then Jason gets up, and even though he’s covered with blood, he starts walking around and revisiting the circumstances that led to his and the woman’s deaths.  He sees himself meeting the woman in bar.  She’s obviously got a taste for danger: she forces him to stand against a dartboard while she throws knives at him.  Then, they move on to a motel for drinking and some sexy time.

Eventually, the two take up a life of crime, robbing huge amounts of cash and hiding out in the motel room.  But then, they rob the wrong guys: a group of dangerous looking biker dudes who come after them.  Jason and the girl grab the cash and escape the bikers, but when they run into a shed to hide, it explodes, killing them both.

The last shot of the video is the same as the first, with Jason and the girl are lying dead on the ground. At the last minute, he opens his eyes and they’re pale and weird-looking. It’s sort of how people look in Game of Thrones when they turn into White Walkers.

The video is billed as “Part 1,” so presumably, we’ll see what Zombie Jason gets up to in part two.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

What pop bands do: Maroon 5 returning to Las Vegas for New Year’s shows


Live Nation Las Vegas Maroon 5 doesn’t have a regular Las Vegas residency — except when New Year’s Eve rolls around.

Once again, the band has announced a series of New Year’s shows at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Sin City.  The shows are December 30 and December 31, and tickets go on sale to the general public Friday, September 29 at 10 a.m. PST at

If you’re an American Express Card member, an M Life Rewards member, or an AXS customer, you’ll can get access to ticket pre-sales this coming Tuesday and Wednesday.

Last year, Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine told ABC Radio why the band continues to return to Las Vegas year after year for New Year’s.  “It’s become really fun because we bring a lot of our friends out from LA and we turn it into our own sorta party,” he explained. 

Valentine goes on: “We’re done performing before midnight actually strikes, so then we usually go up and celebrate in the hotel with all of our friends, it’s become just a yearly thing..  Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, can we come back out to New Year’s this year? [Can you] put us on the list?’ ‘Absolutely!'”

Maroon 5 is expected to release a new album in November.  Their current single, “What Lovers Do,” is out now; the video, described as a “larger-than-life cinematic affair,” is coming soon.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


“Star Trek: Discovery” hits warp speed Sunday night

© 2017 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved(LOS ANGELES) — Once again, we’re boldly going where no one has gone before — Star Trek: Discovery premieres Sunday night on CBS, before moving over to the subscription-based CBS All Access streaming service.

This adventure, which takes place about 10 years before Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock’s five-year mission, which debuted on NBC in 1966, stars The Walking Dead‘s Sonequa Martin-Green, Harry Potter and Black Hawk Down veteran Jason Isaacs, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Michelle Yeoh.

The original series famously tackled issues like racism and the Cold War, making hot-button issues more palatable because they were couched in Gene Roddenberry’s futuristic universe.  Discovery‘s executive producer Alex Kurtzman says the show won’t be overtly political, but will echo the times in which we live, because that’s what Star Trek does: “I think that obviously events of the world of the last two years have been so intense, no matter what side of the political line you’re on. And Star Trek, at its best, has always been a mirror, and a reflection of the world that we live in.”

Discovery will be the first Trek series developed for a digital platform, something about which Kurtzman has mixed feelings, knowing people may be watching the show’s grand vistas on a mobile phone screen. “That hurts my heart about anything that we create at any point,” he admits, allowing, “it’s also the reality of the world we’re living in now.”

Ultimately, Kurtzman says, “the most important thing for us is the character stories, and the audience’s investment in the emotion.”

Discovery premieres Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time on CBS.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Manners maketh man: Taron Egerton says “gracious” stars of “Kingsman” helped him

20th Century Fox(NEW YORK) — Taron Egerton is in theaters again as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the followup to the 2015 blockbuster Kingsman: The Secret Service

Egerton was fresh out of drama school when he auditioned for the first film. He tells ABC’s Peter Travers there was a specific moment during the beginning of the “strenuous” audition process for Director Matthew Vaughn when the 27-year-old star knew he had a real shot at the part.

Vaughn “doesn’t mince his words…I remember my first audition for him. He…looked like he had a lot on his mind. He sat down and didn’t look at me. I did the scene, and he was still looking down. And I sort of went, ‘Are we done?’ And he looked up and went, ‘What was your name again?’ And that was the first moment where I thought I might [have] a shot here.”

“Very many” followed, Egerton laughed. “He really put me through my paces.”

After getting the part, the new drama school grad had to act alongside Oscar-winners Michael Caine and Colin Firth, the latter playing the agent who recruits Egerton’s “street kid” to become a spy. “I was helped by…an amazingly gracious cast,” says Egerton. “Colin Firth, particularly…kind of holding my hand, and making me feel valid among these certified film stars.”

In the original, Egerton’s character saves the world from a murderous plot launched by a mad billionaire played by Samuel L. Jackson.  The sequel sees Eggsy unite with his agency’s American cousins, The Statesman, played by Pedro Pascal, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, and Channing Tatum, in order to topple another wannabe world dominator — played by yet another Oscar-winner, Julianne Moore.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is in theaters now.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

“Star” leads Amiyah Scott and Jude Demorest share how the hit Fox series has changed their lives

Amiyah Scott – Fox/Jason Bell(NEW YORK) — Ahead of Star’s season two premiere next Wednesday, Amiyah Scott and Jude Demorest are revealing  how the hit Fox series has significantly changed their lives.

Scott says playing Cotton, a transgender woman like herself, has given her a new purpose in life.

“It’s giving a voice to the voiceless,” Scott tells ABC Radio. “I think that me growing up and transitioning, I didn’t have many role models. So to be able to possibly portray one, and to be able to have a role that is so rarely seen on television — has changed my life because it’s changed others lives as well.”

Her Star co-star Jude agrees.  “It changed our lives in every single way,” Demorest explains. “As an actress, Lee has pushed me in every single direction and I’ve learned so much. It’s been a crash course in using all of my skills.”

While Scott can draw on her personal experience to play her character, Jude says she’s “very different” than Star.

“The difference between her and is — where I have a very strong faith in God and I know that He can take care of me, she feels like she’s her own god and she can take care of herself,” Demorest says. “And that causes her to fall into a lot of pitfalls and to live a very defensive and aggressive life.”

Yet Demorest believes that even with her character’s flaws and the ongoing drama on the show, Star is still a noble series:  “It’s a good cautionary tale for every girl who watches it to see what happens when you chose fame over everything else.” 

The second season of Star premieres September 27 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Oakland’s Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during anthem

iStock/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) —  Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics has become the first Major League Baseball player to kneel during the national anthem.

Maxwell dropped to a knee just outside Oakland’s dugout on Saturday, adopting a protest started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in response to police treatment of blacks. Maxwell’s teammates stood in a line next to him. Teammate Mark Canha, who is white, put his right hand on one of Maxwell’s shoulders.

The Athletics released a statement on Twitter shortly after the anthem, saying they “respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Maxwell’s protest comes after President Donald Trump denounced protests by NFL players and rescinded a White House invitation for NBA champion Stephen Curry in a two-day rant that targeted top professional athletes.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump rips NFL commissioner for ‘trying to justify’ players’ ‘disrespect’ for country

Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — President Trump turned on the NFL commissioner Saturday evening, after Roger Goodell spoke out about the president condemning players who kneel in protest during the national anthem and calling on team owners to fire those players.

In a tweet, Trump said Goodell is “trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.”

Goodell did not mention the president by name in his statement earlier today.

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”

NFL players across the league and their union — and even some team officials — were more direct in their response to Trump’s criticism Friday night of the handful of NFL players who have kneeled or sat on the bench during the national anthem performed before games over the past two seasons. The practice was most famously done by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, who is currently unsigned, began kneeling in the preseason in 2016 as a sign of protest over the treatment of blacks in the U.S.

Trump, speaking at a rally in Alabama on Friday, said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of the NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now?'”

“You know, some owner … is going to say, ‘That guy who disrespects our flag, he’s fired,'” the president said to thunderous applause and cheers.

The president of the NFL Players Union, which represents current and former players, released a statement on Saturday: “The balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just ‘shut up and play.'”

Union President DeMaurice Smith acknowledged in his statement that “the peaceful demonstrations by some of our players” haven’t been universally supported, but “have generated a wide array of responses.”

But, he added, “Those opinions are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history … No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights.”

Hours later Trump fired back at his critics, tweeting that it was a “privilege” for athletes to earn a lucrative career in professional sports.

San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York weighed in Saturday afternoon, called the presiden’ts comments “callous and offensive” and “contradictory to this great country stands for”

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross did not refer to the president directly, but said in a statement the country “needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness.”

Reaction to Trump’s comments on social media by players were largely negative:

Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall


Lions tight end Eric Ebron

Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis

Redskins linebacker Zach Brown

Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews (a college teammate of Kaepernick)

Buccaneers safety T.J. Ward

Vikings running back Bishop Sankey

Former Texans running back Arian Foster

Kaepernick did not respond to the Trump’s comments in the hours following the speech by Trump.

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett recently reignited the debate when he criticized Las Vegas police for racial profiling following an accidental arrest last month.

Bennett was detained by police outside a Las Vegas casino on Aug. 27 after police responded to a report of gunfire in the area. Video obtained by TMZ of the incident shows an officer yelling at Bennett and pointing his gun at him while he is handcuffed. He was later let go by police.

Bennett has begun sitting on the bench during the national anthem in protest of police violence.

President Trump is no stranger to the National Football League. In February, he was seen dining with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and in January just before his inauguration, the president singled out Kraft at a dinner.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup — 9/22/17

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here are the latest scores and winners:

Boston 5, Cincinnati 4

Tampa Bay 8, Baltimore 3
Toronto 8, N.Y. Yankees 1
Minnesota 7, Detroit 3
Chicago White Sox 7, Kansas City 6
Houston 3, L.A. Angels 0
Oakland 4, Texas 1
Seattle 3, Cleveland 1

St. Louis 4, Pittsburgh 3
N.Y. Mets 7, Washington 6
Atlanta 7, Philadelphia 2
Chicago Cubs 5, Milwaukee 4, 10 Innings
Arizona 13, Miami 11
L.A. Dodgers 4, San Francisco 2
Colorado 4, San Diego 1


Pittsburgh 4, Columbus 3
St. Louis 4, Washington 0
N.Y. Islanders 2, N.Y. Rangers 1
Toronto 3, Buffalo 0
Tampa Bay 3, Nashville 1
Calgary 4, Arizona 2
Edmonton 5, Vancouver 3
Anaheim 4, L.A. Kings 2

(23) Utah 30, Arizona 24

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Worried daughter locates father in Puerto Rico with some help

ABC News(MIAMI) — ABC News reporters helped assure a worried daughter that her family in Puerto Rico is safe after she could not reach them in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Miami resident Tere Blanca sent ABC News reporters a video message Friday saying she was desperate to hear from her family in Ponce, on the island’s southern coast. In the video, she said she had not been able to contact her father and brother.

Puerto Rico is virtually without power or cell service after Maria made landfall on the island as a powerful Category 4 storm early Wednesday morning. People in the United States have been struggling to reach loved ones after the hurricane decimated the island.

Debris, downed power lines and trees littered the streets as ABC News reporters drove from San Juan to Ponce.

Once they arrived in Ponce, ABC News reporters on the ground found Tere Blanca’s father, Antonio Blanca, alive and well at his home.

Antonio Blanca told ABC News that he and his wife, Julie Blanca, are safe. They have food and water, but no electricity, he said.

The father also said that his son, Tony Blanca, is OK and had stopped by their home on Thursday.

Julie Blanca said she and her husband had last spoken to his daughter on Tuesday, hours before the storm hit Puerto Rico. At that point, “nothing was happening,” Julie Blanca said.

After 1 a.m. Wednesday, conditions began to worsen, Julia Blanca said.

“It was terrible,” she said.

Antonio Blanca recorded a message for his daughter, telling her he loves her and his two granddaughters and instructing her not to worry about them.

“I love you, Tere — a lot,” Antonio Blanca said.

At least seven people in Puerto Rico were killed by the storm, officials said. The entire island is without electricity after its power grid was destroyed in the storm.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Suspect in custody after man armed with machete takes hostages at Tennessee bank

iStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBIA, Tenn.) — A suspect armed with a machete was taken into custody late Friday after he took nine people hostage at a Tennessee bank earlier in the day.

According to ABC affiliate WKRN-TV, the man was tackled by police after he emerged from the bank. Police had yet to confirm the man was taken into custody early Saturday.

All of the hostages had been released Friday afternoon prior to the man being taken into custody, according to police.

The 54-year-old man initially took nine people hostage at the Community First Bank & Trust in Columbia, Tennessee, before releasing four people, a spokesperson for the Columbia Police Department said. Hours later, the remaining five hostages were released, according to Columbia Police Capt. Jeremy Alsup.

None of the hostages were injured during the ordeal, Alsup said.

Emergency dispatchers responded to a call for an armed robbery in progress, police said, though officials later clarified that the hostage situation “does not appear to be a robbery at this time.”

The motive is unknown, Alsup said.

Further details on the incident were not immediately available.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

FAA faces partial shutdown as authorization approaches expiration

YakobchukOlena/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The authority tasked with regulating the nation’s aviation industry is facing a partial shutdown as its authorization to do so expires next Saturday.

To avoid such a shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, Congress must pass either an extension of the old piece of legislation or pass an entirely new bill.

But how did we get here? What does it mean? Would air travel come to a halt? ABC News breaks it all down:

Your flights would still operate, but many FAA employees would be furloughed

If Congress fails to pass any kind of reauthorization by Sept. 30, thousands of nonessential FAA employees will face a temporary leave of absence and airport construction workers.

While the construction workers are furloughed, government-contracted projects at airports and FAA facilities intended to increase traffic capabilities will be delayed.

The government will also be unable to collect on airfare taxes, potentially surrendering hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in a matter of weeks.

Airlines will continue to fly safely and passengers are unlikely to see any tangible difference in their flying experience if Congress doesn’t pass a reauthorization before October.

Many FAA employees, like air traffic controllers and safety inspectors, would continue to work through the partial shutdown.

Nevertheless, representatives and those in the industry alike are calling the reauthorization a “must-pass” piece of legislation. In addition to furloughing thousands of Americans, it would significantly hinder the FAA’s modernization program called NextGen, a project the agency has already spent $7 billion on.

The last time the FAA operated without congressional reauthorization, The Washington Post reported the agency was losing an estimated $30 million a day.

A short-term extension is needed after lawmakers couldn’t agree on a long-term plan

The FAA currently operates under a 2016 extension of a 2012 three-year reauthorization, which expires Sept. 30.

The house is scheduled to vote on a six-month extension next week after senators and representatives could not agree on a long-term total reauthorization.

President Donald Trump declared privatizing the FAA’s air traffic control responsibilities a formal legislative priority back in June; an agenda for years pushed by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster.

Shuster and Trump claim their push to spin the country’s air navigation system into a nonprofit corporation is part of their broader plan to modernize infrastructure across the board, but they’ve struggled to get enough of Shuster’s colleagues on the hill onboard.

Democrats have formed a united front in opposition to the privatization plan, but it’s Republicans giving Shuster the biggest headache.

Members of Congress and the Senate from more rural areas of the United States believe such a corporation would favor the country’s largest airports and airlines, ignoring the needs of the general aviation community and smaller airports.

“This is a tough sell in states like my state of Mississippi, where small airports are very concerned about where this will leave them,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., at a hearing.

While Shuster wants to push a short-term path extending through the end of 2017, Democrats on the hill are demanding a slightly longer version.

“We will not support less than six months,” ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Committee Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said last week.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Several injured in possible acid attack near London shopping center

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — Several people were injured Saturday near the Stratford Center shopping center in Stratford, east London, after being sprayed with a “noxious substance,” police said.

London police responded to reports of a “group of males” spraying what could be a “noxious substance,” authorities said.

One male was arrested and officers remain on the scene, police said.

The incident is not being treated as terror-related, officials said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

What you need to know about the Catalan independence referendum

Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images(BARCELONA, Spain) — It is not often that a plebiscite is banned in a democracy, but that is exactly what happened in the case of the upcoming Catalan independence referendum in Spain, set to be held on Oct. 1.

The vote has not only been deemed unconstitutional, but also illegal by the Spanish government, which has responded strongly to the independence movement. Government officials have taken control of Catalan finances and rescinded its autonomy.

Police have raided dozens of Catalan regional governments and detained 14 senior politicians over their support for the organization of the referendum. Police have also raided political parties’ headquarters and seized material, including pamphlets and election materials. The government has threatened that anyone handling or supplying electoral material risks prosecution, and has instructed the police to stop the vote from going ahead in the region.

In response, thousands in the independence movement are now planning to stage long-term street protests, and thousands have demonstrated in Barcelona against the arrest of people associated with the independence vote, demanding their immediate release.

The vote is eight days away, and neither side looks like it is backing down.

Many are asking how this apparently anti-democratic activity could happen in democratic Spain. Here’s what you need to know:

What and where is Catalonia?

Catalonia, located in northeastern Spain, is a semi-autonomous region with its own local parliament. Catalans, as the locals call themselves, have been part of a distinct entity since the 11th century and have their own language and traditions.

Catalonia has been a part of Spain since the 15th century. Its language and culture has remained over the centuries despite the region’s closer integration into the Spanish nation state. The region was first given formal limited autonomy in the early 20th century. Catalan identity was brutally repressed under the fascist regime of Francisco Franco, who banned locals from speaking the regional language and giving children traditional Catalonian names. The pro-independence sentiment, however, remained strong in Catalonia.

After the death of Franco and the introduction of a democratic government, Catalonia’s unique identity and culture has been formalized and flourishes in modern democratic Spain. There are regional elections for parliament with an executive and local government, and Catalan is the official language by law. The region has become one of the most prosperous and important in the country, with the city of Barcelona — and its population of nearly 5 million people — at its heart.

According to the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, it is the richest region in Spain, accounting for nearly 25 percent of Spanish exports. Just 16 percent of Spain’s population lives in the region.

Why is there a referendum?

The political push for Catalan autonomy has existed since the 20th century and accelerated with the establishment of democracy in the 1970s, but a full-blown Catalan independence movement evolved after the fallout from the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

Local Catalan political parties began to actively agitate for independence on the back of a failing national economy and a sense that the region was paying more in taxes than it was getting back in benefits.

“Spain convinced Catalans to become independent. They created this situation,” said Marc Gafarot, a political analyst at the Barcelona Center for International Affairs. “Catalonia was simply asking for a reduction of participation in a Spanish tax system that transferred money from the richest regions to the poorest. It was clearly targeting and exploiting the Catalonian region.”

The pro-independence movement held an earlier symbolic vote in 2014 in which Catalonia voted for independence; 2.25 million people voted — a turnout of just 37 percent — with 81 percent of the voters saying “yes” to independence.

The upcoming referendum is different, having been organized by the Catalan government and ratified by its parliament, which is dominated by Catalan separatist parties, lending it legitimacy. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said of the move, “Separatists invented a new legal order.”

The question being put to Catalans is simple: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent country in the form of a republic?”

What has been the Spanish government’s response?

The Spanish government is not waiting for the result of the referendum to respond. The Spanish Constitutional Court has suspended the vote, though Catalonia’s pro-independence government said it will be maintained and is challenging the order.

The suspension was requested by Rajoy, who argued that the referendum is illegal under the country’s 1978 constitution. The Spanish public prosecutor’s office asked the Catalonia Police — including Mossos (Special Forces), Guardia Civil (Local Police) and Cuerpo Nacional de Policia (National Civil Police Forces) — to confiscate any voting material used to organize the “crime” of the illegal referendum, including ballot boxes, electoral propaganda flyers and printers.

“It’s not just about independence. Spain is making itself a fool with the international community,” Raul Romeva, Catalonia’s minister of foreign affairs, told ABC News, adding that there are only two possible paths for Spain to take: “Democracy or repression.”

This past week, La Guardia Civil confiscated 10 million paper ballots, and Spain has detained 14 Catalan officials, including Josep Maria Jové, the secretary general of economic affairs. Potential polling locations in the region were raided.

Gafarot predicted Spain’s actions could have an unintended consequence: “Because of all this buzz, the pro-Catalonia independence vote will probably be stronger than ever.”

What happens next?

The Catalan separatists have accused the Spanish government of being heavy-handed and mounting “a coup against democracy.” They are adamant that the vote will go ahead, even if it has to be as a clandestine plebiscite.

An anonymous militant organizer confirmed to ABC News that 6,000 ballot boxes have been stored in a secret location for the coming referendum, and ongoing street protests will be conducted as part of the campaign against what they see as interference by the Spanish government in their affairs.

“Spain now is showing his real face to the rest of the world,” said the organizer.

“Spain let us vote in 2014. This time they refuse because they know it’s happening,” he continued, adding, “I hope it’s the last battle.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘End in sight’ in campaign to retake Raqqa from ISIS, says top diplomat

DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — It began on the 73rd anniversary of D-Day — the U.S.-led Allied invasion of Normandy, France during World War II — and now, less than four months later in ISIS’s self-declared capital, “the end is now in sight,” according to a top U.S. diplomat.

The fight for Raqqa has been bloody and prolonged, but Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, said Friday that the terror group is down to its last three neighborhoods in the north-central part of the city.

“It is a matter of time until the operation in Raqqa is finished,” McGurk added.

There are still a host of ISIS fighters holed up in the city, but the U.S. has shot down speculation that they may be promised safe passage out of the city — as they were in a deal with Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. That deal was vehemently opposed by Iraq and the U.S., leading to a standoff where American forces picked ISIS fighters off as they tried to escape.

A State Department official told ABC News they are not aware of any such arrangement or discussions and, “I can’t predict every situation, but it is pretty hard to imagine such a scenario given previous comments by [Defense Secretary James] Mattis that we are not going to let them get out.”

Enormous challenges remain even after Raqqa falls, though — illustrated, McGurk said, by one statistic Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shared with the Global Coalition this morning. Tillerson chaired a summit Friday of the group and its top diplomats on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. At one water treatment facility outside the city, Tillerson told the assembled members, teams found 240 un-exploded ordinances left by ISIS — a “salt the earth tactic … when they know they’re going to lose,” McGurk said.

To address that, the State Department and its sister organization USAID have a small team of development experts in Syria — now on their third month there — who assist in “stabilization” efforts to restore basic necessities — de-mining, water treatment, rubble removal, aid logistics, restoring electricity and more.

Raqqa’s fall is crucial to disrupting the terror group’s network, especially their ability to plan and coordinate attacks abroad, according to McGurk. The city was where ISIS launched attacks on Istanbul, Paris and Brussels.

ISIS was planning “major, significant terrorist attacks, the type of Sept. 11-type events that they aspire to” from the city, McGurk said. That capability, in at least this one ISIS stronghold, is now gone.

After Raqqa, the coalition will turn its attention to Deir al Zour and smaller outposts in the Euphrates River Valley in eastern Syria. There, the Syrian Democratic Forces and their U.S. backers have faced a delicate dance with the Assad regime, its Iranian militia allies and its Russian backers as they also make a play to disrupt ISIS from the city. The bulk of ISIS’s foreign fighters and its leadership are believed to be holed up there.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Magic104.9’s Top Tracks







  1. “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” by Shawn Mendes
  2. “Believer” by Imagine Dragons
  3. “Attention” by Charlie Puth
  4. “Stay” by Zedd & Alessia Cara
  5. “Something Just Like This” by The Chain Smokers & Coldplay

Magic104.9’s Top Tracks







  1. “Believer” by Imagine Dragons
  2. “Stay” by Zedd & Alessia Cara
  3. “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” by Shawn Mendes
  4. “Something Just Like This” by The Chain Smokers & Coldplay
  5. “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran

Magic104.9’s Top Tracks







  1. “Believer” by Imagine Dragons
  2. “Something Just Like This” by The Chain Smokers & Coldplay
  3. “Stay” by Zedd & Alessia Cara
  4. “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” by Shawn Mendes
  5. “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran

Meet Quinn, Your Magic104.9 Pet of The Week!

Find Quinn at the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, 3551 Bataan Memorial West. Open Monday through Friday Noon – 6pm and Weekends Noon to 5pm. Quinn is a 2 Β½ year old high spirited foxhound mix. She is full of so much happiness and joy that you can’t help but smile big. She really likes to give hugs and will rest her head in your lap for scratches. She is ready to be the next member of your family. Stop by ASCMV to meet her today! read more…

Magic104.9’s Top Tracks







  1. “Believer” by Imagine Dragons
  2. “Something Just Like This” by The Chain Smokers & Coldplay
  3. “Stay” by Zedd & Alessia Cara
  4. “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran
  5. “It Ain’t Me” by Kygo & Selena Gomez

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