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MUSIC NEWS

Alice Cooper’s 2017 Christmas Pudding benefit concert to feature Edgar Winter, Ace Frehley, Slash & more

ABC/Randy HolmesThe 16th edition of Alice Cooper‘s star-studded annual Christmas Pudding fundraising concert takes place tomorrow, December 9, at the Celebrity Theatre in the shock rocker’s hometown of Phoenix.

Among the well-known musicians who will be joining Cooper at the event are Edgar Winter, ex-Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and Judas Priest‘s Rob Halford.

Other artists on the bill include former Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, Filter, comedian and musician Gary Mule Deer and Cooper touring band members Glen Sobel and Nita Strauss.

Proceeds from the holiday extravaganza benefit the Solid Rock Teen Center, a facility in Phoenix co-founded by Alice that provides free music lessons to local young people.  The event also will feature a performance by the Solid Rock Dancers and the winners of this year’s installment of Cooper’s annual Proof Is in the Pudding talent contest.

Tickets are still available for the show at the Celebrity Theatre box office and at CelebrityTheatre.com, or by calling 602-267-1600, extension 1.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Dead & Company concerts postponed because of John Mayer’s appendectomy rescheduled for February

Credit: Danny ClinchThe Grateful Dead spinoff group Dead & Company Grateful Dead spinoff group Dead & Company have now rescheduled the three concert dates they were forced to postpone this week due to singer/guitarist John Mayer‘s emergency appendectomy this past Tuesday.

The shows have now been set for February 24 in New Orleans, February 26 in Sunrise, Florida, and February 27 in Orlando, Florida. Tickets for the original dates will be honored at the new concerts, but if you need a refund, you can get one at the point of purchase.

Dead & Company’s shows originally were scheduled for December 5 in New Orleans, December 7 in Orlando, and December 8 in Sunrise.

Meanwhile, as Mayer recuperates from his operation, he seems to be enjoying his pain medication — maybe a little too much. On Wednesday, he tweeted, “I’m a warm, pilled-out froggy, whizzing my golf cart around the internet, doffing my wool cap to everyone I pass. beep beep hellllloo electric guitars let me get a look at you.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Alice Cooper to play King Herod in live TV production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” next year

Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage/NBCAlice Cooper will bring a little shock rock to a new TV production of the famous rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which will air live on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, on NBC. Cooper has been cast in the part of the flamboyant King Herod.

“Alice Cooper, whose theatricality is the stuff of legend, is the perfect rock star to play Herod in our live production,” says NBC executive Robert Greenblatt in a statement. “[Show creators] Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote a show-stopping musical number for Herod and we all look forward to the ‘King of Shock Rock’ taking on the King of Judea.”

Cooper’s actually the only case member who’s been announced so far.  He previously recorded King Herrod’s showcase tune, “King Herod’s Song,” for a cast album of the 1996 U.K. production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the request of Lloyd Webber and Rice.

Jesus Christ Superstar debuted as two-LP concept album in 1970 that featured Deep Purple‘s Ian Gillan as Jesus and ex-Manfred Mann singer Mike D’Abo as Herod. The musical version made its Broadway debut in 1971, while a film adaptation premiered in 1973. Many revivals of the musical have been staged over the years.

As previously reported, Cooper will launch a new North American tour on March 1 in Windsor, Canada. The trek currently is plotted out through a March 29 show in Indianapolis.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

Ahead of season 8’s “Walking Dead” mid-season finale, creator talks “good dude” Jeffrey Dean Morgan, aka Negan

AMC/Gene Page(NEW YORK) — While The Walking Dead is based on a successful comic series, creator Robert Kirkman keeps the show deliberately different than the books, to preserve the suspense.  But with the comics’ “All Out War” storyline currently unfolding on the small screen, fans are wondering what will become of Negan.

The mid-season finale airs on Sunday and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s bat-wielding baddie Negan has vowed to get even with Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes, whose militia rose up against Negan and his Saviors.

Morgan’s Negan has been a highlight for fans since he emerged during the cliffhanger ending of season 6 and started season 7 with a bang — literally — when it was revealed he killed Glenn and Abraham. 

“He’s great on set, and he’s just a genuinely good dude…You would expect him to be an aloof maniac, but he’s really not,” Kirkman jokes of Morgan. “His portrayal of Negan is just absolutely amazing — it’s better than I ever could have imagined.” 

For Morgan, Negan’s dialogue is double-edged sword: as fun as it is to deliver, he often has to learn two versions of many of his scenes: one fit for air, and the other for the uncensored Blu-rays.

“Especially if it’s a scene ripped straight from the comic book, and most of Negan’s stuff is…we take out all the F-bombs,” he explains. “I know I can says seven “sh**s,” you know…but you can’t say the F-bomb…And then we do a [Blu-ray]…it’s all there!” 

After the extended finale, which starts at 9 p.m., fans will be able to decompress with an episode of Talking Dead. “It’s a good therapy session,” jokes Kirkman, who also produces the after-show.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Stars of “The Crown” bicker over whether Selena Gomez should portray Meghan Markle

Charles Sykes/Bravo(NEW YORK) — Season two of the Netflix series The Crown — about the life of Queen Elizabeth II — debuts today.  But if the series goes on for years and years, eventually, they’ll have to get around to casting the parts of Prince Harry and is fiancee Meghan Markle.  And one of the show’s stars says one of today’s biggest music artists is the perfect person to embody the future princess.

Appearing on Bravo’s Watch What Happens LiveThe Crown stars Claire Foy, who plays Elizabeth, and Matt Smith, who plays her husband Prince Phillip, were asked by a viewer who they’d like to see play Harry and Meghan on the show.

“Who’s that singer?” Smith replied. “Ed Sheeran?” replied host Andy Cohen, assuming that Smith meant that Ed should play Harry.

“No, the one who goes out with Justin Timberlake…no, not Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber…young.”

“Oh, Selena Gomez!” said Cohen.

“Yes, Selena Gomez!” said Smith. “You love Selena Gomez,” teased Foy.  “She’s playing Meghan Markle,” laughed Smith.

“No, she’s not!” chided Foy.  “O.K., no,” Smith said sadly. “No. She’s not,” Foy replied firmly.

Of course, having Selena play Meghan doesn’t make much sense, considering Meghan is an actress who’s capable of playing herself.  Also, casting a Latina to play a biracial woman would probably raise a few eyebrows.

 

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sebastian Stan “excited” about the response to “I, Tonya”; his mustache in it, not so much

NEON(NEW YORK) — Opening in limited release this weekend is I, Tonya, a dark comedy that tracks the rise and fall of disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding.

Margot Robbie is earning raves for her performance as the champion athlete, whose promising career was famously cut short when her ex-husband, Jeff Gilloolly, and her bodyguard hatched a plot to try to eliminate her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, with a blow to her knee with a metal pipe.

The attacks took place weeks before the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, in Harding and Kerrigan both competed. Kerrigan took the silver while Harding placed eighth, tearfully blaming an untied shoelace for her poor showing.

Harding was implicated in but never convicted for the attack. However, she was fined and banned from pro skating for life after pleading guilty to hindering prosecution in the case.

The story “took the media by storm,” says Sebastian Stan, who plays Gillooly in I, Tonya. “And then right after that, you had O.J.!. From 1990 to 1995, you had, I think Waco, L.A., the riots in 1992, then you had the Menendez brothers — it was just hit after hit after hit of crazy stuff!”

Of I, Tonya, Stan raves, “Margot’s phenomenal,” adding Alison Janney, who plays Tonya’s cold, chain-smoking mom, “was inspiring every day she was on she set.”

Stan had one gripe: living with Gilloolly’s 90’s-era look: “[The] mustache was a tough one. Mustache andno sideburns. Don’t forget that, like, high, high like, side cut above the ear…like Supercuts line,” he laughs. “Try ordering a coffee with that — you’ll get a good response!”

Kidding aside, Stan is proud of the early reaction to the I, Tonya. “We’re just excited that people…want to see it. That’s what we want.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

NATIONAL NEWS

Winter storm bids farewell to the snow-covered Northeast

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — So long, snow.

After a winter storm dumped the white stuff on parts of the Gulf Coast and Southeast on Friday, the mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England were hit with heavy snow on Saturday. But as of Sunday morning, the storm is leaving the Northeast.

Final snow totals in northern Georgia approached nearly 1 foot, while more than 10 inches of snowfall was reported in western North Carolina.

Farther north, in the Washington, D.C. area, 2 inches of snow was reported at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, 2.6 inches was reported at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and 4 inches was reported at Washington Dulles International Airport. All of the aforementioned figures are all new daily snow records.

While the storm may have left the South and East Coast, as of Sunday morning, 40,000 customers were still without power from Georgia to New Jersey. This is an improvement, though, from the nearly 275,000 outages on Saturday afternoon.

The South was hit with the first measurable snowfall to the region. In fact, there’s more snow on the ground in parts of the South than Minnesota’s Twin Cities have seen all season. There’s only been 3.1 inches to date in the Twin Cities.

Now, back to the Northeast. The storm is pulling away from the Northeast on Sunday morning. Snow will continue to taper off from west to east through the morning hours with much calmer weather expected through Sunday.

The main concern Sunday will be patches of ice from melting and re-freezing of snow. Behind this storm, lake-effect snow will continue again Sunday across the Great Lakes region.

Upstate New York, from Buffalo to Watertown, may experience significant lake-effect snow, with up to 18 inches in the forecast. Travel delays in parts of New York State and Michigan are possible as a result.

Cold air is locked in place for much of the eastern U.S. Sunday morning. The most notable area of cold air is Florida, where wind chills in the central part of the state over the next few mornings will be in the 30s.

Looking farther north — very farther north — a disturbance will develop in southern Canada by late Sunday and cross the border into the U.S. Northern Plains by Monday. This classic disturbance, called an Alberta Clipper, will bring some light snow from the Northern Plains to the Northeast from Monday to Tuesday. With the exception of enhanced lake-effect snow, accumulations from Alberta Clippers tend to be fairly light.

Expect a significant blast of cold air right behind the Clipper. Wind chills spanning an area from the Midwest to the Northeast will be the coldest so far this season, with it feeling like the temperature is in the low teens in the I-95 corridor by Wednesday morning.

Over on the West Coast, the Santa Ana winds are expected to ramp up again Sunday morning and through the day on Sunday.

Gusts locally will exceed 50 mph through the hillsides and mountains. Relative humidity will be as low as 3 percent in some areas over the next several days — not an ideal condition for battling the blazes.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Five years after Sandy Hook shooting, plans for a permanent memorial take shape

Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEWTOWN, Conn.) — Five years after 20 children and six educators were killed in a mass shooting at an elementary school that shocked the nation, the community of Newtown, Connecticut, is close to designing a permanent memorial that will honor them.

The process of constructing a memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has been a long one. A commission was formed in 2013 to tackle the town’s unprecedented challenge. Since then, finding a site and a design in line with the wishes of the victims’ families and the town’s residents has proven to be a slow and delicate operation.

“We want to get this right,” Kyle Lyddy, the chairman of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission, told ABC News.

While some decisions have already been made, the concept of the memorial is yet to be determined. The public has been invited to submit their design proposals for the memorial until Dec. 15.

In the meantime, those who have spent the past five years working toward the goal of a memorial to the victims said the process is finally on track.

‘The whole town stood still’

In 2012, the day of Dec. 14 “started out as a picture-perfect day with blue skies,” said Bonnie Fredericks, 50, a local hair salon owner and lifelong resident of the village of Sandy Hook.

Fredericks told ABC News she was heading into work when she heard the sound of emergency vehicles and helicopters.

“You could feel that something horrific had happened,” Fredericks said. “People running down the street. People trying to get up to the school who couldn’t. A lot of hearsay as to what happened. But then more news of what was unfolding became clear. And then disbelief — somewhat like 9/11. You’re there when it’s unfolding, but never could you comprehend what’s unfolding.”

On that December day, Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother at the home they shared before heading to Sandy Hook Elementary School. He used an AR-15 to shoot and kill 20 first-graders and six educators. Lanza then turned the gun on himself.

“It felt like the whole town stood still,” said Lyddy, 30, a lifelong Newtown resident.

“You’d never think it would happen in Newtown,” he added. “It was shock.”

‘How can I help?’

Right after the shooting, Lyddy said, everyone was asking themselves, “‘What can I do?’ ‘How can I help?'”

For Lyddy, the answer was pouring himself into efforts for a memorial.

Temporary memorials that included teddy bears, balloons and signs from children immediately sprung up around the village of Sandy Hook after the shooting.

Then, in 2013, a dozen volunteers were appointed to the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission to determine if a permanent memorial should be created, and if so, what it should look like. The committee now consists of 10 people, including three people who lost a loved one in the shooting, Lyddy said.

“We did create guidelines based off of community feedback — most importantly, the 26 families’ feedback. What they thought should be present, what they thought should definitely not be present,” Lyddy said.

Lyddy also reached out to people who had been in his shoes before, people tasked with helping design memorials to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.

“They’ve been great assets to us,” he said.

Residents also pitched in to raise money for the permanent memorial, including Fredericks, who held a hair “cut-a-thon” fundraiser at her salon a few weeks after the shooting. She said her salon and the others who joined her raised $8,000 that day. The memorial will be paid for with a combination of private and public funds, Lyddy said.

Fredericks said that more than just raising money, the “cut-a-thon” was about helping people feel involved.

“I think it filled a void for so many people in my industry, with hair and beauty and making people feel better. It makes us feel better to help,” she said.

‘Honoring those lives lost’

Commissioners looked at several potential memorial sites over the years, but the location has now been confirmed. A Newtown resident donated 5 acres of land located about a quarter of a mile from the elementary school to the town for the memorial, Lyddy said.

But while the location has been decided, the concept for the memorial is still unknown. The commission invited members of the public to submit design proposals through Dec. 15.

“We didn’t want to limit the creativity,” Lyddy said. “We wanted a process in place that would fairly examine and evaluate the designs that came forward.”

Designers have been asked to avoid submissions with the numbers “12/14” or “26”, religious or political connotations, depictions of victims through images or sculptures, extensive use of metal or concepts with a playground.

The memorial’s goal is “honoring those lives lost,” Lyddy said.

“It’s not based on the events or the shooter. We never talk about that. It’s always based on the individual,” he added, saying that the commission hopes the designs “really depict the lives that were lost.”

“They were such individual unique lives. Some of them were educators. Some of them were students. That’s first and foremost — that we remember those lives,” Lyddy said.

College students and architects are among those who have already submitted designs, he said. The commission expects there to be a total of 100 to 200 designs to be evaluated.

‘No perfect answer’

But the process of creating a memorial has led to differences of opinion among Newtown residents.

Nick Heron, 23, who works at a liquor store in Sandy Hook, said he is in support of a memorial being built, but wishes it could have been built on the site of the school itself. A new building for Sandy Hook Elementary School was rebuilt on the same property.

He called the rebuilt school, which opened in 2016 and features state-of-the-art security systems, a “big waste of money for our town.” The school was funded by a state grant and cost $50 million.

“I thought that was something that should’ve been done a while ago,” Heron said of a permanent memorial. “I think it was something that’s long overdue.”

Fredericks said she is also in support of a permanent memorial.

“I believe that everything in our life that impacts us should never be forgotten,” she said. “I know, for the majority of people, this won’t be forgotten, but there will be generations to come that should know that these were special people and this is a tragedy that they went through.”

She conceded that a drawback of the memorial would be if it attracted visitors “for negative reasons.”

“People came to town right after it happened — you would see people from other areas and they’d have their kids and they’d be taking pictures next to all the memorial pieces,” she said. “That made me sad because it wasn’t like you were at Universal Studios. You tell someone to smile as you take a picture of something that’s really a tragedy.”

What’s most important to Bob Schmidt, a 35-year resident of Newtown, is that the commission has moved “slowly.”

He said he went to some of the memorial commission’s early meetings to see if the committee members “were going to go about it in a respectful, delicate way.”

“And I was pretty convinced that they were going to go slowly and try to listen to as many people that wanted to speak to them,” Schmidt told ABC News. “I think it’s necessary to have a memorial to show our respect and a place for people to go and pay their respects and grieve. I think it’s an important thing, but I still think we have to go slowly.”

He added that the memorial “may be hard” for some grieving families.

“I think there’s no perfect answer,” Schmidt said. “Because if we ignored it and didn’t have a memorial, that’d be offensive to the people who suffered the loss, to many of them. But I think we have to pursue this as slow as possible so that every voice can be heard, any objection can be heard.”

‘A beautiful place’

In January 2018, the commission and an advisory panel will begin evaluating the designs, a process Lyddy expects to take a month or two.

There’s no specific deadline for when the committee hopes the memorial will be built, but Lyddy said he expects it to be done in a year or a year and a half.

Lyddy stressed that the commission is not in a rush to complete it.

“We want to get this right,” he said, adding that such a process involves input from and open communication with the victims’ families.

Though the town is now five years removed from the tragedy, it is still fresh in the minds of many.

“You think about it and it hurts, because you know the hurt that so many other people still feel,” Fredericks said. “You can’t help but sense their pain or feel their pain.”

Newtown is a “beautiful place,” she added, “with genuine people who’ve loved and lost.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria death toll climbs to 64

Mario Tama/Getty Images(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) — Puerto Rico’s official death toll from Hurricane Maria — which slammed into the U.S. territory as a Category 4 storm in late September — has risen to 64, the island’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced Saturday.

The announcement came the same day that the Federal Emergency Management Agency said federal assistance in Puerto Rico has topped $1 billion.

The death toll increased after the government on Saturday attributed two additional deaths to the storm.

“These deaths that are certified today as indirect deaths related to Hurricane Maria are the result of investigations into cases that have been brought to our consideration,” DPS secretary Hector M. Pesquera said in a statement.

The official death toll remains heavily scrutinized by critics, who believe the figure is significantly higher.

The New York Times on Friday published a review it conducted of daily mortality data from Puerto Rico’s vital statistics bureau. It discovered that 1,052 more people than usual died on the island following Hurricane Maria’s landfall. Figures like this — in addition to reports that there was an increase in cremations and bodies at morgues — have many people questioning the official death toll.

One of the two deaths certified Saturday occurred in Orocovis, located in the interior Central Mountain Range, the DPS said.

“The person died the day of the hurricane, and the body did not pass through the Department of Forensic Sciences (NCF) because a doctor in the death certificate certified as natural his death,” according to the DPS statement. “The deceased had multiple health conditions and relied on an oxygen machine. In the early hours of the day of the hurricane, the power went out in the residence, and when the relatives went to see the person, they found him dead.”

The statement continued, “In a review of the case by the NCF and by the interview with the relatives, it was determined that the death is indirectly related to the hurricane.”

The other death was reported in Morovis, located in the island’s central region. The individual died the day the hurricane hit the island, according to the DPS. A doctor initially certified the death as natural on the death certificate, but the NCF said it later evaluated the documentation to authorize the cremation requested by the family members.

“The person had health problems, but suffered complications during the day of the hurricane,” reads the statement. “Due to the inclement weather conditions, the ambulance took a long time to reach the residence. This death is added as indirectly related to the hurricane.”

Also on Saturday, FEMA said federal assistance to Puerto Rico as a result of hurricanes Irma and Maria has topped $1 billion.

FEMA said more than a million Puerto Rican residents registered for FEMA assistance. FEMA also said it has provided funds to more than 366,000 families in Puerto Rico, including:

– More than $259 million in financial assistance for rental and repair, or to rebuild residences

– More than $251 million for grants to repair or replace damaged personal property or to pay for disaster-related necessary expenses and other serious needs

Other FEMA assistance provided also includes:

– More than $39 million of low-interest disaster loans provided to more than 880 survivors and 50 business owners through the U.S. Small Business Administration

– More than $58,000 approved for Disaster Unemployment Assistance to 12,000 residents

– More than 19,000 Blue Roofs installed

– More than $1 million in flood insurance claims

In addition, more than $470 million has been obligated in FEMA Public Assistance grants to provide emergency generators for critical facilities, and to reimburse municipalities for debris removal and other necessary government expenses related to “life-safety missions.”

Puerto Rico’s electrical grid remains problematic: Its electrical grid generation took a hit Friday into Saturday, dropping nearly 20 percent to just 49 percent, according to the Puerto Rico Power Energy Authority (PREPA). That figure later increased to 56.6 percent. PREPA said Friday that the electrical grid was generating 68 percent of its capabilities.

PREPA spokesman Carlos Monroig told ABC News Saturday night that the generation number is “dynamic and changeable.” Monroig said the generation fluctuated based on time, weather and the use of power by government, residential, commercial and industrial spaces.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

SPORTS NEWS

WWE wrestler suspended after arrest for allegedly battering wife

Gainesville Police Department(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) — A champion professional wrestler was arrested Saturday night in Gainesville, Florida, for allegedly falsely imprisoning and battering his newlywed wife, who is also a professional wrestler.

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) said in a statement Sunday that Rich Swann, 26, is suspended indefinitely following his arrest.

Swann was driving with his wife of nine months, Vannarah Riggs, after she had just been in a match when they got into an argument, the Gainesville Police Department stated in an arrest document.

“[Swann] was critiquing [his wife’s] performance and began getting angry with her,” police said in the document. “The [wife] got scared that the argument was going to escalate and got out of the car.”

Swann allegedly stopped his vehicle in the middle of traffic. He gave chase to his wife and yelled for her to “get back in the car,” police said in the arrest warrant.

As she tried to elude Swann, he chased her and, when he caught up to her, “grabbed [her] by her arm and then around the neck with his arm.”

“He placed her in a headlock and dragged her back to the vehicle,” the arrest statement said.

A witness allegedly observed this and saw Swann “shove her back in the car while she screamed for help,” the arrest document said.

Another witness, the complaint said, saw Swann “driving erratically” and a woman “jump out of the vehicle while it was moving and run away.”

“The car was not in park and continued to roll until it hit a telephone pole,” the complaint said.

Riggs told police she was afraid of Swann because he “has a temper sometimes,” the complaint said.

When confronted with the physical attack on his wife, Swann denied that he touched her.

The complaint states that Swann, after being read his Miranda rights, told officers he did not grab his wife and put her in the car. He “stated that she got in the car on her own and he never physically touched her.”

Swann told police “he was just trying to get home and she had the phone with the GPS on it so he needed her to come with him,” the complaint states.

Swann was booked for simple battery — a misdemeanor — and a felony charge of false imprisonment, according to the criminal complaint.

An Alachua County jail representative told ABC News that Swann made an appearance before a judge and is set to be released on his own recognizance on Sunday.

“WWE has zero tolerance for matters involving domestic violence, and per our policy, Rich Swann has been suspended indefinitely following his arrest,” WWE said in a statement.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup — 12/9/17

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from Saturday’s games:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
L.A. Clippers 113, Washington 112
Miami 101, Brooklyn 89
L.A. Lakers 110, Charlotte 99
Atlanta 117, Orlando 110
Cleveland 105, Philadelphia 98
Chicago 104, N.Y. Knicks 102
Milwaukee 117, Utah 100
San Antonio 104, Phoenix 101
OT Oklahoma City 102, Memphis 101
Houston 124, Portland 117

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
St. Louis 6, Detroit 1
Edmonton 6, Montreal 2
Colorado 7, Florida 3
OT Tampa Bay 4, Winnipeg 3
Columbus 1, Arizona 0
Boston 3, N.Y. Islanders 1
Toronto 4, Pittsburgh 3
N.Y. Rangers 5, New Jersey 2
Vegas 5, Dallas 3
San Jose 5, Ottawa 0
Calgary 4, Vancouver 2
OT L.A. Kings 3, Carolina 2

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Baker Mayfield, quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners, has won the Heisman Trophy.

Mayfield, 22, received 732 first-place votes and 2,398 points. He picked up the sixth Heisman for Oklahoma.

Stanford running back Bryce Love came in second with 1,300 points and last year’s Heisman winner, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, was third and collected 793.

Mayfield next will lead the Sooners in a Rose Bowl matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs on New Year’s Day.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WORLD NEWS

Iraq declares victory over ISIS

iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has declared victory against ISIS after three years of war.

In an announcement in Baghdad on Saturday, the prime minister said Iraqi forces were in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border.

“Our enemy wanted to kill our civilization, but we have won through our unity and our determination,” Abadi said according to the BBC. “We have triumphed in little time.”

In January 2014, Iraq lost control of Fallujah and Ramadi to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In June, the liberation of Mosul marked a turning point in Iraq’s war against ISIS.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert released a statement after the announcement, offering “congratulations to the Iraqi people and to the brave Iraqi Security Forces, many of whom lost their lives heroically fighting ISIS.”

Nauert added that the prime minister’s announcement “does not mean the fight against terrorism, and even against ISIS, in Iraq is over.”

“The United States, along with the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, will continue to partner with the Iraqi Security Forces, advising, training, and equipping them,” she said in the statement. “Together, we must be vigilant in countering all extremist ideologies to prevent the return of ISIS or the emergence of threats by other terrorist groups.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump administration has yet to fill many US ambassador posts in Europe

Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived at the Vienna airport this week, he was greeted on the tarmac by three deputy chiefs of mission from the U.S. embassies in Austria.

Of the three U.S. missions in Austria – the U.S. embassy to Austria, the embassy for Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the United Nations embassy – there isn’t a single ambassador leading the foreign offices 10 months into Tillerson’s term.

The State Department has also not yet put forth a name to the White House for nomination to eventually serve as ambassador to the European Union, a major international organization that represents 28 European countries and the largest single market in the world with 200 million consumers.

A White House official said they are still in the process of selecting an EU ambassador and it should be announced soon.

There are 20 ambassadorship postings — both political appointee and career — still open across Europe.

Tillerson’s tensions with the White House have only exacerbated the slow pace of the White House’s nominating and the Senate’s confirming ambassadors, according to a State Department official and a White House Official.

“I think it’s a shame,” former U.S. Ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner told ABC News about the comparatively small number of ambassadors in Europe. “Some of these posts are quite important, particularly now.”

A State Department spokesperson referred questions about political-appointee ambassador vacancies to the White House Office of Personnel, which submits its selections to the State Department.

“We have worked closely with the State Department to get ambassadorship positions filled and have had great success in getting some of the most qualified and credible individuals in place to serve as representatives for our country,” White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said.

Nomination process slowed to a crawl

Before taking office, President Donald Trump told all politically-appointed ambassadors that they had to vacate the posts by Inauguration Day on Jan. 20 He made clear there would be “no exemptions,” according to The New York Times.

This left a vacuum at embassies that has yet to be filled, as a third of ambassadors are political appointees.

The process for nominating and confirming ambassadors is an arduous one that takes three months at best. It starts with the White House Office of Personnel submitting its list of nominees to the State Department, which sends back its approvals to the White House to then nominate the ambassadors to the Senate for confirmation.

Nominees must go through a rigorous, FBI vetting process after they’ve been approved by the White House. They must also go to ambassador school for training.

For career ambassadors, the State Department offers selected names to the White House for approval, which are then put to the Senate for confirmation.

But State Department sources say the process has slowed to a crawl.

One White House official complained that Tillerson has been reluctant to approve ambassador recommendations from the White House because they are more ideologically aligned with Trump than the secretary of state’s “establishment” positions.

But a State Department official countered that the agency has been stifled by severe political filtering of potential career appointees.

The official said the White House is shutting out nominees seen as too politically aligned with the Obama administration or too deeply involved in policy decisions that Trump has vowed to repeal, like the Iran nuclear deal.

‘Working through the process’

All of this has had a big impact on U.S. diplomacy, sources tell ABC News.

“The ambassador gets access that’s hard to replicate. For sensitive negotiations, there’s no alternative to having someone on the ground to have those conversations,” said Gardner, the former envoy to the EU who, before Trump took office, was working on sensitive issues like privacy shields and trade.

At Tillerson’s first stop in Brussels, he gave a pep talk to U.S. diplomats based in Belgium working in the NATO, European Union and Belgian missions.

At the residence for the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, where no ambassador is currently living, Tillerson noted the elephant in the room.

“We’re still awaiting a lot of nominees to clear the processes and be confirmed,” Tillerson said. “I get a little criticism for that from time to time.”

He added, “The State Department is not missing a beat because we’re still working through the process.”

Tillerson was introduced by NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the only political appointee carrying out her term from the three embassies in Belgium.

After Brussels, he stopped at a U.S. Air Force base in Germany to be briefed for his upcoming trip to Africa in 2018. But again, he was not greeted by an ambassador.

In Germany, there is a nominee for ambassador, Richard Grenell, who is awaiting Senate confirmation.

U.S. Ambassador to France Jamie McCourt, a businesswoman from California, was confirmed by the Senate in November along with four other ambassadors to European countries including Spain, Croatia, Switzerland and Denmark.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Woody Johnson was confirmed in August.

In addition, Wess Mitchell was recently confirmed as the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. He’s based in Washington, D.C.

A sharp contrast

The empty ambassador posts in Europe contrast sharply with the status of similar positions in other parts of the world.

Trump was quick to name his ambassadors to Israel and China, two countries he made a priority on the campaign trail. He said he could solve Middle East peace and fix China’s currency manipulation.

Traditionally, the European Union has been a close ally of the U.S.

But Trump in July tweeted his support for the U.K. breaking away from the EU.

“Working on major Trade Deal with the United Kingdom. Could be very big & exciting. JOBS! The E.U. is very protectionist with the U.S. STOP!” Trump tweeted.

Brexiteer and anti-EU politician Nigel Farage has been a friend and surrogate for Trump with a similar populist message.

A White House official said the timing of ambassador appointments has nothing to do with priority, but more to do with the length of the background check process and the acceptance of the nominee by the host country.

And, one senior EU diplomat said vacancies in U.S. embassies are the not the most important concerns in dealing with the new administration.

“It doesn’t matter who the ambassadors are, it’s the policy,” the diplomat said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Elaborate sand sculptures depict the birth of Jesus

Torsten Laursen/Getty Images(MADRID) — The world’s best sand sculptors come out each December to help build a giant nativity scene on the Las Canteras Beach in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.

The tradition was started by Canarian artist Etual Ojeda in the early 1980s, when he began creating sand sculpture works centered around the nativity scene, featuring the traditional imagery of the Virgin Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.

Ojeda continued for a number of years, adding a new element to the Christmas scene each year, with other sculptors joining in.

Today, the sand sculpture nativity scene has grown into the largest open-air sand sculpture in the world.

Built by artisans from nine different countries, the sculpture uses over 2000 tons of sand, according to the Gran Canaria Tourist Board. It was visited by over 200,000 people in the last year alone.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Win $25 at Pastaggio’s

The 101 number one song of the day was never intended to be taken seriously, something slapped together in 10 minutes as a B side for a song no one will remember. People loved the wrong song but love wasn’t the subject – instead, it was physical conflict  read more…

Be Merry!

Kelsey, an Alabama college student, asked for 1,000 Twitter shares for her tree costume and said if she got them, she’d wear it every day through the rest of the semester. That was December 2…she got 22,000 shares. Be careful what you ask for!

Win $25 at Pastaggio’s

The artist who created today’s 101 number one song of the day was going through two very rough years of self-induced problems. Although those two years ended with a chartbuster, it was his career that was about to go bust. read more…

$25.00 GIFT FOR PASTAGGIO’S

The 101 number one song of the day was designed to be so inferior that disc jockeys would immediately recognize it as the “B” side it was intended to be. It did not turn out that way.  read more…

Prince needs a palace!

Prince is a Plott Hound mix who is about 3 years old and as you can see, has a winning smile! Adopt him today for $75 at the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley.

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