Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

World News

ISIS Reportedly Executes One Japanese Hostage

Saturday, January 24th, 2015 by

Posted in World News

zabelin/iStock/Thinkstock(TOKYO) — A purported ISIS video posted online on Saturday claims the terror group has beheaded one of two Japanese hostages and will execute the second unless an al Qaeda female prisoner is freed in Jordan.

Neither U.S. nor Japanese officials were able to immediately authenticate the video, which did not contain many of the high production techniques seen in earlier ISIS videos nor the typical branding for the terror group.

The video shows a still picture of Japanese television reporter Kenji Goto holding a photo of the beheaded body of Haruna Kuwana.

“You have seen the photo of my cellmate Haruna slaughtered in the land of the Islamic caliphate,” a voice that appears to be Goto narrates.

Clearly reading a message written for him, the voice says ISIS no longer is demanding a $200 million ransom but will free him if the female prisoner is released.

“They no longer want money, so you don’t need to worry about funding terrorists,” the voice says. “They are just demanding the release of their imprisoned sister, Sajida al-Rishawi. It is simple, You give them Sajida and I will be released.”

The message is an apparent reference to a woman who was sentenced to death in Jordan following a suicide bomb attack on a hotel in Amman in 2005 that killed at least 60 people attending a wedding.

The voice attributed to Goto on the video concludes, “These could be my last hours in this world and I may be a dead man speaking.”

The voice also pleads for Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to help him.

The voice also pleads for help from Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who called the alleged beheading “an outrageous and unforgivable act,” according to the Associated Press.

In a statement, the White House expressed its support of Japan.

“The United States strongly condemns ISIL’s actions and we call for the immediate release of all the remaining hostages,” read the statement.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Loyal Listeners Club

Cardiff, Wales’ Best Restaurant Is Located In a Prison

Saturday, January 24th, 2015 by

Posted in World News

fotokon/iStock/Thinkstock(CARDIFF, Wales) — A restaurant located inside of a prison has been voted the best place to eat in Wales’ capital, according to travelers who have dined there.

Opened just over two years ago, The Clink Cymru, which is operated by 30 category D prisoners, recently beat out 950 other establishments in Cardiff, Wales, when it assumed the number one position in TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index for the locality.

Designed to help prisoners develop skills that can be put to use once they reintegrate with society, the restaurant also seeks to highlight locally grown Wales produce.

Menus, which change seasonally, offer dishes from “pressed game terrine with ciabatta croute, fruit chutney and baby cress” to “pan-seared breast of chicken with sugar snap peas, mashed potato, purple sprouting broccoli and chicken jus” to “spiced poached pear with hot chocolate sauce and vanilla bean ice cream.”

It even features a private dining room and AV facilities for business presentations.

One TripAdvisor reviewer noted, “The Clink offers amazing value for money, exceptional service and food that few restaurants in Cardiff can compete with. The Clink is a must visit.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Four Questions for Roberta Jacobson, the Lead US Negotiator in Cuba

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in World News

ABC News(HAVANA) — History was made this week when for the first time in nearly 40 years American and Cuban diplomats sat face to face in Havana to talk about restoring their relationship – one that has been virtually non-existent since the U.S. trade embargo was established 1960.

In an interview with ABC’s Serena Marshall, Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, who led the talks for the U.S., said this first round of talks were all about getting to know what each side wanted.


The most glaring point of contention between Communist Cuba and Washington concerns human rights. Jacobson suggested it’s an issue on which the two sides may never totally agree.

“When we talk about profound differences on human rights I don’t know that I see that as an issue that gets fixed, certainly not in the near term,” Jacobson said. “We have no illusions about this government. We would certainly like to see a major improvement in human rights, but we don’t necessarily expect that will happen right away.”

Cuba like many foreign adversaries, has suggested the U.S. ought to examine its own human rights record before making demands on others. Most recently Cuban officials have cited the police shooting death of Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri, as an example.

“Yes they have posed criticisms of our system, but obviously we believe that our system allows for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and all sorts of things that are not allowed here in Cuba,” Jacobson said.


High on the list of Cuban demands is to be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

They also have said that before reopening a US embassy in Havana, the US needs to provide a way for the Cuban interest section in Washington, D.C., to make routine financial transactions. Right now they are unable to use credit or deal with US banks as a result of the embargo. Cuba has also called for an end to the so-called “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy – a product of the Clinton administration.

Cuba says the policy encourages its citizens to flee to the United States. It’s called “wet-foot, dry-foot,” because Cubans caught at sea while attempting to immigrate illegally are sent home, while Cubans caught on U.S. soil are given a chance to stay in the U.S.


The negotiations have faced criticism from within the U.S. Opponents to the Obama administration see the talks as a way of rewarding Cuba, despite bad behavior.

“This is not a gift, this is not some type of a concession,” Jacobson said. “This is how we advance our interests. This is how we hope to advance the interests of the Cuban people.”


So far the only agreement is that the two parties will meet again.

“Yesterday’s talks were as we expected, which was to get many issues out on the table, but really not to resolve any of them,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson said the U.S. extended an invitation for the Cubans to visit Washington, D.C., for the next round of talks, which she hopes will occur in the coming weeks. Secretary of State John Kerry said this week his goal is to visit Cuba soon and to open a U.S. embassy there if the talks go well.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Song of The Day

Homeless In Philippines Moved to Resort For Pope’s Visit

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in World News

fazon1/iStock/Thinkstock(MANILA, Philippines) — Members of parliament in the Philippines are demanding an explanation after government officials revealed that hundreds of homeless people were taken off the streets of Manila during Pope Francis’ recent visit to the country.

The country’s social welfare secretary admitted on Friday that 490 people were taken to a resort near Manila that featured air-conditioned log cabins during the pope’s visit, according to a report by The Guardian.

Those taken to the resort were later placed back on the streets after the pontiff’s departure, The Guardian reports.

Pope Francis drew a crowd of six million people on Sunday to mass along Manila Bay.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Outrage After Female Tennis Star Asked to ‘Twirl’ on Court at Australian Open

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in World News

MAL FAIRCLOUGH/AFP/Getty Images(MELBOURNE, Australia) — It’s a twirl that now has some heads spinning.

Just moments after seventh-ranked Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard crushed her opponent in 54 minutes to advance to the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday, Australian commentator, Ian Cohen, asked her to “twirl” to show off her hot-pink outfit.

The interviewer’s request has now sparked a flood of criticism and cries of sexism.

In a video of the incident, Bouchard can be seen on the tennis court following her easy defeat of Kiki Bertens in the second round of the competition.

Cohen then tells the 20-year-old: “Now yesterday, or last night, you tweeted that you loved Serena [Williams]’ outfit. … She was kind enough to give us a twirl. Can you give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit?”

Bouchard, who had been beaming at the beginning of the presenter’s remarks, appeared slightly taken aback by the request but she gamely complied.

“A twirl, a pirouette, here we go,” the presenter replied. The crowd cheered.

Bouchard performed a spin, covered her face, then said: “I mean I have to say, I honestly think Serena’s outfit is the best, even better than mine. I’m going to give her that.”

In a post-match interview, Bouchard called Cohen’s request “very unexpected.”

“I don’t know, an old guy asking you to twirl. It was funny,” Bouchard said, according to the CBC.

There was strong criticism of Cohen on Twitter, even sparking the hashtag #twirlgate, with some people asking whether male tennis stars could be asked to do twirls on the court.






Tennis legend Billie Jean King, a 12-time grand slam champion, tweeted, “The Australian Open interviewer asking the women to ‘twirl’ on court is out of line. This is truly sexist. If you ask the women you have to ask the guys to twirl as well. Let’s focus on competition and accomplishments of both genders and not our looks.'”


But some felt too much was being made of the incident.



On YouTube, one commenter wrote: “She could’ve easily said no if she felt uncomfortable.“

Bouchard seems to be taking “twirl gate” in stride however, saying, “I’m not offended. I’m fine with being asked to twirl if they ask the guys to flex.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nugget of Knowldege

First Round of US-Cuba Talks End

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in World News

iStock/Thinkstock(HAVANA) — The first round of high-level talks between the U.S. and Cuba ended on Friday in Havana.

“These talks were cordial and respectful. I believe that each delegation understood the importance of the task they are facing in trying to mend more than 50 years of diplomatic estrangement,” said Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson, who led the delegation.

While the talks appear to have gotten off to a good start, Jacobson said there are still major obstacles standing in the way of a “normal” diplomatic relationship with Cuba.

“It was just a first step. We know there will need to be many more, but this is the work of diplomacy. In order to build a better and more productive relationship between our two countries,” she said.

Some of the big sticking points include freedom of expression and human rights.

Meanwhile, earlier on Friday, Jacobson met with seven dissidents in Cuba. After speaking with them, the assistant secretary joined them for breakfast.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Our 3-Million-Year-Old Ancestors Were More Handy than We Thought

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in World News

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The evolutionary history of human-like hands that can grip and squeeze may go back as far as three million years, according to a new study by anthropologists that significantly pushes back the date when human ancestors acquired enough manual dexterity to manipulate tools.

It’s a significant finding because Australopithecus africanus, which lived between two and three million years ago in what is now South Africa, was previously not believed to have made tools.

The skeletal fossils of the early humanoid were viewed using a powerful X-ray that allowed researchers to scan the bones. Scientists were able to observe the trabeculae, an internal sponge-like structure in the bone that can provide clues as to how the bones were used when the Australopithecus africanus individual was alive.

What they found was a structure that is remarkably similar to the same one that allows modern humans to grip with the opposition of their thumb and fingers.

It’s not clear if the human ancestor used stone tools or utilized its possible gripping abilities in other ways, however researchers said the findings could support previous archaeological evidence for stone tools use during that time.

The study was published in the journal Science and was a collaboration that also included researchers at various universities in England, Germany and Austria.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pet of the Week

Miss Universe Canada Scores with Wacky Hockey Costume

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in World News

Johnny Louis/Getty Images(MIAMI) — Well this is a new one.

Behold Miss Universe Canada in all her hockey-themed “national costume” glory, proudly strutting her stuff at a preliminary show in Miami on Wednesday.

It’s no secret that Canadians love hockey, but contestant Chanel Beckenlehner took it to a whole new level, wearing hockey sticks for wings, a Stanley Cup crown and of course, a maple leaf corset. Her boots were even tied up with hockey laces, and to top it all off, a working scoreboard was attached to her back.

Needless to say, photos of the outlandish ensemble went viral.

“I am honestly blown away by the support!,” Beckenlehner, 26, wrote on her Facebook page. “I am a Top 5 Finalist for the National Costume.”

No word on if the hockey-tastic costume earned her a winning goal with the judges, but it’s safe to say she certainly got the Internet’s attention.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How Can Turkey Prevent Jihadists from Heading to Syria?

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in World News

iStock/Thinkstock(ISTANBUL) — Sealing Turkey’s border to prevent jihadists from traveling to Syria is impossible, according to the country’s prime minister.

Closing the 600 mile border, says Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, is not feasible, especially with the thousands of refugees who continue to cross from Syria into Turkey every day.

In an interview with the Times of London, the prime minister asked, “All those people who are escaping by walking, should we close the border to them? Is that ethically acceptable?”

Turkey has come under fire from the international community about the number of would-be fighters that have crossed the porous border in Syria to join the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Crusin In Cruces

Italian PM Promises Economic ‘Turbo-Changes’ at Meeting with German Chancellor

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in World News

ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images(ROME) — The young leader of Italy has promised Germany “turbo-changes” after Europe’s central bank pumped billions into Europe’s wilting economy.

On Friday, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Renzi’s Renaissance hometown of Florence, Italy, where he promised he would implement a series of reforms to reduce Italy’s staggering debt and kickstart its economy.

Germany has made it clear over recent years it wants Italy to clean up its economic act by loosening its labor laws, cutting red tape and clamping down on tax evasion. Though Italy and Germany share some of the same goals, the two countries differ over the austerity measure Germany has been championing.

Italy also wants Europe’s economic policy to be more about jobs and growth. This week, it welcomed the move by Europe’s bank to buy up huge amounts of government bonds to counteract deflation and the ongoing recession. In a move called quantitative easing, the bank bought the bonds with new money that it hopes banks will lend to businesses who will, in turn, create jobs — at least that’s the theory.

Germany’s Merkel is clearly not crazy about the idea. She fears it will make it too easy for countries like Italy to pay back their debt and therefore take their time on the structural changes that Germany wants at-risk countries such as Italy, Spain and Greece to make.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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