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MUSIC NEWS

Hodgson in America: Former Supertramp singer touring the US and Canada in October

Credit: Rob ShanahanAfter wrapping up a European solo tour on Monday in Vigo, Spain, former Supertramp frontman Roger Hodgson is now set to launch a series of fall North American concerts. The trek will get underway on October 6 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and is plotted out through an October 29 show in Snoqualmie, Washington.

While most of the dates will feature Hodgson playing with his backing band, he also will be accompanied by an orchestra at an October 13-14 engagement in Rama, Canada, and a four-night October 18-21 stand in Milwaukee. A choir also will take part in the Rama shows.

Following the North American shows, Hodgson will head to Germany for a run of concerts in December.

Here are all of Roger and his band’s upcoming shows in the U.S. and Canada:

10/6 — Bethlehem, PA, Sands Casino Resort
10/7 — Salamanca, NY, Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino
10/8 — Verona, NY, Turning Stone Resort Casino
10/13 — Rama, ON, Canada, Casino Rama Resort*
10/14 — Rama, ON, Canada, Casino Rama Resort*
10/16 — Moncton, NB, Canada, Casino New Brunswick
10/18 — Milwaukee, WI, Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Hotel and Casino**
10/19 — Milwaukee, WI, Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Hotel and Casino**
10/20 — Milwaukee, WI, Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Hotel and Casino**
10/21 — Milwaukee, WI, Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Hotel and Casino**
10/23 — St. Charles, IL, Arcada Theatre
10/24 — St. Charles, IL, Arcada Theatre
10/25 — St. Louis, MO, River City Casino & Hotel
10/27 — Vancouver, BC, Canada, Hard Rock Casino
10/28 — Vancouver, BC, Canada, Hard Rock Casino
10/29 — Snoqualmie, WA, Snoqualmie Casino

* = with orchestra and choir
** = with orchestra.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Van Morrison releases lead single from upcoming studio album, debuts new live video for song

Exile/CarolineIn advance of the September 22 arrival of Van Morrison‘s latest album, Roll with the Punches, the legendary singer/songwriter has released the record’s first single, “Transformation.” The track can be purchased now as a digital download at iTunes and also is available via major streaming services.

The soulful song features the talents of such respected U.K. musicians as Jeff Beck, jazz pianist Jason Rebello and rock-blues singer — and frequent Morrison collaborator — Chris Farlowe.

An official video for “Transformation,” featuring Morrison and his backing group performing the tune live at a concert at Porchester Hall in London, has premiered at Van’s VEVO channel.

“Transformation” is one of several new original tunes that appear on Roll with the Punches, which also features various cover versions of songs by blues, R&B and early rock ‘n’ roll artists who’ve influenced Morrison.  They include Bo Diddley, Sam Cooke, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mose Allison and Little Walter.

In support of the album, Morrison has lined up a variety of U.S. concerts, starting with a previously announced appearance at Willie Nelson‘s Outlaw Music Festival Tour stop in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on September 10.

Here are all of Van’s confirmed stateside shows:

9/10 — Hershey, PA, Outlaw Music Festival Tour – Hersheypark Stadium
9/14 — Nashville, TN, Ascend Amphitheater
10/13 — Palm Springs, CA, The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa
10/14 — Palm Springs, CA, The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa
10/20 — Oakland, CA, Fox Theater
10/21 — Oakland, CA, Fox Theater
1/31/18 — Las Vegas, NV, The Colosseum Caesars Palace
2/2 — Las Vegas, NV, The Colosseum Caesars Palace
2/3 — Las Vegas, NV, The Colosseum Caesars Palace
2/7 — Miami, FL, James L. Knight Center
2/8 — Miami, FL, James L. Knight Center

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Lucky cruise passengers will watch Bonnie Tyler sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” during the total eclipse

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesIn one of the most brilliant marketing moves so far this year, the one and only Bonnie Tyler will entertain passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Total Eclipse Cruise by singing her classic #1 hit, “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” during Monday’s total eclipse of the sun.

The cruise on the Oasis of the Seas, which departs from Orlando, FL for the Caribbean on August 20, will be positioned to allow for optimum views of the eclipse, the first total eclipse of the sun to cross the U.S. since 1918. 

“It’s going to be so exciting,” Bonnie tells TIME magazine.  She’ll perform the song backed by the band DNCE, best known for their hit “Cake by the Ocean.”  Asked if she might be thrown off her game by the eclipse, Tyler tells TIME, “I go with the flow, darling. I’m not worried about things like that.”

However, Bonnie won’t be able to time the song to begin and end with the eclipse.  As she explains, “The eclipse of the sun lasts two minutes and 40 minutes, I’m told. Unlike my song.” 

The album version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is seven minutes long, while the single version is 4 minutes 30 seconds.

Total Eclipse of the Heart,” written by Jim Steinman of Meat Loaf fame, has sold six million copies and was nominated for multiple Grammys.  It always posts huge sales and streaming gains around eclipses.  According to TIME, YouTube views for the video have already started to spike: as of Wednesday afternoon, it has 300 million views and counting.

After her performance, Bonnie will leave the ship to continue touring behind her most recent album, Rocks and Honey, but the cruise will continue on to the Caribbean.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

HBO Twitter account apparently hacked

HBO – 2017(LOS ANGELES) — More hacking trouble for HBO.

The cable network’s Twitter accounts apparently were hacked Wednesday night.

Messages appearing on the twitter feats of several HBO accounts, including those for shows like The Leftovers, were posted reading, “Hi, OurMine are here, we are just testing your security, HBO team please contact us to upgrade the security – ourmine .org -> Contact”

Tweets also were sent through HBO’s main account according to The Hollywood Reporter, including one reading, “let’s make #HBOHacked trending!” but those posts were quickly removed.

“We are investigating,” a HBO spokesperson told the magazine.

HBO has been dealing with an apparently extensive hacking of his data and emails.  Hackers, who have demanded ransom from the network, have release executive emails, marketing information and unaired shows online.

It’s not clear if the Twitter hack is related.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Report: Deadpool 2 resumes production after stuntwoman’s death

20th Century FoxProduction has started again on Deadpool 2, two days after a stuntwoman was killed on set.

A representative of the local actors’ union in British Columbia, where the movie is being shot, told The Hollywood Reporter that the union had been told that production had resumed Wednesday.

The stuntwoman, Joi “SJ” Harris, died when she apparently lost control of her motorcycle and crashed through a plate glass window on Monday.
Harris’ motorcycle racing team posted a statement to Facebook on Tuesday writing, “”We are deeply saddened and heartbroken by the loss of Joi “SJ” Harris,” calling her “an extraordinary woman with a passion for riding and motorsports,” with a “beautiful spirit and bubbly personality” who “will be remembered for her ground breaking career as the first African American female road racer.”

On Monday a spokesman for 20th Century Fox, Deadpool 2‘s distributor, released the following statement to ABC News: “We are deeply saddened by the accident that occurred on the set of Deadpool 2 this morning. Our hearts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of our crew member during this difficult time.”

Star and producer Ryan Reynolds himself also tweeted a statement, saying in part he and others were “heartbroken, shocked and devastated…but recognize nothing can come close to the grief and inexplicable pain her family and loves ones must feel in this moment.  My heart pours out to them – along with each and every person she touched in this world.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tom Cruise’s broken ankle shuts down “M:I 6” filming for now

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — The production of Mission: Impossible 6 has been shut down while star Tom Cruise recovers from a broken ankle, a spokesperson for Paramount Pictures told ABC News Wednesday.

According to a statement from the studio, Cruise broke his ankle while performing a stunt for the film.

The movie remains on schedule to open on July 27, 2018, the studio’s statement said.

“Tom wants to thank you all for your concern and support and can’t wait to share the film with everyone next summer,” the statement concluded.

Over the weekend, ABC News obtained video footage from the set of the film that showed Cruise leaping from a platform and landing short of the building for which he seemed to be aiming. He caught himself with his hands, and then limped away. At the time, neither Cruise’s publicist nor a representative for Paramount would confirm that the actor was injured.

In 2013, the action star, 55, told interviewer Graham Norton that he’s trained for 30 years to be able to do his own stunts.

“It allows us to put cameras in places that you’re not normally able to do,” he explained. “When I started producing Mission: Impossible, I started developing different action around what I could physically train to do.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

NATIONAL NEWS

Candlelight vigil marches through Charlottesville

ABCNews.com(CHARLOTTESVILLE, N.C.) — Hundreds of people flooded the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia on Wednesday night in a peaceful, candlelight vigil for the victims of Saturday’s violence surrounding a white nationalist rally.


Heyer, 32, was killed on Saturday afternoon when a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters who had come to Charlottesville to rally against the “Unite the Right” group. Nineteen others were injured in the car-ramming. Two police officers also died when their helicopter crashed while observing the violence on the ground.

Police arrested 20-year-old James Alex Fields and charged him with second-degree murder for the death of Heyer.

A memorial service was held Wednesday for Heyer, who worked as a paralegal in Charlottesville. Over a thousand attendees packed the Paramount Theater in town, including Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Gov. Terry McAuliffe.


There was also a rally held in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. The march, dubbed “Philly is Charlottesville” by organizers according to ABC6 in Philadelphia, marched down Broad Street and into Center City. About 2,000 people attended the rally, according to ABC affiliate WPVI.

“It’s shameful that our president hasn’t denounced what happened, 100 percent,” participant Kate Sunbeen told WPVI. “So we are here to say, we don’t support that.”

 Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

No Powerball winner, jackpot now grows to $510 million

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The numbers for the $432.5 million Powerball jackpot were drawn Wednesday night — but there was no winning ticket.

The estimated jackpot has now jumped to $510 million. The numbers will be drawn Saturday night.

The numbers drawn were 9, 15, 43, 60, 64. The Powerball is 4.


The odds of winning are only one in 292.2 million.

Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Border Patrol ranks have declined over the past year, despite Trump’s hiring push

Phototreat/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The number of U.S. Border Patrol agents has declined over the past year, despite President Donald Trump’s emphasis on increasing the ranks of the agency to carry out his border security agenda.

There are currently 19,407 agents, which is 335 fewer agents than 10 months ago, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.

However, CBP, which oversees Border Patrol hiring, said it expects that it will hire more agents before the end of the fiscal year is over. And the agency expects it will hire more total agents this year compared to last year.

The numbers “don’t tell the whole story,” said CBP Office of Human Resources Management Assistant Commissioner Linda Jacksta.

“We’re starting to see some momentum. We’re starting to see some traction. We’ve implemented a number of improvements over the past two years. Those are starting to mature and take root,” she told ABC News.

She acknowledged those implementations “take time,” but said that for the first time in the last two years, the agency was starting to see “real gains.”

In January, Trump signed an executive order directing CBP to immediately begin the process of hiring 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents. The order also called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hire 10,000 federal agents and officers.

A recent Department of Homeland Security inspector general report found that both agencies are facing “significant challenges” in identifying, recruiting and hiring the number of law enforcement officers mandated in the executive orders.

The report also found that neither CBP nor ICE could provide “complete data to support the operational need or deployment strategies” for the additional 15,000 agents and officers they were directed to hire.

“We know that the president wants us to hire 5,000 agents, so we look forward to seeing how Congress enacts the budget for ’18 and that will tell us what we’re funded to hire, recognizing that we want to meet or exceed those goals to the greatest extent that we can,” said Jacksta.

Another inspector general report, released in August, found that CBP administered polygraph tests to applicants after they had already given information “disqualifying” them from being hired.

The testing cost CBP about $5.1 million on more than 2,300 polygraphs, between 2013 and 2016, for applicants with “significant pre-test admissions of wrongdoing,” including illegal drug use, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and in once case an applicant who, during the pre-test interview, admitted to participating in the gang rape of an intoxicated and unconscious woman.

This “slows the process for qualified applicants; wastes polygraph resources on unsuitable applicants; and will make it more difficult for CBP to achieve its hiring goals,” read the report.

CBP agreed with the report’s findings and said it was taking steps to “aggressively” fix the testing issues.

Even before the executive order was issued, the agency was authorized by Congress to employ 21,370 agents, a number it hasn’t reached since 2013, according to the agency’s watchdog.

Trump’s budget request for next year includes the hiring of 500 agents.

“We’re hopeful that Congress will approve the president’s budget,” Jacksta said.

She said the agency is looking ahead to fiscal year 2018, saying that 2017 was a “ramp-up year” in order to implement the capability to hire the agents that Trump has requested. “We’re well positioned,” to hire the 500 agents next year, she said.

Jacksta said that she’s “optimistic” for future hiring because of certain human resource metrics.

For example, CBP said that the attrition rate has dropped by about a percentage point since 2015, as well as a reduction in the time it takes to hire an agent.

“This applicant pool, we’re competing with a lot of other state, local, federal law enforcement organizations, we need to maintain our competitive edge and have an efficient hiring process so we don’t have people dropping out and taking other jobs,” she said.

Jacksta said that the department has “shored up its recruiting efforts,” citing a 106 percent increase in applicants for Border Patrol over the past two quarters, as well as a 54 percent increase in the number of veterans applying.

She also said that the “pass rate” for Border Patrol applicants has more than doubled in the past two years.

Today, the department has to go through around 100 people to hire one agent, but two years ago, CBP needed 270 applicants to hire one person, according to the department. Jacksta attributed that to the agencies’ increased “transparency” about the requirements to complete the hiring process.

However, according to the inspector general, Border Patrol would need around 750,000 applicants to meet the president’s goals.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

SPORTS NEWS

Scoreboard roundup — 8/16/17

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

INTERLEAGUE
L.A. Angels    3  Washington      2
N-Y Yankees    5  N-Y Mets        3
Boston         5  St. Louis       4
Houston        9  Arizona         5
L.A. Dodgers   5  Chi White Sox   4

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Kansas City   7  Oakland     6
Seattle       7  Baltimore   6
Toronto       3  Tampa Bay   2
Texas        12  Detroit     6
  Cleveland  at  Minnesota   8:10 p.m., postponed

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Miami       8  San Francisco   1
Milwaukee   7  Pittsburgh      6
San Diego   3  Philadelphia    0
Chi Cubs    7  Cincinnati      6
Colorado   17  Atlanta         2

WOMEN’S NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
L.A. Sparks   95  Washington   62
Seattle       62  Minnesota    61

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saints fire two team doctors after misdiagnosis

Getty Images(METAIRIE, La.) – The New Orleans Saints have fired  team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri after they misdiagnosed an injury to cornerback Delvin Breaux.

The pair had originally diagnosed Breaux’s fibula injury as a bruise, but it was later discovered that he had fractured the bone.

Breaux has a history of injuries and while the team believed he could have played through some of them, the team did not release him after learning of this misdiagnosis, according to the New
Orleans Advocate.

Jones and Suri have worked with the team for a number of years and have also done work for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Detroit Tigers’ Ian Kinsler rips umpire: ‘He needs to stop ruining baseball games’

33ft/iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) — Major League Baseball umpire Angel Hernandez is no stranger to controversy, and he was involved once again on Tuesday when Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler unleashed harsh criticisms of Hernandez to a local newspaper.

Kinsler told the Detroit News that Hernandez “needs to re-evaluate his career choice,” claiming that the ump is “messing with baseball games.”

Hernandez has been an umpire in the major leagues for 24 seasons. Hernandez has been involved in a number of controversial calls, and in a 2010 ESPN survey, 22 percent of players asked called him the worst umpire in the major leagues.

“I’m surprised at how bad an umpire he is,” Kinsler told the News. “I don’t know how, for as many years he’s been in the league, that he can be that bad.”

Hernandez ejected Kinsler from the Tigers’ game on Monday after the infielder tossed his bat following a strikeout. Kinsler disagreed with Hernandez’ ball and strike calls.

Asked if he had a personal problem with Hernandez, Kinsler told the News “I’m not mad at him. He just needs to go away.”

When told of Kinsler’s comments, Hernandez reportedly said “I’m not at liberty to discuss tit-for-tat what’s going on. As a matter of fact, I don’t even caer what he said.”

Hernandez, born in Cuba, filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball earlier this year alleging racial discrimination and a vendetta against him by MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre has prevented him from career advancement. That suit is pending.

Hernandez also served as an umpire for Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in Miami last month.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

WORLD NEWS

Truck hits pedestrians on busy Barcelona street

iStock/Thinkstock(BARCELONA, Spain) — A truck hit pedestrians on Catalunya Square in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district this afternoon.

Spanish authorities said there were injuries but no deaths have been confirmed.

Las Ramblas is a popular tourist area in Spain’s second-largest city.

The Barcelona transit system posted a message on its official Twitter account that numerous subway stations are closed and it urged people near the area to remain in place until further instructions from police.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘Hora Cero’: How a young mother copes with Venezuela’s crisis

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) — “Upheaval” describes everyday life in Venezuela.

The South American country has been mired in an economic, political and humanitarian crisis that has spilled into the streets, with almost daily protests affecting the lives of 30 million people who either participate in them or are forced to navigate through roadblocks and debris.

In cities and towns across the country, people have come out by the thousands since early April to protest a government many no longer recognize as legitimate.

Since then, the streets of the capital, Caracas, have become the backdrop for a deadly battle of wills between the government of President Nicolas Maduro and a coalition of opposition groups intent on ousting him.

Maduro has called the protests a violent attempt to overthrow his government. But behind the protests are a large number of Venezuelans who feel they’ve reached a breaking point. The shortage of basic goods, skyrocketing inflation and what they call the repression by government forces have all contributed to the opposition’s desire to see Maduro and his government replaced.

Also at stake is control of the country’s vast oil reserves and an economy that, once strong, has descended into chaos as inflation soars to triple digits and the value of the currency plummets, according to analyses by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

At least 124 people have been killed, and thousands more have been injured, according to an August report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Government security forces and pro-government armed groups, called colectivos, are behind at least 73 of those deaths, according to the report, which adds, “It is unclear who the perpetrators in the remaining deaths may be.”

For Claudia Vivas, a 29-year-old mother living in Caracas, the violence of the protests and the government’s response to them have added to an already hard life.

“They’re massacring us,” Vivas told ABC News in Spanish. “I’ve breathed in tear gas like you don’t have any idea. I’ve never been hit, thank God. Neither me nor my husband has been hit, but we’ve breathed in that gas.”

“I’ve seen rubber bullets fly right by me and hit people next to me,” she added.

A country in crisis

Witnesses to the clashes as well as international human rights groups and regional organizations monitoring the situation have said that Venezuelan security forces have been firing tear gas canisters and buckshot at short range and using marbles, nuts and bolts as ammunition against anti-government demonstrators. In addition to the U.N. findings last month, reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have told of these repression techniques, which the groups say are aimed at injuring protesters.

Alfredo Romero is the director of Foro Penal Venezolano, a Venezuelan legal aid group that documents human rights abuses and represents people who have been detained at demonstrations. He told ABC News the detentions have added to the calamity in a country that already had more than 670 political prisoners, many of them students and other young people, according to the group.

Of the approximately 5,300 people detained in this year’s protests, about 650 — the majority of them civilians — have been tried in military court, according to Romero. Foro Penal Venezolano’s work has been certified by the Organization of American States.

Venezuela’s Ministry of Information did not respond to ABC News’ requests for comment on these allegations.

Detainees say that beatings, sexual abuse and torture are common, and there are numerous allegations that the government planted evidence and denied detainees legal representation, Romero said.

“Speaking about the law here, it’s nonsensical. Here, you talk about what the government wants to do, who they want to jail and who they want to free,” Romero said. “Behind all this, there’s a great policy of fear that’s hard to understand when you don’t live it. This is a regime that has stayed in power through fear.”

Venezuela’s unraveling has been a long and painful one. Lines for food get longer as food gets scarcer; diseases become deadlier as medical supplies wane. A meltdown of government institutions has consolidated power around Maduro’s party and served to criminalize dissent, the Organization of American States, an international body made up of 35 countries from the Americas, said in its July report on the country’s crisis. Earlier this month, a National Constituent Assembly was elected to rewrite the country’s constitution. The opposition chose to boycott the elections, which many world leaders denounced.

Assembly members were tasked with writing a new constitution to stop what they called the imperial aggression from the fascist groups against the government, Fernando Soto Rojas, a pro-government politician elected to the assembly, said in a live broadcast of the swearing-in ceremony. Maduro and his government blame the country’s woes on an economic war being waged by the political opposition, the private sector and foreign powers.

Economic woes

Oil is the country’s main industry, and Venezuela’s oil production has plummeted to its lowest levels since oil prices started to crash in 2014, according to an OPEC report released in July.

“[Even] when Chavez was alive, things started to get worse,” Vivas said, referring to the country’s President Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer on March 5, 2013. “But I can assure you, things were better with Chavez than what we have now with Maduro.”

From 1999 to 2013, Chavez led the country and developed a number of oil-subsidized social programs aimed at helping the poor. His supporters were known as Chavistas, and after he died, his vice president, Maduro, took over. Maduro was elected president after defeating opposition candidate Henrique Capriles less than six weeks after Chavez’s death.

But as oil prices stay under $50 a barrel, Venezuelans are bearing the brunt of their country’s lack of money for imports and the corruption involved in distributing food. The Chavez-built social programs have grown too costly for Maduro’s cash-strapped government.

“Venezuelans are living — it’s sad to say — they are living to eat,” Vivas said. “I often prefer, just like my husband, to not eat but to make sure my children have their meals.”

“Economists project that by the end of 2017, the Venezuelan economy will have shrunk by around 30 percent in three years,” reads a report from the International Crisis Group, a nongovernmental organization that carries out field research on violent conflict. The population living below the poverty line is growing fast, the group said.

The Venezuelan government has set price limits for some basic goods, including personal hygiene products and many food items. As supply decreases, black market prices for those products have soared — hitting Venezuelans hard.

“You cannot fall sick. You cannot be injured. You cannot even suffer a stomachache,” Vivas said. “You also depend on the harvest. If there’s mango harvest, you eat only mangoes. If there’s tangerine harvest, you eat only tangerines.”

For Vivas — who lives in a working-class neighborhood in Caracas with her two young children, her husband and her aging father — finding food is a struggle often tainted by politics. In theory, her family should get food from the local provision and production committees (abbreviated CLAP in Spanish), but Vivas told ABC News that organizers informed her she had been taken off the census for CLAP-supplied food bags because she supports the opposition.

Maduro’s government started the CLAP program to distribute food in the country. Venezuelans looking for food need to sign up for CLAP and pay a monthly fee to get bags of often hard-to-find products, which are distributed by the military. Sometimes the bags include noodles, flour and oil — now prized staples in a Venezuelan diet that has become more restricted, according to Vivas.

The family now relies on her father’s food bag. He still has access to it because, unlike Vivas, he supports the government. The bag lasts four days for the five of them.

“Once we have consumed the food from the bag, things change because we have to wait 21 days — sometimes 31 — and the bag doesn’t come. So we have to buy on the black market, or a friend of ours tells us where there’s food available, and we try to help one another,” Vivas said. “You’ll find a price today, and tomorrow it will be another. The amount is never accurate, what we are sure of is that it’s not enough.”

Raising two children is a struggle for her.

“I want my children to have what I couldn’t, but in this economy, I think they will have much less than what I did,” she said.

Zero hour

This is not the first time Venezuelans have taken to the streets to protest Maduro. Demonstrations in 2014 also calling for his resignation left dozens of people dead, many others injured and several opposition leaders jailed.

By late 2015, the opposition had won a majority in the National Assembly, the country’s legislature.

But by 2016, the government-aligned Supreme Court curtailed the National Assembly’s powers, calling its resolutions unconstitutional — including one to speed up the recall referendum process in order to oust Maduro.

Efforts to hold a recall referendum that year were squashed, and that, along with a restricted legislature and worsening economic and humanitarian crises, resulted in this year’s waves of protests, which many among the opposition have called Venezuela’s “hora cero” (zero hour) — the breaking point, when the Maduro government must go.

Cynthia Arnson, the director of the Latin America program at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., said the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision was a turning point in what she called Maduro’s move toward a dictatorial regime.

“Once he saw he could lose power through an election, he has curtailed all the institutional mechanisms that handle the electoral system,” she told ABC News. “Now that they see that they’re going to lose elections, they’re putting away any means to do them.”

But Alexander Main, a senior associate for international policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, disagreed.

“The only thing [the opposition] seems to be able to agree on is that the government needs to go,” he said. “They’re not very persuasive to the general population as a viable alternative to the government, so even if a lot of people are disenchanted with the government, they don’t have much confidence in the opposition at all.”

Splintered opposition leadership has given rise to small pockets of radicalism, as people grow frustrated with the government’s repression of the protests and the lack of change.

Armed with Molotov cocktails, rocks and makeshift shields, groups of opposition protesters have waged war on security forces, throwing tear gas canisters back at the national guard and hurling rocks at pro-government groups. More radical opposition factions were responsible for a July 30 bombing in Caracas that injured seven members of the national guard.

“There are numerous examples historically in Latin America where the closing off of any peaceful means for political means radicalizes the opposition and leads some people to embrace violence, and that is happening as well in Venezuela,” Arnson said. “There’s a small group of people who say, ‘We can’t just continue to go into the streets and have people killed at point blank … We need to meet fire with fire.'”

Vivas, who said she went to the demonstrations every day for almost a month, is fearful. While she said the violent groups among the protesters are small, she needs to put her children first.

“I want to fight for my country. I want to fight for my children. But to be killed or hit by a rubber bullet or get hurt from that — that scares me a lot,” she said.

The fact that the opposition is a coalition of parties united only in their discontent with the government has failed to reassure many.

“There’s a great deal of jockeying for position in terms of who is the leader of the opposition. There are a number of personalities that are important that have had a hard time speaking in one voice,” Arnson said.

An uncertain future

Venezuela’s turmoil has garnered international attention and provoked fiery rhetoric, such as when President Donald Trump said U.S. military intervention in the country was on the table.

The Trump administration has sanctioned Venezuelan government officials it believes are linked to international drug trafficking and human rights violations, including Vice President Tarek El-Aissami and several government ministers.

For the first time since Maduro’s election in 2013, the majority of countries in the Organization of American States have issued strong condemnations of his government. Although OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has called Maduro’s efforts to sew up power “treason” against the Venezuelan people, the organization has failed to pass any resolutions against the Venezuelan government.

International pressure can do only so much. It’s a combination of internal dynamics and external factors that bring about change, Arnson said.

Attempts at formal dialogue between the Maduro government and the opposition — often brokered by former world leaders or other neutral parties — have so far proved fruitless.

Late last year the Vatican tried to mediate talks between leaders from both sides without success.

Opposition leaders and other critics of the Venezuelan government, including Arnson, maintain that dialogue just buys Maduro time.

Four months into the protests and with a new, powerful Constituent Assembly working to rewrite the constitution, it seems that possible solutions to the Venezuelan crisis are growing scarcer.

“The only alternative to dialogue is civil war,” Main said. “Because the situation has reached such a gravity, there’s kind of an opportunity now.”

The Venezuelan military could prove an important factor in determining the country’s future.

“The principal arbiter of power will be the armed forces — the extent to which people in the military are no longer willing to go into the streets and repress opposition protesters,” Arnson said. “The splintering of the armed forces would create a moment in which negotiations once again become viable. It’s those kinds of cracks in the Chavista movement that can contribute to more dramatic change.”

For her part, Vivas said only Venezuelans can resolve this crisis.

“Something needs to really happen, because if we don’t end up shooting each other dead, we’ll starve to death, or we’ll die from an illness for which you can’t find medicines,” Vivas said. “International help — I think we should just forget about that. We’re going to have to do our own dirty laundry here.”

 Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Canadian retailer removes Confederate plaque from Montreal flagship

Twitter/@CTVMontreal(MONTREAL) — Not all Confederate statues and monuments are in the South -– or even the United States.

On Tuesday, Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay Company — which also owns Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue — removed a plaque dedicated to Confederate President Jefferson Davis from its downtown Montreal store.

Hudson’s Bay Company spokeswoman Tiffany Bourre confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday night that the plaque was removed but declined to comment what promoted its removal. According to to ABC News’ Canadian partner, CTV News, Montrealers expressed their dissatisfaction with the plaque in light of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last weekend and contacted the retailer demanding its removal.


Davis, a slave owner, was sent to prison following the Confederates’ defeat in the Civil War. After his release from prison, he relocated to Montreal and lived in a home where the department store now stands.

The plaque was installed in 1957 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, according to CTV News.

 Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Win Foreigner concert tickets

Today’s 101 #1 Song of the Day is from a man who started his singing career as a kid in his Alabama church choir…he ended up in Detroit with a group called the Primes that morphed into a hugely successful Motown act that lasted over ten years. As a solo artist, he struggled for two years without a hit but everything changed in November of 1973. read more…

Win Look Who’s Dancing tickets

Today’s 101 #1 Song of the Day was, according to the writer and performer, more or less a true story about the first woman he was with. He was 16 – she was MUCH older – at the 1961 Beaulieu Jazz Festival. It only took two takes to record it – still probably longer than the romantic interlude it’s about… read more…

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