banner
banner
banner
banner
banner
banner
banner
banner
banner
banner
banner
World News

9th Brigade Australian Army via Facebook(CRAFERS, Australia) -- Soldiers with the Australian army came to the rescue of several hungry koalas saved from the bushfires ravaging the country.

Several servicemen and women were seen cuddling the koalas -- swaddled in blankets -- during feeding time at the Cleland Wildlife Park in Crafers, South Australia, in a photo posted to Instagram by the army on Tuesday.

The soldiers appeared attentive and content as they tended to their new furry friends.

The army also helped to build climbing mounts inside the park, according to the army.

Tens of thousands of koalas have perished since the bushfires began in September. More than half of the population may have died, Sam Mitchell, co-owner of the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, told The Guardian earlier this month.

The slow-moving koalas are often unable to escape the flames fast enough as they burn from treetop to treetop.

Australians are doubtful that the country's wildlife will be able to fully recover as the fire season continues for several months. As many as a billion animals are feared dead, experts have estimated.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Ivan Cholakov/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon now says 50 American military service members suffered traumatic brain injuries following Iran’s Jan. 8 missile attack on a base in western Iraq that was housing the U.S. military personnel.

Initially the Pentagon said there were no injuries in the missile attack, but as more symptoms were diagnosed, the number was updated to 11, then 34 and now 50.

Officials have acknowledged that it can take time for the concussion-like symptoms to present themselves.

"Of these 50, 31 total service members were treated in Iraq and returned to duty, including 15 of the additional service members who have been diagnosed since the previous report," said Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesperson. "Eighteen service members have been transported to Germany for further evaluation and treatment."

"This is an increase of one service member from the previous report, who had been transported to Germany for other health reasons and has since been diagnosed with a TBI," Campbell added.

There was no update on the eight other service members who had been transported to the United States last week for evaluation and treatment.

The increasing numbers of service members who suffered from traumatic brain injuries in the attack earlier this month has become a political controversy because of President Donald Trump's recent comments that the injuries were "headaches" and "not serious."

This past weekend, the head of the Veterans of Foreign Wars requested that the president apologize for "his misguided remarks."

"We ask that he and the White House join with us in our efforts to educate Americans of the dangers TBI has on these heroes as they protect our great nation in these trying times, said William "Doc" Schmits, the VFW's national commander. "Our warriors require our full support more than ever in this challenging environment."

Traumatic brain injuries are considered to be the signature wound and the invisible epidemic from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because service members who suffered explosive blasts of roadside bombs later suffered concussion-like effects.

The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that 408,000 military service members worldwide have suffered from some form of traumatic brain injuries over the last 20 years.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



mrtom-uk/iStock(WUHAN, China) -- The U.S. government's chartered flight out of Wuhan, China -- the city at the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak -- departed Tuesday, with private U.S. citizens and staff from the American consulate general and their families.

The evacuation flight, with over 200 people aboard, will end up in Ontario, California, according to a State Department spokesperson, just outside of Los Angeles.

All travelers aboard the plane were screened for symptoms at the airport prior to departure and will be subject to additional screening, observation and monitoring requirements by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the spokesperson told ABC News in a statement.

The flight is expected to arrive early Wednesday at Ontario International after refueling in Anchorage, Alaska, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the matter.

Once there, all passengers will be quarantined for at least three days and monitored by the CDC, per the official. Those who show signs of the illness and need to be tested could be held for as many as 14 days.

Passengers will be monitored along the way and if anyone gets sick in the air, they may be separated in Alaska and flown onward independently, the U.S. official said.

While around 4,500 people have been sickened in China, the CDC said on Monday that the disease is "not spreading" in the U.S. There have been five confirmed cases so far -- all of whom traveled to Wuhan.

The U.S. consulate general evacuated the majority of its staff and has urged U.S. citizens not to travel to Hubei province, all but closing its doors amid the outbreak that has rattled nerves around the world.

Seats on the charter flight were open to American citizens, with an alert sent Sunday notifying those in China and registered with the U.S. mission. American citizens are required to pay for their seat, and capacity is limited, with priority given to those most at risk of infection, per the spokesperson.

The majority of the 200 seats on board the flight went to private citizens, with less than a quarter needed for U.S. personnel and their families.

The initial notice that went out Sunday said the flight would travel to San Francisco, but the director of San Francisco International Airport and the State Department said Monday that was no longer true.

Trucks carrying drinking water, portable showers, and water storage tanks were seen arriving Tuesday at Ontario International, a small airport in San Bernardino County that serves as an official U.S. government repatriation center for the West Coast. It's unclear if the passengers will be quarantined on site or in nearby facilities.

"Ontario International Airport (ONT) is working closely with our federal, state, county and city partners to plan for the possibility of a flight carrying U.S. government officials and private citizens returning this week from Wuhan, China," Ontario International Airport said in a statement Monday, adding it "has conducted extensive training in managing situations such as this. In the event that the returning passengers do arrive at ONT, preparations are being made to ensure that proper health, safety and security procedures are followed."

The State Department raised its travel advisory for China on Monday, urging American citizens to "reconsider travel" to the whole country. There has been a "do not travel" warning in place since Thursday for Hubei province when the consulate general announced it was pulling out all nonemergency personnel.

The CDC raised its travel warning on Tuesday to match the State Department's, urging all travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to China.

At least 106 people have died from the illness in China, mostly in Wuhan.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



KeithBinns/iStock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The U.S. military recovered on Tuesday the remains of the two individuals on board the U.S. Air Force aircraft that crashed in central Afghanistan.

The flight data recorder from the U.S. Bombardier E-11A was also recovered from the site, according to a statement from U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

A mechanical issue is believed to have caused the E-11A to crash on Monday in Ghazni province, a defense official said. A second official told ABC News that the pilots had declared an in-flight emergency.

The statement released on Tuesday reiterated that there were no indications that the crash was caused by enemy fire.

U.S. military personnel destroyed the remnants of the aircraft.

Several factors delayed Tuesday's recovery of the bodies, including weather conditions and security precautions that were taken in order to reach the location of the crash, which is in a Taliban stronghold south of Kabul, one defense official said. Afghan forces secured the area, allowing the U.S. military to conduct the recovery operations, the official added.

The Pentagon has not yet identified the two individuals killed in the crash.

In the aftermath of the crash, the Taliban said they had shot down the aircraft -- a claim rebutted by spokesperson Col. Sonny Leggett in a statement on Monday. He also called Taliban claims that additional aircraft had crashed "false."

Two 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers were killed by an improvised explosive device, or IED, while conducting combat operations in Kandahar province, Afghanistan on Jan. 11. They were later identified as Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin of Newport News, Virginia, and Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon of Joliet, Illinois.


Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



jarun011/iStock(WUHAN, China) -- International automakers and American companies are among the firms evacuating employees from China or restricting travel there as the threat of coronavirus has begun to affect the global economy.

Uncertainty over the virus in China, the world's second-largest economy by Gross Domestic Product, has caused global stocks to tumble this week.  

Honda, Nissan and PSA Group, which all have plants near the outbreak's epicenter of Wuhan, have announced steps including repatriation for employees in China amid the health crisis.

"We are taking reasonable precautions and have advised our employees to refrain from non-urgent business trips to the Wuhan area for the time being," Honda said in a statement Tuesday. The company closed its plant there from Jan. 23 until Feb. 2 because of Chinese New Year and is "continuing to monitor the situation."

The outbreak comes just a month after Honda announced it set a monthly record for automobile production in China. It's unclear how unfolding health crisis will affect production.

Nissan noted that its business units in the area will also be closed until Feb. 4, also due to the holiday.

"We take the health and safety of our employees and their families seriously," the company said in a statement. "We are closely monitoring the coronavirus situation and well-being of our employees in Wuhan and in China."

The automaker noted that Japanese expatriates in the Wuhan area will be returned to Japan as part of a government initiative that includes putting them on a chartered flight.

Representatives for PSA Group didn't immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Tuesday, but in a statement on Twitter the company announced plans to repatriate expat workers and their families based in the Wuhan area.

Meanwhile, U.S. tech giant Facebook is asking employees to suspend non-essential travel to mainland China, and asked those who have recently traveled there to work from home.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we have taken steps to protect the health and safety of our employees," Anthony Harrison, a Facebook spokesman, told ABC News.

Other employers including banking giants Goldman Sachs and HSBC have banned staff from traveling to mainland China until further notice, Reuters reported, citing internal memos.

"The Chinese economy -- and possibly the world economy -- will take a hit in the short run, and lower prices are a rational response to the increasing spread of the corona virus," Chris Zaccarelli, the chief investment officer at the Independent Advisor Alliance, said in a commentary Monday, comparing the current outbreak to SARS in 2003.

How quickly a vaccine can be developed and how effectively governments will be able to prevent the spread of the virus "will determine how large the economic impact will be," Zaccarelli added. "But once it is contained and people go back to travelling and spending as they did previously, the economy will rebound accordingly; markets will anticipate this and start moving higher again well in advance of that bottom."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



adventtr/iStock(HAVANA) -- A powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck in the Caribbean Sea between Jamaica and eastern Cuba on Tuesday, shaking a vast area from Mexico to Florida and beyond, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or heavy damage.

The quake was centered 139 kilometers (86 miles) northwest of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and 140 kilometers (87 miles) west-southwest of Niquero, Cuba, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It hit at 2:10 p.m. (1910 GMT) and the epicenter was a relatively shallow 10 kilometers (6 miles) beneath the surface.

It was also felt a little further east at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on the southeastern coast of the island. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages, said J. Overton, a spokesman for the installation, which has a total population of about 6,000 people.

Several South Florida buildings were being evacuated as a precation, according to city of Miami and Miami-Dade County officials. No injuries or road closures have been reported.

The quake also hit the Cayman Islands, leaving cracked roads and what appeared to be sewage spilling from cracked mains. There were no immediate reports of deaths, injuries or more severe damage, said Kevin Morales, editor-in-chief of the Cayman Compass newspaper.

The islands see so few earthquakes that newsroom staff were puzzled when it hit, he said.

"'It was just like a big dump truck was rolling past,"' Morales said. “Then it continued and got more intense.”

Dr. Stenette Davis, a psychiatrist at a Cayman Islands hospital, said she had seen manhole covers blown off by the force of the quake, and sewage exploding into the street, but no more serious damage.

Claude Diedrick, 71, who owns a fencing business in Montego Bay, said he was sitting in his vehicle reading when the earth began to sway.

“It felt to me like i was on a bridge and like there were two or three heavy trucks and the bridge was rocking but there were no trucks,” he said.

He said he had seen no damage around his home in northern Jamaica.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake could generate waves 1 to 3 feet above normal in Cuba, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Honduras, Mexico and Belize.

The USGS initially reported the magnitude at 7.3.

————— Kate Chappell reported from Kingston, Jamaica.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



200mm/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Tuesday unveiled his plan for Middle East peace, proposing a Palestinian state, but also allowing Israel to take control of a significant portion of the West Bank without any Palestinian input.

Standing beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Trump said that Palestinians could achieve a state once they rejected terrorism and made major political and territorial concessions.

Netanyahu said that he accepted the U.S. proposal and that "regardless of the Palestinian decision," Israel planned to carry out the plan's proposed division of land in the disputed West Bank.

Over the next four years, Netanyahu said, Israel would apply its laws to Jewish settlements in the West Bank and to a hotly contested strip of land in the Jordan Valley, while maintaining the status quo in areas envisioned for a Palestinian state. Doing so would allow Israel to completely encircle Palestinians in the West Bank and, in its view, strengthen its security.

Trump rolled out the proposal -- several years in the making and closely guarded -- at a politically precipitous time for both him and his ally Netanyahu. Following the announcement, Trump's lawyers continued their defense in his Senate impeachment trial and Netanyahu was formally indicted on Tuesday for fraud, bribery and breach of trust -- five weeks before Israeli parliamentary elections.

Notably absent from the White House announcement were any Palestinian officials, who had cut off ties with the Trump administration in 2017 after the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

They had preemptively rejected the peace initiative, accusing Trump and his administration of decisions blatantly biased in favor of Israel. The president on Monday acknowledged that Palestinians would likely initially reject it, but he expressed hope they would eventually accept it.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blasted the proposal late Tuesday.

"After the nonsense that we heard today we say a thousand no's to the ‘deal of the century,’” he said at a press conference in Ramallah.

After regional news reports this week said that Abbas refused to speak with Trump on the phone, Trump addressed Abbas directly during his remarks at the White House, saying he had sent the Palestinian leader a letter that day.

"President Abbas, I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace," Trump said, "America and many other countries will -- we will be there we will be there to help you in so many different ways and we will be there every step of the way."

In Ramallah, Abbas spoke on the phone with the leader of Hamas's political wing, Ismail Haniyeh. It was a sign of rare Palestinian unity amid anger there.

The Palestinian president also spoke on the phone with the leader of the political wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, who pledged his solidarity in rejecting the U.S. proposal, the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa,reported. It was a sign of rare Palestinian unity amid anger there.

Palestinian negotiators aligned with Abbas rejected the plan, too.

"Achieving peace requires first and foremost respect and adherence to the fundamental (principles) of international law," the Palestine Liberation Organization wrote in a tweet. "The U.S. plan recognizes Israel's illegal colonization and annexation of occupied lands belonging to the State of Palestine."

Jordan also warned Israel not to annex territory. Its foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, "warned against the dangerous consequences of unilateral Israeli measures, such as annexation of Palestinian lands, the building and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian occupied lands and encroachments on the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, that aim at imposing new realities on the ground," the Jordanian embassy in Washington said in a statement.

Safadi "stressed" that "Jordan condemns such measures as a violation of international law and provocative actions that will push the area towards more conflict and tension," the statement read.

Under the Trump administration's plan, which was posted on the White House's website, the Palestinians would agree to a number of political concessions over the next several years in order to gain autonomy and economic prosperity.

A major point of contention remains the future of Jerusalem, which both Israel and Palestinians claim as their capital. Under the Trump administration plan, an existing security barrier -- built by Israel in territory disputed by the Palestinians -- would serve as the border between Israeli and Palestinian parts of the Jerusalem area.

That vision clashes with previous proposals to make all of "East Jerusalem" -- the predominantly Arab eastern part of the city -- the capital of a Palestinian state, ceding more of Jerusalem to Israel.

The plan included what it referred to as a "conceptual map" showing proposed borders of that Palestinian state -- and changes to Israel's contours. The White House said that while the plan avoided any forced population transfers, 3% of each population would end up in the other's territory, with the option to move or to gain citizenship to their respective nations.

Under the plan, roads, tunnels and other transportation links would connect different parts of the Palestinian state physically split up by Israel.
MORE: Trump to host Netanyahu, political rival at White House to discuss peace amid impeachment trial

The Gaza Strip would expand to include industrial, residential and agricultural zones -- but Palestinian leadership would have to agree to the territory's demilitarization.

The plan calls for Hamas, which controls Gaza, and other Palestinian militant groups to commit to nonviolence.

While the plan had been three years in the making, only last week -- as Trump faced an impeachment trial in the Senate -- did the president announce that he would finally roll it out.

One of the president’s lawyers, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, attended the peace plan roll out, while at least one U.S. senator in attendance, Ted Cruz of Texas, departed early to catch the start of proceedings.

On Monday, Trump hosted Netanyahu and his chief political rival, Benny Gantz, for separate meetings at the White House. Gantz did not attend the Tuesday announcement.

The president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner oversaw the formulation of the peace plan. The administration unveiled an economic component last summer but delayed sharing the rest amid political turmoil in Israel. Two parliamentary elections in under seven months there failed to result in a stable government, with another round scheduled for March 2.

Netanyahu faces a tough re-election bid as Gantz mounts a strong challenge. The formal indictment in Jerusalem came Tuesday, a day after he dropped his bid for immunity from charges stemming from several corruption cases.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Jumbo2010/iStock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The current model the U.S. and other countries plan to use to store high-level nuclear waste may not be as safe as previously thought.

The materials used to store the waste "will likely degrade faster than anyone previously knew" because of the way the materials interact, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Nature Materials.

The research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, focused primarily on defense waste, the legacy of past nuclear arms production, which is highly radioactive, according to a press release from Ohio State University. Some of waste has a half-life -- the time needed for half the material to decay -- of about 30 years. But others, such as plutonium, have a half-life that can be in the tens of thousands of years, according to the release.

The plan the U.S. has for the waste is to immobilize long-lived radionuclides -- mixed with other materials to form glass or ceramic forms of the waste -- in steel canisters and then dispose of them by burying them in a repository deep underground, according to the study. Countries around the globe largely store and dispose of the nuclear waste in a similar fashion.

However, scientists found that under simulated conditions, corrosion of the containers could be "significantly accelerated," which had not been considered in current safety and performance assessment models. The newly formed glass or ceramic compounds, confined in the steel containers, have been observed corroding those containers at surprising rates due to new chemical reactions.

The reactions significantly altered both the waste and the metallic canisters, according to the research. Xiaolei Guo, lead author of the study and deputy director of Ohio State University's Center for Performance and Design of Nuclear Waste Forms and Containers, described the corrosion as "severe."

"In the real-life scenario, the glass or ceramic waste forms would be in close contact with stainless steel canisters. Under specific conditions, the corrosion of stainless steel will go crazy," he said in a statement. "It creates a super-aggressive environment that can corrode surrounding materials."

The researchers warned that the interaction between the materials, which then impact the service life of the nuclear waste, should be "carefully considered" when evaluating the performance of the waste forms. A more compatible barrier should be selected to optimize the performance of the repository system.

"This indicates that the current models may not be sufficient to keep this waste safely stored," Guo said. "And it shows that we need to develop a new model for storing nuclear waste."

The waste is typically stored where it is produced, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed that the waste be disposed in a deep geological repository in the Yucca Mountains in Nevada. However, those plans have been stalled since 2009.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Duchess Kate stepped out Tuesday for an art workshop with kids at a London hospital.

Kate, 38, joined patients at an arts workshop where the mom of Prince George, 6, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, 1, got to show her creative side.

Kate took part in a "Playful Portraits" workshop, helping kids "make sets and characters for their own pop-up theaters," according to Kensington Palace. She also visited kids who took part in the workshop in their own hospital rooms.

Kate is royal patron of both Evelina London Children's Hospital and the National Portrait Gallery, which brings the arts workshops to the hospital.

The duchess of Cambridge has made early childhood development a focus of her royal work.

Last week she visited multiple kids' centers across the U.K. to launch "5 big questions on the under 5s," a survey released by The Royal Foundation, Prince William and Kate's charitable arm.

The survey asks residents across the U.K. to share their thoughts on "raising the next generation."

"Parents, carers and families are at the heart of caring for children in the formative years, so that is why I want to listen to them," Kate said in a statement announcing the survey. "As a parent I know how much we cherish the future health and happiness of our children."

"I want to hear the key issues affecting our families and communities so I can focus my work on where it is needed most," she added. "My ambition is to provide a lasting change for generations to come."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



FILE photo - filmstudio/iStock(LONDON) -- One mother is taking a stand to try to change school policies she says restrict boys from having long hair.

Bonnie Miller's 8-year-old son, Farouk James, has become an Instagram star with more than 270,000 followers, posing for snaps with his big and bright natural hair.

U.K. policies banning long hair for boys


While researching and visiting possible schools for her son, Miller said she was shocked to learn about some of the schools' strict policies.

One of the mother-son duo's top choices, Fulham Boys School in London, for example, outlines its stance on hair length.

"Hairstyles should be tidy and of a conventional nature, no extreme haircuts including sculpting, shaving, dreadlocks or braiding are allowed," the Fulham Boys School policy reads. "The maximum hair length is above the collar and the minimum hair length is a number 2 cut. Hair must be one natural colour. Parents are strongly advised to seek advice on the acceptability of hairstyles that may be considered 'different' before allowing their son to adopt such a style. School reserves the right to insist on re-styling if it considers the style inappropriate."

Miller strongly believes this rule is unfair for boys of diverse backgrounds.

"It's a racial issue," she told GMA.

"We all know what kind of boys would have dreadlocks and braids," Miller adds. "Generally, it's black boys or mixed boys. We're not talking about Caucasian children here ... it's very unlikely."

"I'm going to talk up, and I might get backlash or I may even be risking my child's chance of even going to these schools now, because now they know my name," says Miller. "I'm willing to take the risk because it's not just for the good of Farouk, it's the good of all."

The state of natural hair discrimination in the United Kingdom


The passing of laws in California and New York banning discrimination on people with natural hair textures, has also began to strike the attention of the state of natural hair in the United Kingdom as well.

In 2018, Zina Alfa started a petition calling for a ban on hair discrimination in the U.K. to be sent to the country's government. She was initially triggered after being forced to take out her braids because one of her teachers allegedly didn't like them.

"Natural and protective hairstyles including afros, braids, and dreadlocks are traditional ways to express our heritage and simply have our hair," the petition states. "It is because this is not understood, that young children are subjected to being punished by teachers or bullied by peers. When we're not attacked, we also experienced people that see our hair, touch it, and grab it without permission -- making us uncomfortable."

Miller has also taken things a step further with her own petition to be sent to the Houses of Parliament.

"If you agree that rules for females universally should be the same for males, please sign this petition and help make a change for the current and future generations," the petition reads.

"I think the only way it's going to change is if the Houses of Parliament change the law to prohibit schools from making such diabolical policies, which are clearly discriminatory, sexist, racist and unfair," says Miller. "I think everyone needs to change their rules, and I think that the way I was thinking it could be done and is if the law was changed that schools are prohibited from allowing these rules."

Farouk has a massive platform that allows him to star in everything from high-fashion ad campaigns to New York runways.

He described his hair as "unique" and an attribute he really loves about himself that also inspires many others, Farouk told Good Morning America.

"His father's from Ghana so culturally, his family told me not to cut it until he was three," says Miller. "Well, that was part of the cultural thing, so I agreed to not cut his hair until he's three. But obviously we didn't expect it would grow as much as it did and it just kept on growing."

She also reminisces on how doctors couldn't initially tell if Farouk was a boy or a girl when she was carrying him in her stomach. "But, they could see he had loads of hair," Miller says.

Miller mentions that Farouk has communicated how unhappy he will be if he has to cut his hair as it is a strong part of his identity.

A matter of choice vs. limited options


While Farouk has roughly two more years before he will have to switch schools, Miller fears that he will not be admitted into some of best higher-performing institutions because of his hair.

"Farouk is very academic and very bright, so he needs to go to a school that can stretch him, and a lot of his friends will be going to these schools," she explains as primary reasons for wanting to send Farouk to a school such as Fulham as well as London Oratory School for boys, which has a similar policy.

"Hair must be of a straightforward style, tidy and clear of the face and shirt collar, and must retain its natural colour," the policy states. "The face must be clean-shaven and sideboards must not extend below the middle of the ear. Peculiar, ostentatious or bizarre styles are unacceptable. Examples of unacceptable styles are: bleached, dyed, tinted or highlighted hair; closely cropped hair (including cuts described as ‘numbers 1, 2 or 3’); and lines or patterns cut into the hair. Gel and similar substances are not allowed. Pupils whose hair styles are unacceptable will not be allowed to remain in School and risk disciplinary action, including exclusion."

With a strong religious background, Miller also points out that these are faith-based schools, and she has hopes of sending Farouk to a Catholic school like London Oratory or a Christian school like Fulham.

Additionally, one of the most important reasons for these schools relates to how close in proximity they are to their home. "Farouk is very well known on Instagram, so he's known on the streets," she says. "I wouldn't want to risk him having to travel across London to go to another type of school."

With the other schools being located further away, Miller is concerned with James' safety commuting as well as how much longer it takes her to get to him if he is in need.

She also adds, he will, unfortunately, be further away from close friends he has grown up with and would like to continue his education alongside.

To avoid issues with the schools, Miller has also considered mixed-sex schools. However, she has found policies from those institutions to be potentially "sexist."

One of several schools she mentions is St. Thomas More Language College, which allows girls to keep their hair long as long as it is kept fully tied back. However, for boys' hair, the policy outlines that it should not be "too short or too long."

She says she's made several attempts to call these schools but is continuously referred to review policies posted online.

Fulham Boys School made headlines in 2017 when a student, Chikayzea Flanders, was told his dreadlocks had to be cut off or he would face suspension, The Guardian reported.

The school has since reportedly settled with Flanders where an understanding was made that the school's uniform policy and the ban on dreadlocks resulted in "indirect discrimination." He was invited to return should he agree to keep his dreadlocks tied up or covered with a cloth that the school approved. However, reports said he has since moved on to another school.

Alun Ebenezer, the headmaster of Fulham Boys School, took to Twitter to speak out on the ban on long hair, stating, "Our strict uniform and appearance policy means you cannot tell the haves from the have nots. FBS is no way racist."

1/4 To be clear. What I actually said was that we are a strict academic boys school with high standards of behaviour, uniform and appearance. We are a truly comprehensive school which is reflected in our intake. Nearly 30% of our boys come from homes where they have the means... https://t.co/YuBzDbwSEs

— Alun Ebenezer (@AlunEbenezer) January 16, 2020

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



oversnap/iStock(LONDON) -- Ever a divisive topic among grammar enthusiasts, the Oxford comma has been at the center of an enduring argument over punctuation.

And most recently, the debate has been sparked by the punctuation mark’s absence on the 50p coin that has been newly minted to mark the date of Britain leaving the European Union on Jan. 31.

The renowned writer Sir Philip Pullman, known for the popular His Dark Materials trilogy which was also recently adapted for television by BBC and HBO, was clearly vexed by the coin’s wording: “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations.”

“The ‘Brexit’ 50p coin is missing an Oxford comma, and should be boycotted by all literate people,” he tweeted.

According to Merriam Webster, a Harvard comma, or an Oxford comma, as it’s known in the U.K., is a comma used to separate the second-to-last item in a list from a final item introduced by the conjunction ‘and’ or ‘or’.

In 2011 when there was speculation that Oxford University was dropping the comma from its eponymous style guide, similar outrage ensued.

“Are you people insane? The Oxford comma is what separates us from the animals,” tweeted one grammar enthusiast.

Pullman’s tweet set off another Twitter debate with hundreds of people weighing in to give their verdict.

Many pointed out that the Oxford comma is often used as a stylistic option.

But others maintained the punctuation can be vital, particularly to avoid ambiguity in the meaning of the phrase.

Meanwhile Susie Dent, a lexiconographer and etymologist added that while the Oxford comma was optional, she found it was often helpful.

The Brexit coin will come into circulation in the U.K. on and after Jan. 31, 2020, when it formally leaves the EU.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



CT757fan/iStock(BAGHDAD) -- The U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad was hit by multiple rockets on Sunday, two U.S. officials told ABC News.

This is the first time the compound has been hit directly in years and comes just weeks after pro-Iranian militia members and their supporters assaulted the compound in Iraq.

Rocket attacks on the Green Zone are very common. Last week three rockets were fired into Baghdad's Green Zone, the heavily fortified area of the capital that houses the embassy, government buildings and U.S. service members. Iraqi officials said Monday that there were no injuries.

Both U.S. officials told ABC News that the dining hall was hit directly in Sunday's attack. One of the officials said there were a total of five rockets fired and that three hit the embassy compound.

There were no reported fatalities. There were no immediate claims of responsibility.

A U.S. military spokesperson said everyone at their facilities were OK and referred additional questions to the State Department, which has not responded to requests for comment.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



U.S. Army(WASHINGTON) -- A 22-year-old U.S. Army Reserve soldier serving in Syria has died from injuries he sustained in a vehicle rollover accident.

Spc. Antonio Moore was conducting route clearance operations as part of Operation Inherent Resolve in Deir ez-Zor Province in eastern Syria when he died Friday, according to the Army. It was his first deployment.

Moore, who is from Wilmington, North Carolina, enlisted in the Army in 2017 as a combat engineer, officials said. He was assigned to the 346th Engineer Company, 363d Engineer Battalion, 411th Engineer Brigade, in Knightdale, North Carolina.

“The 363rd Engineer Battalion is deeply saddened at the loss of Spec. Antonio Moore,” Lt. Col. Ian Doiron, 363rd Engineer Battalion commander, said in a statement Saturday. “Antonio was one of the best in our formation. He will be missed by all who served with him. We will now focus on supporting his family and honoring his legacy and sacrifice.”

Moore’s awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. He is survived by his mother, stepfather, three brothers and a sister.

The accident is under investigation.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



iStock(MOSCOW) -- Ever since Vladimir Putin announced a dramatic overhaul of Russia's constitution and the removal of his longtime prime minister and cabinet, Russians have been asking themselves a single question: What is Putin up to?

Since the Jan. 15 announcement, Putin hasn't slowed down.

He put forward a bill on Monday containing constitutional amendments and by Thursday the Russian Parliament had approved its first reading, 432-0.

A constitutional council specially formed to advise on the potential changes had not even convened before the amendments were submitted, fully written.

At the same time, the nation's new prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, who replaced Putin's longtime lieutenant Dmitry Medvedev, has spent the week forming his own government, the biggest political shakeup in a decade.

Some of Russia's most powerful officials have been shuffled into new positions, including Putin's powerful prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika, who's been in office since 2006.

The moves have shocked both experts and ordinary Russians.

From the outset, many observers immediately interpreted the situation as Putin laying the ground to remain in power past 2024, when his presidential term expires.

But how these recent moves accomplish that isn't exactly clear. Russia's independent media outlets have been filled with articles from experts trying to puzzle out Putin's plan: Why now? Why so quickly? How do these changes add up to staying in power?

The Kremlin has said once Parliament approves the constitutional amendments they'll be put to a "public vote," but no one really knows what that means -- or when it will take place. It could be in April.

Putin's political opponents, however, especially in the beleaguered democratic opposition, have objected strenuously.

On Wednesday, around two dozen prominent activists published a petition accusing him of carrying out "a special operation for illegally rewriting the constitution," calling Putin's recent moves a "coup" intended to remain in power for life. The petition so far has gathered more than 14,000 signatures.

Russia's constitution limits a president to two consecutive terms. Now 67, Putin is in his fourth term, taking advantage of a legal loophole in 2008 when he moved Medvedev into the presidency for a term and remaining as prime minister, not giving up any real power.

Putin could repeat that trick in 2024, but he's suggested he doesn't intend to, and among the proposed constitutional changes is one that limits future presidents to two terms, consecutive or not.

Some experts have said they believe the proposed changes show Putin intends to leave the presidency but hold on to power outside of it.

The leading theory as to how that would work includes revamping an obscure governmental body, the State Council, which Putin has said should now have a new role. The council, currently a forum for gathering regional governors, could be transformed into a preeminent body where Putin could assume a new "paramount leader" position, similar to China's Deng Xiaoping.

The other changes, including transferring more power to the parliament and to the courts, appears intended to weaken the office of the presidency, experts said.

In essence, Putin has carried out a preemptive coup against himself to maintain power, as Sergey Guriev, an economist who teaches at Paris' L'Institut d'études politiques, put it in an article for the Russian newspaper Vedomosti. The practice, known to political scientists as a "self-coup" or "autogolpe," was frequently used by dictatorial strongmen in South America.

But as more details about the constitutional changes have emerged, other prominent experts have questioned whether they in fact suggest something more surprising: that Putin wants out.

The proposed changes, they noted, do not in fact leave the presidency weaker than other bodies. Contrary to what Putin had suggested, the actual text of the amendments shows the president will retain the power to appoint the prime minister over parliament. Crucially, they also make clear the State Council would be subordinate to the president -- whomever Putin chooses as his successor.

"Putin is not looking to dominate the system (although he will remain a key player), but rather to find a way to exert influence without risking any dangerous consequences for the state," Tatyana Stanovaya, a well-known analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center who also runs the political consultancy R.Politik, wrote in an article on Monday.

The changes submitted to parliament look more like an "insurance policy" for managing a successor, she wrote. They "are designed not so much to strengthen his own position after he steps down as president, but to create mechanisms for resolving differences with the future president, should they arise," Stanovaya wrote in another article.

According to this theory, Putin genuinely would step back while remaining protected in power, delegating domestic policy -- Stanovaya and others believe he's bored with it -- to his preferred successor. Putin would focus on international affairs and intervene only if he perceived a major unwanted change in direction.

For that, Putin most likely would head up a reformed State Council, but whether that will happen and how powerful it would be "directly proportionate" to how much control he felt he had over his successor, Stanovaya wrote, adding that it's likely Putin has chosen a successor -- although that person may not be revealed for quite some time.

Supporting that theory was Putin himself this week, dismissing the suggestion he could remain as a supreme leader-like figure overseeing a successor. On Wednesday, he rejected the idea that he'd stay on as a "mentor," similar to Singapore's long-time dictator Lee Kuan Yew in the 1990s.

"If we have some kind of institution appear above the presidency, it can only mean dual power," Putin told a televised audience in Sochi. "That is an absolutely fatal situation for a country like Russia."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



iStock/kotoffei(BEIJING) -- Dragons, red envelopes, dumplings, firecrackers, lanterns and rats are all symbolic of festivities tied to Lunar New Year.

As millions ring in the Lunar New Year in Southeast Asia, people will be celebrating by spending time together, sharing food and wishing each other good fortune.

What is Lunar New Year?


Also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival in mainland China, the Lunar New Year is a global holiday that celebrates the resetting of the zodiac cycle on the Chinese lunisolar calendar, Jan. 25 through Feb. 8.

2020 is the Year of the Rat, which is the first animal in the zodiac and symbolizes hard work, wealth and fertility.

Where is Lunar New Year celebrated?


Many countries across Asia, including China, Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia and Tibet, hold large celebrations. Large cities around the world, including New York City and San Francisco, hold parades and festivals to commemorate the holiday.

How do people celebrate?


In China and other East Asian societies, it's an ancient tradition to gift a red envelope -- or hóngbāo -- usually filled with some amount of money. The red color symbolizes good luck and prosperity, according to Google Arts and Culture.

Firecrackers, red lanterns and elaborate firework displays are also a large part of the Lunar New Year spectacle around the world.

Togetherness is a key component of the holiday, and many families come together to start the new year off by preparing and enjoying a meal that will bring them luck, good health and prosperity.

What do people eat for Lunar New Year?


Lunar New Year is filled with a variety of foods, from dumplings to longevity noodles, and although both are prepared differently across different cultures, the dishes hold significant symbolism that represents longevity and prosperity, according to Google trends data.

"Korean families gather together to make mandu, like 200 or 500," Korean chef Inui Cho told ABC News, recalling her fondest memories of celebrating the holiday. "It's like traditional culture of the family."

Cho grew up in Suwon, Korea, and built her culinary career with a deep appreciation for cultural culinary traditions. After attending Le Cordon Bleu in Korea, Cho worked in an array of renowned kitchens for Chef Daniel Boulud before becoming the corporate chef for CJ Cheiljedang at their headquarters in Seoul.

Chef Cho's famous Bibigo Mandu, a traditional Korean-style dumpling filled with beef and vegetables, has become the brand's most popular recipe that's used by home cooks and chefs globally and is a staple on Lunar New Year.

"Korean dumpling is a little different than Chinese dumpling," she said. "They use just pork or chicken, but the Korean dumpling is a wholesome one that adds vegetables and the protein, and everything is filled inside a thin wrapper."

Happy Lunar New Year!

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



DOWNLOAD OUR MOBILE APP

FOR YOUR PHONE OR TABLET!

  

 

 

Weather
On Air Now
Best Country Hits
Best Country Hits
12:00am - 6:00am
Overnights
Country Videos