South Jersey's News Talk Leader!           Radio You Can Depend On!          
ABC World

Simon Hammerling speaks to ABC News in a Skype interview, Oct. 15, 2019. (ABC News)(LONDON) — Simon Hammerling was at home on Monday evening baking brownies with a child he and his wife were helping to take care of when he heard three loud gunshots.

He ran outside to find one of their dogs shot dead in their car and his wife, Rachelle Bergeron, slumped over on the ground by the side of their house on Yap, an island group in the Federated States of Micronesia.

"I just kind of fell by her, not really thinking about anything else," Hammerling recalled in a Skype interview with ABC News. "She was just crouched over and breathing really heavy."

Bergeron had returned from her daily jog around 7 p.m. and was shot while opening the trunk of the car to let out the dog.

Hammerling said he didn't see who fired the shots. He called police, while neighbors and friends also rushed over to help. His coworker, Amos Collins, said Bergeron was already unconscious when a police officer arrived on scene.

"We made the decision there to take her to the hospital," Collins told ABC News in a Skype interview. "We got a blanket under her and lifted her onto my flatbed."

They drove straight to the local hospital on Yap, where medical staff placed Bergeron on a gurney and took her into the emergency room.

"We basically stood back and watched them try to resuscitate her," Collins said. "They continued to try to revive her until just shortly before 8, when they finally said they couldn't get her back."

Bergeron, a 33-year-old American serving as the acting attorney general of Micronesia's Yap State, died from her gunshot wounds that night.

"Yap's spirit is broken by this senseless and heinous act," Yap State Gov. Henry Falan said in a video statement Tuesday. "I promise to do everything in my power to have justice prevail."

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State confirmed the death of an American on Yap on Monday.

"We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss, and are providing all appropriate assistance to the family," the spokesperson told ABC News in a statement. "Out of respect to the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment."

The FBI is sending a team of agents to the tiny island of Yap, nearly 4,500 miles west of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, to investigate Bergeron's death.

"At the request of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Federated States of Micronesia, the FBI Honolulu Division is providing investigative assistance in the matter of the death of Rachelle Bergeron Acting Attorney General for the State of Yap," FBI spokesperson Michelle Ernst told ABC News in a statement Tuesday.

Bergeron and Hammerling were approaching their one-year wedding anniversary when she died. Hammerling described his late wife as "bubbly," "strong" and "passionate."

"I loved her very much," he told ABC News. "I miss her already."

Bergeron, a Wisconsin native, graduated from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in 2010. She practiced law in Washington, D.C., New York City and India before moving to Micronesia in 2015 to take a job as the assistant attorney general of Yap State.

She started dating Hammerling in 2016, and the couple wed just last year.

Hammerling, who's from Germany, has been involved in missionary work on Yap for over a decade. He's currently a pilot and mechanic with Pacific Mission Aviation, a Christian missionary organization in the region.

Both Hammerling and his colleague, Collins, described Yap as a very safe place to live, where gun violence is practically unheard of, overall crime is low and people leave their doors unlocked. Private ownership of firearms is prohibited in the Federated States of Micronesia.

"This is a shock to all of us," Collins told ABC News. "Because it's a small island, it's a very small town feel. Everybody knows everybody, and it's probably why crimes don't happen as much because if you do something you're going to get caught."

"But when a tragedy hits like this, it's amazing to see how the local people care about us, even as expats," he added. "I think we're all in the same boat together, that we want this person to be caught and brought to justice."

Collins said Bergeron's post as acting attorney general is the "most dangerous job" on Yap.

Bergeron saw the worst of Yap as she prosecuted criminals across the island group, which is less than 50 square miles and home to about 11,000 people. She was passionate about human rights and sought to help victims of abuse and trafficking. Because of her work, she faced threats and dealt with people who were angry over her decisions, according to those who knew her.

"She always had people that were giving her a hard time," Hammerling said, adding that he didn't know of any specific incidents. "But there was always the other side because she really loved justice."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



DorSteffen/iStock(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Francis highlighted nutrition inequality on the U.N.'s World Food Day, pointing out that rich countries and poor countries suffer from obesity for different reasons.

“It is a cruel, unjust and paradoxical reality that, today, there is food for everyone and yet not everyone has access to it,” Francis said in a statement Wednesday. He noted that in low-income countries, people “eat little but increasingly poorly.”

Obesity, which is a risk factor for conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer, affects more than 650 million people around the globe and has nearly tripled since 1975, according to the World Health Organization.

In the United States, there’s some evidence that food insecurity is associated with obesity. That’s in part because of structural and economic barriers to high-nutrition food options, combined with comparatively cheaper and more accessible calorie-dense, low-nutrition foods.

“To escape from this spiral, we need to promote ‘economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources,’” Francis said. “Nutrition represents an important starting point.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Marccophoto/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Last month tied for the warmest September since temperatures began being recorded in 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The average global land and ocean surface temperature for September was 1.71 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the average for the 20th century, according to the findings NOAA released Wednesday. South America, Africa, Asia, the Gulf of Mexico and the Hawaiian region all had top-three warmest Septembers on record.

In addition, the Arctic sea ice coverage for September was the third-lowest on record, according to NOAA. The Arctic reached its annual minimum sea ice extent on Sept. 18 at 1.6 million square miles, which marked the end of the melt season.

The Antarctic sea ice extent for the month was 1.3% below the average between 1981 and 2010.

The only other September that was just as hot was in 2015, according to NOAA. Septembers in 2015, 2016 and 2019 had global land and ocean surface temperature greater or equal to 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit.

Last month was also the 43rd consecutive September and 417th consecutive month overall with temperatures above the 20th-century average, according to NOAA.

In addition, the first nine months of 2019 saw the second-warmest period for January for September in the 140-year record.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved



sezer ozger/iStock(HONG KONG) -- Hong Kong's embattled leader Carrie Lam was drowned out by pro-democracy lawmakers and prevented from delivering her annual policy speech on Wednesday, and eventually resorted to making the address by video.

As Lam entered the city's Legislative Council chamber, her voice was overwhelmed as some lawmakers shouting out “five demands, not one less." Lam exited the chamber, only to return 20 minutes later to make a second attempt. But she was again cut off, as lawmakers used portable speakers to blare what appeared to be audio of protesters clashing with police, and projected the words “five demands, not one less" on the wall behind the chief executive.

Some lawmakers were seen wearing paper masks of Chinese President Xi Jinping, a not-so-subtle nod to the newly enacted ban on wearing face masks.

She was escorted out of the chamber, flanked by security, and was heckled to the exit door. Outside Hong Kong’s government complex, a few dozen protesters were outnumbered by a massive presence of armed riot police.

Lam's speech -- a sort of "state of the union" -- was eventually released as a recorded video. In it, Lam addressed routine matters, like the government's response to a housing shortage, but also spoke to the unrest that has been rocking Hong Kong since June.

The protest movement has been successful in its original goal of having a controversial extradition bill removed from consideration. But has expanded to call for Lam's ouster, open elections to replace her and an investigation into the police conduct against demonstrators.

“While we respect different opinions and understand people’s enthusiasm in fighting for justice and rights, I believe our society will agree that continued violence and spread of hatred would erode the core values of Hong Kong, disrupt social peace and undermine the excellent system that took years of efforts to build,” Lam said.

She said citizens have the right to protest, but added that “any act that advocates Hong Kong’s independence and threatens the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests will not be tolerated.”

Law and social order must be restored as “early as possible” so that Hong Kong can "emerge from the storm and embrace the rainbow,” Lam said as she ended the address.

In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Lam said she would hold a public forum on Thursday night. During that event, Lam will interact with the public over Facebook.

Meanwhile, the group Civil Human Rights Front issued a statement saying that Jimmy Sham, a leading activist, had been attacked by a group of four to five people with hammers and that he is being treated for wounds to his head, hands and feet.

There was no immediate comment from the police.

The group has called for a police investigation into the incident and said it will participate in a protest this Sunday.

"In such a bloody era painted by horror, we cannot be defeated by political terror," it said in a statement. "We call for more people to come out to stand their ground and show the perpetrators and this regime that we will not stand down."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



KeithBinns/iStock(ISLAMABAD) -- Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, spent day three of their five-day tour of Pakistan visiting the country’s mountainside to talk about climate change.

William and Kate visited Chitral in the Hindu Kush region, a place that William’s late mother Princess Diana also visited during her first solo visit to Pakistan in 1991.

Diana wore a Chitrali hat during her visit, just as William and Kate did on Wednesday.

William and Kate were also shown a book of pictures of the late princess visiting the northern area of Pakistan in 1991, one of several visits she made to the country before her death in 1997.

In addition to the Chitrali hats, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also donned the embroidered coat, for William, and shawl and colorful jacket, for Kate, that they were given as gifts upon arriving in Chitral.

The royals traveled by helicopter to the Chiatibo Glacier in Broghil National Park, where they stood together to take in the views and learn more about how climate change is affecting Pakistan and its people.

The snow on the glacier is supposed to be a major source of water for the country, but locals say water scarcity is a major problem in Pakistan.

William and Kate have used their trip to Pakistan to focus on issues important to them, including the environment and championing the causes of young people.

Their visit to Islamabad Model College on Tuesday put a spotlight on the inequity of education in Pakistan, where 49% of girls are out of school, according to Kensington Palace.

Later this week, William and Kate are scheduled to visit the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, a local hospital for which Princess Diana helped raise money.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Christopher Drzazgows/U.S. Air Forces(WASHINGTON) -- American F-15s and Apache helicopters carried out a "show of force" in Syria on Tuesday after Turkish-backed militia fighters "came very close" to a U.S. base, according to a U.S. official.

The incident underscores the complex battlefield in Syria as 1,000 American troops are withdrawing from the country in the middle of fighting between Turkish forces and Syrian Kurds.

The U.S. official said the incident occurred near Ayn Issa, a town 18 miles from the Turkish border, where U.S. troops withdrew from their positions earlier this week.

According to the official, Turkish-backed militia fighters "came very close" to a base used by U.S. and Kurdish forces, putting the U.S. forces at risk.

The Turkish-backed fighters had violated an agreement with the U.S. to not get too close to U.S. forces and threaten them, the official added.

Typically, aerial shows of force involve aircraft flying at low altitude above opposing forces to demonstrate potential strength, should it be required.

The U.S. military also formally contacted the Turkish military to protest the risk posed to the American forces by the nearby presence of Turkish-backed fighters.

The 1,000 American forces have begun to withdraw from the battlefield areas in northern Syria. Earlier on Tuesday, Russian military forces appeared in Manbij after the withdrawal of the estimated 100 American troops stationed in that town.

A second U.S. official told ABC News the withdrawal of American troops and equipment in northeast Syria could take weeks. Most troops are expected to be withdrawn via aircraft. Equipment will be shipped out via air and by land.

A third U.S. official told ABC News additional military forces will have to enter Syria in order to transport out the equipment. This includes transport vehicles and whatever forces are required for protection.

According to the official, the U.S. has made contact with the Russian military, Kurdish forces and the Turkish military to ensure they're aware that the U.S. military troops in Syria are focused on a withdrawal.

Under the withdrawal plan authorized by President Donald Trump, a small contingent of U.S. military forces will remain at At Tanf Garrison, a military facility near the border with Jordan and Iraq.

In a statement issued on Monday, Trump said the small force would remain to deal with remaining ISIS fighters, but U.S. officials have previously acknowledged the main purpose of the force at At Tanf is to check Iranian military weapons flows and advances into Syria.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



NataliaCatalina/iStock(LONDON) -- Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, made their first joint appearance since their South Africa tour to attend the WellChild Awards, an awards ceremony for kids with serious illnesses and their caregivers.

Harry and Meghan met one-on-one with three of the night's winners, a 16-year-old boy who cares for his younger brother, a 12-year-old girl with cerebral palsy and a 6-year-old boy diagnosed with leukemia last year.

While talking to the 12-year-old girl, Milly Sutherland, Harry bonded with her over both being redheads while Meghan shared that she had just taken the couple's 5-month-old son Archie to his first playgroup.

"I just took Archie for his first class," Meghan said, according to ABC News royal contributor Omid Scobie. "It was a lot of fun. He loved it.”

Harry is patron of WellChild, which describes itself as the "national UK children's charity helping to get seriously ill children and young people out of hospital and home to their families."

The Duke of Sussex delivered a poignant speech in which he said attending the event and meeting the families "pulls at my heart strings in a way I could have never understood until I had a child of my own."

“Last year when my wife and I attended we knew we were expecting our first child. No one else did at the time, but we did," Harry said. "And I remember squeezing Meghan’s hand so tight during the awards, both of us thinking what it would be like to be parents one day and, more so, what it would be like to do everything we could to protect and help our child should they be born with immediate challenges or become unwell over time."

"And now, as parents, being here and speaking to all of you pulls at my heart strings in a way I could have never understood until I had a child of my own," he said.

The WellChild Awards is the first time the couple has appeared together in public since the news broke last week that Harry started legal action against several British tabloids with regard to "the illegal interception of voicemail messages."

A few days before that it was confirmed that Harry and Meghan are also taking legal action against another British tabloid, the Mail on Sunday, for what they allege was an invasion of privacy.

"There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face -- as so many of you can relate to -- I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been," Harry said in announcing the legal action, adding later in the statement, "I have been a silent witness to [Meghan's] private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in."

The legal action against the Mail on Sunday was confirmed on Oct. 1, just as Harry and Meghan wrapped up their tour of South Africa.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Martin Holverda/iStock(MOSCOW) -- A Russian woman indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller as an employee of the Russian "troll factory" that conducted a propaganda campaign targeting the 2016 U.S. presidential election was briefly detained and then released in Belarus on Tuesday, reportedly at the request of the United States.

The Russian foreign ministry on Tuesday confirmed that the woman, Anna Bogacheva, was detained in Minsk by Belorussian law enforcement agencies, but did not give any details on why she had been held. Alexander Malkevich, a Russian rights ombudsman who has previously linked himself to the troll factory, wrote on social media that according to his sources Bogacheva had been detained "by Interpol at the request of the U.S." in relation to the election meddling in 2016.

Bogacheva was one of 13 Russians charged by the Department of Justice in February 2018 as part of Mueller's investigation into Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. In the indictment, Bogacheva and the others were accused of working at the Internet Research Agency, the St. Petersburg-based company, better known as a troll factory, which prosecutors said churned out tens of thousands of divisive social media posts in an attempt to influence the American electorate. For those efforts, the Justice Department chose to charge Bogacheva and the others, along with the Internet Research Agency, with defrauding the United States.

The Internet Research Agency was set up and funded by a businessman viewed as close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The businessman, Evgeny Prigozhin, was nicknamed "Putin's Chef" because he runs a catering company that has supplied state events. Prigozhin, the IRA and his catering firm, Concord Catering and Concord Management, were also charged in the same Justice Department indictment.

Bogacheva herself was accused of working at the IRA from at least April 2014 to June 2014, according to the Justice Department indictment. She allegedly worked on the "Translator" project, the effort by the IRA that specifically targeted the U.S. population with English-language posts on social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. The indictment alleged Bogacheva had overseen the project's data analytics department.

In addition, Mueller's investigators said Bogacheva was one of a group of IRA employees that had traveled to the United States in summer 2014 with the goal of collecting "intelligence" for the IRA's disinformation operations.

"BOGACHEVA, together with other Defendants and coconspirators, planned travel itineraries, purchased equipment (such as cameras, SIM cards, and drop phones), and discussed security measures (including "evacuation scenarios") for Defendants who traveled to the United States," the indictment read. It said Bogacheva had traveled widely, visiting Nevada, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas and New York between June 4 and June 26, 2014.

Bogacheva was also charged with lying on her visa application for that trip.

None of the 13 Russians indicted for their work at the Internet Research Agency have ever been arrested and this would be the first time a Russian charged by Mueller in relation to the election interference operation had been detained. In addition to the IRA indictments, Mueller's investigation also led to the charging of 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking email accounts linked to the Democratic Party and then releasing them online. U.S. officials have said they believe there is little chance any of the Russians charged under Mueller will ever face a U.S. courtroom. Russia has refused to make any of those charged available to U.S. investigators.

Her detention in Belarus, however, seems to have been short. On Tuesday, Russia's embassy in Minsk said that Bogacheva had already told its embassy staff that she was free.

 Belarus's Prosecutor General's Office on Tuesday told the news agency Interfax-West that it had submitted a request to Interpol asking it to potentially remove her from its international wanted list on its territory. It said it had found "no basis" for holding Bogacheva with the goal of extraditing her abroad, Dmitry Brylev, the prosecutor office's spokesperson told Interfax.

"Yes, they detained her. Today she was released," Brylev said.

Malkevich, who first announced her detention, wrote on his account on the messenger service Telegram that according to his sources Bogacheva was already on her way back to Russia. Malkevich wrote on social media that according to his sources Bogacheva had been detained "by Interpol at the request of the U.S." in relation to the election meddling in 2016.

Bogacheva's detention in Belarus raised eyebrows, since President Alexander Lukashenko is almost uniquely close to Russia. Russia's invasion of Crimea and disputes over energy, however, have caused tensions recently between Minsk and Moscow, and Lukashenko has appeared to seek better relations with Europe and the United States. Last month, he hosted the White House's then-National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Arresting and then extraditing Bogacheva would almost certainly have provoked a major diplomatic row with Russia, which has always denied it had sought to influence the 2016 election.

Russian officials reacted angrily to the news of Bogacheva's detention.

"It is not clear to any sane person in Russia why Belarus, our fraternal republic with which we are building the Union State, behaves in this way," Viktor Vodolatsky, a member of Russia's parliamentary committee on the Community of Independent States Affairs, told the state news agency RIA Novosti.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



ABC News(WASHINGTON) --  The family of Harry Dunn, a British teenager killed when the wife of an American diplomat crashed into his motorcycle in August, is coming to the White House Tuesday for a meeting with “senior administration officials,” according to a White House official.

The White House stopped short of saying that the President Donald Trump would meet the family.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Trump to intervene in the case after it created an uproar there after the diplomat's wife left the country apparently claiming diplomatic immunity.

President Trump spoke out about the incident last week, calling it a “terrible accident” and expressed interest in trying to broker some sort of meeting or healing but also acknowledged that it’s a “very complex issue” due to diplomatic immunity.

“We are trying to work something out,” said Trump, adding that the administration wanted to speak to the American woman, Anne Sacoolas, involved in the accident.

“We’re going to speak to her and see what we can come up with so that there can be some healing. There’s tremendous anger over it. It’s a terrible incident. There’s tremendous anger, and I understand the anger from the other side very much,” Trump said.

While the president said he understands the anger from the perspective of those in the U.K., he has also expressed understanding of the confusion that can occur when driving in a country where the laws are different -- saying “it happens.”

 “I understand where the people from the U.K. are. And, frankly, a lot of Americans feel the same way. We have -- I was telling Boris, we have a lot of Americans that, you know, they side on the fact that, you know, you have two wonderful parents that lost their son, and the woman was driving on the wrong side of the road. And that can happen,” Trump said. “When you get used to driving on our system and then you’re all of a sudden in the other system, where you’re driving -- it happens.”

ABC News has reached out to Dunn's family for comment.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



omersukrugoksu/iStock(MOSCOW) -- Russia on Tuesday said its troops were now patrolling an area separating the forces of the Syrian government and Turkey, a development that signals how Moscow is taking the role of key power-broker in the conflict there following the United States’ withdrawal.

Russia's defense ministry said in a statement that Syrian army units had taken "full control" of Manbij and surrounding villages and that Russian military police were continuing to patrol along the northwestern edges of the area, including "along the line of contact between the Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey.” The statement said that Russia's military was "coordinating" with the Turkish side as a top Russian official said Moscow would prevent a clash between the two sides.

The Russian news agency, Ruptly, released video footage showing what it said was Syrian government forces driving into Manbij.

The developments in Manbij appeared to underline how Russia is now moving swiftly to broker a new arrangement on the ground amid Turkey's offensive against the Kurdish militias that control northern Syria and which began after President Donald Trump said he would withdraw U.S. troops last week.

It comes a day after the Kurds said they had struck a deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to move into Kurdish-held territory in a bid to halt the Turkish advance. Manbij is an important town that Turkey has threatened to seize for days, but Russia's statements on Tuesday, however, seemed to signal that it would not allow a Turkish attack.

The Kremlin's special presidential representative for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, on Tuesday said that Russia would not allow a clash to happen between the Syrian government and Turkey around Manbij.

"First of all, I think that no one wants this kind of clash to happen; it's completely inadmissible. So, of course, we will not allow that," Lavrentyev told a press conference in Abu Dhabi where he was asked how Moscow would stop a confrontation.

Lavrentyev also confirmed that Russia had mediated the deal agreed between the Kurds and the Assad regime, confirming the negotiations had taken place at Russia's Hmeimim air base in Syria.

Russia has become the crucial power in Syria's civil war after it intervened in 2015 to rescue the Assad regime. Since then, it has helped Assad reclaim much of the country from rebels.

Turkey's invasion and the U.S. exit has presented Russia with an opportunity to achieve its goal of having Assad regain greater control of the territory held by the Kurds. Facing destruction from the Turks, the Kurds have been forced to make a deal with the regime.

"We're all hoping the situation in the northeast will normalize by means of dialogue between the Kurds and the central authorities," Lavrentyev said, noting that the Turkish offensive had "pushed" the Kurds into negotiating with Assad.

"If this trend prevails, it will be a big step toward the restoration of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Syria," Lavrentyev added.

Turkey's president Tayyip Erdogan, however, has given no sign that he is willing to halt the current advance. “We will soon secure the region from Manbij to the border with Iraq,” he said on Tuesday during a visit to Azerbaijan.

The Turkish invasion targets the Kurdish militias that have established an autonomous region in northeastern Syria amid the chaos of Syria's civil war and who until last week were the U.S. key ally in defeating the so-called Islamic State. Turkey though has long viewed the emergence of the Kurdish territory as a threat to it, due to the Kurdish militias' ties to a Kurdish separatist insurgency on its territory.

Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops is viewed as a betrayal by the Kurds. Erdogan has vowed to take control of a 230-mile stretch along the border, which Turkey argues can then become a home for over 3 million Syrian refugees currently sheltering in Turkey.

The Kurds and others, however, have accused Turkey of carrying out ethnic cleansing, driving out Kurds to allow Arab refugees to take their place. The United Nations says 160,000 people so far have fled the fighting and possible war crimes have been reported by Turkish-aligned rebels, including the murder of a prominent Kurdish female politician.

The Trump administration on Monday called on Erdogan to call an immediate cease-fire and imposed sanctions on the Turkish defense and energy sectors, as well as three senior Turkish officials. Vice President Mike Pence has said he will lead a delegation to Ankara to press the Turkish government to end the operation.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



KeithBinns/iStock(ISLAMABAD) -- Prince William and Duchess Kate followed in the footsteps of William's late mom Princess Diana Tuesday as they continued their tour of Pakistan.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was a friend of Diana's and hosted her in the country when she visited in the 1990s.

Diana's memory also came up when William and Kate met with school children on the second day of their five-day tour of Pakistan.

A group of young female students told Prince William they were big fans of his mother. The prince replied, "I was a big fan of my mother too."

Princess Diana died in August 1997, just months after she made a third visit to Pakistan to help raise money for a local hospital.

William and Kate plan to visit that hospital, the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, later this week.

"Pakistan was hugely important to Diana and the fact that Will and Kate are here shows that they want to continue her legacy," said ABC News contributor Robert Jobson.

William and Kate, who are traveling without their three children, are also highlighting issues important to them, including young people and conservation.

Their visit to Islamabad Model College Tuesday put a spotlight on the inequity of education in Pakistan, where 49% of girls are out of school, according to Kensington Palace.

The duke and duchess met with women studying to become educators through Teach for Pakistan, described as a "fast-track teacher training program."

William and Kate also joined kids in a national park in the foothills of the Himalayas to spotlight the work Pakistan is doing to meet sustainable development goals and educate the next generation on environmental protection, according to Kensington Palace.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



ABC News(LONDON) -- The family of Harry Dunn, a British teenager who was killed when the wife of an American diplomat crashed into his motorcycle in August , said they learned about the woman's written apology through media reports on Monday and claimed she has yet to contact them directly.

"She's had seven weeks now to try to contact us in any way possible and we've had nothing up until we got advice and reached out to a family friend who's an ex lawyer," Dunn's mother, Charlotte Charles, told ABC News on Monday. "I think she needs to just face what she's done. We're a normal family and we're not out for revenge."

Charles and Dunn's father, Tim Dunn, traveled to the U.S. this week in an effort get justice for their son.

Harry Dunn, 19, was riding his motorcycle along a roadway in the village of Croughton, England, on the night of Aug. 27, when a car traveling in the opposite direction on the wrong side of the road hit him head-on, killing him.

Anne Sacoolas, 42, who is married to an American diplomat, admitted that she was responsible for the crash, but fled the U.K. to the U.S. after apparently claiming diplomatic immunity, which protects diplomats and their family members from prosecution or lawsuits under the host nation's laws.

She issued a statement through her lawyer, apologizing and saying she was "devastated by this tragic accident." But the teen's parents said the apology fell short.

"It's not strong enough," Charles said. "We have not actually been produced with the statement. But it's still only in black and white, isn't it? It's not her voice, it's not her coming to us and saying, 'I'm really sorry.'"

"We know she's going to be devastated, we know her children are going to be traumatized, but she still has her children and she's taken one of ours," she added.

Tim Dunn said he would have considered accepting her apology if it came "maybe a week after the accident or a few days afterwards."

"Now, because she said the statement we feel like it's only because we've done what we have done. So, it sort of forced her to say the statement," Tim Dunn told ABC News.

Sacoolas left England about three weeks after the accident even though she allegedly told U.K. authorities that she would cooperate with the ongoing investigation. Her attorney, Amy Jeffress, said her client wants to meet with the family to apologize and take responsibility. Dunn's parents told ABC News that they would only meet with her if she returned to the U.K. to face the consequences of her actions.

Police intended to arrest and formally interview Sacoolas, and they are "now exploring all opportunities through diplomatic channels to ensure that the investigation continues to progress," according to Northamptonshire Police Superintendent Sarah Johnson.

"Our investigation into the death of Harry Dunn continues at pace," Johnson said in a statement Sunday. "Northamptonshire Police remains absolutely committed to getting Harry and his family justice and we are doing everything on our side to ensure that a full and thorough investigation, with the assistance of all parties involved, takes place, in order for this to be achieved."

In a recent letter to the parents, obtained by ABC News, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab explained that immunity "is no longer relevant" because Sacoolas has returned home to the United States. Raab said he and his staff have been "in constant discussions" with the U.S. government and Embassy officials since the deadly traffic accident occurred over the summer.

"We have pressed strongly for a waiver of immunity, so that justice can be done in Harry's case," the British foreign secretary wrote. "Whilst the U.S. government has steadfastly declined to give that waiver, that is not the end of the matter."

The family, who described their son as "loving" and a "free spirit," who would always stand up for what he believed in, said they were heartbroken beyond measure when they discovered that Sacoolas left the country.

"When she left the country, it made it feel like we lost him again, so we haven't really started to grieve anyway," Tim Dunn said. "I'm not ready to grieve yet. I need to get the justice for Harry and then maybe I can go and cry my heart out."

"It was devastating. It was awful. It was like losing Harry again ... it hurt that much," Tim Dunn said.

The family said they plan to spend their time in the U.S. meeting with journalists and politicians in New York City and Washington, D.C., in an effort to "reach out for support from all Americans and to ask them to put pressure on the U.S. administration to do the right thing."

"Our boy was just so heartfelt and he just stood up for his rights. We know we can't let him down and we can't let his twin brother down," the teen's mother said. "Any closure that we can get would help, but the main closure for us would be her getting on that plane, coming back to the U.K. to meet us and present herself to the police."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



KeithBinns/iStock(LONDON) -- Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, arrived in Pakistan Monday for the start of their five-day official royal tour.

Kate stepped off the plane in Islamabad in an aqua blue shalwar kameez, a traditional style of dress for Pakistani women that features a flowing tunic top over pants.

The outfit was designed by Catherine Walker, one of the royal family's go-to designers who was also a favorite of Prince William's mother, the late Princess Diana.

William and Kate's trip is expected to draw many comparisons to a solo trip Diana made to Pakistan in May 1997, just months before her death.

On Thursday, William and Kate are scheduled to visit the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, which Princess Diana also visited on her trip.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's five-day trip will focus on "showcasing Pakistan as it is today – a dynamic, aspirational and forward-looking nation," according to Kensington Palace. They are visiting the country at the request of the U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Like Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, did on their recent tour of South Africa, William and Kate will focus on meeting with and spotlighting young people in Pakistan.

"Access to quality education, particularly to girls and young women, is one of the UK’s top priorities in Pakistan," Kensington Palace said in a statement. "The Duke and Duchess are looking forward to spending time meeting young Pakistanis, and hearing more about their aspirations for the future."

As William and Kate visit with organizations and people in Pakistan, they will be trailed by a very heavy security presence. More than 1,000 police have been deployed in Pakistan to help protect the duke and duchess.

Kensington Palace called the five-day tour the "most complex tour undertaken by The Duke and Duchess to date, given the logistical and security considerations.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



feradz/iStock(MADRID) -- Catalunya took to the streets of Barcelona on Monday after nine separatist leaders were sentenced to between nine and 13 years in prison by the Supreme Court of Madrid. The highest court's stiff decision came after a lengthy trial related to the region's October 2017 "unconstitutional independence referendum" -- a vote that led Catalonia to declare its independence from Spain.

The separatist leaders were found guilty of sedition, disobedience or misuse of public funds. The prosecution had asked for a charge brutal rebellion, which would have carried a sentence up to 25 years in prison, but the seven judges ruled against it.

The four-month trial involved a staggering 422 witnesses and returned Spain to the unusual weeks of October 2017, when Catalunya almost touched a longtime dream of independence. The vote led Spain into its deepest political crisis since the dark years of the Francisco Franco dictatorship in the 1970s.

Among the separatist leaders convicted were former Foreign Minister Raul Romeva, Labor Minister Dolors Bassa and Carme Forcadell, who was speaker of the Catalan Parliament at the time. Forcadell, 64, will serve 11 1/2 years in prison.

Separatist sympathizers called for massive protests following Monday's ruling, attempting to block traffic on major highways and crowded Barcelona's main airport. At El Pratt,110 flights were canceled, according to the Mosos Police. According to authorities, there were 78 people hurt in the massive protests, which brought out riot police and ended with tear gas fired into the crowds.

"I am shocked and mad," said Olivier Pujol, one of the protesters who hit the streets of Barcelona after hearing the judges' decision.

Not far from the famous Ramblas in the capital of Spain's richest region, Pujol told ABC News that despite not being a separatist militant he just wants to have the right to vote.

"These prisoners did not do anything else than asking Spain to respect our right for democracy," he said. "The right to choose."

More than 2 million Catalans voted in October 2017 for Catalunya to become an independent state in the form of a republic, according to the Catalan government. The referendum was unauthorized and took place despite Madrid's opposition, and then lack of recognition.

Adria Alsina Leal, former national secretary of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), confided to ABC News while marching in Monday's protests that the Spanish state decision was an additional humiliation.

"This is heartbreaking moment for pro- and non-separatist supporters who feel attacked by a state which is supposed to protect us and our ideas, and not to destroy our political landscape," Leal said.

The Spanish Justice Ministry defines sedition as allowing public disorder in order to subvert the law.

Indeed, after a few weeks of resistance, Carles Puidgemont,former President of Catalunya region who is currently in exile in Belgium, did read out loud the independence declaration inside the Catalan Parliament after 70 votesin favor, 10 against and 2 blank which made Madrid furious.

Mariano Rajoy, conservative prime minister of Spain at the time of the vote in 2017, suspended the regional power of Catalunya and dissolved the assembly.

After the court made the decision, former Vice President Oriol Junqueras said in a tweet that Catalan independence was closer than ever and said his party will come back stronger, more convinced and firm than ever.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Oleksii Liskonih/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- For over four years, the U.S. armed and fought with Syrian Kurdish forces who served as America's foot soldiers against the Islamic State terror group. But with President Donald Trump pulling American troops out of Syria, those Kurdish forces announced on Sunday that they have a new partner: Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

Alliances in Syria have evolved throughout the country's eight-and-a-half year-old war, but the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the Kurdish alignment with Assad is one of the most dramatic changes that heralds a new chapter in what has already been an unending, horrific conflict.

It gives Assad -- the strongman president who tried to put down an initial rebellion in 2011 with brutal force and has bombed, gassed, tortured, and jailed his own people in the ensuing civil war -- effective control over Kurdish-held territory in the northeast.

That leaves just one pocket of opposition-held territory in the country's northwest, which Assad has moved in recent months to conquer militarily, with air power from his sponsor Russia. But Turkey has troops stationed there as it backs opposition groups, including some with ties to al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups -- setting up a showdown of Turkish and opposition forces against Syrian and now Kurdish forces.

Here's a look at the key players involved in Syria in what started as a civil war and has mutated into a regional proxy conflict.

Which Kurds?


The Kurds are an ethnic group that have historically inhabited the highlands of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran and Armenia, united across borders by culture and language. They practice different religions, but the majority are Sunni Muslims. They never have had their own country, with each of those nations struggling, to varying degrees, against Kurdish independence movements.

In Turkey, one of those independence movements -- the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK -- is designated a terrorist organization, including by the U.S. since 1997. For decades, Turkey has sought to squash the PKK and experienced PKK terror attacks, which the U.S. has supported its NATO ally against.

But across Turkey's southern border in Syria, the U.S. partnered with Syrian Kurdish forces to fight ISIS. The People's Protection Units, or YPG, were the main fighting forces in the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, which served as the foot soldiers for the U.S. and its global coalition to defeat ISIS. It was a partnership that always angered Turkey, who makes no distinction between the PKK and YPG. But U.S. officials said it was the only option because the U.S. and other countries were unwilling to send troops in and Turkey was unwilling or unable to effectively fight ISIS.

The departing Americans

The U.S. had up to 2,500 troops on the ground in Syria, which were so closely partnering with SDF troops, that the Kurds directly called in U.S. air strikes as they fought block by block to retake cities and towns from ISIS. They lost approximately 11,000 fighters -- male and female -- in that offensive. In the months since the ISIS "caliphate" fell, the U.S. continued to work with the SDF to stabilize liberated areas and eliminate remaining ISIS cells.

But last December, after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump ordered all U.S. forces out of Syria. That sudden decision led to the resignation of his Defense Secretary James Mattis and special envoy for ISIS Brett McGurk, although eventually it was slowed down as U.S. officials said they wanted to ensure it was a safe and deliberate process.

There are approximately 1,000 American troops in the country now, but nearly all of them will be departing Syria soon, according to the Pentagon. Their departure, announced after another Trump-Erdogan call on Oct. 6, has allowed Turkish forces and their opposition allies to move in against the Kurdish fighters.

Turkey and its rebel allies

That offensive began last week, prompting international condemnation and U.S. sanctions. Turkey has conducted air and artillery strikes against Syrian Kurdish forces as its proxy forces have moved into Kurdish-held territory.

The main fighting force there is the National Army, formerly known as the Free Syrian Army -- a rebel force of Syrian military defectors and ordinary citizens who were armed and trained by the U.S. until Trump came to office and ended the program. They have pushed back into one last pocket in Syria's northwest, where they are boosted by Turkish troops.

But other groups under this opposition umbrella have ties to al-Qaeda, the most powerful of which is Hayat Tahrir al Sham, or HTS, the latest incarnation of the al-Nusra Front, which was al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate.

The Kurds' new ally, Assad

These rebel groups have been Assad's primary target as he moves to retake the last territory out of his control, the Idlib province. In recent months, his troops and allies -- Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanese paramilitary organization -- have skirmished with rebels there as Russian air strikes bombed cities, including hitting civilian targets. A Turkish convoy was hit in an August air strike, heightening tensions.

After the U.S. withdrew its troops, Kurdish forces reached an agreement with Assad on Sunday. Government troops were already moving into Kurdish-controlled territory for the first time in years. That could block Turkish forces from moving further south into Kurdish-controlled terrain, or set up more direct clashes between two militaries.

Trump said in a tweet on Monday that the U.S. considers Assad "our enemy," and there are extensive sanctions against his regime, Iran and Russia for supporting it, and those that do business with it. But it's unclear if the Kurds will be sanctioned for partnering with him now too. The State Department has not responded to questions about that.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



On Air Now
Lars Larson
Lars Larson
7:00pm - 10:00pm
The Lars Larson Show
Email Comments
My Profile
WOND Facebook

Community Calendar
Weather