World Headlines
Subscribe To This Feed

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In a fittingly showbiz finale to the country’s surprising election, Ukraine’s two presidential candidates, incumbent president Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the comedian who currently leads him the polls, faced each other on Friday in a debate held in a stadium filled with thousands of cheering supporters.

The election’s second round run-off is due to take place on Sunday, with polls showing Poroshenko far behind Zelenskiy, who has no previous political experience and appears on television as a schoolteacher who inadvertently becomes president. Zelenskiy trounced Poroshenko in the first round on April 1 and polls currently show him with an overwhelming lead.

Friday’s debate, held in Kiev’s 70,000-seat Olympic Stadium, more closely resembled a rock concert or sports match than a traditional pre-election debate. Two stages were erected at either ends of the field, with the candidates divided into opposing sections. Moderators tossed a coin to choose which end the debate would occur at, with it landing for Zelenskiy.

Poroshenko entered the stadium with his entourage like a boxer, swaggering along the stadium’s running track.

The debate itself often resembled a boxing match, with both candidates making accusations of corruption and cronyism. Ultimately, it took the form of a question and answer session, as the two shouted over the noise of the crowd for an hour.

Zelenskiy, who is a popular performer in both Ukraine and Russia, has effectively run as his TV character—an every-man promising to clean up Ukraine’s politics and to jail corrupt officials. Poroshenko, a billionaire who was elected off the back of the 2014 revolution that toppled Ukraine’s Russian-backed president, has painted himself as a strong war-time leader capable of standing up to Russia.

He has struggled though to counter Zelenskiy’s anti-establishment candidacy and at the debate, the two fell into the familiar roles.

"I am not a politician," Zelenskiy told the crowd. "I am simply a person. A person who has come to break the system."

He accused Poroshenko of allowing his allies to enrich themselves and protecting his own interests, while failing to end the war with Russia that has cost 13,000 lives since 2014.

Poroshenko, speaking in the thumping tones common to former Soviet politicians, attacked Zelenskiy’s inexperience and painted him as soft on Russia. He focused heavily on Zelenskiy’s time working in Russia and on jokes he had made at Ukraine’s expense. "Don’t mock our country," Poroshenko told him, referring to him as a "candy wrapper,": shiny on the outside but without substance.

Poroshenko also repeatedly drew attention to Zelenskiy’s ties to oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, who owns the channel 1 1 which broadcasts Zelenskiy’s shows and who has backed his campaign.

"You are a vehicle for oligarchs," Poroshenko said.

Zelenskiy fired back by pointing out Poroshenko is himself an oligarch, often nicknamed the 'Chocolate King' because his fortune is based on a confectionery brand.

"I believe a president should not be an oligarch. A president should be a person." Zelenskiy said. As he has previously, he warned Poroshenko that he might one day face criminal charges.

"I am not your opponent, I am your sentence," Zelenskiy told him.

The debate itself has been a central feature of the campaign, with Ukrainians watching as the two effectively debated how to hold it for the past three weeks. It began with Zelenskiy releasing a viral video in which he set conditions to debate Poroshenko, among them that the two take televised drugs tests.

The two took the tests, but afterwards struggled to agree a date. As a result, last Sunday, Poroshenko found himself debating on a stage alone versus an empty podium after Zelenskiy refused to attend.

In the end, the debate looked unlikely to have much of an effect. Final polls have shown Zelenskiy with an intimidating lead over Poroshenko. A poll this week by research body Reiting showed Zelenskiy at 57.9% of votes, with Poroshenko at 21.7%

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Chalabala/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A journalist from Northern Ireland was shot and killed by what authorities called "terrorists" during rioting in the country ahead of this weekend's religious holidays.

Lyra McKee, 29, was fatally shot Thursday night in Derry/Londonderry near Creggan, a large housing complex in the northwest town, about 70 miles west of Belfast, the nation's capital. McKee was a freelancer, who had written for The Atlantic and BuzzFeed News.

The Northern Ireland Police Service said, "Lyra McKee was murdered during orchestrated violence in Creggan last night. A single gunman fired shots in a residential area of the city and as a result wounded Ms McKee."

"Officers quickly administered first aid before transporting her in the back of a landrover to hospital," police said in a release. "Tragically she died from her injuries."

The rioting apparently erupted as homes belonging to Irish republicans, those who believe all of Ireland should be separate from British rule, were raided ahead of the Easter weekend.

"Protecting the public is and will always be our priority," Northern Ireland police said. "The searches were being carried out because we believed that violent dissident republicans were storing firearms and explosives for a number of planned attacks and these may have been used over the Easter weekend in the city."

There were about 100 people in the area, including "young people and members of the media," when the unknown shooter fired into a crowd of people, police said.

Prior to the shooting, the protesters had gathered near Creggan at about 9 p.m. Police said the rioters threw over 50 petrol bombs at police officers and hijacked two vehicles, which were then set on fire.

McKee had tweeted earlier in the evening, "Derry tonight. Absolute madness."

"This murder demonstrates all too starkly that when terrorists bring violence and guns into the community, members of the public are placed in severe danger," authorities said in a release. "It is abundantly clear that they do not care who they harm."

McKee was also an author, with a book deal with publisher Faber and Faber. Her first book, the nonfiction novella Angels With Blue Faces, from Excalibur Press, is due to be published this year. Her second book, The Lost Boys, was to be released in 2020.

She appeared on Forbes' European 30 under 30 list for media in 2016, with the magazine saying her "passion is to dig into topics that others don't care about."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

scyther5/iStock(LONDON) -- The United Kingdom said it will introduce a law requiring Age Verification Certificates, or AVCs, to view online pornography beginning in July, making it the first country to do so.

Digital rights campaigners have criticized the decision aimed at ensuring only those 18 and older can view the material, producers of which could face massive fines or be banned from service providers if they don't comply.

The government hasn't yet explained exactly how AVCs would work. The new law is set to take effect July 15, according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

The government's stated rationale is that it remains far too easy for children to access adult content online, said Margot James, minister for digital.

"The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we've taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children," James said. "We want the U.K. to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this."

David Austin, chief executive of the British Board of Film Classification, the company ensuring compliance with the law, described it as "a groundbreaking child protection measure."

"Age-verification," he said, "will help prevent children from accessing pornographic content online and means the U.K. is leading the way in internet safety."

The government based its decision on polling data from YouGov that suggested 88 percent of U.K. parents with children younger than 18 believe age-verification technology should be used to curb access to adult content.

The digital rights organization Open Rights Group, however, decried the move as a "serious failing" for users' privacy and that it was introduced without proper public consultation.

"It's understandable why the government wants age verification on porn sites," Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, told ABC News. "However, they have refused to regulate AV for safety and privacy of customers. This is a serious failing and something they could fix immediately. Unfortunately, there was little public debate when the laws were passed."

There will be a "shock" when the checks come into force, he added, while the law also missed the mark when it comes to making the world safer for children.

"We should be focusing less on technology that won't work but sounds good," Killock added, "and more on educating under-18s about the risks of different kinds of content and behavior online."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Craig Zerbe/iStock(NEW YORK) -- One American and two European climbers are presumed dead after after an avalanche at a national park in Canada.

The mountaineers, who have not been named, were attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak at Banff National Park in Alberta on Tuesday but were reported overdue on Wednesday, Parks Canada said in a statement. Visitor safety specialists then responded by air and observed signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment on the Icefields Parkway, where the peak is located, park officials said.

All three men are professional mountain athletes and are "highly experienced," according to Parks Canada. They are presumed dead "based on the assessment of the scene," the statement read. The men were part of The North Face's Global Athlete Team, the company said in a statement.

Recovery efforts are currently on hold due to "dangerous conditions" and the possibility of additional avalanches, park officials said. The east face of Howse Peak is "an exceptionally difficult objective" and located in a remote area with mixed rock and ice routes, according to the statement. Advanced mountaineering skills are required to climb it, according to Parks Canada.

The North Face described the men as "valued and loved members The North Face family."

"We are doing everything we can to support their families, friends and the climbing community during this difficult time," the company said in a statement. "We ask that you keep our athletes and their loved ones in your hearts and thoughts."

Additional information was not immediately available.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(PARIS) -- The father and daughter captured in a photograph in front of Notre Dame an hour before a massive fire erupted and destroyed parts of the building has been found.

But, the dad has asked to keep their identities a secret.

Brooke Windsor, who took the photo, tweeted on Thursday morning, “The search is over! The photo has reached the dad and family.”

Windsor relayed that the father asked to remain anonymous in the wake of the tragedy. She shared on Twitter that he thanked her for the photo and that he “will find a special place for it.”

Windsor captured the sweet moment in front of the cathedral on Monday.

“I took this photo as we were leaving #NotreDame about an hour before it caught on fire,” she wrote Monday on Twitter, sharing the picture hours after the historical cathedral went ablaze. “I almost went up to the dad and asked if he wanted it. Now I wish I had. Twitter if you have any magic, help him find this.”

Brooke has thanked social media for their support in finding the father saying, “I knew y’all could do it.”

Since her tweet was posted on Monday, the photo garnered more than 460,000 likes and was shared more than 200,000 times.

The fire at the Notre Dame has prompted an outpouring of support from people across the world. In the past week, nearly $1 billion has been raised from to rebuild the iconic cathedral, including a total of 300 million euros from French billionaires Bernard Arnault and François-Henri Pinault. A national fundraising campaign is underway from Fondation du Patrimoine, a French heritage organization.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- France is paying tribute Thursday to the hundreds of firefighters who saved the world-renowned Notre Dame Cathedral from utter collapse.

Nearly 500 firefighters battled a massive fire at the 12th century Catholic cathedral in Paris for several hours Monday night. The flames devoured its oak-ribbed roof and 300-foot spire, but the overall facade of the medieval edifice, including its iconic belfries and rose-stained glass windows, was mostly kept intact. The famed 18-century organ as well as many priceless artwork, artifacts and relics were also spared or rescued.
French President Emmanuel Macron thanked firefighters and security forces during a tribute ceremony at the presidential Elysee Palace on Thursday. He also met privately with some of the men and women gathered there who had helped quell the blaze.

"The country and the entire world were watching us and you were exemplary," Macron said in his speech at the ceremony.

Also on Thursday, Paris City Hall hosted a ceremony in honor of the firefighters that included a Bach violin concert and readings from French writer Victor Hugo's 19th-century literary classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Bells at all of the churches and cathedrals across France rang out in unison on Wednesday night in honor of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

The fire erupted at the Gothic church during a mass Monday evening at the start of Holy Week, the busiest and most important period of the liturgical year. Although the flames caused extensive damage, which will take years to repair, no one was killed.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation. Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz told reporters Tuesday that it was "likely accidental."

During Thursday's ceremonies, crews continued their work to secure key sections of the fire-ravaged structure, which still stands but remains very fragile. The Notre Dame Cathedral was already undergoing a $170 million renovation and was partially encased in scaffolding at the time of the blaze.

France's president said he wants to see the 850-year-old landmark rebuilt in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Nearly $1 billion in donations from around the world has already been pledged to aid the restoration process.

"During our history, we have built cities, ports, churches. Many have burned or been destroyed by wars, revolutions or the faults of men. Each time, each time, we rebuilt them," Macron said in a televised address Tuesday. "So yes, we will rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral even more beautiful, and I want it to be completed within five years."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- North Korea's announcements this week that its leader Kim Jong Un had inspected military sites and overseen the test-firing of a new weapon appear to be an attempt to get the United States back to the negotiating table, analysts said.

The North's state media reported this week that Kim inspected the country's military sites two days in a row, with the official Korean Central News Agency underlining the importance of "strengthening combat power."

KCNA reported Thursday that North Korea test-fired a new type of tactical guided weapon the day before, while on Tuesday, state media said Kim inspected an air force training site.

Analysts in South Korea said North Korea was trying to send a message to the U.S. and South Korea.

North Korea’s message was directed at getting the U.S. to return to the negotiation table, Shin Beom Chul, the director of the Center for Security and Unification at Asan Institute for Policy Studies, in Seoul, South Korea, told ABC News.

"Through their tactical guided weapons test, they want to let the international community know, they are capable of finding a new path if the negotiations continue like the way it is now," Shin said. "It was air force inspection yesterday and short-range missile test today, so we can even go on to guess there may be a nuclear provocation next year."

The message is indirect, but obviously targeting the U.S., analysts said.

"North Korea is displaying a passive military demonstration with jets and conventional weapons, since they cannot provoke U.S. directly with nuclear weapons or long-range missiles," Park Hwi Rak, a political science professor at Kookmin University, in Seoul, told ABC News. "By that they want to let others know, they are not satisfied with the stalled sanctions negotiations with the U.S."

North Korean media introduced the tests as tactical guided weapons, implying that the weapons may be for battlefield purposes, not posing actual threats on the U.S. mainland.

"Firing ballistic missile may provide reason for additional sanctions from the international community so North Korea chose to voice their opinion without receiving negative response on their military actions," Moon Sung-muk, an arms-control expert at Korea Research Institute for Strategy, told ABC News.

South Korean experts added that Kim's consecutive inspection at military sites not only aimed for voicing their presence, but also to relieve anxiety among the North Korean people by reassuring the leader’s determination in strong national defense.

"Kim Jong Un chose to strengthen its bargaining power and at the same time boost its military spirits by giving spotlight to its powerful leader," Moon said.

South Korea's presidential office took a cautious approach, declining to issue an official comment on the test. The country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters they are "analyzing North Korean leadership’s movement from various angles, and and also the newly introduced tactical guided weapons."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Karwai Tang/WireImage(LONDON) -- Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, may look beyond the normal pool of royal nannies when selecting someone to care for their first child, according to a new report in the U.K.'s The Daily Mirror.

“Meghan and Harry have actually said that they actually favor an American over a Brit and also the nanny could be female or male I understand,” Daily Mirror reporter Russell Myers told ABC News' Good Morning America. “So we could be seeing a royal first on both counts and even a manny.”

Meghan, 37, a native of California, is due to give birth to the couple’s first child in a matter of weeks. She and Harry have been working with an agency in London to find a nanny for their first-born, according to Myers.

The royal couple has also indicated to the agency that they want their nanny to feel like more a member of their family than hired help, Myers’ reports.

Buckingham Palace has not commented.

If Meghan and Harry were to choose an American or a male nanny, it would be yet another way the couple is paving their own way as members of Britain’s royal family.

Harry and his older brother, Prince William, had female nannies throughout their childhood, including Olga Powell and Tiggy Legge-Bourke.

William, and his wife, Duchess Kate, selected Maria Borrallo, a graduate of the prestigious Norland College, to care for their three children, starting in 2013 with the birth of Prince George.

Norland College, located in Bath, about 100 miles west of London, is largely considered the Harvard for English nannies. It is affectionately known as the Mary Poppins school because of the quality of the nannies who come from its ranks.

"The nannies are taught everything from defensive driving to security issues to how to care for a future king or queen," ABC News royal contributor Victoria Murphy said in 2015, the year William and Kate's second child, Princess Charlotte, was born. "So she just really knows everything that you could possibly need to know about bringing up a child."

Norland nannies train for three years before receiving their diploma.

ABC News' Amy Robach went inside the famous school before Prince George's birth and learned that the nannies in training could only wear minimal makeup with their hair up, one pair of stud earrings and flat lace-up shoes. Their distinctive Edwardian brown uniform, complete with bow tie, felt hat and white gloves, has barely been updated since the college's conception in 1892.

Nannies are taught to push the large Silver Cross prams -- or strollers -- favored by the royals and fold a cloth nappy or diaper, using cotton wool instead of wipes to clean a baby's bottom.

Most importantly, they learn to live by the Norland motto, "love never faileth."
"It isn't about the strict discipline and nanny knows best," Liz Hunt, the college's principal told ABC News in 2013. "What we look for, in particular, is someone who is warm, caring, fun-loving; somebody who will enable the child to grow and to be empowered."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Oleksii Liskonih/iStock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- North Korea reportedly test-fired a new type of tactical guided weapon on Wednesday in a move that could dampen the prospects of a successful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Hours later, the isolated nation outright called for U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to be replaced in negotiations between the two countries.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected and directed the test-firing, state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Thursday, although U.S. officials have not confirmed those reports.

If confirmed, the test would mark the country's first public weapons test since its second summit with President Donald Trump ended without an agreement earlier this year.

A senior North Korean diplomat called for Pompeo to be replaced on Thursday, calling for a more "careful and mature" negotiator, according to South Korean media outlet Yonhap. Pompeo has overseen much of the negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea over denuclearization, taking multiple trips to Pyongyang to speak with Kim's government.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui was critical of Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton following the collapse of talks in Vietnam earlier this year. Both disputed last month that there were any issues between the two sides.

"Following that, we continued to have very professional conversations, where we tried our best to work together and represent our respective sides. I have every expectation that we'll be able to continue to do that," Pompeo said in March.

KCNA did not publish images from the test site or disclose details about the type of weapon tested. South Korean news agency Yonhap also reported on the testing, calling the development an "event of very weighty significance" in North Korea's efforts to beef up its military power.

The term "tactical" implies that the weapon may have been a battlefield or short-range type of weapon and not a long-range ballistic missile that could pose a threat to the U.S., experts said.

The Pentagon is not yet confirming what test may have taken place, but an official told ABC News that it had ruled out a ballistic missile test.

A White House official would not comment on the reported test beyond acknowledging that they are aware of the reporting.

"We are aware of the report, and have no further comment," the White House official said.

Trump laid out an all-or-nothing strategy when he met with Kim in Vietnam two months ago, telling the North Korean leader that he would have to give up all weapons of mass destruction if he wanted sanctions relief.

"He said the testing will not start," Trump said at a press conference after the summit. "He said he is not going to do testing of rockets or missiles or anything having to do with nuclear."

The summit ended abruptly with Trump leaving ahead of schedule without a reaching a deal. The president dismissed the idea that the breakdown of his talks with Kim meant their relationship has soured.

"We just like each other," Trump said at the time. "We have a good relationship. It's a totally different system to put it mildly but we like each other."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(LONDON) — France's prime minister has announced "an international architecture competition" to rebuild the iconic arrow-like spire atop the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which caught fire on Monday evening.

“Should we reconstruct an arrow? The same? Adapted to the techniques and challenges of our time? An international architecture competition for the reconstruction of the cathedral spire will be organized," French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

The 300-foot spire toppled over in flames on Monday night as a massive fire engulfed the world-famous medieval Catholic cathedral, an 850-year-old landmark situated in the middle of the Seine river on a tiny island i within the French capital. Firefighters battled the blaze for nine hours before quelling the flames.

No one was killed in the fire, the cause of which is under investigation.

The cathedral was partially encased in scaffolding while undergoing a $170 million renovation at the time of the fire. Much of the ribbed oak roof, made up of centuries-old wooden beams, was destroyed.

Yet, despite the extensive damage, which will take years to repair, the historic edifice appears to be mainly intact with its belfries and many other iconic features spared.

Msgr. Patrick Chauvet, who was at the cathedral when the blaze broke during a mass, told reporters the famous 18th-century organ, which boasts 8,000 pipes, and three rose-stained glass windows, which date back to 1250, both survived the inferno.

A bronze rooster that sat atop a cross on the spire was also found only slightly damaged, according to Chauvet.

Valerie Pecresse, president of the Ile-de-France region that encompasses Paris, called it a "miracle" that the walls of the cathedral are still standing.

Firefighters remained on site Wednesday working to secure the structure, dampening potential hotspots and removing priceless artwork, artifacts and relics, according to a spokesperson for the Paris Fire Brigade.

French President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address Tuesday that he wants to see the fire-gutted cathedral restored in five years and it will be "even more beautiful." Nearly $1 billion in donations from worshipers and billionaires around the world has already been pledged to help rebuild it.

The blaze came at the start of Holy Week, the busiest and most important period of the liturgical year. Easter is on Sunday.

Bells at cathedrals across France will ring out Wednesday evening in honor of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images(LONDON) — Over 300 climate change activists have been arrested during three days of demonstrations in London.

Protesters have been attempting to disrupt transportation in the city, including gluing themselves to trains and blocking off a major intersection at Waterloo Bridge.

The action is being led by the radical Extinction Rebellion group with the aim of moving governments worldwide to "take decisive action on the climate and ecological emergency."

On Monday, police imposed a 24-hour "condition" on Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus, two of London's busiest locations, to prevent protesters from gathering, but videos published on the Extinction Rebellion Twitter page show protests are still going strong.

The videos show activists singing and dancing, as well as some being dragged away and arrested by police.

What are the police doing?

“This is a human rights issue. You should not be arresting us. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Long live Extinction Rebellion!”

The corporations destroying the earth reside here. Let us act in solidarity.#InternationalRebellion

— Extinction Rebellion 🐝⌛️🦋 (@ExtinctionR) April 17, 2019

Loving the vibe on #WaterlooBridge #ExtinctionRebellion

— Andrew Harmer (@andrew_harmer) April 16, 2019

Meanwhile, one activist glued himself to a train window in Canary Wharf, one of London's busiest financial centers, and two activists glued themselves to the top of the train unfurling a banner that read "Climate Emergency."

BREAKING: #ExtinctionRebellion activists peacefully lock on to London's DLR overground trains in Canary Wharf, the city's financial hub.

— Extinction Rebellion 🐝⌛️🦋 (@ExtinctionR) April 17, 2019

Two men and one woman were arrested "on suspicion of obstructing the railway" after specialist teams "trained in protest removal" arrived on the scene, British Transport Police said in a statement.

And the protests could continue for the foreseeable future, according to Extinction Rebellion activist Roger Hallam, who said they were protesting to "inform the British people that they will die if we do not stop the government from putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."

"We are in ongoing rebellion against the government," he told ABC News. "It will end when we get the demands met. This particular mobilization will continue for one to two weeks depending on whether many people join in mass civil disobedience."

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said Tuesday while he shared the protesters' "passion" for the need to tackle climate change, he was "extremely concerned" by the disruption to London's public transport.

"It's one of the biggest challenges we face -- and Governments around the world are failing to take the action we need," he said in a statement. "However … targeting public transport in this way would only damage the cause of all of us who want to tackle climate change, as well as risking Londoners' safety, and I'd implore anyone considering doing so to think again."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

NASA(NEW YORK) -- Last month, NASA astronaut Christina Koch was less than a week away from a historic all-women spacewalk before a spacesuit availability problem nixed that plan, but on Wednesday the space agency announced its intentions to give Koch a different piece of history. This one will just take a lot longer.

NASA announced that Koch -- who took off for the International Space Station on March 14, or Pi Day -- will stay in space through February 2020. The Michigan native and former electrical engineer for the agency spoke to ABC News' David Kerley exclusively.

"I still have the grin on my face that won't seem to go away, just that I'm here every day," she said in an interview from the International Space Station. "I don't necessarily count numbers or days I just think about doing my best every day."

Koch is a rookie astronaut and, if all goes as planned, will surpass Peggy Whitson’s single spaceflight record for a female of 288 days in space on Dec. 28. She previously spent months at the poles of the Earth working on firefighting and search and rescue teams, in addition to doing scientific field work. She's also worked as an electrical engineer in labs at the Johns Hopkins University and NASA.

She completed her spacewalk earlier this month without fellow astronaut Anne McClain, who began her International Space Station stay in December. McClain had completed her first spacewalk on March 22 and discovered then that she needed a “medium-size hard upper torso,” or the shirt of the spacesuit, according to NASA.

That is apparently the same size worn by Koch and NASA has a limited availability of spacewalking spacesuits. There is only one medium-size top on the space station.

Koch says exploring new frontiers -- whether that is the North Pole or space -- is critical to the betterment of the earth.

"The perspective that you gain up here looking down on earth, and seeing a world without borders representing all of humanity, up here in a global effort to explore and to do science on the frontiers. That actually benefits the earth that we're looking down on," she told Kerley.

"My primary message is to challenge yourself to reach farther than you think you can go," Koch said. "I think when we achieve a dream that's just outside of what we thought was in our reach, it has magnifying effects both for ourselves and what we can then strive to do in the future, but also for the world around us."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Okavango Diamond Company(NEW YORK) -- Botswana unveiled the largest rare blue diamond ever discovered within its borders: a super rare "Fancy blue" diamond weighing more than 20 carats.

The unique gemstone was discovered at Botswana’s Orapa mine as a 41.11-carat rough stone. Its unusual and vibrant blue color is created by the molecular inclusion of the rare mineral boron -- which between one and three billion years ago was present in the rocks of ancient oceans during violent, diamond-forming volcanic activity.

“From the first moment we saw the diamond, it was clear we had something very special," said Marcus ter Haar, MD of Okavango Diamond Company. "Everyone who has viewed the 20-carat polished diamond has marveled at its unique coloration, which many see as unlike any blue stone they have seen before. It is incredibly unusual for a stone of this color and nature to have come from Botswana -– a once-in-lifetime find, which is about as rare as a star in the Milky Way.”

“It is little surprise blue diamonds are so sought after around the world as only a very small percentage of the world’s diamonds are classified as fancy color and, of those, only a select few can be classified as being Fancy Blue,” ter Haar added.

The polished stone is named "The Okavango Blue" in recognition of Botswana’s own environmental natural treasure and World Heritage site the Okavango Delta. It is further a symbol of Okavango Diamond Company, the diamond sales and marketing arm of the Botswana government.

Speaking to ABC News from Botswana, ter Haar said the diamond will not be put up for sale just yet.

“The iconic Okavango Blue will be showcased over the coming months to promote Botswana as a leading global producer of natural ethical diamonds with an anticipated sale toward the end of the year,” ter Haar said.

“Only a handful of similar blue stones have come to market during the last decade, of which the Okavango Blue rightfully takes its place as one of the most significant,” said ter Haar.

Blue diamonds are so rare, they comprise only about 0.02 percent of mined diamonds but their beauty and value is such that they include some of the world’s most famous jewels.

Diamonds are a key natural resource for Botswana and account for approximately half of government revenue.

The Gemological Institute of America has graded the stone as Oval Brilliant Cut, 20.46 carats, Fancy Deep Blue color, VVS2 clarity.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images(ROME) -- Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg met the pope in Rome Wednesday ahead of a youth rally against climate change this week.

Thunberg, 16, met Pope Francis at the end of his weekly audience in St Peter's Square, shaking hands with the pontiff and showing him a banner adorned with the slogan "Join the Climate Strike."

"The Holy Father thanked and encouraged Greta Thunberg for her commitment in defense of the environment, and in turn Greta, who had requested the meeting, thanked the Holy Father for his great commitment in defense of creation," the director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, told reporters about the meeting Wednesday morning in the Vatican.

The teenage climate change activist rose to worldwide fame after addressing the United Nations climate change summit in Poland at the age of 15 in August. She has since become one of the most influential leaders in the worldwide School Strike for Climate movement, also known as Fridays for Future.

After Thunberg embarked on a solo climate change protest at her school in Sweden in August, a movement spread. Thousands of students have joined her in protesting in over 1,325 places in 98 countries over the past six months, according to Thunberg.

Thunberg was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by three Norwegian lawmakers in March for her services to environmental campaigning. In response to the news, she said she was "honored and grateful."

Thunberg is in Rome ahead of another youth climate strike scheduled for Friday, which is expected to draw huge crowds as her activities garner more and more media coverage around the globe. Over 1.6 million people from 131 countries took part at the last "School Strike for Climate" global protest on March 15, in which schoolchildren boycott their school day, according to the Fridays for Future website.

"Youth throughout the world are voicing what many people are feeling: that national leaders simply must do more if we're going to have any chance at achieving our collective goal under the Paris Agreement of limiting climate change to 1.5C.," Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of UN Climate Change, told ABC News. "These youth understand just how urgent it is that we find solutions; after all, our window of opportunity is closing rapidly."

Thunberg's meeting with the Pope followed a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, where she told European politicians that "cathedral thinking" was needed in order to tackle climate change, in apparent reference to the fire at Notre Dame.

"It is still not too late to act," she told lawmakers, according to The Guardian. "It will take a far-reaching vision. It will take courage, it will take fierce, fierce determination to act now . I ask you to please wake up and make changes required possible."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Oleksii Liskonih/iStock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- A month and a half after President Donald Trump ended his summit with Kim Jong Un without a deal, the young North Korean leader is preparing to step out again on the world stage. This time, it will be for his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The summit comes at a critical time and the relationship with Russia has become increasingly important, according to analysts, as Kim seeks to maintain his nuclear weapons stockpile while loosening the economic pressure on his country.

That means the U.S. will be watching closely, with its chief negotiator Stephen Biegun heading to Moscow this week for meetings. It's the special representative for North Korea's first visit to Russia since October, and he is likely to take the Kremlin's temperature ahead of the Putin-Kim summit, as well as reinforce the importance of the United Nations Security Council sanctions implementation, according to a State Department official.

"The United States is committed to working with interested parties, including Russia, on the robust and sustained implementation of U.N. sanctions in order to move forward with denuclearization," the official told ABC News.

The Kremlin confirmed Monday that a meeting was being planned, but declined to provide any details. South Korea's Blue House -- the office of the president, which is in steady contact with North Korea -- told ABC News that "preparations are underway," but had no further comment. The meeting could come as soon as the end of next week, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

While China has long been North Korea's most important ally, Russia has played a key second role as an economic partner and tried to assert itself as a political player, often by playing a foil to U.S. interests.

The summit would be Kim's first trip to Russia. It's unclear in what city the two will meet, but the most likely option is the far eastern port city Vladivostok, where Kim Jong Il, visited in 2011. That was the most recent meeting between the two countries, when Kim's father met then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Ulan-Ude -- near the border with Mongolia, thousands of miles east of Moscow.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Local News

News Headlines for Sat., Apr. 20, 2019

City man arrested following violent, bloody, domestic incident Friday morning... A Jamestown man has been arrested following an alleged, bloodly domestic incident very early Friday morning.  Cit...

Read More

Join Us Online