platform

platform

World

The Latest: Kosovo assures safety after Serb leader’s death

WireAP_5874fc9299ae49be8b72e8215cf4469f_12x5_992

The Latest: Kosovo assures safety after Serb leader's death

The Associated Press
FILE – In this Oct. 23, 2004 file photo, Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic casts his ballot during general elections in the northern, Serb-dominated part of Mitrovica, Kosovo. Reports say unknown assailants have shot Ivanovic, Tuesday Jan. 16, 2018, in front of the offices of his Citizens' Initiative party, and Serbia's state television says that doctors are struggling to save Ivanovic's life. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)

The Latest on the shooting of a Serb politician in Kosovo (all times local):

10:00 p.m.

Kosovo's Security Council is offering assurances that the country is calm and safe following the slaying of a senior Serb politician.

The council was urgently convened Tuesday to discuss security matters, especially in the country's Serb-dominated north, where Oliver Ivanovic was gunned down earlier in the day.

It determined that "the level of security in the country is calm and stable" and that law enforcement authorities are committed to preserving public order and security of all citizens, according to a statement.

Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said after the meeting that "Kosovo citizens should not get worried about the level of security. All institutions are on duty," including a NATO-led peacekeeping force.

The Kosovo Force, also known as FFOR, is made up of about 4,500 troops from 31 countries. It has been operating in Kosovo since June 1999, after a 78-day NATO air campaign to stop a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

———

8:15 p.m.

NATO has condemned the assassination of a leading Serb politician in Kosovo and called on Serbia and Kosovo to return to EU-mediated negotiations in Brussels.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said a NATO-led peacekeeping force established in 1999 "continues to guarantee a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement throughout Kosovo" following Tuesday's slaying.

Lungescu says NATO "fully supports the EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and calls for this dialogue to continue as soon as possible. This is critical for regional peace and security."

The Serbian delegation to the EU talks left a previously scheduled session after Serb political leader Oliver Ivanovic was shot to death by unknown attackers in northern Kosovo.

Lungescu urged "all parties to exercise restraint to defuse tensions, and allow the judicial authorities to carry out a full investigation."

———

This entry has been corrected to show that the NATO spokeswoman's last name is Lungescu, not Lunge.

———

7:50 p.m.

The prime minister of Kosovo has suggested that the slaying of a leading politician in the country's Serb-dominated north resulted from the "illegal involvement in the north of other institutions beyond Kosovo."

Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj spoke Tuesday at a news conference following a meeting of Kosovo's National Security Council. The council convened after Serb political leader Oliver Ivanovic was shot to death in Serb-controlled Mitrovica.

Haradinaj didn't elaborate on what outside forces he was accusing of being involved in Ivanovic's slaying.

He said he was open to inviting foreign law enforcement agencies such as the FBI to help with the investigation, but he turned down Serbia's call to be involved.

The prime minister also said he was surprised that the Serb delegation left a previously scheduled EU-mediated dialogue with Kosovo leaders after Ivanovic was killed.

———

7 p.m.

Avni Arifi, who heads the Kosovo delegation at the EU talks in Brussels with Serbia, called on Belgrade to return to the negotiations.

At the news of Kosovo Serb political leader Oliver Ivanovic's slaying on Tuesday, the Serb delegation at the EU talks in Brussels immediately left to return to Belgrade.

But Arifi told the Klan Kosova TV station that "there is no alternative to the dialogue." He says the stance of Kosovo "is that we invite the Serb side to implement all the deals, to talk on any challenge in this process and to work on permanently normalizing ties between us."

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo to express the EU's condemnation of the killing and appealed for both sides "to show calm and restraint."

———

6:35 p.m.

A European Union mission that monitors Kosovo's justice system has strongly condemned "the act of criminal terror" that left moderate Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic dead.

Ivanovic was gunned down Tuesday morning in the northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica.

A statement Tuesday called "for a swift and efficient action by the authorities that leads to the arrest of the perpetrators of this horrendous act."

It said the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, or EULEX, "stands ready to offer its assistance."

The EULEX mission has supported Kosovo on its path to European integration in the areas of rule of law and fighting corruption since 2008, when Pristina declared independence from Serbia. EULEX's mandate expires in June.

———

3:30 p.m.

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has called for a meeting of the country's National Security Council later Tuesday following the killing of Oliver Ivanovic, leader of an ethnic Serb political party, as he entered his party offices in the northern city of Mitrovica.

The government statement said the council "will discuss the general security situation in the country."

Kosovo police have offered a 10,000-euro ($12,250) reward for information on the attackers.

———

3:20 p.m.

People from Kosovo's Serb minority say they are in shock over the killing of a moderate politician who was gunned down in an attack in a northern town.

Zivorad Lazic, from the central town of Gracanica, says the attack on Oliver Ivanovic earlier on Tuesday comes "as we hope to live as normal people."

Lazic adds the killing will "affect the Kosovo people."

Slobodan Petrovic, another Kosovo Serb lawmaker, says Ivanovic's death will be a huge loss for the Serb community in Kosovo, where tensions have simmered since the 1998-99 war.

Petrovic warns that "we may have a lot of consequences" if authorities fail to find the killers.

Ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade does not recognize the split.

———

3.10 p.m.

Serbia's foreign minister says the killing in Kosovo of a leading Serb politician is threatening the stability of both Kosovo and the Balkan region.

Ivica Dacic told reporters during a visit to Montenegro Tuesday that the attack earlier in the day on Oliver Ivanovic presented a "senseless terrorist act."

Dacic adds "the most important thing is to preserve stability in the north of Kosovo," a Serb-dominated part of predominantly ethnic Albanian nation.

He insists that "when the stability of northern Kosovo is jeopardized, the stability of the entire Kosovo and the whole region is under threat." Dacic adds "this is a big blow and shot into the interests of the Serbian people in Kosovo."

Ivanovic was considered a moderate politician in the former Serbian province deeply divided along ethnic lines.

———

2:30 p.m.

The United Nations' senior official in Kosovo has strongly condemned the slaying of a Serb political leader in Kosovo.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the U.N. Mission in Kosovo, Zahir Tanin, said Tuesday he was shocked and strongly condemned the killing of Oliver Ivanovic.

He urged investigative authorities to "work swiftly and effectively" and assured them that "all the international agencies on the ground are ready to support the authorities in any manner which may assist the swift apprehension of those responsible."

The U.N. mission governed Kosovo following Serbia's bloody crackdown against Kosovo Albanian separatists in 1999 and the NATO bombing that stopped it. After 2008, when Kosovo declared independence, it is playing a more minor role.

———

2:10 p.m.

Serbia's president says the country is demanding that international missions in Kosovo include his country in their investigation into the killing of a leading Serb politician in the tense region.

President Aleksandar Vucic said Tuesday that Serbia views the fatal attack on Oliver Ivanovic in Kosovo earlier in the day as a "terrorist act." He says "Serbia will take all necessary measures so the killer or killers are found."

Vucic says "there are interesting details that point who might be the killers." He did not elaborate.

Serbia lost authority over Kosovo after the 1998-99 war and the former Serbian province declared independence in 2008. Serbia has refused to recognize the split.

Vucic says the Serbian delegation has left EU-mediated talks in Brussels on normalizing ties with Kosovo because "it makes no sense to talk in such circumstances."

———

1:10 p.m.

The European Union's foreign policy chief has called the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo to express the EU's condemnation of the killing of Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic and make an appeal for calm.

The morning shooting came as both sides were about to start EU-mediated technical talks in Brussels on improving relations. It was unclear if there was any link between the two.

The EU said in a statement that Federica Mogherini said in her phone calls that the authorities in Kosovo should "spare no effort to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice without delay."

She also called on both sides "to show calm and restraint."

Mogherini last hosted the two presidents for talks last in September, the third such encounter last year. Talks between the two sides at a working group level should have resumed on Tuesday for the first time since the end of 2016.

———

1:05 p.m.

The international community has strongly denounced the slaying of a Serb leader in Kosovo.

The head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Ambassador Jan Braathu, on Tuesday said he was "shocked and deeply saddened" and considered Oliver Ivanovic as "among the most prominent Kosovo Serb representatives for almost two decades … (with) relentless engagement for the benefit of his community and has been a valued interlocutor in Kosovo."

"This will be a major test for rule of law in Kosovo," Braathu said.

The U.S. Ambassador to Pristina Greg Delawie called on judicial bodies "to investigate this incident swiftly and professionally, and bring the perpetrators to justice."

He also urged "all sides to avoid dangerous rhetoric and remain calm at this sensitive time, and recommit themselves to continue the work toward the normalization of relations and improvement of the lives of the citizens of Kosovo and Serbia."

Last weekend the State Department warned its citizens to "exercise increased caution in Kosovo due to terrorism."

———

12 noon

Kosovo prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj says he considers the slaying of Serb minority political leader Oliver Ivanovic as "a punishable criminal act."

Reacting on his Facebook page to Ivanovic's death earlier Tuesday, Haradinaj said that "exploiting this tragic act for daily political goals, even to block processes aiming at normalizing ties between two countries, is against the logic and spirit of cooperation."

The talks between Serbia and Kosovo at the European Union have been suspended after the killing.

"Kosovo remains committed to create a safe environment for all its citizens and is powerfully set in its Euro-Atlantic path," Haradinaj said.

He also insisted that Kosovo authorities will do their utmost to clarify the killing adding that they will "in no situation accept the logic of calculating criminal acts for political purposes by anyone."

———

11:30 a.m.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has strongly denounced the killing of a Serb political leader in the northern city of Mitrovica.

Oliver Ivanovic, leader of the Citizens' Initiative Freedom, Democracy, Justice party was shot dead Tuesday morning by still-unknown assailants.

In a reaction on his Facebook page Thaci called on law enforcement authorities "to throw light as soon as possible on the circumstances of the death so that the perpetrators are brought to justice."

He also urged citizens in the north to cooperate with police.

———

11:25 a.m.

The talks between Serbia and Kosovo at the European Union have been suspended after the killing of Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic.

The 28-nation EU said it "strongly condemns the murder" and it expects authorities "to spare no effort to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice."

EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said the EU calls on all sides "to show calm and restraint."

Talks between the two should have resumed on a technical level on Tuesday after they stopped in March last year when Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, then leader of the opposition Kosovo Future Alliance party, was detained in France pending a court decision whether he would be extradited to Serbia. He was released the following month.

———

11:20 a.m.

Kosovo police have officially confirmed the shooting death of Serb political leader Oliver Ivanovic.

A statement Tuesday described how Ivanovic was shot at 8:10 a.m. near his office in Sutjeska Street in the northern city of Mitrovica.

Ivanovic was taken to the hospital where doctors confirmed his death.

The statement adds that about an hour later an Opel Astra car was found burned out in another Mitrovica street, and police believe that it was used by the perpetrators.

The investigation is continuing.

———

11:15 a.m.

Serbian state television says that the country's delegation has walked out of an EU-mediated dialogue with Kosovo leaders after the killing of a leading Serb politician in Kosovo.

The report said Tuesday that the Serbian team is on its way back to Belgrade from Brussels after unknown assailants shot and killed Oliver Ivanovic in Serb-held Mitrovica early Tuesday.

The killing is likely to heighten tensions in Kosovo amid attempts to normalize ties between the former foes. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade has refused to recognize the split.

Some 10,000 people died during the 1998-99 war in Kosovo which ended after NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days in 1999.

———

11:05 a.m.

Doctors say that Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic received at least five gunshot wounds to his upper torso when shot by unknown assailants.

Milan Ivanovic, the head of Mitrovica hospital and who is not related to the politician, said Tuesday that doctors attempted to save Ivanovic but could do nothing.

Unknown assailants opened fire on Ivanovic outside the offices of his political party in an action that is likely to stir tensions in Kosovo almost exactly 10 years after it declared independence from Serbia.

The region has remained tense despite efforts by EU officials to mediate talks between Serbia and Kosovo leaders on normalizing ties. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo's independence.

———

11 a.m.

A Serbian official says that the killing in Kosovo of a leading Serb politician is a "criminal act of terror" aimed at pushing the volatile region into chaos.

Marko Djuric, the Serbian government's official dealing with Kosovo, said Tuesday that "whoever is behind this attack … whether they are Serb, Albanian or any other criminals, they must be punished."

Djuric adds that the attack earlier Tuesday on Oliver Ivanovic in Mitrovica "is an attempt to push the Serbian people into chaos, to push Serbia into chaos."

Kosovo remains tense, a decade after declaring independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia does not recognize the split and EU-mediated talks have been underway in a bid to normalize ties.

About 10,000 people died in the 1998-99 war between Serb forces and Kosovo ethnic Albanian rebels.

———

10:55 a.m.

The Kosovo government has strongly denounced the slaying of a leading Serb politician in northern Mitrovica and says it consicers it to be a challenge to "the rule of law and efforts to establish the rule of law in the whole of Kosovo territory."

The government issued a statement Tuesday following the death of Oliver Ivanovic, who was shot in the morning outside the offices of his Citizens' Initiative party in the northern city of Mitrovica.

"Violence is unacceptable, without taking into consideration where it comes from and toward whom it is directed," said the statement.

The government also invited all citizens to cooperate and urged law-enforcement institutions to seize the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

———

10:40 a.m.

Serbian state television says that President Aleksandar Vucic has called a top security meeting after the shooting death in Kosovo of a leading Serb politician.

Vucic also will address the public at 1200 GMT on Tuesday about the death of Oliver Ivanovic, who was shot Tuesday morning in Serb-held northern Mitrovica.

Media reports say that unknown assailants opened fire at Ivanovic outside the offices of his Citizens' Initiative party in Mitrovica. Ivanovic's lawyer, Nebojsa Vlajic, confirmed Ivanovic died of wounds sustained in the attack.

The attack is likely to heighten ethnic tensions in Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008.

———

10:20 a.m.

The lawyer for leading Serb politician in northern Kosovo Oliver Ivanovic says he has been shot dead.

"Unfortunately, I wish it weren't true, but doctors declared Oliver dead at 9:30 this morning," Nebojsa Vlajic, Ivanovic's lawyer confimed to The Associated Press by phone.

Serbian media reported that unknown assailants opened fire on Ivanovic in front of the offices of his Citizens' Initiative Party.

The 64-year-old was one of the key politicians in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo, a former Serbian province where tensions remain high a decade after it declared independence.

A Kosovo court convicted Ivanovic of war crimes during the 1998-99 war. That verdict was overturned and a retrial had been underway.

———

9:55 a.m.

Serbian media are reporting that a leading Serb politician in northern Kosovo, Oliver Ivanovic, has been shot.

There was no immediate confirmation by the police in Kosovo of the reported incident on Tuesday morning. Reports say unknown assailants opened fire on Ivanovic in front of the offices of his Citizens' Initiative Party.

Serbia's state television says that doctors are struggling to save Ivanovic's life, while Vecernje Novosti daily reported that Ivanovic has died.

The 64-year-old is one of the key politicians in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo, a former Serbian province where tensions remain high a decade after it declared independence.

A Kosovo court convicted Ivanovic of war crimes during the 1998-99 war. That verdict was overturned and a retrial is underway.

  • Star

Add Interests Customize your news feed by choosing the topics that interest you.

To save your interests across all devices Log In or Sign Up &raquo
Source – abcnews.go.com

World

Trump ends 1st year with lowest average approval rating

Trump ends 1st year with lowest average approval rating

PlaySaul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

WATCH Trump pushes back: 'No, I'm not a racist'

Interested in Donald Trump?

Add Donald Trump as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Donald Trump news, video, and analysis from ABC News. Donald Trump Add Interest

This is a record not to be coveted: Donald Trump is wrapping up a year in office with the lowest average approval rating of any elected president in his first year.

That's according to polling by Gallup, which shows that Trump has averaged just a 39 percent approval rating since his inauguration. The previous low was held by Bill Clinton, whose first-year average stood 10 points higher than Trump's, at 49 percent.

Recent surveys show most Americans view Trump as a divisive figure and even question his fitness for office. One relative bright spot for Trump is his handling of the economy, though even there his ratings are not as high as might be expected given a relatively strong economy.

What the polls show about how Americans view their president a year into his term:

UNUSUAL UNPOPULARITY

Trump's current approval rating in Gallup's weekly poll is comparable to his average rating, standing at just 38 percent, with 57 percent saying they disapprove.

The persistence of Trump's first-year blues is unprecedented for a president so early in his term. Americans usually give their new presidents the benefit of the doubt, but Trump's "honeymoon period," to the extent he had one, saw his approval rating only as high as 45 percent.

Since then, Trump has spent more time under 40 percent than any other first-year president.

Presidents have recovered from periods of low popularity before. For example, Clinton's rating fell to just 37 percent in June 1993 before quickly regaining ground, and he went on to win re-election. Harry S. Truman held the approval of less than 40 percent of Americans for significant chunks of his first term and was also re-elected. He went on to set Gallup's lowest-ever approval mark, at just 22 percent in 1952.

Trump's lowest point in Gallup's weekly polling — 35 percent — remains higher than those of several earlier presidents. Truman, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter all had their ratings dip under 30 percent.

STRONG SUITS

There aren't many bright spots for Trump, but there are some. For one, most Republicans continue to approve of him — 83 percent of registered voters who identify as Republicans, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.

The same poll found that most voters overall find Trump to be intelligent and a strong person.

And positive ratings for Trump's handling of the economy have tended to run higher than his overall job ratings.

In a December poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, Trump's rating on handling the economy was 8 percentage points higher than his overall approval, though even that stood at just 40 percent in the survey, which was a particularly negative one for Trump.

In the Quinnipiac poll, voters were more likely to say Trump is helping the economy than hurting it, 37 percent to 29 percent. On the other hand, more said President Barack Obama deserves the credit than Trump does, 49 percent to 40 percent.

ON THE ISSUES

Aside from the economy, surveys have suggested few policy bright spots for Trump.

Health care has been a consistent low point. Seven in 10 Americans in the December AP-NORC poll said they disapproved of Trump's handling of the issue, even as 85 percent called the issue very important to them personally.

In another AP-NORC poll conducted late in 2017, just 23 percent of Americans said he has kept the promises he made while running for president, while 30 percent said he's tried and failed and 45 percent said he has not done so at all. More than half said the country is worse off since Trump became president.

That poll was conducted before the passage of a tax bill that Trump signed into law in late December, but there's little sign that the law will have an immediate positive impact. A Gallup poll conducted in January found that just 33 percent of Americans approved of the legislation.

CHARACTER CONCERNS

But it may be character more than policy that's driving negative opinions of Trump. In the January poll by Quinnipiac University, most voters said Trump is not level-headed, honest or even fit to serve as president.

And the AP-NORC poll conducted in December found that two-thirds of Americans thought the country has become even more divided as a result of Trump's presidency.

In a July Gallup poll that asked those who disapproved of Trump for their reasons why, most cited his personality or character over issues, policies or overall job performance. That stood in stark contrast to Gallup's polling on Obama in 2009 and George W. Bush in 2001, when far fewer cited such concerns about personality or character as reasons for their negative opinions.

  • Star

Add Interests Customize your news feed by choosing the topics that interest you.

To save your interests across all devices Log In or Sign Up &raquo
Source – abcnews.go.com

Health

WHO: All of Sao Paulo state at risk for yellow fever

WireAP_65aacc098f6847dca0b4dc16606ee85c_12x5_992

WHO: All of Sao Paulo state at risk for yellow fever

The Associated Press
A boy cries as he receives a vaccine against yellow fever at a public health center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. The World Health Organization announced Tuesday that it now considers all of Sao Paulo state at risk for yellow fever, recommending that all international visitors to the state be vaccinated. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

The World Health Organization announced Tuesday that it now considers all of Sao Paulo state at risk for yellow fever, recommending that all international visitors to the state be vaccinated.

That puts the megacity of Sao Paulo on the list. But Brazil's Health Ministry said in a statement that it was not changing its own, recently updated map of at-risk areas, which includes only certain parts of the state and city. The ministry said that the WHO's more-cautious recommendation for foreigners was made in light of the fact that it is impossible to know where visitors might travel once they arrive in Sao Paulo state.

Antonio Nardi, a senior official at the ministry, later told reporters it was the result of an "excess of concern."

The announcement comes as an outbreak is gathering steam in Brazil during the Southern Hemisphere summer rainy season and just weeks ahead of Carnival, a major draw for foreign tourists. Nardi noted that most Carnival activities happen in cities, not in the forested areas that are of most concern, and so visitors should be safe.

Since July 2017, 35 cases of yellow fever have been confirmed in Brazil, 20 of them in Sao Paulo state and three in Rio de Janeiro state, according to Health Ministry data released Tuesday. In all, 20 people have died. Yellow fever is spread by the same mosquito that transmits other tropical diseases, including Zika.

Much of Brazil is considered at risk for the virus, but a corridor along the coast was long largely considered safe. Last year, however, Brazil saw an unusually large outbreak of the disease, including in areas not previously thought to be at risk. More than 770 people were infected, and more than 250 died. In response, the WHO began expanding its map of areas of transmission, including adding all of Rio de Janeiro state.

Brazil rushed to vaccinate millions of people in a massive campaign last year, and it is continuing those efforts this year. Just last week, the Health Ministry announced that a new campaign would vaccinate nearly 20 million people in dozens of cities in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Bahia states. Sao Paulo health authorities announced Tuesday they would start vaccinations a few days early and said the campaign would vaccinate about half of the state's population by the end of next month.

Most of those people will receive a fractional dose of the vaccine — a strategy the WHO recommends to contain ongoing outbreaks that threaten to outrun vaccine supplies.

Nardi declined to say how many doses Brazil has in its strategic stocks, but he said the country has "sufficient vaccine to vaccinate the entire Brazilian population if necessary." Brazil is a major producer of yellow fever vaccines, but last year it requested 3.5 million doses from international emergency stockpiles.

Brazilian authorities say studies have shown that a fractional dose is effective for at least eight years, though a WHO factsheet only goes as far as saying it is effective for at least a year "and likely longer." A full dose is generally considered effective for life.

Even before the WHO announcement, Brazilian media were reporting long lines at health centers in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday morning.

"They should have already vaccinated the whole population of this country," said Roberta Tonelli Ferreira, 61-year-old who visited a health center in Sao Paulo on Tuesday with her granddaughter Valentina, who is 2. "They wait until a person dies, to have who knows how many deaths, for the public to be frightened to start vaccinating."

There is no known treatment for yellow fever, and vaccination campaigns are considered crucial to containing outbreaks. Symptoms of the disease include fever, muscle pain, and nausea; some patients also experience abdominal pain, kidney problems and the jaundice from which the disease gets its name.

———

Associated Press photographer Andre Penner contributed to this report.

  • Star


Source – abcnews.go.com

World

Model, 2nd man charged with murder in fatal stabbing of another model

harry-uzoka-4-ht-jt-180116_31x13_992

Model, 2nd man charged with murder in fatal stabbing of another model

@metpoliceuk/Twitter
Harry Uzoka is pictured in this photo released by Metropolitan Police in London, Jan. 16, 2018.

Two men have been accused of fatally stabbing London model Harry Uzoka.

George Koh, 24, and Jonathan Okigbo, 23, were charged with murder of 25-year-old Harry Uzoka in Shepherd's Bush last Thursday, Scotland Yard said in a statement. Koh was also charged with possession of an offensive weapon, according to the statement.

26-year-old New York woman killed in Jamaica days before coming home, family says

Uzoka was a model with Premier Model Management, the agency confirmed. Koh was a part of another agency, IMG Models, but has not been managed by IMG for nearly a year, a source told ABC News.

“Premier Model Management are shocked and saddened by the devastating news of one of our dearly loved models Harry’s passing," Premier said in a statement. "Premier Model Management’s thoughts and priorities are with the Uzoka family and friends.”

We are shocked and saddened by the devastating news of one of our dearly loved models Harry’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with Harry’s family and friends. We are heartbroken.

A post shared by Premier Model Management (@premiermodels) on Jan 13, 2018 at 1:57am PST

Russell Simmons denies sexually assaulting model when she was 17 Renowned fashion photographer Bruce Weber accused of sexual misconduct by model

Tributes flooded social media honoring Uzoka.

PHOTO: Harry Uzoka attends the launch of Premier Model Management founder Carole Whites autobiography Have I Said Too Much?: My Life In and Out of the Model Agency at Cafe Royal, Feb. 18, 2015 in London.David M. Benett/Getty Images
Harry Uzoka attends the launch of Premier Model Management founder Carole White's autobiography "Have I Said Too Much?: My Life In and Out of the Model Agency" at Cafe Royal, Feb. 18, 2015 in London.

Model Jourdan Dunn paid tribute to Uzoka over the weekend in a series of tweets. “Wow…. I just woke up to the news about Harry Uzoka,” Dunn wrote on Twitter. She later added a photo of Uzoka with another message, “Rest in Paradise Young King.”

Wow…. I just woke up to the news about Harry Uzoka ??

— Jourdan Dunn (@missjourdandunn) January 12, 2018

International model Leomie Anderson tweeted a montage of photos with the late model.

pic.twitter.com/ryyCQpOtRr

— Leomie Anderson (@Leomie_Anderson) January 13, 2018

PHOTO: Harry Uzoka attends the launch of Hunger Magazine, Weve Got Issues at W London - Leicester Square, Feb. 20, 2015 in London.David M. Benett/Getty Images, FILE
Harry Uzoka attends the launch of "Hunger Magazine, We've Got Issues" at W London – Leicester Square, Feb. 20, 2015 in London.

Later, when it was announced two suspects were in custody, she posted, “Please respect Harry’s close family and friends at this time, everyone is still in shock but we are all happy that the perpetrators have been caught and I personally pray the full weight of the law is placed on these people’s heads.”

Please respect Harry’s close family and friends at this time, everyone is still in shock but we are all happy that the perpetrators have been caught and I personally pray the full weight of the law is placed on these people’s heads.

— Leomie Anderson (@Leomie_Anderson) January 16, 2018

Clothing retailer Everlane, which worked with Uzoka, wrote, “We’re deeply saddened to hear about Harry Uzoka’s passing. He was a wonderful model but even more so a good person and a pleasure to work with. There’s so much more behind the person you’ve seen in our campaigns. Thank you, Harry, for being such a great person. Rest in peace.”

We’re deeply saddened to hear about Harry Uzoka’s passing.

He was a wonderful model but even more so a good person and a pleasure to work with.

There’s so much more behind the person you’ve seen in our campaigns.

Thank you, Harry, for being such a great person. Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/PpbwhbgYXr

— Everlane (@Everlane) January 12, 2018

PHOTO: Harry Uzoka attends the launch of Premier Model Management founder Carole Whites autobiography Have I Said Too Much?: My Life In and Out of the Model Agency at Cafe Royal, Feb. 18, 2015 in London.David M. Benett/Getty Images, FILE
Harry Uzoka attends the launch of Premier Model Management founder Carole White's autobiography "Have I Said Too Much?: My Life In and Out of the Model Agency" at Cafe Royal, Feb. 18, 2015 in London.

The two men accused are due in court on Thursday.

  • Star

Add Interests Customize your news feed by choosing the topics that interest you.

To save your interests across all devices Log In or Sign Up &raquo
Source – abcnews.go.com

Health

Why the ‘Tide pod challenge’ is dangerous, potentially deadly

AP_laundry_pod_kab_141110_2_31x13_992

Why internet craze the 'Tide pod challenge' is dangerous, potentially deadly

PlayPat Sullivan/AP

WATCH Doctors warn parents about online challenge encouraging teens to consume laundry pods

Spring cleaning may be several months away, but laundry detergent is making big headlines this week as a dangerous stunt called the “Tide Pod Challenge” is going viral on YouTube and other social media platforms.

The challenge is for participants –- primarily teens and young adults, in the videos making the rounds –- to put the pods into their mouths, sometimes even chew them, and then post videos of what happens. Some of these individuals experience foaming at the mouth and severe coughing spells after consuming a pod.

It’s more than just a strange behavior, it's potentially deadly. Here are some facts about the craze to help friends and family protect teens from the hazardous experiment.

What are Tide pods?

Tide pods, the brand's version of the popular laundry detergent pods, are small packets of detergent designed to dissolve while washing clothes. Each pod contains pre-measured, concentrated detergent levels.

The outside wrapping of a tide pod is made of polyvinylalcohol (PVA), a water soluble plastic compound. For the same reason that this packet dissolves in the machine washing laundry, it can also dissolve in a person's mouth — leading to the immediate release and absorption of the contents.

Why are detergent pods dangerous?

Tide pods are not meant for human consumption –- and for good reason. They contain dangerous chemicals that, if ingested, can lead to life threatening breathing problems, damage to the esophagus from the corrosive ingredients, burns, blood pressure changes, gastrointestinal problems and neurological symptoms, including loss of consciousness.

What ingredients in laundry detergent are dangerous?

Laundry detergent pods contain numerous chemicals that are potentially harmful if they are swallowed or otherwise ingested. Chief among these concerns is a chemical known as 1,4 Dioxane. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to this compound can cause eye and nose irritation, kidney problems and possible long-term lung damage. These effects are unlikely to occur if the product is used appropriately.

A spokesperson for Tide told ABC News in a statement that the company is concerned about the trend and emphasized that the pods should only be used for laundry.

"Laundry pacs are made to clean clothes," the statement said. "They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance, even if meant as a joke."

How many people have died because of this stunt?

The exact number of deaths related to the Tide pod challenge is difficult to estimate. But a growing number of injuries have been linked to ingestion of these products, for any reason, as they have grown in popularity. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 10,570 cases of detergent exposure reported to poison centers in 2017, for children 5 and younger.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported eight deaths related to laundry detergent pod ingestion since these products hit the market in 2012, through mid-2017.

Anyone who suspects someone they know has ingested chemicals from a detergent pod should call the poison control center hotline at 1-800-222-1222 and take the exposed person to the emergency room immediately.

  • Star


Source – abcnews.go.com

World

See persons of interest after couple ambushed, ‘executed’ at gated community

double-murder-surveillance-04-ht-jc-180116_12x5_992

Persons of interest photos released in mysterious case of couple ambushed, 'executed' at gated community

PlayHarris County Sheriff

WATCH Persons of interest video released in case of couple ambushed, 'executed' at gated community

Authorities in Houston released surveillance images of two persons of interest this morning as they hunt for clues in a couple's mysterious double killing in their gated community.

Investigators believe Bao and Jenny Lam, both 61, came home around 8:40 p.m. Thursday "and were ambushed by suspects as they parked their car in the garage," the Harris County Sheriff's Office said.

The victims' son, who went to check on his parents Saturday night after not hearing from them since Thursday, called police from the home, the sheriff's office said. When deputies went inside, authorities said they found the Lams bound and shot to death.

"They were executed," Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told reporters this morning.

PHOTO: Authorities in Houston are investigating a couples mysterious double killing.KTRK
Authorities in Houston are investigating a couple's mysterious double killing.

Houston couple ambushed, shot dead in mysterious double killing at gated community

The sheriff's office said surveillance video from the entry gate at the couple's subdivision shows two suspects arriving at about 8:20 p.m. Thursday in a 2007 to 2014 black Lincoln Navigator. The suspect parked near the gate and then crawled under the gate and into the subdivison, according to the sheriff's office. The suspect in the passenger seat was described by authorities as "unusually tall," possibly 6-foot-4 or taller.

PHOTO: The Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas released surveillance video of persons of interest in the double murder of a husband and wife on Jan. 11, 2018.Harris County Sheriff
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas released surveillance video of persons of interest in the double murder of a husband and wife on Jan. 11, 2018.
PHOTO: The Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas released surveillance video of persons of interest in the double murder of a husband and wife on Jan. 11, 2018.Harris County Sheriff
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas released surveillance video of persons of interest in the double murder of a husband and wife on Jan. 11, 2018.

Authorities said the suspects "ambushed the Lams inside their garage and forced them into their residence, where they were bound, robbed, and murdered." Their hands and feet were bound, officials said.

After ambushing the Lams, the suspects allegedly fled in the Lams' car before returning and going into the house a few hours later, authorities said. Over the course of the those few days, the suspects likely went back into the house several times, the sheriff's office said.

PHOTO: The Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas released surveillance video of persons of interest in the double murder of a husband and wife on Jan. 11, 2018.Harris County Sheriff
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas released surveillance video of persons of interest in the double murder of a husband and wife on Jan. 11, 2018.
PHOTO: The Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas released surveillance video of persons of interest in the double murder of a husband and wife on Jan. 11, 2018.Harris County Sheriff
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas released surveillance video of persons of interest in the double murder of a husband and wife on Jan. 11, 2018.

The house appeared to be ransacked with firearms and other valuables were missing, the sheriff's office said.

There could be up to four suspects, the sheriff's office added.

PHOTO: Authorities in Houston are investigating a couples mysterious double killing.KTRK
Authorities in Houston are investigating a couple's mysterious double killing.

At this morning's news conference, the victims' daughter, Michelle Lam, begged "the public to please help us."

"We miss them so much," she said. "They were just going home from having dinner."

Son Richard Lam, a military officer, called his parents his "personal superheroes."

He said his parents immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and worked several jobs at once.

"They just made sure we had every opportunity to realize our dreams," he said. They later built successful businesses, the sheriff said.

PHOTO: Authorities in Houston are investigating a couples mysterious double killing.KTRK
Authorities in Houston are investigating a couple's mysterious double killing.

Richard Lam said his father always wanted to be a military officer and often spoke how great the American military is.

"They were truly amazing people. They give their time and money to the community. My dad, if anybody asked him for help, he would not hesitate to give them a hand," he said, while his mother had "sage advice" for "every chapter" in their lives.

"Two men broke into their home last week killed them in cold blood," he continued. "We just need your help."

  • Star

Add Interests Customize your news feed by choosing the topics that interest you.

To save your interests across all devices Log In or Sign Up &raquo
Source – abcnews.go.com

Entertainment

Dakota Johnson on how she coped with feeling ‘exposed’ in ‘Fifty Shades’

golden-globes-dakato-johnson-gty-jef-180107_2_12x5_992

Dakota Johnson on how she coped with feeling 'exposed' in 'Fifty Shades'

PlayValerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

WATCH Fans Lining Up to See 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

Dakota Johnson admits that her breakout role as Anastasia Steele in the "Fifty Shades" movie franchise left her feeling exposed but says the experience hasn't been all bad.

"Fundamentally, I’m open and warm. At my core, I’m a bleeding heart," she told Allure's "New Naked" issue. "But when your life is exposed and when the movie that exposes your life is exposing your emotions and your body, it can be very scary."

The 28-year-old star said she discovered that she can still be strong despite feeling vulnerable.

"Throughout this entire experience, I’ve learned that I can expose my heart and my emotions and I can still protect myself," she said. "I can still be vulnerable and strong. It’s a constant ebb and flow and a battle and trying to figure out how to have those things coexist within me. That’s what I’m grateful for."

PHOTO: Dakota Johnson is the cover star for Allures New Naked issue .Petra Collins for Allure
Dakota Johnson is the cover star for Allure's "New Naked" issue .

'Fifty Shades Darker' lacks chemistry, pretends to have meaningful plot Dakota Johnson on Working With 'Ridiculous' Rebel Wilson in 'How to Be Single'

The daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson also explained how she chooses roles.

"I don’t know how to explain it in a way that doesn’t sound hokey, but when I’m on a project, I’m on it for a certain reason, and I’m involved with the people for a reason, and it’s always some sort of weird marriage to something that’s happening in my life, or the character has some connection to something that’s going on [in my life]," she told Allure.

Johnson and co-star Jamie Dornan return to the big screen in "Fifty Shades Freed," the final installment, on Feb. 9.

  • Star


Source – abcnews.go.com

TV

Jenifer Lewis Has Thoughts on Auditions: “Are You Out of Your F—ing Mind?”

147301_6027a-h_2018

Jenifer Lewis Has Thoughts on Auditions: "Are You Out of Your F—ing Mind?"

"I've played everybody's mama from Tupac to Whitney," says the SAG-nominated actress and newly minted author. "You either want Jenifer Lewis or you don't."

Jenifer Lewis' IMDb page reads like the greatest hits of popular culture from the last three decades.
The actress, now the salty matriarch on Black-ish, has appeared in A Different World, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Girlfriends and Living Single — almost always the mother or an aunt. And those are just her TV credits. She also starred in What's Love Got to Do With It, The Preacher's Wife and The Princess and the Frog — again, usually tackling maternal roles. So the title of her new memoir, The Mother of Black Hollywood, came quite naturally.
Lewis, up for a Screen Actors Guild Award alongside her Black-ish co-stars on Jan. 21, spoke with THR at the tail end of 2017. In addition to offering up her thoughts on what she wants the book to give readers, she also talked about playing the mother to actress only a few years her junior, why she won't audition anymore and the Black-ish script that made her cry.

What motivated the book?

I wrote this book for the next generation. I want them to stand up, now that they've laid down the police barriers, now that they've marched, now that they've awakened to the mess we've left them. I want them to now stand up and stay up. I want them to resist, and I want them to do whatever they have to do so that their grandchildren will have air to breathe.

But you didn't really make the mess you mention.

I think we're all responsible. We all have to take responsibility. Whenever we even pick up a plastic bottle, we're contributing to the mess. When you know better, you do better. So, yes, I'm responsible too. Here is my gift back to you, to say everything is going to be all right. Stay alive and keep moving. Get to it, find your passion and don't let anything stop you. Do what you have to do, and dream! Dream, bitch!

How long did you work on the book?
Two years. I kept a diary, day-to-day, since the seventh grade because I knew this day would come. I had to read 63 books just to write this one. Darling, it was quite the read.

Were you given the label of “The Mother of Black Hollywood?”

It’s who I am. I'm the mother of black Hollywood. I've played everybody's mama from Tupac to Whitney to Gabrielle Union to, oh my gosh … The list goes on and on. I'm either the aunt or the mother. In What's Love Got To Do With It, I was Tina Turner's mama. That's what started it.

Was that the smallest age difference, with Angela Bassett, when you were playing the mother?

I think I was about five years older than Whitney. I forget how many years I was Angela, couldn't think how old she is.

She's 59.

I didn't care. I was never a starlet, maybe in my youth, but here's the thing. I'm an actress, I'm a comedian. I'm an athlete, for God's sake. I still play racquetball, and I can ride my bike 10 miles.

At what point did you stop auditioning and people started asking for you specifically?

I'll still audition if it's someone like Steven Spielberg or someone like that. I'll audition my ass off. But I haven't auditioned in a long time. Somebody called me in one time to audition for a mother and I said, "Are you out of your fucking mind?" I'm the motherfucker, bitch. You either want Jenifer Lewis or you don't.

What would you say you're most recognized for?

I think The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. People loved me on that show. And Black-ish, of course. Good lord, Black-ish! It's brought a new level of fame. When you're on one of the major networks, on primetime, you are in their living rooms right after dinner.
You weren't originally supposed to be such a big part of the show.

I wasn't in the original cast, and then I came on as a guest star. Then they asked me to become a regular. That shit is the cherry on my career! Black-ish is saying something. These are the modern subjects that we need to embrace now. Black-ish is needed all over the world. It's time for African-Americans to be seen in this light. It's time for our history to be told. I just got back from Iceland. Some bitch in a snowsuit comes running up to me on a glacier, like, "Oh, you're on Black-ish!" Oh my god, bitch, we're in a glacier. Get the fuck out of here!

How have you digested some of the more serious topics on Black-ish?

Kenya Barris is a fucking genius. And unafraid. And I just happen to be on the show at a time when I am unafraid and try to tell the truth [about] what's really going on in the political climate right now. When I got the script for "Juneteenth," I sobbed. I was just so grateful that we've come this far. I was appreciative to be a part of it. And I actually went over to the ABC executives and thanked them for pushing the boundaries. When I get Black-ish scripts, I usually laugh out loud. And, honey, nobody makes me laugh. I make you laugh.
What's been your response to all the women in the industry coming forward to talk about abuse and parity?

I am so proud of everybody coming forward. Oh my god, you have no idea the freedom, the healing … Oooh, I'm getting chills. I'm just excited about it. I'm excited that women have been emboldened and that they're coming forward. This is the beginning of the healing.
What's next for Jenifer Lewis?

That one-woman show on Broadway. That will be next. And there's a lot of exciting things happening right now, young man, but I can't speak on them because they're in development. I'm a very happy girl.


Read the full article – Hollywoodreporter.com

TV

How FX’s ‘Versace’ Tackles Homophobia and the Family’s Main Point of Contention

acs_301_0225_copy_0

How FX's 'Versace' Tackles Homophobia and the Family's Main Point of Contention

Writer Tom Rob Smith weighs in on Maureen Orth's reporting, while Edgar Ramirez and Ricky Martin sound off on the institutionalized homophobia that led to Versace's murder.

The Versace family has now issued two statements denouncing FX's The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. But the producers and stars all maintain that the second season of FX's Emmy-winning anthology is a respectful portrayal of the famed fashion designer, who was gunned down by wanted killer Andrew Cunanan on the steps of his Miami mansion in the summer of 1997.

"The primary thing is that we are celebrating Versace," writer Tom Rob Smith tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We are exploring why he was a genius, why he was important, the impact that he made, and why it was such a loss when he was murdered — both on a personal level in terms of all the people that loved him, all the people that admired him, and on a cultural level as well. It's a show that celebrates and admires him."

The family's main point of contention seems to be the portrayal of Gianni Versace as HIV-positive, which reporter Maureen Orth contended in her book Vulgar Favors. (The season is based on Orth's book and reporting.) Orth, who covered the hunt for Cunanan for Vanity Fair at the time, was told on the record by a Miami Beach detective that blood tests done after Versace's death confirmed his HIV-positive status. Orth, for her part, told THR that more than a decade later, she stands by her reporting.

"I was told on the record by the lead detective on Miami Beach that he had heard from the medical examiner who did the blood work that he was [HIV-positive]," Orth said. "And it also goes along with other people who told me that he was very weak at one time and he needed [partner] Antonio to help him walk, and they came over to his house when he was having breakfast and he had 27 bottles of pills in front of him. Now, does that mean they're for HIV? But the blood thing from on record from the Miami Beach, that's pretty [solid]."

The Versace family has blasted the FX drama as a "work of fiction" and Orth's book, saying that the FX series relies on a book they say is "full of gossip and speculation."

"Orth never received any information from the Versace family and she has no basis to make claims about the intimate personal life of Gianni Versace or other family members. Instead, in her effort to create a sensational story, she presents second-hand hearsay that is full of contradictions," the family said in a statement. "Orth makes assertions about Gianni Versace’s medical condition based on a person who claims he reviewed a postmortem test result, but she admits it would have been illegal for the person to have reviewed the report in the first place (if it existed at all). In making her lurid claims, she ignores contrary information provided by members of Mr. Versace’s family, who…were in the best position to know the facts of his life…. Of all the possible portrayals of his life and legacy, it is sad and reprehensible that the producers have chosen to present the distorted and bogus version created by Maureen Orth."

Showrunner Ryan Murphy responded to the family's criticism, telling THR that Donatella Versace's actions seemed to indicate she wasn't entirely displeased with the series. "Donatella Versace sent Penelope Cruz [who portrays her in Versace] a very large arrangement of flowers when she was representing the show at the Golden Globes," he said. "I don't know if she is going to watch the show, but if she did, I think she would see that we treat her and her family with respect and kindness, and she really is sort of a feminist role model in my book because she had to step into an impossible situation, which she did with grace and understanding."

But regardless of Versace's status, the fact that he overcame a serious illness and was excited about his life provides a sharp contrast to the desperation of Cunanan's outlook.

"To me if you look at just the facts of his illness, he did get very sick at that time, and he did recover at the time of the new [HIV/AIDS] drug therapy. So it does seem to fit that," Smith said. "But even all that aside, what I found most amazing about it is this is a guy that came so close to death, and still clung on. He really fought for life. Life was very important to him. Contrast it with someone who gave up, and someone who was beaten by circumstance. And what's interesting in some of the reactions was, 'Oh, he's the killer. He must have AIDS.' Actually, Andrew didn't have it."

Cunanan (played by Glee alum Darren Criss) shot Versace as he returned from his morning walk to the newsstand, something the designer did regularly when he was staying in Florida — even when he was sick.

"Gianni did the walk to the magazine store in Miami often. Once he did it when he was so sick he could barely make it that couple of blocks. He was carrying the magazines back, and he couldn't even hold them. That morning [of his death] when he walks, he's so alive again. It's really powerful to think that he must've been like, 'This life is great,' and he can do that walk and carry the magazines. And then Andrew comes up," Smith said. "It's really terrible when you look at those two. I thought that was a really powerful part of his story, so that was why we did it."

Edgar Ramirez, who plays the late designer, did not contact the Versace family for both legal and personal reasons when he was preparing to take on the part in theMurphy-produced drama.

"What this family went through was a horrible tragedy, and I would understand [not wanting to discuss it], had it been my case to be contacted to talk about something that caused so much pain and also was infused with so much misrepresentation, prejudice, and so much stigma and confusion," Ramirez told THR. "I was lucky enough to have people who were very very close to Gianni to talk to me and to open to me. They were the ones that were very generous to me."

Ricky Martin, who plays Versace's longtime partner, Antonio D'Amico, did speak to the man he portrays, and said he now counts the designer among his friends. But before they spoke, he simply wanted to get a small amount of justice for Versace's murder, a crime he says shouldn't have even happened in the first place.

"There's so much injustice," he told THR. "Why did we allow it to happen when this killer was on a killing spree for weeks, killing gay men? He was on the list of the FBI's most wanted. He was not hiding. Why did it happen? Just the fact that we are still dealing with this level of ignorance frustrates me."

As a gay man, he wanted to bring the story not only of the homophobia that contributed to Versace's death, but the struggle he faced in his life.

"The fact that someone as successful and as powerful as Gianni Versace was struggling to come out of the closet, it was like, give me a break," Martin said. "That was in 1997, but I know now in 2018, there are men and women that are still struggling with this kind of fear, of their career going to collapse if they come out. Everybody's going to hate them at home if they come out. It is sad. But it was important for me to be vocal about how unjust life is for some of us. I'm so lucky, but it's not right. Something needs to be done."

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story premieres Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 10 p.m. on FX.


Read the full article – Hollywoodreporter.com

World

Pope begs forgiveness for ‘irreparable’ harm from sex abuse

WireAP_8181f5e79fa84aac9d42281101a056f2_12x5_992

Pope begs forgiveness for 'irreparable' harm from sex abuse

PlayThe Associated Press

WATCH Pope Francis expresses pain, shame over clergy sex abuse scandals in Chile

Pope Francis begged for forgiveness Tuesday for the "irreparable damage" done to children who were raped and molested by priests, opening his visit to Chile by diving head-first into a scandal that has greatly hurt the Catholic Church's credibility here and cast a cloud over his visit.

Francis faced controversy on another front as well: Overnight three more Catholic churches were torched, including one burned to the ground in the southern Araucania region where Francis will visit on Wednesday to meet with Chile's indigenous peoples. While not causing any injuries, the nine church firebombings in the past few days have marked an unprecedented level of protest against history's first Latin American pope on his home turf.

In Santiago, though, an estimated 400,000 jubilant Chileans turned out in droves for his first public Mass, a massive gathering in the capital's O'Higgins park where St. John Paul II celebrated Mass three decades ago. Francis took a long, looping ride in his popemobile through the grounds to greet well-wishers, some of whom had camped out overnight to secure a spot.

In his first event of the day, Francis met privately with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and addressed lawmakers, judges and other authorities at La Moneda palace. They interrupted him with applause when he said he felt "bound to express my pain and shame" that some of Chile's pastors had sexually abused children in their care.

"I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensuring that such things do not happen again," he said.

Francis didn't refer by name to Chile's most notorious pedophile priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima, who was sanctioned in 2011 by the Vatican to a lifetime of "penance and prayer" for sexually molesting minors. Nor did he refer to the fact that the emeritus archbishop of Santiago, a top papal adviser, has acknowledged he knew of complaints against Karadima but didn't remove him from ministry.

Karadima had been a politically connected, charismatic and powerful priest who ministered to a wealthy Santiago community and produced dozens of priestly vocations and five bishops. Victims went public with their accusations in 2010, after complaining for years to church authorities that Karadima would kiss and fondle them when they were teenagers.

While the scandal rocked the church, many Chileans are still furious over Francis' subsequent decision, in 2015, to appoint a Karadima protege as bishop of the southern city of Osorno. Bishop Juan Barros has denied knowing about Karadima's abuse but many Chileans don't believe him, and his appointment has badly split the diocese.

"Sex abuse is Pope Francis' weakest spot in terms of his credibility," said Massimo Faggioli, a Vatican expert and theology professor at Villanova University in Philadelphia. "It is surprising that the pope and his entourage don't understand that they need to be more forthcoming on this issue."

Anne Barrett Doyle, of the online abuse database BishopAccountability.org, praised Francis for opening his visit with the apology, but said Chileans expect him to take action against complicit church leaders.

"This is a crucial opportunity for Francis: With luck, he will not make the mistake of his brother bishops in underestimating the savviness and moral outrage of the Chilean people," said Barrett Doyle, who last week released research showing nearly 80 Chilean priests have been credibly accused or convicted of abuse.

The Karadima scandal and a long cover-up has caused a crisis for the church in Chile, with a recent Latinbarometro survey saying the case was responsible for a significant drop in the number of Chileans who call themselves Catholic, as well as a fall in confidence in the church as an institution.

That distrust extends to Francis, who is making his first visit as pope to this country of 17 million people. The Argentine pope is nearly a native son, having studied in Chile during his Jesuit novitiate and he knows the country well, but Chileans give him the lowest approval rating among the 18 Latin American nations in the survey.

"People are leaving the church because they don't find a protective space there," said Juan Carlos Claret, spokesman for a group of church members in Osorno that has opposed Barros' appointment as bishop. "The pastors are eating the flock."

For his part, Barros told local media after concelebrating the Mass with Francis and other bishops that he knew nothing of Karadima's crimes. "

"Many lies have been made about me," he said.

At a protest Tuesday near O'Higgins park where Francis celebrated Mass, police fired tear gas and water cannons before detaining several dozen demonstrators, according to an Associated Press photographer at the scene. Protesters carried signs with messages reading "Burn, pope!" and "We don't care about the pope!"

Other groups also called for demonstrations against the pontiff.

Victor Hugo Robles, an activist in Chile's lesbian and gay community, said the Vatican tries to paint an image of the pope as being close to the people, particularly those with the most needs.

"We are the ones who need help," said Robles. "Gay people, people living with AIDS. When it comes to those things, the church has an attitude of intolerance, of disgust."

Felipe Morales, from a group called the Workers' Socialist Front, said many were unhappy with the pope and the church's historical influence in Chile. They planned to protest as well.

"The role of the church has been nefarious," said Morales. "Sex abuse cases have been covered up and people are unhappy with many other issues."

To be sure, many were excited to see the pope, and they appreciated his apology for abuse.

"When people make a mistake it's necessary that they ask for forgiveness," said Monica Reyes, a nursing assistant who was inside La Moneda palace for the pope's speech.

Thousands lined the streets of Santiago to get a glimpse of Francis along his motorcade routes, and O'Higgins park was teeming with faithful attending the pope's Mass.

"It was amazing to see him," said Luis Salazar, a young boy who came out with his family to see Francis pass by in his popemobile.

The pope will try to inject new energy into the church during his visit, which includes sessions with migrants, members of Chile's Mapuche indigenous group and victims of the 1973-1990 military dictatorship. It remains to be seen if he will meet with sex abuse survivors. A meeting wasn't on the agenda, but such encounters never are.

———

Associated Press writers Eva Vergara and Patricia Luna and AP video journalist Paul Byrne contributed to this report.

  • Star

Add Interests Customize your news feed by choosing the topics that interest you.

To save your interests across all devices Log In or Sign Up &raquo
Source – abcnews.go.com