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iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- British royalty rubbed shoulders with fashion royalty Tuesday at London Fashion Week.

Queen Elizabeth II made her first ever appearance at London Fashion Week and sat front row next to Vogue’s Anna Wintour at designer Richard Quinn’s runway show.

The 91-year-old monarch sparkled in a blue tweed dress and jacket while viewing the emerging designer’s bold printed looks on the runway. She chatted with Wintour, who didn't remove her signature sunglasses.

Quinn, who started his own label in 2016, is the inaugural recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design, established to recognize emerging British fashion talent.

The award, initiated in recognition of the role the fashion industry plays in society and diplomacy, will be awarded annually to an emerging British fashion designer of womenswear, menswear or accessories that shows exceptional talent and originality, while demonstrating value to the community and/or strong sustainable policies, according to a statement issued by Buckingham Palace.

The British Fashion Council selected Quinn for his creative talent and for his work establishing a print studio, which offers high-quality and accessible services to students and fellow up-and-coming designers.

"From the tweed of the Hebrides to Nottingham lace, and of course Carnaby Street, our fashion industry has been renowned for outstanding craftsmanship for many years, and continues to produce world-class textiles and cutting-edge, practical designs," the queen said. "As a tribute to the industry, and as my legacy to all those who have contributed to British fashion, I would like to present this award for new, young talent."

The award was the idea of the queen’s personal advisor, Angela Kelly, who accompanied her and has coordinated her wardrobe for over 26 years.

Caroline Rush, the chief executive of the British Fashion Council, acknowledged Queen Elizabeth's role as a fashion icon and her groundbreaking effect on the industry when she ascended the throne.

"Your Majesty, it is a true honor to have you here and to have your support for British fashion," Rush said today. "Throughout your reign you have embraced fashion, using its power of diplomacy to communicate understanding between cultures and nations."

Earlier in the day, the monarch visited showrooms to meet designers.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Syrian government and its allied forces pounded a besieged rebel-held Damascus suburb on Tuesday, killing dozens of civilians -- the enclave’s deadliest day in three years.

Airstrikes and shelling have killed at least 210 civilians, including 54 children, since Sunday night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based monitoring group, said. On Tuesday, at least 66 civilians were killed.

On Monday alone, at least 127 civilians lost their lives, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Every day people die and we’re used to it,” Nour Adam, 22, a media activist in Eastern Ghouta who asked that his real last name be withheld out of concern for the safety of family members in government territory, told ABC News via Skype. “But people think we are numbers. Actually, we are humans.”

During the interview the sound of an explosion could be heard in the background.

The recent surge in violence in Eastern Ghouta, which has been besieged by the Syrian government since 2013, is part of President Bashar al-Assad’s campaign to seize Syria’s last remaining opposition-held territories.

“The Syrian government is attacking all areas with all kinds of weapons -- known and unknown weapons,” Siraj Mahmoud, head of media for the White Helmets civil defense rescue force, which operates in rebel-held areas in Syria, told ABC News.

“Warplanes don’t leave the sky at all. Today, we can’t say that we have any safe areas left in Eastern Ghouta,” Mahmoud, who works under a pseudonym, added.

The Syrian foreign ministry said that militants in Eastern Ghouta fired shells at Damascus on Tuesday, killing six civilians, according to the state news agency SANA.

An estimated 400,000 people are trapped in Eastern Ghouta with little access to food, water, fuel, electricity and health care. Many of them have left their homes and moved into underground shelters, where they spend their days and nights in hiding due to the intensity of the strikes.

Save the Children said on Tuesday that 4,100 families now live in underground basements and shelters. More than half are without water, sanitation or ventilation systems, according to local aid workers.

“The bombing has been relentless, and children are dying by the hour,” said Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Syria response director, in a statement. “These families have nowhere left to run – they are boxed in and being pounded day and night.”

The aid agency said that in some parts of Eastern Ghouta, the destruction is worse than it was at the height of the Syrian government’s offensive against Aleppo in 2016, “yet with only a tiny fraction of the global attention and outrage.”

The United Nations warned on Tuesday that the humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta is “spiraling out of control” and that lack of access to the besieged enclave has kept aid away, leading to severe food shortages and a sharp rise in food prices. Malnutrition rates have now reached unprecedented levels, the U.N. said.

“I am deeply alarmed by the extreme escalation in hostilities in East Ghouta,” Panos Moumtzis, U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, said in a statement.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed -- Russian police have reportedly arrested a man who has claimed to be a worker at a so-called troll factory in St. Petersburg, Russia, hours after he gave interviews to foreign journalists and lifted the lid on a secretive organization the U.S. Department of Justice last week accused of trying to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

The Justice Department Friday indicted 13 Russians it accused of running a campaign through the alleged trolling operation to undermine the U.S. election, using social media posts and fake news websites. The indictment named the company behind the alleged operation as the Internet Research Agency.

Since the indictment, Marat Mindiyarov, a 43-year-old former teacher who said he worked for the operation from 2014 to early 2015, has been giving interviews to multiple foreign news outlets, including The Associated Press and The Washington Post, describing its inner workings.

He was then detained Sunday by police who accused him and a friend of making a false report about a bomb near his village outside St. Petersburg, he told The Moscow Times.

Mindiyarov has since been released, Russian radio station Echo of Moscow reported.

Mindiyarov, like most of the workers, was not named in the U.S. indictment brought as part of U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. The indictment Friday named people accused of overseeing the alleged trolling effort or playing a key role in the operation to undermine the election.

It also named the Internet Research Agency’s alleged owner, Yegenvy Prigozhin, a man nicknamed “Putin’s Chef” because of his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mindiyarov has said he was a lower-level employee, posting hundreds of comments on social media expressing Kremlin viewpoints.

Mindiyarov knew the operation’s “Facebook Department” had hired hundreds of Russians who spoke English well to take part in a campaign to influence U.S. public opinion, he told reporters.

"Your first feeling, when you were there, was that you were at some factory that turned a lie into a conveyor belt,” Mindiyarov told The Washington Post Saturday. “The volumes were enormous; there were a huge number of people, from 300 to 400, and they all wrote an absolute lie. It was like in the world of [novelist George] Orwell, the place where you have to say that white is black, and black is white.”

He is among a number of former employees at the “troll factory,” as well as undercover journalists, who have come forward in the past two years to explain what they say are the internal workings of its operation to media organizations, including ABC News.

The Kremlin has denied having any connection to the “troll factory,” with Putin’s spokesman telling reporters Monday that Mueller had failed to provide sufficient evidence of a campaign to meddle in the U.S. election.

Echo of Moscow, the Russian radio station, reported that police had detained Mindiyarov and a friend it named as Igor at an apartment Sunday, accusing Igor of having used his phone to make false reports about bombs near their village.

But, writing on his Facebook page Monday, Mindiyarov said he “is not afraid even after the events of the last night and today.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed, Iran) -- Time is ticking as Iranian rescue teams search the Zagros Mountains trying to locate the wreckage of a missing Aseman Airliner that crashed there on Sunday morning with 66 people on board.

The missing plane was an ATR 72-500 twin-engine turboprop. It left the capital city of Tehran to Yasuj, a southwestern city at 4:30 a.m. GMT on Sunday, but went off the radar 50 minutes into its journey around the city of Semirom in Isfahan Province.

Relatives of those on board have been desperately waiting all day on Sunday, but are losing hope as reports say all 66 passengers are feared dead. Those on board include 60 passengers, two flight attendants, two security guards, and the pilot and co-pilot.

According to the statement of Iran Emergency Center, the heavy winds and snow did not allow a rescue team's helicopter to approach the possible location of the crash on the first day.

The rescue operation was resumed Monday in better weather, but the plane wreckage had yet to be tracked down.

To accelerate the operation, Iran has reached out to other countries for help.

“We have asked China and European countries to immediately inform us of any image they might capture with their satellites,” Mojtaba Saradeghi, deputy head of Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, told the Iranian Student News Agency on Monday.

Family and friends have posted desperate pleas for news on the missing on social media, including one from a women who listed four co-workers killed in the accident and the statement, translated as, "Do you know we have filled your desks at the office with flowers? We shared your memories, and cried."

Russia has also sent information on the possible location of the crash to Tehran via diplomatic channels, according to Spotnik, the Russian news agency.

The Iranian airliner's fleet is very old as it has been prevented from updating for years due to severe sanctions from the West. The Islamic Republic was not allowed to purchase new Western planes and spare parts for about two decades.

In 2015, the country signed a nuclear deal with six world powers (Germany, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and the United States), based on which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear-related activities in return for the easing of some sanctions against the country.

One of the top priorities of Iran was removing sanctions on its aviation industry. While easing these sanctions has led to a major deal between Iran and Boeing for the purchase of airplanes over the coming years, the body of the fleet of the country is still worn out.

The recent crash has led to discussions on social networks about where the West and Iranian aviation stands two years after the lifting of the sanctions on the industry.

Pouyan Tabasinejad, policy chair of the Iranian Canadian Congress, was among those to criticize Canadian Sen. Linda Frum on Twitter after she slammed Boeing for selling Iran new aircraft.

However, some of those who used to blame the West for the high number of casualties in airplane crashes in Iran are now pointing their fingers at Tehran’s mismanagement for not upgrading its fleet in the past two years after the lifting of the former restrictions.

Capt. Houshang Shahbazi became a national hero to Iranians in December 2011 after he managed to safely land a 40-year-old Boeing 727 while the gear in the nose was jammed and the front wheel did not open. He saved the life of 120 passengers on board.

Before the nuclear deal, Shahbazi was a vocal critic of the Western sanctions on Iran’s civil aviation industry. But in an interview with ABC News about the recent incident, he said time to blame the West for such incidents is over. Instead, he criticized Iranian aviation officials for not being swift enough in updating the fleet.

“It is not a humanitarian crisis. This crash is the result of a political crisis,” he said, putting the blame on where political parties choose to invest the resources of the country. “Two years has passed and managers have had enough time to buy new planes and spare parts, if it was their priority.”

However, Aseman Airliner’s technician and training manager, Capt. Bahador Ashayeri, denied any technical problem with the missing ATR plane.

“This plane was of the most modern models. ... It has no problem at all,” Ashayeri said in a live TV program on Sunday.

The weather is expected to get even colder in the Zagros Mountains on Tuesday, making the search and rescue operation more difficult.

“Regardless of the weather condition, search and rescue operation will go on,” Shahin Fathi, operation deputy of Iran’s Red Crescent Organization told the News Channel.

“However, in case of a snowfall, aerial and helicopter search will not be possible and search will go on with the rescue teams on the ground.”

 Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(KARO, Indonesia) --  A volcano on Indonesia’s Sumatra island sent columns of ash shooting into the sky on Monday, prompting a "code red" warning to airlines by an Australian agency monitoring volcanic ash.

Villages in the Karo region near the volcano were covered in layers of grey ash, which settled on trees and the tops of buildings, motorcycles and cars.

Villagers were forced to wear masks.

Mount Sinabung has been erupting intermittently since 2010 after being dormant for centuries.

Thousands have been displaced in the surrounding area, and continued seismic activity has kept the alert level at its highest point since June 2015.

Mount Sinabung is one of three currently active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is located on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an area of concentrated seismic activity due to the presence of tectonic fault lines in the region.

Last year, the eruption of Mount Agung in Bali forced the cancellation of several flights, grounding thousands of tourists and sparking an evacuation order for 100,000 residents.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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ABC News(LESBOS, Greece) --  In her temporary home, a fraction of a tent, Aziza Hommada holds up a transparent plastic bag with pita bread. The plastic has little holes in it and the bread is in pieces.

“Look,” she says. “The rats come into the tent and eat our bread. I have to throw this out.”

Hommada, 37, is five months pregnant and lives with her six children in the Moria camp, the largest refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The words “Welcome to prison” are spray-painted at the entrance and barbed wire surrounds the camp, which used to be a detention center for rejected asylum seekers. Tents and containers are packed tightly together, with narrow, muddy passageways between them. Trash spills out of overflowing garbage bins and piles up on the ground. At night, bonfires light up the faces of children and adults who try to stay warm.

As Europe experienced an unprecedented influx of refugees and migrants in 2015, the camp was originally a temporary solution that could house up to 2,000 people. When ABC News visited the camp in mid-January, it was home to more than 5,300 people, according to the director of the camp.

ABC News was granted rare permission to access a small area of the Moria camp, and also visited other parts where journalists were not allowed.

Like most people in the camp, Hommada and her children share their living space. A piece of fabric splits Hommada’s tent in two. She lives with her children in one half while some of her relatives occupy the other.

She washes laundry by hand using water from a room right next to her tent. The floor there is brown from dirty water and on one recent evening two rats peeked out of a corner.

The family escaped from airstrikes and fighting between ISIS and the Syrian government in their village in Deir Ezzor, Syria. The family became separated when Hommada's husband left to pick up his sister from another village, she says. She has not heard from her husband or been able to find out what happened to him. She arrived in Lesbos with her children about two weeks ago. Even though the family is now safe from airstrikes, Hommada feels scared in the camp, especially at night.

“I don’t sleep from the fear,” says Hommada. “If anyone walks by our tent at night I sense it immediately and feel frightened.”

International organizations operating on the island say lack of security and hygiene are two major issues in the Moria camp. The UN warned earlier this month that women and children are at risk of sexual violence in the camp and called for more police. It described the bathrooms there as “no-go zones” for women and children after dark if they are not accompanied. Even showering during the day can be dangerous, the UN said.

 In his office inside the Moria camp, Giannis Balpakakis, the camp's director, who is appointed by the Greek government to run it, lets out a sigh.

“The only problem is that there are a lot of people and it is difficult for us,” he says when asked why the camp is crowded and dirty. “If you have an apartment with one kitchen and two bedrooms and this apartment is for two people and in the same apartment you put 10 people you will have a problem. This is the problem.”

New containers were recently added in the camp, increasing the capacity from 2,000 to 3,000, he says, but it’s still not enough. People keep arriving to the island and the camp is crowded, he says -- so crowded that staff members clean the bathrooms and toilets only to find them dirty again one hour later.

“We may make mistakes, we may not be able to get to everything, but we are trying really hard,” he says. “All of us here are striving for the betterment of the people. I’m not saying that it’s the best, but we earnestly try. Everyone talks countless hours on the phone, to get everything in order, to strive, but I say to you honestly the problems that we have here are huge. Why? Because we constantly have new people. There is this stress, to welcome 100 people today, then 200 tomorrow, then another 100.”

In March 2016, the EU sealed a deal with Turkey intended to stop illegal migration to Europe by closing the main route that a million refugees and migrants had used to cross the sea to Greece. Since the EU-Turkey pact went into effect, the Greek islands have received a much smaller number of migrants and refugees. But in the second half of 2017, the numbers increased. Since September, more than 16,000 migrants and refugees have arrived on the Greek islands by sea from Turkey. And while asylum seekers before the EU-Turkey deal could move to the Greek mainland after typically just a few days on the islands, they now wait on the islands for months -- and in some cases, more than a year.

Under the agreement, which has been criticized by humanitarian organizations, refugees and migrants who manage to cross the sea to Greece are trapped on the islands. They face being returned to Turkey, unless the Greek authorities determine that they should be granted asylum in Greece. Only vulnerable asylum seekers such as pregnant women, unaccompanied children and torture victims -- or asylum seekers with close family members elsewhere in Europe -- are allowed to move to mainland Greece. But even those vulnerable people often have to wait on the islands for months for a decision.

The crowded conditions create tension and fights break out in the camp, Balpakakis says. There are also problems with the infrastructure and electricity. At one point during the interview the lights in the director’s office go off because of a sudden power outage.

 Deeper inside the camp Jihad Al-Haj Hussein Al-Hilal, 50, lights a cigarette in his part of a shipping container that serves as a temporary home. When he lived in his Syrian hometown in Deir Ezzor under ISIS rule, smoking was not allowed. He escaped intense fighting between ISIS and the Syrian government there and has been on Lesbos with his family since late October.

“I’m still trapped on this island,” says al-Hilal. “We escaped from death and came to death -- from quick death to slow death.”

It’s around dinner time and people line up for food outside. Residents say they usually have to wait two to three hours for a meal. A sound of men yelling makes its way into the container.

“Can you hear that?” asks Jihad. “They’re fighting. It happens a lot when people line up for food.”

The conditions in the camp surprised him when he arrived, he says. “I had expected that I would at least feel safe here,” he says.

Berevan Ahmad Hassan, a 25-year-old Kurdish Syrian from Aleppo, fled her country after an airstrike destroyed her home and all her belongings. When she saw the wreckage, she actually felt relief. Her children and husband were safe and that was all that mattered to her, she says. But after seven years of war, she decided to leave her country for the safety of her 5-year-old and 3-year-old. In Greece, her children often wake up screaming at night because they see bombs in their dreams. They refuse to use the toilets in the camp unless their mother cleans them first.

“They have started bed-wetting,” she says. “They didn’t do that in Syria.”

She has lived with her family in a tent for two months. The conditions in the camp are far worse than she imagined, she says. Every morning when she wakes up her first thought is: I can’t wait for this day to be over.

“I think, I hope this day will go by fast so that it will be night so that I can reach the day when I will get out of here,” she says.

She wants to settle in an actual home where her children can feel like they are living a stable life. And she wants them to go to school.

“It will be a while before that can happen. We will suffer until then,” she says. “But after everything we’ve been through I can’t imagine that I will end up regretting coming. I can’t think that. I have to think that it will be good.”

After ABC News left the Greek island of Lesbos, the Hommada family told ABC News that they had been transferred from the Moria camp to Lesbos' Kara Tepe camp, which is known to have much better conditions than the Moria camp. The family said they now live in a container by themselves rather than a shared tent.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty Images(LONDON) -- Princess Kate arrived at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) tonight with Prince William in a dark green Jenny Packham gown, as the majority of other women on the red carpet chose to wear black in solidarity with the fight against sexual harassment and the Time's Up movement.

The mother of Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2, who is currently pregnant in her third trimester, however, did wear a black tie around her dress above her glowing figure, in what may have been a subtle nod to fellow women.

Royal family members are forbidden from making political statements of any kind and must remain unbiased. Kensington Palace declined to comment on Kate’s decision to wear green instead of black in solidarity with other women. Last year, Kate wore a black Alexander McQueen gown with printed flowers.

The dress code is similar to other red carpets, most notably the Golden Globes, when women and men both showed their support for gender equality and human rights for women.

Margot Robbie, Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie and almost every other major celebrity wore black on the red carpet tonight, which has been a dominant theme at awards shows in the wake of the Time's Up and #MeToo movements after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke last fall.

There was considerable discussion online and on television about the Duchess of Cambridge’s decision to forego black on the red carpet as the Time's Up movement is not aligned with a particular political party.

British TV presenter Piers Morgan wrote on Twitter “Duchess of Cambridge being abused by 'feminists' on Twitter for not wearing a black dress at tonight's #BAFTAS Apparently, she's not allowed to exercise HER feminist right to wear whatever colour dress she chooses.”

Others said that it was a missed opportunity for Kate, and argued that wearing black was not a political statement but rather simply an affirmation of women’s rights.

Kate accessorized her gown with stunning emerald and diamond earrings, which she donned previously in New York when she and Prince William attended the 600th anniversary benefit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of their Alma mater St Andrews University.

Princess Kate accompanied William, who is president of BAFTA, and also wore a glittering matching emerald and diamond necklace to the Awards ceremony.

"Catherine and I are extremely pleased to be here amongst you all this evening," William said at tonight's event. "The Film Awards are just one part of BAFTA's activity. I have been privileged over the years to experience first-hand the impact of its work in the United Kingdom, in Los Angeles, New York and Asia -- work ranging from scholarships and supporting new talent, through to masterclasses with the very best in the film industry -- many of whom are here this evening."

"Your support of BAFTA -- sharing skills, expertise and time -- means we can ensure the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. It ensures that we can do much, much more to help talented people from all backgrounds to be given the opportunity to succeed," he added.

Earlier in the day more than 200 women signed on to a new fund to support women who experience abuse and harassment at work. Emma Watson donated $1 million to the campaign, while Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley and Kristen Scott Thomas are all signatories to the open letter.

"As we approach the BAFTAs, our industry's time for celebration and acknowledgement, we hope we can celebrate this tremendous moment of solidarity and unity across borders by coming together and making this movement international," the letter states.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Carl Court/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Three large billboards pulled by vans snaked through the British capital Thursday afternoon. The words on the stark red backdrops read:

“71 dead.”

“And still no arrests?”

“How come?”

The banners were inspired by the 2017 film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," about a woman campaigning for police to find the culprit responsible for her daughter’s rape and murder.

Last June, at least 71 people were killed as a devastating fire ravaged a tower block in West London. A block of public housing flats entrenched in Britain’s wealthiest neighborhood of Kensington and Chelsea, the burning tower became an iconic symbol of inequality in London.

In the initial days following the tragedy, the council responsible for the area was harshly criticized for its slow response and for having possibly neglected safety standards that could have prevented the fire from taking place.

After several initial reviews into fire safety and building materials, the Metropolitan Police -- the force responsible for Greater London –- announced a criminal investigation into the fire. In a public notice the police said that they had “reasonable grounds” to suspect that both the council and the building management company may have committed corporate manslaughter.

In January 2018 the Metropolitan Police requested more than $50 million from the UK Home Office to cover the costs of the investigation, one of the most expansive and complex inquiries in the force’s history, involving around 250 officers and staff. More than 30 million documents and more than 1,000 statements have been taken from witnesses so far.

Given the scale of the inquiry, reaction to the "Three Billboards" campaign through London was mixed online.

Film director Ken Loach, known for his work exploring social issues through his films, praised and promoted the campaign as a way to refocus public attention on the issue in order to push for accountability.

The Secret Barrister –- an anonymous legal commentator who has cautioned against prosecution to satisfy public anger -- replied to Loach's tweet, calling the three-billboard display "antagonism" that would help no one.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(RIO DE JANEIRO) -- Samba drums and hypnotic percussions, nonstop flow of positive lyrics about love and "Saudade" in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Women, men and children wearing sparkly red shirts, fun headpieces dancing tirelessly.

"Blocos de Rua" -- or street bands -- could be found across the country, mobilizing locals and tourists alike. One of the thousands of organized street festivals is the "Bloco de Carmelitas" -- originated in 1990 in the St. Teresa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.

As it plays out every year, Rio Carnival 2018, which began earlier this month, gave Brazilians a chance to unwind and party in the streets.

Monica Araujo, 59, a nurse at a public hospital, never misses the "Bloco de Carmelitas."

"That's a necessity for Brazilians to celebrate carnival," Araujo said.

Amid all the fun, though, Brazilians had an anxious eye toward October, when voters will elect another president after years of political turmoil. Araujo, for her part, sent a message by dressing as a doctor -- to highlight the lack of funding for her hospital, which suffered major cuts.

"My hospital lost 10 percent of jobs last year. We cannot work," Araujo told ABC News. "The university of my eldest child has stopped her class because of a lack of money."

Once elected, the future president will have to deal with the worst economic recession in decades, violent crimes and a recrudescence of gang activity. Above all, he or she will have to reverse a general political mistrust after the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff and the nomination of unpopular Michel Temer as her interim successor.

"I never voted for Michel Temer," Araujo said.

She added that, because of the political uncertainty, Carnival, which ends Sunday, is that much more important for a healthy distraction and a rejuvenation leading up to October.

"Of course, we need to celebrate even more," she said.

Not only will Brazilians elect a new president in October, but they will also vote for a new Congress in the wake of a political corruption scandal.

Renato Silva 31, a law student who traveled from Sao Paulo to celebrate Carnival, tried to keep his excitement for the election despite the recent political scandals.

"There was a lot of disappointment in Brazil the past four years," Silva said.

"If we don't hope the future will be better, then we die. Carnival is good for both hope and despair," Renato added.

In some ways, the election mirrors the presidential election in the United States in 2016, with candidates being compared to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Geraldo Alckmin of the centrist Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB) has been compared to Clinton, while Jair Bolsonaro of the far-right Partido Social Cristao (PSC) has been dubbed the "Donald Trump of Brazil."

Bolsonaro, a former military officer during the dictatorship who wants to combat crime by putting an end to gun control laws, said he is a threat to the establishment.

"I am a threat to oligarchies, I am a threat to the stubbornly corrupt, I'm a threat to those who want to destroy family values," Bolsonaro told ABC News. "That's the threat I represent."

The person to beat, however -- if he is allowed to run -- is Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. But the charismatic candidate of Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), who simply goes by Lula, may be in jail by October, following a questionable money laundering trial.

But the left-leaning PT, who compared Lula to the late South African activist and president Nelson Mandela, said it is standing by its candidate.

"We won't give up in the face of this injustice," it said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It's officially the Year of the Dog, and we’ve fetched a doggone delicious recipe to help you celebrate.

In honor of China’s largest and most celebrated holiday, we teamed up with a New York City restaurateur to learn how to make Peking duck jianbing. These “Chinese crepes” are sold from street carts back in China and are a cultural staple.

Brian Goldberg, the owner of Mr. Bing in New York City, lived in China for 14 years and speaks fluent Mandarin.  

Goldberg shared his technique for making the perfect jianbing:


For the batter:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup mung bean flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1½ cups water

For the crispy wontons:

1 cup vegetable oil
16 wonton wrappers

For the crepes:

5 teaspoons vegetable oil
5 eggs
Crepe batter
½ cup of roast duck
1¼ cups scallions, thinly sliced
5 teaspoons black sesame seeds
5 tablespoons hoisin
5 tablespoons chili paste
1 cup crispy wontons
1¼ cups cilantro leaves


Make the batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and mung bean flours and salt. Whisk in the water, and once a smooth batter forms, set aside.

Make the crispy wontons: In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil. Fry the wonton wrappers in four batches of four until golden brown, 30 to 45 seconds. Remove and cool completely on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. When cool, crush the wontons into 1-inch chips with your hands.

Make the crepes: In a crepe pan or a large nonstick skillet, heat one teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium heat. Using a whisk, scramble one egg in a small bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of batter into the pan and, using a bench scraper, work quickly to spread the crepe along the entire surface of the pan.

Once the crepe begins to curl at the edges -- about 1 to 2 minutes -- pour the scrambled egg mixture on top and spread into an even layer over the entire surface. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the scallions and one teaspoon of sesame seeds over the egg. Cook for one minute more until the egg begins to set. Carefully flip the crepe, and brush with one tablespoon of the hoisin and one tablespoon of the chili paste, then scatter 1/4 cup of the crushed wonton chips, 1/4 cup of the cilantro leaves and roast duck on top.

Fold the crepe like a letter -- horizontally and vertically -- to form a squared pancake. Cut in half and serve immediately.

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USGS(MEXICO CITY) -- A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, south of Mexico City, on Friday evening, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Video on social media showed buildings shaking in Mexico City. People in the city gathered on the streets as sirens blared.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said the National Civil Protection system protocols have been activated.

Mexico City's Civil Protection said no major damage was reported, but two people were killed after a military helicopter carrying Oaxaca Gov. Alejandro Murat crash landed while surveying damage. Murat escaped injury, but two people on the ground were killed, the governor tweeted early Saturday morning.

"My condolences and solidarity with the relatives of the people who unfortunately lost their lives in the wake of the unfortunate accident we suffered a few hours ago," Murat tweeted in Spanish.

The Mexico City Government wrote on Twitter, "Before returning to your homes, it is important to check if there are any damages, turn off gas lines and disconnect energy sources."

The quake was 15 miles deep, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The National Seismological Service said 59 aftershocks had been detected before 6:30 p.m. local time.

Over 300 people, including schoolchildren, died from a powerful earthquake in central Mexico last September.

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Murat Kaynak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday struck an optimistic chord as they downplayed tensions between the NATO allies while announcing unspecified “mechanisms” for the countries to work through their recent disaffection.

Speaking through an interpreter, Cavusoglu said the U.S. and Turkey had "taken an important turn in terms of normalizing our relations," adding, “We will work like two allies, establishing trust once again.”

Tillerson sounded the same notes: "We’re not going to act alone any longer... We’re going to lock arms, we’re going to work through the issues that are causing difficulties for us, and we’re going to resolve them."

The cheery tone of Friday’s announcement had an entirely different timbre from Tillerson’s curt dismissal of the press corps Thursday evening, declining to take questions after more than three hours of meetings with Cavusoglu and his firebrand president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Not tonight," Tillerson said in the lobby of his hotel in Ankara, Turkey's capital. "We're still working."

But on Friday Cavusoglu and Tillerson touted the new "mechanisms" for the countries to work through their differences -- everything from U.S. support for Turkey's enemy, the Kurds; Turkey harassing and arresting American citizens and embassy employees; the possible extradition of a Turkish cleric legally residing in the U.S.; and more. The mechanism is an expansion of an already existing working group that sorted out the recent spat over visa services, where the U.S. stopped issuing visas in Turkey and Turkey responded in kind.

"We want to overcome all of these by working together, and I am sure that all of these will bring important results for us," Cavusoglu told reporters, denying that it was "kicking the ball off to the corner," or the can down the road: "They are not delaying the process. To the contrary, these are important aspects to get results."

Among those cooperative efforts, according to Reuters, could be a joint deployment of American and Turkish forces in Manbij -- a Syrian city not far from the Turkish border where the two countries' forces have had tense encounters.

U.S. forces have been deployed in the city to train -- and in effect, protect -- America's Kurdish ally known as the YPG. The group's formidable fighters made up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which the U.S. trained, armed, and assisted as a local ground force to defeat ISIS. The SDF swept ISIS out of its major strongholds in eastern Syria, including its self-declared capital Raqqa.

But Turkey considers the YPG terrorists and enemies of the state because of their ties to other Kurdish groups within their borders, and after attacking Kurds in the nearby Syrian city Afrin, they've threatened to move onto Manbij -- leading to a stand-off and a war of words with U.S. commanders.

The State Department would not confirm that the U.S. is considering a joint deployment to cool tensions or what one would look like. But officials pointed to Tillerson's comments Friday that made clear the U.S. seeks cooperation and Manbij is the first step.

"We’re going to address Manbij first... through the working group," Tillerson said. A State Department official told ABC News that process will begin no later than mid-March, but deferred further questions to the Pentagon.

Still, most of the issues that have divided the two countries remained, and despite the positive spin, neither side seemed to change their actual position on them.

The extradition of that Turkish cleric, for example, has been a major sticking point. Fetullah Gulen is a legal permanent resident in the U.S., but Erdogan has blamed him for leading a failed coup against him in July 2016 and demanded the U.S. turn him over. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim went so far as to tell reporters in November that it was tantamount to Turkey protecting the 9/11 masterminds.

After discussing the issue with Erdogan at length, however, Tillerson signaled no change in the U.S. position -- that there isn't enough evidence to extradite a legal permanent resident to Turkey. "We’ve agreed that we will continue to examine all the evidence that can be provided to us," he said.

In addition, Cavusoglu blasted the YPG for "attacking our citizens... our people are dying." Incensed that the U.S. ever provided arms to them, Turkey has demanded that the U.S. now take them back.

But Tillerson did not waiver in the U.S.'s support for the group, especially since American troops still need them to finish the job against ISIS. "We have always been clear with Turkey that the weapons provided to the Syrian Democratic Forces would be limited, mission-specific, and provided on an incremental basis to achieve military objectives only," he reiterated. But it's unclear if the U.S. will make any changes to its support any time soon -- or ever be able to "take back" the weapons.

Turkey will also move ahead with a purchase of a Russian weapons system, too, even though the U.S. continues to oppose the sale and it may even be illegal under a new sanctions law passed last year. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters Thursday, "We would oppose the purchase of that," but Cavusoglu reiterated Friday, "This is our national security, and it’s important for our national security."

For those American citizens imprisoned by Turkey -- many of whom were swept up in the crackdown after that coup and charged with terrorism offenses -- Tillerson reiterated that the U.S. still demands their immediate release. But Cavusoglu was dismissive: "We needed to take rapid steps against this terrorist organization. This was the expectation of our people," he said, justifying the detentions.

And if the U.S. or these Americans disagree? "The appeal process is open," he added.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The "Black Panther" movie is winning attention for breaking Hollywood norms through its almost entirely black cast and crew, powerful black leading ladies and a superhero who is not, for once, white.

But the movie’s cultural significance goes beyond the race of its characters to the language they speak.

Xhosa, known affectionately as the ‘click click language,’ takes its name from a people in mostly southern Africa who speak it.

One of the official languages of South Africa and the native tongue of the late Nelson Mandela, Xhosa is now spoken by around 8 million people.

One of them is South African singer and actress Zolani Mahola, lead singer of Freshlyground.

Zolani sang in Xhosa alongside Shakira for the country’s official World Cup song, ‘Waka Waka, This Time For Africa,' and continues to use the language in her music.

She is thrilled Xhosa is featured in the new movie.

"I’m very pleased," Zolani said. "I think people here will only watch that part of the movie. Just cut and paste it on repeat," she added, laughing.

The singer said she believes Xhosa's inclusion in "Black Panther" may help to build cultural bridges and appreciation.

“We are all realizing how much we have in common," she said. "I think that it’s wonderful to open up people’s windows of experience. I mean, how many people living in Ohio have heard Xhosa? I think it’s awesome.”

In South Africa, mention of the Xhosa language often brings up one of its most famous speakers.

“One of the most influential leaders of our time was a Xhosa man, Nelson Mandela," Zolani noted. "It was his only language growing up. So I mean it’s high time we had a major Hollywood production using it."

Stars of the movie are also proud of its use of Xhosa, saying it lends the film authenticity.

Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye, told ABC News, “It was very important that when you're telling a story from the African perspective it is very authentic and also very accessible -- which kind of breaks that concept that you can't tell stories from the African perspective on a global scale.”

The actress also talked of the excitement around "speaking a true African language on a global screen.”

Zolani agreed that it's important for artists to speak authentically.

“I think it’s hugely important to sound like yourself, to sound like all the parts that have informed who you are," she said. "For all artists, across all genres, it’s very important to bring that essence in.”

Both Marvel Studios and ABC News are owned by Disney.

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Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- North Korea marked the national holiday of late leader Kim Jong Il’s birthday with modest celebratory events compared to the past.

Its current leader, Kim Jong Un, paid tribute to his late father’s mausoleum at Kumsusan Palace in Pyongyang on Friday just after midnight, its state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The mausoleum is for the ruling Kim family, preserving the founder of North Korea and grandfather of Kim Jong Un, Kim Il Sung. The trip by Kim Jong Un and several high-ranking officials is an annual anniversary trip.

This year, the list of accompanying officials included party officials -- but no military officials, according to the state news report.

The national holiday is called “Day of the Shining Star” in Korean because North Korea’s officially approved story insists that a glowing new star and a double rainbow appeared when Kim Jong Il was born in 1942 on Baekdu Mountain, a cherished mountain to the Koreans.

But outside, historians agree that Kim Il Sung and his wife were in a refugee camp in the Soviet Union at the time of Kim Jong Il’s birth.

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Hakyung Kate Lee(PYEONGCHANG, South Korea) -- Those visiting South Korea for the Olympics may be confused to find stores closed on Thursday and Friday. Friday is the Lunar New Year, a legal holiday in South Korea. South Korean athletes competing in Pyeongchang celebrated Lunar New Year together in Korea House on Friday morning.

A regular Lunar New Year in South Korea involves family members gathering in one home -- usually the elder member’s house, though some families take turns hosting -- and preparing a memorial ceremony meal together. Various kinds of mouthwatering Korean dishes are cooked, including several pan-fried delicacies called jeon, along with fruit and traditional sweets.

The ceremony style differs from town to town and family to family; many homes have scaled down the ceremony to a dinner or family trip.

An important dish that cannot be missed for the Korean New Year is rice cake soup, called tteok-guk. This filling soup is made of thin, circular rice cakes boiled in clear broth, often served with slices of beef and vegetable garnish. There are a few hypotheses to the origin of this dish. Some say the disc-shaped rice cake symbolizes coins, and eating the soup promises a prosperous year. Others say you grow a year older after finishing a bowl of this rice cake soup.

After the ceremony and meal comes the best moment of the day for children: Youngsters in a family bow to the elderly, and they grant the children a word of advice and -- and why many long for the new year to come so badly -- pocket money. This custom has been around for more than 100 years, according to South Korean local press Newsis.

Adults used to give nickels and dimes to young people to buy books and pens. This small pleasure was handed down as a traditional event during new year gatherings. Thanks to developed technology, some now send the new year pocket money via online payment, reducing the need for paper packaging.

To break the ice between distant relatives who haven’t met for months, South Koreans spend time playing board games during the holidays. YutNori is a board game that has been around since the early 1900s and can be enjoyed regardless of age and gender. Kite flying is also a popular sport during the holiday; usually new year wishes are written on kites before flying them.

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How South Korea celebrates the Lunar New Year





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