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emarto/iStock(LONDON) -- Prince Andrew will step back from public duties "for the foreseeable future" over heavy criticism he has faced for his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support," the statement from the prince read.

He said he asked Queen Elizabeth if he may step back from his public duties, and she gave her permission.

The prince added that he continues to "unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein."

Epstein died in prison from an apparent suicide on Aug. 10.

"His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure," the prince said in a statement. "I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives."

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


omersukrugoksu/iStock(TEHRAN, Iran) — With internet connections cut off across the country by authorities in Iran after days of bloody protests, Iranians are scrambling to understand what is happening beyond what little has come out in official channels.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International reported at least 106 people have been killed since the protests against a fuel subsidy cut began over the weekend. The report cites videos and eyewitness accounts that have trickled out of the country, an effort complicated by the internet restrictions. It illustrated the struggle for ordinary Iranians to obtain accurate information about the extent of the ongoing protests despite no access to social media or international news.

"I feel like I am stranded on an island. I have no idea what is happening to other people and to my friends in other cities," a Tehran-based university student, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told ABC News. "In this very sensitive time, my news source is now limited to the state TV and state news website. I am not sure how much is left out."

Thousands of people took over the streets in different cities in Iran, objecting to the dramatic rise in gasoline prices, a decision made by the heads of the three powers of the Islamic Republic in the Supreme Council of Economic Coordination. The council was established in the spring of 2019 by the order of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to counter the severe U.S. sanctions on the country.

Outside of the country, Iranians have shared posts on social media with the hashtag "#Internet4Iran," asking the government to give people the right to access the internet. Some Iranian expats organized protests in front of Iranian embassies in other countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, and condemned any violent confrontations with protesters.

Nationwide protests against tripling fuel prices in Iran have resulted in at least 106 protesters in 21 cities in Iran killed, Amnesty International reported Tuesday.

Protesters blocked highways and streets by stopping their cars in the middle of traffic, while others set fire to gas stations, banks and other public properties. They raised objects to some of the domestic and international policies of the Islamic Republic, by shouting slogans like, "No Gaza, no Lebanon, I give my life for Iran" and "We've got no money and no fuel, leave Palestine alone."

Islamic Republic officials said they recognized the right to protest, but blamed Iran's enemies for encouraging "rioters" to keep endangering the country's security.

"The authorities must end this brutal and deadly crackdown immediately and show respect for human life," Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

"The frequency and persistence of lethal force used against peaceful protesters in these and previous mass protests, as well as the systematic impunity for security forces who kill protesters, raise serious fears that the intentional lethal use of firearms to crush protests has become a matter of state policy," he continued.

In his speech on Sunday, Ayatollah Khamenei specifically mentioned the house of Pahlavi, Iran's former monarch, and a dissident group known as the MEK, as the ones pushing people to the streets in the "cyber space," according to the official website of the leader.

"The internet will gradually be returned to the provinces where it can be guaranteed it is not misused," said Ali Rabiei, a spokesman for Iran's government, according to the Iranian Students News Agency on Tuesday.

Iran's economy faces many challenges, from exporting oil -- the major source of revenue for the country -- to a shrinking job market, high inflation and sinking value of the country's currency as a result of the U.S. decision to reinstate crippling sanctions on the country.

In May 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran's nuclear deal, known as the Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action. The deal had been signed in 2015, when Barack Obama was president, between Iran and the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, Germany and France. Tehran had agreed to put a cap on its nuclear activities in return for the easing of economic sanctions by the West.

Iranian officials say that the power price rise was a move to compensate for the budget deficit the country faces due to its sanction-hit oil revenue. The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised to allocate the income from reducing gasoline subsidies to the vulnerable households that, as he described, make up over 80% of the country's population.

Out of the 25 million Iranian households, 18 million are in difficult conditions, [so] the government has decided to provide them with aid packages," Rouhani said in a speech in Kerman, as reported by IRNA on Nov. 12.

"This is meaningless. I don't know what this tiny amount of money can even mean," a 40-year-old English teacher told ABC News. "I wish the government would get it sooner that people's problems cannot be solved by a 10,000 tomans subsidies increase and cutting the internet."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


TomAF/iStock(BERLIN) — Austrian officials announced Tuesday that the home Adolf Hitler was born in will be turned into a police station. The decision follows a lengthy legal battle between the Austrian government and the owner of the house in Braunau am Inn, a small town near the German border.

When Austria's Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government taking ownership of the building back in early August, the interior ministry announced an architecture competition to renovate it. Now, the terms of the competition have been laid out in an attempt to stop the site from becoming a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis.

"The house’s future usage by the police should set a clear signal that this building will never be a place to commemorate Nazism" said the country's interior minister Wolfgang Peschorn in a statement to press.

The EU-wide architecture competition to determine the building's new design will be launched at the end of this month, with the winner announced in the first half of 2020, authorities said. The Braunau police will move into their new home in what they hope will stop Hitler sympathizers from lingering as they have done since it became unoccupied in 2011.

The legal battled was settled in August when Austria's Supreme Court ruled against its former owner, Gerlinde Pommer-Angloher, who claimed the property was worth much more than what the government paid her for it in 2016. She had been forced to sell it to the government for $910,000 but attempted to argue that it was worth almost $1.7 million.

Hitler was born in the three-story, 17th century house in 1889. It was purchased and used by the Nazis who came to power in Austria in 1938. It was later transferred back to the original owners, Pommer-Angloher's family, and was used as a government-funded care center for people with disabilities.

However, the government ended that project in 2011 when Pommer-Angloher refused to renovate the building. Since then, she reportedly had rejected several offers from the government to purchase it, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

In 2016, the Austrian parliament voted to seize the house and drastically renovate it in order to stop neo-Nazis from visiting the site.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


guvendemir/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Two U.S. service members were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Wednesday. U.S. military officials said it did not appear that the helicopter went down as a result of enemy fire.

"Two U.S. service members were killed in a helicopter crash on November 20, 2019 in Afghanistan," said a statement issued by U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

"The cause of the crash is under investigation, however preliminary reports do not indicate it was caused by enemy fire," said the statement.

No other details were provided by U.S. military officials about the circumstances of the deadly crash or where in Afghanistan it took place.

The two deaths bring to 19 the number of U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan this year -- the deadliest year for U.S. forces there in five years.

The U.S. military statement said that in accordance with Defense Department policy the names of the service members would not be disclosed until 24 hours after their next of kin have been notified.

There are still 13,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, most of them involved in a mission to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces in their fight against the Taliban and the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan.

Peace talks between the United States and the Taliban stalled in early September after the U.S. ended discussions following the death of an American soldier in a bombing in Kabul.

By that point the talks had reached a tentative agreement that could have led to the withdrawal of as many as 5,000 American troops from Afghanistan.

The Trump administration has advocated for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan, but that move could only happen if talks restart and the Afghan government is brought into the peace talks.

On Tuesday, two western hostages held by the Taliban for more than three years were freed in exchange for the transfer to Qatar of three senior Taliban leaders held by the Afghan government.

The release of American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks appears to have been intended to jumpstart the stalled peace talks.

"It is a good step, but it’s only that," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said of the exchange as he traveled to Brussels.

"But it’s good. I think they’ll build confidence, there are a handful more that we hope will happen in the next few days, some Afghan prisoners who we hope will be released, a handful things after that," Pompeo said.

"We hope they’ll begin to build a foundation that we can get comfortable that a peace and reconciliation process has an opportunity of being successful," he added. "We’ve been working hard at it, we’re still working hard at it."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


KeithBinns/iStock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- An American and Australian professor who were kidnapped in Afghanistan and held hostage for more than three years have been released by the Taliban in a prisoner swap aimed at restarting peace negotiations between the United States and the Afghan militant organization.

American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks were both professors at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul when they were ambushed and abducted by gunmen while leaving the campus in August 2016. They had appeared in a proof-of-life video looking gaunt and disheveled in January 2017 requesting then-President-elect Donald Trump secure their release by agreeing to a deal.

"We are so happy to hear that my brother has been freed and is on his way home to us," King's sister, Stephanie Miller, said in a statement to ABC News. "This has been a long and painful ordeal for our entire family, and his safe return has been our highest priority. We appreciate the support we have received and ask for privacy as we await Kevin's safe return."

Three senior members of the Taliban were released from Afghan government custody in exchange for the two men.

The three Taliban prisoners released were named as Anas Haqqani, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid. Haqqani is a leader of the Haqqani group, a network that has been blamed for several attacks and the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops since 2001. Haqqani's imprisonment by the Afghan government is said to have prompted the kidnapping of King and Weeks.

The hand-off of King and Weeks in eastern Afghanistan was facilitated by a U.S. special mission unit from Joint Special Operations Command, according to a counterterrorism official. In 2015, when prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was freed in a similar swap, Alpha Squadron from the Army's elite Delta Force handled the pickup, which the Taliban videotaped and released afterward.

Just last week, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said the decision was "a tough, but important" one and one he had to make in the interest of the Afghan people.

With King's freedom after three years in captivity with the Afghan Taliban's Haqqani Network, there remain a total of three Americans still held hostage by terrorists overseas, counterterrorism officials have told ABC News. They include Paul Overby, who is believed held by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Jeffery Woodke, a missionary taken hostage in Niger by ISIS, and a third U.S. citizen whose name and circumstances are not public.

The American and Australian professors were kidnapped after word got out that Haqqani -- brother of Afghan Taliban leader Siraj Haqqani and son of legendary mujahideen commander Jalaluddin Haqqani -- had been tried and sentenced to death in Kabul. That "ticked off the Taliban," a western intelligence official said at the time, and they kidnapped professors off the street in retaliation.

Weeks after the two professors were abducted, a video was released by the Taliban featuring Caitlan Coleman, a Pennsylvanian held hostage by the Haqqani Network for five years in North Waziristan with her Canadian husband and three children. Coleman said that she and her family would be killed if any harm came to Taliban prisoners, which officials interpreted as Anas Haqqani.

Two years ago, however, Coleman and her family were freed in Pakistan. On Tuesday, Coleman sent her best wishes to King, Weeks and their families.

"Welcome home, Kevin and Tim. Though we be strangers, the news of your safety at last has lifted my heart and causes me great relief. I am grateful also to the governments that worked to secure their safe return from the hands of the terrorists," Coleman said in a statement to ABC News.

Paul Overby’s wife, Jane Larson, said in a statement to ABC News Tuesday that she is glad King and Weeks are finally free.

"I am relieved that at last the professors are free and will soon be home with their families," Larson said. "Paul has been missing since May 2014. During the last five and a half years, I have not received any definitive information regarding his status or location. I remain eager for information from his captors or the governments of Afghanistan or Pakistan, where he was traveling at the time of his disappearance."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


DNY59/iStock(STOCKHOLM) -- Sweden has dropped a rape investigation involving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Officials said the evidence against Assange has weakened due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the alleged incident.

"I would like to emphasise that the injured party has submitted a credible and reliable version of events. Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed; however, my overall assessment is that the evidential situation has been weakened to such an extent that that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation," said Eva-Marie Persson, deputy director of Public Prosecution.

Assange has always denied the August 2010 sexual assault accusations and fought extradition for years, hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy from June 2012 to April 2019 when he was arrested for jumping bail in connection with charges related to the rape case in Sweden. While the rape charges were later dropped, the bail jumping charges remained.

Assange is currently serving a 50-week jail sentence in the U.K. on the bail jumping charge.

This is far from the end of Assange's legal troubles.

He is also wanted in the U.S. in connection with one of the largest thefts of classified government information in American history. The U.K. has an extradition treaty with the U.S., depending on an assurance that wanted persons do not face the death penalty, which is outlawed in the U.K.

Hours after he was arrested by British authorities in April, U.S. prosecutors announced charges against him for allegedly conspiring with former intelligence officer Chelsea Manning to gain unlawful access to a government computer.

The indictment, which was filed in March 2018, claims Assange helped Manning crack a password on a Pentagon computer.

In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the offense, but her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama as one of his final acts in office.

"From the outset of Sweden's preliminary investigation, Julian Assange’s expressed concern has been that waiting in the wings was a United States extradition request that would be unstoppable from Sweden - and result in his spending the rest of his life in a US prison," WikiLeaks said in a statement. "Now that the US does seek Mr Assange’s extradition to stand trial on unprecedented charges for journalistic work, it continues to be a matter of extreme regret that this reality has never been properly acknowledged and that the process in Sweden -- with which Mr Assange has always expressed his willingness to engage and indeed did so -- became so exceptionally politicised itself."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Chase Scott/Big Dog Rescue(NEW YORK) --  Miracle, the puppy that was rescued in the Bahamas after surviving more than three weeks under debris from Hurricane Dorian, has a new family just in time for the holidays.

The Beaty family -- Clark, Briana and their three daughters Jayne, 8; Kate, 5; and Clare, 3 -- of Palm Beach, Florida, were formerly announced Wednesday as Miracle's new owners during a news conference at the Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee Groves.

"Miracle has now gained 16 pounds -- almost half his body weight [when] he came in -- and weighs almost 35 pounds," said Lauree Simmons, Big Dog Ranch Rescue's founder and president. "He's healthy and ready to go home."

In October, workers from Big Dog Ranch Rescue found Miracle in Abaco, one of the hardest-hit areas in the Bahamas, after the Category 5 hurricane devastated the islands in September. The foundation used a drone with a high-resolution, heat-seeking camera to help them spot dogs that were either hidden under rubble or only coming out at night.

Miracle was trapped underneath an air conditioning unit that had fallen on him for more than three weeks after the hurricane struck. When rescuers located him, he was emaciated, his muscles had atrophied and he was suffering from other diseases after surviving only on rainwater.

Simmons was the first to start calling the dog Miracle as he recuperated in Florida. More than 10,000 families reached out to the organization, offering to adopt him.

On Monday, Briana Beaty told ABC News that her family of five was looking forward to having the "best holiday ever" with Miracle.

"We're so grateful to Big Dog Ranch for saving him and all the love they put into him," she told ABC News on Monday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


LewisTsePuiLung/iStock(HONG KONG) -- Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University has become the front line of a fight between protesters and authorities. Violence broke out on Sunday and turned into a tense standoff on Monday.

Since Sunday morning, Hong Kong's police have attempted to disperse protesters from the occupied roads around PolyU, the last major university that’s occupied and fortified by protesters.

This is one of the largest and most sustained battles in this protest movement, now in its sixth month.

An armored police truck was set on fire and an officer was shot through the leg with a bow and arrow. The police discharged rounds of rubber bullets and unleashed water cannons. Protesters responded with bricks and Molotov cocktails.

“If rioters keep doing what they do, police will have no choice and will fight back with tear gas and real bullets,” police warned after firing off rounds of live bullets on Sunday evening. Tear gas enshrouded the scene.

In a dramatic moment, a footbridge leading to the campus caught fire. Molotov cocktails which had been placed on the bridge also caught fire, leading to many minor explosions. The entrance to the university was left smoldering.

In a dramatic moment, a footbridge leading to the campus caught fire. Molotov cocktails which had been placed on the bridge also caught fire, leading to many minor explosions. The entrance to the university was left smoldering.

But the morale is changing among this core of committed protesters as they run out of supplies.

“The police have surrounded the whole campus, there’s absolutely no way out,” one protester told ABC News. “The situation is out of control,” he said.

“We don’t have any more supplies, so once we run out of water and food we’re going to die.”

Among the protestors inside the university are over 100 trapped high schoolers. Parents have joined a sit-in, begging police to let their children leave the university, while around 20 head teachers asked authorities to allow them to go in to escort the children out. But the requests have not led anywhere. The authorities have said they'll arrest everyone inside the college -- in some cases, protesters elsewhere are trying to draw the police away so those inside the university may have a chance to escape.

How long will the students be able to hang on is a vital question given that supply lines have been cut. “I don’t think anyone on the campus knows what they want to do, what they should do,” said the protester to ABC News. “We obviously need help from outside. But I don’t know who we’re going to get that help from.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking during a Q&A at Rice University, said that the U.S., the U.K. and "several dozen countries" have "all made clear" to China "our expectation of how China will behave" and called on General Secretary Xi to honor the commitment to "one country, two systems" -- a framework that, in theory, allows Hong Kong semi-autonomy.

“The UK is seriously concerned by the escalation in violence from both the protesters and the authorities around Hong Kong university campuses. It is vital that those who are injured are able to receive appropriate medical treatment, and that safe passage is made available for all those who wish to leave the area. We need to see an end to the violence, and for all sides to engage in meaningful political dialogue ahead of the district council elections on Sunday," read a statement from the U.K. foriegn office, condemning the violence.

Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, Hong Kong’s constitutional and mainland affairs secretary, said that the protests this weekend have reduced the chance of Hong Kong’s district council elections going ahead on Sunday, Nov. 24, according to local English-language newspaper

As the siege continues into a second night, several hundred protesters have gathered with signs, hoping to pressure the police to let the protesters in the university leave.

Hardcore protesters have been joined by ordinary citizens. They are chanting “save the students,” and they are angry.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Pyongyang hit back hard in response to President Donald Trump's recent tweet suggesting another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea is no longer interested in holding a "fruitless" summit with the United States, according to a statement Foreign Ministry Adviser Kim Kye-gwan released to the state media outlet, Korean Central News Agency.

"We will not give the U.S. president anything to boast of without getting anything in return," Kim said in the statement. "We need to get the fair price for what President Trump has boasted as his achievements."

The message came along less than a day after Trump tweeted "see you soon" towards the North Korean leader, pushing him to "act quickly."

"Since June last year, three summit meetings and talks have taken place but no progress had been made between the United States and the DPRK," the statement said. "Even now, the United States is pretending to have progress regarding the Korean peninsula issue and gaining time for their benefit."

The foreign ministry adviser, who was formerly the communist regime's envoy, explained in the statement that he interpreted Trump's words on Twitter as implying a new U.S.-DPRK summit talk.

In the statement, the foreign adviser also urged Washington to drop hostile policies against Pyongyang in order to continue dialogue.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Trump sat down for summit talks first in Singapore in June last year, and again in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February. A third encounter was staged inside the joint security area of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea during Trump's Seoul visit.

None of these three meetings resulted in a denuclearization solution to satisfy either countries.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Courtesy Adrianne Machina(SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic) -- Authorities in the Dominican Republic have arrested six people in connection with the death of an American teacher who was found dead in her home there last week, authorities said Sunday.

Patricia Anton, a U.S. citizen who lived in the Dominican Republic for the last several years, was found strangled to death last Tuesday in her apartment in Cabarete, a town on the northern coast of the island nation, the National Police said in a statement on Sunday.

The 63-year-old woman was found with her hands and feet bound together and several items were missing from her home, including a cellphone, laptop and television, police said.

The suspects were identified as Michael Marinez Rosario, Heuri Flores Hernandez, Junior Alexis Suarez, Juan Jose Andujar Mella, Oroniel Canario Montero and Alexis Maquey.

Police are searching for a seventh suspect who goes by the nickname "Eiden" and/or "The Venezuelan." Police said all seven suspects traveled to Puerto Plata with the intention of committing crimes before they fled.

Investigators did not say how they connected the suspects to the woman's death.

Police said four of the men have prior criminal records.

Anton moved to the island around 2013 and began teaching at 3 Mariposas Montessori six years ago, the school confirmed to ABC News.

"Patty was not only a colleague of mine, but she was also my mentor and one of my best friends," Sarah Ludwig-Ross, the founder and head of the school, told ABC News in a statement last week. "She was one of the most caring people I have ever met, always putting everyone else first."

"She shared our belief that peace in the world can only come from getting close to and understanding people who are different from ourselves. ... Patty loved each and every one of our children just as if they were her own," she added.

Anton's family described her as a loving woman who "was all about kindness and sweetness."

"Her life was so much bigger than her death," her cousin, Adrianne Machina, told ABC News on Thursday. "The Dominican Republic was her happy place. I think her dream was to retire down there. … The Dominican Republic really gave her purpose and peace."

The family said it was working with officials at 3 Mariposas Montessori to erect a "peace park" in Anton's honor.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(HONG KONG) -- Protests in Hong Kong have intensified with live bullets and explosions as police seek to end the standoff at Polytechnic University.

The police have surrounded the university in what is the one of the largest and most sustained battles in a protest movement that is now in it's sixth month.

An officer was shot through the leg with a bow and arrow and an armored police vehicle was set on fire as protesters fight back police tear gas and rubber bullets with Molotov cocktails.

Police have been trying to disperse the protesters from the roads around Polytechnic, which is the last major university that is occupied by protesters.

Live bullets have been fired towards protesters, but it is unclear how many have been injured in the conflict.

Hundreds of protesters who refused to leave the university are making a last stand inside, anticipating mass arrests.

The demonstrations began in early June when hundreds of thousands of mostly-young people marched against a proposed extradition bill that would have allowed suspected criminals in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Hong Kong's embattled leader, Carrie Lam, has since withdrawn the bill, but widespread unrest has continued as demonstrators broaden their demands to include a call for direct elections for the city's leaders, amnesty for protesters and an independent investigation into alleged police brutality.

Protesters have four additional demands, calling for: the authorities stop calling the protests ‘riots’; amnesty for arrested protesters; an independent inquiry into police brutality; universal suffrage; the withdrawal of the extradition bill.

Lam, the Hong Kong Chief Executive since 2017, has doubled down, saying that they will not give in to protesters' demands.

There have been lulls in the violence and intensity of the protest movement. But the death of a university student from a fall last week has reignited rage.

The protesters blame police for the student's injury because he fell off a parking garage in the vicinity of a police clearance operation.

The escalation at Polytechnic University began earlier in the week, following a pitched struggle on Monday between police and protesters who had attacked toll booths and blocked the Cross Harbour Tunnel, one of three underwater tunnels in Hong Kong, which emerges on the island right beside the university. Police retaliated with tear gas.

Thousands of students and protesters blocked entrances, torn up brick sidewalks for ammunition, and lined every vantage point with Molotov cocktails. The university's swimming pool, emptied of water, has become a practice firing range. Some walked around with bows and arrows, many blunt training arrows, others sharpened or wrapped in gauze, ready to be lit on fire.

Protesters withdrew to Polytechnic University, a Zaha Hadid-designed building, which normally serves 27,000 students, and started fortifying it.

Polytechnic is one of five major universities being fortified by protesters. Masked protesters with makeshift weapons barricaded themselves inside the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Wednesday after violent clashes with riot police overnight.

Students from mainland China have been evacuated with police help and the university has been closed for the rest of the year.

Hong Kong lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, who is a member of the Democratic Party, warned the movement won't stop until the government fulfills protesters' demands.
"This will not end," he told ABC News in a brief interview on the street Wednesday. "This will go on forever. That's my view."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(LONDON) -- Prince Andrew, the third child of Queen Elizabeth, in a high-stakes interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. categorically denied allegations he had sex on multiple occasions with an American teenager who's claimed she was trafficked to the prince at the direction of Jeffrey Epstein.

"I've said consistently and frequently that we never had any sort of sexual contact whatever," the prince said, responding to a question about allegations from Virginia Roberts Giuffre.

Giuffre has claimed in court records and deposition testimony she had sex with the prince on two occasions when she was 17, in London and in New York, and a third time when she was 18, at Epstein's private island estate in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Epstein, a convicted sex offender, died in prison in August.

Asked by BBC presenter Emily Maitlis about those allegations, the prince replied, "No. All of it. Absolutely no to all of it."

While denying the allegations against him personally, the prince stopped short of saying he regretted his long friendship with Epstein.

"Now, still not," the prince said. "And the reason being is that the people that I met, and the opportunities that I was given to learn, either by him or because of him, were actually very useful."

The prince added: "We weren't that close."

The rare interview, broadcast in prime time Saturday in Britain, was the result of a months-long negotiation that ultimately had to be approved by the queen herself before it was recorded earlier in the week, Maitlis said.

For nearly a decade, the prince has been under scrutiny for his association with Epstein, a multi-millionaire financier and the subject of state and federal investigations since the mid-2000s for allegedly recruiting underage girls for illicit massages and sex.

Epstein ultimately avoided federal charges involving allegations of abuse against nearly three dozen girls by agreeing to plead guilty two comparatively minor charges in Florida state court. He served just 13 months of an 18-month term in a county jail.

He was charged again, in July of this year, in a two-count federal indictment for child sex-trafficking and conspiracy for alleged crimes in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005. He died in prison on Aug. 10 from an apparent suicide.

Prince Andrew, who said he'd met Epstein in 1999, first became embroiled in the controversy in late 2010 when he was photographed walking with the convicted sex offender through New York's Central Park shortly after Epstein's sentence ended in Florida.

The prince claimed in the BBC interview that the purpose of that visit was to inform Epstein he could no longer be associated with him due to his criminal conduct.

"I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken's way of doing it," the prince added. "I had to go and see him and talk to him."

Pressed by Maitlis on why he chose to stay at Epstein's mansion if he was ending the relationship, the prince said he did it out of convenience.

"I mean, I've gone through this in my mind so many times," the prince added. "At the end of the day, with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. But at the time I felt it was the honorable and right thing to do, and I admit fully that my judgment was probably colored by my tendency to be too honorable. But that's just the way it is."

In December 2014, Giuffre alleged in court filings she had been recruited as a teenager by Epstein's longtime companion, the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, for a job as a traveling masseuse. She further claimed she'd been directed by Epstein and Maxwell to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasions. Those allegations were later stricken from the court record by a U.S. federal judge.

Giuffre, now a 35-year-old mother of three living in Australia, subsequently filed a defamation suit against Maxwell, which settled for undisclosed terms in 2017. Her allegations against Prince Andrew eventually resurfaced in the court records of that case. Included in her filings, many of which remained under seal until this summer, was a photograph of Prince Andrew with his arm around Giuffre's waist, while Maxwell smiled in the background. Giuffre contends she was 17 when the photo was taken in 2001, on the second-floor landing of Maxwell's London home, and that she had sex with the prince shortly after the photo was snapped.

In his interview with "Newsnight," however, Prince Andrew said couldn't remember ever meeting Giuffre, and that he had doubts as to the picture's authenticity.

"I don't believe that photograph was taken in the way that has been suggested," he said. "I think it's, from the investigations that we've done, you can't prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not, because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph. So it's very difficult to be able to prove it, but I don't remember that photograph ever being taken."

The prince also contended that he had an alibi for the date of the alleged encounter, claiming he was home with his daughter, Beatrice.

"I was at home," the prince said. "I was with the children, and I'd taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at, I suppose, sort of 4 or 5 in the afternoon. And then, because the Duchess was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other one is there. I was on terminal leave at the time from the Royal Navy so therefore I was at home."

As Maitlis recounted Giuffre's allegations of the night of the alleged sexual encounter in London, in which Giuffre claims she dined, drank and danced with the prince at Tramps nightclub, and that he sweated profusely on the dance floor, the prince seemed to let out a small snicker and said, "It didn't happen."

"I'm convinced that I was never in Tramps with her. There are a number of things that are wrong with that story, one of which is that I don't know where the bar is in Tramps. I don't drink, I don't think I've ever bought a drink in Tramps whenever I was there," he said.

The prince went on to say that, at the time, he had a medical condition that prevented him from sweating.

"There's a slight problem with the sweating because I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don't sweat, or I didn't sweat at the time," he added. "I didn't sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War when I was shot at, and I simply -- it was almost impossible for me to sweat."

Asked by Maitlis if he thought Giuffre, who's also alleged she was trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell to other prominent men, was lying about their alleged sexual encounters, the prince avoided a direct answer.

"That's a very difficult thing to answer," he said, "because I'm not in a position to know what she's trying to achieve. But I can tell you categorically I don't remember meeting her at all."

All of those accused by Giuffre have denied the allegations.

Before the BBC interview this week, the prince had long avoided being questioned about his relationship with Epstein and the allegations of Giuffre, instead relying on a series of denials issued by Buckingham Palace.

"It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with her," read a statement from early 2015.

In the interview, the prince acknowledged, over the years, that he'd visited several of Epstein's homes -- in New York, in Palm Beach, Florida, and in the U.S. Virgin Islands -- but contended he'd never observed any behavior by Epstein that alarmed him.

The prince said he was first introduced to Epstein in 1999 by Maxwell, Epstein's girlfriend at the time, whom the prince said he'd known since her days at university. He contended that his friendship with Epstein was never particularly close, but was an inevitable by-product of his relationship with Maxwell.

On one occasion in 2000, he said, Epstein and Maxwell visited Sandringham, the Queen's estate in the British countryside, for what the prince described as "a shooting weekend."

As the interview neared a close, the prince was asked once more by Maitlis if he had any guilt, shame or regret about his friendship with Epstein.

"As far as Mr. Epstein was concerned, it was the wrong decision to go and see him in 2010," the prince replied. "As far as my association with him was concerned, it had some seriously beneficial outcomes in areas that have nothing to do with what I would describe as what we're talking about today. On balance, could I have avoided ever meeting him? Probably not, and that's because of my friendship with Ghislaine.

"Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes."

"Unbecoming?" Maitlis interjected. "He was a sex offender."

"Yeah," the prince said. "I'm sorry, I'm being polite."

After Giuffre first filed her claims in 2014, her attorneys wrote to the prince, seeking to question him about his relationship with Epstein, to no avail. After Epstein's death earlier this year, Brad Edwards and David Boies, her attorneys, renewed their request in another letter, asking Prince Andrew to respond to their questions "in a dignified manner and appropriate setting that would, we believe, clarify the record for everyone's benefit, including your own." It's unknown whether the prince responded to that letter.

"Would you be willing to testify or give a statement under oath, if you were asked?" Maitlis asked the prince.

"Well, I'm like everybody else," he replied. "And I will have to take all the legal advice that there was before I was to do that sort of thing. But if push came to shove, and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty-bound to do so."

Outside the final court hearing in Epstein's criminal case in late August, Giuffre vowed to continue to demand answers from the prince, Maxwell and others she claims aided Epstein in facilitating or participating in her alleged abuse.

"I will never be silenced until these people are brought to justice," Giuffre said.

As for the prince's denials, she said, "He knows exactly what he's done, and I hope he comes clean about it."

Asked by Maitlis to respond to Giuffre's claim that he knows what he's done, the prince said, "And the answer is, nothing."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


omersukrugoksu/iStock(PARIS) -- French police fired water cannons and tear gas in Paris on Saturday to drive back protesters marking the first anniversary of the anti-government yellow vest demonstrations.

Demonstrators, many clad in black and hiding their faces, vandalized an HSBC bank at the Place d'Italie. They set trash cans on fire and hurled cobblestones and bottles at riot police while building barricades.

Several cars were also set ablaze.

Clashes broke out between demonstrators and police near the Porte de Champerret, close to the Arc de Triomphe, as protesters were preparing to march across the city towards Gare d'Austerlitz. Police also intervened to prevent a few hundred demonstrators from occupying the Paris ring road.

“In the face of thugs who target them, firefighters and police intervene to contain the excesses, put an end to abuses and proceed to arrests,” French National Police said in a translated message. “Peaceful protesters, we guarantee the public peace to allow you to freely express your opinions. Help us: disassociate yourself from violent groups.”

The yellow vest protests, named for the high-visibility jackets worn by demonstrators, erupted in November 2018 over fuel price hikes and the high cost of living. The demonstrations spiraled into a broader movement against French President Emmanuel Macron and his economic reforms.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Juanmonino/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Kim Eunju escaped North Korea in 2005, disillusioned with the communist regime. She still vividly remembers that night when uniformed officers raided her home in Chongjin, Hamgyeongbuk-do, searching for petroleum that she had been smuggling from China to sell in the local market. It was the family’s lifeline bringing just enough bread to the table to survive.

The country had entered into a severe economic hardship and the communist party had begun to confiscate whatever household goods to support the state. Kim, then 25-years old, also worked as a train stewardess.

“They taught us to sing our socialist nation is the happiest world. But how could we live when they even take away our empty kimchi pot (that is used as family refrigerator)?” Kim told ABC News.

That’s when Kim decided it was time for a challenge. Early next morning, she called a broker to join a group of others crossing the border into China, hoping to find work.

The escape was long and arduous. A border guard, bribed by the brokers, guided the group to cross the Tumen River after midnight. “The current was strong. We held hands supporting each other to cross the river. It took about two to three hours to the Chinese side,” she recalled.

Soaked and dripping, they rode a taxi, stopped at two different locations, then split up. Kim and another woman were ushered into a bus. They rode three full days, then arrived in a rural town in Liaoning, Northeastern China. “I had been sold to a Chinese man,” Kim recalled, her voice still trembling with emotion.

She was forced into an unwanted marriage and gave birth to a daughter in 2006. Kim does not want to recall those days describing them as “so disgraceful.” “Life in China was a nightmare, locked up in the house under threat of deportation,” said Kim.

Two years later she came across another broker sending North Korean refugees to South Korea. “I decided to risk my life for another run with my baby daughter, with a faint hope that life would be better in South Korea.”

Kim successfully defected to the capitalist South in 2009. She had multiple part-time jobs, attended job training programs, and struggled to make ends meet while raising her daughter alone. But life in Seoul, she said, is “still tough” especially as a North Korean defector and a single mother. Defectors see themselves as lower class citizens of South Korea

A total of 33,022 North Koreans have defected to the South as of 2019, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry. They defect to gain freedom of choice disdained by the harsh surveillance and control by the communist regime, as well as to escape starvation. But settling into new lifestyles in the capitalist South is tougher than they had imagined.

Defectors find it hard to get a well-paying job, due to the barrier of culture and language. Average monthly wage for North Korean defectors working in the South is $1,636, some 25% below the minimum wage of $2,203 per month. As a result, almost half of the defectors see themselves as part of the lowest socioeconomic status in South Korea, according to a 2018 survey by the Unification Ministry.

Their hardships in adapting to a capitalist economy faced a reality check last July when a North Korean defector mother and her 7-year-old son were found dead in their small, rented apartment. Autopsy results showed both had not eaten for days. Support groups, alarmed, took to the streets calling for immediate need to improve policies that could help and support these vulnerable defectors.

"The mother and son died of starvation in the flourishing democratic Korea. This is nonsensical and heartbreaking," said defector Heo Kwang-il, who led a group of people to organize a public funeral for the unfortunate mother and son in September.

Buried in debt

North Korean defectors inevitably find themselves in challenging economic situations upon their entry into South Korea. There’s also underlying discrimination, lack of knowledge of English and almost all of them have never used the internet before escaping the North. As a result, a huge cultural and economic gap exists between North and South Koreans.

“Upon their entry into South Korea, they become citizens of the most competitive, materialistic, capitalist driven neoliberal society in the entire world,” Dr. Do Jean at Konkuk university who studies trauma care for defectors, told ABC News. “Those Koreans are basically forced to enter a race to adapt and succeed at settling down in South Korea.”

All North Korean defectors are required to go through a 12-week-long social settlement education program in Hanawon, a reeducation center run by the Unification Ministry. There, defectors are prepared to overcome cultural differences, cure their trauma, and discuss which occupation they could take.

Once out in the real world, defectors are given financial aid during the first year, starting from about $6,000 dollars depending on age, health and the city they choose to settle down in. But defectors say, most of that money goes to the brokers who helped them cross the border.

“North Korean defectors begin life in South indebted to brokers,” defector Jeong Youngnam who arrived in Seoul five years ago, told ABC News. “We have to start from scratch once the debt is cleared off, and it’s difficult as a defector to find a well paid job in Seoul.”

Kim, too, took a six-month long job training hoping to work at a hair salon but failed to find work. Instead, she ended up washing dishes at a restaurant. She had much debt to pay back to her broker. “I dreamt of earning big money to buy my daughter food and toys… but no matter how hard I try working around clock, sometimes I can’t even afford to feed my daughter,” she said in disappointment.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- After a campaign ad for Former Vice President Joe Biden implied Kim Jong Un was a "tyrant," North Korean state media responded on Thursday by blasting the 2020 Democratic candidate.

The commentary called Biden a "rabid dog" and advocated that rabid dogs "can hurt lots of people" and "must be beaten to death with a stick."

"Anyone who dare slanders the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK can never spare the DPRK's merciless punishment," said the commentary, which was translated by North Korea's news agency. Biden "will be made to see even in a grave what horrible consequences will be brought about by his thoughtless utterances. Rabid dogs like Biden can hurt lots of people if they are allowed to run about. They must be beaten to death with a stick before it is too late."

The ad for Biden said, in part: "We live in the most dangerous moment in a generation. Our world, set on edge by an erratic, unstable president. Dictators and tyrants are praised -- our allies, pushed aside." Kim's photo appears at the mention of the word "tyrants."

The Biden campaign hit back, calling Kim a "repugnant dictator," arguing that sharp words from North Korea highlight the strength of their candidate.

Biden's team also took a thinly veiled shot at President Donald Trump, who's suggested that he and Kim "fell in love" after exchanging written letters.

"It's becoming more and more obvious that repugnant dictators, as well as those who admire and 'love' them, find Joe Biden threatening. That's because he'd restore American leadership in the world on day one by putting our security, interests, and values at the heart of our foreign policy," Andrew Bates, a Biden spokesperson, told ABC News in a statement.

On the trail, Biden often discusses the North Korean leader while criticizing Trump for doing harm to perceptions of the U.S. on the world stage.

"We don't have a foreign policy. We are embracing thugs like Putin and Kim Jong Un. This president's talking about love letters with a butcher," Biden said on Monday, adding, in a clear reference to Kim, "This guy had his uncle's brains blown out sitting across the table, his brother assassinated in an airport. This is a guy who has virtually no social redeeming value."

The former vice president in recent weeks has intensified his messaging of experience on the trail, arguing his four-plus decades of foreign policy credentials set him apart from a growing, rather than shrinking, 2020 Democratic primary field.

"There's going to be no opportunity for on-the-job training," Biden told a crowd in California on Thursday.

Biden's team is pushing the former vice president's foreign policy message against Trump -- especially as the president faces an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives.

An aide to the Biden campaign told ABC News that effort will include rolling out 133 endorsements for Biden from former national security officials who served across seven administrations.

This is not the first war of words between Biden and North Korea's state media, which has previously called him a "low IQ idiot" and warned that his "candidacy should not carry high expectations." Those remarks came after Biden criticized Kim at a rally in Philadelphia in May.

"No wonder, even the Americans call him '1% Biden' with low I.Q., 'mad Biden,' and 'Biden not awakened from a sleep,'" the news agency said Thursday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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