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With major shortages of medicines, many doctors are joining the exodus of people trying to find a better life abroad

After six years of studying and working part-time jobs, Cristian Diaga, 24, will soon graduate from medical school in Caracas, Venezuela. But instead of continuing his training in a top hospital in the country, as he had hoped, he is taking a job in a fast-food restaurant in Argentina a situation he says is much more preferable.

I do feel bad leaving. I think everyone would like to give something back to their country, but right now it is my life and future and all my possibilities to help my family to get out of this madness, he says.

More than half of Venezuelans between 15 and 29 want to move abroad permanently, according to a poll carried out by the US firm Gallup and shared exclusively with the Guardian.

In Venezuela, it feels like we are all just dying slowly and theres no hope for a change. I dont care if Im gonna work as a doctor or not. I just want to have food, medicines, security, a house, a car, and be able to give a good life to my loved ones, he says.

A woman shouts slogans in front of the riot polices during a rally of health sector workers in Caracas. Photograph: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

But its not as though many of Diagas relatives still live in the country the majority have fled to Argentina by road through Brazil. And soon he will join them.

My younger brother had to leave because the urgent medicines [he needs] cant be found here and with my mums salary its impossible to buy them in another country.

If I go to Argentina, at least I will be with my family and together I think well be able to make progress, he says.

Shortages of medicines are well-documented in Venezuela, with patients often having to buy prescriptions and basic medical supplies using contacts abroad and risk having them sent over, or purchasing at highly-inflated prices on the black market. But many are going without.

Every day we see people dying for diseases that we know exactly how to cure but when you dont even have gloves, masks, gauzes, medicines or some big but necessary equipment, its too hard.

And at the same time its scary, because some families have ended up hitting us, frustrated and feeling that we dont want to do anything to save their loved ones and that we are guilty for this dramatic situation, he says.

Colombia, which officially took in more than half a million Venezuelans over the last six months of 2017, is continuing to to be a destination of choice among those looking for a better life. Elena Rincones, 25, a political scientist from Caracas, is relocating there this month to make sure she has access to the medicine she needs.

Id rather be working as a waitress and being able to ship my father his meds than watch him die slowly because we cant find them nor afford them if we do. Last month alone I spent 10 times the minimum wage most Venezuelans earn on my dads medicine for his diabetes.

And last time I got sick, I had to look in about six pharmacies to get the medication I needed. There are no medicines, people are even dying due to lack of antibiotics, she says.

Ysabel Limas, 65, a retired writer, says she does not want to leave her home in Venezuela, but cannot afford the medication her stepmother needs. She has little savings and no family outside the country to call on for help.

I cannot move, but Id love to move. My stepmum, who is 96, is living in a nursing home. Luckily I dont need to take a regular prescription. However, the pills for my stepmum, who suffers from dementia, are only available by a section or the whole the blister strip. Theres been no availability of these medicines at any pharmacy for a long time.

I found a person who can be contacted by email for medicine request. He finds your prescriptions, then you meet this guy or a person who you are supposed to pay in cash and you get the exact number of pills, she says.

As is often the case when official channels dry up, black market trade booms. Ordinary people left with no other choice are turning to unofficial channels, with many taking advantage of the demand for drugs to supplement their meagre wages.

Daniel Lopez, 35, an architect from Caracas who to Colombia last year, is trying to help from afar. He runs a non-profit medicine service which redistributes basic medical supplies from Colombia to Venezuela free of charge.

Families and friends of friends call me asking for the cost of a medicine that is urgent for someone they know or themselves. Most of the time they cant buy it because of the cost or the medicine is regulated. And they cant afford to travel to Colombia to buy it.

So what we do is collect some common and cheap medicine and wait for someone we trust who has planned a trip to Venezuela, to give them the medical supplies to deliver to our loved ones. We cant risk sending the medicine through the mail as its prohibited by law, he says.

And many others are doing the same. Fran Meja, 35, a music producer who now lives in Barcelona, Spain, sends medicine to his mother, who is a doctor in Caracas.

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Luann de Lesseps spoke to the Daily Beast this week about her life and some of the troubles she’s had, but during the conversation, she took a turn to focus on one man: Russell Simmons.

Related: Luann Is Working On ‘Plan B’ After Drunken Arrest

The Real Housewives star and controversial figure straight up accused Simmons of grabbing her ass in an elevator a few years ago, saying the music mogul — who is already facing multiple rape and sexual misconduct allegations — allegedly did it against her will and never apologized.

Luann detailed the allegations (below):

“He grabbed my ass in an elevator, he was just a pig. I haven’t told anybody about that before. I was grossed out. I was like ‘How dare you.’ He invaded me, he took advantage of me, being who he is, thinking he is all ‘it,’ all everything. He thought he could just do that. I looked at him and said, ‘Don’t ever do that again.'”

The alleged incident, according to Luann, took place “around three summers ago, at Soho Beach House, Miami.”

And while she did not report it at the time, she also wasn’t surprised when Simmons never apologized for the alleged incident, adding (below):

“No. Of course he didn’t apologize.”

Simmons did not address de Lesseps’ accusations and allegations directly, though.

Instead, he responded by re-issuing a statement that he had sent out earlier when all the other rape accusations came down against him.

It read in part (below):

“I have never been abusive or violent in any way in my relations with women. I am blessed to have shared extraordinary relationships, whether through work or love, with many great women and I have enormous respect for the women’s movement worldwide and their struggle for respect, dignity, equality and power. I am devastated by any reason I may have given to anyone to say or think of me in the ways that are currently being described. I have separated myself from my businesses and charities in order to not become a distraction. I have re-dedicated myself to spiritual learning, healing and working on behalf of the communities to which I have devoted my life. I have accepted that I can and should get dirt on my sleeves if it means witnessing the birth of a new consciousness about women.”

Well OK then.

We’ll see what comes of this…

[Image via Joseph Marzullo/FayesVision/WENN.]

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Thousands of high street outlets have closed in the last decade, leaving behind a wasteland of betting shops. But one community in York has found a simple way to reverse the decline. Could their model be used nationwide?

Its the stuff of nightmares. You wander down a road where most of the shops are boarded up. The bookmakers is open, but reeks of desperation, with gamblers hunched over fixed-odds machines. Next door, the payday loans place looks quiet, as does the pawnbroker. Moving on swiftly through a rising tide of discarded takeaway food containers, you reach the only entertainment in town: the tanning parlour. You start running now. Even the charity shops have closed down. The pound shop has a sale. You wake in a mucksweat, praying that this is not a vision of the future for the British high street.

The figures, however, suggest these dystopian scenes are uncomfortably close to reality. According to the Centre for Retail Research, more than 11,000 major high street outlets have gone bust since 2008, affecting almost 140,000 employees. And, although the years 2008 and 2012 were the worst, the last 12 months have been traumatic, too. Agent Provocateur, Jaeger and Store Twenty One have gone under, and its not only clothing retailers: photo studios, ice-cream parlours, pet-grooming centres, toyshops and bike shops have all buckled. Even the sex-toy industry is feeling the pinch: the Warrington-based chain Nice n Naughty briefly went into administration in January 2018. The latest victims, not unexpectedly in business circles, have been Toys R Us and Maplin. Mothercare is restructuring its finances, Debenhams is considering closures, Claires has declared bankruptcy and Jones Bootmaker has closed branches and been rescued for the second time in a year.

The one consolatory note of recent times has been that cafes and restaurants were doing well. No more. Earlier this year, it was reported that Jamies Italian and Byron Burgers are losing a third of their roster, more than 30 outlets. That news was quickly followed by the announcement that Jamie Olivers Barbecoa had gone into administration, as has Square Pie. Prezzo is closing 94 restaurants. The accountancy firm Moore Stephens reports more than 1,500 restaurant insolvencies in the UK in 2017, and says that almost 15,000 others are under threat.

Debenhams … one of the high street chains facing a shaky future. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

One group not going out of business appears to be the experts commissioned to report on the decline. The average British high street would sink under the weight of all the pie charts and sage advice. A typical comment goes: Higher spending can be generated by a diverse town centre which can satisfy customers needs for immediate purchase of the goods they want. In other words: if its in stock, people might buy it. Among all the reports on high streets, the one that stands out for its clarity and intelligence comes from the retail guru Mary Portas. In 2011 she laid out the problems supermarket sprawl, out-of-town shopping, the internet, and poor communication between councils, traders and landlords. She concluded, in a typically forthright manner: We have sacrificed communities for convenience.

What is certain is that the traditional high street of the last 50 years, founded on chain stores and well-known brands, is undergoing a brutal transformation. There are also, however, signs of what might emerge from this period of revolutionary change.

In Yorks Bishopthorpe Road Bishy Road to the local community I settle down in the window of a high-street cafe-restaurant-bakery. Beppe Lombardos Sicilian food outlet, Trinacria, is full of people having a mid-morning coffee; some are sampling the impressive range of homemade pastries and cakes, while a clutch of small children linger near the ice-cream display.

When I came to York in 2001, there was no good ice-cream … Beppe Lombardo, owner of Trinacria. Photograph: Kevin Rushby for the Guardian

When I came to York in 2001, there was no good ice-cream, says Lombardo, his expression hinting at the profound shock he had felt. Not like proper Sicilian ice-cream. He waves to a friend outside on the pavement. Lombardo waves a lot. He not only brought Sicilian ice-cream to York, he also brought a high standard of sociability and friendliness. He is involved in plans to stage a street Olympics and a dog show, and to use street art to engage with visitors.

Does he worry about the economic downturn? We are doing OK here. I dont think we need any more cafes and restaurants, but things are OK.

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Bishopthorpe Road is one of a few high streets around the country that have bucked the downward trend, managing to revive and reinvent itself during one of the harshest retailing recessions ever. That is in stark contrast to Yorks premier shopping strip, Coney Street, where 20% of units lie empty. What really hurts is that some of these outlets are the most beautiful storefronts in England: when Jones Bootmaker closed nearby, it shuttered the windows on the magnificent, gabled birthplace of explorer Thomas Herbert, a man who witnessed another brutal revolution in his time, standing behind Charles I on the scaffold in 1649.

Less than a mile away, a stroll down Bishopthorpe Road reveals many of the elements that are on everyones wishlist for a decent local high street: a handful of excellent cafes and restaurants, hardware shop, chemist, baker, two greengrocers, a brace of small supermarkets, pub, bike shop, deli and butcher. Most are independent, and many have won awards. The street was voted Britains best high street in 2015. Bishy Road fully deserves the title, said Marcus Jones, minister for high streets at the time. Well be sharing Bishys top tips with other high streets across the country to make sure others learn from their success.

When the post office closed, I thought we were in trouble … Frankie and Johnny Hayes in their kitchenware shop. Photograph: Kevin Rushby for the Guardian

What is really fascinating about this success is that it is not a glamorous location, a street laden with tourist attractions or backed by upmarket housing; it is a socially mixed area and, at first glance, a very ordinary British shopping street. How did it pull off such a trick?

I go to see Johnny Hayes, local councillor and co-owner of Frankie and Johnnys kitchenware shop, and Andy Shrimpton from the Cycle Heaven bike shop. Both have lived and worked in the area for more than 30 years and were instrumental in turning Bishopthorpe Road around. It was quite depressed back in the late 70s, says Hayes. The council had a plan to bulldoze a dual-carriageway ring road through the area you know, the car was the undisputed king in those days. The plan was never implemented, but it created uncertainty.

By 2008 a fifth of shops were empty, several others were hanging on, and even the bargain booze shop was struggling. When the post office closed, I really thought we were in trouble, says Hayes. In fact it was the start of the upswing. Two things happened. We got the Pig and Pastry cafe opening local owners who knew everyone and worked damn hard to make a brilliant little place to eat and then in 2010 Andy came to me with an idea.

I was inspired by cycling trips to Copenhagen … Andy Shrimpton in Cycle Heaven. Photograph: Kevin Rushby for the Guardian

I was inspired by cycling trips to Copenhagen, says Shrimpton. There was a sense of neighbourhood and community I thought, why cant all cities be like this?

It was a simple plan. Gather all the shops together under one banner, or more precisely one website, and launch it with a street party. It was a eureka moment, says Hayes. At 6pm we closed the road to traffic. There was hardly a soul about. We put up some bunting and set out a few stalls. By 6.20 there were 3,000 people out there. The butcher gave away burgers, there were bands, people were dancing. I could not believe it. I realised there was so much goodwill. I thought, We are going to be all right.

What Hayes was witnessing, on a grand scale, was the creation of what urban planners call a sticky street. The phrase was popularised by the Canadian planner Brent Toderian, who has helped redesign cities all around the world. Our conversations about streets were always about movement for cars, or movement for people, Toderian says. The measurements for success from engineers were about how many cars or people we could move through a space as quickly as possible. But there was very little conversation about how people actually use, enjoy and love streets, and how lingering should actually be a measurable definition of success for a great street.

Toderian has a refreshing, real-world practicality. He cites the visionary Danish architect and designer Jan Gehl, who in the early 1960s synthesised psychology and architecture to reboot the planners approach to city living. Gehl railed against bird shit architecture and towers dropped in from the heavens by globe-trotting architects, and championed the pedestrian and the cyclist.

A couple of years ago, back on Bishopthorpe Road, the cafe owners had spotted a bit of potential stickiness for themselves. The Victorian architects who had raised the terraced houses here back in the 1860s had given each property a forecourt garden. The houses had soon become shops and the gardens were lost to the pavement. Now the cafes claimed it back, putting in chairs and tables to create an opportunity for visitors to stick around.

Steve and Julia Holding of the Pig and Pastry cafe. Photograph: Kevin Rushby for the Guardian

Something about this reminded me of old Calcutta. Amid the exuberant vitality of that city, cars and people certainly move slowly, but the space is often creative, sociable and hugely enjoyable. In comparison, I recently sailed down the Thames through London, noting the sterile apartment towers thrown up by speculative builders. At the foot of each was an empty space clean, manicured and without any human presence. Dr Johnson needs rephrasing: when London is tired of man, London is tired of life.

Of course, nostalgia for a supposed golden age of the high street could be misleading. But, I wondered, was there ever a heyday for the high street?

Local York historian Sue Major is cautious about suggesting Bishopthorpe Road street life was better in Victorian times. But, she says, It might be argued that with heavier traffic along the street in the last 50 years, people have been less likely to spend time there for leisure.

Looking through the pages of the York Herald newspaper, there are plenty of suggestions that street life was more colourful and boisterous than today. In the narrow streets behind Bishy Road you could find a brewery, a dye works, a shipbuilding yard, a steam-powered chocolate factory, a candied-peel maker, and a wooden type manufacturer. There were regular galas, parades and occasional trips over the river to witness a hanging. At Martinmas, every November, Wombwells menagerie would come, the wagons full of wild beasts hauled by elephants. Some of the lion collection had been born in Yorks Parliament Street in 1856.

Was there ever a heyday for the high street? … Bishopthorpe Road at the turn of the 20th century. Photograph: Asadour Guzelian

The whole panoply of Dickensian street life was present, including the threat of pocket pickers and the possibility of destitution. One local musician, Joseph Sherwood, kept a diary that shows how, struggling to make ends meet during the 1880s, he turned his Bishopthorpe Road house into a newsagents, which is now the Pig and Pastry cafe.

High streets may have been livelier back then, but they were a school of hard knocks for business. The photo record for Bishopthorpe Road shows how shops were founded, thrived and foundered in an endless bout of retail creation and destruction. The piano-dealer and beer-seller became an estate agent, then a florist; the Dainty cafe became a baker, then a hairdresser. Others have stood the test of time: the fish and chip shop, for example, is Victorian vintage.

Pete Kilbane, manager of the Angel on the Green bar and restaurant, is a stalwart of the social-ownership movement, having started a community garden, cinema and nightclub, as well as the Golden Ball pub (which has over 180 local shareholders). He thinks social ownership has a part to play. It takes away some financial pressure and means we can have events that are beneficial, but not money-making. The bar at the Golden Ball tells its own story, selling eggs, bread and pies from local suppliers as well as real ales. Some locals have been coming to the folk music sessions for over 45 years.

Kilbane knows the importance of preserving an areas informal spaces. Were slow to get to know one another, arent we? So people need places where they have a valid reason to be. Working together on the community garden, doing the composting that created the relationships that went on to buy the pub.

I want another bar then weve got a scene, havent we? Pete Kilbane, manager of the Angel on the Green. Photograph: Kevin Rushby for the Guardian

Having spent years creating venues for interaction, he is now eyeing up the newly available empty shop across the road from the Angel a rare occurrence on Bishopthorpe Road. I want it to be another bar, he laughs. Then weve got a scene, havent we?

In the past people went to the high street for shopping and work, just like today, but they also went for entertainment and leisure. That state of affairs may be returning. Yorks smaller shopping streets, once shabby and depressed compared with the centre, are now in better shape than ever. With support from the council on road closures, historic streets like Micklegate and Fossgate are holding events that attract crowds. The independent movement has spawned a city map and website.

The strength of smaller high streets has not gone unnoticed. Figures from business research analysts LDC show that the number of independent outlets has risen all over England in every region during the past year, while chain stores have declined. When Portas wrote her report in 2011 she highlighted the lamentable case of Ely, a Cambridgeshire town that seemed to be deliberately strangling its own high street, building out-of-town shopping with a free bus service. But since then independent shops have moved in, accounting for 89% of retail growth, and making Ely high street a success story akin to Yorks Bishopthorpe Road.

Gehls influence is apparent in healthy cities all around the world. After his redesign of Melbourne, the number of street cafes rose 12-fold. A good city, he says, is like a good party people stay longer than really necessary.

On a smaller scale, applying that motto to British high streets appears to be bearing fruit. Portas came to similar conclusions. We need, she declared, to put the heart back into the centre of our high streets, reimagined as destinations for socialising, culture, health, wellbeing, creativity and learning.

This article is part of a series on possible solutions to some of the worlds most stubborn problems. What else should we cover? Email us at

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(CNN)Clippers buzzing, scissors clinking, men talking loudly in the talcum-scented air. It’s a comforting barbershop cacophony for most of the clients.

“You could hear his distress before you saw him,” barber Lisa Ann McKenzie told CNN.
Then, after two hard years of trying, the flailing child who couldn’t sit through a haircut calmed down when the barber sang his favorite song — “The Wheels on the Bus.”
    With that breakthrough earlier this month, McKenzie emerged with a new purpose: a day at her shop reserved just for kids with special needs.

    Thrashing in the chair

    Jordie Rowland, 11, has a severe form of autism. He is nonverbal and prone to sensory overload.
    “At the very start, we would be lucky to get a half haircut done,” McKenzie said.
    She felt helpless against a condition she didn’t understand.
    “It was so disheartening. It was just pulling my heart out,” she said.
    McKenzie, herself a mother of four, read up on sensory sensitivity and autism. She learned how important routine is for many people with autism and she set up a plan.

    A quieter cut

    Every two weeks, Jordie and his parents arrived at the barbershop near closing time when things were quieter. McKenzie dimmed the lights and turned down the music.
    “We weren’t sure what would work but I felt it would decrease the sensory issues,” she said.
    McKenzie attempted to cut Jordie’s hair for as long as he allowed it.
    “We would do a quarter,” she said. “It was four weeks before it looked like a normal haircut.”
    The new routine was a slight improvement for Jordie, but not for McKenzie’s bosses. They reprimanded her for spending too much time on the boy, she said.
    “They wanted us to stick with five haircuts an hour.”
    They also rebuked her for not charging Jordie’s parents, she said.
    “I wouldn’t charge because it wasn’t a haircut,” she said.

    A new shop, a big change

    Three weeks later, the persistent barber opened her very own barber shop with plans for Jordie to be one of her first clients.
    She says the first time he arrived, she allowed him to walk around and explore, which made him more comfortable.
    This time when Jordie approached his haircut, he was calmer.
    “We got three-quarters of the way through,” McKenzie said.
    One day as McKenzie attempted to cut Jordie’s hair, she sensed he was becoming anxious. Without thinking, she started singing, “The Wheels on the Bus.”
    “I sing to all the kids when using the clippers so the noise of the clippers doesn’t scare them,” McKenzie said.
    But she had never sang that song to Jordie.
    “He looked straight at me. It’s hard to describe but I felt like my heart exploded,” she said.
    Jordie allowed her to finish the haircut, complete with styling gel.
    “I even got a big hug.”
    That day McKenzie left her shop with a new goal: to make families like the Rowlands feel safe and understood.
    “She has been a great support to us in our journey with his haircuts,” Jordie’s mother told CNN.

    The child whisperer

    One Sunday a month, McKenzie offers “Sensory Sensitive Sunday Sessions” for children with special needs.
    “You don’t have to force the customers to sit in the chair — it doesn’t matter,” McKenzie said.
    She, and the five other barbers in her shop, are willing to cut hair on the floor or while the child is playing with toys.
    She encourages barbers to make a connection with their clients before beginning the cut.
    “The haircut will get better once the connection is stronger,” McKenzie said.
    Some of McKenzie’s customers travel hours to experience her special touch.
    The barber, who’s also known as the “child whisperer,” tries to make every one of them feel at home.
    “We are a family,” she said.

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    Seoul, South Korea (CNN)North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju, clapped and waved Sunday as he attended a rare concert of South Korean singers and performers in Pyongyang.

    The concert marked the first time in over a decade that South Korean musicians have traveled to North Korea, as relations between the two countries have thawed ahead of a groundbreaking summit of the leaders of the two countries planned for the end of April.
    The young North Korean leader “was deeply moved to see our people sincerely acclaiming the performance, deepening the understanding of the popular art of the south side,” according to North Korea state news agency KCNA.
      Before her marriage to Kim, Ri Sol Ju was a singer in the North Korean Unhasu Orchestra, South Korea’s Unification Ministry has confirmed, and videos of her performance can be found online.
      A South Korean lawmaker told CNN in 2012 that “Ri was partially educated in China and visited South Korea in 2005 for the Asian Athletic Championships “as a member of North Korea’s cheering squad.”
      KCNA reported that Kim had enjoyed Sunday’s concert — something that surprised some observers in Seoul given that it has been a punishable crime for North Koreans to consume South Korea popular culture including music, movies and soap operas.
      In previous years K-pop, which has a global following, has been used by Seoul in a very different capacity.
      In early 2016, following a North Korean nuclear test, the South blasted its northern neighbor with giant speakers playing propaganda and music across the heavily militarized border.

      Audience sings along

      Speaking after the performance, Red Velvet members said that they’d been surprised by the warm reception.
      “The applause was much louder than we thought,” Red Velvet singer Kim Ye-rim, whose stage name is Yeri, told South Korean reporters, while bandmate Wendy, real name Son Seung-wan, admitted that that had “expected the worst” response to the show.
      “We were on stand-by and watching when (fellow K-pop act) YB was performing, we saw the audience singing along,” Yeri said. “So that helped us relax.”
      The band members added that the would like to return to the capital if they were invited again.
      “Everyone had a smile on their face. So that gave us strength,” said Kang Seul-gi, another Red Velvet singer, who performs under the name Selgui. We hope we can have more exchange through this event so more of our songs can be known.”
      Sunday’s performance was one of two scheduled during the trip. The next one will be on Tuesday.
      “(Kim) expressed thanks to them for coming here with (a) good performance, prepared by them with sincerity in a short span of time,” the KCNA report said.
      “He said that as he may have no time because of his complicated political program early in April, he came to enjoy the performance of the south side art troupe he invited to visit here.”
      K-pop began in South Korea in the early 1990s, with homegrown labels building the nation’s pop industry from the ground up and creating a global entertainment force known for its splashy music videos, dance routines and style.

      Leading North Koreans attended show

      Also in attendance from North Korea were Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong, North Korea’s ceremonial President Kim Yong Nam, along with other members of the regime, including Choe Hui, Ri Son Gwon and Kim Chang Son, according to the pool.
      In addition to K-pop girl band Red Velvet, starlet Seohyun of Girls’ Generation, singers Cho Yong-pil and Lee Sun-hee, and rocker Yoon Do-hyun were among those who traveled north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) — the heavily fortified border dividing the two Koreas — for two concerts in the North Korean capital.
      Yoon, who also performed in Pyongyang in 2002, recently explained to CNN his reason for performing.
      “We go as something similar to a cultural mission and do the performance diligently. If that moves North Korean citizens’ hearts and the two relationships get a little better through music, I think that’s what we can do,” he said.
      On Yoon’s first visit to the North Korean capital, he told CNN, one of his band members was almost stopped from playing.
      “Our guitarist’s hair was yellow,” the South Korean rock star told CNN. “The North Koreans talked about that hair and said that he could not perform with it … it wasn’t easy from the beginning!”
      Separately, the South Korean taekwondo team performed at the Pyongyang Taekwondo Hall as North Korean officials and residents watched.

      Diplomatic thaw

      The concerts and sports demonstration come after a period of diplomatic thaw between the two nations, which began after South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who favors closer ties with Pyongyang, entered office in May 2017.
      Kim made conciliatory comments towards the South during his New Year’s speech, and followed up by re-opening a diplomatic phone hotline between the two neighboring countries.

        South Korean stars prepare to rock Pyongyang

      In February, North Korean athletes and entertainers, along with a retinue of political figures, attended the 2018 Winter Olympics, hosted by South Korea, after which a senior delegation from Seoul traveled north for meetings with Kim.
      During that meeting Kim extended an offer to meet with US President Donald Trump, which was accepted.
      Despite the rapprochement, annual joint US-South Korea military drills, codenamed Foal Eagle, kicked off on Sunday. The drills, which have long drawn the ire of Kim, are expected to last for four weeks — shorter in duration than in previous years.

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      It’s shaping up to be a solid weekend for

      The star debuted her music video for Stop Me From Falling on YouTube, which you can check out (above)! And then she turned that right around with a brand new song, too — a return to pop power called Raining Glitter!

      You can listen to that single on Spotify HERE!

      What’d y’all think of the song and video, Perezcious readers?! Let us know your opinions in the comments (below)!!!

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      (CNN)In just a few hours John Legend will take the stage as Jesus Christ in NBC’s live musical “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.”

      Below is everything you need to know about the musical that airs live on Easter Sunday.

      Where to watch:

        The real life event takes place on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, at the Marcy Armory in Brooklyn, New York. It airs live starting at 8 p.m. on NBC and will also be available on Hulu.

        Who’s in the cast:

        Alongside Legend is Sara Bareilles, who will play Mary Magdalene. The actress and singer has appeared in the Broadway show “Waitress” and is known for the hit 2008 song, “Love Song.”
        Brandon Victor Dixon is set to play Judas Iscariot. Some viewers may recognize him from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton,” portraying Aaron Burr. Dixon made headlines for addressing Vice President Mike Pence when he attended the show in 2016.
        Rocker Alice Cooper will play the part of King Herod. It’s a return of sorts for Cooper, he voiced Herod in the 1996 recording of the musical.

        The history:

        “Jesus Christ Superstar” debuted on the stage in 1971. The story chronicles the last week of Jesus’ life. Creators Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are returning to executive produce the live event.
        The stage production and subsequent 1973 film starring Ted Neeley were denounced by some religious organizations. Jewish groups called it anti-Semitic, and Catholic and Protestant organizations felt it was blasphemous.
        The stage production, meanwhile, earned five Tony Awards. It has also become somewhat of a standard among theater groups across the world, having been performed in 20 countries and translated into 18 languages.

        ‘It has a universal message’:

        Grammy award winning producer Harvey Mason Jr., who is the music producer of “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” told CNN that this is not just a musical for people who celebrate Easter.
        “It’s great entertainment. [Easter] is a day when families are together. A day when people are looking to share common experiences and have bonding moments. This is really a family piece of entertainment and art … the message is perfect for not only Easter but what is going on in our world right now and in our country. It’s a positive message and I think it’s something everyone will appreciate. Not just Christians or Jewish people or religious people or any one particular race. It has a universal message and it has universal entertainment appeal.”

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        In a BBC3 documentary, former girlfriend Kitti Jones alleges the R&B star groomed an underage girl as well as her and other young women; Kelly has refused to comment

        The R&B singer R Kelly has been accused of sexually abusing a girl since she was 14 years old.

        The allegation the latest in a string of allegations of the sexual abuse of young women by Kelly was made, referring to another woman, by former girlfriend Kitti Jones, in a BBC3 documentary, R Kelly: Sex, Girls and Videotapes.

        During two years of dating Kelly from 2011 onwards, Jones, 34, says she was groomed by him, and forced to have sex with him and others at least 10 times in a sex dungeon.

        She said: I was introduced to one of the girls, that he told me he trained since she was 14, those were his words. I saw that she was dressed like me, that she was saying the things Id say and her mannerisms were like mine. Thats when it clicked in my head that he had been grooming me to become one of his pets. He calls them his pets.

        BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR)

        WATCH: R Kellys former girlfriend Kitti Jones shares with @BenjaminZand her experiences of abuse and grooming during their relationship. R Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes is available on @BBCThree now

        March 28, 2018

        Jones said Kelly made the unnamed woman crawl on the floor towards me and perform oral sex on me, and he said, This is my fucking pet, I trained her. Shes going to teach you how to be with me. It is unclear how old the woman was at the time of this incident.

        Kelly or his representatives made no comment to the BBC or the Guardian, but he has previously denied accusations of sexual impropriety or violence against women.

        In 2008, Kelly was found not guilty of child pornography charges after he was accused of filming and photographing sexual encounters with a 14-year-old girl. He has reportedly made out of court settlements with various other women, including in 1996 Tiffany Hawkins, who said she had a sexual relationship with him for three years from the age of 15.

        Jones has spoken out against Kelly before, in an October 2017 interview with Rolling Stone, in which she described him becoming physically abusive after she confronted him over the alleged child abuse images: He would start kicking me, telling me I was a stupid bitch [and] dont ever get in his business.

        In the BBC documentary, Jones says Kelly was very abusive, physically, mentally, verbally. I think he gets some sort of satisfaction within himself, knowing that hes taking control over other people.

        In July 2017, Jones, along with three other women, spoke out against Kelly for an investigation by reporter Jim DeRogatis for BuzzFeed News, in which they accused him of brainwashing a series of women into a cult-like setup, where Kelly required them to have sex with him, and controlled what they wore and when they could use the bathroom or their phones.

        Kelly denied the claims, saying he would work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.

        DeRogatis later spoke to Jerhonda Pace, another woman who had a sexual relationship with Kelly. She said: I was slapped and I was choked and I was spit on by Kelly, who also reportedly had her dress up like a schoolgirl and call him daddy.

        Elsewhere in the documentary, Kellys ex-manager Rocky Bivens stated that he was at the secret wedding ceremony between the singer and fellow R&B star Aaliyah, who was 15 at the time. Kelly has in the past denied the marriage.

        Kelly is one of the most successful R&B singers of all time, having scored six US No 1 albums, with seven more reaching the Top 5; his hits include Bump n Grind, I Believe I Can Fly and Ignition (Remix). His success has waned in recent years, however, and he hasnt had a single in the US Top 20 since 2007.

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        (CNN)On Monday, more than 200 schools across Oklahoma were shuttered as hundreds of public school teachers protested the lack of education funds allocated by the Republican-controlled legislature and Gov. Mary Fallin. The walkout, which teachers were pledging could continue for days if their demands for more money for schools were not met, comes less than a week after state legislators passed an emergency pay increase for teachers in hopes of quelling the looming confrontation.

        Cillizza: Walk me through how we got here.
        Felder: Educator frustration in Oklahoma has been growing for years as public school funding has not kept pace with student growth. Add in the fact that Oklahoma teachers have some of the lowest average salaries in the nation — and many districts in neighboring states, like Texas, can offer a substantial raise — and teachers have been voicing their concerns for years.
          There are nearly 2,000 emergency certified teachers in use across the state, when just five years ago the number was below 35. Principals have said that filling some positions has become impossible, especially in rural communities.
          Teachers held a massive rally at the state Capitol in 2014, dozens of teachers ran for state office in 2016, and there was an unsuccessful effort two years ago to pass a statewide sales tax to fund a pay raise.
          Over the past few months, teachers have increasingly said the only thing left to do was a strike. I definitely think watching what happened in West Virginia inspired many educators to finally pull the trigger.
          Cillizza: The state legislature passed a bill last week that increased teacher salaries. So, why are the protests ongoing?
          Felder: Last week’s pay raise of around $6,000 (on average) will do a lot to change Oklahoma’s status as one of the lowest paying for teachers. However, teachers said not enough was done to reverse decades of school funding cuts, which have totaled around $200 million since 2008. The Legislature did approve some textbook funding, but it only increased general school funding by around $18 million.
          Teachers at the Capitol on Monday are protesting for more school funding. In fact, I haven’t heard much of anything about teacher pay. Teachers say their classrooms are in need of new technology and new furniture. School leaders have had to cut art and music programs, and many schools have lost support staff, which comes out of the general budget.
          Cillizza: How much has this issue split on party lines? The state is so Republican it’s sort of hard to imagine this happening.
          Felder: The wild card in Oklahoma is that for any tax increase to pass in the legislature it requires a three-fourths supermajority. For example, that means 76 “yes” votes in the House. Republicans hold 72 seats, so they need Democrats. Even when a majority of Republicans were willing to raise taxes this year, Democrats took advantage of the little power they have and demanded more.
          Last week’s vote included bipartisan support but it was still a painful vote for many Republicans. This is an election year and primaries are in June. So you have many Republicans who will have to defend a vote to increase taxes back home. However, I think the majority of Oklahoma voters were at a point where they believed something had to be done. This is still an anti-tax state in many ways, but even the most conservative parts of Oklahoma have been hit hard by school funding cuts, especially in rural communities.
          Cillizza: Finish this sentence: “This will resolve itself _______.” Now, explain
          Felder: “When the Legislature provides a substantial funding increase for public schools.”
          It’s hard to say how much funding it would take to please educators, but my guess is it has to at least be $100 million. Getting the legislature to increase any more taxes will be a tough task, but there are a few proposals on the table, including an end to the capital gains tax deduction and approving ball and dice gaming at casinos.

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