Roast and Ride Launches Ernst Campaign

By: Sam T. Jensen —

Boone, Iowa — U.S. Senator Jodi Ernst (R-IA) will be running for reelection.

Ernst announced her reelection campaign in a press release Tuesday. She will be kicking off her campaign at the Central Iowa Expo in Boone, Iowa as part of the Roast and Ride event.

Ernst said it will be the biggest Roast and Ride yet and encourages voters to “enjoy Iowa barbecue, and talk about our mission to continue to bring Iowa commonsense values to Washington.”

You can purchase tickets and find more information about the event at

Serena Williams posts video of daughter Olympia trying out tennis racquets

TPN/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The apple certainly doesn’t fall from the tree!

Tennis superstar Serena Williams posted this video of her daughter Olympia hitting the racquet closet not once, but four times!

“History in the making,” she wrote in the caption as little Olympia gave each racquet a smash test!

Some of Williams’ celebrity friends commented on the post. Singer Justin Timberlake wrote “Uh oh!” while actress Olivia Wilde said, “Already better than me.”

Williams’ husband, Alexis Ohanian, remarked: “Smash that racquet, baby girl!”

No matter what Olympia puts her young mind to, she will certainly have a wealth of coaches and supporters along the way to guide her.

If young Olympia does follow in her mother’s footsteps, she will be hitting the court in just a few short years. Williams was just 4 years old when she started playing tennis and was a professional by the age of 14.

Olympia turns 2 in September.

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ISIS claims responsibility for Sri Lanka Easter bombings that killed over 300

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a wave of coordinated bombings at churches and high-end hotels across Sri Lanka.

The terrorist organization offered no evidence to support that assertion, which was initially announced in a statement in Arabic published by its Amaq news agency on Tuesday, saying the attackers were “among the fighters of the Islamic State,” according to a translation by SITE Intelligence Group, a company that tracks extremist groups.

ISIS later issued a longer, formal statement identifying the seven suicide bombers who detonated explosive-laden vests at the churches and hotels and a housing complex on Sunday.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged the claim during a press conference in the capital, Colombo.

“All that we knew earlier is that there were foreign links and that this could not have been done just locally,” Wickremesinghe said. “There has been training done and a coordination which we [have] not seen earlier.”

According to multiple U.S. sources briefed on the investigation, ISIS is believed to have been involved in the Sri Lanka attacks in a supportive capacity, but it’s not clear to what degree.

At least 310 people were killed and another 500 were injured Sunday when near-simultaneous explosions took place at eight locations across the island nation, which is located off the southern tip of India.

Most of the explosions were detonated by suicide bombers, according to the Sri Lankan defense ministry.

Explosions erupted at three churches holding Easter services in Colombo, Batticaloa and Negombo. Blasts also tore through three luxury hotels in Colombo that are popular among Western tourists, according to Sri Lankan police.

Hours after the initial bombings, another explosion rang out at a housing complex in Dematagoda, a suburb on the outskirts of Colombo, police said.

Later that night, the Sri Lankan Air Force initiated a controlled explosion of a 6-foot-long pipe bomb that was detected on a road near Colombo International Airport, according to Sri Lanka Air Force spokesman Gihan Seneviratne.

A fourth hotel was targeted in a failed attack that day, according to Sri Lanka’s prime minister.

At least 45 children were among the dead, including at least five who were not Sri Lankan, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund. Scores more were wounded and are fighting for their lives in intensive care units. Many children who survived the blasts have lost one or both parents.

At least four Americans were also among those killed, according to a U.S. official briefed on the investigation. One of the Americans was identified Monday as Dieter Kowalski, 40, of Denver, according to his mother and Pearson, the London-based global education company that employed him.

United States Secretary of State Pompeo said the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka is working to provide assistance to American citizens affected by the attacks, including their families.

“These vile attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism,” Pompeo said in a statement Sunday. “We stand with the Sri Lankan government and people as they confront violent extremism and have offered our assistance as they work to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The first funerals for victims were held Tuesday.

At one ceremony in Colombo, mourners paid their respects to a slain mother and her three children, ages 13, 11 and 7. The four bodies, each wrapped in white cotton with the faces exposed, were laid out on tables, and their clasped hands held rosaries and flowers.

Ruwan Wijewardene, the state minister of defense, told the Sri Lankan parliament Tuesday that authorities have information showing Sunday’s blasts were carried out “in retaliation” for last month’s attacks at two mosques in New Zealand that killed 50 people.

Sri Lanka’s health minister, Rajitha Senaratne, on Monday blamed the deadly blasts on a little-known domestic Muslim militant group called National Thowfeek Jamaath.

Sri Lankan police are searching for a mini van, three cars and six motorcycles carrying explosives in Colombo and believed to have been used for terrorist activities, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara told ABC News Tuesday.

At least 40 suspects have been arrested around the country in connection to the Easter explosions. Twenty-six of them were being questioned by the criminal investigations department Tuesday, while three were being held by the terrorist investigations unit, according to Gunasekara.

The identities of the suspects haven’t been released, but Sri Lanka’s prime minister told reporters Tuesday that all those arrested so far are Sri Lankan and “a few people” were still on the run “with the explosives.”

According to a U.S. official briefed on the investigation, Sri Lanka has asked the United States for more help due to the “exigent” circumstances, prompting the FBI to continue sending additional resources to the country.

Two U.S. officials told ABC News that the United States has identified an individual believed to have previous ties to ISIS who may have been involved in the Sri Lanka attacks.

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Poem comparing migrants to rats draws condemnation in Austria

iStock/Poligrafistka(NEW YORK) — The deputy mayor of an Austrian village has caused an uproar across the country’s political spectrum after he published a poem that seemed to compare migrants to rats.

Christian Schilcher of the village Braunau am Inn, and a member of the Freedom Party, a far-right populist party, published a poem on Monday in the party’s local newspaper titled “The Town Rat.”

“Just as we live down here, other rats who [came] as guests or migrants, including the ones we didn’t know, must share our way of life! Or get out of here fast!” the poem reads.

The prose, which used imagery widely associated with anti-Jewish propaganda pushed by Nazis before and during the Holocaust, was met with condemnation by politicians.

Conservative Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in a statement Tuesday that the deputy mayor’s resignation was “the only logical consequence of this vile and racist poem. The clear step of the Vice Chancellor and the FPO top was necessary and correct.” Kurz currently governs in a coalition alongside the far-right populist FPO.

By Tuesday morning, it was announced that Schilcher had resigned from his post and left the party, Austria Press Agency reported.

FPO has been in Austria’s governing coalition since 2017, and was founded by former Nazis in the 1950s. It is one of the few far-right parties in Europe to be part of a ruling coalition. The town of Braunau am Inn is already infamous for being the birthplace of Adolf Hitler.

Comparing people to rats was “customary in Nazi propaganda,” Pamela Rendi-Wagner, party leader of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPO), told the Austria Press Agency.

In a statement broadcast on Monday, Schilcher said he wanted his poem to provoke, “but in no way insult or hurt anyone,” the Austria Press Agency reported.

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Militia group agrees to leave their encampment in New Mexico near US border

KVIA-TV(SUNLAND PARK, N.M.) —  An armed militia group of private citizens has agreed to leave their encampment near the U.S.-Mexico border after officials expressed concerns about them brandishing weapons on public property.

“They decided it wasn’t worth the fight,” Sunland Park, New Mexico, Police Chief Javier Guerra told ABC News on Tuesday.

Members of the group, which calls itself the “United Constitutional Patriots,” were seen using military-style attire and firearms to detain dozens of migrant families last week. Video of the encounter was shared widely on social media.

The group has remained camped out near the border in New Mexico and plans to leave the area Wednesday morning, Guerra said.

The group’s leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, was arrested Saturday after he was charged in a criminal complaint with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of New Mexico.

“Pointing a weapon at an unarmed individual is assault,” Guerra told reporters in Sunland Park on Tuesday. “Now that I know there was an ex-felon over there, it does bring worry to me.”

Federal officials also issued a warning to militia members over the weekend.

“Interference by civilians in law enforcement matters could have public safety and legal consequences for all parties involved,” a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official said in a statement.

Private citizens have organized along the southern border for years in attempts to stop immigrants. A group known as the Minuteman Project coordinates volunteers looking to spot and report people that they believe to be crossing into the United States illegally.

“It’s our job to support law enforcement, not to be law enforcement,” said Howie Morgan, a Minuteman Project leader.

Despite public warnings from federal and local officials, Morgan said that their group only reports what they believe to be illegal activity.

CBP did not respond to follow-up questions from ABC News about border agents’ interactions with civilians offering unsolicited help and members associated with United Constitutional Patriots could not be reached for comment.

Hopkins, the group’s leader, allegedly said the that United Constitutional Patriots had also plotted to assassinate Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, according to a 2017 criminal complaint.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico declined to comment further.

Hopkins will appear in court next week and, if convicted, faces up to 10 years in prison.

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Bodycam video released in shooting of unarmed woman near Yale University

Connecticut State Police(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) — Newly released body camera video has shed new light into an officer-involved shooting in New Haven, Connecticut, that’s prompted protests.

Stephanie Washington, 22, was shot in the torso on April 16 in New Haven when an officer from the neighboring town of Hamden and another from Yale University unleashed a barrage of gunfire on the red Honda Civic that her boyfriend Paul Witherspoon was driving, authorities said.

The shooting unfolded at about 4:20 a.m. after Hamden police responded to a call of an attempted armed robbery at a gas station in Hamden, according to state police.

A car allegedly matching the description of the one leaving the scene of the attempted robbery was spotted on Dixwell Avenue in New Haven, state police said. Police stopped the Honda Civic that Washington and Witherspoon were in.

In the video, Witherspoon opens the door and within seconds, his hands go up and he is shot at by police. He was not struck.

The Yale officer did not have his dash camera or body camera on. The Hamden officer turned his body camera on just before the incident.

Commissioner James Rovella said “There were indications that he was told to open the door… or come out with his hands up.”

A surveillance video obtained by ABC News shows another vantage point – again appearing to show Witherspoon being shot at by police while his hands are in the air.

“I thought I was already dead because he pointed it right at me,” Witherspoon told ABC affiliate station WTNH-TV in New Haven.

Investigators said Washington, who was in the passenger’ seat, was shot in the torso. She is now in stable condition at a nearby hospital.

Rovella said there was “no gun found.”

The officers involved claimed the driver made an abrupt movement and ignored commands.

In response to the incident, hundreds of Yale students have called for the two officers who fired their guns to step down.

Both officers have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Connecticut State Police and the Connecticut State’s Attorney’s Office. The officers have not commented on the incident.

Rovella said he has many concerns about how this case was handled.

The state’s attorney is continuing their investigation into the shooting.

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Britney Spears says she’s fine, needs “time to deal” with family “stress and anxiety”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Tuesday, a source has confirmed to ABC Radio that Britney Spears began her current, 30-day stay at a mental health facility of her own free will — the result of both the emotional strain of her father Jamie‘s illness, and a necessary adjustment of her psychiatric medication.  Now, Britney herself has confirmed it to her fans.

“Hi guys.  Just checking in with all of you who are concerned about me,” Britney begins a brief video she posted to her Instagram Tuesday night.  “All is well.  My family has been going through a lot of stress and anxiety lately, so I just needed time to deal.  But don’t worry — I’ll be back very soon.”

In a lengthier, written message accompanying the video, Britney provides additional details.

“Wow!!! There’s rumors, death threats to my family and my team, and just so many things crazy things being said,” Britney writes, in part.  “I am trying to take a moment for myself, but everything that’s happening is just making it harder for me. Don’t believe everything you read and hear.”

She goes on to say her former manager, Sam Lutfi, had crafted “these fake emails everywhere” — apparently referring to reports circulating that she’d been involuntarily committed to the mental health facility, prompting the #FreeBritney hashtag. Britney and her father obtained a restraining order against Lutfi ten years ago, claiming he and others were attempting to gain control of her affairs.

“I promise I’m doing what’s best at this moment,” Britney writes, closing with, “Your love and dedication is amazing, but what I need right now is a little bit of privacy to deal with all the hard things that life is throwing my way. If you could do that, I would be forever grateful. Love you.”

Britney, 37, checked herself into the facility earlier this month. Her father suffered a ruptured colon last November, and Britney canceled her planned Las Vegas residency Domination and all other work commitments as a result.

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Oops! Movie rights to Britney Spears stage musical have already been sold

Photo by Getty ImagesOnce Upon a One More Time, an upcoming jukebox musical based on the songs of Britney Spears, hasn’t even opened yet, but the movie rights have already been sold, reports Deadline.

Sony Pictures will bring the story — a twist on classic fairy tales — to the big screen. The show itself premieres in Chicago this fall, and will open on Broadway in 2020.  Britney and her manager are among the co-producers of the film.

As previously reported, the plot of Once Upon a One More Time concerns fairy tale princesses, including Cinderella and Snow White.  When they gather for their book club, a fairy godmother gives them a copy of The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan‘s landmark 1963 book which is credited with sparking the feminist movement of the ’60s and ’70s in the U.S.

The exposure to these radical ideas shakes up the women, inspiring them to search for fulfillment in ways that don’t involve marrying a prince.

The musical will feature hits like “Toxic,” “Lucky,” “Oops I Did It Again,” “…Baby One More Time” and many more.

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Newly single Adele is putting her son first: “Her whole life revolves around him”

Lester Cohen/Getty Images for NARASAdele and her husband may have split, but she’s determined to keep things civil for the sake of their six-year-old son Angelo.

“Adele’s son is everything to her. Her whole life revolves around him,” a source tells People.

The insider adds, “I just can’t see her divorce getting messy because she’s so careful when it comes to her son. She’s always five steps ahead in terms of how a decision will affect him.”

Adele has long kept Angelo out of the public eye.

“She takes him to the park or on a hike and to birthday parties for his friends,” another source says. “It’s clear that she tries to create a happy and normal childhood for Angelo.”

The singer announced her split from Simon Konecki last weekend, after seven years together.

“Adele and her partner have separated. They are committed to raising their son together lovingly,” Adele’s rep told ABC Radio in a statement. “As always they ask for privacy. There will be no further comment.”

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Is *NSYNC planning to reunite without Justin post-Coachella?

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for AGIs *NSYNC planning to reunite without Justin Timberlake?

Following their well-received surprise Coachella performance with Ariana Grande, sources tell Billboard the group and their team are considering “a more prolonged return” as a foursome.

While plans for a comeback are still up in the air, the April 14 performance proved JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone could successfully command the stage without Justin.

“There’s such a hunger now for great pop, for nostalgia,” one industry source tells Billboard. “It’s almost like a warm, comfortable blanket, especially for the generation that grew up with them, who are now moms and dads. The timing is right.”

Brad Wavra, Senior VP of Touring at concert promoters Live Nation, adds, “The four of them would be great. There’s no denying the talent that Justin has, but the four of them together proved it [at Coachella]: the music sounded great, they looked great, the fan response was awesome and I think that that would be the same all across America.”

Wavra thinks that, like the Backstreet Boys, the foursome could find success in Las Vegas or as part of a package tour; another source believes they could easily sell out arena dates, since it’s been more than 15 years since fans have heard their hits live.

*NSYNC has officially been “on hiatus” since 2002. The last time all five members of the group performed together was one-off appearance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.

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