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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Former professional basketball player Dennis Rodman spoke out in an exclusive interview with ABC News about his recent trip to North Korea, suggesting that he is partly responsible for the reclusive nation's release of American college student Otto Warmbier, who died last Monday, just days after being medically evacuated from a North Korean prison.

"I was just so happy to see the kid released," Rodman told Good Morning America co-anchor Michael Strahan of when he first learned of Warmbier's release. "Later that day, that's when we found out he was ill, no one knew that. We jumped up and down ... Some good things came of this trip."

Warmbier, who was released on the same day that Rodman arrived in North Korea for a brief visit, was sent back to the U.S. in a state of unresponsive wakefulness, according to doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

The University of Virginia student was detained by North Korea for nearly 17 months following his January 2016 arrest in Pyongyang, for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster while he was visiting the country on a sightseeing tour.

Despite Rodman's belief that he had something to do with Warmbier's release, Warmbier's father said in a statement to ABC News that "Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto returning to the United States."

Chris Volo, Rodman's agent who accompanied the athlete on his trip to North Korea, told ABC News that before they went, "I asked on behalf of Dennis for his release three times."

"I know being there had something to do with it," Volo said of Warmbier's release. "Because when I was organizing the trip ... and I meet with the delegates here, you know, I addressed ... Otto Warmbier. And I said to them, 'we...would need his...you know, a release, some type of good faith, if we're ever going to do some type of future sports relations ... They said they understood."

Rodman said he wished to "give all the prayer and love" to the Warmbier's family, adding "I didn't know that he was sick."

Volo added that they have contacted the family and are hoping to meet them, "but we were told that, you know, it just couldn't happen."

The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year said he didn't meet with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, during his most recent visit.

"The previous times we did," he added. "I think the fact that, you know, my trips going up to North Korea is more like trying ... to get to communicate sports-wise. It ain't about trying to release people."

"It's not trying to do ... political stuff. It's almost just trying to reach out for sports and see if I can bring sports to North Korea," Rodman said.

Rodman also discussed how the country has changed over the course of his visits, saying "we've seen a lot of changes," including "the fact that it is so modernized now."

"When you go over there, and you hear the radio, and ... people are talking," Rodman said. "They're so happy now, because it's more like ... it's civilized again."

Rodman, who calls North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a friend, said, "people don't see ... the good side about that country. It's like going, like, to Asia. It's like going to like Istanbul, Turkey, or any place like that. It's pretty much just like that. You're know, you going to see some poverty. You're going to see some people that's not doing too well."

"I think people don't see him as ... a friendly guy," Rodman added of the country's dictator, adding "if you actually talk to him" you would see a different side of him.

"We sing karaoke," Rodman added of his relationship with Jong-un. "It's all fun. Ride horses, everything."

"It's the politics that's the bad thing. If we can try to figure something out, just open the door," Rodman suggested, saying that he believes "if Donald Trump had a chance," he would fly to North Korea "and try to make peace."

Rodman, who identifies as a Trump supporter, also called on the president to join him in creating peace with North Korea.

"I'll ask him right now. Donald, come talk to me. Let's try to work this out. Because you know what? I get nothing out of this. The only thing I get is out of pride for my country, America. I love America," Rodman said. "But I want these two sides to get together and try to figure something out. Some dialogue. That's it."

Rodman also revealed that the North Korean leader gave him a message to pass on to former President Obama on one of his previous visits, and he thinks the next time he visits, the leader may give him a message for President Trump.

"I think the next time we go, I think it's going to be in August. I think the fact that when ... I sit there and talk to him ... he'll throw comments out there," Rodman said of Kim Jong-un. "You know, he'll say, 'I want three things, Dennis, from you, if you can do this for us.'"

Rodman said that his message for Obama was to ask him to "move his ships."

"He said, 'There's just one thing I, I, would love for ... Obama to do,'" Rodman said of his conversation with Kim Jong-u. "He said, 'I would love him if he can move his ships...away a little bit.' That's the one thing he asked me. He said, 'If he can do that, I think we can have some new positive.'"

Rodman said that he is not going to North Korea for attention, saying, "I don't need to be on TV."

"What am I getting out of this? I'm going over there out of my kindness of my heart just to try to help. Just to open the door ... a little bit so we can have [a] talk," Rodman said.

"I'm spending hundreds of dollars just to go over there to try to just open the door a little bit," Rodman said.

Rodman said despite the widespread criticism and backlash that he has faced for his trips to North Korea, "I think it's worth it."

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Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Gun makers have boosted production in recent years, focusing on more high-caliber pistols and rifles designed for self-defense and shifting away from recreational firearms used for hunting and target shooting, the authors of a new study said.

Gun violence kills more than 36,000 Americans each year, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Authors of the study, published Thursday in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, said research has focused on victims of gun violence and government policies, while their study is one of the first to focus on gun industry practices.

Looking at data compiled by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the researchers noted a significant increase in gun manufacturing overall from 2005 to 2013, in contrast to a slight downward trend before 2005.

They also found that driving this growth was higher production of pistols and rifles, and the pistols tended to be higher-caliber models, or ones that fire larger bullets. The authors said that five major gun manufacturers control nearly 60 percent of the market, so changes in production of one manufacturer could significantly affect the others.

"It seems clear to us that the trend is for self-defense," lead study author Dr. Michael Siegel told ABC News.

Siegel, a professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, further suggested that the findings provide evidence of a change in consumer demand.

"[Manufacturers] have reinvented guns not as a recreational sport or tool but as a symbol of freedom and security," he said.

The study authors further suggested that the issue of gun violence should shift from the criminal justice perspective to the public health arena -- a point that has been opposed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a major industry organization for gun manufacturers.

"Guns are not a disease," Lawrence G. Keane, the foundation's senior vice president and general counsel, told ABC News in a statement. "There is no vaccine or health intervention for the criminal misuse of firearms."

Siegel, however, said the study is important because it points to the industry's responsibility in preventing gun violence.

He added that the goal of the research was not to deprive gun owners of their weapons.

"They are not the enemy in public health," he said. "There are ways to reduce gun violence while valuing gun owners' values … It has been painted too long as mutually exclusive."

Siegel said that the group's next research steps are to identify the most effective methods and policies for isolating the small number of people who are most likely to commit acts of violence using guns.

"The solution lies in not taking guns away from people who are law-abiding but by being more effective at keeping guns out of the hands of the people who are at highest risk of gun violence," he said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the latest scores and winners:

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Chicago White Sox 9, Minnesota 0
Texas 11, Toronto 4
Houston 12, Oakland 9
L.A. Angels 10, N.Y. Yankees 5
Cleveland 6, Baltimore 3
Seattle 9, Detroit 6

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Philadelphia 5, St. Louis 1
Milwaukee 4, Pittsburgh 2
Arizona 10, Colorado 3
Chicago Cubs 11, Miami 1
Atlanta 12, San Francisco 11
L.A. Dodgers 9, N.Y. Mets 6

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iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck says he personally arrested one of his own officers on Thursday.

Beck arrested 10-year veteran LAPD officer Robert Cain in what has become the latest scandal involving the department’s youth cadet program. The 31-year-old officer is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old female cadet.

The chief, who usually does not make arrests, said “I told him you’re under arrest for unlawful sex with a minor.”

It is unclear if Cain has a lawyer.

The officer is from the same police station, the LAPD’s 77th Street Division, that has been roiled in a scandal involving teen cadets who allegedly stole LAPD patrol SUV’s, crashing two of them in chases last week after they were spotted by on duty officers. The teens are also accused of stealing equipment like police radios and bullet proof vests.

Beck says the teens pulled over drivers and impersonated officers with the stolen equipment but that they did not handcuff anyone.

The 15-year-old girl allegedly involved in the sexual relationship is one of seven cadets who have been arrested for stealing the patrol vehicles. Cain worked in the equipment room where police gear is checked out. Beck says he is not sure yet if Cain helped the teens obtain the stolen items.

When Beck learned of the alleged criminal conduct involving Cain, he said he made the decision to make the arrest himself.

“I think it’s important to send a message,” Beck said during a news conference. “I find the actions of Cain, if they are proven, to be despicable. I find them to be absolutely inconsistent with the ethics and standards of the Los Angeles Police Department and they are criminal. I’m a police officer and I felt it was my duty to make the arrest.”

Beck said the sexual conduct did not happen at the police station and that the relationship was consensual.

The Los Angeles Police union representing LAPD officers is applauding Beck for taking quick action after the department learned about the relationship while investigating the stolen equipment and SUVs.

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement, "There is no higher priority than protecting and guiding our young people -- and when they become LAPD Cadets, every parent should feel confident that they will be treated with the utmost care every step of the way."

Garcetti continues, "The charges against this officer are deeply disturbing, and I have been assured he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. These allegations represent a total breach of the trust we place in everyone who wears the uniform and a violation of the oath all officers take to protect and serve. There is an exhaustive review of the Cadet Program already underway, and I have faith that our program will emerge stronger and justice will be served.”

Last week Beck suspended the youth programs at the 77th Street and Pacific Divisions. Cadets from both stations have been arrested.

Beck says he still supports the program for troubled teens that includes some 2,300 cadets and plans to attend an upcoming graduation ceremony.

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qParamount Pictures/Bay F - © 2017 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.(LOS ANGELES) -- Opened nationwide on Wednesday:

Transformers: The Last Knight -- Humans and Transformers are at war and Optimus Prime is gone in this fifth installment of the Transformers franchise. Once again, it's up to Mark Wahlberg's Cade Yaeger and his cohorts to save the world. Anthony Hopkins and Laura Haddock co-star. Rated PG-13.

Opening in limited release on Friday:

The Bad Batch -- Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves and Jim Carey star in this sci-fi love story set in a community of cannibals. Rated R.

The Beguiled --  Sofia Coppola's reboot of the 1971 Civil War-era drama stars Colin Farrell as an injured Union soldier who seeks refuge at a girls' school in Virginia, leading to rivalries and an unexpected turn of events. Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning also star. Rated R.

The Big Sick -- This romantic comedy from Bridesmaids and Trainwreck producer Judd Apatow stars Silicon Valley's Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan as a couple dealing with their cultural differences as their relationship grows. Co-starring Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. Rated R.



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Creatas/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) -- A former nurse in Texas was charged Wednesday in the 1981 murder of a 2-year-old girl.

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood told ABC News Thursday that Genene Jones, 66, is suspected of killing as many as 60 children during her time as a nurse.

"We looked at her work schedule and when these babies were passing and the increase in passing under her direct work schedule was astronomical," said LaHood.

The district attorney's office said in a statement Wednesday that Jones had been indicted for the Sept. 16, 1981, murder of then 2-year-old Rosemary Vega. Last month, Jones was also charged with murder in a separate case for the Dec. 12, 1981, murder of then 11-month-old Joshua Sawyer.

At the time of Joshua's death, Jones was working as a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit in what was formerly known as the Bexar County Hospital. According to the district attorney's office, evidence showed that Jones injected the boy with a toxic level of Dilantin.

Jones, who is currently incarcerated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Lane Murray unit in Gatesville, Texas, was sentenced to 99 years in prison in 1984 for the death of 15-month-old Chelsea McClellan. Later that year, a Bexar County judge sentenced Jones to 60 years in prison for injecting then 4-week-old Rolando Santos with Heparin, according to a news release from Bexar County district attorney's office. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently.

A grand jury recommended that Jones' bond be set at $1 million for the latest indictment in the case of Vega. It is unclear if Jones has an attorney and LaHood said that no date has been set for a court appearance.

Due to a law that was in effect when Jones was first sentenced to prison, Jones will be released in March 2018. However, prior to her release, she will be sent back to Bexar County where she will await trial for the new charges, according to the district attorney's office.

"Our focus is to hold Genene Jones accountable for as many children's deaths as our evidence will support," LaHood said in Wednesday's press conference. "For that reason, this will continue to be an open investigation."

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Former nurse suspected of killing up to 60 children

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Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- The unveiling of Senate Republicans’ “discussion draft” bill to replace Obamacare sets off a series of procedural events that will culminate in a vote, according to Senate Republican staffers.

First, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office will analyze the bill’s budgetary impact and release a report on its real-world effects.

According to the CBO, the House health bill would leave 23 million more uninsured than current law. The CBO announced Thursday that it would release its “score” for the Senate measure early next week.

As senators await the score, they will continue to discuss the draft, with many of them wanting to make tweaks to it.

Once the score is released, the Senate parliamentarian will begin working with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, to determine whether the legislation complies with the rules of reconciliation, which would allow it to pass with a simple majority and avoid the filibuster.

At some point, McConnell will bring the bill to the floor.

The bill’s arrival on the floor sets off a 20-hour window for debate, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. This can be used however members want, including offering amendments and making motions related to the bill.

When that time is expired, the Senate goes into a “vote-a-rama” in which members can offer amendments with short or no debate. That can continue, according to one official, "until a state of exhaustion sets in."

The next step is for the Senate to decide to move to final passage and vote. By this time, McConnell will have needed to round up at least 50 of his 52 Republicans to pass the bill.

Traditionally, when one chamber passes a different version of the bill, the two are reconciled in a conference committee. But in this case, the fate of the Senate bill past its own chamber is unknown.

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