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31/05/2018
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Tom Cruise Tweets as Production Starts on ‘Top Gun’ Sequel

Tom Cruise is back on the flight line for a sequel to the 1986 film “Top Gun.”

The actor on Thursday tweeted a photo of himself as Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in a flight suit, looking at a fighter jet. The photo includes the phrase “feel the need.” In the original movie, Cruise’s character talks about how he feels the need for speed.

Cruise writes #Day 1 of production of “Top Gun: Maverick.”

The movie is scheduled for release in July 2019.

 

31/05/2018
by MediaExpert
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Trump Renews Call for ABC Apology

U.S. President Donald Trump again asked the ABC TV network Thursday for an apology for reasons that were not entirely clear. The request came a day after the network canceled Roseanne Barr’s television show following racist remarks she posted about Valerie Jarrett, an African American who served as a White House adviser to President Barack Obama.

 

Trump’s request comes after he suggested Wednesday he should get an apology from Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC.

On Thursday, though, Trump was more direct when he tweeted: “Iger, where is my call of apology? You and ABC have offended millions of people, and they demand a response. How is Brian Ross doing? He tanked the market with an ABC lie, yet no apology. Double Standard!”

Trump did not elaborate on how the network offended people. ABC correspondent Brian Ross, however, was suspended for four weeks last year after erroneously reporting that Trump asked former national security adviser Michael Flynn to make contact with Russian officials before the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Although ABC has not apologized directly to Trump for Ross’ error, the network issued a statement shortly after recanting the story that said, “We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday.”

Trump has not denounced Barr, who is white, for posting a tweet Tuesday that was later deleted saying Jarrett is a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and the “Planet of the Apes.” She later tweeted she was sorry “for making a bad joke” about Jarrett.

But White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee-Sanders said Wednesday Barr’s remarks were “inappropriate” and complained about the hiring of Trump critic Keith Olberman by ESPN, which is also owned by Disney. “This is a double standard that the president is speaking about.”

Barr’s offensive remarks triggered intense backlash, including ABC’s cancellation of her show which had been renewed for a second season.

“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” said ABC entertainment President Channing Dungey.

Trump’s Twitter response Wednesday was somewhat surprising after Huckabee-Sanders said in response to a question about Barr Tuesday that he is focusing on trade, North Korea and other issues and “not responding to other things.”

After saying Tuesday she would stop tweeting, Barr resumed posting, blaming the effects of the sleep medication Ambien for her racist remarks in one of her more than 100 subsequent postings.

“guys I did something unforgivable so do not defend me. it was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting — it was memorial day too — i went 2 far & do not want it defended — it was egregious indefensible. I made a mistake I wish I hadn’t but…don’t defend it please.”

 

The maker of Ambien, Sanofi S.A., responded to Barr’s claim saying, “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

Iger, who once considered challenging Trump for the presidency in 2020, indeed called Jarrett to inform her about the show’s cancellation.

“He wanted me to know before he made it public that he was canceling the show,” Jarrett said.

Jarrett has not commented on Trump’s response nor has Iger replied to Trump’s suggestion he was treated differently by the network.

Barr’s TV show was a new version of her 1988-97 sitcom “Roseanne.” It returned this year with Barr playing a character who is supportive of President Trump.

Barr in real life is an avid supporter of Trump. He hailed the new show two months ago for its strong ratings.

“Look at her ratings! Look at her ratings,” he said at a speech in Richfield, Ohio. “Over 18 million people,” Trump said, “and it was about us.” They haven’t figured it out yet; the fake news hasn’t quite figured it out yet. They have not figured it out. So that was great.”   

Trump’s response to the Barr controversy was not his only controversial remark in recent days. On Memorial Day, a solemn U.S. holiday to honor military personnel who died in the line of duty, Trump tweeted: “Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!”

The tweet drew criticism from some, including retired Admiral John Kirby, a State Department spokesman during the Obama administration.

“This is one of the most inappropriate, ignorant and tone-deaf things our Commander-in-Chief could have said on a day like today,” Kirby wrote on Twitter.

 

31/05/2018
by MediaExpert
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New Delhi Peace House Fosters Tolerance, Peaceful Coexistence

In an attempt to bridge the gap of understanding between different Indian communities, a house in the Indian capital of New Delhi is trying to foster the message of tolerance and peaceful coexistence in a unique manner. The house gives people from different religions and communities the chance to live together as a family for up to six months as a way to promote understanding. VOA’s Ritul Joshi reports from New Delhi.

31/05/2018
by MediaExpert
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41 Advance to Spelling Bee Finals

This year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee drew the largest number of competitors in its history, 516. But the field is far smaller, as only 41 spellers advance to the finals Thursday. 

The finalists were announced Wednesday after two days of onstage spelling during which nearly 200 spellers were eliminated for getting words wrong. Scores on a written spelling and vocabulary test determined who advanced to the finals.

“There were no perfect scores on the test,” spelling bee Executive Director Paige Kimble says, “We thought it was an easy test. We were wrong.”

“They made it hard on purpose” said Jacob Williamson, a former competitor who is coaching five spellers this year. 

But that didn’t seem to shake the confidence of those who have traversed the road before.

“It was fine, actually. I didn’t expect it to be fine,” said Erin Howard, 13, of Huntsville, Alabama. “I think at worst I missed five.”

According to Scripps, 113 of the spellers this year had previous national finals experience and 45 have relatives who are former competitors, including Atman Balakrishnan, from Chicago, whose father Balu Natrajan was the winner in 1985, and the first Indian-American to take the title. 

The top scorers this year are Shruthika Padhy, Aisha Randhawa and Karthik Nemmani. 

Shruthika came into the bee as one of the favorites, having finished in seventh place last year.

The past 13 champions and 18 of the last 22 have been Indian-American.

31/05/2018
by MediaExpert
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Film Producer Weinstein Indicted on Rape Charges

Film producer Harvey Weinstein was indicted Wednesday on first- and third-degree rape and criminal sex act charges, furthering the first criminal case to arise from a slate of sexual misconduct allegations against the former movie mogul.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said the indictment brought Weinstein “another step closer to accountability.”

The announcement came hours after Weinstein’s lawyers said he’d decline to testify before the grand jury because there wasn’t enough time to prepare him and “political pressure” made an indictment unavoidable.

A statement issued through a Weinstein spokesman said the 66-year-old film producer, who has denied the allegations, learned of the specific charges and the accusers’ identities only after turning himself in Friday. With a deadline set for Wednesday afternoon to testify or not, his request for more time was denied, the statement said.

“Finally, Mr. Weinstein’s attorneys noted that regardless of how compelling Mr. Weinstein’s personal testimony might be, an indictment was inevitable due to the unfair political pressure being placed on Cy Vance to secure a conviction of Mr. Weinstein,” the statement said, referring to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Vance said in a statement that the Weinstein camp’s “recent assault on the integrity of the survivors and the legal process is predictable.”

“We are confident that when the jury hears the evidence, it will reject these attacks out of hand,” Vance said.

Weinstein was charged Friday with rape and criminal sex act charges involving two women in New York, as a grand jury continued hearing evidence in the case; the panel has been at work for weeks. Defendants have the right to testify in a grand jury’s secret proceedings but often don’t, for various reasons.

Dozens of accusers

Dozens more women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to assault in various locales. He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex, and his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said Tuesday that Weinstein was “confident he’s going to clear his name” in the New York prosecution.

Brafman called the rape allegation “absurd,” saying that the accuser and Weinstein had a decade-long, consensual sexual relationship that continued after the alleged 2013 attack.

The woman, who hasn’t been identified publicly, told investigators Weinstein confined her in a hotel room and raped her.

The other accuser in the case, former actress Lucia Evans, has gone public with her account of Weinstein forcing her to perform oral sex at his office in 2004. The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assaults unless they come forward publicly.

Vance, a Democrat, came under public pressure from women’s groups to prosecute Weinstein after declining to do so in 2015, when an Italian model went to police to say Weinstein had groped her during a meeting.

Police set up a sting in which the woman recorded herself confronting Weinstein and him apologizing for his conduct. But Vance decided there wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, ordered the state attorney general to investigate how Vance handled that matter.

30/05/2018
by MediaExpert
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Judge Denies Meek Mill Request for Other Judge’s Removal

A judge in Philadelphia has denied Meek Mill’s request for the removal of another judge from the rapper’s case.

 

President Judge Leon Tucker told Mill in a Wednesday hearing that he doesn’t have jurisdiction over the matter. He says only the state Supreme Court can decide that.

 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered Mill’s release from prison last month where he was serving a two- to four-year sentence on a probation violation related to a decade-old gun and drug conviction.

 

Mill’s lawyers want Judge Genece Brinkley removed from his case. They allege she’s been waging a vendetta against the rapper, including sending him to prison for the probation violations.

 

She has strongly defended her impartiality.

 

Prosecutors say they believe Mill should get a new trial because of questions raised about the credibility of his arresting officer.

 

 

 

 

30/05/2018
by MediaExpert
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Weinstein Won’t Testify Before Grand Jury in Rape Case

Harvey Weinstein declined Wednesday to testify before the New York grand jury that is weighing whether to indict him on rape and other sex charges, with his lawyers saying there wasn’t enough time to prepare and “political pressure” made an indictment unavoidable.

A statement issued through a Weinstein spokesman said the former movie mogul learned the specific charges and the accusers’ identities only after turning himself in Friday, with a deadline set for Wednesday afternoon to testify or not. His request for more time was denied, the statement said.

“Finally, Mr. Weinstein’s attorneys noted that regardless of how compelling Mr. Weinstein’s personal testimony might be, an indictment was inevitable due to the unfair political pressure being placed on Cy Vance to secure a conviction of Mr. Weinstein,” the statement said, referring to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

His office declined to comment.

Weinstein was charged Friday with rape and criminal sex act charges involving two women in New York, as a grand jury continued hearing evidence in the case; the panel has been at work for weeks. Defendants have the right to testify in a grand jury’s secret proceedings but often don’t, for various reasons.

Weinstein faces rape and criminal sex act charges involving two women in New York. Dozens more women have accused him of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to assault in various locales.

He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex, and his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said Tuesday that Weinstein was “confident he’s going to clear his name” in the New York prosecution.

Brafman called the rape allegation “absurd,” saying that the accuser and Weinstein had a decade-long, consensual sexual relationship that continued after the alleged 2013 attack.

The woman, who hasn’t been identified publicly, told investigators Weinstein confined her in a hotel room and raped her.

The other accuser in the case, former actress Lucia Evans, has gone public with her account of Weinstein forcing her to perform oral sex at his office in 2004. The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assaults unless they come forward publicly.

Vance, a Democrat, came under public pressure from women’s groups to prosecute Weinstein after declining to do so in 2015, when an Italian model went to police to say Weinstein had groped her during a meeting.

Police set up a sting in which the woman recorded herself confronting Weinstein and him apologizing for his conduct. But Vance decided there wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, ordered the state attorney general to investigate how Vance handled that matter.

30/05/2018
by MediaExpert
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Picasso Painting Showing in Hong Kong Estimated at $45 Million

Pablo Picasso’s painting of ‘Golden Muse’ Marie-Therese Walter, estimated to be worth up to $45 million, is on display in Hong Kong. The highly celebrated painting of his secret mistress of many years is the highlight of a collection of treasured works of art by Old Master painters that will be up for sale in London. VOA’s Julie Taboh has more.

29/05/2018
by MediaExpert
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Weinstein’s Lawyer Concerned About Publicity, ‘Pressure’ on Prosecutors

The lawyer defending movie mogul Harvey Weinstein against rape charges said Tuesday he was concerned that publicity surrounding the case and “inappropriate pressure” on prosecutors could be unfair to his client.

The lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, spoke to reporters after a closed-door proceeding before New York Supreme Court Justice James Burke in Manhattan, which he said he had requested to raise his concerns about the case. Brafman said he expected Weinstein would be exonerated of the charges, which he called “absurd.”

Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 70 women, in some instances dating back decades, has denied having nonconsensual sex with anyone.

Brafman said he could not discuss the substance of the proceeding in detail and did not say exactly what action, if any, he had asked the judge to take. Weinstein did not appear at the proceeding.

“One of my concerns is that by virtue of some of the publicity that has occurred over the weekend, that the ability for people to keep an open mind is of concern to me,” Brafman told reporters outside the courthouse. “I also think that the pressure that is being brought to bear on the [Manhattan] District Attorney’s office demanding that an indictment or prosecution of Mr. Weinstein proceed is inappropriate pressure.”

Brafman did not elaborate on the source of the “pressure.” “I’m not certain whether there is any remedy but I wanted to make it clear that I was not happy with those issues,” he said.

The District Attorney’s office declined to comment.

Weinstein has been charged with two counts of rape and one count of a criminal sexual act following a months-long investigation by the New York Police Department. Authorities did not identify the two women, but said the crimes took place in 2004 and 2013. If convicted on the most serious charges, Weinstein could face between five and 25 years in prison.

Brafman said Tuesday that Weinstein was accused of raping one woman, and that he had a 10-year consensual affair with her both before and after the alleged rape.

29/05/2018
by MediaExpert
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ABC Cancels ‘Roseanne’ Following Star’s Racist Tweet

The American Broadcasting Co. canceled Rosanne Barr’s new television show Tuesday after she posted racist remarks about Valerie Jarrett, an African-American who served as a White House adviser to President Barack Obama. 

Barr, who is white, tweeted earlier in the day that Jarrett was a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes.

Barr later tweeted she was sorry “for making a bad joke” about Jarrett. 

Before it was deleted, Barr’s tweet read: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj.”

Her offensive remarks triggered an intense backlash, resulting in ABC’s cancellation of her show, which had been renewed for a second season.

“Rosanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” said ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey.

Her TV show was a new version of her 1988-97 show Rosanne. It returned this year with Barr playing a character who is supportive of President Donald Trump.

Barr is an avid supporter of Trump, who hailed the new show two months ago for its strong ratings.

“Look at her ratings! Look at her ratings!” he said at a speech two months ago in Richfield, Ohio. “Over 18 million people, and it was about us. They haven’t figured it out yet; the fake news hasn’t quite figured it out yet. They have not figured it out. So that was great.”

29/05/2018
by MediaExpert
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First-Year Hockey Team Beats Odds for Stanley Cup Final Berth

The Vegas Golden Knights, the newest team in the National Hockey League, started their season last October as Las Vegas was recovering from the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

As Western Conference winners, the Knights are now competing for the Stanley Cup, the top award in professional hockey. They squared off against the Eastern Conference winners, the Washington Capitals, Monday evening in Las Vegas, winning the opening game 6-4 to continue a season of unlikely success that has boosted their city’s spirits.

On October 1, a shooter opened fire from a Las Vegas hotel room, killing 58 concertgoers at an open-air venue, and injuring more than 700. Police have never identified a motive.

Team outreach

The Golden Knights reached out as the city struggled to recover, said Bill Bradley, assistant managing editor for sports for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

They “went to blood banks, went to food banks, went to meet with first responders … (and) people felt like they cared,” Bradley said.

The Knights were the first expansion team in the NHL since 2000, and as they shattered record after record for an expansion team, they brought healing to a shattered city, he added.

The team’s season got off to a blazing start as the Knights won eight of their first nine games. Some losses and injuries followed, but the team had connected with its fans, with “600, 700, 800 people showing up for practices every day,” Bradley said. 

WATCH: Knights win first game

​At a recent practice, fan John Laubhan said supporters began to think the unthinkable, that the team could win a first-season championship.

“Everybody started to believe that this could happen,” Laubhan said, adding, “as the season went on, they proved it could happen. And look where we are — Stanley Cup finals!” 

As the Knights accumulated wins, the city’s spirits lifted, said Laubhan’s son Brandon, who had also come to watch the Knights practice. “To have the team come at that time to lift the spirits of everybody, it was truly indescribable,” he said.

Energized the city

Las Vegas is energized, thanks to the team that beat the odds, Anthony Valdovinos said.

“People are happy, shaking hands, (saying) ‘Oh my God, you’re a Knights fan? I’m a Knights fan.’ It’s good for the city,” Valdovinos added.

Las Vegas is a city of transplants, said Camille Gabel, a former Chicago Red Wings fan who moved here from Michigan. 

“Everybody moves here,” Gabel explained with only slight exaggeration, “so the Knights have really given the community something to band around.”

As the Golden Knights earned wins against the LA Kings, San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets, they nabbed the Western Conference trophy and won admirers like Jennifer Swenson, an immigrant from Ireland.

“They’ve just been amazing. The way they’ve just become a part of the community. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Swenson said of the team. Pointing to her family, she added, “So we’re diehard fans now.”

The Golden Knights are good, but can they win the Stanley Cup?

“Definitely,” Kevin Lewis said while attending a Knights practice with his wife, Ashley, and two young children. “We’ve got the momentum, baby. We’re going to win it.”

Heading into the finals, Las Vegas oddsmakers gave the team a slight edge, a dramatic shift from their 500-1 odds at the start of the season. Fans say whatever happens now, the Vegas Golden Knights are already champions in this city.