Chris Brown Freed After Questioning In Paris

A 25-year-old woman has accused Brown, along with his bodyguard and a friend, of assaulting her in the luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel last Tuesday night, a source close to the case said on condition of anonymity.

The Grammy Award-winning singer, 29, was detained on Monday on suspicion of aggravated rape and a drug offence.

The prosecutor’s office said an investigation was continuing, while Brown’s lawyer Raphael Chiche said his client “energetically” proclaimed his innocence and wanted to bring a defamation lawsuit.

The alleged victim told police she met Brown in a nightclub near the Champs-Elysees avenue with a group of other women.

She then agreed to go back to the hotel, which is on the glitzy boutique-lined Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore.

Brown was pictured in the French capital last week attending shows during men’s fashion week.

The singer posted a picture on his Instagram account Tuesday night that read “This B!tch Lyin’”.

“I WANNA MAKE IT PERFECTLY CLEAR…… THIS IS FALSE AND A WHOLE LOT OF CAP! (sic) NNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEERRRRRR!!!!!! FOR MY DAUGHTER AND MY FAMILY THIS IS SO DISPRESPECTFUL AND IS AGAINST MY CHARACTER AND MORALS!!!!!” he posted next to the picture.

The singer, who according to Billboard has sold more than 100 million records, has been in the news more for his legal troubles than his hit releases in recent years.

In 2009 he was convicted of beating fellow singer Rihanna, his girlfriend at the time, who was forced to miss the Grammy Awards because of her injuries.

Brown was sentenced to five years’ probation and six months of community service for the assault.

– Brushes with the law –
In 2014 he pleaded guilty to assaulting a fan in Washington and was accused of violence by a woman in Las Vegas.

Two years later he was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon following a standoff with Los Angeles police officers, after a woman said he threatened her at his home.

And last May a woman filed a lawsuit against Brown over claims that one of his friends repeatedly raped her at a drink- and drug-fuelled party at the singer’s Los Angeles home in 2017.

Brown was discovered by record label scouts when he was just a boy, working at his father’s gas station in the US state of Virginia.

First identified as a rapper, he later found success with his rich singing voice, selling more than two million copies of his self-titled debut album released at the age of just 16.

Best known for hits in the mid-2000s such as “Kiss, Kiss” and “Run It”, Brown has released eight studio albums, six of which have gone platinum with over one million sales.

He went off the radar following the assault on Rihanna before launching a comeback in 2011 with the new album F.A.M.E., which debuted at number one on the US charts.

He has also dabbled in acting, appearing in several films as well as teen drama “The OC”.

He counts nearly 50 million followers on Instagram, where a picture posted on Sunday showed him meeting fans in Paris.

News of Brown’s arrest was first reported by the celebrity magazine Closer.

An investigation by Billboard in 2017 reported that Brown was battling a heavy addiction to cocaine and prescription medication

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Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards have been announced with A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody and Black Panther, making it to the Best Picture category

It is the first time a superhero movie – Disney’s Black Panther – is getting a Best Picture nomination.

In 2018, it was the top-grossing film in North America, taking in more than $700 million in ticket sales.

The Shape of Water had won Best Picture for last year’s Oscars.

This year’s winner, howe5ver, will be announced on February 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

 

Below is the full list of Best Picture nominees as well as nominees in the main categories.

Best Picture:

“Black Panther”

“BlacKkKlansman”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“The Favourite”

“Green Book”

“Roma”

“A Star Is Born”

“Vice”

Best Director:

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”

Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”

Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”

Adam McKay, “Vice”

Best Actor:

Christian Bale, “Vice”

Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”

Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”

Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Best Actress:

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”

Glenn Close, “The Wife”

Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”

Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”

Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Best Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”

Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”

Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Best Supporting Actress:

Amy Adams, “Vice”

Marina de Tavira, “Roma”

Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Emma Stone, “The Favourite”

Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Best Foreign Language Film:

“Capernaum” (Lebanon)

“Cold War” (Poland)

“Never Look Away” (Germany)

“Roma” (Mexico)

“Shoplifters” (Japan)

Best Animated Feature:

“Incredibles 2”

“Isle of Dogs”

“Mirai”

“Ralph Breaks the Internet”

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

An explosion and fire has killed at least 66 people who were collecting fuel gushing from a leaking pipeline in central Mexico, the Hidalgo state governor said on Saturday

The toll that we have until a few minutes ago… is 66 dead, while 76 are injured,” said the governor, Omar Fayad.

Forensic specialists on Saturday worked among the charred corpses at the scene, which was guarded by soldiers as a smell of fuel still hung in the air.

Scores of locals with jerrycans and buckets had been collecting gasoline that was gushing from the pipeline when the blast occurred on Friday, according to witnesses.

Video taken in the aftermath showed people fleeing the scene, screaming for help, as an enormous fire lit up the night sky in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo state, 65 miles (105 kilometres) north of Mexico City.

The tragedy comes as the federal government wages a highly publicized war on fuel theft, a problem that cost Mexico an estimated $3 billion in 2017.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador travelled to the scene in the early hours of Saturday.

AFP

Popular music producer and owner of Fresh FM, Mr Yinka Ayefele, has expressed gratitude to the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, for assisting in rebuilding his music house

Ayefele, who led top management of the radio station on what he called a `thank you’ visit to the governor, in his office on Wednesday, noted that the gesture brought joy back to his life.

The frontage of the building housing the radio station had been partially demolished by the state’s Physical and Urban Development Control in August 2018 for contravening physical planning and urban development laws.

The agency had justified its action on the initial refusal of the management of the building to rectify the infractions and its insistence on safeguarding lives and property of residents and commuters plying the area.

But following pleas by Ayefele, well-meaning Nigerians and the readiness of the management of the music house to comply with the restructuring model proposed by the agency, the matter was resolved with the intervention of the governor.

Aiyefele, who described Ajimobi as a listening father and good leader, said he had learnt lessons from the whole saga and appreciated the need for mutual understanding and cooperation between the government and citizens.

He said: “I have come here with my management team to say a big thank you to our father (Ajimobi), a good leader and someone who I will boldly describe as a good example to this generation for his large heart.

“I also want to thank all the people working with the governor, especially the committee that worked with our own management committee on the remodelling and reconstruction of the Music House for their exemplary conduct.

“God has wiped away my sorrow through you (governor). You have helped me personally in this matter, because I have been down, emotionally since the partial demolition of the building. I have learnt lessons from the incident. Now, the building has become a better edifice.

“On behalf of my family, my staff and all the good people that expressed concern when the incident occurred, I hereby express my profound gratitude to the governor for the kind gesture.”

As a mark of appreciation, Ayefele later presented a sketched portrait of the governor to him, while Ajimobi in turn, commended the musician for the bold step.

Speaking further, Ajimobi, noted that institutions and citizens must not forget the lessons in the whole matter.

He said, “It is the grace and mercy of God that have made it possible for us to be where we are today; to be able to contribute to the society. I must first admit that my brother, Aiyefele, has contributed and he is still contributing immensely to the society.

“As government, it is our duty to promote and enhance the safety, security and socio-economic interests of the citizens. As a government, these we have been doing since 2011. We have been promoting peace, security and the rule of law.

“I am glad at your initiative to come here to express gratitude; even the initiative you took initially, to come and discuss with the government when our agency insisted that the rules guiding the urban and physical development must be adhered to.

“We agreed on a damage control because laws had been broken already. It is gratifying that you came and agreed that you would comply with the laws. I must say that you played a major role as a good citizen to ensure that government’s goals and objectives were protected.

Source channels

“The Music House is no longer a death trap now. Those within the neighbourhood and commuters are no longer being obstructed from the traffic situation on adjoining roads. Those cursing me then, where are they now that we have corrected the contraventions?

“Citizens should know that government is for them and will always support them. But in doing this, they should also be prepared to obey the laws of the land because nobody is above the law.”

The governor prayed for the continuous success of Ayefele while also admonishing the media to guard against sensationalism and to be objective and factual by always establishing the veracity of their stories before publishing them

The wife of a Norwegian multi-millionaire missing for 10 weeks is believed to have been kidnapped and a large ransom has been demanded her release, local media reported on Wednesday

Married to a businessman who made his fortune in real estate and the energy sector, 68-year-old Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik disappeared on October 31, the Verdens Gang (VG) newspaper said.

A ransom demand for nine million euros ($10.3 million) in cryptocurrency has been issued for her release, VG said.

The kidnappers have threatened to use violence against her if her family does not meet their demands, Norway’s newspaper of reference Aftenposten said, adding that there had been limited contact with the suspects.

Events like this are extremely rare in the wealthy Scandinavian country, which enjoys a generally low crime rate.

Norwegian police confirmed that “a woman in her late 60s is believed to have been kidnapped from her home in Lorenskog”, around 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Oslo, but did not disclose her identity.

Police were scheduled to hold a press conference later Wednesday.

The missing woman’s husband, Tom Hagen, 68, is Norway’s 172nd richest man, according to the magazine Kapital, with an estimated fortune of 1.7 billion kroner (174 million euros, $200 million).

A real estate investor, he owns 70 percent of electricity company Elkraft which he co-founded in 1992, Norwegian media reported.

AFP

Here are the winners in key categories at the 76th Golden Globe Awards, which were handed out on Sunday in Beverly Hills

Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhaspody” pulled a major upset, taking home two top prizes — best drama film and best actor for Rami Malek, who played the band’s frontman Freddie Mercury.

Civil rights dramedy “Green Book” took home three prizes overall, and Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” won two Globes.

– FILM –

Best film, drama: “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Best film, musical or comedy: “Green Book”

Best actor, drama: Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Best actress, drama: Glenn Close, “The Wife”

Best actor, musical or comedy: Christian Bale, “Vice”

Best actress, musical or comedy: Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”

Best supporting actor: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Best supporting actress: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Best director: Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”

Best foreign language film: “Roma” (Mexico)

Best screenplay: “Green Book” — Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly

Best original song: “Shallow” (from “A Star Is Born”) — Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt

Best animated feature: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

– TELEVISION –

Best drama series: “The Americans” (FX)

Best drama actor: Richard Madden, “Bodyguard”

Best drama actress: Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”

Best musical or comedy series: “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)

Best musical or comedy actor: Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method”

Best musical or comedy actress: Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Best supporting actor (all categories): Ben Whishaw, “A Very English Scandal”

Best limited series or TV movie: “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)

Best limited series or TV movie actor: Darren Criss, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”

Best limited series or TV movie actress: Patricia Arquette, “Escape at Dannemora”

– FILMS WITH MULTIPLE WINS –

“Green Book” — 3

“Bohemian Rhapsody” — 2

“Roma” — 2

AFP

Nollywood actress Genevieve Nnaji recently celebrated 20 years in the industry.

The actress made the announcement on her Instagram page while reflecting on her achievements as a filmmaker.

“As 2018 comes to an end, I mark 20 years in the art of filmmaking.

“I’m grateful for my life, journey, and growth thus far.

“I’m happy I could celebrate with you through a product that embodied all of me, mentally and spiritually; for all of your pleasure

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Emmanuel Macron’s disgraced ex-bodyguard said he continued to exchange messages regularly with the French president even after he was forced out of his job in July over a scandal.

Alexandre Benalla caused the most damaging controversy of Macron’s presidency after he was caught on video roughing up protesters at a demonstration in May while wearing a police helmet.

And he was at the center of more embarrassing headlines for the embattled 41-year-old head of state last week when it emerged he had retained his diplomatic passports even after losing his job.

In an interview with investigative website Mediapart, Benalla said Sunday that he continued giving advice to Macron via the Telegram messaging app, which the president uses intensively.

“We exchange messages on lots of different subjects. It’s often like, ‘how do you see things’. It could be about the ‘yellow vests’, the views on someone or security issues,” Benalla said.

The 27-year-old former bouncer began working as a bodyguard for Macron during his campaign for the presidency in 2016 before being promoted to a senior security role in the presidential palace in May 2017.

Benalla’s role and the ties between the two men have been the focus of intense media scrutiny and the latest comments undermine efforts by Macron to distance himself publicly.

The French president is to give a televised New Year’s address later on Monday evening at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) — the same time as “yellow vest” protesters have called for a new demonstration on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

The protest movement, which swelled up from rural and small-town France in November, has waned in intensity in recent weeks after Macron announced a series of measures for low-income families.

Benalla admitted visiting around a dozen countries in recent months and he said he always gave an account of his trips to the president or his aides.

He met with Chad’s President Idriss Deby earlier in December, and Le Monde newspaper has reported that he held talks with the Republic of Congo’s President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, as well as top officials in Cameroon.

“I explain that I’ve seen so and so and what was said. Afterward they can do what they like with it,” Benalla told Mediapart.

He added, however, that since the revelations about his diplomatic passport emerged “the link has been cut” with the presidency.

Last Tuesday, the French presidency said that Benalla was “not an official or unofficial emissary”.

But Benalla denied suggestions from the foreign ministry that he had used his diplomatic passports illegally, something which prosecutors are now examining.

“If they don’t want me to use these passports, they could deactivate them,” he said.

“When you travel abroad with a diplomatic passport, the French embassy knows when you arrive,” he added.

AFP

With Christmas approaching, Nabil al-Aash dusts off religious books as he attempts to tidy up the war-scarred Saint George Church in the town of Arbin, northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus.

Retaken in the spring by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad during a brutal offensive to capture the rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta, Arbin is anything but festive.

Rubble from razed buildings spills out into deserted streets lined with burned-out cars and twisted scraps of metal. The town looks more apocalyptic than merry.

Arbin’s only church, Saint George’s flame-scorched walls and empty nave are a testament to the seven-year conflict that has left more than 360,000 people dead and displaced millions.

“There’s no celebration here. Christian homes are destroyed and their church is destroyed,” says Aash.

The restoration of the Greek Orthodox church, built in 1873, “will take a lot of time, money and effort”, he adds.

“There’s not a single icon left — all of them were either burned or stolen,” said the 55-year-old, approaching the altar.

“We also found broken crosses.”

Aash fled Arbin in 2012 as fighting engulfed the town, plagued afterwards for years by violence and a crippling siege imposed by Damascus.

But after regime forces retook the area, he decided to return home.

“I grew up in this church, I spent all of my Christmases here… it was once overflowing with joy,” he remembers.

“I almost collapsed when I saw it.”

For him, the festive spirit “won’t return until the residents and parishioners do”.

Contrast

After a blistering offensive backed by Russian air power, government forces in April retook Eastern Ghouta, a key rebel foothold at the gates of Damascus.

The military push and years of shelling flattened large swathes of the area and forced most of its pre-war population to flee.

Before the war, Arbin was home to some 3,000 Christian residents, according to Mayor Khalil Tohme.

But despite the return of relative calm to the capital and its surroundings, Arbin residents are still hesitant to come back.

“We are only five Christians who regularly visit the town, the others go from time to time… most of their homes are destroyed,” says Aash.

A few dozen meters away from the church, Joseph Hakimeh directs a worker on a ladder as he puts the final touches to a freshly painted wall of a restored home.

The contractor is getting ready to hand the keys back to the owner, and is working on three other homes in addition to his own.

“We’re preparing to return as soon as services and infrastructure are ready, but that needs time,” he says.

Sitting on a can of paint, the 39-year-old yearns for the way things once were.

“I hope that next year everything will return to the way it was before –– Christmas trees, decorations, carols and prayers,” he says.

The mood is gloomy is Arbin, but just a few kilometres away, bright coloured lights illuminate the streets of Damascus.

A giant tree decorates Abbasiyyin Square, long avoided due to its proximity to the frontline with the former rebel stronghold.

‘Roots’

Festive lights and garlands also decorate homes in the predominantly Christian neighbourhood of Kassaa in eastern Damascus.

But not everyone is in the Christmas spirit.

Since Riad Rajiha’s family arrived to the area after fleeing Arbin in 2012, they have not had the heart to celebrate.

“We left our Christmas tree behind, so we missed out on decorating,” says Rajiha, his eyes brimming with tears.

“What’s the meaning of decorating a tree in a house that’s not yours?”

Leafing through an old photo album, he revisits pictures of the Saint George Church in all its former glory.

Large chandeliers hang from its high ceilings, its wooden pews packed with parishioners.

“Our roots are there and our memories are there,” says the 66-year-old, who dreams of celebrating the holiday in Arbin with his grandchildren.

“I was born in Arbin, I lived in Arbin, and I hope to be die and be buried there.”

AFP

Penny Marshall, the star of ABC’s “Laverne and Shirley” who became one of the most successful female directors in history at the helm of “Big,” “A League of Their Own” and a string of other hit movies, has died. She was 75.

The filmmaker died peacefully in her Hollywood Hills on Monday due to complications from diabetes, her publicist told AFP.

Marshall’s “heartbroken” family described her as a “tomboy who loved sports, doing puzzles of any kind, drinking milk and Pepsi together and being with her family.”

“Big” star Tom Hanks, who has gone on to appear in a further 60-plus movies, winning two Oscars, led an outpouring of affection and sadness from Hollywood.

“Goodbye, Penny. Man, did we laugh a lot! Wish we still could. Love you. Hanx,” he tweeted.

There were message on social media from actors Mark Wahlberg, Bette Midler Billy Crystal, Viola Davis, George Takei, James Woods, Reese Witherspoon, William Shatner and Danny DeVito, as well as fellow directors Ron Howard and Kevin Smith.

Many of the tributes focused on Marshall’s unpretentiousness and easy humor, while others highlighted her iconic status among women aspiring to make their way in an industry geared toward men.

“Selma” director Ava DuVernay thanked Marshall for the “the trails you blazed,” while actor Josh Gad (“Frozen”) observed: “At a time when men dominated, #pennymarshall broke barriers as a director, giving us hit after hit.”

‘Born with a funnybone’

Born in New York’s Bronx borough, Marshall was the daughter of producer Tony Marshall and his tap dance teacher wife Marjorie, and a sister to legendary comedy director Garry Marshall (“Pretty Woman”), who died in 2016.

She made her name as Laverne DeFazio on the TV sitcom “Laverne and Shirley” (1976–1983), earning three Golden Globe nominations, before making her directorial debut with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (1986).

She is probably best known in the movie world for directing Hanks in his breakout role in “Big” (1988), which became the first film made by a woman to gross more than $100 million at the domestic box office.

She went on to direct Robert De Niro and Robin Williams in medical drama “Awakenings” (1990), which was nominated for a best picture Oscar, before helming “A League of Their Own” (1992), starring Hanks alongside Geena Davis and Madonna.

Fellow New Yorker and US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer remembered a woman who “made us all laugh… made us all cry.”

“She paved the way for so many women in television. And, she was in a league of her own,” he said, recalling one of Marshall’s best-loved movies.

Marshall had a short-lived marriage with a football player she met at university in Albuquerque, with whom she had a daughter. She was married to Hollywood actor and director Rob Reiner for a decade, from 1971.

“I loved Penny. I grew up with her. She was born with a great gift. She was born with a funnybone and the instinct of how to use it. I was very lucky to have lived with her and her funnybone. I will miss her,” Reiner said.

Marshall’s family described her as “a comedic natural with a photographic memory and an instinct for slapstick.”

“We hope her life continues to inspire others to spend time with family, work hard and make all of their dreams come true,” a statement read.

AFP