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Cardi B pleads not guilty to assault

Cardi B has pleaded not guilty to assault following a fight at a New York strip club last year.

The rapper and two members of her team have been charged with 12 crimes each including assault, harassment and conspiracy.

Cardi, real name Belcalis Almanzar, is accused of ordering attacks on two bartenders on separate occasions.

She and her co-defendants should return to court in September. If convicted they face up to four years in prison.

Cardi B turned herself into police last October following the alleged assaults, which took place at the Angels Gentleman’s Club in Queens.

The bartenders who say they were attacked claim Cardi and her entourage threw glass bottles and alcohol at them, and one woman’s head was slammed into the bar.

The alleged victims are sisters, and the incidents were reportedly triggered after Cardi accused one of them of sleeping with her husband Offset.

Tawana “RemyRojaLaPerla” Jackson-Morel, 36, and Jeffrey “AstonMartinChuck” Bush, 34, are Cardi’s co-defendants.

Bush is accused of filming an attack by a woman who hasn’t been arrested or charged, on 15 August, as well as using his body to make sure nobody could intervene.

According to the acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan, Cardi and Jackson-Morel coordinated the day, time, location and victims of both attacks over a social media platform.

They also allegedly discussed money being exchanged for carrying out the assault.

All three defendants returned to the strip club on 29 August, according to the prosecutors, and attacked the sister of the previous alleged victim.

Jackson-Morel allegedly threw a cocktail into the 23-year-old woman’s face and Bush and Cardi B, as well as “several unapprehended others,” also threw drinks, glass bottles and various objects at the bartender, according to DA Ryan.

The victim suffered from “lacerations to her legs, bruising to her feet and the alcohol thrown in her face irritated her eyes,” the prosecutors say.

Cardi B rejected a plea deal in April which would have seen her given a conditional discharge – escaping a prison sentence unless she committed a further offense.

But her lawyer is confident she’ll be cleared.

“The rest of the defence team and most importantly our client know that through this system, ultimately there will be a favourable outcome in favour of Cardi,” Drew Findling said.

Cardi B’s not guilty plea comes a few days after she won best album and best female artist at the BET Awards, which follows on from winning best rap album at the Grammys earlier this year.

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Photo of drowned father and daughter highlights migrants' perils

The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Ramírez and his nearly two-year-old daughter Valeria was found on the bank of the Rio Grande [Julia Le Duc/The Associated Press]

The man and his 23-month-old daughter lay face down in shallow water along the bank of the Rio Grande, his black shirt hiked up to his chest with the girl tucked inside. Her arm was draped around his neck suggesting she clung to him in her final moments.

The searing photograph of the sad discovery of their bodies on Monday, captured by journalist Julia Le Duc and published by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, highlights the perils faced by mostly Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty and hoping for asylum in the United States.

According to Le Duc’s reporting for La Jornada, Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to US authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria.

I begged them not to go, but he wanted to scrape together money to build a home

He set her on the US bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away.

The account was based on remarks by Ávalos to police at the scene – “amid tears” and “screams” – Le Duc told The Associated Press.

Details of the incident were confirmed on Tuesday by a Tamaulipas government official who was not authorised to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, and by Martínez’s mother back in El Salvador, Rosa Ramírez, who spoke with her daughter-in-law by phone afterward.

Deadly border crossing

“When the girl jumped in is when he tried to reach her, but when he tried to grab the girl, he went in further … and he couldn’t get out,” Ramírez told AP. “He put her in his shirt, and I imagine he told himself, ‘I’ve come this far’ and decided to go with her.”

From the scorching Sonoran Desert to the fast-moving Rio Grande, the 3,200km US-Mexico border has long been an at times deadly crossing between ports of entry. A total of 283 migrant deaths were recorded last year; the toll so far this year has not been released.

In recent weeks alone, two babies, a toddler and a woman were found dead on Sunday, overcome by the sweltering heat; elsewhere three children and an adult from Honduras died in April after their raft capsized on the Rio Grande; and a 6-year-old from India was found dead earlier this month in Arizona, where temperatures routinely soar well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The search for Martínez and his daughter was suspended on Sunday due to darkness, and their bodies were discovered the next morning near Matamoros, Mexico, across from Brownsville, Texas, several hundred metres from where they had tried to cross and just a kilometer from an international bridge.

Tamaulipas immigration and civil defence officials have toured shelters beginning weeks ago to warn against attempting to cross the river, said to be swollen with water released from dams for irrigation. On the surface, the Rio Grande appears placid, but strong currents run beneath.

Ramírez said her son and his family left El Salvador on April 3 and spent about two months at a shelter in Tapachula, near Mexico’s border with Guatemala.

“I begged them not to go, but he wanted to scrape together money to build a home,” Ramírez said. “They hoped to be there a few years and save up for the house.”

El Salvador’s foreign ministry said it was working to assist the family including Ávalos, who was at a border migrant shelter following the drownings.

The bodies were expected to be flown to El Salvador on Thursday.

Comparison to Syrian boy

The photo recalls the 2015 image of a three-year-old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, who drowned in the Mediterranean near Turkey, though it remains to be seen whether it may have the same impact in focusing international attention on migration to the US.

“Very regrettable that this would happen,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday in response to a question about the photograph.

“We have always denounced that as there is more rejection in the United States, there are people who lose their lives in the desert or crossing” the river.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

US “metering” policy has dramatically reduced the number of migrants who are allowed to request asylum, down from dozens per day previously to sometimes just a handful at some ports of entry.

The Tamaulipas government official said the family arrived in Matamoros early on Sunday and went to the US Consulate to try to get a date to request asylum. The mother is 21 years old and the father was 25, he added.

But waits are long there as elsewhere along the border – last week a shelter director said only about 40 to 45 asylum interviews were being conducted in Matamoros each week, while somewhere in the neighborhood of 800-1,700 names were on a waiting list.

It’s not clear what happened to the family at the US Consulate, but later in the day they made the decision to cross. The Tamaulipas official said the father and daughter set off from a small park that abuts the river.

Civil defence officials arrived at the scene at 7pm on Sunday and later took the wife to the shelter.

“I was drawn to the girl’s arm on her father,” Le Duc said as she described arriving at the scene. “It was something that moved me in the extreme because it reflects that until her last breath, she was joined to him not only by the shirt but also in that embrace in which they passed together into death.”

“It’s a horrifying image,” Maureen Meyer, a specialist on immigration at the Washington Office on Latin America, which advocates for human rights in the region, said of the photograph.

“And I think it speaks so clearly to the real risks of these US programmes that are either returning people back to Mexico seeking asylum or in this case limiting how many people can enter the US every day.”

The United States has also been expanding its programme under which asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their claims are processed in US courts, a wait that could last many months or even years.

This week Nuevo Laredo in Tamaulipas, the same state where Matamoros is located, said it will become the latest city to receive returnees as soon as Friday.

Many migrant shelters are overflowing on the Mexican side, and cartels hold sway over much of Tamaulipas and have been known to kidnap and kill migrants.

Meanwhile, Mexico is stepping up its own crackdown on immigration in response to US pressure, with much of the focus on slowing the flow in the country’s south.

Source: Aljazeera

Michelle Obama and Stephen Fry help drive audiobook boom

Money spent on audiobooks in the UK almost doubled in 2018, helped by the likes of Michelle Obama, Mel B and Stephen Fry.

Figures from The Publishers Association show audiobook sales were worth £69m, up by 43% on the previous year.

The top title with online book library Audible was Becoming by former US First Lady Michelle Obama.

Elsewhere, digital book sales rose by 3% in 2018, while physical sales were down by 5%.

The latter bucks a three-year trend for physical books being on the rise. Digital growth, however, has driven the UK publishing industry to a total value of £6bn.

Talking titles by Adam Kay, Heather Morris, Anna Burns and Lily Allen came next in the 2018 Audible chart.

Publishers Association chief executive Stephen Lotinga said “investment in digital is paying off and driving growth”.

He added: “Audiobooks have grown phenomenally, as ever-increasing numbers of people opt to enjoy books in a way that suits new technologies and keeps pace with our busy lives.”

Mr Lotinga also urged the government “to act now to axe the unfair reading tax”, noting online titles have 20% VAT added, while their print equivalents do not.

And he warned against the “continuing squeeze on school budgets”, which he said had seen sales of school textbooks sales “take a hit” because “teachers simply can’t afford the learning resources children need”.

Sheryl Crow: Universal Studios fire destroyed all my master tapes

Sheryl Crow says the original tapes of albums including Tuesday Night Music Club and The Globe Sessions went up in flames in a fire at Universal Studios.

The singer told the BBC “all her masters” were destroyed when an archive in Los Angeles burnt down in 2008.

She only discovered the loss this month, after her name was mentioned in a New York Times report that uncovered the extent of the damage.

“It absolutely grieves me,” said Crow. “It feels a little apocalyptic.

“I can’t understand, first and foremost, how you could store anything in a vault that didn’t have sprinklers.

“And secondly, I can’t understand how you could make safeties [back-up copies] and have them in the same vault. I mean, what’s the point?

“And thirdly, I can’t understand how it’s been 11 years,” she added. “I mean, I don’t understand the cover-up.”

Crow, who had seven US top 10 albums between 1995 and 2008, is the first artist to confirm the loss of their recordings since the New York Times’ investigation was published two weeks ago.

It detailed how the fire, which was started by overnight maintenance work, had destroyed thousands of master tapes – the original recordings from which albums and singles are made – by some of the most famous names in music history, from Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Chuck Berry to Janet Jackson, Nirvana and Eminem.

It feels a little apocalyptic. It feels like we’re slowly erasing things that matter.

Although the fire was widely reported at the time, Universal Music downplayed the damage to its archives, saying many of the affected tapes had duplicates in separate storage facilities.

The company also disputed the New York Times’ investigation, citing unspecified “factual inaccuracies” in the reporting.

Their head archivist, Patrick Kraus, later said the extent of the losses had been “overstated”.

“Many of the masters that were highlighted [in the report] as destroyed, we actually have in our archives,” he told Billboard magazine.

But Crow, whose biggest hits include All I Wanna Do and If It Makes You Happy, confirmed her tapes had perished, taking with them dozens of alternate takes, demos and unreleased songs.

“There are many songs on my masters that haven’t come out,” she said. “My peace of mind in knowing I could come back someday and listen to them and mine those [sessions] for basement tapes and outtakes, are gone.

“But what grieves me more than any of that is the fact that Buddy Holly and Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington – all this important music has been erased.

“And it’s not just the music, it’s the dialogue between the music, it’s the takes that didn’t make it, it’s the versions we’ll never hear.

“It feels a little apocalyptic. Not to go down a weird path – but it feels like we’re slowly erasing things that matter.”

Legal action

A group of high-profile pop musicians are currently suing Universal Music for $100m (£78m) over the loss of their master recordings.

The case was filed last week in Los Angeles by the rock bands Soundgarden and Hole, singer-songwriter Steve Earle, the estate of Tupac Shakur and a former wife of Tom Petty – who accuse Universal of breaching its contracts with artists by failing to properly protect their tapes.

They are seeking class action status, which means other affected artists will be able to join the case at a later date.

Crow, who is not currently taking legal action, was speaking to BBC News ahead of her appearance at the Glastonbury Festival this weekend.

It’s her first return to Worthy Farm since 1997 – the infamous “year of the mud”, when torrential rain caused the Other Stage to start to sink into the ground.

The star recalled arriving on site at 6:30 in the morning after driving through the night, “and just stepping into knee-deep mud”.

She laughed: “It was like, ‘Welcome to Glastonbury!’

“It was a great show, though. That’s the thing I remember about it the most. People were covered in mud. Lots of rain slickers and just a great line-up. I remember waiting for Van Morrison to come out, and I remember seeing Beck. Just a great day.”

This time around, the singer will arrive prepared.

“As soon as I’m done here, I’m getting ready to go and find some wellies,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

Super Eagles Call Off Bonus Strike, Ready For Guinea Test

The Super Eagles on Tuesday suspended a training strike over unpaid bonuses at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt following last-minute pleas by the country’s football officials.

The team finally agreed to train in Alexandria, 30 minutes after schedule, after the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) promised to pay a win bonus from their 1-0 victory over Burundi on Saturday, by the end of the week.

NFF spokesman Ademola Olajire told AFP “the matter has been resolved”, conceding that funds for the tournament had arrived late.

“The NFF received part of the money meant for the tournament today and is in the process of converting it to dollars to pay the players and officials”, he said.

“The only money they’re owed is the win-bonus for the Burundi match”, he added.

The bonuses were expected to be paid by the NFF after Saturday’s game ended.

Officials close to the team, who spoke under anonymity, told AFP that following reassurances from the NFF “the team captain spoke to the players, asking them to show some understanding after which the team agreed to train”.

The players had earlier boycotted the official pre-match conference.

Other NFF officials disclosed that the players have been paid a daily training allowance of $200-a-player from June 2 to June 30.

Nigeria’s top football body — cash strapped and besieged by corruption trials against its top officials — have struggled to pay athletes their bonuses and allowances at several tournaments.

Source: Complete Sports

Emir Sanusi bombs Buhari, says Nigeria bankrupt through his bad economic policies

Controversial Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi 11 has stirred the hornet’s nest again by calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to remove fuel subsidy to avoid the country going bankrupt.

Emir Sanusi who is well known for his acidic comments on national issues declared the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s economic policies as unfavourable, adding that Nigeria is on the threshold of bankruptcy.

He identified the bad economic policies of the Buhari administration to include subsidizing petroleum products, electricity tariffs and using 70 percent of the country’s revenue to service debt.

Emir Sanusi, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), made these revelations at the ongoing 3rd National Treasury Workshop organized by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation at Coronation Hall, Government House, Kano.

He advised Buhari to cancel subsidy in petroleum subsidy and electricity tariffs if the economy must stabilize.

“The country is Bankrupt and we are heading to bankruptcy. What happened is that the Federal Government do pay petroleum subsidy, pay electricity tariff subsidy, and if there is rise in interest rates, Federal Government pays.

“What is more life-threatening than subsidy that we have to sacrifice education, health sector and infrastructure for us to have cheap petroleum.

“If truly President Buhari is fighting poverty, he should remove the risk on the national financial sector and stop the subsidy regime which is fraudulent.”

He challenged President Buhari to tell Nigerians the fact about the economic situation and also act quickly on it because the nation is already bankrupt.

“Since I have decided to come here, you have to accept what I have said here. And please, if you do not want to hear the truth, never invite me.

“So let us talk about the state of public finance in Nigeria. We have a number of very difficult decisions that we must make, and we should face the reality. His Excellency, the President said in his inaugural speech that his government would like to lift 100 million people out of poverty, it was a speech that was well received not only in this country, but world-wide.

“The number of people living with poverty in Nigeria are frightening. By 2050, 85 percent of those living in extreme poverty in the world will be from the African continent. And Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo will take the lead.

“Two days ago, I read that the percentage of government revenue going to debt services has risen to 70 percent.

”These numbers are not lying. They are public numbers. I read them in the newspapers. When you are spending 70 percent of your revenue on debt services, then you are managing 30 percent.

“And then, you continue subsidizing petroleum products; and spending N1.5 trillion per annum on petroleum subsidy! And then we are subsidizing electricity tariff. And maybe, you have to borrow from the capital market or the Central Bank of Nigeria to service the shortfall in the electricity tariff, where is the money to pay salaries, where is the money for education, where are other government projects.

Sanusi lamented that for 30 years, successive governments have had this project called petroleum subsidy, insisting that this is the right time to stop it so as to save the nation’s economy.

Source: PM News