FILE PHOTO: Actor Lori Loughlin, and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, leave the federal courthouse after facing charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 3, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo
April 15, 2019
By Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) – Actress Lori Loughlin said on Monday she will plead not guilty to charges that she participated in what prosecutors say was the largest college admissions scandal uncovered in U.S. history.
Loughlin, who starred in the television sitcom, “Full House,” and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli filed papers in federal court in Boston seeking to waive their personal appearances at an arraignment hearing and have not guilty pleas entered on their behalf.
They are among 50 people accused of participating in a scheme that allowed wealthy parents to use cheating and bribes to help their children secure spots at universities like Yale, Georgetown and the University of Southern California (USC).
California college admissions adviser William “Rick” Singer has pleaded guilty to charges that he facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and bribed coaches at universities to falsely present the parents’ children as athletic recruits.
Loughlin, 54, and Giannulli agreed with Singer to pay $500,000 to have their two daughters named as recruits to USC’s crew team, prosecutors said, even though they did not row competitively, to help them gain admission.
The couple and several other parents were originally charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Prosecutors secured an indictment on April 9 that included an additional charge of conspiring to commit money laundering.
In all, 33 parents have been charged in the college admissions scandal. Of those, 14 have agreed to plead guilty, including “Desperate Housewives” TV star Felicity Huffman.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
FILE PHOTO: The Iron Throne is seen on the set of the television series Game of Thrones in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast, Northern Ireland, REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo
April 15, 2019
(Reuters) – Some HBO GO users were facing issues with the streaming service late on Sunday, according to outages monitoring website Downdetector.com, as the first episode of the much-anticipated final season of Game of Thrones was scheduled to air.
The website showed some users in the United States, Mexico and other parts of Latin America were experiencing issues.
“If you’re having difficulty accessing #HBOGO in Latin America, please connect to live chat at http://help.hbogola.com,” HBO GO posted on Twitter https://twitter.com/HBOGOhelp/status/1117585945514127360.
(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
A giant photograph of a boy by French photographer and artist JR is seen on a wall, during the 13th Havana Biennial, in Havana, Cuba April 12, 2019. REUTERS/Fernando Medina
April 15, 2019
By Sarah Marsh
HAVANA (Reuters) – Cones of white paper sprout from the seasalt-eroded pillars of one colonial building along Havana’s seafront, elaborately painted curtains cascade from another while out front children play with an installation of multicolored hoses.
Havana’s 13th Biennial kicked off this weekend with works by more than 300 contemporary artists from 52 countries taking over the city’s museums, galleries and open-air spaces, and many more collateral exhibits.
“They turned my home into an artwork,” said Silvia Perez, smiling at the paper sprouting from the colonnade of her home, a piece by Cuban artist Elio Jesús Fonseca. “The artist said it meant peace.”
The transformation of the Malecon seafront boulevard into an open-air, interactive gallery, has become one of the most popular venues of Cuba’s most important arts event.
Along the sidewalk this year are smooth boulders encased in volcanic slabs by Mexican artist Jose Davila, while a swirling light installation by Peruvian artist Grimanesa Amoros protudes from a building.
Cuba’s Communist government, which has heavily promoted the arts since the country’s 1959 leftist revolution, created the Havana Biennial in 1984 to promote artists from the developing world, especially Cuban ones.
This year, 80 Cubans will exhibit their work, including a performance on Monday by Manuel Mendive, considered the Caribbean island’s top living artist.
Still, it also includes a large contingent of European and U.S. artists including Cuban-Americans like Enrique Martínez Celaya and Emilio Perez.
Biennial Director Jorge Alfonso said it had been a challenge to stage the biennial given Cuba’s difficult economic situation – authorities postponed it half a year – but that it had succeeded underscored the importance Cuba placed on culture.
“Not even in the most difficult moments have we ever given up on staging one of these kind of events,” he told Reuters.
“The slogan of this year’s edition, ‘the construction of the possible’, is related to our ideal that a better world is possible.”
Some artists who are critical of the government however have subverted that slogan.
In one piece on the Malecon called “Potemkin Village”, Cuban-born artist Juan Andres Milanes Benito who lives in Norway has propped what appears to be the perfect facade of a building on another that is falling into disrepair.
“It fits a lot with the Cuban government these days and how the system is working – there is a lot of facade,” he said. “Inside it is not so perfect.”
Originally he had wanted to replicate the facade of a renovated government building but authorities would not allow him, he said.
Some Cuban artists feel the Havana Biennial itself is a facade papering over simmering tensions between them and authorities.
Artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, who led a campaign against a controversial new decree on the cultural sector last year, was arrested last Friday after staging a small yet politically charged performance in his neighborhood.
His whereabouts remain unknown, his friends say. Asked by Reuters about the arrest in a news conference, the head of Cuba’s National Council of Visual Arts, Norma Rodriguez, said “as far as I know he is an activist not an artist”.
Cuba considers dissidents to be mercenaries in the pay of the United States trying to subvert the government.
The Havana Biennial runs until May 12.
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
FILE PHOTO: Characters of Star Wars take part in an event held for the release of the film “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in Disneyland Paris in Marne-la-Vallee, France, December 17, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
April 12, 2019
CHICAGO (Reuters) – The ninth installment of the original “Star Wars” film saga will be called “The Rise of Skywalker” and will see the return of the evil emperor Palpatine to threaten the young heroine Rey, Walt Disney Co revealed on Friday.
Disney showed fans at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago the first footage from the movie, which will be released in theaters in December.
A villainous cackle was heard at the end of the trailer, and the actor who played Palpatine in previous films, Ian McDiarmid, walked on stage to loud applause.
Director J.J. Abrams said the movie takes place some time after the events of 2017 film “The Last Jedi.”
(Reporting by Bob Chiarito and Lisa Richwine; Editing by David Gregorio)
Burt Reynolds stands next to a 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, which was the last Trans Am owned and driven by Reynolds, in this Julien’s Auctions photo, released from Culver City, California, U.S., on April 11, 2019. Courtesy Julien’s Auctions/Handout via REUTERS
April 12, 2019
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – One of Burt Reynolds’ favorite cars is going up for auction in June along with some of his cowboy boots, hats, sports jackets and other items from his estate, Julien’s Auctions said on Friday.
The two-day auction in Beverly Hills, authorized by the actor’s family, comes almost a year after the death at age 82 of the charming star who was one of Hollywood’s favorite actors.
The highlight of the auction is a 1979 Pontiac Trans Am car that Reynolds used on photo shoots and drove on the Bandit Run cross country rally, which re-enacts the journey at the center of his 1977 film “Smokey and the Bandit.”
The car, which Reynolds co-owned with his business partner Gene Kennedy, is expected to fetch up to $500,000 at auction, Julien’s said in a statement.
Two pairs of leather cowboy boots – one red and one yellow – are also offered for sale with estimates ranging from $800 to $2,000 a pair, along with two cowboy hats.
Reynolds started out as a football player at Florida State University (FSU) before injuries suffered in a car crash wrecked his hopes of a professional career.
But his attachment to FSU remained strong. The auction includes several custom or personalized FSU baseball, basketball and varsity jackets.
Other highlights include an oil on canvas painting of the actor’s favorite horse titled “Cartouche,” which carries an estimate of $20,000 – $30,000. Other art works, furniture and dozens of personal items are also being offered for sale.
The auction will take place in Beverly Hills on June 15 and 16, and will be preceded by a public exhibition of some of the items from June 10-14.
Reynolds, who was also known for the 1960s television series “Gunsmoke” and the movies “Deliverance” and “Boogie Nights,”” died of a heart attack in Florida in September 2018.
(The story was refiled to correct the name of the auction house in paragraphs one and four)
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
FILE PHOTO: The Iron Throne is seen on the set of the television series Game of Thrones in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Picture taken June 24, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo
April 12, 2019
MUNICH (Reuters) – If you are a “Games of Thrones” fan and appreciate the element of surprise, stop reading now.
Students at the Technical University of Munich have developed an application to predict which character has the best chance to claim the coveted Iron Throne in the HBO hit medieval fantasy series about warring families.
They have taught the application to scour the web for information about each of the characters, which is then processed by artificial intelligence algorithms to assess their survival chances.
“We scraped the results from different Wiki pages and Wiki-like pages about the books and TV show and we took out data like gender and age of the characters,” said student Christian Dallago. “We put all this together to train the algorithm to tell us when this character is going to die.”
There is a good chance the application will get it right.
Back in 2016, an algorithm created by computer science students at the same university in the southern German city shortly before the start of Season 6 accurately predicted that Jon Snow would resurrect.
If you’re still reading, clearly you’re not a fan of plot twists and turns.
So here you go: AI says that Daenerys Targaryen has the best chance of survival in the final season, which starts on Sunday.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Alison Williams)
FILE PHOTO: Merchandising products are pictured at the PUBG Global Invitational 2018, the first official esports tournament for the computer game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in Berlin, Germany, July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
April 11, 2019
By Gopal Sharma
KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Nepal on Thursday banned the popular online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), saying its violent content had a negative impact on children, an official said.
“We have ordered the ban on PUBG because it is addictive to children and teenagers,” Sandip Adhikari, deputy director at Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), the nation’s telecoms regulator, told Reuters.
The ban comes into effect from Thursday, he said.
Following a request from the Himalayan nation’s federal investigation authority, the regulator directed all internet service providers, mobile operators and network service providers to block streaming of the game from Thursday onwards, Adhikari said.
PUBG, made by South Korean firm Bluehole Inc, is a survival-themed battle game that drops dozens of online players on an island to try and eliminate each other.
It was launched in 2017 and has a huge global following.
Adhikari said so far there had been no reports of any incidents linked to the game. But he said parents were concerned about their children being distracted from their studies or other normal routine work.
(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
Mourners begin to arrive at Staples Center ahead of a memorial for rapper Nipsey Hussle in Los Angeles, California, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
April 11, 2019
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Thousands of people streamed into a public memorial in Los Angeles on Thursday for slain rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was gunned down in the city last month.
Free tickets were all snapped up this week for the two-hour event at the 21,000-capacity Staples Center, a popular sports and pop concert venue. Performers have not been announced.
Fans, many wearing T-shirts bearing Hussle’s face, or carrying flowers, lined up early to get into the Downtown venue, watched by dozens of police in cars, on motorcycles and on bicycles.
The memorial will be livestreamed on Black Entertainment Television (BET) and followed by a 25-mile long procession through the streets of south Los Angeles where the musician was raised and shot dead on March 31.
Security was tight in and around the Staples Center because of Hussle’s former connections with some of Los Angeles notorious street gangs. A stampede erupted at a local vigil for Hussle last week after reports of a gunman in the crowd.
More recently Hussle, 33, had parlayed his fame into a role as a community organizer and activist combating gang violence. He was shot outside a clothing store he owned in south Los Angeles.
Los Angeles police last week arrested a 29-year-old man who has pleaded not guilty to murder charges. Police said the shooting was motivated by a personal dispute between Hussle and the suspect, Eric Ronald Holder, although they said it took place against a surge in gang-related violence and shootings in south Los Angeles in March.
Hussle, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom, was Grammy-nominated earlier this year for his debut studio album “Victory Lap.”
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Richard Chang)