While some of her fellow Democrats were questioning the credibility of Attorney General William Barr over his handling of the Robert Mueller report, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., took that criticism to another level.
The California Democrat trashed the attorney general Wednesday night on the eve of Special Counsel Mueller’s report being released to the public, calling Barr “a lackey and a sycophant” for President Trump.
“I never expected Barr to do anything that would be respectful to the members of Congress or to include us in any real way,” she told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, joining colleagues fuming over the decision by Barr to hold a press conference before releasing a redacted version of the report.
“He has proven himself. He auditioned for this job. He was chosen to protect the president of the United States and that’s exactly what he’s doing. I’m not surprised.”
She continued, blasting Barr as “basically a lackey and a sycophant for the president of the United States of America.”
The comments come after Waters attacked Barr during a speech earlier this month.
“I know that you are all worried about the special counsel and the fact that we have a report that has been described to us in a letter by the attorney general. We don’t know what’s in the report yet, and we’re going to demand it,” she said at a Woman’s National Democratic Club dinner.
In the same speech, the California Democrat said of Trump, “certainly, he conspired with the Kremlin and with the oligarchs of Russia.”
Barr’s summary of the report, though, said Mueller found no evidence of collusion.
Nearly two years of fevered speculation surrounding the Russia probe, though, will come to a head in a dramatic television finale-like moment on Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET, when Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are set to hold a press conference to discuss the Mueller report’s public release.
It was not immediately clear exactly when on Thursday the DOJ would release the redacted version of the nearly 400-page investigation into Russian election meddling, but the document was expected to be delivered to lawmakers and posted online by noon.
Barr has said redactions in the report’s release are legally mandated.to protect four broad areas of concern: sensitive grand jury-related matters, classified information, ongoing investigations and the privacy or reputation of uncharged “peripheral” people.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, has said he is prepared to issue subpoenas “very quickly” for the full report if it is released with blacked-out sections, likely setting in motion a major legal battle.
Source: Fox News Politics
Well, that didn’t last.
Cher called President Trump an “ignorant thug” with a “lizard brain that guarantees his survival above all else” Monday in an attempt to reject praise from the president on her Twitter post in which she implied Los Angeles is overlooking homeless veterans to handle immigration issues.
The 72-year-old pop culture icon and Los Angeles native clarified that she does not agree with Trump’s immigration policies, but that she instead, agrees that Democrats “still don’t get it” and that Trump is “playing butcher your enemies” and “create constant mayhem” in the realm of politics.
“I Understand Helping struggling Immigrants,but MY CITY (Los Angeles) ISNT TAKING CARE OF ITS OWN.WHAT ABOUT THE 50,000+Citizens WHO LIVE ON THE STREETS.PPL WHO LIVE BELOW POVERTY LINE,& HUNGRY? If My State Can’t Take Care of Its Own(Many Are VETS)How Can it Take Care Of More,” Cher wrote Sunday afternoon.
Trump responded to the Tweet, saying “I finally agree with @cher.” The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., also reposted Cher’s tweet to his Instagram account, writing: “Welcome to the Republican Party Cher!!!”
California is home to the highest number of homeless veterans, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Los Angeles has the second largest homeless population in the nation, just below that of New York City.
Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Former reality TV private investigator Vincent Parco was in a New York courtroom on Monday facing charges that he hatched a plan to scare a sexual-assault victim from taking the stand against his client, a now-convicted pedophile.
Parco was charged with unlawful surveillance, promoting prostitution and tampering with a witness.
The “Parco P.I.” star, his client Samuel Israel, 45, and ex-associate Tanya Freudenthaler, are accused of trying to silence the woman into not cooperating in the prosecution of Israel by blackmailing her family.
Israel, who pleaded guilty to charges of criminal sex act and witness tampering, was sentenced in October to 8 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old family member for 6 years. During his trial, he also confessed to hiring Parco, the 69-year-old mustachioed Court TV private eye, to terrorize the woman so she wouldn’t testify against him.
Israel said he paid Parco $17,000 to set up and record a relative of the victim with prostitutes.
Prosecutors say Parco and Freudenthaler lured a family member of the victim to a hotel room in Sunset Park on Dec. 17, 2016, where she and Parco had installed video recording equipment. They also hired a prostitute who they tried to record having sex with the family member but the equipment malfunctioned. Two days later, Freudenthaler set up another meeting – this time with two prostitutes. The family member was secretly recorded with both women.
Prosecutors say on January 17, 2017, the family member who was recorded at the hotel was “approached by a stranger wearing a scarf who showed him a cell phone video of the hotel encounter and stated: ‘Be smart. Stop making trouble.'”
Instead of backing down, the family member reported the incident to the district attorney’s office.
As this was playing out, Israel’s court case was proceeding and a trial date was set for June 26, 2017.
“On June 22, 2017, a stranger approached another member of the victim’s family and showed that person a cell phone containing video from the hotel,” prosecutors said.
Soon after, a third person contacted the family member and allegedly “offered to act as a mediator” and said he would get the incriminating video from Israel, destroy it and “obtain a statement from Israel admitting to his crimes as ‘insurance’ in the event the video gets released” but warned the family member not to go to the police.
The family member almost immediately reported the incident to the authorities.
The District Attorney’s office issued search warrants and the steamy video was found on Parco’s computer.
Source: Fox News National
Orange might not be the new black after all.
The powers-that-be were apparently paying attention earlier this week when Emma Coronel Aispuro, the 29-year-old beauty queen wife of convicted drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman said her husband – from behind bars – had handed over the rights to his infamous name and provided his signature for a new company — El Chapo Guzman: JGL LLC.
But Coronel soon discovered it’s not quite that easy to make money off the name of a convicted drug trafficker (who also dabbled in mass murder and money laundering).
Authorities are fighting back, frustrating Coronel’s efforts to register Chapo’s name as a trademark and charging that Coronel’s business glorifying the cartel kingpin “violates public order, morality and good manners,” according to the Associated Press.
Mariel Colon, a legal representative for Chapo, had confirmed to Fox News that production was in process and the line – likely to be comprised of caps and jackets bearing the former Sinaloa cartel kingpin’s name – would hopefully hit store shelves by summer.
“This company was formed here in New York. Emma is the president of this LLC,” Colon said, stressing that Guzman himself wouldn’t make a dime and his name is not listed on the LLC.
A lawyer for Guzman and Coronel did not immediately respond to a comment request regarding the pushback from officials on Friday.
Coronel has been married to Guzman for 11 years and shares two 7-year-old twins with the drug kingpin, who was convicted in February on drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms possession charges. Her husband was found guilty of conspiring to smuggle large volumes of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine into the United States and will likely spend the rest of his life in prison (unless he breaks out — which he’s done several times before).
Coronel had taken to her Instagram account to promote the clothing line, boasting it would promote both her husband’s style and her own. The former beauty queen, who previously shared poolside bikini pics and showed off a lavish lifestyle as her husband awaited his trial in New York, suddenly swapped her more curve-hugging designer duds for conservative blouses and streamlined black suits, for courthouse appearances, where she became a paparazzi staple throughout the lengthy trial.
But whether or not she will go on to make a buck with a line in homage to her husband, remains to be seen.
Danielle Wallace and the Associated Press contributed to this report
Source: Fox News National
Police groups from in and around Chicago called Thursday for Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx to step down, saying at a news conference they no longer had confidence in her ability to competently execute her duties in office.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and associations of police chiefs throughout Cook County voted to call for Foxx to resign, but they cautioned it was not only due to the Jussie Smollett case that has rocked the Windy City.
“This is not just about the Jussie Smollett case, which undermined the public confidence and law enforcement’s faith in Cook County criminal justice system…this is about many cases that have gone un-prosecuted or had charges reduced, especially assaults against police officers,” said Chicago FOP President Kevin Graham.
The FOP has requested a federal investigation into her conduct, Graham added.
Speaking to reporters, Graham cited the murder of an off-duty Chicago police officer, John Rivera, 23, last week in the city’s River North neighborhood.
“The persons that were involved in that case, one of them should have been in jail at the time he [Rivera] was murdered, but because the charges were reduced, he was out on the street and murdered a Chicago police officer,” Graham said.
But the kickstart for the movement to remove Foxx, who took office in 2016, began when her office dropped 16 felony counts of filing a false police report for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollet in an otherwise opaque and questionable proceeding. The move outraged Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson and then-Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, who called it “a whitewash of justice.”
The “Empire” actor was accused of faking a racist, anti-gay attack on himself. He agreed to let the city keep his $10,000 bail. Smollett maintains his innocence and insists he was attacked.
The calls for Foxx’s resignation came on the same day Smollett was to pay more than $130,000 to Chicago for costs the city incurred investigating his allegedly staged hoax. Smollet had seven days to pay back the city, per a letter delivered to his legal team from city police officials.
An internal email obtained by Fox News from Foxx’s office asked assistant state’s attorneys to dig for any examples to bolster her claim that the dropped charges were not uncommon or unique.
Other groups have echoed the police frustrations. The Illinois Prosecutor’s Bar Association called the manner in which the Smollet case was handled “abnormal and unfamiliar.”
The appearance of alleged impropriety is compounded by the fact that this case was not on the regularly scheduled court call, the public had no reasonable notice or opportunity to view these proceedings, and the dismissal was done abruptly at what has been called an “emergency” hearing,” an IPBA statement read.
Foxx has defended her decision and has not indicated she has any intention of resigning.
Brendan Shiller, a Chicago lawyer supportive of Foxx but not representing her, told Fox News, “They are using the Jussie Smollet case as a thin veil to protest the Cook County State’s Attorney’s criminal justice reform, and as an excuse to push a racist agenda of locking up black and brown people for even the most minimalist of crimes.”
He defended her record amid the torrent of protest and rancor from the police community.
“Since Foxx took office, violent crime in the County is down in part because her office is focusing on violent crime and resolutions that are alternative to incarceration–but law enforcement homicide clearance rates are still abysmal, because a large portion of law enforcement cares more about locking up black men than they care about solving violent crimes,” Shiller said.
Fox News’ Matt Finn in Chicago contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News National
Mehdi Rajabian, 29, is on temporary bail from the brutality that lurks behind the walls of Tehran’s notorious Evin prison – but he wants the world to know the oppression and fear he and many more face at every moment under the iron thumb of the regime.
His crime? A childhood love of music.
“I was born in a small province in Iran. I was always passionate about music, I would drown in the imagination of color and fairytale while listening to music,” Rajabian told Fox News from Iran, which he is forbidden to leave. “This childish, visual view of music made me see it as a means to carry an artistic message.”
But that view would one day see him thrown behind bars in one of the world’s worst prisons.
His trouble began in 2013 after he and his older brother, Hossein, were investigated and detained by authorities for “spreading corruption” after their participation in Iran’s fabled underground music scene, and working with women.
“Women in Iran can’t perform as solo vocalists, it is forbidden. And it is forbidden to show musical instruments on national television,” Rajabian pointed out. “We are creating music in such hardships, where music can be counted as a felony. One must learn and play music in such situations.”
Then, in June 2015, Rajabian and Hossein, a then 31-year-old filmmaker, were again arrested found guilty of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “insulting the sacred.” He was cautioned never again to participate in the music industry.
After months of solitary confinement, then being moved around to cells with an array of Somali pirates and drug dealers, the brothers embarked on lengthy hunger strikes to challenge their situation.
“Solitary confinement kills one’s soul, and the hunger strike kills one’s body, which I experienced both. I went on two separate hunger strikes, the last one lasted for more than a month where I lost 33 pounds, and my body suffered damage of which I’m still trying to cure,” Rajabian recalled. “The damage was more mental. The only thing that motivated me to keep fighting was the fight for music and for the chance to keep creating art.”
Rajabian’s plight captured the attention of numerous human rights and advocacy groups around the world, from Amnesty International and the United Nations to Free Muse, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the Council of Europe Artists, all calling for his release.
While the brothers were initially sentenced to six years in jail, an appeals court commuted it to three. In late 2017, they were let out on a temporary release and remain on a suspended sentence with no end date.
“That means they (the authorities) can operate it whenever they want, which means I am still under pressure,” Rajabian said. “Hearings for people like us are held very secretly, they are highly unpredictable, they can send me to prison whenever they want.”
Despite the persistent threat of a door being knocked down, followed by a drag back behind bars – not being allowed to leave the country and banned from working as an artist – Rajabian remains defiant.
“I’m not worried about the future, because I chose my path years ago,” he stressed. “I’m always fighting for music, and music freedom.”
This year, Rajabian brought together almost a hundred musicians from across the Middle East to send a message to the volatile region that they’re tired of being censored and oppressed, that they’re tired of mass human rights violations and endless wars.
Simply titled “Middle Eastern,” the eleven-track album – released last month by Sony Music Entertainment – features artists who have never met another but carry the same directive spanning Syria, Iran, Yemen, Lebanon and beyond. One created his music while bombings were exploding, another worked while on a boat fleeing his country.
“We express our pain through music. Our art is no way just for fun,” Rajabian added. “In Iran, creating art can have very harsh consequences.”
Source: Fox News World
A 74-year-old woman in Carlsbad, California, was reportedly awarded $150,000 in a child support settlement Wednesday — 50 years after her ex-husband left the country and left her to raise their young daughter on her own.
Toni Anderson split from her husband, Don Lenhert, in 1968 after just two years of marriage. During their divorce proceedings, a judge ordered Lenhert to pay child support for the care of the couple’s 3-year-old daughter, Lane. Instead, he skipped town.
“The first check bounced, and then he went off to Canada with his girlfriend and had two more kids. He completely disappeared,” Anderson told FOX5 San Diego.
Starting Jan. 1, 1971, Lenhert was supposed to pay $210 a month for the first two and half years and then $160 until Lane’s 18th birthday, reported CNN.
Lenhert would have owed $35,000 total in child support if he had paid as ordered, but, with more than four decades worth of interest and penalties, he now owes Anderson roughly $160,000, lawyers on both sides told NBC News. In a settlement Wednesday, Lenhert agreed to pay Anderson $150,000 over the next two years.
“I realized in the middle of the night one night last year, ‘Hey, there’s no statute of limitations on child support,'” Anderson told 10 News, adding she “put it on the back burner and just kind of forgot about it over the years” while working as an interior designer to make ends meet as a single parent.
“I’m not negating the fact I was able to send my daughter to college, Paris. We traveled and had a good time. But the money runs out,” Anderson told 10 News.
When she got word her ex-husband might have moved back to the U.S. last year, the 74-year-old took her 1970 court order for child support to the San Diego County Child Support Services office, where federal tax records confirmed Lenhert was residing in Oregon, Anderson’s lawyer told NBC News.
A now 53-year-old Lane Lenhert, who runs the same Los Angeles-based interior design firm her mother retired from, said there are lasting effects of her father skipping out on child support.
“Not having a mother around because she was so busy working, you can’t put a price on a lost childhood. There’s no amount of money that can replace it,” Lane said.
Anderson’s ex-husband appeared in court last week instead of letting lawyers handle the matter. According to Anderson, Lenhert came to ask for her forgiveness.
“It was just a big-time closure for both of us,” Anderson told NBC News. “The forgiveness was big on both of our parts.”
“I was glad to pay Ms. Anderson the child support that was owed and I wish her only the best in the future,” Lenhart said in a statement released by his lawyer. “I hired a private investigator to locate her so I could offer her payment. I am pleased we were able to reach an agreement.”
Anderson said she hopes this case inspires parents going through similar situations to go after the money that is owed to them.
“I don’t think enough women get this. And I think they’re afraid,” Anderson told 10 News.
Source: Fox News National
After intense public backlash, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said Friday night that she is open to an outside investigation into her office’s dramatic decision to dismiss all charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
In an op-ed for The Chicago Tribune, Foxx admitted that a third-party review into the high-profile case would help maintain transparency.
The surprise decision to drop charges on Tuesday, followed by Smollett’s claims of innocence and exoneration paired with an immediate rebuke from Chicago’s mayor and police superintendent that it was a “whitewash of justice” put pressure on the state’s attorney’s office to defend its actions.
“I am not perfect, nor is any other prosecutor out there, but ensuring that I and my office have our community’s trust is paramount,” Foxx, who ran on a platform of transparency, wrote.
Smollett is accused of staging an anti-gay, racist attack on himself in January in order to promote his career. He has denied the charges from the start and says two men approached him, beat him, threw bleach on him and tied a rope around his neck before shouting, “This is MAGA country,” in reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
In order to investigate the hate crime, the city removed 24 detectives from their regular cases, expending up to 1,000 hours to hunt down the truth.
“In determining whether or not to pursue charges, prosecutors are required to balance the severity of the crime against the likelihood of securing a conviction,” Foxx wrote. “For a variety of reasons … my office believed the likelihood of securing a conviction was not certain.”
Foxx said Smollett’s “alleged unstable actions have probably caused him more harm than any court-ordered penance could.” But she added that jails should be reserved for those who commit violent crimes.
Her defense isn’t swaying many people.
“Foxx could have distanced herself from this blunder given that her own blunder — emailing and texting with people close to Smollett early in the investigation — had prompted her to step away from the case and leave it to underlings,” Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn wrote. “But she grabbed ownership of it Wednesday, giving interviews in which she expressed pride and confidence in the way her office had handled the case.”
Zorn, like so many others in Chicago, believe Foxx “probably will and arguably should lose her job next year over her office’s handling of the Jussie Smollett case.”
Foxx’s actions also prompted both the National District Attorneys Association and the Illinois Prosecutors bar Association to sharply criticize her office.
President Trump even waded into the controversy, saying he’d asked federal law enforcement officials to look into Smollett’s case.
“I think the case in Chicago is an absolute embarrassment to our country, and I have asked that they look at it,” Trump said.
Source: Fox News National
CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel blasted his city’s handling of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s case this week, calling the surprise deal made by prosecutors a “whitewash of justice” that sends a “clear message” that those in power are treated differently — but now some are pushing back and say his comments on accountability are nothing short of hypocrisy.
“To hear Mayor Rahm Emanuel call the prosecutors’ decision to accept an alternative resolution to the Smollett case a “whitewash of justice” in a city with a police and prosecutorial history as checkered as ours rang not just wrong, but fundamentally ridiculous,” opinion writer Mikki Kendall wrote. “Whether one’s personal belief about whether Smollett told the whole truth, a portion of the truth or an outright lie when he reported being assaulted, there is no reality in which the Mayor of Chicago, or the head of the Chicago police force, have the moral authority to stand in judgment of anyone’s morality.”
Emanuel had several televised temper tantrums this week – some in front of a national audience- after the brokered deal was announced.
“Mr. Smollett is still saying that he is innocent, still running down the Chicago Police Department… how dare him,” Emanuel said. “How dare him after everybody saw. Is there no decency in this man?
Chicagoans say Emanuel might want to look in the mirror.
“It would have been refreshing if, during Emanuel’s final days in office, the mayor could have shown the nation what it looks like for a leader to respond gracefully when things don’t go exactly the way he thinks they should,” Chicago Tribune columnist Dahleen Glanton wrote. “But instead of behaving with dignity, Emanuel went on a fiery rampage, fueling the flames of anger and pulling us further apart.”
Eight years ago when Emanuel, former President Barack Obama’s foul-mouthed chief of staff was elected mayor, he promised to cut down on crime and corruption and be the much-needed adult in the room to run America’s third-largest city. But the numbers haven’t supported his promise. Since taking office in 2011, there have been more than 20,000 shootings in Chicago. According to the Chicago Police Department, the average number of murders per years during the first years of Emanuel’s administration was 541. The average number of murders per year prior to Emanuel taking office was 463.
Emanuel’s promise of cleaning up the streets when he took office has also fallen short of expectations.
“Chicago is still known as the murder capital of America,” Dick Simpson, professor and director of undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told Fox News in September. “(Emanuel) has tried hard to deal with the problem but has not been successful.”
Emanuel’s also faced harsh criticism over his handling of race relations and his response to violent crime. He’s been accused of favoring Chicago’s wealthier north and east sides while ignoring the crime-ridden, poverty-plagued areas south and west of the city.
Emanuel’s administration was also on the receiving end of a scathing 2017 Department of Justice report that found Chicago police routinely used excessive force, violated civil rights and had racial bias against blacks.
But nothing comes close to his botched handling and coverup attempt in the death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by white police officer Jason Van Dyke. Grainy dash cam video showed McDonald writhing in pain on the ground after being shot.
Emanuel’s team of city attorneys fought against the release of the video for more than a year until a judge in 2015 ordered it to be made public. Many activists and community leaders accused Emanuel of trying to cover-up the incident, putting the already fragile relationship between the mayor and community into disrepair.
When it was finally released, the video sparked outrage and led to widespread protests as well as calls to gut the Chicago Police Department.
Jamie Dominguez, a professor of political science at Northwestern University, said: “[The] collection of these issues has greatly soured his relationship with a core constituency fundamental to his electoral success: the black community.”
In 2017, Black Lives Matter, as well as a handful of other groups, sued the city after Emanuel backed off a pledge to allow a federal judge to oversee reforms.
“Chicago has proven time and time again that it is incapable of ending its own regime of terror, brutality and discriminatory policing,” the lawsuit said. “Absent federal court supervision, nothing will improve.”
Emanuel has also taken heat for looking the other way when it comes to crime in some parts of the city. The majority of Chicago shootings take place in the city’s south and west sides – areas not only marked by deteriorating neighborhoods but that also lack quick, efficient emergency care.
And so it was a head scratcher for some this week when Emanuel made passionate pleas about the need for transparency in the Smollett saga as well as his comments about why is was bad for the city to give wealthy, well-connected people special treatment.
Source: Fox News National
It has been almost five years since the infamous celebrity boycott of the storied Beverly Hills Hotel came and went, after it was revealed that its owner – the Sultan of Brunei – had decided to implement a harsh interpretation of the Islamic Penal Code known as Sharia Law.
But the much-hyped boycott calling for the hotel to divest ownership eventually died down with a whimper, nothing changed, and the glitterati returned to their favorited luxury location.
However rumblings of discontent have resurfaced this week after George Clooney penned an article calling for a renewed boycott given that the harsh penalties are expected to be enforced in the small, oil-rich Brunei on April 3.
“Brunei will begin stoning and whipping to death any of its citizens that are proved to be gay. Let that sink in,” the Oscar winner, who is married to prominent human rights attorney Amal Alamuddin-Clooney, wrote in Deadline. “Every single time we stay or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery.”
Clooney himself admitted that he “hadn’t done (his) homework” and has recently stayed at many of the Brunei-retained hotels.
The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air are part of the Dorchester Collection, owned by a wing of the Brunei government referred to as the Brunei Investment Agency. They owned nine high-end hotels worldwide. The Sultan himself has an estimated net worth of $20billion.
“Dorchester Collection’s Code emphasizes equality, respect, and integrity in all areas of our operation, and strongly values people and cultural diversity amongst our guests and employees,” a representative for the hotel told Fox News on Friday. “Inclusion and diversity remain core beliefs as we do not tolerate any form of discrimination.”
But according to a source closely connected to the hotel, the staff who rely largely on tips are deeply concerned the renewed boycott will hamper their livelihoods. Many are expecting an LGBTQ and celebrity-led picket line to emerge as early as Friday, and all are bracing for a renewal of turmoil.
“All the first boycott did was cause a lot of stress, the Sultan came in and paid for the loss of wages from all the canceled events and celebrity boycott so it didn’t hurt them,” said a hotel source, pointing out that they don’t know if the same approach will happen again. “And nothing changed. Eventually, Hollywood just came back after causing all that drama.”
Tensions first flared in May 2014 six months after news emerged that the small oil-rich nation had brought about Sharia Law and was set to put punishments such as flogging and dismemberment on the books as punishment for those convicted of being gay. It was widely reported at the time that “perpetrators” of the crime of being gay would also be subject to death by stoning, but it was never enforced – with next week now being the expected introduction.
At the time, a number of prominent Hollywood figures – from Ellen DeGeneres and Jay Leno, to Elton John, Richard Branson and Sharon Osbourne took to Twitter to denounce the hotel and boycotts raged. However, a source close to the hotel highlighted to Fox News that it wasn’t exactly a straight-forward protest with human rights at heart.
The local hospitality union, UNITE HERE Local 11, had sought to unionize the hotel since the early 90’s when it was re-opened and acquired by the Sultan.
The Union had tried to draw attention to the controversial ownership for years but gained no traction, and it wasn’t until an affiliated researcher dug around and learned about the Sharia Law announcement – some six months after the fact. Celebrities subsequently got involved at that point and things took off.
Yet many were also quick to point out what they considered to be Hollywood hypocrisy among the chief protestors.
Scores of individuals and companies championing the initial boycott were also exposed for being in business with a bevy of other countries that practice Sharia Law with their film productions and tech interests.
“Some of the chief protestors pretended to boycott but were having their assistant’s come in to pick up their salads every day,” the hotel source said. “It was ridiculous.”
Despite the initial firestorm that the 2014 boycott sparked, it was widely deemed among Hollywood circles that the strike had fizzled out. The entertainment industry’s leading agencies, from CAA and WME, which had also warned its agents and talent that they were not to visit the iconic hotels appeared to have lost interest.
Even DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the boycott’s most outspoken, quietly returned in January 2017 to attend Kirk Douglas’s 100th birthday lunch.
This year, Oscar parties even returned to the once taboo hotel. Among them was high-end fashion house Chanel which held its Charles Finch-hosted dinner, attended by prominent LGBTQ activists such as Miley Cyrus and Kristen Stewart. Just last week, Courtney Love, Lady Gaga, Kate Hudson and Juliette Lewis rubbed shoulders at The Daily Front Row’s Fashion Awards Los Angeles.
Even the Beverly Hills Council got involved and tried to force the hotel to sell. Only nothing happened, and it eventually became business-as-usual. Yet City Manager Mahdi Alurzi insisted that they remain “opposed to discrimination and committed to the rigorous enforcement of anti-discrimination laws and policies.”
But whether Clooney’s latest call will have a long-term impact, is yet to be determined.
“Clooney has good intentions, but so did Ellen DeGeneres who boycotted the hotels back in 2014. At the end of the day, the issue is still the same as it was 5 years ago, and I think it’s more likely that it will follow the same pattern as it did before,” added Ronn Torossian, crisis management expert, and CEO of 5WPR. “People will find something else to be outraged about.”
Source: Fox News National