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Killers of Ahmaud Arbery get Life imprisonment

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Three white men convicted of murder for chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced to life in prison Friday, with a judge denying any chance of parole for the father and son who armed themselves and initiated the deadly pursuit of the 25-year-old Black man.

Murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison under Georgia law unless prosecutors seek the death penalty, which they opted against for Arbery’s fatal shooting. For Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley, the main decision was whether to grant Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, an eventual chance to earn parole.

The judge ordered both McMichaels to serve life without parole. Bryan was granted a chance of parole but must first serve at least 30 years in prison.

Walmsley said Arbery left his home for a jog and ended up running for his life for five minutes as the men chased him in pickup trucks until they finally cornered him.

“Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down and shot, and he was killed because individuals here in the courtroom took the law into their own hands,” the judge said.

Before sentencing, Walmsley paused for a minute of silence to help give the scope of what those five minutes must have been like for Arbery.

“When I thought about this, I thought from a lot of different angles. I kept coming back to the terror that must have been in the mind of the young man running through Satilla Shores,” he said, mentioning the neighborhood outside the port city of Brunswick where Arbery was killed.

During the sentencing hearing, Arbery’s family had asked the judge to show no lenience.

Arbery’s sister recalled his humor, describing him as a positive thinker with a big personality. She told the judge her brother had dark skin “that glistened in the sunlight,” thick, curly hair and an athletic build, factors that made him a target for the men who pursued him.

“These are the qualities that made these men assume that Ahmaud was a dangerous criminal and chase them with guns drawn. To me, those qualities reflect a young man full of life and energy who looked like me and the people I loved,” Jasmine Arbery said.

Arbery’s mother said she suffered a personal, intense loss made worse by a trial where the men’s defense was that Arbery made bad choices that led to his death.

“This wasn’t a case of mistaken identity or mistaken fact. They chose to target my son because they didn’t want him in their community. They chose to treat him differently than other people who frequently visited their community,” Wanda Cooper-Jones said. “And when they couldn’t sufficiently scare or intimidate him, they killed him.”

The judge’s sentences matched the recommendation of prosecutor Linda Dunikoski. She said all deserved that mandatory life sentence for showing “no empathy for the trapped and terrified Ahmaud Arbery.”

Contending the McMichaels still believed they didn’t do anything wrong, Dunikoski disclosed Friday that Greg McMichael gave cellphone video of the shooting recorded by Bryan to an attorney, who leaked it.

“He believed it was going to exonerate him,” the prosecutor said.

Robert Rubin, one of Travis McMichael’s defense attorneys, argued that his 35-year-old client deserved the possibility of parole. He said Travis McMichael opened fire only after “Mr. Arbery came at him and grabbed the gun.” But Rubin also acknowledged his client’s decisions to arm himself and chase Arbery were ”reckless” and “thoughtless.”

“They are not evidence of a soul so blackened as to deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison,” Rubin said. “This was not a planned murder. This was a fight over a gun that led to Mr. Arbery’s death.”

Greg McMichael’s lawyer, Laura Hogue, said her client didn’t intend Arbery to die, never pulling his gun until his son fired his shotgun.

“Greg McMichael did not leave his home that day hoping to kill,” Hogue told the judge. “He did not view his son firing that shotgun with anything other than fear and sadness. What this jury found was this was an unintentional act.”

Bryan’s lawyer said he showed remorse and cooperated with police, turning over the cellphone video of the shooting to help them get to the truth.

“Mr. Bryan isn’t the one who brought a gun,” Kevin Gough said. “He was unarmed. And I think that reflects his intentions.”

Bryan is 52, raising the chances that he will spend the remainder of his life in prison even with the chance of parole after serving 30 years.

The guilty verdicts against the men handed down the day before Thanksgiving prompted a victory celebration outside the Glynn County courthouse for those who saw Arbery’s death as part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice.

All three men were also convicted of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Travis and Greg McMichael were each sentenced to an additional 20 years for aggravated assault.

The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped in a pickup truck to chase Arbery after spotting him running in their neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own truck and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael firing close-range shotgun blasts into Arbery as he threw punches and grabbed for the weapon.

The killing went largely unnoticed until two months later, when the graphic video was leaked online and touched off a national outcry. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from local police and soon arrested all three men.

Defense attorneys have said they plan to appeal the convictions. They have 30 days after sentencing to file them.

Next month, the McMichaels and Bryan face a second trial, this time in U.S. District Court on federal hate crime charges. A judge has set jury selection to begin Feb. 7. Prosecutors will argue that the three men violated Arbery’s civil rights and targeted him because he was Black.

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Young T & Bugsey Release Long-Awaited New Mixtape “Truth Be Told”

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Brit-nominated rap duo Young T & Bugsey release long-awaited new mixtape Truth Be Told, out now via Black Butter. A fifteen track project that follows colossal debut Plead The 5th, and sees the Nottingham-hailing rappers join forces with some of the most exciting names in the UK and internationally.

Just weeks after the release of “Blessings” featuring Jamaican musician Chronixx, the new project lands alongside brand new single and video ‘Nice’. Watch here.

Young T & Bugsey deliver yet another striking track, fueled with an enticing beat that the pair ride effortlessly. This time they’re backed by fellow TikTok viral star, Blxst – the LA-based rapper and producer who catapulted into the spotlight last year with his US Gold certified project, No Love Lost. Combining their signature bars and smooth melodies, the Teeeezy C directed visual sees the duo perform amidst colourful serene settings, and is an ode to the women they love.

Truth Be Told 2020 debut Plead The 5th, which boasts over 1BN+ Global Streams and features some of the pair’s biggest singles to date, including brit-nominated smash hit “Don’t Rush”. Featuring recently released Big Bidness and November offering “Roberto C” featuring Unknown T, the new mixtape is a further display of Young T & Bugsey’s commitment to their sound knowing no bounds and it’s this musical dexterity that has earned them a stamp of approval across the UK and beyond.

Truth Be Told shows the duo in a whole new light, with guest features from M Huncho, Aitch, Chronixx, Blxst, Unknown T, Jasmine May and Nafe Smallz. The project details the complexities of relationships, the harsh realities of dealing with adversity and sacrifice, acting with more intention, whilst admirably embracing their African and Caribbean heritage. It’s a demonstration of Young T & Bugsey being ready and willing to express some of their most personal circumstances to date, and feeling a new sense of responsibility towards themselves and those closest to them. Adding to what is already an impressive catalogue and further honing in on their chemistry, Truth Be Told is another monumental body of work.

 

“After the success of our debut project, Plead The 5th, with stand out Hits like Strike a Pose and the worldwide smash Don’t Rush, we knew we had to take our time with our follow up mixtape. ‘Truth Be Told’ continues the illustrious run of head jolting, dance floor prompting Young T & Bugsey music, with an added flair this time around and refreshing sense of musical and personal growth! We’re excited for fans to go on this journey with us.”  says Young T & Bugsey.

 

Being based outside of London, Young T & Bugsey met aged 15 whilst working in KFC. Having followed a less-travelled path to success, the duo are rarely out of the limelight – having been tipped by BBC Radio 1Xtra, co-signed by Stormzy, and going on to spearhead the emerging Nottingham rap scene. The duo’s single “Ay Caramba” with fellow rapper Fredo became their first top 40 single, and they consequently went on to be named the first act from their city to achieve a Platinum Certified single.  2020 saw the release of debut mixtape Plead The 5th , an impressive first body of work featuring hit singles “Strike A Pose” featuring Manchester rapper Aitch, and the Headie One backed smash “Don’t Rush.” The single quickly became a global success and an unavoidable soundtrack to 2020, achieving one of the most exciting viral moments seen from a UK act. Young T & Bugsey went on to receive three Brit Award nominations, plus a stellar performance at the 2020 ceremony alongside Headie One. They reached even further heights when they were nominated for two BET Awards and became the first UK Rap duo to hit The Billboard Hot 100 List. Young T & Bugsey are firmly cemented at the forefront of UK rap and they’re just getting started. Stay tuned for more from them this year.

‘Truth Be Told’ Tracklist

  1. Truth Be Told
  2. Big Bidness
  3. Oh Lordy feat. M Huncho
  4. Caliente feat. Aitch
  5. Hall Of Fame
  6. Home Run
  7. Blessings feat. Chronixx
  8. Tense
  9. Nice feat. Blxst
  10. Roberto C feat. Unknown T
  11. Glitter Ain’t Gold
  12. Celly
  13. 5th Not Atlanta
  14. Prada Bae feat. Nafe Smallz
  15. Outro
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Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky, & Playboi Carti To Headline The Smokers Club Fest April 30th In So-Cal

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Get ready to blaze up as The Smoker’s Club Fest takes over Glen Helen Amphitheater on Saturday, April 30, 2022. Celebrating hip hop as one of the leading forces in paving the way for cannabis culture becoming mainstream, the festival lineup includes Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Schoolboy Q, Wiz Khalifa, A&AP Ferg, 2 Chainz, Dom Kennedy, Lupe Fiasco, Joey Bada$$, Flatbush Zombies, Yung Lean, Wale, Curren$y, Danny Brown, Rico Nasty, Earl Sweatshirt, Sofaygo, Pierre Bourne, Sahbabii, Cochise, Lucki, Yeat, AB-Soul, Jay Rock, Berner, Zack Fox, The Alchemist, Clams Casino, Mick Jenkins, Reason, Smoke DZA, Casey Veggies, Domo Genesis, The Underachievers, The Cool Kids, Kirko Bangz, Pac Div, Kreayshawn, Ken Car$on, Bktherula, Babyxsosa, Zeelooperz, Coco & Clair Clair, Tisakorean, Destroy Lonely, Sid, Shyne, Bad Neighbors, Sparoh Homicide, Meechie, Abby, Jasmine, Belis, Eryn, Yayo, Dacartune, Slayter, Nymlo, McFly, Lul Bob, and Stinje.

There will be a special presale beginning Monday, January 24th at 10am PT for fans who sign up for early access to passes online at smokersclubfest.com. Following the presale, any remaining tickets still available will go on sale to the general public beginning Monday, January 24th at 2pm PT at smokersclubfest.com. GA tickets start at $222.99 and VIP tickets start at $408.99.

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Akon sued for $4 Million by former business partner

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Akon’s former business partner is suing the singer for refusing to pay him $4 million. (more…)

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Netflix Commits $1 Million towards Scholarships in Africa

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Netflix , the world’s leading entertainment streaming service, has  announced a commitment of US$1 million towards the newly-established Netflix Creative Equity Scholarship Fund (CESF) for film and TV students in Sub-Saharan Africa. The scholarship fund forms part of Netflix’s global Netflix Creative Equity Fund  launched in 2021 to be allocated to various initiatives over the next 5 years with the goal of developing a strong, diverse pipeline of creatives around the world.

The scholarship fund will cover the costs for tuition, accommodation, study materials and living expenses at institutions where beneficiaries have gained admission to pursue a course of study in the TV & film disciplines in the 2022 academic year.

The Netflix CESF is targeted for rollout across the region in the academic year commencing in 2022, starting with an open call for applications in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, in partnership with social investment fund management and advisory firm Tshikululu Social Investments (https://bit.ly/3qLORX2) as implementing partner/fund administrator in Southern Africa. Fund administration partners for East Africa and the West and Central Africa regions will be announced in due course.

“Netflix is excited by the potential of the next generation of storytellers and we’re committed to investing in the future of African storytelling in the long-term,” says Ben Amadasun, Netflix Director of Content in Africa. “We believe there are great stories to be told from Africa and we want to play our part by supporting students who are passionate about the film and TV industry so they too, can ultimately contribute to the creative ecosystem by bringing more unique voices and diverse perspectives to African storytelling that our global audiences find appealing.”

How it works:

The Netflix CESF is designed to provide financial assistance, through full scholarships, at partner higher educational institutions (HEI) in South Africa to support the formal qualification and training of aspiring creatives from a SADC region country that wish to study in South Africa, and are able to obtain the necessary permissions to do so. The following countries will be eligible: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In the SADC region, the fund will be available to students who have obtained admission to study in various film & TV-focused disciplines, for the 2022 academic year, at the following partner institutions:

Students interested in applying for scholarships for the 2022 academic year will be able to find additional information, application criteria, a list of partner higher education institutions (HEI) and will be able to apply online on our fund manager and advisory partner, Tshikululu’s website (Tshikululu.org.za). Applications are now open until 04 February 2022 at 23h59 CAT.

The Netflix CESF will also benefit students from other parts of Africa – particularly East Africa as well as West and Central Africa. Fund administration partners for East Africa and the West and Central Africa regions will be announced, along with the calls for applications, in due course.

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Cummings Blasts Weah After Unprovoked Attack On Peaceful Protest

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Liberian opposition leader Alexander B Cummings has launched a stinging attack on President George Weah after government forces today launched an unprovoked attack on peaceful protesters in Monrovia, injuring multiple people.

 

The protesters displayed banners and posters calling for justice and indicating solidarity with Cummings, the leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), who is being prosecuted by the Government of Liberia on discredited, politically motivated charges of “forgery and criminal conspiracy”.

 

Cummings accused the Weah administration of abusing its authority to restrict Liberia’s political space ahead of the 2023 presidential elections.

 

“Today, thousands of Liberians took to the streets of Monrovia to exercise their right to peaceful assembly. This right is one of the cornerstones of Liberia’s democracy, bestowed to us through our constitution. These peaceful, lawful protesters have been tear-gassed, wounded, and arrested by police,” Cummings said.

 

“I have stood firm and calm when the government has violated my own democratic rights, through the manipulation of courts and casting false accusations. I cannot remain calm when the democratic rights of my fellow Liberians are violated, and law-abiding citizens are left bleeding on the streets on Liberia.”

 

Footage and pictures of the protest have been circulating widely on Liberian social media, showing multiple injuries and abuses by police.

 

Cummings, a former international business executive, called on Weah to govern in line with international democratic standards, or move aside in favor of others who can.

 

Cummings said, “The weak leadership of President Weah has brought the Liberian economy to the brink of collapse; the events at this protest, combined with the bogus charges levelled against me, is further evidence that he is now abusing his position and using every tool, including democratic institutions, at his disposal to cling to power. Enough is enough.”

 

The ANC leader called on his countrymen to defend the country’s young and hard-won democracy.

 

He said, “Now, I speak to all Liberians – whether my supporters or critics. Liberia cannot continue in this downwards spiral. Our democratic rights are not guaranteed. We – the upholders of democracy – need to protect them. Our chance to choose the government we deserve, and deliver the future we deserve to a future generation of Liberians, comes in 2023. I stand with you. I hear you.”

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Social audio platform Stationhead launches new web interface, a first for live social audio

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Live social audio platform Stationhead is now accessible via its new web interface, making it the first entry in the social audio space to allow users to broadcast their own streaming audio shows—fully integrated with streaming music—directly from the web without using an iOS or Android app. In the wake of the new web interface launch, host engagement has increased by 50%.
Stationhead’s new web platform provides users with the ability to integrate premium recording hardware, giving professional creators even more options. With over 3.5 million active users and 20k+ active hosts spending an average of more than two hours on-platform per day, Stationhead continues to expand and improve its capabilities for all users.
“Stationhead has exploded in popularity this year. Our exponential organic growth is a testament that radio needed to be reinvented for the world we’re living in today,” Ryan Star, CEO and co-founder of Stationhead, tells Billboard. He goes on to explain about the new web interface, “As we continue to grow, it is critical to give our users even more ways to stay connected with each other and for our hosts to be able to take it to the next level.”
Stationhead continues to see extensive adoption by top tier artists since its launch, with Cardi B, Camila Cabello, Megan Thee Stallion, Brandi Carlile and Raekwon all making live appearances on shows. Coldplay is now using Stationhead as their primary radio outlet, featuring broadcasts from members of the band, and Ed Sheeran and Halsey have also held listening parties via Stationhead while The Maine and Vanessa Carlton have established their own artist stations on the platform. Most recently, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak joined guest host D-Nice for a listening party debuting their new record as the superduo
Silk Sonic.
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