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Woman, 74, and her late boyfriend are exonerated of 1987 rape and murder of her 4-year-old great niece after spending 27 years in prison

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A 74-year-old woman and her late boyfriend have been exonerated of the 1987 rape and murder of her four-year-old niece after spending nearly 30 years behind bars.

Joyce Watkins was convicted of the rape and murder of her great niece Brandi in 1988. Police and prosecutors said she and her boyfriend, Charles Dunn, brutalized the girl so badly that she died in the nine hours that she was in their care.

Watkins, then aged 38, took Brandi to a hospital in Nashville nine hours after collecting her from another woman’s home, where the child had spent two months and where neighbors suspected she was being abused.

A doctor ruled that Brandi – who was unconscious – had been raped, and that she died as the result of an injuries inflicted in the nine hours Watkins and her boyfriend had her in their care.

Dunn, who was known as Charlie, died in prison in 2015 and Watkins was released that same year after serving 27 years.

On Wednesday, a judge overturned their convictions – Dunn’s posthumously – after an appeal from The Innocence Project which questioned the doctor’s analysis of when Brandi had been raped and injured.

It found there was no proof of when the girl had been brutalized, and that the doctor made the assertion by looking at marks on Brandi’s skin rather than any internal injuries.

A report by the Nashville Criminal Review Unit also suggests that the girl’s then 19-year-old male cousin, who was enlisted in the Marines at the time, may have been the one who raped and beat her.

No one else has been arrested for the crime and it’s unclear if he is still alive.

After the hearing, Watkins said: ‘It’s been a long struggle, but I want to thank the DA’s office.

‘I want to thank Mr. Gichner here with the Tennessee Innocence Project and all the people for their prayers and just helping me to get out of this mess which cost me half of my life for nothing.’

Charlie Dunn’s daughter Jackie said: ‘It’s a bittersweet day. I wish my daddy was here to witness this day. He knew he was innocent. He knew he did not commit those crimes.

‘He lost his mother, his two brothers, his sister and his son. So many people lost and he was innocent. He died in a place he was never supposed to be.’

The report also detailed how Brandi had suffered bruises while in the care of Rose Williams, the Marine’s mother, and that she was reported to social services.

Brandi’s mother, Louis Lockhart, has long supported Watkins. She said on Wednesday that she never believed she was responsible for killing her daughter.

On June 27, 1987, Watkins and her boyfriend drove from their home in Nashville to Kentucky to collect Brandi from Williams’s home at her request.

The child had gone there to spend a few weeks with Williams’ kids, who were four and eight, but she behaved ‘strangely’ while there, according to Williams.

Neighbors at the time reported watching Brandi nearly fall asleep while standing up. They said she seemed like an ‘unhappy’ child who never played, and often had bruise on her body.

Williams called Watkins on June 26, 1987, begging her to come and collect Brandi because her mother wouldn’t.

The report says she was in a rush to get Watkins and her boyfriend out of the house with Brandi, and didn’t invite them in as she usually would have done.

In the car ride home, Brandi complained that she was thirsty. When they got back to home an hour later, Watkins noticed blood in the girl’s underwear and her mother.

She said she felt they should go to the hospital but the girl’s mother, who lived in Georgia at the time, didn’t think it was necessary.

The next day, at 9am, Watkins decided to take the girl to the hospital.

She had been conscious that morning – something that was corroborated by Watkins’ sister – but by the time she arrived in the ER, was no longer awake.

Doctors ruled that she had ‘severe vaginal trauma’ and a head injury. She was placed on life support but died the following day.

The medical examiner, Dr. Greta Harlan, told the trial that the injuries had been inflicted in the nine hours the girl was in Watkins and Dunn’s care.

Initially, she had said they could have been inflicted in the 48 hours before her death, and modern medical advances have proven that it could have been even longer.

The pair were arrested and in 1988 were found guilty of first degree murder and aggravated rape. They appealed their convictions but an appeals court upheld them in 1990.

The exoneration report reveals how detectives failed to question many others who could have been involved or who had access to Brandi while she was at the home.

It was on a military base, the report notes, where dozens of adults had access to her.

SOURCE: Dailymail

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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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