At Wes Anderson Retrospective, an Iconic Auteur’s World on Display

The National Museum of American History recently celebrated one of the most iconic American filmmakers of the past 25 years: Wes Anderson. From life-sized movie-scene backdrops to organized discussions, live music and drinks, the festival had something to offer for faithful fans and newcomers alike. Masha Morton filed this report.

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Trump Mulling Full Pardon for Boxing Legend Johnson

President Donald Trump said Saturday that he was considering “a Full Pardon!” for boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, more than 100 years after Jack Johnson was convicted by an all-white jury of “immorality” in connection with one of his relationships.

Trump tweeted that actor Sylvester Stallone had called him to share Johnson’s story. The president said Johnson’s “trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial.” 

The president added: “Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!”

Johnson was convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for “immoral” purposes. 

The boxer died in 1946. His great-great-niece has pressed Trump for a posthumous pardon.

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New Lynching Memorial Offers Chance to Remember, Heal

Elmore Bolling defied the odds against black men and built several successful businesses during the harsh era of Jim Crow segregation in the South. He had more money than a lot of whites, which his descendants believe was all it took to get him lynched in 1947.

He was shot to death by a white neighbor, according to news accounts at the time, and the shooter was never prosecuted.

But Bolling’s name is now listed among thousands on a new memorial for victims of hate-inspired lynchings that terrorized generations of U.S. blacks. Daughter Josephine Bolling McCall is anxious to see the monument, located about 20 miles from where her father was killed in rural Lowndes County.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, opening Thursday, is a project of the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, a legal advocacy group in Montgomery. The organization says the combined museum and memorial will be the nation’s first site to document racial inequality in America from slavery through Jim Crow to the issues of today.

“In the American South, we don’t talk about slavery. We don’t have monuments and memorials that confront the legacy of lynching. We haven’t really confronted the difficulties of segregation. And because of that, I think we are still burdened by that history,” said EJI executive director Bryan Stevenson.

The site includes a memorial to the victims of 4,400 “terror lynchings” of black people in 800 U.S. counties from 1877 through 1950. All but about 300 were in the South, and prosecutions were rare in any of the cases. Stevenson said they emphasized the lynching era because he believes it’s an aspect of the nation’s racial history that’s discussed the least.

“Most people In this country can’t name a single African-American who was lynched between 1877 and 1950 even though thousands of African Americans were subjected to this violence,” Stevenson said.

The organization said a common theme ran through the slayings, which it differentiates from extrajudicial killings in places that simply lacked courts: A desire to impose fear on minorities and maintain strict white control. Some lynchings drew huge crowds and were even photographed, yet authorities routinely ruled they were committed by “persons unknown.”

McCall, 75, said her father’s killing still hangs over her family. The memorial could help heal individual families and the nation by acknowledging the painful legacy of racial murders, she said.

“It’s important that the people to whom the injustices have been given are actually being recognized and at least some measure – some measure – of relief is sought through discussion,” said McCall.

Combined, the memorial and an accompanying museum a few miles away at the Equal Justice Initiative headquarters tell a story spanning slavery, racial segregation, violence and today’s era of swollen prison populations. With nearly 7 million people behind bars or on parole or probation nationwide – a disproportionate number of them minorities – the NAACP says blacks are incarcerated at a rate five times that of whites.

E.M. Beck, who studied lynching for 30 years and has written books on the subject, said the memorial might actually understate the scope of lynching even though it lists thousands of victims.

“I think it’s an underestimate because the number and amount of violence in early Reconstruction in the 1870s will probably never be known. There was just an incredible amount of violence taking place during that period of time,” said Beck, sociology professor emeritus at the University of Georgia.

The memorial’s design evokes the image of a racist hanging, featuring scores of dark metal columns suspended in the air from above. The rectangular structures, some of which lie flat on the ground and resemble graves, include the names of counties where lynchings occurred, plus dates and the names of the victims. The goal is for individual counties to claim the columns on the ground and erect their own memorials.

Not all lynchings were by hanging. The Equal Justice Initiative says it scoured old newspapers, archives and court documents to find the stories of victims who were gunned down, drowned, beaten and burned alive. The monument is a memorial to all of them, with room for names to be added as additional victims are identified.

The monument’s April 26 opening will be marked by a two-day summit focusing on racial and social justice, to be followed by an April 27 concert featuring top acts including Common, Usher, the Dave Matthews Band and The Roots.

McCall plans to view the memorial with her five living siblings. She says they suffered more than she did, since she was only 5 when their father was slain.

A newspaper account from the time said the 39-year-old Bolling, who owned a store and trucking company and farmed, was shot seven times on a road near his store by a white man, Clarke Luckie, who claimed Bolling had insulted his wife during a phone call.

McCall, who researched the slaying extensively for a book about her father, said it’s more likely that Luckie, a stockyard employee, resented her father, who had thousands of dollars in the bank, three tractor-trailer rigs and employed about 40 people.

“He was jealous and he filled him with bullets,” she said.

Luckie was arrested, but a grand jury issued no indictment and no one was ever prosecuted. McCall believes the white people who controlled the county at the time purposely covered for the killer, who died decades ago.

One of Alabama’s oldest black congregations, Old Ship A.M.E. Zion Church, sits across the street from the memorial. Its pastor plans to offer prayer and conversation to help visitors who are shaken by the experience of visiting the site.

Church members have mixed feelings about the memorial, she said. They want to acknowledge and honor the past, McFadden said, but some are wondering how they’ll personally react to visiting the memorial the first time.

“It’s something that needs to be talked about, that people need to explore. But it’s also something that has the potential to shake people to the core,” said Rev. Kathy Thomas McFadden.

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Top 5 Songs for Week Ending April 21

We’re firing up the five most popular songs in the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles chart, for the week ending April 21, 2018.

Things really jump on this week’s lineup as we welcome two new tracks — including the Hot Shot Debut.

Number 5: BlocBoy JB Featuring Drake “Look Alive”

BlocBoy JB crashes the Top Five party in fifth place, as “Look Alive” featuring Drake rises one slot. BlocBoy JB is James Baker, a 21-year-old rapper from Memphis, Tennessee. He started loading music on his SoundCloud page in 2012, and dropped his first mix tape in 2016. Last year, his song “Shoot” touched off a viral dance craze, and another single, “Rover,” caught Drake’s ear … leading to this collaboration.

Number 4: The Weeknd “Call Out My Name”

Things really heat up in fourth place, where The Weeknd opens with “Call Out My Name.” 

It’s a huge week for the Canadian artist: His EP “My Dear Melancholy” becomes his third chart-topping album, while all six songs open on the Hot 100. “Call Out My Name” is his eighth Top 10 hit, and his highest debut.

 

Number 3: Post Malone Featuring Ty Dolla $ign “Psycho”

While the new music is behind us, the news is still good for Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign: “Psycho” jumps a slot to third place. Post had an unenviable task at last weekend’s Coachella Festival.

On April 14, Post performed at the Coachella Festival in Southern California … in an unenviable time slot. He essentially opened for Beyonce, who dominated the evening with a headline-making performance. Post returns to Coachella on April 21 … as will Beyonce.

Number 2: Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line “Meant To Be”

Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line spend yet another week in the runner-up slot with “Meant To Be.” Speaking with Billboard at last weekend’s Academy Of Country Music Awards, Bebe says the song’s success has changed her approach to her upcoming full-length album, “Expectations.” Bebe said the new album will be more stripped-down, with honest songs and more guitar than she originally planned. Bebe cited such early influences as Alanis Morissette, No Doubt, and Lauryn Hill. “Expectations” drops on June 22.

That’s not the only new album coming our way.

Number 1: Drake “God’s Plan”

Drake bookends this week’s Top Five lineup, as “God’s Plan” spends an 11th week at No. 1. It’s now Drake’s longest-lasting countdown champ. On April 16, Drake went on Instagram wearing a jacket bearing the words “Scorpion, June Twenty Eighteen, by Drake.” Rolling Stone confirms that “Scorpion” is the title of his next album.

So … there’s something to look forward to. We’re looking forward to seeing you next week on an all-new Top Five!

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Producer, DJ Avicii Found Dead

The Swedish-born producer and DJ known as Avicii has been found dead in Oman.

 

Publicist Diana Baron said in a statement that the 28-year-old DJ, born Tim Bergling, was in Muscat, Oman.

 

Avicii was a pioneer of the contemporary Electronic Dance Movement and a rare DJ capable of worldwide arena tour. He won two MTV Music Awards, one Billboard Music Award and earned two Grammy nominations. His biggest hit was “Le7els.”

 

His death comes just days after he was nominated for a Billboard Music Award for top dance/electronic album for his EP “Avicii (01).”

His hits include “Wake Me Up!”, “The Days'” and “You Make Me.”

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Cosby Lawyers Want Jurors to Hear from Accuser’s Confidante

Bill Cosby’s lawyers are scrambling to make sure jurors at his sexual assault retrial hear from accuser Andrea Constand’s confidante before deliberations get under way next week — but they’re having trouble getting the woman to cooperate.

Sheri Williams isn’t responding to subpoena attempts, Cosby’s lawyers said. Now they’re seeking a judge’s permission to read parts of her deposition into the record just as prosecutors did with Cosby’s old testimony.

The TV star entered the courthouse Friday for Day 10 of the retrial, which is expected to go to the jury next week.

Judge Steven O’Neill was expected to rule Friday on his lawyers’ request to use Williams’ deposition.

Constand testified at Cosby’s first trial last year that she and Williams were good friends and would speak “at all hours of the day: morning, noon, and night” and were in touch as she went to police in January 2005 with allegations Cosby drugged and molested her about a year earlier.

Cosby’s lawyers said they expected Williams’ testimony to refute Constand’s claims that she was unaware he was romantically interested in her. They said she’d show that Constand “could not have been the unwitting victim” prosecutors have portrayed.

Williams’ deposition was part of Constand’s 2005 lawsuit against Cosby, who wound up settling for nearly $3.4 million.

Two weeks in, Cosby’s case is rapidly winding down.

O’Neill told jurors that there are only a few more days of testimony. Cosby lawyer Tom Mesereau went into the case predicting it would last about a month.

Drug experts

A pair of drug experts — one for the prosecution and one for the defense — spent Thursday debating one of the case’s enduring mysteries: What drug did he give his chief accuser on the night she says he molested her?

Cosby has insisted he handed 1 ½ tablets of the over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine Benadryl to Andrea Constand to help her relax before their sexual encounter at his mansion outside Philadelphia. Constand testified he gave her three small blue pills that left her incapacitated and unable to resist as he molested her.

The experts agreed that paralysis isn’t known to be a side effect of Benadryl, though its active ingredient can cause drowsiness and muscle weakness, among other side effects.

Cosby’s expert, Harry Milman, said he didn’t know of any small blue pill that could produce the symptoms Constand described.

The Cosby Show star has previously acknowledged under oath he gave quaaludes — a powerful sedative and 1970s-era party drug that’s been banned in the U.S. for more than 35 years — to women he wanted to have sex with, but denied having them by the time he met Constand in the early 2000s.

Dr. Timothy Rohrig, a forensic toxicologist called by prosecutors, testified Thursday that quaaludes can make people sleepy. But he and Milman said the drug came in large white pills — not small and blue.

Prosecutors rested their case after Rohrig got off the witness stand.

The defense immediately asked Judge Steven O’Neill to acquit Cosby and send jurors home, arguing prosecutors hadn’t proved aggravated indecent assault charges. O’Neill refused.

Upcoming testimony

Cosby’s lawyers are expected to call several people who worked for him, including an executive assistant and employees of his talent agency and publicity firm. It’s likely part of a bid to challenge the prosecution’s contention that the alleged assault happened within the 12-year statute of limitations.

Williams’ deposition testimony could have insights into what led Constand to accuse Cosby and whether the encounter was a factor in her leaving her job a few months later as the director of women’s basketball operations at Temple University.

A private investigator working for the defense said he attempted to serve Williams at least six times at her North Carolina home before sending her a FedEx package containing a subpoena and instructions to call Cosby’s legal team.

Williams’ name already has come up several times at the retrial.

Constand testified that Williams was the friend she cut and pasted emails from for a business that Cosby’s lawyers described as a Ponzi scheme.

Cosby lawyer Kathleen Bliss questioned Constand’s mother about her daughter’s friendship with Williams and suggested that they were on the outs about a month before Constand went to police.

“What has Sheri got to do with this?” Gianna Constand replied.

Charles Kipps, a writer who worked with Cosby, testified he met Constand and Williams for dinner in New York as Constand was moving back to Canada in March 2004.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

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Palestinian-American Comedian Making Her Mark in Male Dominated Field

Comedy is a field still dominated by men, but that’s changing. Among the trendsetters is Suzie Afridi, a Palestinian-American stand-up comedian. Afridi says she’s probably not living the life her parents had wanted for her when she was growing up in the West Bank. But she says how else would a feminist Palestinian, married to a Muslim man, trying to raise a cross-cultural 9-year-old express herself, except by making people laugh? VOA’s Samina Ahsan takes a look at Afridi’s unlikely journey.

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No Criminal Charges to Be Filed in 2016 Death of Pop Star Prince

No criminal charges will be filed in the 2016 death of pop star Prince from an opioid overdose, a Minnesota prosecutor said on Thursday.

“We simply do not have sufficient evidence to charge anyone with a crime related to Prince’s death,” Carver County Attorney Mark Metz told a news conference following a two-year inquiry.

Prince, 57, was found dead at his Paisley Park home and recording studio complex near Minneapolis on April 21, 2016. The official cause of death was a self-administered overdose of the painkiller fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin.

Metz said the musician died after taking a counterfeit Vicodin pill laced with fentanyl.

“Nothing in the evidence suggests Prince knowingly ingested fentanyl,” Metz said, adding that there was “no evidence that the pills that killed Prince were prescribed by a doctor.”

“There is no reliable evidence showing how Prince obtained the counterfeit Vicodin laced with fentanyl or who else may had a role in delivering the counterfeit Vicodin to Prince,” Metz said.

Investigators found evidence that Prince suffered from severe pain for a number of years and that hundreds of various sorts of painkillers were found in his residence, according to Metz.

The probe included searches of Prince’s computer, mobile phone records of his friends and interviews with associates. Some of the pills were prescribed to his bodyguard, Metz said, to protect the singer’s privacy.

Prince, known for his androgynous style and sexually charged songs, crafted a public image of living a clean and healthy vegan lifestyle.

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ABBA Reunites With Avatars for TV Tribute

It’s the closest thing yet to an ABBA reunion: computerized avatars of Sweden’s legendary disco group will perform during a televised tribute to the quartet to be broadcast this autumn, ABBA member Bjorn Ulvaeus said Thursday.

Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson split up in 1982 after dominating the disco scene for more than a decade with hits like “Waterloo”, “Dancing Queen”, “Mamma Mia” and “Super Trouper”.

The group, which has sold more than 400 million albums, has not sung together on stage since 1986.

The avatars will perform an as yet unnamed ABBA song during the tribute show, produced by British broadcaster BBC and US network NBC. Other top musical artists are also expected to perform.

“It’s a kind of ABBA tribute show, but the centerpiece … will be something I call ‘Abbatars’. It is digital versions of ABBA, from 1979,” Ulvaeus told AFP.

“It’s the first time it’s ever been done.”

In order to create the avatars, “techno artists” from Silicon Valley measured the heads of the four ABBA members and photographed them from all angles.

“With videos and lipsynching, they’ll create digital copies of us from 1979,” he said, referring to the year the album “Voulez-vous” was released.

Ulvaeus was in Brussels on Thursday to try to persuade European Broadcasting Union (EBU) member networks to sign on to the show.

The EBU is the broadcaster of the Eurovision Song Contest, the competition that launched ABBA on the international scene when it won in 1974 with the hit “Waterloo”.

“I hope that some of them (European broadcasters) will join us and make this … a global program at the end of this autumn,” Ulvaeus said.

The show is expected to go on tour the following year.

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