Ex-Algerian president Bouteflika, ousted amid protests, dies at 84

ALGIERS, Algeria — Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who fought for independence from France, reconciled his conflict-ravaged nation and was then ousted amid pro-democracy protests in 2019 after two decades in power, has died at age 84, state television announced Friday. The report on ENTV, citing a statement from the office of current President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, did not provide the cause of death or information about funeral arrangements. Bouteflika had suffered a stroke in 2013 that badly weakened him. Concerns about his health, kept secret from the Algerian public, helped feed public frustration with his 20-year, corruption-tarnished rule. Mass public protests by the Hirak movement led to his departure. Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics An astute political chameleon, Bouteflika had been known as a wily survivor ever since he fought for independence from colonial ruler France in the 1950s and 1960s. He stood up to Henry Kissinger as Algeria’s long-serving foreign minister, successfully negotiated with the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal to free oil ministers taken hostage in a 1975 attack on OPEC headquarters, and helped reconcile Algerian citizens with each other after a decade of civil war between radical Muslim militants and Algeria’s security forces. “I’m a non-conformist politician. I’m a revolutionary,” Bouteflika told The Associated Press on the eve of his first presidential victory in 1999, after a campaign tarnished by fraud charges that drove his six rivals to pull out of the vote. Upon taking office, Bouteflika promised “to definitively turn the somber pages of our history to work for a new era.”PASCAL GUYOT / AFP – Getty Images Born March 2, 1937, to Algerian parents in the border town of Oujda, Morocco, Bouteflika was among Algeria’s most enduring politicians. In 1956, Bouteflika entered the National Liberation Army, formed to fight Algeria’s bloody independence war. He commanded the southern Mali front and slipped into France clandestinely. After the war’s end, Bouteflika became foreign minister at just 25, at a time when Algeria was a model of doctrinaire socialism tethered to the Soviet Union. Its capital, Algiers, was nicknamed “Moscow on the Med.” He kept that post for 16 years, helping to raise Algeria’s influence and define the country as a leader of the Third World and the Non-Aligned Movements. He was active in the United Nations, and presided over the U.N. General Assembly in 1974. In 1978, slipped from sight for nearly two decades, spending more than six years in exile to escape corruption charges that were later dropped. Algeria’s army held the reins of power throughout that time. The National Liberation Army had been transformed into a single party that ruled until 1989, when a multiparty system was introduced. But as the Islamic Salvation Front party, or FIS, rapidly gained support, the army canceled Algeria’s first multi-party legislative elections in 1992 to thwart a likely victory by the Muslim fundamentalists. An insurgency erupted that left an estimated 200,000 dead over the ensuing years. Bouteflika took office in 1999, Algeria’s first civilian leader in more than three decades. He managed to bring stability to a country nearly brought to its knees by the violence, unveiling a bold program in 2005 to reconcile the fractured nation by persuading Muslim radicals to lay down their arms. Bouteflika and the armed forces neutralized Algeria’s insurgency, but then watched it metastasize into a Saharan-wide movement linked to smuggling and kidnapping — and to al-Qaida. Bouteflika stood with the United States in the fight against terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, particularly on intelligence-sharing and military cooperation. It marked a turnaround from the militantly anti-American, Soviet-armed Algeria of years past when figures like Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver took refuge there. Bouteflika initially championed post-colonial states, challenged what he saw as U.S. hegemony and helped his country into a seed-bed of 1960s idealism.LUKE FRAZZA / AFP – Getty Images Bouteflika’s powerful political machine had the constitution changed to cancel the presidency’s two-term limit. He was then re-elected in 2009 and 2013, amid charges of fraud and a lack of powerful challengers. His firebrand past dissolved as age and illness took its toll on the once-charismatic figure. Corruption scandals over infrastructure and hydrocarbon projects dogged him for years and tarnished many of his closest associates. His brother, two former prime ministers and other top officials are now in prison over corruption. Bouteflika balked at the region-wide calls for change embodied by the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions that overthrew three dictators to his east. Bouteflika tamped down unrest through salary and subsidy increases, a vigilant security force and a lack of unity in the country’s opposition. He also failed to restore civic trust or create an economy that could offer the jobs needed for Algeria’s growing youth population despite the nation’s vast oil and gas wealth. Bouteflika was increasingly absent from view during his third and fourth presidential terms after suffering a stroke. The extent to which Bouteflika was controlled by the army remained unclear. He once told the AP that he turned down the job of president in 1994 because he was unable to accept conditions set by the military. Algeria’s Hirak protests erupted after he announced plans to run for a fifth term in 2019, and it was the then-army chief who sealed Bouteflika’s fate by siding with the demonstrators. Bouteflika had no choice but to step down. Despite new elections and some gestures toward the protesters, Algeria’s leadership remains opaque and has recently cracked down on dissen t, notably among Berber populations. The secrecy surrounding Algeria’s leaders is such that it’s unclear whether Bouteflika ever married or had any survivors. Source link  More...

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Lil Nas X’s ‘Montero’ album and the power of unabashed queerness

The road to Lil Nas X’s debut album “Montero” has been an exhilarating affair, complete with detours like a chart-topping EP, “7,” show-stopping red carpet outfits, multiple awards and a run of viral music videos. The Georgia-born rapper’s meteoritic rise started with his track “Old Town Road” — released independently as a single in 2018 — which made the Billboard 100 and became a viral TikTok meme in the process. But the star’s music is only part of the story. Lil Nas X demonstrates a type of celebratory, unabashed queerness that is badly needed in the music industry right now, and culture more generally. some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone fwm no more. but before this month ends i want y’all to listen closely to c7osure. 🌈🤩✨ pic.twitter.com/O9krBLllqQ — MONTERO 🦋 (@LilNasX) June 30, 2019 The breakout success of “Old Town Road” sparked interesting and important conversations about race and country music. But after his June 2019 Twitter post celebrating his queer identify, Nas’ vibrant ascension took on a new purpose for his growing legion of fans — especially his LGBTQ listeners. In an industry still steeped in homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and overall anti-LGBTQ attitudes, Lil Nas X is a bold symbol of freedom. Nas is a disruptor, a title that took on new meaning as he began work on his debut album “Montero” in 2020, amid the Covid-19 pandemic and a broader fight against racial inequality. “Creating this album has been therapy for me,” Nas said in a Twitter post detailing his work on “Montero.” “I’ve learned to let go of trying to control people’s perception of who I am, what I can do, and where I will be. I’ve realized the only opinion of me that really matters is my own.” In an industry still steeped in homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and overall anti-LGBTQ attitudes, Lil Nas X is a bold symbol of freedom. The singer explores his search for self on tracks like “Sun Goes Down” — with its emotional lyrics that detail his own experience battling depression. But true to fashion, he still finds space for fun among his self-discovery, with thumping tracks like “Industry Baby” and “Montero (Call Me by Your Name).” Their visuals give him a chance to continue to push the comfort zone of popular culture, while tweaking the trolls who would love nothing more than to crush his confidence. The rollout for “Montero” has been equally vibrant, with Nas crafting a whimsical menagerie of unforgettable red carpet moments, live performances and videos that reflect the high energy of his current musical iteration. In March, the artist released the video for “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” to both fanfare and exhaustingly obtuse hate from public figures, fellow musicians and listeners. But his lap dance with the devil proved to be a perfectly choreographed conversation starter — with the video spotlighting an intentional representation of queer sexuality often hidden from view — specifically for Black and brown artists in the hypermasculine and often anti-LGBTQ hip hop genre. Nas kept that energy going with a BET Awards performance in June that combined choreography, a cast of gorgeous shirtless Black men and a kiss with one of his backup dancers. But this kind of confidence took years to build, as Nas told Out Magazine in an interview following the performance. In that interview he noted that while preparing for the performance was initially scary, he eventually embraced the chance to really flaunt his truth. That he is also able to use his art to take on those who criticize his sexuality is a bonus. “Y’all hate yourselves so much. Y’all live your lives trying your best to appease straight [people]. Y’all are uncomfortable with what I do because y’all are afraid they will be uncomfortable with you,” he tweeted in June in response to criticism of the performance. “Work on yourselves. I love who I am and whatever I decide to do. Get there.” Nas followed his BET Awards performance with the July release of his prison-themed video for “Industry Baby.” He performed a medley of “Industry Baby” and “Montero (Call Me By My Name)” at the MTV VMA awards in September — complete with another cast of Black and brown backup dancers and a steamy shower dance break. When he won the MTV VMA for video of the year, he gave a triumphant thank you to the “gay agenda.” It was a direct swipe at a ludicrous term that has long been weaponized against the LGBTQ community. Nas then stunned in three separate looks while strutting the red carpet at the Met Gala, a trio that included a luxurious cape detailed with gold beading, a suit of gold armor and a figure-hugging black and gold jumpsuit accessorized with a gold choker and chunky boots. To celebrate the album release, his team is running a series of eye-catching billboards this week that directly call out and parody the anti-LGBTQ outrage that seems to follow the artist, no matter what he does. It appears Nas has found a way to make outrage his fuel, cooly and calculatingly using the never-ending criticism to highlight the way the LGBTQ community continues to be marginalized, silenced and underestimated. And for Black gay men, his success is that much more important. Related The most celebrated and most visible queer voices in the music industry have typically been white men, from legends like Boy George, Elton John and George Michael to more recent acts like Troye Sivan, Sam Smith, Clay Aiken, Lance Bass and Adam Lambert. So for Nas, a dark-skinned, queer Black man with beautiful full features, to gain the traction and coverage he has over the past two years sets an important precedent. His impact is also being felt across the hip hop industry, which continues to be plagued by anti-LGBTQ attitudes — despite how the Black and brown queer community has historically supporting hip hop artists. In a welcome deviation from this historical stigma, Nas has garnered support from hip hop acts like Kid Cudi, who recently praised Nas for his attempts to “break down” the “homophobic cloud over hip-hop” and pledged to do all he could to “stand with him” and “do whatever I have to do to let him know — you have my support.” Montero is Nas’ given first name. So it feels only right that he named this album after himself, seeing that it embodies such an inspiring, and personal, journey of self-love. “I hope every single corner of the globe is reached with this album,” he told People Magazine, adding that, “It’s going to happen!” Related Lil Nas X’s infectious self-confidence and captivating artistry has carried him far — and his career is just beginning. We can assume the rapper will continue to influence pop culture through his zealous endorsement of the kind of freedom that comes when we prioritize, protect and proclaim our truth. Treye Green is a culture writer, editor and poet whose work blends his love of music, design, literature and style. His culture writing and production work have appeared in The Guardian, The Business of Fashion, CNN.com, “Good Morning America” and more.  Source link  More...

Brian Laundrie, fiancé and person of interest in disappearance of Gabby Petito, is missing, Florida official says

Authorities said Friday night that they do not know where the man named as a person of interest in the disappearance of Gabby Petito is. A spokesman for the city of North Port, Florida, where Brian Laundrie lives with his parents told NBC affiliate WFLA of Tampa that the family’s attorney had contacted city officials Friday evening, saying they were concerned about his whereabouts. Laundrie’s family requested to speak to police at the North Port, Florida, home they share with their son, who had been traveling cross-country with his fiancee before she was reported missing earlier this month, police said earlier. North Port spokesman Josh Taylor would not say when family or authorities were last certain of his Laundrie’s whereabouts. North Port police this week called Laundrie a “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance and have said he’s been uncooperative in the investigation. Laundrie has not spoken on Petito’s disappearance on the advice of family attorney Steven P. Bertolino, who has said police too often focus on the intimate partner. Bertolino did not respond to a request for comment Friday. WFLA reported that police entered the family’s home, where a crowd had gathered outside and shouted questions about Laundrie’s whereabouts, with empty paper bags Friday evening. Two law enforcement officials searched a Mustang convertible parked in the family’s driveway. Taylor confirmed Friday that police interviewed a woman who said on a video posted to TikTok recently that on Aug. 29, she and her boyfriend picked up a hitchhiker whom she later realized was Laundrie. In the video, the woman says that he offered $200 for a ride away from Grand Teton National Park but later got out of the car abruptly. The city spokesman did not say police verified the woman’s account, only that they had talked to her and that her account was part of the broader investigation. Earlier Friday in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” Friday, Cassie Laundrie said she has not spoken to her brother and is looking for answers. “I wish I could talk to him,” Cassie Laundrie said. “I’ve cooperated every way that I can. I wish I had information or I would give more.” Her brother and Petito began a cross-country tour of national parks in July, documenting their journey on YouTube and Instagram using the hashtag #VanLife. Brian Laundrie and that van, with Florida plates, returned to North Port, south of Tampa, on Sept. 1, 10 days before Petito’s family reported her missing, police said. Cassie Laundrie called her brother a “wonderful uncle” and a partner who has “been there every time Gabby has needed him,” adding that all she and her family want is for her safe return. “All I want is for her to come home safe and sound, and this to be just a big misunderstanding,” she said. Authorities across the U.S. are searching for Petito, who hasn’t been heard from since late August when she was believed to be in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyoming. At least a half-dozen law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are looking into her disappearance. On Aug. 12, police in Moab, Utah, responded to an alleged physical altercation between the two. In body camera footage released by police Thursday, Petito could be seen wiping away tears as she told the responding officer she was struggling with her mental health. Gabrielle Petito and Brian Laundrie.via Instagram In the nearly hourlong video, the couple admitted to arguing all morning. When the officer asked Brian Laundrie about scratches on his face, he responded: “She had her phone and was trying to get the keys from me. I said, ‘Let’s just step back and breathe,’ and she got me with her phone.” Cassie Laundrie told ABC that the body camera footage was “typical of both of them.” “Whenever they fight, they would take a little break and come back and be fine because that’s what you do in a couple,” she said. One officer wrote that Petito had slapped Brian Laundrie after an argument, at which point Laundrie allegedly attempted to lock her out of the van. She forced her way back in before Laundrie drove off, according to the report. The two told the officer that “they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime,” according to the report. The pair was told to separate for the night, with Petito maintaining possession of the van, according to the police report. No charges were filed. In the days after the Moab incident, Petito’s communications with her family stopped, police have said. Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, said the couple left Salt Lake City for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming around Aug. 24, which was when she said she last spoke to her daughter on a FaceTime call. She said she received texts sent from her daughter’s phone until Aug. 30, but she wasn’t sure whether her daughter sent them. Petito’s last text to her mother read: “No service in Yosemite.” It is unclear whether the couple ever made it to the California state park. Petito’s last post on Instagram is dated Aug. 25, with no location specified. Wilson Wong is a breaking news reporter with NBC News.  Antonio Planas Antonio Planas is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.  Dennis Romero Dennis Romero writes for NBC News and is based in Los Angeles. Andrew Blankstein contributed. Source link  More...

K-pop group BTS will join U.N. meeting in N.Y. as special envoys

The K-pop group BTS will visit the United Nations as presidential special envoys for South Korea. The Grammy-nominated boy band will be attending the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York, along with South Korean President Moon Jae-in from Sept. 19 to 23. The invite comes after Moon met with the stars and appointed them as “special presidential envoy for future generations and culture” at a Tuesday ceremony in the country’s capital of Seoul. “It is a huge honor, both as an individual and a citizen, to be able to hold the title of special presidential envoy for future generations and culture,” BTS member Kim Nam-joon, known as RM, shared on behalf of the group, the Korea Herald reported. “We’re always thinking about how we could give more and return the love we have received, and we’re just thankful that the president has presented us with such a big opportunity. We will do our best as special envoys,” he said. The seven-member group, which were each given diplomatic passports and fountain pens on Tuesday, is expected to make a speech for the United Nations where a video clip of their performance will be played. The K-pop sensation is anticipated to “deliver a message of comfort” to the global youth. Additionally, the group will participate in the second meeting of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Moment on Sept. 20. Among other objectives, the meeting seeks to highlight actions needed to make sure the Covid-19 “response and recovery efforts are equitable, inclusive and accelerate the transition to sustainable development,” according to its website. Following Moon’s announcement, BTS asked their young fans to share how their past two years have been for a collaboration with the United Nations called “Youth Today, Your story.” It won’t be the group’s first time visiting the U.N. In an effort to empower the youth, the group attended the 73rd session of the U.N. General Assembly in 2018 to help launch Generation Unlimited, a campaign to “get every young person into quality education, training or employment by 2030.” The focus behind this year’s General Assembly opening will be on emphasizing the “need for greater urgency and ambition to end the pandemic and ensure an equitable and green recovery and accelerated implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.” Joining more than a 100 world leaders in person, President Joe Biden is also set to deliver his first speech before the U.N. General Assembly since taking office on Sept. 21. Follow NBC Asian America on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Source link  More...

Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’ Season 3 is joyfully nonjudgmental — if slightly bittersweet

Discussions of young people and sexuality in popular culture often come laced with moral panic. Hook-up culture, teen pregnancy rates, single mothers, gender confusion, a crisis of masculinity — the youth are always seemingly in danger. All of this is presented with a cheerful lack of censure. The show loves everybody, and, indeed, every body. But Netflix’s comedy drama series “Sex Education,” which has just released its third season, is wonderful in part because it’s joyfully nonjudgmental. The students (and indeed the adults) at the fictitious British Moordale Secondary School masturbate, have sex, use contraception, deal with STDs, explore kink and have abortions. All of this is presented with a cheerful lack of censure. The show loves everybody, and, indeed, every body. This utopian depiction of a world in which all are accepted for who they are is exhilarating. Like most utopias, though, there’s also a large dollop of bitter in the sweet. Showing what could be inevitable makes you realize our current shortcomings, especially when it comes to the treatment of queer people, young people and anyone who’s defined as different. “Sex Education” may be an upbeat show, but it still has conflict. In this third season, the main antagonist is the new headmistress, Hope (Jemima Kirke). At first the hip, young Hope seems to a welcome change from the uptight former headmaster, Michael Groff (Alistair Petrie.) But Hope quickly reveals herself to be both a kinder and more efficient authoritarian. Determined to clean up the school’s scandalous ways, she enforces a draconian dress code that especially targets gender nonconforming students. There’s plenty of other drama as well — most notably the ongoing will they/won’t they tension between leads Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Maeve (Emma Mackey). For every broken heart, though, there’s a tearful reconciliation, and for every petty cruelty there’s a surprising and moving act of solidarity. Unbearable mean girls and angry outcasts alike find solidarity and joy. The show’s idealism can sometimes feel a little over the top, however — especially when it comes to systemic cultural problems. “Sex Education” is clear-eyed about the ways the rhetoric of safety, protection and responsibility can be used to police those who are different. But when it comes to depicting actual law enforcement, the show is much more credulous. In season two, dim but lovable Aimee (Aimée Lou Wood) is sexually assaulted by a man on the bus. Maeve, her best friend, offers sympathy — and then bullies her into going to the police. This is presented as the obviously correct and beneficial move, even though police are often unsympathetic and many survivors feel retraumatized by the system. Maeve is poor and lives in a trailer park — it’s plausible that she’s seen how cops treat those with little social capital, and might be at least a little nervous about reporting loved ones to them. But in the show’s world, the police are held up unquestioningly as arbiters of justice. When Maeve finds that her mother (Anne-Marie Duff), an addict, is using again, she unhesitatingly calls family services and the authorities on her. In “Sex Education,” the powers that be are on the side of young people. But in the real world, police and the government aren’t necessarily good at, or even interested in, helping children or victims. Her mother is furious, but the outcome of Maeve’s decision is straightforwardly positive: Her sister is quickly placed with an affluent, loving and generally perfect foster family. In “Sex Education,” the powers that be are on the side of young people. But in the real world, police and the government aren’t necessarily good at, or even interested in, helping children or victims. These aren’t the only issues that “Sex Education” sidesteps. The multiracial and multiethnic student body is rarely troubled by post-Brexit xenophobia. Racism is alluded to for the first time in season three, but it isn’t explored in a main plot line. (The show’s repeated discussion of homophobia is a distinctive contrast.) Season three is also the first one to deal with trans and nonbinary prejudice. It does so with honesty and sympathy. But it doesn’t discuss the way that antitrans sentiment in the U.K. has been mainstreamed not just by conservatives, but by supposed feminists and leftists. The show makes it easier for students at Moorhead to rally together in part by eliding or downplaying broader political tensions and animosities which might divide them. Related This isn’t to say that “Sex Education” should be a grimmer or bleaker show. Again, optimism, acceptance and love are what fans like me tune in to see. Season three delivers on each of those themes with no appreciable diminishment in quality or intelligence. But when you’re pointing the way to a better place, it’s worth noting just how far you have to go to get there. “Sex Education” is a dream of a world in which young people are loved and respected no matter who they are. It’s also a reminder that we don’t live in that world right now. Noah Berlatsky is a freelance writer and critic in Chicago. Source link  More...

Google and Apple remove Russian opposition app before election

Google and Apple have removed an app developed by Russian activists supporting jailed Kremlin critic and opposition leader Alexei Navalny from the Russian versions of their app stores, his team said Friday, after Russia accused the American technology companies of election interference. The tactical voting app allows voters who do not want President Vladamir Putin’s ruling political party, United Russia, to win the election to organize around a single opposition candidate in each of the 225 electoral districts in an effort to boost the number of non-Kremlin-approved politicians in power. “Removing the Navalny app from stores is a shameful act of political censorship,” said Ivan Zhdanov, a Navalny ally, in a statement on Twitter. “Russia’s authoritarian government and propaganda will be thrilled.” Apple and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Alexei Navalny’s Smart Voting app is seen on a phone in Moscow.Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters Big Tech companies have come under intense pressure from the Russian government to take down content deemed illegal in the run-up to parliamentary and local elections that run Friday through Sunday. Since mid-August, Russia’s federal censorship agency Roskomnadzor has threatened Apple and Google with fines if they didn’t remove Navalny’s tactical voting app from the App Store and Google Play store. In notices sent to the technology companies, the censorship body stated that any involvement in the activities of an extremist organization is considered a felony.  Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation nonprofit, along with his movement’s headquarters, were categorized by the Russian government as extremist organizations since May, as previously reported by the Russian news agency TASS. Navalny was arrested and jailed in February after returning to Russia from Germany, where he spent months recovering from a poisoning that he, the United States and the European Union have attributed to the ruling Russian party. The Kremlin has denied any role in his illness.  Olivia Solon is a senior reporter on the tech investigations team for NBC News. Source link  More...

T.I., wife Tiny won’t face sex assault charges in L.A.

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles officials will not prosecute rapper T.I. or his wife Tiny over 2005 sexual assault allegations because the statute of limitations in the case has expired, documents show. The statute of limitations in such cases is 10 years, and the decision to decline the case was based on that timeline, according to documents from the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. Earlier this year, the woman reported to Los Angeles police that while with friends in 2005, she met the couple and believed they sexually assaulted her, a document from the DA states. Her attorney said she was drugged and raped. T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, and his wife Tiny, Tameka Harris, have denied any allegations of misconduct. “Mr. and Mrs. Harris are pleased, but not surprised, by the district attorney’s decision to dismiss these meritless allegations,” the couple’s attorney, Shawn Holley, said in a statement Thursday. “We appreciate the DA’s careful review of the case and are grateful to be able to put the matter behind us and move on.” The woman who made the accusation has not been publicly identified. Her attorney has said that she was given a drink by Tiny, and that later in the couple’s hotel room, she became lightheaded and dizzy and was sexually assaulted. “The decision by the L.A. prosecutor does not vindicate Clifford Harris or Tiny Harris from the acts of raping and drugging Jane Doe,” the woman’s attorney, Tyrone A. Blackburn, said Thursday. “It only amplifies the need to do away with the statute of limitations for sex crimes,” he said. A dozen women have accused T.I. and Tiny of sexual assault or misconduct, and some of the allegations involved suspected drugging, their attorneys, Blackburn and Los Angeles lawyer Lisa Bloom, have said. T.I. and Tiny have not been charged with any crime. Another attorney for them, Steve Sadow, said in March that the couple “continue to deny in the strongest possible terms these groundless and unjustified allegations.” A spokesman for the Los Angeles County DA said the office had no further comment. In February, MTV Entertainment said it was suspending production of the VH1 show “T.I. & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle” due to the allegations. Diana Dasrath Diana Dasrath is entertainment producer and senior reporter for NBC News covering all platforms. Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News. Source link  More...

Police reports, social media provide timeline of Gabby Petito’s disappearance after road trip with fiancé

Before 22-year-old Gabby Petito went missing, she and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, were in love and ready to embark on the road trip of a lifetime. The couple began a cross-country tour of national parks in July, documenting their journey on YouTube and Instagram using the hashtag #VanLife. Now, authorities across the U.S. are mounting a search for Petito, who hasn’t been heard from since late August when she was believed to be in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyoming. At least a half-dozen law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are looking into her disappearance. Police in Florida this week called Laundrie a “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance and have said he’s been uncooperative in the investigation. Laundrie will not speak on the matter on the advice of his family attorney, Steven P. Bertolino, who said police too often focus on the intimate partner. On Thursday, Bertolino declined to comment. Early days of the relationship Petito and Laundrie met in high school, Petito’s mother said, and announced their engagement last year. “Brian asked me to marry him and I said yes!” Petito wrote on Instagram. “You make life feel unreal, and everyday is such a dream with you.” Petito, of Blue Point, New York, later moved to North Port, Florida, to live with Laundrie, Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, said. This year’s road trip wasn’t Petito’s first. She documented a western-bound trip on Instagram in 2019. In a January 2020 post, she said driving across the country to California and Oregon was an “absolute dream.” And in May 2020, she posted that she couldn’t wait to get back to “traveling the world” with Laundrie. “She wanted to cross the country in the camper van and live the van life and live free. This was her dream,” Schmidt told NBC affiliate KSL. Road trip begins in early July Petito and Laundrie left Blue Point, New York, on July 2 in a 2012 Ford Transit van, according to her social media posts and Schmidt’s statements to KSL. The couple chronicled their trip on their Instagram accounts and YouTube under the moniker Nomadic Statik. The social media posts and statements from Petito’s family provide a footprint of the couple’s travels, indicating they drove about 3,800 miles, to Kansas, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming before Petito was reported missing. In a blurb on the couple’s sole YouTube video, they noted they had traveled together before. “After our first cross country trip in a little Nissan Sentra, we both decided we wanted to downsize our lives and travel full time,” they wrote. Instagram posts from July show she and Laundrie trekked the country’s national parks, visiting Monument Rocks in Kansas and the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado before heading to Utah. “There’s no place like the tiny home we built,” Petito wrote in a July 4 post from Kansas. A post from July 16 placed them in Utah’s Zion National Park. “The past two nights camping in Zion have been so cool, literally,” Petito wrote on Instagram. “We hiked up here in about 100 [degrees] and it was so nice coming back to our campsite, watching the sky fill with dark clouds, and view the lightning storm in the nice cool air of the light rain.” Five days later, Petito posted from Bryce Canyon National Park, also in Utah. Posts later that month placed the couple at other landmarks around the state, including Mystic Hot Springs and Canyonlands National Park. August altercation documented by Utah police On Aug. 12, police in Moab, Utah, responded to a report of a “domestic problem” between Petito and Laundrie, according to police reports released this week. The alleged altercation happened as Petito and Laundrie were driving toward Arches National Park, according to a police report. A responding officer reported that the couple’s van was traveling about 45 mph in a 15 mph zone. As the officer turned on the lights to pull over the van, it swerved and hit a curb before coming to a stop, according to the report. Another officer wrote that Petito had slapped Laundrie after an argument, at which point Laundrie allegedly attempted to lock her out of the van. She forced her way back in before Laundrie drove off, according to the report. The two told the officer that “they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime,” according to the report. The pair was told to separate for the night, with Petito maintaining possession of the van. No charges were filed. Petito and Laundrie also told officers they were struggling with their mental health, and neither were on medication. The long road trip was taking a toll on them, Laundrie told an officer. “The time spent created emotional strain between them and increased the number of arguments,” the report said. Bodycam footage released Thursday also captured some of the encounter with police. It showed an officer talking to Laundrie and an emotional Petito after authorities pulled over the van. Petito could be seen wiping away tears as she told the responding officer she was struggling. “I’m sorry,” Petito said after the officer asked why she was crying. “We’ve just been fighting this morning. Some personal issues.” Laundrie added: “It was a long day. We were camping yesterday.” When the officer asked Laundrie about scratches on his face, he responded: “She had her phone and was trying to get the keys from me. I said, ‘Let’s just step back and breathe,’ and she got me with her phone.” Petito reported missing In the days after the Moab incident, Petito’s communications with her family stopped, police have said. Schmidt said the couple left Salt Lake City for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming around Aug. 24, which was when she said she last spoke to her daughter on a FaceTime call. She said she received texts sent from her daughter’s phone until Aug. 30, but she wasn’t sure whether her daughter sent them. Petito’s last text to her mother read: “No service in Yosemite.” It is unclear whether the couple ever made it to the California state park. Petito’s last post on Instagram is dated Aug. 25, with no location specified. What happened next is mostly a mystery, her family and officials say. What is known is that Laundrie made it to Florida with the van, according to police. Police in North Port said they recovered the van Sept. 11 at the home the couple shared with Laundrie’s parents. Police said Laundrie returned to North Port on Sept. 1, 10 days before Petito’s family reported her missing. “Every day the search for Gabby continues the Schmidt and Petito family becomes more desperate,” Petito’s family’s attorney, Richard Stafford, said this week. “They are frantically searching for answers and information in their daughter’s disappearance while Brian sits in the comfort of his home.” Bertolino said in a statement Wednesday that his client would not speak on the matter because “intimate partners” are often the first police focus on. “I have been informed that the North Port, Florida. police have named Brian Laundrie as a ‘person of interest’ in this matter,” Bertolino said. “This formality has not really changed the circumstances of Mr. Laundrie being the focus and attention of law enforcement, and Mr. Laundrie will continue to remain silent on the advice of counsel.” Source link  More...

Biden outlines ‘a fair shot’ for the middle class in economic speech

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden outlined his administration’s goal of raising taxes on the wealthy to strengthen the middle class and boost the economy in remarks Thursday afternoon at the White House. “The data is absolutely clear: Over the past 40 years, the wealthy have gotten wealthier and too many corporations have lost their sense of responsibility to their workers, their communities, and the country,” Biden said. Biden said that the U.S. economy works for the wealthiest taxpayers and biggest corporations while failing to give middle-class families or low-income communities a fair shot. “Big corporations and the super-wealthy have to start paying their fair share of taxes, it’s long overdue,” said Biden. “I’m not out to punish anyone. I’m a capitalist, if you can make a million or a billion dollars that’s great, god bless you, all I’m asking is pay your fair share.” The president plans to give the IRS tools to crack down on the wealthiest Americans who have evaded paying taxes, the White House said in a fact sheet about the plan. Biden plans to emphasize that his administration will protect Americans earning less than $400,000 a year. To deliver these changes, the president is counting on Congress to pass his infrastructure plan, which he has said would create millions of well-paying jobs, and the $3.5 trillion bill to implement his Build Back Better agenda to expand the social safety net. Democrats face an uphill climb to pass both pieces of legislation because of divisions between moderates and progressives. Biden acknowledges there is “a long way to go” yet, but he says he believes both the bipartisan infrastructure bill, as well as the reconciliation bill, will eventually end up on his desk to be signed. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing that Biden will meet virtually with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday to discuss the budget reconciliation bill and other legislative priorities. Biden’s speech comes a few weeks after a weaker-than-expected jobs report from August, which he attributed to the delta variant that has become the dominant coronavirus strain nationwide. The House returns next week for the first time in about a month to continue work on the Democrats’ legislative agenda. Rebecca Shabad is a congressional reporter for NBC News, based in Washington. Geoff Bennett Geoff Bennett is a White House correspondent for NBC News. Teaganne Finn Teaganne Finn is a political reporter for NBC News. Source link  More...

Pensioner National Insurance levy will rise. Charged on pension income | Personal Finance | Finance

When I wrote Pensioners to pay National Insurance! Shock tax move to fund social care on September 4, I feared I was exaggerating the threat. Especially since I hadn’t seen any other journalist pick up on the danger. I needn’t have worried. Three days later, Boris Johnson announced that pensioners really will pay NI, although he dressed this up as an additional levy to fund health and social care. My concern now is that this is only the start. That 1.25 percent levy is likely to rise and rise over time, and extend far beyond its original remit. Because that’s what taxes do. The health and social care levy will become a temptation for every future Chancellor, in every Budget, year after year after year. History shows this is what happens, whenever a new tax is introduced. It starts low to ease everybody into it, then the pain ratchets up. It happened with insurance premium tax (IPT), which adds more than £200 a year to everyone’s car, home and travel insurance premiums. IPT was introduced in 1994 at a modest 2.5 percent. Successive Chancellors have increased it six times since then, and today it stands at 12 percent, rising to a thumping 20 percent on travel insurance, electrical appliance insurance and some vehicle insurance. It’s the same story with stamp duty, which was a flat one percent in 1991 but now peaks at a top rate of 12 percent. Who’s to say the new National Insurance health and social care levy will not follow the same trajectory? Not me. I’m not the only one worried. The Chartered Institute of Taxation was the first to realise that the new levy is a radical new revenue raising opportunity. READ MORE: £100,000 social care fees nightmare: ‘My nan sold home but feared m… After that, the next logical step would see National Insurance extended to income generated from pensions and savings, if it exceeds the personal allowance after being added to the State Pension. Politicians could sneak that through under the guise of intergenerational fairness. That may be too big a step for Boris Johnson, who is coming under fire from his own side after his unpopular tax blitz. Boris could easily come back to it in future and even if he doesn’t, it will remain a tempting target for future administrations, including Labour ones. The principle that pensioners can be charged NI has been established. The only question now is how much they will pay. Source link  More...

Not state pension age? Withdrawing your pension could mean you miss out on extra cash | Personal Finance | Finance

Accessing one’s pension early may seem like a potentially attractive option to boost finances in the short-term, especially during the uncertain economic times that are still ongoing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but experts have warned that by drawing from one’s pension, people may be inadvertently hurting themselves by negatively impacting their ability to claim benefits such as Universal Credit. New research from consultants LCP and EngageSmarter has found that large numbers of people aged 55 plus who access their pensions using the new ‘Pension Freedoms’ may be oblivious to the potentially devastating impact on their benefits. A new research paper published today explains how getting pension freedoms wrong could cost people their benefit, whilst a new website tool has also been launched which allows savers to check whether this would affect them. With imminent cuts to Universal Credit and the end of the furlough scheme, growing numbers of people may be considering accessing their pension for additional financial support, but this paper and website provide a warning that this could have a devastating effect on their benefits position. Yet there is little awareness of this issue in the pensions industry and little to prevent savers making poor choices. Where people under state pension age take money out of a pension pot, this can affect their benefit entitlement in two main ways: READ MORE: Pensioners to pay 12% National Insurance! New health and social care levy threat If any of these takes money from a pension – perhaps because they are under financial pressure – this could have an adverse impact on their benefits. But tailored advice and guidance on what savers in this situation should do is not routinely offered by pension schemes, pension providers or official guidance bodies. There is a real risk that members could unwittingly think they are improving their financial position by drawing on their pension but end up making themselves worse off. In response, the report’s authors – Matt Gosden and Peter Robertson of EngageSmarter and Steve Webb of LCP – have designed a free website tool where savers who are on benefits and considering accessing their pension can get a feel for whether this is likely to impact on their benefits. One of the authors, Peter Robertson commented on the findings of the research, stressing that the current guidance available is not enough to properly inform people needing advice, which could end up leaving them in financial difficulty as a result. “The benefits system, particularly for those of working age, was never designed with this situation in mind. With millions of people starting to build up modest pension pots through automatic enrolment, this issue is only going to get bigger. “It is unreasonable to expect individual savers to understand all of this complexity, so the industry and regulators need to work together to help people make the right choices.” One of the factors that could cause Britons to consider accessing their pension is the scrapping of the temporary Universal Credit uplift, which will officially end on October 6, taking away over £1,000 from claimants each year. The £20-per-week uplift had been introduced to help people through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing an additional £1,040 a year to those in need of supplementary income. However, this will be stripped away in a matter of weeks and is expected to push over half a million people into poverty. A group of single mothers who are recipients of Universal Credit appeared in Parliament recently, calling for the Government to keep the uplift in place and warning that losing the extra cash will mean they will struggle to feed their children. Source link  More...

Universal Credit reduces as you earn – but some could keep all of their earnings | Personal Finance | Finance

Sonya Ruparel, Director of Programmes and Partnerships at Turn2Us, said: “There is an endemic issue of unclaimed benefits in the UK. “The confusing, sometimes hostile, and often stigmatising world of social security has led to millions of people not claiming their entitlements.” The charity has launched a new calculator and guidance to help people work out what they could be entitled to – other benefits calculators are available at gov.uk. And it’s not just Universal Credit that claimants could be missing out on, the £15billion includes Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support, Child Benefit and PIP. Source link  More...

Sony subsidiary makes a PS5 SSD that’s even further out of your reach

Sony subsidiary Nextorage has released an SSD that’s perfect for the PS5 (via Tom’s Hardware): it has a heatsink (which Sony says is a requirement), is fast enough to well surpass Sony’s recommendations, and comes in 1TB and 2TB varieties, which gives you plenty of storage for your games. The catch? It’s kinda expensive, isn’t available in the US, and doesn’t seem to have an official “PlayStation approved” stamp despite its maker’s affiliation with Sony. Nextorage describes itself as a “Sony group company specializing in the memory storage solutions business,” and its NEM-PA SSD ticks all the boxes for PlayStation 5 compatibility. When news of the drive first broke, it seemed like the solution to the confusion that can currently come with expanding your PS5’s storage. Indeed, Nextorage’s drive looks to be a perfect fit. Gigazine actually tested one and says that not only is it just as fast as the console’s internal SSD (at least when it comes to game load times), the NEM-PA fits in the PS5’s slot like… well, like it was made for it. It looks lovely, but why does that say “tested by Nextorage?”Image: Nextorage But nothing in life is perfect or straightforward, so we have to address some caveats. One is that the SSD doesn’t appear to be for sale outside of Japan: we couldn’t find anything from Nextorage on Amazon US, Newegg, or B&H. Second, it also doesn’t look like a great deal based on its list price in Japan — the 1TB model is listed for 36,444 yen, which is roughly $330 USD. For comparison, one of our top PS5 SSD picks is the WD Black SN850, the 1TB version of which is listed on the same Japanese store for 29,540 yen, or roughly $270 USD. This expensive SSD doesn’t seem to be available outside of Japan It also doesn’t seem like the PlayStation team necessarily had a ton of involvement with this SSD, despite Nextorage being a Sony subsidiary. (Even that has a caveat, as Sony’s role appears to be closer to that of joint owner — Digitimes reports that Phison Electronics now owns a 49 percent stake in the company, a fact supported by Nextorage’s about page.) Nextorage posted a YouTube video that mentions the SSD being used in the PS5, but the description says: Performance with PlayStation®5 is tested by Nextorage. This is not a product developed under the license program of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. Compatibility and performance are not guaranteed for all game titles. This is one of two product images on the Yodobashi store. If you look closely, you can see a PS5 reference.Image: Yodobashi/Nextorage That’s not to say Nextorage isn’t tying this SSD to the PS5, because it’s trying hard — the product page features a section about how to install the drive into a console, along with a section about how it can be used to hold PlayStation games. But for those of us hoping Sony will simplify the PS5’s storage situation, this isn’t it — at least not until Sony gives it a PlayStation stamp of approval and plans for a global release. Since there doesn’t seem to be any reason to buy this drive over any others (unless it’s the only one in stock and you’re desperate), you may want to check out our PS5 SSD buyer’s guide. Source link  More...

Best cheap Amazon Echo deals September 2021

When it comes to smart speakers, Amazon has a slew of voice-enabled Echo devices to choose from, one for practically every occasion. Maybe you want to add Alexa to a room, for example, or you’re looking for an Echo device that will allow you to easily manage your lightning or other smart home products. Regardless of the reason, these are the best Echo deals available right now. The best Echo Dot deals Late last year, Amazon released the fourth generation of the Echo Dot, which looks more like a sphere than an actual dot. But if you prefer the previous design, don’t worry: Amazon has not discontinued the third-gen Echo Dot, which still retains the familiar dot shape. We’ve previously seen the fourth-gen Echo Dot drop to an all-time low of $29, however, it’s currently only available at Amazon, Best Buy, and other retailers for full price. Best Buy, however, will also throw in a free Sengled smart bulb and take $10 off if you buy two, meaning you’d pay $90 instead of $100. There is also a model with a built-in LED display that showcases the time, weather, and other info that is available for $60, the full retail price. Amazon Echo Dot (2020) The fourth-gen Echo Dot features a more spherical design than an actual dot but can still do all the things Alexa does with other Echo models. The best Echo Dot Kids Edition deals The fourth-gen Echo Dot Kids Edition is as spherical as its adult version but is designed to look like a tiger or panda. The device also comes with a year of Amazon’s Kid Plus service, which provides access to a slew of kid-friendly content, like audiobooks and games. Like the fourth-gen Echo Dot, the Kids Edition is currently available at Amazon, Best Buy, and other retailers for $60, the full MSRP. Amazon is selling a discounted bundle for $75, however, which includes an Echo Dot Kids Edition and an Echo Glow. Echo Dot Kids Edition (2020) Amazon’s kid-centric Echo Dot device with parental controls and one year of Amazon’s Kid Plus service at no extra cost. The best Amazon Echo deals The fourth-gen Amazon Echo has also received a makeover. Like the aforementioned fourth-gen Echo Dot, the 2020 Amazon Echo has a sphere-shaped design, but it’s noticeably bigger than the Echo Dot. That said, it also touts a built-in smart home hub and produces better sound, thanks to a pair of 0.8-inch tweeters and a 3-inch woofer. Although we’ve seen the Echo drop to as low as $60 during Amazon Prime Day, it’s only available at Amazon, Best Buy, and other retailers right now for $100. Amazon does offer a $100 bundle that includes a free Ring Smart Bulb, though, and Target is currently taking $20 off a set of two Echos, bringing the bundled price down to $180. Amazon Echo (fourth-gen, two-pack) The latest Amazon Echo is the most capable smart speaker Amazon has ever produced. It offers booming sound and ample functionality, especially for those looking to capitalize on their smart home devices. At Target, you can currently save $20 on a pair at checkout. Amazon Echo (fourth-gen) The latest Echo opts for a spherical build and better sound, while maintaining its approachable price tag. The best Amazon Echo Studio deals If you’re interested in an Alexa smart speaker with better audio quality and Dolby Atmos support, the Echo Studio is the Amazon product to check out. There are no deals currently available for the Echo Studio, but it is available for purchase at its usual price of $200 at Amazon, Best Buy, and Target. Amazon Echo Studio A great-sounding smart speaker that features support for a slew of streaming music services. The best Echo Show 5 deals If you are looking for a compact Echo device that functions more as a smart clock than an entertainment speaker, the Echo Show 5 is the Echo device to consider. The latest edition, which launched in June, features an always-on microphone, an upgraded 2-megapixel camera, a 5.5-inch display, and a physical shutter, allowing you to block the camera’s view. The latest Echo Show 6 is currently available for $85 at Best Buy and Amazon. If you prefer the first-gen model, it’s available at the same retailers for $80 (Best Buy, Amazon). Amazon Echo Show 5 (2021, second-gen) Amazon’s Echo Show 5 is an ideal smart display for a nightstand. You can set alarms with Alexa using your voice, play music, control smart displays, get a weather report, and more. When the alarm goes off, tap the top of the Echo Show 5 to snooze it. The best Echo Show 5 Kids Edition deals The Echo Dot isn’t the only Echo device with a kid-friendly design. The Echo Show 5 Kids Edition offers all of the same features as the standard, second-gen Echo Show 5, only with a vibrant print on the rear and a year of Amazon’s Kid Plus service, which grants your family access to a trove of videos, games, and other kid-friendly content. It even comes with a two-year warranty, providing a bit of protection from whatever your child might (literally) throw at it. The Echo Show 5 Kids Edition is currently available from Amazon and Best Buy for $95. If you’re looking for add-ons, you can also pick up an Echo Show 5 Kids Edition with an adjustable stand for $115 or an Echo Show 5 Kids Edition with an Echo Glow for $110, a $15 discount, through Amazon. Amazon Echo Show 5 Kids Edition The Echo Show 5 Kids Edition is exactly that: a second-gen Echo Show 5 with a colorful design, a two-year warranty, and a year of Amazon Kids Plus services, granting your child access to a robust assortment of kid-friendly content. The best Echo Show 8 deals Like the Echo Show 5, the Echo Show 8 is available in two distinct models. Both feature 8-inch displays and dual speakers. However, unlike the first-gen Echo Show 8, the new model is equipped with a 13-megapixel camera and some unique software tricks, one of which grants it the ability to keep the subject centered in the frame as they move around. When pitted against the Google Home Hub, their closest competitor in terms of price and functionality, both iterations of the Echo Show 8 are better options for a few reasons: they feature slightly larger displays, better speakers, and cameras that allow you to use them as video chatting devices for Zoom calls. We have seen the first-gen Show 8 go as low as $65. However, it’s currently only available for $110 — its full retail price — at Amazon and Best Buy. There are also a few bundles available for a few dollars more. For $120, you can get a first-gen Echo Show 8 and a 1080p security camera, or a first-gen Echo Show 8 with an adjustable stand for $131. The second-generation Echo Show 8 is available at Amazon and Best Buy for $130. Like the last-gen model, it’s also available in a bundle that contains a Blink Mini for $140 or with an adjustable stand for $155. Amazon Echo Show 8 (second-gen) The Echo Show 8 is the midsized smart display in Amazon’s current Echo lineup, and can be used to display the weather, news, calendars, grocery lists, and more. You can also use it to control your smart home devices, watch streaming video, or listen to music. It even supports video calling via Zoom and Amazon’s Alexa calling service. The best Echo Show 10 deals Recently, Amazon released a third-generation Echo Show 10. This device features a 10.1-inch HD screen and, unlike the Show 5 and 8, this model allows you to adjust the angle of the screen. It’s also mounted on a motorized swiveling base that lets the screen follow you as you move. If you plan on doing a lot of video calling, this is the model to get. We have seen the latest Echo Show 10 get discounted as low as $200, but no active deals are available right now. But if you still want to pick it up, you can get it for its usual $250 price at Amazon and Best Buy. Target is also offering $100 off a pair of Echo Show 10s at checkout through October 2nd, bringing the price of two down to $400. All three retailers are also offering a discounted bundle, which includes an Echo Show 10 and a Blink Mini security camera, for $260 (Amazon, Best Buy, Target). Amazon Echo Show 10 (third gen) Amazon’s new rotating Echo Show 10 has a motor within its cylindrical base that lets its 10.1-inch display spin around to find you, so you’ll always have the screen within view. It’s the best Alexa smart display for making video calls. Sign up for the newsletter Verge Deals Subscribe to get the best Verge-approved tech deals of the week. Source link  More...

Ex-Algerian president Bouteflika, ousted amid protests, dies at 84

ALGIERS, Algeria — Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who fought for independence from France, reconciled his conflict-ravaged nation and was then ousted amid pro-democracy protests in 2019 after two decades in power, has died at age 84, state television announced Friday. The report on ENTV, citing a statement from the office of current President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, did not provide the cause of death or information about funeral arrangements. Bouteflika had suffered a stroke in 2013 that badly weakened him. Concerns about his health, kept secret from the Algerian public, helped feed public frustration with his 20-year, corruption-tarnished rule. Mass public protests by the Hirak movement led to his departure. Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics An astute political chameleon, Bouteflika had been known as a wily survivor ever since he fought for independence from colonial ruler France in the 1950s and 1960s. He stood up to Henry Kissinger as Algeria’s long-serving foreign minister, successfully negotiated with the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal to free oil ministers taken hostage in a 1975 attack on OPEC headquarters, and helped reconcile Algerian citizens with each other after a decade of civil war between radical Muslim militants and Algeria’s security forces. “I’m a non-conformist politician. I’m a revolutionary,” Bouteflika told The Associated Press on the eve of his first presidential victory in 1999, after a campaign tarnished by fraud charges that drove his six rivals to pull out of the vote. Upon taking office, Bouteflika promised “to definitively turn the somber pages of our history to work for a new era.”PASCAL GUYOT / AFP – Getty Images Born March 2, 1937, to Algerian parents in the border town of Oujda, Morocco, Bouteflika was among Algeria’s most enduring politicians. In 1956, Bouteflika entered the National Liberation Army, formed to fight Algeria’s bloody independence war. He commanded the southern Mali front and slipped into France clandestinely. After the war’s end, Bouteflika became foreign minister at just 25, at a time when Algeria was a model of doctrinaire socialism tethered to the Soviet Union. Its capital, Algiers, was nicknamed “Moscow on the Med.” He kept that post for 16 years, helping to raise Algeria’s influence and define the country as a leader of the Third World and the Non-Aligned Movements. He was active in the United Nations, and presided over the U.N. General Assembly in 1974. In 1978, slipped from sight for nearly two decades, spending more than six years in exile to escape corruption charges that were later dropped. Algeria’s army held the reins of power throughout that time. The National Liberation Army had been transformed into a single party that ruled until 1989, when a multiparty system was introduced. But as the Islamic Salvation Front party, or FIS, rapidly gained support, the army canceled Algeria’s first multi-party legislative elections in 1992 to thwart a likely victory by the Muslim fundamentalists. An insurgency erupted that left an estimated 200,000 dead over the ensuing years. Bouteflika took office in 1999, Algeria’s first civilian leader in more than three decades. He managed to bring stability to a country nearly brought to its knees by the violence, unveiling a bold program in 2005 to reconcile the fractured nation by persuading Muslim radicals to lay down their arms. Bouteflika and the armed forces neutralized Algeria’s insurgency, but then watched it metastasize into a Saharan-wide movement linked to smuggling and kidnapping — and to al-Qaida. Bouteflika stood with the United States in the fight against terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, particularly on intelligence-sharing and military cooperation. It marked a turnaround from the militantly anti-American, Soviet-armed Algeria of years past when figures like Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver took refuge there. Bouteflika initially championed post-colonial states, challenged what he saw as U.S. hegemony and helped his country into a seed-bed of 1960s idealism.LUKE FRAZZA / AFP – Getty Images Bouteflika’s powerful political machine had the constitution changed to cancel the presidency’s two-term limit. He was then re-elected in 2009 and 2013, amid charges of fraud and a lack of powerful challengers. His firebrand past dissolved as age and illness took its toll on the once-charismatic figure. Corruption scandals over infrastructure and hydrocarbon projects dogged him for years and tarnished many of his closest associates. His brother, two former prime ministers and other top officials are now in prison over corruption. Bouteflika balked at the region-wide calls for change embodied by the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions that overthrew three dictators to his east. Bouteflika tamped down unrest through salary and subsidy increases, a vigilant security force and a lack of unity in the country’s opposition. He also failed to restore civic trust or create an economy that could offer the jobs needed for Algeria’s growing youth population despite the nation’s vast oil and gas wealth. Bouteflika was increasingly absent from view during his third and fourth presidential terms after suffering a stroke. The extent to which Bouteflika was controlled by the army remained unclear. He once told the AP that he turned down the job of president in 1994 because he was unable to accept conditions set by the military. Algeria’s Hirak protests erupted after he announced plans to run for a fifth term in 2019, and it was the then-army chief who sealed Bouteflika’s fate by siding with the demonstrators. Bouteflika had no choice but to step down. Despite new elections and some gestures toward the protesters, Algeria’s leadership remains opaque and has recently cracked down on dissen t, notably among Berber populations. The secrecy surrounding Algeria’s leaders is such that it’s unclear whether Bouteflika ever married or had any survivors. Source link  More...

Advocacy groups call on Biden administration to halt deportations to Haiti

IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser. As ICE prepares to send numerous deportation flights to Haiti, advocacy groups are calling on the Biden administration to halt those plans while the country deals with political turmoil and recovers from a deadly earthquake.Sept. 17, 2021 Read More Source link  More...

Succession: Adrien Brody, Alexander Skarsgard and Hope Davis debut in season three trailer | Ents & Arts News

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Nadine Dorries isn’t afraid of fanning the culture war flames – leaving the arts sector concerned | Ents & Arts News

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Marilyn Manson: Judge dismisses ex-girlfriend’s lawsuit accusing star of rape and physical abuse | Ents & Arts News

A judge in California has dismissed a lawsuit from one of Marilyn Manson’s ex-girlfriends, who accused...

DEAL OF THE DAY: B&Q slashes 10 percent off everything in weekend flash sale

Whether you’re looking to do some DIY around the house or want to update a living space with some new furnishings, B&Q is the perfect place to find exactly what you’re looking for. There is a special discount now available, so be sure not to miss out. To redeem, simply enter your card number at checkout to unlock the discount or scan your card in-store. Only available for a limited-time, hurry as this deal ends 20 September 2021. New B&Q members can also get £5 off their first order above £30. It’s the perfect time to get a deal on furniture, so don’t hesitate to shop now. Source link  More...

Pele: I'm still recovering very well

Pele has revealed he is very well despite “a little step back” this week in his recovery after surgery to remove a tumour from his colon earlier this month. Source link  More...

Tuchel: I thought Kane would join City

Thomas Tuchel has admitted he expected Tottenham striker Harry Kane to join Manchester City in the summer. Source link..

Raiola: Chance Pogba will return to Juve

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Fauci says there is “no evidence” to support Nicki Minaj’s suggestion that the COVID vaccine causes impotency

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has debunked a viral tweet from rapper Nicki Minaj that suggested the COVID-19 vaccine could cause reproductive issues. Minaj, who has over 22 million Twitter followers, sparked controversy Monday for a series of tweets she posted about the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the Met Gala. “They want you to get vaccinated for the Met,” the 38-year-old wrote. “if I get vaccinated it won’t for the Met. It’ll be once I feel I’ve done enough research. I’m working on that now. In the meantime my loves, be safe. Wear the mask with 2 strings that grips your head & face. Not that loose one” She later clarified that she was skipping the gala because of her young child — who was born last September — not because of the vaccine requirement. But Minaj posted another tweet about her cousin’s friend in Trinidad who allegedly experienced impotency after getting the jab, and it prompted a wide response from both fans and health officials.  In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Fauci was asked if the COVID vaccine could cause any reproductive issues in men or women. Fauci replied, “The answer to that is a resounding no.” Nicki Minaj and Dr. Anthony Fauci seen in this combination photo. Getty Images “There’s no evidence that it happens, nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen,” he said. Fauci appeared on the show to discuss vaccine efforts and was speaking on vaccine skepticism in Black and Hispanic communities, something he continues to blame on misinformation.  “There’s a lot of misinformation, mostly on social media, and the only way we know to counter mis- and disinformation is to provide a lot of correct information,” Fauci said. “To essentially debunk these kinds of claims, which may be innocent on her part. I’m not blaming her for anything, but she should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis.” Dr. Anthony Fauci says Covid-19 vaccine approval for children under the age of 12 is “going to be some time in the fall.” “There will be enough data to apply with an emergency use authorization, both by Pfizer, a little bit later by Moderna.” pic.twitter.com/Wr1EqnDIUL — The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) September 14, 2021 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also debunked the myth in a memo posted to its website in August. “There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men,” the guidance said. In her Twitter thread, Minaj continued to assert that she was not opposed to the vaccine and would most likely be vaccinated when she had completed more research and was ready to go on tour.  “I know babe. A lot of countries won’t let ppl work w/o the vaccine,” she tweeted in response to a fan who claimed they got a vaccine for work. “I’d def recommend they get the vaccine. They have to feed their families. I’m sure I’ll b vaccinated as well cuz I have to go on tour, etc.” Minaj also praised a fan who received the vaccine and did not experience any side effects: “That’s amazing babe. This is the norm.” Over 75.8% of adults in the United States have been partially vaccinated against COVID-19, and a total of 179.3 million people are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. But data shows African American and Hispanic communities are still less vaccinated, and therefore more likely to die from COVID-19, than their White counterparts, according to the CDC.  Fauci and other medical leaders are asking “trusted messengers,” including clergy, teachers, and politicians, to answer questions people in their communities have about the vaccine and hopefully encourage them to get vaccinated.  “I believe we are making progress,” Fauci said. “We’re not where we want to be with regards to the number of African Americans and Hispanics vaccinated, but we’re doing better than we were before.” On Wednesday afternoon, Minaj said she’d accepted an invitation to go to the White House. “The White House has invited me & I think it’s a step in the right direction,” she tweeted. “Yes, I’m going. I’ll be dressed in all pink like Legally Blonde so they know I mean business. I’ll ask questions on behalf of the ppl who have been made fun of for simply being human. #BallGate day 3.” In a statement to CBS News, a White House official said: “As we have with others, we offered a call with Nicki Minaj and one of our doctors to answer questions she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.” Following Wednesday’s slew of tweets, Minaj posted on her Instagram stories that Twitter restricted her ability to tweet. “I’m in Twitter jail y’all,” Minaj wrote. “They didn’t like what I was saying over there on that block.”  A Twitter spokesperson told CBS News in a statement that Twitter “did not take any enforcement action” on Minaj’s account. The company has suspended several major figures in the past for spreading COVID-19 misinformation.  As of Wednesday night, Minaj’s account was still active.  Source link  More...

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