Category Archives: News

Shakira Prosecutors Call for 8-Year Prison Sentence Over Alleged Tax Fraud in Spain

Shakira is wanted by Spanish prosecutors. In her continuing criminal tax fraud case, the prosecutors informed the court on Friday that if the Colombian diva is found guilty of tax fraud, she should serve an eight-year and two-month term. Prosecutors also requested a whopping 20 million euro fine in addition to the extended prison sentence.

The 45-year-old global superstar was accused by Barcelona prosecutors in 2018 of failing to pay the Spanish tax office €14.5 million (£12.18 million) for revenue received between 2012 and 2014.

The Spanish courts will now need to decide whether to have a trial and select a date based on her answer to the prosecution, both of which have not yet been determined.

The Colombian pop diva said earlier this week that she was choosing to go to trial rather than accept a bargain.

Shakira facing up to eight years in jail if found guilty of alleged £12m tax  fraud | Entertainment |

In a statement to Billboard, public relations agency Llorente y Cuenca said that Shakira “trusts her innocence and chose to put the problem in the hands of the authorities.”

She allegedly deposited the sum she is said to owe with the Spanish Tax Agency and has no outstanding tax debts, according to the public relations firm.

After a three-year investigation, a Spanish judge this year concluded that there were “sufficient indicators” for Shakira’s alleged activities.

The ‘Waka Waka’ singer is accused of committing six alleged tax crimes, and the prosecution is reportedly seeking an eight-year prison sentence if found guilty.

Judge Marco Jesús Juberías said: “Isabel Mebarak Ripoll stopped paying taxes in Spain during the years 2012, 2013, and 2014, despite having an obligation to do so because she has her tax residence here.”

Shakira Prosecutors Call for 8-Year Prison Sentence in Tax Fraud Case -  Rolling Stone

Shakira shifted to Barcelona in 2011 with her long-term partner Gerard Piqué. The couple announced they had split in June via a statement released by the singer’s agency, which read: “We regret to confirm that we are parting ways.

“For the well-being of our children, who are our highest priority, we ask that you respect their privacy. Thank you for your understanding.”

Following Shakira’s revelation, one of her devoted fans wondered if the relationship problems between the couple were hinted at in the song “Te Felicito (I Congratulate You)” by Shakira.

The Columbian artist’s first release of 2022, “Te Felicito,” features the Puerto Rican rapper and vocalist Rauw Alejandro.

The lyrics read: [Translation] “To complete you, I broke into pieces/ They warned me, but I didn’t listen/ I realized that your love is false/ It was the final drop that tipped over the glass.”

Shakira then sang about an apology that ‘seems sincere’ but she knows is a ‘lie’.

“I congratulate you, how well you act, of that, I have no doubt/ Your script continues. That show suits you well,” the song continues.

Since then, viewers have rushed to the music video under the impression that Shakira was using her most recent song to send ‘signals’.

One claimed: “[Translation] If I’m honest, this song didn’t catch my attention and I’m a super fan of Shakira’s. But look at these lyrics. If I paid attention to it today, it perfectly describes the situation she is apparently experiencing.

Shakira Could Face 8-year Prison Sentence If Convicted In Trial For Alleged  Tax Fraud In Spain - Planetnewspost

“Something that is consistent with everything that can be felt after a betrayal, a description worthy of it. I imagine the pain she must have felt but at the same time the courage to move on.”

According to Reuters, Shakira has claimed that she has paid the 17.2 million euros she owed the Spanish government since the tax fraud claims were filed in 2018.

Shakira’s ex-husband Gerard Piqué was hit with a 2 million euro fine in 2019 for tax evasion between 2008 and 2010.


Will Smith finally breaks silence on Chris Rock’s slap: ‘This is probably irreparable’

Will Smith shared a heartfelt video on social media on Friday, directly addressing the moment at the Oscars when he slapped presenter Chris Rock. An earnest-looking Smith responds to fan concerns about the fallout from the slap, which made news all around the world, in the video, the “King Richard” actor’s first response to the issue since his apologetic post in March.

In an unexpected moment at the Academy Awards, actor Will Smith slaps comedian Chris Rock. AFP

It’s the first time Smith has spoken publicly about the now-famous incident that resulted in his 10-year ban from Academy functions.

Will has addressed: “It’s been a minute… Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and personal work… You asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer.”

He then sat down, alone in his home, and went on to explain himself, the first question asked why he didn’t apologize to Chris.

Will explained: “I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy. I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk. And when he is, he will reach out.

“So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”

He went on to extend that apology to Chris’s family: “I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I saw an interview that Chris’s mother did and, you know, that was one of the things about that moment I just didn’t realize, and, you know, I wasn’t thinking, but how many people got hurt at that moment. So I want to apologize to Chris’s mother.

“I want to apologize to Chris’s family. Specifically, Tony Rock [Chris’ younger brother]. You know, we had a great relationship. You know, Tony Rock was my man. And this is probably irreparable.”

Will Smith apologizes for Oscars slap, says Chris Rock 'not ready to talk'  | Mashable

Will continued by saying that while he wouldn’t be going into great detail in this video, he had spent the previous three months replaying and trying to comprehend the nuances of what had occurred, he assured: “But I can say to all of you, there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave at that moment. There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”

Will Smith Chris Rock Oscars Slap: Jada Pinkett Smith Statement | TVLine

Will clarified if Jada had “requested him to do something” and said, “that no, Jada had not asked him to do anything and that he had made the decision to slap Chris totally on his own.”


Johnny Depp Makes Over whopping $3.6 Million After Debut Art Collection Sells Out in Hours

Johnny Depp is earning millions with his art. This is perhaps the fastest-selling collection up to date. The 780 prints, which were made available for purchase on Thursday through the Castle Fine Art gallery in London, sold out “almost immediately,” according to The Sunday-Times, garnering the 59-year-old actor almost $3.6 million.

Artist: Johnny Depp, 59, has sold his debut artwork collection for a jaw-dropping £3M just hours after announcing the sale

Four portraits of Bob Dylan, Elizabeth Taylor, Al Pacino, and Keith Richards are included in the “Friends & Heroes” collection, which is his first official effort and is available both separately and as a set. Depp reportedly concentrated on “people he has known well, and who have inspired him as a person,” according to the gallery.

“Each image is an intimate reflection of their character in Johnny’s eyes; a portrayal of how they have revealed themselves to him,” Castle Fine Art said of the pop-meets-street art. “From his dear friend Keith Richards, who inspired the mannerisms of the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow, to Bob Dylan, whose creative influence on the artist is seen in his vivid and immortal portrayal by Johnny.”

Each limited edition portrait is listed online for $3,973, with the set of four on sale for $15,040.

Pop art: His collection focused on 'Friends & Heroes,' and included pop-art style pieces of Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Elizabeth Taylor and Al Pacino (Bob Dylan piece, sold for $4,800 (£3,950)
Feeling: Explaining that it's the intersection of 'Pop Art' and 'Street Art', the collection is also dubbed 'pop art with a feeling' (Elizabeth Taylor piece, sold for $4,800 (£3,950)Paintings: 'I’ve always used art to express my feelings and to reflect on those who matter most to me, like my family, friends and people I admire,' he explained (Al Pacino and Keith Richards pieces both sold for $4,800 (£3,950)My paintings surround my life, but I kept them to myself and limited myself. No one should ever limit themselves,' continued Johnny

“I’ve always used art to express my feelings, and to reflect on those who matter most to me, like my family, friends and people I admire,” Depp said in a statement shared by the gallery. “My paintings surround my life, but I kept them to myself and limited myself. No one should ever limit themselves.”

The gallery shared a behind-the-scenes image of Depp painting in the studio on Instagram before the film’s debut on Thursday. The Pirates of the Caribbean actor posted a photo of himself with the four-part set that was framed and displayed on a wall the same day.

Fans demanded for the collection, and “this world-first release proved to be our fastest-selling collection to date, selling out in just hours,” Castle Fine Art said.

The sale happened a few weeks after the judge rejected his ex-wife Amber Heard’s plea for a mistrial and said that the Virginia defamation trial judgement is still valid. On June 1, the seven-person jury delivered its decision, largely siding with Depp and paying him more than $10 million in damages. For one of her defamation countersuit claims, Heard, received a $2 million award.

Heard appealed the $2 million verdict in Heard’s countersuit to the Virginia Court of Appeals on July 21, one week after a judge denied the actress’ request for a mistrial. Depp filed his own notice of appeal the following day.

Depp has been touring abroad with Jeff Beck, with whom he co-released an album, in the weeks following the trial. In a sit-down interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News, Heard stated that she still has “no ill will” against Depp and that she stands by every word of her testimony.


Patient with HIV achieves remission following stem cell transplant at City of Hope

The patient, who underwent treatment for leukemia, became the fourth person in the world and the oldest to enter long-term remission of HIV following stem cell transplantation from a donor with a rare genetic mutation. A patient at the “City of Hope,” aged 66, received a transplant from a donor naturally resistant to the virus that causes Aids.

The 66-year-leukemia old’s was to be treated by a transplant, but the physicians also sought a donor who was inherently immune to the Aids virus, a strategy that had previously been successful in curing the “Berlin patient,” Timothy Ray Brown, in 2007.

The 'City of Hope' patient, named for the California hospital he is receiving treatment at, has been functionally cured of both HIV and his leukemia after a successfull stem cell treatment (file photo)

Because he does not want to be recognized, the most recent patient, who is the fourth to be healed in this method, is known as the “City of Hope” patient after the US hospital in Duarte, California, where he was treated.

The patient is the oldest and has had HIV for the longest; he was given the diagnosis in 1988, which he regarded as a “death sentence” that claimed the lives of several of his friends.

For over 30 years, he has received antiretroviral medication (ART) to manage his disease.

Patient with HIV achieves remission following stem cell transplant at City  of Hope | City of Hope
The treatment is incredibly risky as the body may reject the implants, killing the patient. Because of these concerns it is only to be used on people who are already at-risk of death because of a severe case of cancer (file photo)

Specifically, because the stem cell donor was not a family member, doctors who presented the findings ahead of the International Aids Society’s (IAS) 2022 meeting stated the instance made it possible for older patients with HIV and blood malignancy to obtain treatment.

Although the treatment was unlikely to be an option for the majority of people with HIV due to the risks of the procedure, Sharon Lewin, president-elect of the IAS, called a cure the “holy grail” and said the “City of Hope” case provided “continued hope… and inspiration” for people with HIV and the larger scientific community.

This electron microscope image made available by the US National Institutes of Health shows a human T cell, in blue, under attack by HIV, in yellow, the virus that causes Aids.

Scientists believe that the procedure is effective because the donor’s stem cells have a particular, sporadic genetic defect that prevents them from containing the receptors that HIV uses to infect cells.

The patient at the City of Hope ceased taking ART in March 2021 following the transplant three and a half years prior, which was followed by chemotherapy. The team reported that he has already endured more than a year of HIV and leukemia remission.

However, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) presented data prior to the conference, which gets underway on Friday, demonstrating how the Covid-19 pandemic had stalled global efforts to combat HIV, including a reversal of progress in the world’s most populous region, Asia and the Pacific.

According to the research, hard-won advancement has stagnated, endangering the lives of millions of people.

The long-term drop in new HIV infections is flatlining globally. Even worse, UNAids reported that cases started to increase in regions of Asia and the Pacific where they had previously been declining.

The number of patients receiving HIV medications last year increased more slowly than it had in the previous ten years. The disparities are growing. In sub-Saharan Africa, teenage girls and young women are three times more likely to contract HIV than boys and men of the same age, with a new infection occurring every two minutes. The report also indicated that 650,000 people passed away from diseases related to HIV last year.

Official figures estimate that around 1.2 million Americans are suffering from HIV, but one-in-eight cases have not yet been diagnosed (file photo)

“This is an alarm to the world to say that Covid-19 has blown the Aids response significantly off track,” said Matthew Kavanagh, deputy executive director of UNAids.

Given that HIV testing slowed or even halted in many locations when Covid-19 hit, it’s possible that much more viral spread went unreported. This makes things even worse.

“People are exhausted with epidemics and pandemics,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s leading Aids expert. “We have to fight twice as hard to get HIV back on the radar screen where it belongs.”


U.S. economy shrinks again in the second quarter, reviving recession fears

The shrinking economy of the USA has grabbed the people’s attention mounting worries and fear about the economy’s stability and resilience.

The U.S. economy has contracted for a second straight quarter, at an annual rate of 0.9 percent, sparking worries that the nation may be entering a recession and adding to the political difficulties facing the Biden administration as it battles with decades-high inflation.

US gross domestic product shrank 0.9 percent in the second quarter, following a decline of 1.6 percent decline in the first quarter. Two consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP is the classic definition of a recession

Although economists dispute the likelihood of a complete recession, the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s fresh data, which was announced on Thursday, comes at a turbulent time for the economy. In the past, a recession was often identified by six consecutive months of contraction. A team of experts determines the official outcome, despite the fact that recessions are unusual when unemployment is close to record low levels.

The decline in the second quarter was due to changing consumer and corporate habits. As consumers switched their spending away from things and toward services like hotels and restaurants, retailers purchased fewer goods, including cars. The poor reading was also impacted by declining housing construction and government spending.

President Joe Biden recently denied the country is in a recession, and the White House has been pushing messaging that a recession has to be officially declared by the National Bureau of Economic Research

The disappointing GDP report highlights persistent issues with inflation, which has been around 40-year highs for several months, as well as declining home sales and difficulties for some corporate sectors, including tech and finance. Even the booming labor market is starting to show signs of weakness. Numerous experts have predicted a recession for the following year due to broader concerns about the Ukraine conflict, the future of the global economy, and aggressive interest rate hikes.

“Broadly, this shows an economy that is really slowing,” said Jason Furman, an economics professor at Harvard University who was a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama. “This data is much more worrisome than it was in the first quarter. I don’t think you can easily dismiss these numbers. It isn’t just volatile factors anymore. Meaningful, important parts of the economy are slowing.”

Quarterly GDP growth is seen over the past four years, showing the pandemic recession in early 2020 and the current contraction cycle
The consumer price index hit a four-decade high of 9.1 percent in June -- an astounding level of inflation for an economy that was apparently shrinkingThe Fed has raised interest rates rapidly in 2022, going from near zero to a target range of 2.25 to 2.5 percent, in a bid to tackle rising inflationThe Fed has raised interest rates rapidly in 2022, going from near zero to a target range of 2.25 to 2.5 percent, in a bid to tackle rising inflation -- but higher borrowing rates also put the brakes on economic growth

Senior authorities, notably Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, have strongly refuted claims that the economy is in a recession by pointing to a robust labor market as evidence that the recovery is still on pace. White House officials had maintained that even a second-quarter growth number that was negative shouldn’t be seen as an indication that a recession had begun prior to Thursday’s news.

“Coming off of last year’s historic economic growth … it’s no surprise that the economy is slowing down as the Federal Reserve acts to bring down inflation,” President Biden said in a statement Thursday. Later speaking to reporters on Thursday, Biden ticked off a litany of high points for the economy, including jobs creation, low unemployment and business investments, ending with: “That doesn’t sound like a recession to me.”

The economy has been adding jobs at a steady pace even as GDP shrinks, which some analysts point to in arguing that the economy is not in a recession

Republican politicians have claimed that the nation is in a recession and that the Biden administration’s stimulus spending is to blame for inflation and the overall economic downturn.

Several GOP lawmakers lashed out at the White House for trying to change the definition of recession to prove the U.S. is not in one now
'If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck... guess what?' Representative Neal Dunn tweeted along with an image of the definition of recession claiming it is 'identified by the fall in GDP in two successive quarters'

“You don’t need a fancy economics degree to have seen this coming,” Rep. Kevin Hern (Okla.) said in a statement Thursday. “Biden’s spending over the last 18 months is directly responsible for the economic situation we’re in today.”

President Biden released a statement on the figures, saying:

‘[W]e are on the right path and we will come through this transition stronger and more secure,’ the president wrote in his statement. ‘Our job market remains historically strong, with unemployment at 3.6% and more than 1 million jobs created in the second quarter alone. Consumer spending is continuing to grow.’

‘My economic plan is focused on bringing inflation down, without giving up all the economic gains we have made. Congress has a historic chance to do that by passing the CHIPS and Science Act and Inflation Reduction Act without delay.’

The United States unexpectedly saw its economy slow down by 1.6 percent annually in the first three months of the year. This unexpected slowdown was largely caused by an imbalance in trade, with the country importing far more than it was exporting, and a decline in inventory purchases by companies that were still flush with holiday leftovers.

Representative Doug LaMalfa lashed out at President Biden for his ‘first instinct’ being to ‘deny problems exist.’

‘[S]ee: inflation, gas prices, Afghanistan, Hunter, etc.,’ the lawmaker tweeted.

McCarthy shared a poster Thursday that he says shows Biden blamed everything other than his policies for the downturning economy, including COVID, Putin and supply chain issues

‘We are facing a recession and no amount of changing definitions alters what the American people see,’ LaMalfa continued. ‘Ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away, it makes them worse.’

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy said via tweet that Democrats have turned the ‘American Rescue Plan’ into the ‘American Recession Plan.’

‘The Biden administration does not have a real plan,’ he insisted.

Yellen refuted GOP allegations that the economy is in a recession on Thursday, claiming that consumption was showing signals of ongoing growth and represented a welcome change from growth that was happening too quickly.

Unexpected GDP contraction in US prompts recession fears

“Overall, with a slowdown in private demand, this report indicates an economy transitioning to more steady, sustainable growth,” Yellen said, adding that recessions are typically defined by economists to include “substantial job losses and mass layoffs,” business closures, a decline in private-sector activities, and a “broad-based” weakening of the economy.


Family files $25 million lawsuit against sesame street theme park for discrimination

A video of a Sesame Place employee went viral when she gave audience members high fives while ignoring two Black girls and walking away while dressed as the character Rosita. As a result, several individuals came forward and shared footage of alleged prejudice they experienced at Sesame Place.

Sesame Place is currently being sued for $25 million by a Baltimore family that alleges racial discrimination.

The family claims that at a meet and greet on June 18, four employees disguised as Sesame Street characters ignored Quinton Burns, his daughter Kennedi Burns, and other Black guests.

The lawsuit states that “SeaWorld’s performers readily engaged with numerous similarly situated white customers.”

Father Quinton Burns shared his outrage Wednesday after his daughter Kennedi was snubbed during a Sesame Street parade
Kennedi, pictured on Wednesday, was ignored becaushe was black, a lawsuit claism

“Kennedi was forced to experience racism at the age of five; this is unacceptable and we will not stand by and let this continue,” said the family’s attorney, Malcolm Ruff, at a news conference in Philadelphia.

The family is suing Sesame Place owner SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment for $25 million in damages. The lawsuit is allegedly filed on behalf of all Black visitors to the park since July 27, 2018, who experienced racism and prejudice from staff.

The family who first shared the footage of the bigotry at the Sesame Place theme park is also suing the park for discrimination.

After the video went viral, the theme park said that the employee was denying other parents who wanted their child to have a picture with the figure, not the two Black children.

A different video, however, emerged showing the employee hugging two white kids who were around the two Black kids even though there were no other parents present.

The complaint was prompted by a viral video that appeared to show Rosita ignoring two other black girls from New York during a procession at a park outside of Philadelphia called Langhorne.

In a statement, Sesame Place expressed regret for the situation and clarified that the actor wearing the Rosita costume was simply unable to see their daughter owing to the restricted range of vision of the outfit. 

The video triggered more families to come forward with similar experiences.   

Sesame Workshop - which was careful to explain that Sesame Place is a licensed partner - then posted another statement on its social media Monday night

Sesame Place responded to the lawsuit in a statement sent to Eyewitness News, saying: ‘We will review the lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Burns. We look forward to addressing that claim through the established legal process. We are committed to delivering an inclusive, equitable, and entertaining experience for all our guests.” 

In a statement on Sunday, theme park officials called the now-viral moment a ‘misunderstanding,’ saying the mascot likely did not see the girls due to limited vision in the costume’s unwieldy mask.

‘Our brand, our park, and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms,’ the statement read. ‘That is what Sesame Place is all about and we do not tolerate any behaviors in our parks that are contrary to that commitment.’

Sesame Place confirmed the incident occurred in a statement posted to Instagram on Saturday, but said it was a 'misunderstanding'

‘We also are, and always have been, committed to making sure every family and every child has the best possible experience at our parks and we are incredibly disappointed when that does not happen.’

‘We spoke to the family and extended our apologies and invited them back for a special meet-and-greet opportunity with our characters,’ the statement read.

‘We apologize to these guests for not delivering the experience they expected and we commit to doing our best to earn their and all guests’ visit and support,’ the statement concluded.