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    In 1959, Ronald Erwin McNair walked into a South Carolina library. The 9-year-old aspiring astronaut wanted to check out a calculus book, but a librarian threatened to call the police if he didn't leave. McNair was black. Years later, McNair was selected to become only the second African American to travel to space, overcoming segregation, poverty, and stereotypes in an intellectual act of resistance that inspired a generation. Tragically, McNair died in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy. McNair's story and those of other black astronauts are shared in a new documentary that looks at the final frontier of civil rights: getting black astronauts into space amid Jim Crow, danger, discrimination and the Cold War. Within four generations, they went from slavery to space. “Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier,” scheduled to air Monday on the Smithsonian Channel, examines the race to get black astronauts into the heavens while fighting for human rights on earth. It shows how the astronauts surmounted racial barriers and hostile commanders to get close to the stars. “They really are the first of the first,” filmmaker Laurens Grant said. “And they are the elite of the elite.” Not only did these aspiring space travelers have to navigate the racial politics of their time, they also had to study cutting-edge science and engineering to compete with others, Grant said. And it didn't always end happily. The road to get black astronauts into space in the U.S. began under President John. F. Kennedy. His brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, pressured an Air Force program to make sure its astronaut project had a person of color. Air Force Capt. Ed Dwight was selected for a trainee program and became an overnight hero in the black press. However, the NASA program did not select him for the astronaut program. U.S. Air Force officer Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. was chosen. NASA selected the Chicago-born Lawrence as the first African American astronaut, and he may have made it to the moon. Unfortunately, Lawrence died after his F-104 Starfighter crashed in 1967 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, No African Americans would make it to the moon. During this era, Star Trek Communication Officer Lieutenant Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols in the 1960s NBC television series, got the closest even though she was a fictional character. She would later speak out in public service announcements to recruit black scientists and pilots to NASA Frederick Gregory, now 79, saw some of those ads. “She was inside my TV one morning. She pointed at me and said, ‘I want you to apply for the NASA program,'” Gregory said. “She was talking to me.” The U.S. Air Force pilot would apply and later become the first African American shuttle pilot. The film shows how the former Soviet Union beat the U.S. and sent into space Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez. He was the first Latin American and first person of African descent to reach space. After his mission, he became a Cold War hero for Cuba — and his accomplishment was largely ignored. Guion Bluford would become the first African American astronaut. The aerospace engineer made it to space in 1983 as a member of the crew of the Orbiter Challenger. His trip came nearly 20 years after Kennedy sought to get a black man in space. Gregory said he's proud of his role in breaking barriers and contributing to space exploration. However, he's now concerned about what comes next. In an interview with The Associated Press, Gregory said he recalls looking down at Earth while floating in space and traveling at high speed. “Your concept of neighbor changes significantly,” Gregory said. “I began saying, ‘Hey, this is a world, and we are all part of it.’ When you go to space, you don't see boundaries on the ground. You wonder, why do these people dislike each other. Your concept of what your home is changes.” ___ Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press' race and ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras
  • Jennifer Lawrence will star in the Adam McKay comedy “Don't Look Up” for Netflix. The streaming giant on Wednesday announced that it acquired the the project. McKay, who wrote the script, will direct the film about two low-level astronomers who go on a media tour to warn of an approaching asteroid heading for Earth. Lawrence has been little seen on the big screen lately, most recently co-starring in last year's “X-Men: Dark Phoenix.” The 29-year-old actress took a roughly two-year hiatus from acting but has recently returned to work. She recently wrapped production on an untitled film for A24 directed by Lila Neugebauer. “I’m so thrilled to make this movie with Jen Lawrence,' McKay said in a statement. 'She’s what folks in the 17th century used to call ‘a dynamite act.’ And the fact that Netflix sees this movie as a worldwide comedy sets the bar high for me and my team in an exciting and motivating way.” McKay's most recently movie was 2018's Oscar-nominated “Vice,” starring Christian Bale as Dick Cheney. “Adam has always had great timing when it comes to making smart, relevant and irreverent films that depict our culture,” said Scott Stuber, head of film at Netfix. 'Even if he somehow ends up predicting planet Earth’s imminent demise, we’re excited to add this to our slate before it all comes to an end.” Shooting on “Don't Look Up' is set to begin in April.
  • After gaining millions of young readers for her “Divergent” fantasy series, Veronica Roth decided she and her characters were ready for the next phase — a novel for adults. “I grew up on stories like ‘Dune’ and ‘Harry Potter,’ and ‘Ender’s Game' about people who shoulder burdens when they’re too young to bear them,” says Roth, who tells the story of Sloane Andrews and her fellow fighters against the havoc of the Dark One in “Chosen Ones,” scheduled for April. “So the question of what comes after those stories just kept nagging me. ‘Chosen Ones’ is about that ‘after’ — about a group of 30-somethings who saved the world when they were younger, and they’re still dealing with the repercussions of it.” Roth, Tochi Onyebuchi and Sarah J. Maas are among several writers popular with young people who have books out this year intended for older readers. Some have never written for adults, while others move freely among teens and older readers. All are navigating one of the more complicated paths in publishing — how to consciously appeal to different audiences for different books, from the use or absence of profanity to the choice of subject matter and how to present it. The history is mixed: Judy Blume and Neil Gaiman are among those who have succeeded well, while others, including Daniel Handler and Stephanie Meyer, never fully caught on with adults. Roth's first “Divergent” book came out in 2011, and she reasons that enough of her original readers have reached an age that they'll be open to a mature approach. She considers her new work a “pretty natural” moment in her career, when you 'get curious about other genres, other types of writing,” Onyebuchi had published “Beasts Made of Night' and “Crown of Thunder” before completing his first book for adults, “Riot Baby.” It is set in part around the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the acquittal of policemen who beat Rodney King. 'Riot Baby'' is a dystopian fantasy about Kev, who has been jailed in Rikers Island, and his sister Ella, who holds the power and the horror of seeing the future. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, among other schools, Onyebuchi has worked in private and government law and thought a long time about a book that could draw upon his education and background. He considers adult books his first passion, but he found that writing for young people strengthened his storytelling, forcing him to write clearly and not “to obfuscate.” For “Riot Baby,” he was able to expand upon that discipline. “I could be straightforward and short and concise, and I could have a lyrical style that abounded in subjunctive clauses,' he said. “I didn't just have to be Hemingway. I didn't just have to be Faulkner. I could be both.” Maas, whose bestsellers for young people include the “Throne of Glass” fantasy series, has her debut adult book out in March. Her “Crescent City” series begins with “House of Earth and Blood,” in which protagonist Bryce Quinlan — with the help of a fallen angel — seeks to track down the killers of her closest friends. Maas told the AP that the new series had been a secret “passion project” for years, an idea came to her when she was on a plane during a book tour, listening to the soundtrack from “Gravity.” The “epic scene” that came to her became the ending of “House of Earth and Blood.” Bryce's age compelled Maas to think about a different readership. 'The moment Bryce Quinlan walked into my head, I knew she was in her early to mid-20s — an age that placed her story firmly in the adult range,' says Maas, adding that the main difference between writing for younger and older people is in the language. “I will admit that I can now get away with quite a bit more swearing!” V.E. Schwab, who writes adult and young adult novels, says she doesn't change her style or vocabulary: The difference is in her mindset. For her “Monsters of Verity' duology, she inhabits her 17-year-old self, a “pretty angry teenager.” For “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue,' an adult story coming in October about a woman who endures and is forgotten for centuries, she is closer to the person she is now. “One of the primary themes in the book is this concept of 30 as a threshold for true adulthood, the feeling like you look down for a moment, and when you look back up, everyone else has raced ahead, and you're still trying to get your bearings,” she said. “I wrote it essentially for a version of myself who never found writing. If I hadn't become an author, these are the questions I'd be facing, this is how lost I would feel.” Over the past decade, Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings have combined to write best-selling adult and young adult novels under the name “Christina Lauren.” They started out with romance books, among them such very adult stories as “Beautiful Bombshell,' “Wicked Sexy Liar' and the upcoming “The Honey-Don't List.' Meanwhile, for young adult novels such as “Autoboyography' and “The House,' they adapt the themes of love and desire for a more impressionable and sensitive audience. “We want to give our adult readers a literal escape, like when they turn on a Netflix show,' Billings says. “When we are writing of teens, we are trying to be entertaining, yes, but we also want to be more careful that they feel seen and understood. You want to make sure you're writing a story for them and that it doesn't feel like a grownup talking down to them.' ___ This story corrects the title of V.E. Schwab’s series mentioned in the 11th paragraph to “Monsters of Verity.”
  • Britain's Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, are breaking free of the royal family starting March 31, the couple’s office said Wednesday. The announcement comes as Buckingham Palace reviewed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's use of the label 'Sussex Royal' after their decision to step back from royal duties. Talks involving senior officials are ongoing about the issue and a decision will be announced alongside the launch of their new non-profit organisation. The royal couple stunned Britain with an abrupt announcement in January that they wanted to step back from royal duties. Prince Harry said he was taking a “leap of faith” in the move in an attempt to build a more peaceful life — one free of the journalists who have filmed, photographed and written about him since the day he was born. Harry and Meghan will no longer use the titles His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness but will retain them, leaving the possibility that the couple might change their minds and return sometime in the future. Harry's late mother, Diana, was stripped of the Her Royal Highness title when she and Prince Charles divorced. The prince and his wife will walk away from most royal duties, give up public funding and try to become financially independent. The couple, who were named the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day, are expected to spend most of their time in Canada while maintaining a home in England, near Windsor Castle. The couple's departure is a wrench for the royal family, and Queen Elizabeth II said at the time that she wished the couple had wanted to remain full-time royals. Despite the unprecedented move, the couple will keep the themes of their public work — the Commonwealth, community, youth empowerment and mental health, collectively. Harry's priorities remain supporting the welfare of servicemen and women, conservation, sport for social development and HIV. Meghan’s focus remains women's empowerment, gender equality and education.
  • The More Than Pink Walk Orlando is Susan G. Komen Florida’s most important fundraising event in Central Florida. The event supports life-saving programs right here in our community as well as research that is helping to get closer than ever to finding a cure for all breast cancer. Seventy-five cents of every dollar support programs here in our community that improve access to quality and timely cancer care, and twenty-five cents goes to life-saving research that is focused on new therapies for the most lethal cancers, including a special focus on metastatic breast cancer. When: Saturday, March 14, 2020  7:00 a.m. Onsite registration opens  8:00 a.m. Hope Procession & Ceremony  8:45 a.m. Walk begins  9:30 a.m. Post walk celebration at the amphitheatre  Where: Cranes Roost Park: 274 Cranes Roost Blvd, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701
  • Pop Smoke, a rising Brooklyn rapper who had a breakout year of hit songs and albums that made some of the biggest names in hip-hop his fans and collaborators, was fatally shot during a break-in Wednesday at a Hollywood Hills home, his label said. “We are devastated by the unexpected and tragic loss of Pop Smoke,” said a statement from Republic Records, the label of the 20-year-old whose legal name was Bashar Barakah Jackson. “Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family, friends and fans, as we mourn this loss together.” Los Angeles police did not immediately confirm the identification and have not announced any arrests. Police officers found a victim shortly before 5 a.m. after responding to a 911 call from someone who reported intruders, including one armed with a handgun, were breaking in, police Capt. Steve Lurie said. Public listings show that the home is owned by Edwin Arroyave and his wife Teddi Mellencamp, daughter ofRock & Roll Hall-of-FamerJohn Mellencamp and a star of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” In an Instagram post, Teddi Mellencamp said “we were informed by a 3rd party leasing and management company overseeing a rental home we own in Los Angeles that a shooting had taken place at the property. Foremost, we would like to extend our prayers and condolences to the family and loved ones affected by this tragic loss of life.” Mellencamp said she and her husband were not aware of any further details beyond what they have learned through media reports. Police said the 911 call came from “back East” and reported the break-in was occurring at a friend’s home. The victim was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Several people who were in the house were detained and released, Lurie said. “We're just getting started in this investigation,” he said. Chance The Rapper said in a tweet: “Rest Up Pop Smoke, you were too young. God Bless and comfort your family.' From Brooklyn, New York, Pop Smoke came onto the rap scene in 2018 and broke out last spring with “Welcome to the Party” a gangsta anthem where he brags about shootings, killings and drugs. It was a huge sensation that even drew the attention of Nicki Minaj, who dropped her own verse on a successful remix of the song. Earlier this month he released the album “Meet the Woo 2,” which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart. It was the follow up to his first official release,” Meet the Woo,” last July. He also had the popular hit “Gatti” with Travis Scott and Jackboys and “Dior.” In an interview that ran on Rolling Stone’s website last week, Pop Smoke said he used a freestyle lyrical method. “I never wrote anything,” he told Rolling Stone. “It’s all up my head. Everything that I be writing, everything that I be saying, when it comes to these types of songs, just be so natural. Just how I be feeling. However, some songs I do write, and you’ll know the ones that I write, ’cause you’ll feel it.” Pop Smoke named fellow New York rapper 50 Cent as one of his influences and on Twitter, the multiplatinum entertainer memorialized him: “R.I.P to my man Pop Smoke, No sympathy for winners. God bless him.” Minaj also posted her sympathies with a photo of Pop Smoke on her Instagram account. “The Bible tells us that jealousy is as cruel as the grave. Unbelievable. Rest In Peace, Pop,” she wrote. And Jamie Foxx posted an Instagram picture of himself with the rapper, saying, “Wow just chopped it up with this young black man... just another senseless killing of us.” The death came about 11 months after rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed in Los Angeles, and on a day when the man charged with killing him, Eric R. Holder, appeared in court for a hearing. Holder, who has pleaded not guilty, is expected to go to trial by April. In July, up-and-coming Philadelphia rapper Bankroll Gambino, 21, was shot and killed during a music video shoot there. And in June 2018, 20-year-old rapper XXXTentacion was gunned down while leaving a Miami motorcycle shop. ___ John Antczak in Los Angeles and Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York contributed to this story.
  • A look at the charges against Harvey Weinstein and the punishment the former Hollywood producer could face if convicted at his New York City rape trial. A jury of seven men and five women started deliberating Tuesday in the closely watched #MeToo case. To convict or acquit Weinstein on any charge, their verdict must be unanimous. WHAT IS HARVEY WEINSTEIN ACCUSED OF? Scores of women have come forward in recent years to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct, but his New York trial is essentially built on three allegations: The “Pulp Fiction” producer is charged with raping an aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013. He is accused of forcibly performing oral sex on another woman, production assistant Mimi Haleyi, at his apartment in 2006. And he is accused of raping “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra in the mid-1990s at her apartment. The verdict sheet the jury must fill out consists of five interlocking counts with a complex set of instructions that read like an income tax return. For example, it says that if you find the defendant not guilty on Count 1 with respect to Sciorra, then you must also find him not guilty on Count 3 and proceed to Counts 2, 4 and 5. The Associated Press does not publish the names of alleged victims of sex crimes without their consent. It is withholding the name of the first rape accuser because it isn’t clear whether she wishes to be identified publicly. WHAT ARE THE CHARGES AGAINST HARVEY WEINSTEIN? Five counts in all: — Two counts of predatory sexual assault. One of those counts accuses him of attacking both Sciorra and the unidentified aspiring actress; the other accuses him of attacking both Sciorra and Haleyi. — One count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape, involving the unidentified actress. — One count of criminal sex act, involving Haleyi. HOW DOES THE PREDATORY SEXUAL ASSAULT AGAINST HARVEY WEINSTEIN CHARGE WORK? Under New York law, one way a person can be found guilty of predatory sexual assault is if he or she commits certain sex crimes against multiple victims, even if some of the conduct did not result in charges. In Weinstein’s case, prosecutors allege he raped Sciorra in late 1993 or early 1994 — an accusation that is too old to be the basis for criminal charges on its own but can still be rolled into a predatory sexual assault charge. DOES THE JURY HAVE TO REACH A VERDICT ON ALL CHARGES AGAINST HARVEY WEINSTEIN? No. Weinstein is charged with five counts, but the way the verdict sheet is designed, jurors won’t have to make a decision on all of them. The form instructs the jury to start by reaching a verdict on the predatory sexual assault counts, which encompass the other charged acts. Depending on what they decide on those counts, they can move on to or skip other charges. For example, if the jury finds Weinstein guilty of the predatory sexual assault count alleging he attacked both Sciorra and Haleyi, then it does not need to decide the separate criminal sex act charge involving Haleyi. WHAT IS HARVEY WEINSTEIN’S DEFENSE? Weinstein maintains the encounters were consensual. His lawyer said that the allegations are “regret renamed as rape.' The defense grilled Haleyi and the 2013 accuser about sexual encounters they had with Weinstein after the alleged assaults and highlighted friendly, flirtatious emails they sent him. HOW MUCH TIME COULD HARVEY WEINSTEIN FACE? Each of the predatory sexual assault counts is punishable by 25 years to life in prison. The first-degree rape and criminal sex act counts each carry a maximum of 25 years. Third-degree rape carries up to four years. WHAT’S THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO FOR HARVEY WEINSTEIN? A conviction on the charge of predatory sexual assault. Even if the jury finds the 67-year-old Weinstein guilty on just one of those top-level counts, a minimum sentence would keep him in prison until he in his early 90s. WOULD HARVEY WEINSTEIN HAVE TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER? Yes. If Weinstein is convicted on any of the charges, he will be required to register as a sex offender under New York's version of what’s known as Megan’s Law. WOULD HARVEY WEINSTEIN BE HAULED OFF IN HANDCUFFS RIGHT AWAY? If Weinstein is convicted on any of the charges, there's a good chance his bail will be revoked and he will be taken to jail right away. Prosecutors could argue he will have extra incentive to flee and that he is rich enough to do it. Even before the trial, prosecutors said he was showing signs of restlessness. A judge raised his bail in December after prosecutors accused him of fiddling with his electronic monitoring bracelet. WHAT'S NEXT FOR HARVEY WEINSTEIN? Win or lose, Weinstein faces more criminal charges in a Los Angeles case announced last month. He is accused of sexually assaulting one woman and raping another on back-to-back nights just before the Oscars in 2013. ___ Follow Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak
  • Eugene Hernandez will succeed Kent Jones as the director of the New York Film Festival, becoming only the fifth person to lead the esteemed Lincoln Center showcase for cinema in its 57-year history. Lesli Klainberg, executive director of Film at Lincoln Center, announced the appointment Wednesday, naming Hernandez to the top position at arguably the most revered film festival in the country. Hernandez will oversee the New York Film Festival, along with Dennis Lim, the festival’s new director of programming. Lim already presides over year-round programming for Film at Lincoln Center. Hernandez, who co-founded IndieWire, was first plucked away from the influential independent film website in 2010, when he joined Film at Lincoln Center as director of digital strategy. For the last six years, he’s served as deputy director. Now, Hernandez will take the reins of the prestigious film festival he first attended as a 20-something moviegoer in the mid-90s and later frequented as a reporter. “My whole life in New York starts here,” Hernandez, whose first job in New York was at the nearby ABC studios, said in an interview alongside Klainberg in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center on the Lincoln Center campus ahead of Wednesday’s announcement. Hernandez said his task as director will be to carry on the legacy of the New York Film Festival while shepherding it through a tumultuous, ever-evolving era in film. Like other festivals, New York is adapting to the proliferation of streaming services (whose films have frequently been shown at NYFF) and navigating changes that make bringing international films to U.S. audiences both easier and harder than ever. “We have to follow in the footsteps of the people that were here many decades before us in bringing this art form to a wider audience,” Hernandez said. “Now with this festival, we have an opportunity to bring it to an even wider audience and to engage people in different ways around the art form.” Jones, the festival’s director since 2012, stepped down after last fall’s 57th edition to dedicate himself more fully to filmmaking. Jones, a critic-filmmaker who had worked in documentary, last year made his fiction-film debut with the acclaimed “Diane,” which in 2018 won top honors at the Tribeca Film Festival. Before Jones, the last five decades of the New York Film Festival were led by Richard Peña and Richard Roud, who co-directed the festival from its inception, initially teamed with Amos Vogel. “When we realized that Kent was going to go off and become a filmmaker full time, we started to think about what we needed and what we wanted to do. We don’t have many opportunities at institutions like ours to rethink things. The last two people that were here before Kent had their jobs for 25 years,” Klainberg said. “I hope Eugene has many, many years ahead of him in this role.” Klainberg praised Hernandez as “a beloved person in the industry.” He has also been a formative influence on how film festivals exist in the digital age. He co-created IndieWire in 1996. It was initially just a newsletter sent to a few hundred subscribers from Hernandez’s AOL account. But IndieWire would grow to play a major role in bringing online more rapid film festival reports along with more comprehensive coverage of indie films. The New York Film Festival has sometimes existed outside that new media ecosystem. Where other festivals use starry world premieres, awards races and acquisition markets to add buzz, the New York, coming on the heels of Venice and Toronto, has remained the fall season’s sober-minded, highly curated mainstay. Its main slate is usually limited to about 25 films, which regularly provides one of the best annual snapshots of world cinema. “For us, the two key words are curation and audience,” Hernandez said. “Thankfully, we don’t have the same pressures to focus on world premieres exclusively as our mandate. If we can bring something new to a New York audience, and through our curatorial process find a film that’s going to be special for an audience here, that’s enough for us. “That doesn’t mean that every so often there isn’t a world premiere,” he said. “We last year had, I think, one of the most exciting and thrilling opening nights that I’ve been to.” That was Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” which kicked off the 57th New York Film Festival. It was a major get for the festival, and one of the year’s most anticipated premieres. The response at the festival, where “The Irishman” was widely greeted as a masterpiece, helped set it on a course to a number of awards, including 10 Oscar nominations. It was also a fitting match; Scorsese and Jones are friends and frequent collaborators. But Hernandez will have his own connections with filmmakers to trade on as he takes over the festival. This year’s edition opens Sept. 25. “This festival has always been on the forefront of discovering and showcasing what’s next in cinema,” he said. “It’s exciting to see that continue and to be a part of it.” ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
  • Jurors at Harvey Weinstein's rape trial spent much of their second day of deliberations Wednesday revisiting a former film and TV production assistant's allegation that he sexually assaulted her in July 2006. Jurors sent a note shortly after resuming deliberations for the day saying they wanted to rehear Mimi Haleyi's testimony about the accusation that Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006 and about another sexual encounter with him about two weeks later. They also said they wanted to see emails that Weinstein wrote about Haleyi and asked for a detailed explanation of the two charges involving her allegations — an indication that they haven’t reached a verdict on either of them. Haleyi, now 42, testified that weeks after arriving in New York for a behind-the-scenes job on Weinstein's “Project Runway” TV show, she found herself fighting in vain as he pushed her onto a bed and attacked her, undeterred by her kicks and pleas of, “no, no, no.” She also testified that they had sex at a hotel two weeks later, even though she didn’t want to be intimate. Weinstein’s lawyers have suggested that episode is evidence he didn’t coerce her during the first encounter, either. Court stenographers Randy Berkowitz and Susan Pearce-Bates took turns reading the lawyers' questions and Haleyi's testimony about the encounters. Court rules don't allow jurors to have a copy of the trial transcript, Judge James Burke said. Weinstein, 67, is charged with five counts stemming from the allegations of Haleyi and two other women. Haleyi's account is integral to the first two counts that jurors were instructed to consider on their maze-like verdict form, an indication they may still have a long way to go. For the first count, predatory sexual assault, Haleyi's allegation is intertwined with actress Annabella Sciorra's claim that Weinstein raped her in the mid-1990s. To find him guilty on that count, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, jurors must agree that both assaults happened. If jurors decide that Weinstein didn't rape Sciorra, they can then consider the second count — a criminal sex act charge stemming solely from Haleyi's allegation. Weinstein is also charged with raping a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013. Like Haleyi's allegation, that one is also intertwined with Sciorra's for purposes of a second predatory sexual assault count. Jurors also have the option to weigh standalone rape charges stemming from the 2013 incident, depending on how they decide on the predatory count. The complex formula for reaching a verdict makes Sciorra's allegation a key to any conviction on the most serious counts. While it is too old to be charged on its own because of the statute of limitations in effect at the time, the law allows prosecutors to use her allegations as a basis for the predatory assault charges. In her closing argument last week, Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno implored jurors to see things the other way around. She suggested they focus first on Haleyi's allegation and the 2013 rape allegation before thinking about Sciorra's allegation. “You have heard from many witnesses in this case... But in the end, it only comes down to those two,' Rotunno said. “You don't have to evaluate anything else. You don't get to Annabella Sciorra if you do not believe Miriam Haleyi, and if you do not believe (the 2013 accuser), you don't get to Annabella Sciorra.” Weinstein's lawyers contend the acts were consensual. They focused on friendly, flirtatious emails some of the women sent to Weinstein and further meetings some of them had with him after the alleged assaults. The Associated Press has a policy of not publishing the names of people who allege sexual assault without their consent. It is withholding the name of the rape accuser because it isn’t clear whether she wishes to be identified publicly.
  • Whitney Houston is about to appear on the concert stage again. Eight years after her death, a holographic Houston will embark on a European tour that starts in England on Feb. 25 and runs through early April, with U.S. dates expected to follow. “Now is just the right time,' said Pat Houston, the singer's sister-in-law, former manager and the executor of her estate, which is producing the show in collaboration with BASE Hologram. “In the spirit of Whitney, I know we're doing all the right things right now.” Last week, a few dozen members of the media were given a dress-rehearsal preview in Burbank, California of most of “An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour,' which features a Houston projected onto a nearly invisible scrim on a stage with real dancers and a live backing band. The concert set includes most of her biggest hits — “How Will I Know,' “Saving All My Love For You,” “I Will Always Love You,” along with some unexpected rarities, including a cover of Steve Winwood's “Higher Love” that Houston first recorded three decades ago. The show, which was first conceived five years ago, used a body double along with hundreds of hours of Houston performances and extensive CGI synthesizing. “We created the hologram the same way they did Carrie Fisher in the 'Star Wars' movie ‘Rogue One,'” said Marty Tudor, CEO of BASE Hologram, which has previously revived performing versions of dead singers including Roy Orbison and Maria Callas. “It's lengthy, it's tedious, it's a big, complicated process, but I think it worked.” The ambitious performance is the modest brainchild of Whitney Houston herself, in at least one respect. While on her final European tour, she had an “unplugged” section of her show, with a stripped down band and minimal fanfare. Houston liked that so much that shortly before her death at age 48 on the eve of the 2012 Grammy Awards, she expressed a desire to one day do an entire tour that way. That concept became the model for the hologram concert. “This is something that she wanted to do,' Pat Houston said after the media preview of the show. 'I get very emotional watching this, because it is so, so close to what she wanted. The only thing missing is her, physically.” On first appearance it's clear how far holographic technology has come since previous iterations like Tupac's holographic stint with Snoop Dogg at Coachella in 2012, with little of the flickering unreality audiences expect. Houston's appearance in a gold gown looks magically realistic. The limits are more apparent as the concert goes on, with the projection beam visible and Houston's movements minimal, but those shortcomings are unlikely to bother the hardcore fans the tour is likely to draw. Houston was never one for elaborate choreography or flashy moves anyway, and her small gestures — a quivering jaw on long-held notes, fluttering fingers for vocal flourishes, are all captured here. “Whitney didn't dance a lot, but when she did do her little moves, they were so perfectly Whitney,' said Fatima Robinson, who choreographed the show. “We did lots of studying her behavior in her videos. We would study her movements, and find the best moments in some of the live videos that just really embody her.” The show still features plenty of dancing, via four backup dancers and two moving backup singers, all of whom occasionally interact with the hologram. But Houston mostly preferred to let her voice do the work, and that part of the show works seamlessly, through a blend of studio takes and live performances. Close listeners may think they're hearing the album version of a hit before it swerves into seemingly spontaneous moments that give it a live feeling. The sound crew also found moments of between-song patter from Houston that were eternal enough to use for the new show. “May God bless you and keep you, and let us pray for peace, and pray for the answer,' she says toward the end of the set. The production may be most effective when it embraces its holographic possibilities — including having Houston swarmed in a shimmering shower of golden sparks during the climactic performance of “I Will Always Love You.” Dressing the Houston hologram provided its own set of problems and possibilities. “The first thing is, you can't do black,” Timothy Snell, who oversaw the wardrobe for the show, said with a mock gasp. “And black and sparkles are your first go-to. But Whitney also loved color.” Along with the gold gown, her outfits include a shimmering orange jumpsuit and a floor-length pink flowered coat. “She liked to look sophisticated and timeless,' Snell said. “And those timeless looks really show up here.”

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A court ruled that Florida cannot bar felons who served their time from voting, even if they haven’t paid their fines or court fees. Amendment 4, approved by voters in 2018, allowed nonviolent felons who served their time to regain the right to vote. Lawmakers passed a bill in 2019 that required some of those felons to pay off court fees, fines and restitution before they were able to vote. That law is now being argued in court. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the original ruling by a Tallahassee federal judge that requiring paying all fines and fees first is an unfair poll tax. Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state will immediately ask the entire 11th Circuit to reconsider the ruling. It was not immediately clear whether felons with unpaid fees would be able to vote by the upcoming primaries.
  • A Denver-based grassroots group called Good Business Colorado launched a statewide campaign to lure businesses away from Florida to Colorado. The group’s web site brags of more sunny days, legalized recreational marijuana and stronger protections for LGBTQ citizens as reasons people should consider relocating. They’re currently placing ads in newspapers and other publications in Florida including the Orlando Sentinel. The ad shows a rainbow stretched across the Rocky Mountain with the message: “Move to Colorado. In Colorado, more than just our grass is protected.  Your job is, too. We pride ourselves on our innovative businesses and ability to be ourselves at work.” Good Business Colorado’s website claims that Colorado has double the breweries of Florida, thousands of more miles of trails, and friendlier LGBTQ policies with statewide non-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.   Florida currently does not have any statewide laws protecting LGBTQ residents from discrimination, including the workplace.  Orlando and Orange County have their own policies in place, but the legislature continues rejecting the Florida Competitive Workforce Act which would give statewide protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, housing and public places.  It was first introduced in 2009.
  • Orlando’s housing market marked a second consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year sales increases in January.  According to the latest report from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, sales in Orlando increased by 16.4-percent over last January’s sales. Each individual county’s sales comparisons are as follows:   *Lake: 9.2% above January 2019;  *Orange: 9.9% above January 2019;  *Osceola: 25.3% above January 2019; and  *Seminole: 6.9% above January 2019. The median home price in Orlando also rose by 7.9-percent last month to $245,000.  That number marks a 1.6-percent decline from the median home price in December. Orlando’s inventory of available homes is still tight, with only about 7,000 homes available for sale last month.  That number represents a 14.7-percent decrease from the inventory in January of 2019. You can find a link to the complete report by clicking HERE.
  • Authorities in Missouri have arrested three relatives after an 11-year-old girl gave birth last week in a bathtub at a home in the St. Louis suburbs, according to multiple reports. An adult man and an adult woman have been charged with endangering the welfare of a child in connection to the case. A 17-year-old boy was also arrested on charges of incest, statutory rape and statutory sodomy of a child younger than 12 years old, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Associated Press. The birth was discovered after a man brought the newborn to a hospital, claiming the child had been left on his front porch, KSDK reported. Charging documents obtained by the news station showed the infant had a body temperature of 90 degrees and still had an umbilical cord and placenta attached after being brought to the hospital. The man later admitted that he was related to the baby and told authorities he was unaware the 11-year-old girl was pregnant until she gave birth to the child, according to the AP. The man was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child, KSDK reported. A judge ordered him held in lieu of a $10,000 cash-only bond. Charging documents said he came to the country illegally and had previously been deported, according to the AP. In a probable cause statement obtained by the Post-Dispatch, authorities said a 17-year-old boy related to the 11-year-old girl admitted to having sexually assaulted the girl about 100 times. After his arrest last week, a judge ordered him held in lieu of a $25,000 bond, according to the newspaper. Authorities made a third arrest in the case Tuesday, charging an adult woman with failing to provide the 11-year-old with medical care as she was giving birth. She was ordered held in lieu of a $10,000 bond, according to the AP.
  • NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, who was involved in a horrific crash during the final lap of the Daytona 500, was hospitalized after Monday’s race. Update 2:03 p.m. EST Feb. 19: According to Roush Fenway Racing, NASCAR driver Ryan Newman was released from a Daytona Beach hospital Wednesday afternoon, two days after he was involved in a scary crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500. Roush tweeted a photograph of Newman leaving Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, holding the hands of his two daughters. “Ryan Newman has been treated and released from Halifax Medical Center,” the racing team tweeted. Update 12:25 p.m. EST Feb. 19: Ryan Newman continued to show “great improvement” as he recovered from injuries he suffered Monday night in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 race, his racing team said. Roush Fenway Racing tweeted a statement that said Newman was “fully alert” and walking around Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. The racing team also tweeted a photo of a smiling Newman with his children. Update 4:47 p.m. EST Feb. 18: In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Roush Fenway Racing tweeted that Ryan Newman was “awake and speaking” with family members and doctors. Newman, who was seriously injured in a final-lap wreck during Monday’s Daytona 500 race, remains at the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. Update 10:13 p.m. EST Feb. 17: In a statement Monday night, NASCAR officials said Newman, 42, was in serious condition, “but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life-threatening.” Original report: Newman, 42, has 18 Cup wins, including the 2008 Daytona 500 and 2013 Brickyard 400. He was battling for the lead with Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin on the final lap of the 2.5-mile track at Daytona International Speedway when he crashed. Newman was in the lead coming into the final turn with Blaney and eventual winner Hamlin in close pursuit, NASCAR.com reported. Closing in on the finish line, Newman attempted to block Blaney, who was in second place. The impact of the cars touching sent Newman’s car airborne and into the wall. Newman’s car flipped several times and was hit head-on by Corey LaJoie, who sent Newman skidding across the track upside down Newman’s No. 6 Ford crossed the finish line engulfed in flames, ESPN reported. An ambulance departed Daytona International Speedway’s front stretch at 8:10 p.m. Newman was taken to an area hospital. His condition was unknown. 'I think we take for granted sometimes how safe the cars are, and No. 1, we are praying for Ryan,'' Hamlin said. “I hope he’s all right,” Blaney told reporters. “I was trying to push him to the win. I don’t like saying that things just happen because I feel really bad about it. It was a close one. I just hope Ryan is all right.” “I was hoping he would kind of bounce off the fence to the left, but he didn’t and I hit him,” Lajoie said. “I don’t know exactly where I hit him. I haven’t seen a replay. It was some scary stuff.” Newman, who led 15 laps, was credited with a ninth-place finish. “We ask that out of respect for privacy that you please do not speculate on Ryan Newman’s condition until an official statement has been issued,” Roush Yates Engines tweeted. Kelley Earnhardt, the daughter of Dale Earnhardt Sr., tweeted, “Please let @RyanJNewman be ok!” Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001. Newman, born Dec. 8, 1977, in South Bend, Indiana, was named Winston Cup rookie of the year in 2002, beating Jimmie Johnson, according to his NASCAR biography. Nicknamed “Rocket Man,” Newman graduated with honors from South Bend La-Salle High School in 1996. He studied engineering at Purdue University but at the same time, continued to race. Newman was a champion midget racer when he was 17, ran USAC sprint cars and won that division’s Silver Crown championship in 1999.

Washington Insider

  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's first appearance on the Democratic debate stage found him under attack from all sides in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, as the five other Democrats took turns trying to knock over the candidate who threatens them with a seemingly endless supply of campaign money and television commercials in the 2020 race for the White House. “Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another,' Elizabeth Warren said of Bloomberg and the race to replace President Donald Trump. In Bloomberg's first chance to speak to voters from the debate, he opted to go after Bernie Sanders on the issue of electability. 'If he is the candidate we will have Donald Trump for another four years,' Bloomberg said. Here is a look at what the six candidates on stage were able to do: + ELIZABETH WARREN. After a lackluster debate in New Hampshire, Warren left it all on the field in Vegas. She scorched Bloomberg over his taxes, and called him an 'arrogant billionaire.' She ripped Klobuchar for a 'Post-It Note' health plan, and called Buttigieg's health plan a 'Power Point' which took up only two paragraphs. But her night on stage in Vegas will be remembered mainly for her verbal broadsides against Bloomberg, especially when she demanded that he release women from non-disclosure agreements, so people could find out how they had been harassed or discriminated against. With the moderators taking a hands off approach, Warren at one point simply asked the questions of Bloomberg herself, making his first debate night a rough one. + PETE BUTTIGIEG. While the Indiana Mayor got in some shots at Sanders and Bloomberg along the way, he took several extended jabs at Klobuchar, which would seemingly tell us that he is worried about the Minnesota Senator grabbing away some of his moderate base. 'I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete,' Klobuchar said at one point as the two tangled multiple times. Buttigieg really got under Klobuchar's skin by highlighting how she couldn't come up with the name of the Mexican leader earlier this week. 'Are you trying to say I'm dumb?' Klobuchar responded icily. Buttigieg also got his jabs in at Sanders and Bloomberg, reminding people they aren't in the party. 'Let's put forward someone who is actually a Democrat,' Buttigieg said. + JOE BIDEN. Unlike the debate in New Hampshire, Biden did not start his evening by conceding defeat, as the more aggressive version of the former Vice President was repeatedly on display. Biden dinged Bloomberg several times, he again threw elbows over the cost of programs put forward by Sanders, and repeatedly reminded others on stage that he was with President Obama on major issues like health care. But Biden reserved his biggest jabs for Bloomberg, on where he stood on the Obama health law, and how the Obama Administration sent in monitors to deal with the 'stop and frisk' policy of the Bloomberg Administration in New York. + BERNIE SANDERS. Normally, Sanders would have probably attracted the most attention in this debate, simply because he is seen in the polls as the front runner, something he reminded the NBC moderators about when they asked him about polls. But with Bloomberg on the debate stage for the first time, Sanders got a little less attention - though he still mixed it up with Bloomberg a number of times. 'You know what, Mr. Bloomberg, it wasn't you who made all that money. Maybe your workers played some role in that as well,' Sanders said. One of the few times that Sanders found himself playing defense was when a local Nevada issue came up, about the powerful Culinary workers union, and their opposition to his Medicare For All health plan - worried it will do away with the benefits they've gained in their labor efforts. + MICHAEL BLOOMBERG. While the attacks on Bloomberg will get the lion's share of attention out of this debate - as we have detailed here, the former mayor of New York also had his share of rejoinders, which were mainly deployed against Sanders. 'I don't think there's any of chance of Sanders beating President Trump,' Bloomberg said early in the debate. 'I'm a New Yorker. I know how to take on an arrogant con man,' Bloomberg said of the President. For the first 15-20 minutes, Bloomberg was doing fine in his first debate, even as the moderators tried to make him an issue. But then, Warren moved in, and Bloomberg struggled through the rest of the first segment. Bloomberg used most of his tougher lines against Sanders, clearly seeing him as his chief rival on Super Tuesday. + AMY KLOBUCHAR. Klobuchar used her last debate in New Hampshire to take a big jump forward in this campaign, but it wasn't clear she was able to repeat that on the Vegas Strip. Klobuchar started by rebuking Bloomberg's campaign for suggesting that she get out of the race. As mentioned above, the Minnesota Democrat spent a good deal of time squabbling with Buttigieg, as it seemed like Klobuchar might have grabbed Mayor Pete and broken him in two if no one else was in the room. After Bloomberg said he couldn't just 'go to Turbo Tax' to do his taxes and release them, Klobuchar called for transparency on tax issues, comparing it to President Trump. Klobuchar is probably in through Super Tuesday, but it's not an easy way forward. She will try to raise more money on Thursday in Denver.