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U.K. Group Rallies Musicians, Writers and Performers to Fight Government Cuts

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By: Richard Smirke

Newly formed U.K. protest group Artists’ Assembly Against Austerity are calling on musicians, writers, artists and performers to voice their opposition against government cuts in public and voluntary services.

Over 500 people working in the creative arts have so far signed up to the protest group, which was spun out of The People’s Assembly Against Austerity — a national collective formed in 2013. In June this year, 50,000 people marched through London as part of a People’s Assembly Against Austerity demonstration against the current British coalition government. Organizers of Artists’ Assembly Against Austerity now hope to mobilize people working in the creative arts and industries to get involved.  Read the rest of this entry »

CeeLo Green Enters No Contest Plea in Drug Case

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By: Associated Press

CeeLo Green has pleaded no contest to one felony count of furnishing ecstasy to a woman during a 2012 dinner in Los Angeles.

The Grammy-winning singer entered the plea during a brief court hearing on Friday. He also entered a special plea in which he maintained his innocence in the case.

Superior Court Judge Mark Young sentenced the 39-year-old singer to three years of formal probation. Young said Green, whose real name is Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, will be allowed to travel for work.

Green entered the plea just before a preliminary hearing, which would have disclosed potential evidence against him, was scheduled to begin.

Prosecutors rejected a rape charge against Green when he was charged with the felony drug charge in October 2013. His attorney Blair Berk has said Green had consensual sex with the woman he gave ecstasy to during the 2012 dinner.

3 Convicted in Death of Georgia Rapper Lil Phat

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By: Associated Press

A jury has convicted three men in the shooting death of an Atlanta rapper known as Lil Phat.

Melvin Vernell III was shot and killed in June 2012 outside a hospital where he was awaiting the birth of his child.

On Friday, prosecutors said the gunman, 25-year-old Deandre Washington, was convicted of murder and other charges and sentenced to life without parole plus 20 years.

Also convicted were 35-year-old Gary Bradford and 29-year-old Maurice Conner on charges of conspiracy and participating in criminal street gang activity. Bradford was sentenced to 25 years in prison, and Connor, 30 years.

Prosecutors say the three men conspired to kill Vernell in retaliation for a drug robbery they believed he had orchestrated. A fourth defendant awaits trial.

Ronald Singleton’s Death Is 2nd Recent Restraint-Related Homicide For NYPD

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By: Inse Oh

The death of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died after being placed in a police chokehold earlier this summer, sparked national outrage over allegations ofracial profiling and the use of excessive force routinely employed by officers of the New York Police Department.

The city’s medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, confirming the 46-year-old father, who was suspected of selling untaxed cigarettes at the time of his arrest, died from “the compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”

But just four days prior to Garner’s death, another man died while in police custody. Ronald Singleton’s fatal encounter with police received little attention at the time, but on Friday, the medical examiner’s office ruled his death a homicide. Read the rest of this entry »

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J&J’s Pinnacle Hips Face First Trial on Poisoned Patients

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By: Jef Feeley

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), which set aside $2.5 billion last year to resolve claims that 8,000 of its artificial hips were defective, faces a new round of lawsuits over another line of hip implants blamed for poisoning patients.

J&J’s DePuy unit is starting its first trial of allegations that the metal-on-metal version of the Pinnacle hip was defectively designed and caused metal debris to leech into patients’ bloodstreams. The cobalt-and-chromium material caused an infection that forced Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli to have her artificial hips surgically removed, she said in court filings.

Jury selection began today in Herlihy-Paoli’s suit, the first of more than 6,000 cases over the devices to be weighed by a jury. The cases have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas for pretrial information exchanges. Kinkeade will preside over Herlihy-Paoli’s trial. Read the rest of this entry »

Brooklyn Atlantic Yards Yields Dueling Suits on Tower

By: Erik Larson

Forest City Ratner Cos., the initial developer of Brooklyn’s $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project surrounding Barclays Center arena, exchanged lawsuits with the Swedish construction firm Skanska AB (SKAB) over claims of design flaws and delays in building a stalled residential tower.

The lawsuits, filed today in Manhattan state court, focus on a contract for the 34-floor “modular” residential high-rise building under construction next to the arena for the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets that opened in 2012 as the centerpiece of the former rail yard and a symbol of the New York borough’s resurgence.

Skanska, a Stockholm-based firm that has grown to become New York’s second-largest building contractor, seeks at least $50 million in damages for changes to the building that were made without consultation, according to its complaint. Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner blames Skanska for the project’s problems, citing “tens of millions of dollars” in cost overruns caused by a lack of skill and a failure to adhere to terms of the 2012 contract.

“Skanska’s current stoppage of work constitutes a further breach,” an affiliate of Forest City Ratner said in its complaint. “Skanska’s unilateral decision has needlessly put more than 150 people out of work, and has also compounded damages.” Read the rest of this entry »

Hedge Fund Seeks Proof from Citigroup on Argentina Threat

By: Patricia Hurtado

On Friday, the U.S. judge overseeing a fight between Argentina and its defaulted bondholders ordered a hearing over a hedge fund’s subpoena for evidence Citibank was threatened by the South American nation.

Citibank’s parent, Citigroup Inc. (C), had argued it could lose its Argentine branch if a U.S. appeals court doesn’t allow it to distribute money to Argentina’s restructured bondholders, a move barred by U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan unless defaulted debtholders are also paid.

In court papers filed over the weekend, hedge fund NML Capital, a defaulted debtholder controlled by billionaire Paul Singer, expanded on its bid for information. NML seeks to compel the bank to provide evidence of claims that Argentina threatened it with punitive measures if it continues to comply with Griesa’s order. The hearing before Griesa is Sept. 10. Read the rest of this entry »

Halliburton Spill Deal Turns Focus on Future BP Decision

By: Bradley Olson and Margaret Cronin Fisk

Halliburton Co. (HAL)’s agreement to settle most of the lawsuits stemming from its role in the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history refocuses attention on the still-awaited court ruling that will decide the extent of BP Plc (BP/)’s liability.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who conducted a nonjury trial over fault for the Gulf of Mexicodisaster, is weighing whether BP and its co-defendants Transocean Ltd. (RIG) and Halliburton acted with gross negligence in the 2010 Macondo disaster, which killed 11 men and set back efforts to develop deep-water resources by years. Barbier also is expected at some point to rule on the size of the spill. Read the rest of this entry »

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