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Venezuelan president blasts maestro Dudamel for speaking out

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is blasting his one-time supporter and classical music maestro Gustavo Dudamel.

Maduro in a televised appearance Friday said the Los Angeles Philharmonic's musical director had been deceived by Venezuela's enemies into betraying the socialist government that had for years supported the world-famous El Sistema musical education program.

Dudamel for years toured with El Sistema ensembles and even appeared alongside Maduro in 2014 amid a wave of anti-government unrest to survey plans for a concert hall to be built in his name.

But he publicly broke with the government in May after a member of El Sistema was killed in another wave of protests.

Maduro's rebuke comes as Dudamel is scheduled next month to lead the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela in a four-city U.S. tour.

Judge refuses to end Roman Polanski sex assault case

A Los Angeles judge on Friday denied the impassioned plea of Roman Polanski's victim to end a four-decade-old sexual assault case against the fugitive director.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon ruled that Polanski must return to California if he expects to resolve charges of sexually abusing a teen. The Oscar winner fled the country on the eve of sentencing in 1978.

Gordon's ruling follows a fervent request by Samantha Geimer to end a "40-year sentence" she says was imposed on both perpetrator and victim. It was issued on Polanski's 84th birthday and blamed the director for the fact that the case was still alive.

"Her statement is dramatic evidence of the long-lasting and traumatic effect these crimes, and defendant's refusal to obey court orders and appear for sentencing, is having on her life," Gordon wrote.

Harland Braun, Polanski's attorney, said the ruling came after the judge asked for proposals on how to resolve the case. Braun's proposals include several that previously were rejected by the court.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with Geimer when she was 13. She has said he drugged, raped and sodomized her.

The Associated Press does not typically name victims of sex abuse, but Geimer went public years ago.

After he became a fugitive, his attorneys have failed to persuade judges to sentence him in absentia and credit him for the 42 days he was incarcerated for psychological testing before he fled.

Geimer has long supported Polanski's efforts but made her plea in court for the first time in June. After her statement, the director's lawyers reiterated their request for the case to be dismissed, or Polanski to be sentenced without appearing in court.

Geimer told the judge that she was deeply disappointed Polanski had not been able to resolve the case with prosecutors and implored Gordon to "bring this matter to a close as an act of mercy to myself and my family."

Gordon's ruling Friday noted that a court "may not dismiss the case merely because it would be in the victim's best interest."

Geimer has said she was more traumatized by the legal system and the fallout from the case than she had been by Polanski. In downplaying Polanski's actions, Geimer's position was at odds with many sexual assault victims and an outcry about lenient sentences in sex abuse cases.

Gordon had praised Geimer for her courage and elegant words but also expressed skepticism that Polanski could resolve the case without appearing in a Los Angeles courtroom.

Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee had insisted that Polanski show up in court to face his fate.

Polanski contends that he fled when the original judge in the case suggested in private remarks that he would renege on a plea agreement. It called for no more time behind bars for the director after he spent 42 days in a prison for tests.

Polanski has tried for years to end the case and lift an international arrest warrant that confined him to his native France, Switzerland and Poland, where he fled the Holocaust.

The warrant prevented him from collecting his Academy Award for best director for his 2002 film "The Pianist." He was also nominated for 1974's "Chinatown" and 1979's "Tess."

Geimer said she didn't excuse what Polanski did but said she felt he had served his sentence and wasn't being treated fairly.

Polanski had been shooting photos of the girl at Jack Nicholson's house when he gave her champagne and part of a sedative pill before raping her in March 1977, according to grand jury transcripts. Nicholson was not home at the time.

Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in exchange for dropping drug, rape and sodomy charges.

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Associated Press Writer Brian Melley contributed to this report.

Police: Rapper Meek Mill arrested for reckless dirt biking

Police say the rapper Meek Mill has been arrested on a charge of reckless endangerment for riding an illegal dirt bike through New York City streets.

The 30-year-old rapper was arrested late Thursday. His real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams.

The Daily News reports (http://nydn.us/2uNj2SA ) that Mill was seen on Instagram popping wheelies on the dirt bike Wednesday night.

According to Instagram posts by fans, Mill turned on his livestream when police detained him the next day based on the social media posts.

The dirt bike photos could no longer be found on Mill's Instagram account by late Thursday.

Mill's lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, said Mill was being singled out because of his celebrity.

Tacopina said that if Mill's name had been John Smith, "he wouldn't even have been arrested."

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Information from: Daily News, http://www.nydailynews.com

'Predator' actor Sonny Landham dead at 76

Sonny Landham, the muscular action-movie actor who co-starred in "Predator" and "48 Hrs," has died. He was 76.

Landham's sister, Dawn Boehler, said the actor died from congestive heart failure Thursday at a Lexington, Kentucky, hospital. Landham was a brawny, deep-voiced actor and stunt man who played a bit part in Walter Hill's 1979 street-gang thriller "The Warriors" before the director cast him as the trigger-happy criminal Billy Bear in 1982's "48 Hrs."

Landham, who was part Cherokee and Seminole, was perhaps most known for playing the Native American tracker Billy Sole in the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger film "Predator."

Landham entered the movie business after working in pornography in the '70s. Later in life, he attempted brief and unsuccessful political campaigns.

He's survived by his son, William, and daughter, Priscilla.

Details of 'Deadpool 2' stuntwoman's death released

British Columbia's workplace safety agency has released the first official account of a "Deadpool 2" stuntwoman's death.

The initial report by WorkSafeBC on Friday confirms witness accounts to Monday's accident during filming of the sequel to actor Ryan Reynolds' popular superhero movie.

The report says SJ Harris had been rehearsing a stunt that involved driving a motorcycle out the open doors of a building, across a concrete pad and down a ramp that had been built over three stairs before coming to a stop.

It says during the first shooting of the scene, she continued driving beyond the planned stopping spot, continued down a second ramp and across the road.

The motorcycle struck a concrete sidewalk curb and Harris was thrown off and propelled through a plate glass window.

The top 10 songs and albums on the iTunes Store

Top Songs

1. Wild Thoughts (feat. Rihanna &..., DJ Khaled

2. What About Us, P!nk

3. Despacito (feat. Justin Bieber), Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee

4. Strip That Down (feat. Quavo), Liam Payne

5. Praying, Kesha

6. Slow Hands, Niall Horan

7. Attention, Charlie Puth

8. There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back, Shawn Mendes

9. Believer, Imagine Dragons

10. Body Like a Back Road, Sam Hunt

Top Albums

1. Rainbow, Kesha

2. Federal 3X, Moneybagg Yo

3. You - EP, dodie

4. The Project, Lindsay Ell

5. Vol. 2 Guardians of the Galaxy..., Various Artists

6. Love Has a Name (Live), Jesus Culture

7. American Teen, Khalid

8. Descendants 2 (Original TV Mov..., Various Artists

9. 4:44, JAY Z

10. ÷ , Ed Sheeran

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(copyright) 2017 Apple Inc.

Taylor Swift left 'a blank space, baby' on social media

Taylor Swift had a "blank space, baby" across social media Friday — and Swifties went wild.

There was no immediate word from the Swift camp on what happened, but the "Blank Space" pop star is known for promotional trickery on her social streams ahead of major music drops.

In addition to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, her website went dark and the hashtag "TS6IsComing" — as in her sixth studio album — trended worldwide. Her profile pictures were also removed.

All of this comes days after federal jurors in Denver found a former radio host, David Mueller, assaulted and battered Swift during a meet-and-greet in 2013. And all of this also comes as the three-year anniversary of "1989," her last studio album, approaches in October.

Perhaps more significantly: Aug. 18 is three years on the nose that Swift dropped "Shake It Off" and announced "1989" was on the way back in 2014.

Bruce Forsyth, veteran British TV host and entertainer, dies

Bruce Forsyth, a legendary entertainer, host and quizmaster on English television whose career spanned the history of TV, has died.

The BBC announced that Forsyth, who had brightened its airwaves for decades, died Friday at his home. He was 89.

Dapper and mustachioed, with a toothy smile and cheeky charm, he was a television presence for 75 years, earning him recognition by Guinness World Records in 2012 for having had the longest on-screen television career for a male entertainer.

Most recently he co-hosted "Strictly Come Dancing," a popular dance competition that premiered on BBC One in 2004 and where he delivered such crowd-pleasing catchphrases as "Nice to see you, to see you nice" and "Give us a whirl!" He retired from the program in 2013.

Born the son of a garage owner in a suburb of London, Forsyth took up tap dancing as a lad after seeing a Fred Astaire film. He first appeared on TV in 1939 as a child dancer on a show called "Come and Be Televised" and made his stage debut at the age of 14 with his billed-at-the-bottom act "Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom."

Forsyth's first major TV success came in 1958, when he was signed to host a weekly variety show, "Sunday Night at the London Palladium." It drew a then-remarkable audience of 10 million viewers and reportedly caused pubs to empty out as airtime approached and pub patrons headed home to watch the show. In the process, he was said to be Britain's highest-paid entertainer.

He hosted a number of game shows including "Play Your Cards Right," ''The Price is Right" and "The Generation Game," which at its peak, attracted 20 million viewers.

Decades later, he experienced a career lull, then found a professional renaissance with "Strictly Come Dancing."

Forsyth was knighted in 2011.

Citing Trump remarks, entire president's arts council quits

Another presidential advisory committee is breaking up.

Actor Kal Penn, artist Chuck Close and the entire membership of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities have announced their resignation. A letter dated Friday, and signed by 16 of 17 committee members, cited the "false equivalence" of President Donald Trump's comments about last weekend's "Unite the Right" gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump has blamed "many sides" for the demonstrations that left an anti-racism activist dead.

The White House said Trump had already decided against renewing the advisory committee for budgetary reasons.

"Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions," the letter reads. "Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too."

The only member whose name did not appear was Broadway director George C. Wolfe. Representatives for Wolfe at Creative Arts Agency said Friday that he was also resigning and that his name would be added to the letter, which seemed to contain a hidden political message beyond the ones stated openly. The first initials of the letter's six main paragraphs spell out "r-e-s-i-s-t."

"Earlier this month it was decided that President Trump will not renew the executive order for the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), which expires later this year," the White House said in a statement attributed to an unnamed spokesperson. "While the committee has done good work in the past, in its current form it simply is not a responsible way to spend American tax dollars."

The statement said the committee "merely redirects funding" from federal cultural agencies that report directly to the president, Congress and taxpayers.

"These cultural agencies do tremendous work and they will continue to engage in these important projects," the statement said.

Earlier this week, two business advisory councils were disbanded as members left in protest.

Friday's exodus heightened the arts world's contentious relationship with Trump. The president struggled to find entertainers, many of whom backed Hillary Clinton in 2016, to perform at his inaugural gala, and Kennedy Center honorees for lifetime achievement have already said they will not attend the White House reception in December.

As president, Trump has also recommended defunding the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.

The arts and humanities committee was established in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan and, with the first lady serving as honorary chair, works with both government and private agencies in promoting the arts through such programs as Turnaround Arts and Save America's Treasures. Others signing the resignation letter included Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri; and Vicki Kennedy, widow of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. All were appointed by President Barack Obama.

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Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

Trey Songz reaches plea deal in Detroit assault case

R&B singer Trey Songz has reached a deal with prosecutors to reduce a felony assault charge stemming from a concert in Detroit.

The 32-year-old artist pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of disturbing the peace in a Wayne County court. He will serve 18 months of probation.

Authorities say microphones and speakers were thrown from stage during his December concert at Joe Louis Arena. A police sergeant was punched. Police have said the singer became upset when told to end his performance.

Songz, whose real name is Tremaine Neverson, was charged with aggravated assault and assaulting a police officer.

He apologized to the city on Friday, saying "I love Detroit." He says he had no intention of causing a disturbance.

A September trial had been planned.

Hot stock tip: Chicken Soup for the Soul

"These are the times that try men's souls," was written more than two centuries ago, but given events this week, they could have popped up in any blog or tweet in recent days.

What better time then, for a little Chicken Soup for the Soul?

The provider of positive vibes is becoming a publicly traded company Friday, and not a moment too soon.

The company, called Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc., offered 2.5 million shares for $12 each.

Chicken Soup produces television programs and online videos, but is best known for the books sold under the same name, with more than 250 published titles in 40 languages.

The company was founded by motivational speakers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen in 1993. They sold what was still essentially a company focused on books in 2008.

Since then, Chicken Soup has turned to video production and distribution. Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment CEO William Rouhana described it as a Netflix for Chicken Soup fans.

The positive content offered by the company is important right now given the divisions among Americans, Rouhana said.

Chicken Soup held what is known as a "mini initial public offering," which gives smaller investors and individuals the ability to buy shares.

Startups, through a mini IPO, can raise up to $50 million. Chicken Soup is raising $30 million. Rouhana said that the company's offering is hopefully laying the groundwork for other companies to do small cap IPOs.

Already an investor in Chicken Soup is actor Ashton Kutcher, who has been active with startup companies for years.

Chicken Soup bought Kutcher's media company A Plus late last year, and Kutcher became an investor in Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Other investors weren't feeling cheered on the first day of trading, however. Shares of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment closed Friday down 23 percent.

Fox's James Murdoch slams Trump's Charlottesville response

The CEO of 21st Century Fox denounced racism and terrorists while expressing concern over President Donald Trump's reaction to the deadly violence surrounding a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

James Murdoch also told friends in a personal email that he and his wife, Kathryn, will donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League.

Murdoch writes that the events in Charlottesville last weekend and Trump's response "concern all of us as Americans and free people."

"I can't even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists," Murdoch added. "Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so."

Trump has put the blame for the violence on both white nationalists and those protesting the gathering last weekend, saying there were "very fine people" on both sides.

Murdoch is the son of 21st Century Fox's co-executive chairman, Rupert Murdoch, a Trump ally who The New York Times reported recently dined with the president at the White House. The company is the corporate parent of Fox News Channel, which has given friendly coverage to the president.

The email was first reported by the Times Thursday.

Tina Fey returns to 'Weekend Update' to talk Charlottesville

Tiny Fey has returned to "Weekend Update" on "Saturday Night Live" to discuss the violence surrounding a white nationalist rally near her alma mater's campus in Charlottesville.

Fey sported a University of Virginia sweatshirt Thursday on "Weekend Update: Summer Edition."

She says it broke her heart to see "these evil forces" descend on Charlottesville.

She also criticized President Donald Trump for blaming "both sides" for the violence. She says, "Nazis are always bad. I don't care what you say."

She noted that another white nationalist rally is planned for Saturday in New York and joked that she hopes neo-Nazis in the city "get the ham salad kicked out of them by a bunch of drag queens."

Fey co-hosted the "Weekend Update" segment from 2000 to 2006.

Robin Thicke, model expecting baby on Alan Thicke's birthday

April Love Geary made the announcement on Instagram on Thursday alongside a sonogram image. She writes that "the due date is March 1st, Alan's birthday!" The actor died in December at age 69.

Robin Thicke has been dating the 22-year-old model since his divorce from actress Paula Patton in 2015. This would be the second child for the 40-year-old Thicke. His son with Patton, Julian, was born in 2010.

Thicke's publicist confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that the couple is expecting a child but had no further comment.

NASA, PBS marking 40 years since Voyager spacecraft launches

Forty years after blasting off, Earth's most distant ambassadors — the twin Voyager spacecraft — are carrying sounds and music of our planet ever deeper into the cosmos.

Think of them as messages in bottles meant for anyone — or anything — out there.

This Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of NASA's launch of Voyager 2, now almost 11 billion miles distant. It departed from Cape Canaveral on Aug. 20, 1977 to explore Jupiter and Saturn.

Voyager 1 followed a few weeks later and is ahead of Voyager 2. It's humanity's farthest spacecraft at 13 billion miles away and is the world's only craft to reach interstellar space, the vast mostly emptiness between star systems. Voyager 2 is expected to cross that boundary during the next few years.

Each carries a 12-inch, gold-plated copper phonograph record (there were no CDs or MP3s back then) containing messages from Earth: Beethoven's Fifth, chirping crickets, a baby's cry, a kiss, wind and rain, a thunderous moon rocket launch, African pygmy songs, Solomon Island panpipes, a Peruvian wedding song and greetings in dozens of languages. There are also more than 100 electronic images on each record showing 20th-century life, traffic jams and all.

NASA is marking the anniversary of its back-to-back Voyager launches with tweets, reminisces and still captivating photos of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune taken by the Voyagers from 1979 through the 1980s.

Public television is also paying tribute with a documentary, "The Farthest - Voyager in Space," airing Wednesday on PBS at 9 p.m. EDT.

The two-hour documentary describes the tense and dramatic behind-the-scenes effort that culminated in the wildly successful missions to our solar system's outer planets and beyond. More than 20 team members are interviewed, many of them long retired. There's original TV footage throughout, including a lookback at the late astronomer Carl Sagan of the 1980 PBS series "Cosmos." It also includes an interview with Sagan's son, Nick, who at 6 years old provided the English message: "Hello from the children of Planet Earth."

Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco — who joined Voyager's imaging team in 1980 — puts the mission up there with man's first moon landing.

"I consider Voyager to be the Apollo 11 of the planetary exploration program. It has that kind of iconic stature," Porco, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

It was Sagan who, in large part, got a record aboard each Voyager. NASA was reluctant and did not want the records eclipsing the scientific goals. Sagan finally prevailed, but he and his fellow record promoters had less than two months to rustle everything up.

The identical records were the audio version of engraved plaques designed by Sagan and others for Pioneers 10 and 11, launched in 1972 and 1973.

The 55 greetings for the Voyager Golden Records were collected at Cornell University, where Sagan taught astronomy, and the United Nations in New York. The music production fell to science writer Timothy Ferris, a friend of Sagan living then in New York.

For the musical selections, Ferris and Sagan recruited friends along with a few professional musicians. They crammed in 90 minutes of music recorded at half-speed; otherwise it would have lasted just 45 minutes.

How to choose from an infinite number of melodies and melodious sounds representing all of Earth?

Beethoven, Bach and Mozart were easy picks. Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven represented jazz, Blind Willie Johnson gospel blues.

For the rock 'n' roll single, the group selected Chuck Berry's 1958 hit "Johnny B. Goode." Bob Dylan was a close runner-up, and the Beatles also rated high. Elvis Presley's name came up (Presley died four days before Voyager 2's launch). In the end, Ferris thought "Johnny B. Goode" best represented the origins and creativity of rock 'n' roll.

Ferris still believes it's "a terrific record" and he has no "deep regrets" about the selections. Even the rejected tunes represented "beautiful materials."

"It's like handfuls of diamonds. If you're concerned that you didn't get the right handful or something, it's probably a neurotic problem rather than anything to do with the diamonds," Ferris told the AP earlier this week.

But he noted: "If I were going to start into regrets, I suppose not having Italian opera would be on that list."

The whole record project cost $30,000 or $35,000, to the best of Ferris' recollection.

NASA estimated the records would last 1 billion to 3 billion years or more — potentially outliving human civilization.

For Ferris, it's time more than distance that makes the whole idea of finders-keepers so incomprehensible.

A billion years from now, "Voyager could be captured by an advanced civilization of beings that don't exist yet ... It's literally imponderable what will happen to the Voyagers," he said.

Acclaimed modernist architect Gunnar Birkerts dies at 92

Gunnar Birkerts, an internationally acclaimed modernist architect who designed buildings including the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis, the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, and the University of Michigan Law Library, has died. He was 92.

His son, Sven Birkerts, said his father died Tuesday of congestive heart failure at his home in Needham, Massachusetts.

Birkerts was born in Riga, Latvia, on Jan. 17, 1925, but fled during World War II when he was in his teens. He made his way to Stuttgart, Germany, where he began studying architecture. In 1949, Birkerts emigrated to the United States. He was based in the Detroit area for much of his career and worked for several different architecture firms before he and a colleague, Frank Straub, founded Birkerts and Straub in 1962. He eventually went on to lead his own firm, Gunnar Birkerts and Associates, for decades. He also taught architecture at the University of Michigan from 1959-1990.

Birkerts was widely known for his use of light in his designs.

Some of his other notable buildings include the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, the IBM headquarters in Sterling Forest, New York, and the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela.

His final work, the National Library of Latvia in Riga, opened in 2014 and is now widely known as "The Castle of Light." The American Institute of Architects awarded the library its 2017 Library Building Award.

Birkerts is survived by his wife, Sylvia, a fellow Latvian who he met in Germany and married in 1950, their three children and seven grandchildren.

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