Thrill of the skate _ Philly sees roller rink revival

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Thrill of the skate _ Philly sees roller rink revival

By BARBARA BOYER, The Philadelphia InquirerFebruary 16, 2019

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Floyd Williams, soon to be 82, has no plans to stop roller skating.

Neither does one-time roller derby competitor Zia Hiltey, 34. The two, both of west Philadelphia, dance hand-in-hand when they cross paths on skates Tuesday night at the Holiday Skating & Fun Center in Delanco. They’re at the Burlington County rink for the live organ music played for the past 22 years by business executive Ralph Brown, and, most of all, for the thrill of the skate.

On any given day in the Philadelphia region, home to at least 11 thriving roller rinks, children of all ages, their parents, and grandparents are lacing up and rolling onto hardwood floors for a perennial pastime that is back — again. The roller skating revival draws together folks of diverse ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds for hours of fun on wheels.

For some, it’s a welcome throwback, or as Williams put it, “I feel like 20 in the rink.”

Hiltey, a professional photographer, skated as a child and took an interest again in 2006 when she was lured by the punk aspect of roller derby. She competed with the Philly Roller Girls for two years and now skates just for fun.

Since the debut of roller rinks in the United States in the early 1900s (Chicago opened one in 1902 and it attracted more than 7,000 people its first day), roller skating has held a singular place in American culture from urban centers to the suburbs.

Jim McMahon, executive director of the Roller Skating Association International, said the renewed interest started several years ago on the West Coast, where California’s temperate climate provides a welcome backdrop. The revival has since moved to the East Coast, where rinks are seeing an uptick in customers.

Although the number of rinks in the United States has fallen from about 1,260 five years ago to 1,200 today, more people are skating, McMahon said. In 2017, 36 million skaters went to a rink. Last year, it climbed to 38 million, and the industry expects that number to rise to 44 million in 2019. Rink owners are now partnering with educators through STEM programs, in which students learn the science behind roller skating. They study physics, rink design, and the art of combining music with skating. Then they put it all together in the rink.

The older generation of skaters, those in their 70s and up, say they worry that the art of roller figure skating — holding hands, skating in unison, spinning — is slowly disappearing. They say it’s a style that many younger skaters don’t embrace.

“What we do, it’s a lost art. I was here in its heyday,” said Joe “Sonny” White, 80, of Philadelphia. “I met the love of my life roller skating.”

The year was 1951 when White spotted his beloved Dottie, “a hell of a skater,” at a rink at Broad and Poplar that closed years ago.

Although his wife died 10 years ago, White, who has had two knee replacements, keeps skating. He visits the Palace rink in Northeast Philly where there’s a much younger crowd and modern music. He prefers Holiday, where Ralph Brown plays the organ every Tuesday night. Since 1996, Brown, who lives in Reading, has driven 90 minutes each way for the Delanco gig. He also plays at a rink close to his home. He has been playing at roller rinks for 53 years, he said.

On a recent night as dozens of skaters arrived at Holiday, Brown climbed into the booth and took a seat behind the Hammond organ. His fingers danced across the keyboards as he bounced a knee to songs like the “Chicken Dance” and “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees.

“Couples only,” Brown announced before he played “I Will Always Love You,” followed by “Love Story.” He flipped the lights off and the rink fell dark but for the kaleidoscope of colors from a hanging disco ball and the red-and-green lights blinking above the snack bar and skate-rental desk.

Vivian Veith-Ackroyd, 84, has been a manager at Holiday since 1972. She remembers when skating was so popular that customers were turned away after the first 1,200 skaters arrived.

“We would have a line out the door and down the road,” Veith-Ackroyd recalled, the disco lights reflecting off her gray hair. “It was crazy. It’s not like that now.” Now, a good night is when several hundred skaters show up.

Kadeem Vaughn, manager of ISC Cherry Hill, has noticed the renewed interest in skating at that rink.

“Originally it seemed like it was mostly younger kids. Now it seems like everyone is roller skating,” he said. “We’re riding the wave. When things picked up, we added theme events like glow parties, or backward skates.”

It’s “magical” for kids and awakens the inner child of parents who return to skate nights, or rent the rink for adult ’80s-themed parties. “They go back to a happier time,” Vaughn said.

Janet Jordan of Voorhees, a retired assistant Camden County prosecutor, is a national champion figure skater who no longer competes. She judges competitions across the United States and teaches roller skating in Cherry Hill and Perth Amboy. She has no plans to give up skating, which she started as a young girl.

“It’s a passion,” she said. “Once you get it in your veins, it’s addictive.”

Caren Eickmeyer of Marlton brought her 5-year-old daughter, Allie, for a morning class with Jordan the other day in Cherry Hill. After the class, Eickmeyer pulled on a pair of rentals to join her daughter in the rink.

“It brings you back to your childhood ... all those Friday nights skating,” said Eickmeyer, adding that the 1980 musical roller-rink love story Xanadu was among her favorite movies.

Back on skates with her daughter, Eickmeyer said, “I can’t believe how much I miss it.”

Out on the floor, champion skaters who dazzle with fancy footwork join amateurs working to master simpler moves. In the world of skating, different regions are known for different styles. Philadelphia and South Jersey are known for skating backward; New York and North Jersey favor chain skating.

Roller skating does not attract the same recognition as ice skating, an Olympic sport. But several skaters pointed out that Olympic gold medal ice skater Tara Lipinski, a Philly native, got her start on roller skates, and her first big wins were on wheels, not blades, when she was 8 and 9 years old.

With skating’s popularity on the rise, rinks across the region have gotten creative, hosting birthday parties, gospel nights, and adult skating after 10 p.m.

Tracy Medley, the managing partner of the Millennium Skate World in Camden, said roller rinks cater to a diverse crowd with varied interests, but have one common denominator: fun.

“All walks of life come together as one,” said Medley, who started skating as a child and later turned her Stockton University business degree and passion for skating into a career when the rink opened nearly 20 years ago. “It was my dream.”

On a busy skate night when hundreds crowd the Millennium floor — where rapper Meek Mill, on skates, filmed his “Monster” video in 2015 — Medley recognizes the regulars. There are doctors, lawyers, teens.

“It’s a getaway, no matter what you have going on in your life,” she said. “They call it ‘leave it on the wood.’ You come here, zone out, enjoy the music, and have a great time.”

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com

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Lawyer: Rapper 21 Savage granted immigration bond

In an emailed statement, lawyers Kuck, Dina LaPolt and Alex Spiro said they’ve been speaking with ICE since his arrest to “clarify his actual legal standing, his eligibility for bond, and provide evidence of his extraordinary contributions to his community and society.”

They said they received notification in the previous 24 hours, “in the wake of the Grammy Awards at which he was scheduled to attend and perform,” that he was granted an expedited hearing. The Grammy Awards ceremony was held Sunday.

Abraham-Joseph was nominated for two awards at the Grammys, including record of the year for “Rockstar” alongside Post Malone. His second solo album “I Am I Was,” released in December, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

After his arrest, ICE said Abraham-Joseph entered the U.S. legally in July 2005, when he was 12, but has remained in the country illegally since his visa expired in July 2006. He was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia, ICE said. He was placed in deportation proceedings in federal immigration court.

Abraham-Joseph’s lawyers disputed that. They said last week that Abraham-Joseph came to the U.S. when he was 7 and remained in the country until June 2005, when he went to visit the United Kingdom for a month. He returned on a valid visa on July 22, 2005, they said.

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years, except for a brief visit abroad,” his lawyers said. “Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph lost his legal status through no fault of his own.”

Federal immigration officials have known Abraham-Joseph’s status since at least 2017, when he applied for a new visa. That application is pending, his attorneys said.

The attorneys also said ICE was incorrect that Abraham-Joseph has a felony conviction on his record. Fulton County prosecutors said they could not provide information on that case because it is sealed.

Abraham-Joseph’s lawyers said Tuesday that he asked them to send a message to his supporters.

″(H)e says that while he wasn’t present at the Grammy Awards, he was there in spirit and is grateful for the support from around the world and is more than ever, ready to be with his loved ones and continue making music that brings people together,” they said.

He added that he “will not forget this ordeal or any of the other fathers, sons, family members, and faceless people, he was locked up with or that remain unjustly incarcerated across the country. And he asks for your hearts and minds to be with them.”

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Female acts, rap songs win big at the Grammy Awards

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rap artists and women have felt shunned by the Grammy Awards in recent years. But this year, they both took center stage.

Childish Gambino’s disturbing look at race relations, “This is America,” won record and song of the year on Sunday’s telecast. It was the first time a rap-based song won both of those awards, considered — with album of the year — the recording industry’s most prestigious.

Kacey Musgraves won top album and matched Childish Gambino with four Grammys total. A year after many women felt left out of the Grammy telecast, they delivered the night’s most memorable performances. The best new artist winner, British singer Dua Lipa, also cast major shade on the outgoing recording academy president.

Lady Gaga and Brandi Carlile won three Grammys apiece, and former first lady Michelle Obama was a surprise guest at the top of the show on CBS.

Childish Gambino, the stage name of actor Donald Glover, and another prominent rap nominee, Kendrick Lamar, both declined invitations to perform or attend Sunday’s show. Some rap artists feel the Grammys have been slow to recognize how the genre now dominates popular music.

Ludwig Goransson, a songwriter and producer on “This is America,” said backstage that he was surprised the victories were so historic. Just listening to the radio, watching the culture and seeing how many rap songs are downloaded is evidence of rap’s impact.

“It’s about time something like this happened with the Grammys as well,” Goransson said.

Cardi B became the first solo woman to win best rap album , although Lauryn Hill was the lead singer of the Fugees, which won the same award at the 1997 Grammys. Cardi B was so nervous accepting the award that she joked, “Maybe I need to start smoking weed.”

Jason Cole, from left, Hiro Murai and Ibra Ake pose with the award for best music video for Childish Gambino's "This Is America." (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

She looked anything but rattled earlier, when her rendition of “Money” was among the night’s performance highlights. Janelle Monae delivered a smoking version of her hit “Make Me Feel”; St. Vincent and Dua Lipa’s duet on “Masseduction” was steamy; H.E.R. turned heads with “Hard Place”; and Carlile sang an inspired version of her hit “The Joke.”

Being part of a big night for women was huge to her, Carlile said backstage after the show.

“I’m a kid from the ’90s and Lilith Fair, you know, and those women were just dominating those platforms,” she said. “They were dominating those arena and amphitheater stages. They were getting record deals. They were becoming record executives themselves. They completely controlled the airwaves. They were on the radio. And to watch that backslide for the last 20 years has been heartbreaking. Tonight, it gives me hope as a mother of two young daughters.”

When she accepted her best new artist award, Dua Lipa pointedly said, “I guess this year we really stepped up.”

Dua Lipa accepts the award for best new artist. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

That was a reference to outgoing Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow, who said women needed to “step up” when he was asked about the lack of women in top categories in 2018. He later acknowledged it was a poor choice of words and delivered another mea culpa on Sunday’s show.

Yet Dua Lipa was rewarded by having her acceptance speech cut off mid-sentence. She wasn’t alone, however, as a handful of other artists were also hustled off the stage, and the show seemed disjointed at the end, rushing through its final awards. Under the circumstances, having a lengthy tribute to Portnow before he gave his own speech seemed tone-deaf.

Lipa said later she would have thanked her fans, her inspirations and team if she had more time.

When she was onstage, Lipa was one of a handful of winners who paid special tribute to fellow artists. Another was Drake, whose appearance to accept the Grammy when “God’s Plan” won best rap song was a surprise because he’s not big on award shows.

He reminded fans and fellow artists that awards are based on the subjective views of others, and aren’t contests in which there are clear winners and losers.

“You’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you’re a hero in your hometown. Look, if there are people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here. I promise you. You already won,” he said at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Musgrave picked up album of the year for “Golden Hour,” which is labeled country but had wider appeal.

“I never dreamed that this record would be met with such love, such warmth, such positivity,” said Musgraves, who performed a stately version of her song “Rainbow.”

Kacey Musgraves wins four awards at the 61st annual Grammy Awards. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Dolly Parton starred in the best of the night’s two tributes to veteran artists, performing a medley of her songs with Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Maren Morris. The highlight of Diana Ross’ night was the cute introduction by a grandson with a mountain of hair.

The Grammys took some online blowback by having Jennifer Lopez deliver a tribute to Motown , once the nation’s preeminent label for black artists. Despite her hustle, Lopez was outshone by show host Alicia Keys and Smokey Robinson delivering one verse of “Tracks of My Tears” a capella.

Obama appeared on the show’s opening with Keys, Gaga, Lopez and Jada Pinkett Smith to describe the role music had played in their lives — seemingly a pointed reference to last year’s controversy over women artists.

“Music has always helped me tell my story,” Obama said. “Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves. It allows us to hear one another.”

Another ex-White House resident was awarded a Grammy on Sunday. Former President Jimmy Carter, who is 94, won an award for best spoken word recording.

It’s his second Grammy.

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Lil Baby arrested, accused of reckless driving in a Corvette

ATLANTA (AP) — Rapper Lil Baby was arrested in Atlanta after he recklessly passed other cars at high speed in an orange Corvette and tried to flee a state trooper, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

The rapper, whose given name is Dominique Jones, faces charges of failing to signal when changing lanes, reckless driving and attempting to flee or elude police. He was booked into the Atlanta City Detention Center and was released on a signature bond.

A representative for Jones didn’t respond Friday to an email seeking comment and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney.


Lil Baby arrested, accused of reckless driving in a Corvette

38 minutes ago

This undated police photo released Feb. 8, 2019, by the City of Atlanta Department of Corrections shows rapper Lil Baby whose real name is Dominique Jones. Jones, was arrested Thursday, Feb. 7 and faces charges of failing to use a turn signal, reckless driving and fleeing or attempting to elude police. (Atlanta Department of Corrections via AP)

ATLANTA (AP) — Rapper Lil Baby was arrested in Atlanta after he recklessly passed other cars at high speed in an orange Corvette and tried to flee a state trooper, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

The rapper, whose given name is Dominique Jones, faces charges of failing to signal when changing lanes, reckless driving and attempting to flee or elude police. He was booked into the Atlanta City Detention Center and was released on a signature bond.

A representative for Jones didn’t respond Friday to an email seeking comment and it wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney.

A trooper saw Jones fail to signal when changing lanes Thursday evening and then saw him recklessly passing other cars in an area with a lot of pedestrians, according to a State Patrol statement. The trooper activated his emergency equipment and chased Jones as he wove between cars at high speed.

The statement said that when the trooper caught up, Jones initially tried to flee but became stuck in traffic. The trooper exited his vehicle and ordered Jones to do the same. Jones got out of his car, laid on the ground and was arrested without incident, according to the statement.

The Atlanta rapper’s songs “Yes Indeed,” featuring Drake, and “Drip Too Hard” became Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot chart. Last week, he announced plans to headline The New Generation Tour, kicking off next month, to support his latest mixtape, “Street Gossip.”

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Groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, predicting early spring!

Groundhog doesn't see his shadow, predicting early spring

Groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, predicting early spring

February 2, 2019

Groundhog Club co-handler Al Dereume, second from right, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 133rd celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Phil's handlers said that the groundhog has forecast an early spring. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — It may be hard to believe as a large swath of the U.S. thaws out from a bitter polar vortex, but spring is coming early, according to handlers for some of the country’s most famous prognosticating groundhogs.

Just before 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Punxsutawney (puhnk-suh-TAW’-nee) Phil emerged from his burrow in Pennsylvania at sunrise and didn’t see his shadow. Nearly the same series of events unfolded about 300 miles (483 kilometers) to the east, where Staten Island Chuck’s handlers also revealed the same prediction.

The festivities have their origin in a German legend that says if a furry rodent casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter continues. If not, spring comes early.

In reality, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney. That’s about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northeast of Pittsburgh.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio stopped attending Staten Island’s Groundhog Day ceremony in 2015, a year after he accidentally dropped the furry critter that died a week later.

And he wasn’t the only New York City mayor who struggled with the holiday. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was bitten at a Groundhog Day ceremony in 2009.

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Kelly Rowland to host Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards

Rowland to host Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards

NEW YORK (AP) — Kelly Rowland will host the 12th annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards this month.

Essence announced Tuesday that the Grammy-winning singer, who has had some acting roles, will host the Feb. 21 luncheon honoring actresses Regina Hall, Jenifer Lewis, Amandla Stenberg and Kiki Layne.

Rowland says in a statement she’s happy to “shine a light on four exceptional women for their art and social activism.”

Rowland has had roles on “Empire,” ″Girlfriends” and “Think Like a Man.” She will play Gladys Knight in the new BET series “American Soul,” which focuses on the iconic music TV program “Soul Train” and its creator Don Cornelius. It debuts Tuesday.

The Academy Awards will take place Feb. 25 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

NEW YORK (AP) — Kelly Rowland will host the 12th annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards this month.

Essence announced Tuesday that the Grammy-winning singer, who has had some acting roles, will host the Feb. 21 luncheon honoring actresses Regina Hall, Jenifer Lewis, Amandla Stenberg and Kiki Layne.

Rowland says in a statement she’s happy to “shine a light on four exceptional women for their art and social activism.”

Rowland has had roles on “Empire,” ″Girlfriends” and “Think Like a Man.” She will play Gladys Knight in the new BET series “American Soul,” which focuses on the iconic music TV program “Soul Train” and its creator Don Cornelius. It debuts Tuesday.

The Academy Awards will take place Feb. 25 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.


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Copy of 21 Savage’s English origins stun fans of the Atlanta rapper

21 Savage’s English origins stun fans of the Atlanta rapper

By ANDREW DALTON 35 minutes ago

FILE - In this Sunday, May 20, 2018, file photo, 21 Savage arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It was a shock for fans when 21 Savage was taken into custody Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, by U.S. immigration agents in Georgia. It was an even bigger shock to learn he had been an immigrant in the first place. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It was a shock for fans when 21 Savage was taken into custody by U.S. immigration agents in Georgia. It was an even bigger shock to learn he had been an immigrant in the first place.

The Grammy-nominated rapper and his music are so deeply associated with Atlanta that the notion he was actually born in England and brought to the U.S. as a child felt downright bizarre.

Scores of surprised tweets came after his Sunday arrest. Memes bloomed that some called cruel under the circumstances, including one of him dressed as a Buckingham Palace guard, along with an old video of him talking in a mock English accent about tea and crumpets. While the United Kingdom is responsible for rap icon Slick Rick, he also grew up in America, and its rappers traditionally have not had much success in America.

“It seems so outlandish that the prototypical Atlanta rapper is not from Atlanta,” said Samuel Hine, a writer and editor at GQ who researched 21 Savage and spent a day with him for a profile in the magazine last year. “I think that’s why so many people were sort of making fun of him, and making memes.”

By all accounts, few knew his real birthplace, and it certainly wasn’t publicly known. His accent gave no indication, and his birth name, She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, could come from any number of birthplaces.

“I certainly heard no whispers challenging his accepted backstory,” Hine said.

Abraham-Joseph was detained in a targeted operation in the Atlanta area and put in deportation proceedings, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox said.

Abraham-Joseph’s attorneys said U.S. immigration officials have known his status at least since 2017, when he applied for a new visa. That application is pending, and his attorneys say he should be freed while it’s pending.

Both sides agree that Abraham-Joseph has not had legal status since his family’s visas expired in 2006. ICE alleges that Abraham-Joseph came to the U.S. in 2005 at age 12 while Abraham-Joseph’s attorneys say he began living here at age 7, and the 2005 arrival was from a monthlong visit to England.

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years, except for a brief visit abroad,” Kuck Baxter Immigration, the law firm representing Abraham-Joseph, said in a statement Tuesday. “Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph lost his legal status through no fault of his own.”

The attorneys also said Tuesday that ICE was incorrect that Abraham-Joseph has a felony conviction on his record. Fulton County prosecutors said they could not provide information on that case because it is sealed.

ICE spokesman Bryan Cox declined further comment Tuesday.

Abraham-Joseph spent his teenage years in Atlanta — the city that birthed rap gods OutKast — and his image and later his music became defined by the city’s distinctive and rich hip-hop culture. Even the “21” in his name is a reference to the block where he lived there.

“Him growing up in Atlanta is a pretty fundamental part of his story,” Hine said. “His identity is so rooted in his Atlanta sound, his Atlanta crew.”

Abraham-Joseph was truthful when he rapped about his youthful exploits in Atlanta, including run-ins with the law over guns and drugs, Hine said. He just left out the stuff that came before that.

A pair of mixtapes in 2015 made his star rise quickly in the Atlanta underground. Collaborations with Atlanta artists including Metro Boomin and Offset of rap group Migos raised his profile.

He signed with Epic Records and made a pair of successful albums. His latest, “I Am I Was,” debuted at the top of the Billboard top 200 album charts this past December.

He collaborated with Drake, Cardi B, and Post Malone, whose song with 21 Savage, “Rockstar,” is nominated for two Grammys at Sunday’s awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

For many who love 21 Savage, surprise about his arrest quickly gave way to outrage.

Offset tweeted that he was “PRAYING FOR MY DAWG. ALL THE MEMES ... AINT FUNNY HIS FAMILY DEPENDING ON HIM.”

Rapper Vince Staples joined many others in tweeting, “Free 21!”

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors established an online petition to stop his deportation that was fast gaining signatories.

Singer Demi Lovato felt some of the anger when she tweeted Sunday that “21 savage memes have been my favorite part of the Super Bowl.” She later clarified that she wasn’t laughing “at anyone getting deported,” but subsequently deleted her Twitter account.

While it’s not clear if it had anything to do with his own status, Abraham-Joseph did just recently address the subject of immigration and detention. Last week on the “Tonight Show,” he added a verse to his song “A Lot: that include the line, “been through some things, but I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border.”

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This version corrects spelling of the GQ writer and editor’s last name to Hine, not Hines. It also updates the spelling of the rapper’s first name to She’yaa, instead of Sha Yaa, per new information from attorneys.

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Associated Press Writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed.

https://apnews.com/b716895b94e547798433c48c7b836a4a

Kristaps Porzingis tells Knicks fans to 'stay woke'

Three days after he was traded from the New York Knicks to the Dallas Mavericks, All-Star big man Kristaps Porzingis suggested in an Instagram post that his ex-team's fans should "stay woke."

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    Team president Steve Mills said the Knicks feel like they did the right thing by trading former first-rounder Kristaps Porzingis. "You don't want to commit a max [contract] to a player who clearly says to you he doesn't want to be here," Mills said.

"The city deserves better than that.... My suggestion for Knicks fans is to STAY WOKE!! Peace," Porzingis wrote on his verified account early Sunday morning.

Knicks president Steve Mills said that Porzingis, a restricted free agent this summer, informed him that he "no longer wanted to be a part of our group" during a Thursday morning meeting. The meeting lasted less than five minutes, league sources told ESPN.

Hours later, New York traded Porzingis to the Mavericks in a deal that brought back two future first-round picks, Dennis Smith Jr. and two veterans on expiring contracts in Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan.

There has been a strong disconnect between Porzingis and Knicks management in recent years, and it culminated in Thursday's meeting. Porzingis expressed concerns on the state of the franchise and his future with the organization in the meeting, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Knicks GM Scott Perry said the Knicks were aware of Porzingis' displeasure with the direction of the franchise in recent weeks.

Mills cited Porzingis' time spent at the team facility -- which had decreased recently -- as one sign of his disconnect from the franchise.

"When you try to think about how you want to build your team for the long term, you don't want to commit a max [contract] to a player who clearly says to you he doesn't want to be here," Mills said Thursday. "That would be a disservice for our organization and disservice to our fans."

Mills noted that both parties seemed to be on the same page at the beginning of the season after New York elected not to extend Porzingis' rookie contract, before Porzingis began showing signs of a disconnect.

New York began to speak to teams about different trade scenarios involving Porzingis in the days leading up to Thursday.

"When the meeting occurred this morning, we'd already been having many conversations with a number of teams," Perry said Thursday. "So we decided to act upon one."

In doing its due diligence, New York contacted the New Orleans Pelicans about an Anthony Davis trade in recent days. There was uncertainty about Porzingis' desire to play with the Pelicans long term, sources said.

At the time of their trade of Porzingis, the Knicks had several offers for the 23-year-old big man, league sources told ESPN.

But multiple teams interested in making an offer for Porzingis said that they were unable to do so before New York traded Porzingis to Dallas, league sources said.

The Knicks were looking for salary-cap relief and young players or future first-round picks in a trade. So while the Knicks could have fielded more offers for Porzingis -- possibly increasing their return in the process -- the transaction with Dallas seemingly accomplished their objectives.

By clearing their books of the money owed to Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee -- who were both moved to Dallas in the Porzingis trade -- ESPN's Bobby Marks projects the Knicks to have a league-high $71 million in salary-cap space this summer. That's enough cap space to attempt to sign two maximum-salary free agents.

New York will target the top players on the market, who are expected to include Kevin DurantKawhi LeonardKyrie Irving and Kemba Walker.

Some close to Durant see New York as a possible landing spot for the back-to-back NBA Finals MVP if he chooses to leave the Golden State Warriors, according to league sources.

In addition to Smith, the Knicks will get the Mavericks' unprotected first-round pick two years after they send one to the Atlanta Hawks to complete their draft-day deal for Luka Doncic and another protected first-round pick two years after that, sources said.

Those picks could come as soon as 2021 and 2023 if Dallas does not move into the top five this year.

The Mavs deemed Porzingis' potential to be worth the price, considering him a franchise-caliber player whose game complements 19-year-old rookie star Doncic.

Dallas is hoping to re-sign the 7-foot-3 Porzingis to a long-term deal this summer, and it is confident that Doncic and veteran Dirk Nowitzki -- a player Porzingis grew up idolizing -- can play significant roles in making that happen, a source told ESPN's Tim MacMahon.

Porzingis, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, was averaging a career-best 22.7 points per game before he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during a breakout All-Star season in 2017-18. He also was averaging 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

Porzingis will probably not play for the Mavericks this season as he continues to recover from the injury, owner Mark Cuban told ESPN's Tim MacMahon.

Porzingis was evaluated in January by the Knicks' medical staff, which confirmed his knee is healing well. He recently worked out with a coach on the court for roughly 45 minutes, during which he was shooting pull-up 3-pointers and dunking.

Porzingis will have an introductory news conference in Dallas on Monday.

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Zion Williamson: Would Be Dope to Play with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving on Knicks

For the New York Knicks, the dream summer would involve landing the top overall pick in the NBA draft lottery, drafting Duke superstar Zion Williamson and signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency.

And Williamson, when asked about Knicks fans dreaming about such a scenario, said he is excited by the idea.

"It would be dope to play with KD and Kyrie but whatever team drafts me I'm going to be ready to play hard and work," he told Adam Zagoria of SNY on Saturday. 

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski had his own take on the possibility:

Adam Zagoria✔@AdamZagoria

‘God Bless them if they land in those places but hopefully they still have some other players too’ Coach K on the #Knicks trading half their team and tanking for Zion

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Williamson, 18, is the prohibitive favorite to be the first pick in the NBA draft this summer. He's absolutely dominated at the college level, averaging 22.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals per game while shooting an incredible 68.1 percent from the field. 

As an added bonus, he's one of the most explosive and exciting players to watch in years, creating one highlight after another with his ability to play above the rim and slam home impressive dunks. Few rookies will come into the NBA with more buzz than Williamson next season.

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The Knicks, meanwhile, hold the NBA's worst record at 10-41. Due to changes in the lottery this season, the bottom three teams will hold identical 14 percent chances to win the top overall pick, so the odds remain far more likely that the Knicks will end up with a pick in the 2-5 range if they maintain that league-worst record.

Even if they won the top overall pick, there's no guarantee that the team wouldn't trade it. If Anthony Davis isn't traded before the summer, for instance, the Knicks could build a package around Williamson and Kevin Knox to land the superstar and combine him with two max free agents to chase a title. 

The Knicks could also find themselves in a situation where they miss out on the top free agents and in need of a full rebuild. Suffice it to say, their summer will be fascinating to watch unfold.

As for Williamson, he'll be the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year no matter where he ends up, given the dominance he's displayed at Duke. On a team full of elite prospects, Williamson has stood out, and that's no small feat. 

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Anthony Davis Trade Rumors: Lakers 'Don't Have the Assets' to Complete Deal


The Los Angeles Lakers are going to do everything in their power to land New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis either this season or over the summer. But it's growing increasingly clear that the Lakers may not have the pieces to entice the Pelicans.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst spoke about that fact on the The Sedano Show

"For Davis, a top-five arguable player who is going to be desired in many different markets, the Lakers just don't have the assets. ... It's just not enough for the Pelicans. They just don't like what the Lakers have to offer. And that is not lost on Davis. That is why it's pretty clear his camp is waging a battle to make Boston not even bid so the Lakers have a chance. Because it's as clear as day that Boston can outbid the Lakers. They just don't have the assets."

Windhorst pointed out that it wasn't necessarily an indictment on L.A.'s young players, like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, and that a package of those players would be enough to land many players around the NBA. But for a game-changer like Davis, the Lakers' packages remaining unappealing to New Orleans.

The Pelicans can also take their time, since Davis is under contract through next season, leaving them with all of the leverage for the time being.

"The Pelicans have no motivation to hurry; this season is lost anyway. They have no motivation to necessarily trade around the draft if they can't get the player they want. ... Talking to sources in New Orleans, they don't feel any pressure to move quickly."

The Lakers and Celtics have been the two teams most widely linked to a trade for Davis, and it isn't hard to imagine the New York Knicks making an offer this summer, especially if they land the top overall pick. They could dangle the pick and Kevin Knox in a package for Anthony and then use their two max slots to bring in superstars to play alongside him.

The Philadelphia 76ers are also a team that can't be ignored, if only because a young star like Ben Simmons would almost assuredly be attractive to New Orleans, though it's hard to imagine the Sixers dealing their 22-year-old All-Star. 

But Windhorst noted that two other "mystery teams" could jump into the fray: The Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets. The Raptors could build a deal around talented young players like Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby and gun for a title this season with Kawhi Leonard and Davis. Obviously they would be risking everything in that trade, as Leonard could leave in free agency this summer and Davis could follow suit next year.

But Leonard and Davis could also enjoy playing together in Toronto and choose to stay long term.

Denver, meanwhile, could build a package around players like rookie Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray or Gary Harris potentially, as Windhorst noted, pairing Davis with offensive superstar Nikola Jokic. 

Windhorst noted that he hadn't heard that either team had called the Pelicans with an offer, but he said he'd be very surprised if they didn't at least inquire. 

When you add it all up, at least five teams—the Celtics, Knicks, Sixers, Raptors and Nuggets—could offer better deals than the Lakers. The Lakers may be pushing all of their chips into the center of the table when it comes to Davis, but they are doing so without the best hand.


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When marketing flops: 5 Super Bowl ads that backfired

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When marketing flops: 5 Super Bowl ads that backfired

By MAE ANDERSONtoday

FILE - This undated file photo provided by Ram Truck Brand shows a scene from the company's Super Bowl spot. Last year, a Ram truck ad showed people doing service-oriented tasks set against audio of King’s speech, which urges people to be “great” by serving the greater good. The ad was supposed to highlight the volunteer program Ram Nation. The ad was criticized by people who objected to the use of King's speech to sell trucks. (Ram Truck Brand via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Advertisers that spend millions of dollars on the Super Bowl are trying to avoid what the Ram truck company did with a Martin Luther King speech or what Groupon did spoofing promos for charities.

Though such messages can get attention, it’s the wrong kind of attention. Groupon got buzz all right, but most of it was negative.

Here’s a look at five Super Bowl ads that flopped, despite months of planning and great expense.

2018: RAM PROMOTES VOLUNTEERISM

Last year, a Ram truck ad showed people doing service-oriented tasks set against audio of King urging people to be “great” by serving the greater good. The ad was supposed to highlight the volunteer program Ram Nation.

Instead, viewers and ad experts criticized it for forging too tenuous a connection with the civil rights hero. On Twitter, many people felt that the use of King’s speech was merely exploiting emotions to sell trucks.

Fiat Chrysler, which owns Ram, said it worked closely with the King estate on the ad. It has stayed mum on whether it’s advertising during this year’s game.

2013: VOLKSWAGEN’S “GET HAPPY”

Volkswagen’s ad for Passat depicts a white American so happy with a Passat that he starts speaking in a Jamaican accent, much to the consternation of his co-workers. The company said it was trying to stress the optimistic nature of VW users and chose the Jamaican ad for showcasing that message in a funny, easy-to-understand manner.

Volkswagen released the ad ahead of the Super Bowl, only to run into criticism. Some people said it bordered on racism because it portrayed the Jamaican accent as a caricature.

The furor was eventually quelled, however, by Jamaicans themselves, and the ad did run during the Super Bowl.

2013: GODADDY “PERFECT MATCH”

Web hosting service GoDaddy has made a name for itself during the Super Bowl with crass commercials starting in 2005, but its 2013 ad outdid itself in the taste department.

The ad showed supermodel Bar Rafaeli making out with a bespectacled nerdy man in a very tight, extended close-up. While the ad succeeded in grabbing attention, some dubbed it “gross.”

The company — and Super Bowl advertisers in general — toned down ads after that. For the past several years, GoDaddy hasn’t advertised during the Super Bowl at all.

2011: GROUPON’S PSEUDO PSAs

Deal site Groupon wanted to make a humorous debut as a Super Bowl advertiser but ended up striking the wrong tone .

Groupon ran three ads that made fun of public service announcements. In one, Timothy Hutton says “the people in Tibet are in trouble, their culture is in jeopardy,” as pictures of Tibet are shown on the screen. The punchline? It turns out he was talking about a fish curry deal Groupon was offering. Other ads poked fun at charities for saving the whales and the Brazilian rain forest.

Groupon was actually trying to raise money for the charities the ads were spoofing, but the ads didn’t make that clear.

The ads sparked widespread negative reaction on Twitter and Facebook. According to research firm Alterian, which produced a “Buzz Bowl” score of online activity, Groupon was among the five most-discussed advertisers online. But the buzz was twice as negative as it was positive.

Groupon returned to the Super Bowl last year with an ad starring Tiffany Haddish but is sitting out this year.

1999: JUST FOR FEET

An ad from Just For Feet, a now-defunct sportswear retailer, featured mostly white commandos in a Humvee chasing a barefoot African man in a desert. They drug him and force him to wear sneakers, which he tries to shake off.

The ad was labeled racist. Just For Feet later sued the agency that created the spot, Saatchi & Saatchi. Later that year, the company filed for bankruptcy and faced accounting fraud changes, unrelated to the ad. It was bought by another company and closed for good in 2004.

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Report: Kristaps Porzingis Traded to Mavs for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan

Report: Kristaps Porzingis Traded to Mavs for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan

ROB GOLDBERGJANUARY 31, 2019

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks are reportedly finalizing a deal to acquire Kristaps Porzingis in a blockbuster trade with the New York Knicks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Wojnarowski provided a breakdown of the likely deal:

Adrian Wojnarowski✔@wojespn

New York has agreed with Dallas on trade that includes Kristaps Porzingis, Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr., for Wesley Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr. and DeAndre Jordan, league sources tell ESPN. Players and agents are being notified of particulars. Deal may include more draft assets.

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According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Trey Burke could also be included in the deal to help balance the salaries.

Porzingis has been out all year while recovering from a torn ACL suffered last season. In December, the Knicks announced he would be evaluated in mid-February, although there was no timetable for his return.

The Knicks said the soonest Porzingis could return would be the end of February, but there are no guarantees he will play at all in 2018-19. Of course, Dallas will have an opportunity to create its own timetable.

When healthy, Porzingis has shown he can be one of the top young big men in the NBA.

The 2015 No. 4 overall draft pick turned his potential into production last season, averaging 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game before his February injury.

Despite his on-court talent, there has been speculation about a trade since the 2017 offseason when he skipped his exit meeting. Phil Jackson's removal from the organization helped quiet concerns, but his future with the team has never been completely secure, especially after the two sides couldn't agree to an extension before this season.

Porzingis reportedly held a meeting with team management Thursday and gave an indication he wanted to be traded, per ESPN.com's Wojnarowski, Zach Lowe, Ramona Shelburne and Ian Begley.

Porzingis was reportedly upset about the "franchise's losing, its past dysfunction and his own uncertainty over creating sustainable organizational success."

While the forward is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, the latest deal allows him to get a feel for a new team before some tough decisions in the offseason.

The Mavericks will also now have a chance to match any deal and keep him as part of their new core going forward alongside Rookie of the Year favorite Luke Doncic.

At his best, the 7'3" forward is a star on both ends of the court who can make an impact in the paint while also knocking down shots from three-point range, earning him the "Unicorn" nickname.

He couldn't provide much more help to the Knicks, who haven't made the playoffs since 2013. However, he gets a chance at a fresh start in Dallas, hoping to eventually see the first playoff action of his career.

When healthy, he could be a game-changing player who affects the entire NBA for years to come.

Meanwhile, the Knicks will hope to start fresh with Dennis Smith Jr. and hopefully some free agents in the offseason, as Brian Windhorst pointed out:

Brian Windhorst✔@WindhorstESPN

The Knicks are on way toward creating 2 max salary slots for next summer. When today started they didn’t even have space for 1. They are preparing to swing big.

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The team cleared the massive contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee while adding expiring ones in DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated noted this could mean Kevin Durant is hoping to come to New York in the offseason.

In any case, this puts a lot of pressure on the Knicks this offseason after trading away one of the most talented players they have had in decades.


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Apple busts Facebook for distributing data-sucking app

Apple busts Facebook for distributing data-sucking app

By BARBARA ORTUTAY and FRANK BAJAKan hour ago

FILE - This Feb. 19, 2014, file photo shows the Facebook app icon on an iPhone in New York. Apple says it has banned a Facebook-made app that paid users, including teenagers, to extensively track their data. The app, Facebook Research, tracked people’s phone and web activity in exchange for payments. A report in the tech blog TechCrunch on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, says Facebook paid about $20 a month in exchange for people letting it track their phone activities. While Facebook says this was done with permission, the company has a history of defining “permission” loosely and obscuring what sort of data it collects. (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple says Facebook can no longer distribute an app that paid users, including teenagers, to extensively track their phone and web use.

In doing so, Apple closed off Facebook’s efforts to sidestep Apple’s app store and its tighter rules on privacy.

The tech blog TechCrunch reported late Tuesday that Facebook paid people about $20 a month to install and use the Facebook Research app. While Facebook says this was done with permission, the company has a history of defining “permission” loosely and obscuring what data it collects.

“I don’t think they make it very clear to users precisely what level of access they were granting when they gave permission,” mobile app security researcher Will Strafach said Wednesday. “There is simply no way the users understood this.”

He said Facebook’s claim that users understood the scope of data collection was “muddying the waters.”

Facebook says fewer than 5 percent of the app’s users were teens and they had parental permission. Nonetheless, the revelation is yet another blemish on Facebook’s track record on privacy and could invite further regulatory scrutiny.

And it comes less than a week after court documents revealed that Facebook allowed children to rack up huge bills on digital games and that it had rejected recommendations for addressing it for fear of hurting revenue growth.

For now, the app appears to be available for Android phones, though not through Google’s main app store. Google had no comment Wednesday.

Apple said Facebook was distributing Facebook Research through an internal-distribution mechanism meant for company employees, not outsiders. Apple has revoked that capability.

TechCrunch reported separately Wednesday that Google was using the same privileged access to Apple’s mobile operating system for a market-research app, Screenwise Meter. Asked about it by The Associated Press, Google said it had disabled the app on Apple devices and apologized for its “mistake.”

The company said Google had always been “upfront with users” about how it used data collected by the app, which offered users points that could be accrued for gift cards. In contrast to the Facebook Research app, Google said its Screenwise Meter app never asked users to let the company circumvent network encryption, meaning it is far less intrusive.

Facebook is still permitted to distribute apps through Apple’s app store, though such apps are reviewed by Apple ahead of time. And Apple’s move Wednesday restricts Facebook’s ability to test those apps — including core apps such as Facebook and Instagram — before they are released through the app store.

Facebook previously pulled an app called Onavo Protect from Apple’s app store because of its stricter requirements. But Strafach, who dismantled the Facebook Research app on TechCrunch’s behalf, told the AP that it was mostly Onavo repackaged and rebranded, as the two apps shared about 98 percent of their code.

As of Wednesday, a disclosure form on Betabound, one of the services that distributed Facebook Research, informed prospective users that by installing Facebook Research, they are letting Facebook collect a range of data. This includes information on apps users have installed, when they use them and what they do on them. Information is also collected on how other people interact with users and their content within those apps, according to the disclosure.

Betabound warned that Facebook may collect information even when an app or web browser uses encryption.

Strafach said emails, social media activities, private messages and just about anything else could be intercepted. He said the only data absolutely safe from snooping are from services, such as Signal and Apple’s iMessages, that fully encrypt messages prior to transmission, a method known as end-to-end encryption.

Strafach, who is CEO of Guardian Mobile Firewall, said he was aghast to discover Facebook caught red-handed violating Apple’s trust.

He said such traffic-capturing tools are only supposed to be for trusted partners to use internally. Instead, he said Facebook was scooping up all incoming and outgoing data traffic from unwitting members of the public — in an app geared toward teenagers.

“This is very flagrantly not allowed,” Strafach said. “It’s mind-blowing how defiant Facebook was acting.”

___

Bajak reported from Lima, Peru. Associated Press Writer Kelvin Chan in London contributed to this story.

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Chris Gotti talks Murder Inc, Add Ventures Music, Advice for Young Entrepreneurs & more | Chatting w| d

Chris Gotti is a self-made entrepreneur who has spearheaded the music industry and created new paths for up and coming artists. During this interview, he spoke about his history in the entertainment industry, Murder Inc, his business Add Ventures Music, tips for young entrepreneurs & much more! With over 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry, Chris Gotti has a tremendous amount of knowledge to share. Anyone who's looking to get into entrepreneurship, producing or wants to be an artist tune in! Please subscribe share with family, friends & enjoy! * * * * * Edited & Directed by: Eddie Harris Music by: Devin Harris Hair by: Delisa Harris Styled by: Daezha Deloatch

James Ingram, Grammy-Winning & Chart-Topping R&B Singer, Dies at 66

James Ingram Dies at 66 | Billboard News

R&B singer James Ingram, who collected two Grammy Awards and a pair of No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits over his decades-long career, has died at age 66.

R&B singer James Ingram, who collected two Grammy Awards and a pair of No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits over his decades-long career, has died at age 66. The news was shared via Twitter by Ingram's friend and creative partner Debbie Allenon Tuesday (Jan. 29).

There are no details yet about when or how Ingram died.

"I have lost my dearest friend and creative partner James Ingram to the Celestial Choir," Allen tweeted. "He will always be cherished, loved and remembered for his genius, his love of family and his humanity. I am blessed to have been so close. We will forever speak his name."

The singer collected two Grammys during his career: His song "One Hundred Ways" won best male R&B performance in 1981 and his duet with Michael McDonald on "Yah Mo B There" won best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals in 1984. He was also nominated for back-to-back best original song Oscars in 1993 and 1994, for co-writing "The Day I Fall in Love" from Beethoven's 2nd and "Look What Love Has Done" from Junior.

Ingram charted nine hits on the Hot 100, including a pair of No. 1s: "Baby Come to Me," with Patti Austin, in 1983, and "I Don't Have the Heart" in 1990. Other top 20-charting Hot 100 hits included "Just Once" (No. 17 in 1981, Quincy Jones featuring Ingram), "Yah Mo Be There" (No. 19 in 1984, with Michael McDonald) and "Somewhere Out There" (No. 2 in 1987, with Linda Ronstadt). He also logged 19 hits on the Adult Contemporary airplay chart and 18 entries on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

He also tallied hits as a songwriter, co-penning Michael Jackson's top 10 Hot 100 hit "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)," from the Thriller album, as well as songs recorded by Pointer Sisters, George Benson, Ray Charles, Shalamar and others.

Maroon 5 has canceled its news conference to discuss the band’s Super Bowl halftime performance, choosing to not meet with reporters as most acts have done.

ATLANTA (AP) — Maroon 5 has canceled its news conference to discuss the band’s Super Bowl halftime performance, choosing to not meet with reporters as most acts have done.

The NFL announced Tuesday that “the artists will let their show do the talking as they prepare to take the stage this Sunday.”

Maroon 5, with frontman Adam Levine, will be joined by Outkast member Big Boi and Houston rapper Travis Scott at halftime of the game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots. The NFL says instead of a news conference with the performers, it will use media platforms to show behind-the-scenes footage and content.

While Maroon 5 did not give a reason for its decision, it comes as some entertainers have said social injustice needs to be addressed during the Super Bowl.

That has led to some criticism of performers who are holding events in Atlanta. Jermaine Dupri said he was called a “sellout” for hosting a Super Bowl-related event during a meeting with people who had lost family members as result of police brutality. After the meeting, Dupri and the victims’ family members came to a compromise and the music mogul plans to give mothers a platform to speak onstage during his Super Bowl Live event in Atlanta

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick helped start a wave of protests by kneeling during the national anthem to raise awareness to police brutality, racial inequality and other social issues.

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Apple opens new chapter amid weakening iPhone demand

Apple opens new chapter amid weakening iPhone demand

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FILE - This Oct. 22, 2018, file photo shows the iPhone XS, from left, iPhone XR, and the iPhone XS Max in New York. Apple hoped to offset slowing demand for iPhones by raising the prices of its most important product, but that strategy seems to have backfired after sales sagged during the holiday shopping season. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple hoped to offset slowing demand for iPhones by raising the prices of its most important product, but that strategy seems to have backfired after sales sagged during the holiday shopping season.

Results released Tuesday revealed the magnitude of the iPhone slump — a 15 percent drop in revenue from the previous year. That decline in Apple’s most profitable product caused Apple’s total earnings for the October-December quarter to dip slightly to $20 billion.

Now, CEO Tim Cook is grappling with his toughest challenge since replacing co-founder Steve Jobs 7 ½ years ago. Even as he tries to boost iPhone sales, Cook also must prove that Apple can still thrive even if demand doesn’t rebound.

It figures to be an uphill battle, given Apple’s stock has lost one-third of its value in less than four months, erasing about $370 billion in shareholder wealth.

Cook rattled Wall Street in early January by disclosing the company had missed its own revenue projections for the first time in 15 years. The last time that happened, the iPod was just beginning to transform Apple.

“This is the defining moment for Cook,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives. “He has lost some credibility on Wall Street, so now he will have to do some handholding as the company enters this next chapter.”

The results for the October-December period were slightly above the expectations analysts lowered after Cook’s Jan. 2 warning. Besides the profit decline, Apple’s revenue fell 5 percent from the prior year to $84 billion.

It marked the first time in more than two years that Apple’s quarterly revenue has dropped from the past year. The erosion was caused by the decline of the iPhone, whose sales plunged to $52 billion, down by more than $9 billion from the previous year.

The past quarter’s letdown intensified the focus on Apple’s forecast for the opening three months of the year as investors try to get a better grasp on iPhone sales until the next models are released in autumn.

Apple predicted its revenue for the January-March period will range from $55 billion to $59 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been anticipating revenue of about $59 billion.

Investors liked what they read and heard, helping Apple’s stock recoup some of their recent losses. The stock gained nearly 6 percent to $163.50 in extended trading after the report came out.

“We wouldn’t change our position with anyone’s,” Cook reassured analysts during a conference call reviewing the past quarter and the upcoming months.

The company didn’t forecast how many iPhones it will sell, something Apple has done since the product first hit the market in 2007 and transformed society, as well as technology.

Apple is no longer disclosing how many iPhones it shipped after the quarter is completed, a change that Cook announced in November. That unexpected move raised suspicions that Apple was trying to conceal a forthcoming slump in iPhone sales — fears that were realized during the holiday season.

Cook traces most of Apple’s iPhone problems to a weakening economy in China, the company’s second biggest market behind the U.S. The company is also facing tougher competition in China, where homegrown companies such as Huawei and Xiaomi have been winning over consumers in that country with smartphones that have many of the same features as iPhones at lower prices.

Although a trade war started by President Donald Trump last year has hurt China and potentially caused some consumers there to boycott U.S. products, many analysts believe the iPhone’s malaise stems from other issues too.

Among them are higher prices — Apple’s most expensive iPhone now costs $1,350 — for models that aren’t that much better than the previous generation, giving consumers little incentive to stop using the device they already own until it wears out. Apple also gave old iPhones new life last by offering to replace aging batteries for $29, a 70 percent discount.

“The upgrade cycle has extended, there is no doubt about that,” Cook conceded.

Apple is banking that investors will realize the company can still reap huge profits by selling various services on the 1.4 billion devices running on its software.

That’s one reason why Cook has been touting the robust growth of Apple’s division that collects commissions from paid apps, processes payments, and sells hardware warranty plans and music streaming subscriptions. Apple Music now has more than 50 million subscribers, second to Spotify’s 87 million streaming subscribers through September.

Apple is also preparing to launch a video streaming service to compete against Netflix, though Cook said he wasn’t ready to provide details Tuesday.

The company’s services revenue in the past quarter climbed 19 percent from the prior year to $10.9 billion — more than any other category besides the iPhone.

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